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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Buying guide for best plug-and-play hot tubs

Don't have enough space for a pool but still want a spot to hang out with guests? Looking for a way to relax, unwind, and forget about the day’s stress? A hot tub is the perfect addition to your backyard oasis. Chill with friends after a summer BBQ or enjoy the heat and warmth on a crisp fall evening. For those without the budget or setup for a traditional hot tub, a plug-and-play model is the perfect alternative.

A plug-and-play hot tub doesn’t require any special installation, yet it provides the same benefits as a regular model: stress and pain relief, improved sleep, and relaxation. The name says it all. These units simply plug in and are ready for use almost right away. If you want to buy one but don’t know where to start, BestReviews can help.

Our goal is to help you find the right plug-and-play hot tub for your needs by providing you with the most pertinent information. Our shopping guide includes the advantages of these units, a list of considerations to note when shopping, and features to look for when browsing different models. If you’re ready to buy, scroll up to our top five models, so you can spend less time browsing and more time relaxing in your new hot tub.

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The hot water in your plug-and-play tub can work wonders on inflamed joints.

Plug-and-play hot tubs vs. regular hot tubs

There are several reasons why you might choose a plug-and-play model over a regular hot tub, and a few disadvantages.


  • Easy to install: No electrician is needed for setup because a plug-and-play hot tub comes with a standard 110-volt plug. No plumbing connections are needed either.

  • Energy efficient: Reduced power consumption compared to a 220v hot tub means less impact on your energy bill.

  • Portable: No permanent wiring means the hot tub can be moved around your deck, yard, or even to a new home.

  • Low maintenance: No pipes or electrical connections means that plug-and-play hot tubs are easier to use year-round.

  • Lower cost: Plug-and-play hot tubs are cheaper overall and don’t come with the expensive installation costs of traditional hot tubs.


  • Takes longer to heat: While the installation is easy, you won’t be jumping into the hot water right away. Plug-and-play hot tubs take a long time to warm up.

  • Smaller size: Plug-and-play hot tubs are usually smaller than their traditional counterparts, so if you’re looking for a party spa that fits more than five people, you might have some trouble locating a suitable unit.

Plug-and-play hot tub considerations

Don’t forget to factor in the following when shopping for your new spa.


The advantage of a plug-and-play hot tub is that you can put it almost anywhere there is an electrical outlet. Furthermore, plug-and-play models aren’t permanently tethered to one spot with electrical and plumbing connections, making them easier to move around. These tubs are also usually smaller than traditional hot tubs, so they’re great for people with small decks or backyards. Just make sure to measure your space before selecting a hot tub to be sure it will fit.


Plug-and-play units typically seat a maximum of four people. When deciding on a tub size, figure out how many people will use the spa at once. Couples may opt for a smaller tub to save money or spend a little more for extra room to accommodate guests.

Cord length

Some appliances can’t be used with extension cords, so make sure the hot tub you select has a cord long enough to reach from the location you want to put it to the outlet.


Check user reviews to find out about a particular plug-and-play hot tub’s noise level. If you have neighbors nearby, a noisy spa won’t be acceptable for nighttime use.


Most plug-and-play hot tubs have an inner plastic liner, but you can choose a frame made of wood or composite. Both are durable options but have very different looks.

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Is a storm brewing? Don’t get in your hot tub. Lightning and water definitely don’t mix.


More doesn’t necessarily mean better. Look for a model with adjustable jets that allow you to change the direction and power of the stream. If you want a full-body massage, look for a tub with jets along the entire seating area, from top to bottom.


This aesthetic feature looks great on a patio surrounded by plants and lights. The soothing sound of a waterfall is also a great way to promote relaxation.


If you plan on drinking beverages in your plug-and-play hot tub, look for a model with cupholders. A hot tub with a stable edge works well for beer and wine glasses, too.


Some units are equipped with LED mood lighting for use at night. If you want to create a patio with a spa-like ambience, lights are a must.


A cover keeps out bugs and debris and helps keep your spa clean. It also prevents curious kids and pets from finding their way into the water unsupervised. Many models come with a cover.

Adjustable controls

For the ultimate spa experience, look for a hot tub that enables you to adjust the water temperature. Some models also feature tiltable jets that you can angle for the perfect massage. Want even more customization? Choose a hot tub with controllable LED lights.


  • Clean the filter. A plug-and-play hot tub is the same as any other hot tub when it comes to maintenance. You don’t need to worry about draining it in the winter to prevent your pipes from freezing, but you do need to clean the filter regularly.

  • Monitor the pH. The water’s pH levels need to be monitored at least once a week.

  • Sanitize. Sanitizing the tub regularly is necessary to ensure the water remains free of microorganisms.

Plug-and-play hot tub prices

The larger the hot tub, the more people it seats and the higher the cost. Plug-and-play units are significantly cheaper than regular hot tubs and have no extra installation costs. You can expect to pay from $1,500 to $7,000 for a plug-and-play hot tub. Pricier units tend to be sturdier and have more features, such as more jets.

Inexpensive: An ultra-lightweight portable unit that seats five and has no jets costs around $1,500.

Mid-range: A plug-and-play hot tub with seating for three that has more than 30 stainless-steel jets and features such as LED lighting and a waterfall costs around $3,500.

Expensive: The most expensive units, up to $7,000, combine durability, sleek design, maximum seating space, and fun features.

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Make sure that your selected hot tub comes with a good warranty. A plug-and-play unit is a cheaper alternative to a standard hot tub, but it still represents a significant investment.


Q. Can I use my hot tub in the winter?

A. Yes. But a plug-and-play unit will take much longer to heat up than a regular hot tub when the outside temperature is colder. The benefit of a plug-and-play hot tub? There’s no plumbing involved, so you don’t have to worry about your pipes freezing. A hot tub with thick insulation is best for winter soaking.

Q. Are hot tubs safe?

A. Heat-sensitive individuals should be careful when using a hot tub. High temperatures can have adverse effects on some people. If you're hanging out in a tub for a long time, take periodic breaks. Never get in a hot tub that looks dirty. An improperly cleaned hot tub is a breeding ground for bacteria. If you’re pregnant or have a heart condition or circulatory issue, check with your doctor before using a hot tub.

Q. My hot tub has a strong chemical smell. What’s going on?

A. Strong smells are not normal. The likely culprit is improper sanitization, either from overusing or underusing chemical sanitizers.

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