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Plug and play (aka Plug N Play) is the name commonly given to hot tubs that operate at 110V, allowing them to be plugged directly into a standard GFCI protected home outlet. Today we will explore the advantages and disadvantages of plug and play hot tubs to help you decide if they’re right for you.

Plug and Play Hot Tub Advantages

Lower Up Front Costs

The major advantage of plug and play hot tubs is their lower up front costs. Unlike standard 220V hot tubs, plug and play hot tubs plug directly into a standard outlet. This means you will not need to hire an electrician to wire the hot tub; saving you an average of $1000!

Not only that, most plug and play hot tubs are significantly cheaper to buy than standard hot tubs. Since they can’t draw a lot of electricity, plug and play hot tubs typically don’t have as many built in features and available options. For this reason they’re often much cheaper to purchase than standard hot tubs.

Easier Set-Up

Since they don’t need to be hard wired by an electrician, you can set up a plug and play hot tub yourself in a matter of minutes. Simply place the hot tub where you want it to go, plug it in and fill it up!

Portability

Another advantage of purchasing a plug and play hot tub is how easy they are to move. Since they don’t need to be hard wired, all you need to do is move the hot tub to its new location, plug it in, fill it up and you’re ready to go

Plug And Play Hot Tub Disadvantages

Undersized Equipment

One of the main drawbacks of plug and play hot tubs is that they cannot draw enough power to run a full sized jet pump and heater. In order to be able to run off of a standard household outlet, plug and play hot tubs can only have a 1HP pump and 1kW heater; both around 1/4 the size of a 220V hot tub.

There are 2 drawbacks to having undersized equipment:

  1. The smaller pump means that plug n play hot tubs can’t support as many jets as standard hot tubs can. The ones that they do have are also typically smaller and less powerful than standard hot tub jets.
  2. The smaller heater has to work harder in order to properly heat the water, meaning that it will have to run for longer than a standard hot tub heater.

Higher Long Term Costs

The biggest drawback of the undersized equipment in plug and play hot tubs is therefore a drastic increase in running costs.

The largest ongoing expense of running a hot tub is heating. The longer the hot tub has to heat, the higher your energy bill will be at the end of the month. In order to maintain a proper water temperature in the winter, the heater in a plug n play hot tub has to run almost around the clock, dramatically increasing its energy costs.

Although less expensive to purchase, due to their high running costs most plug n play hot tubs end up costing more than standard hot tubs in the long run.

Lack Of Heat When In Use

Another downside of owning a plug n play hot tub is that they can not draw enough power to run the pump on high speed and the heater at the same time. When the pump is moved from low speed to high speed, the heater therefore automatically turns off.

While this isn’t typically an issue in the warmer months, in the winter a hot tub can lose several degrees in an hour if the heater isn’t running; rapidly changing from a hot tub to a lukewarm tub!

Not planning on using the jets? Even if you don’t turn the jets up to high speed, plug and play hot tubs will still lose a little temperature over time when you’re using it. This is because the heater can’t keep up with the heat loss that occurs when the cover is off of the hot tub.

Lack Of Features

Most plug and play hot tubs also lack features that are standard on most hot tubs. Basic features such as moulded seats, headrest pillows, and programmable filtration cycles are often missing in plug n play hot tubs.

Should You Buy A Plug And Play Hot Tub?

So should you purchase a plug n play hot tub? The answer depends on how you plan on using the hot tub. For people only planning on using the hot tub in the warmer months, plug n play hot tubs can work just fine. If you plan on using the hot tub extensively in the winter, however, the high energy costs and undersized heater of a plug and play mean that you’re much better off getting a standard 220V hot tub.

Another situation where it might make sense to buy a plug and play hot tub is if your home simply doesn’t have enough available power to support a standard hot tub. Most 220V hot tubs require a dedicated service of between 40-60 to run properly. If you don’t have enough available space on your electrical panel it sometimes makes sense to purchase a plug and play hot tub to avoid costly panel upgrades.

Wrapping Up

While their low purchase price and ease of installation make them an attractive option for many hot tub buyers, plug and play hot tubs are simply not the best choice for most families. In certain situations, however, plug and play hot tubs do offer some key advantages over standard 220V hot tubs.