Choosing between a plunge pool vs a hot tub can be a pivotal decision if you’re looking to upgrade your outdoor living space.

We, too, are considering upgrading our backyard space and are carefully weighing our options.  

Choosing between a plunge pool vs a hot tub can be a pivotal decision if you're looking to upgrade your outdoor living space.

As we continue to learn about the types of pools and spas, we want to share the information to help you know the better option for you and your family.

In this blog post, we will break down the difference between the two, sharing the key features of each.  

What is a Plunge Pool

A plunge pool is a type of smaller pool often found in compact backyards or tricky outdoor spaces where a full-sized pool might not fit.

Unlike traditional pools or hot tubs, which can be large and require significant amounts of water, plunge pools are typically more compact in size.

They have a smaller footprint and less water volume. than a standard in-ground pool. A plunge pool is sometimes referred to as cocktail pools or soak pools.

One of the main differences between a plunge pool and a traditional full-sized swimming pool is their size and depth.

Plunge pools usually have a flat bottom and are deeper than hot tubs, making them great for a refreshing dip or even water aerobics. They can still offer health benefits associated with hydrotherapy due to their deeper water.

Plunge pools can be installed either above ground or in-ground, depending on personal preference and available space.

Photo Credit: Katieleedestudio

They can also be heated for year-round use, which is especially beneficial in colder climates like New England.

Installation costs for plunge pools are generally lower than those for full-sized pools, and they typically require less maintenance, fewer chemicals, and less energy consumption.

This makes them a popular option for smaller yards or for homeowners looking to minimize upkeep.

In terms of design, plunge pools often feature a sleek and compact design that can serve as a focal point in an outdoor living space.

They can be complemented by features such as spa jets, lounge areas, or even adjacent fire pits, creating a perfect place to unwind after a long day.

Overall, plunge pools offer a great option for homeowners with smaller outdoor spaces or those looking for a more compact and efficient alternative to traditional pools or hot tubs.

Key Features of a Plunge Pool Design

Smaller Size

Plunge pools are designed to fit into small backyards or tricky outdoor spaces, making them ideal for homeowners with limited outdoor space.

Compact Size

Unlike traditional full-sized pools, plunge pools have a smaller footprint, making them more space-efficient.

Deep End

Plunge pools typically have a deep end, or the entire pool is deep, allowing for a refreshing dip or even water aerobics.

Above-Ground or In-Ground Options

Plunge pools can be installed either above ground or in-ground, providing flexibility in design and installation.

Heated Water

Many plunge pools can be heated, making them suitable for year-round use, even in colder climates.

On the other hand, many people opt for a cold plunge pool.

Sleek Design

Plunge pools often feature a sleek and modern design, serving as a stylish addition to outdoor living spaces.

Less Maintenance

Compared to larger pools, plunge pools generally require less maintenance and fewer chemicals, saving time and money.

Hydrotherapy Benefits

The deeper water in plunge pools can offer benefits associated with hydrotherapy, such as relaxation and muscle relief.

Versatile Use

Plunge pools can serve as a great place to relax or exercise, depending on the homeowner’s preferences.


Installation costs for plunge pools are often lower than those for full-sized pools, making them a more budget-friendly option.

What is a Hot Tub

A hot tub, also known as a spa or jacuzzi, is a type of small pool typically designed for relaxation and hydrotherapy purposes.

Unlike a traditional pool, a hot tub is usually smaller in size and often installed above ground, although in-ground options are also available.

Prior to moving to North Carolina, we had a hot tub for several years. After owning one, we are absolutely certain we will have a hub tub, once again, at our mountain home.

Hot tubs are commonly found in backyards, providing a cozy retreat for homeowners to unwind and soothe their muscles after a long day.

They can be standalone units or integrated into larger pool complexes, serving as a water feature in outdoor living spaces.

One of the main differences between a hot tub and a plunge pool is the water temperature.

Hot tubs are heated, typically between 100 to 104 degrees Fahrenheit, creating a warm and inviting environment regardless of the outdoor climate.

The warm water makes them a popular option for use in colder climates or during cooler seasons.

We absolutely loved getting into our hot tub at our Ohio house on the cold, Wintery, days.

Maintenance costs for hot tubs are generally lower than those for full-sized pools, as they require less water and fewer chemicals. However, regular upkeep is still necessary to ensure water quality and hygiene.

Hot tubs are a popular option for homeowners with smaller backyards or limited outdoor space, providing a relaxing oasis without taking up too much room.

They can be enjoyed by individuals of all ages, making them a great addition to family-friendly outdoor areas.

Overall, hot tubs offer a convenient and enjoyable way to experience the benefits of hydrotherapy and relaxation in the comfort of one’s own home.

Whether used for socializing with friends, soothing sore muscles, or simply unwinding after a long day, hot tubs remain a popular choice among homeowners seeking a therapeutic water experience.

Photo Credit: Lowes

Key Features of Hot Tub

Water Features

Hot tubs often come equipped with water features such as jets, bubblers, or fountains, enhancing the relaxation experience.

Small Backyard

Hot tubs are suitable for small backyards, providing a luxurious addition without requiring extensive space.

Above-Ground Pool

Hot tubs are typically above-ground installations, making them easier to set up and relocate compared to in-ground pools.

Large Tubs

Hot tubs are larger than standard bathtubs, providing ample space for individuals or small groups to relax comfortably.

Lounge Area

Many hot tubs include built-in seating or loungers, offering a comfortable place to recline while enjoying the warm water.

Fiberglass Pools

Some hot tubs are constructed with fiberglass materials, offering durability and ease of maintenance.

Back Yard

Hot tubs are commonly installed in backyards, creating a private and tranquil retreat for homeowners.


While hot tubs require regular maintenance, they generally involve less effort and expense than larger pools.

Choosing between a plunge pool vs a hot tub can be a pivotal decision if you're looking to upgrade your outdoor living space. #hottub #plungepool

Upfront Costs

The initial cost of purchasing and installing a hot tub can vary depending on factors such as size, features, and brand.

Solid Foundation

Proper installation of a hot tub requires a solid and level foundation to ensure stability and safety.

Heat Pump

Hot tubs often utilize a heat pump to maintain water temperature, providing energy-efficient heating.

Basic knowledge of hot tub operation and maintenance is essential for safe and enjoyable use.

Plunge Pool vs Hot Tub

When comparing plunge pools and hot tubs, several factors come into play. Let’s break down the key differences:

Size and Design:

  • Plunge Pool: Typically larger than a hot tub, resembling a small traditional pool. It offers a deeper end suitable for swimming or water aerobics.
  • Hot Tub: Smaller in size, resembling a large bathtub. It’s designed for relaxation and hydrotherapy, often featuring built-in seats or loungers.


  • Plunge Pool: Primarily used for swimming, exercise, or cooling off on hot days. It can serve as a compact alternative to a full-sized pool.
  • Hot Tub: Designed for relaxation, hydrotherapy, and socializing. It provides warm, massaging water, ideal for soothing muscles and unwinding.

Installation and Location:

  • Plunge Pool: Can be installed above-ground or in-ground, depending on space and preference. Requires more space than a hot tub due to its larger size.
  • Hot Tub: Typically installed above-ground, but can also be sunken or built into a deck. Suitable for smaller backyards or spaces where a plunge pool might not fit.

Maintenance and Costs:

  • Plunge Pool: Generally requires more maintenance and higher upfront costs due to its larger size and water volume.
  • Hot Tub: Requires regular maintenance but often less than a plunge pool. It has lower upfront costs and can be more energy-efficient due to its smaller size.

Usage and Benefits:

  • Plunge Pool: Ideal for swimming laps, water exercises, or enjoying a refreshing dip. Offers health benefits associated with swimming and hydrotherapy.
  • Hot Tub: Perfect for relaxation, stress relief, and alleviating muscle tension. Provides therapeutic benefits such as improved circulation and reduced stress.

In summary, plunge pools are better suited for swimming and exercise, while hot tubs excel in relaxation and hydrotherapy.

The choice between them depends on space, budget, intended use, and personal preferences for water activities.

Conclusion: Plunge Pool vs Hot Tub

In conclusion, when considering whether to invest in a plunge pool or a hot tub, it’s essential to weigh the factors that align with your lifestyle, preferences, and available space.

For those seeking a versatile water feature that accommodates swimming, exercise, and cooling off during hot weather, a plunge pool may be the ideal choice.

Its larger size and deeper water offer opportunities for aquatic activities and health benefits associated with swimming and hydrotherapy. However, it requires more space and maintenance compared to a hot tub, along with higher upfront costs.

On the other hand, hot tubs provide a luxurious retreat for relaxation, hydrotherapy, and socializing.

With their smaller footprint and lower maintenance requirements, hot tubs are suitable for smaller backyards or spaces where a plunge pool might not fit. They offer warm, massaging water that promotes stress relief, muscle relaxation, and overall well-being.

Ultimately, the decision between a plunge pool and a hot tub depends on your priorities, usage preferences, and budget considerations.

If you opt for the invigorating experience of a plunge pool or the soothing comfort of a hot tub, both options offer unique benefits.

They will enhance your outdoor living space and provide years of enjoyment for you, your family, and friends.

Before you go, here are more posts you’ll enjoy:

12 Different Types of Pools to Consider

25 Backyard Above Ground Ideas

Amazing Walkout Basement Ideas

Choosing between a plunge pool vs a hot tub can be a pivotal decision if you're looking to upgrade your outdoor living space. #hottub #plungepool

Plunge Pool vs Hot Tub