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A group of two men and two women sit in a spa set into a patio overlooking a waterfront.

A Guide to Help You Decide between Spas and Hot Tubs in Ottawa

Are you on the fence about getting an above-ground hot tub or an in-ground spa?

It’s completely normal to have trouble deciding between the two. After all, they’re remarkably similar, but each future their pros and cons that, depending on your situation, can make one more appealing than the other.

Right off the bat, though, if you can’t decide between the two, consider the permanency of each installation.

Hot tubs are typically more portable, so you can move yours with you wherever you go, with a bit of effort and planning, of course. You can also easily replace these hot tubs whenever you want an upgrade.

On the other hand, in-ground spas are more permanent installations that you’ll have to leave behind if you ever move.

Aside from this main difference between the two, consider the following information about spas and hot tubs in Ottawa to see which one better serves your needs.

Installation Considerations

Installing above-ground hot tubs tends to take less work and time than in-ground spas.

Comparatively, installing an in-ground spa will require more work since you will need to excavate the ground first and set up an electrical source.

When deciding on which type to install, you should also consider:

Zoning and Location

Check with your local building codes before you start construction for an in-ground spa. You might need to obtain a permit from your municipality before you excavate and add to your property.

Choose a location on your property that is close enough to a power source, either 120 or 240 volts depending on the product.

As mentioned above, you must install your hot tub on a reinforced surface that will support its weight without shifting. Consider a poured concrete slab (spa pad) or a reinforced deck.

If the tub or spa isn’t immediately accessible from a back deck or patio, include a pathway leading to it. A clear pathway will be comfortable to walk on when bare foot, and you won’t risk tracking dirt, grass, and debris into your hot tub or spa’s water.


Make sure there’s enough space to fit your hot tub or spa wherever you plan to install it.

Hot tub installation also requires enough space around the tub for ease of access for maintenance and repairs. You will also need space to drain your hot tub every three to four months. Finally, keep in mind that your hot tub needs some kind of base to rest on, such as a concrete slab on a bed of crushed stone.

In-ground spas, meanwhile, require significant planning and prep to ensure all hook-ups and wiring are both functional and protected beneath the surface of your yard or patio.

Contact an Electrician

To make sure your hot tub or spa has the right electrical hookup, contact a licensed electrician for a consultation and any electrical work you need. We highly recommend working with an experienced electrician or hot tub and spa company to handle this part of the job, as it requires careful attention to detail and installation.

Ease of Access for Installation

Once you’ve decided on where to install your hot tub or spa, make sure the location is easy to access for the installers, as in, a large enough path to transport the hot tub or spa. Move cars, patio furniture, garden décor, and anything else that could be in the way.

Thinking About Costs and Expenses

An in-ground spa installation will cost more due to the extra time and work involved. That’s why it’s important consider installation costs, alongside energy and financing costs, when you start to shop around for a tub or spa.

Pay Upfront or Finance

Many spa and hot tub retailers offer the option to finance your purchase if you can’t afford to pay it all at once. That said, regardless of which payment option you choose, make sure your payment(s) are within your budget. Hot tubs and spas are meant to reduce stress, not cause it.

Energy Costs

Since you have to use energy to heat and run hot tubs and spas, you will see a slight increase in your energy bills. You will use more energy heating your water for the first time and after refilling your hot tub.

Quality vs. Price

Top-quality models will cost more upfront than cheaper models, but they will cost less for maintenance and repairs over time. And they will also last longer, making the higher upfront cost worth it in the long run.

Look for models from reliable retailers who have warranties on their products and service technicians to make repairs when needed.

What Is the Average Life of A Hot Tub? Of A Spa?

Cheap hot tubs may only last about five years before maintenance problems arise. But high-quality hot tubs that come with a warranty may last up to 20 years since they are made with quality materials. Mid-grade hot tubs should last about 10 years.

No matter the type of hot tub you have, you can ensure it stays in good condition for longer with proper care, cleaning, and maintenance.

The same goes for spas. The higher quality the material and manufacturing, the longer it will last. And since these are both usually made from the same materials, expect a similar lifespan for spas.

Is There A Difference Between A Hot Tub and Spa?

The terms ‘spa’ and ‘hot tub’ are often used interchangeably.

Both spas and hot tubs are large tubs filled with heated water, and both often have jets to soothe sore muscles. They are both used for warmth, relaxation, hydrotherapy, and entertaining.

Hot tubs and spas can be portable (above ground) or in-ground. But in-ground installations are more often associated with spas than with hot tubs, especially with the in-ground pool and spa combination.

Benefits of Hot Tubs And Spas

Both hot tubs and spas offer relaxing hydrotherapy to treat many mental and physical ailments.

These include:

  • Stress
  • Insomnia
  • Pain
  • Poor circulation
  • Migraines and headaches
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Arthritis
  • High blood sugar
  • High blood pressure
  • Whiplash and other injuries
  • Sore muscles

Whether you favour in-ground spas or above-ground hot tubs in Ottawa, know that you will reap the many health benefits of soaking in these relaxing bodies of water.