Plug and play hot tubs have become extremely popular over the last couple years as they have eliminated a common barrier to entry for hot tub ownership….the 220v electrical hookup. By making hot tubs with standard 115v plugs manufacturers have been able to not only lower the cost of installing a portable spa but have made it much more convenient.
1. No Electrical Installation Costs
A big thing to think about when shopping for a new hot tub is the costs of installation, primarily the electrical hook up. A 220v 50amp service that is required on some bigger hot tubs can range from $500-$2,000 depending on different variables. This is especially true in a lot of older homes that do not have a 200amp service and need to run an entirely new electrical service to make room for the hot tub. We see this every year with some of the older homes.
2. Spa Portability
Because a plug and play hot tub is not hard wired into a permanent outside gfci box it makes it easier if you are renting therefore you can take it with you when you buy a house or rent another one! Generally plug and play spas are smaller and lighter making them much more portable and easy move.
3. Lower Initial Cost
A 115v hot tub is usually a smaller 1 pump spa without a ton of frills or extras , so the initial purchase price of the hot tub can be less than a 220v. Most plug an play spas are on the lower end of the cost spectrum therefore if budget is a factor than this is a good entry level hot tub.
Downsides of Plug and Play Spas
1. Heating Time
While the hot tub industry uses the term “plug and play” for these 115v spa models its not exactly that quick. By dialing back the amp draw and voltage we do make sacrifices when it comes to the hot tub components. This is felt with the initial start up of the spa and the length of time it takes to get up to temperature.
A standard 220v spa can heat up to 104 degrees in about 8-10 hours depending on the size of the tub. A 115v spa can take 2-3x longer than that to reach temperature as it just does not have the same supply of power to the unit.
So “plug and play” is more like “plug wait a day then play”! Also noteworthy is that while you are hot tubbing there is not enough power to heat the spa and run the jets therefore they run longer to warm the water up to temperature after use.