Hot tubs, or spas, come in two different types, either above ground (also known as portable) or in ground (also known as permanent).
A permanent spa is installed directly into the ground. It can be combined with a swimming pool set up or can stand by itself, whether you have a pool or not. Because it is built into the ground you will not be able to change its location. In ground hot tubs are usually designed to enhance the landscaping of your back yard and can be a beautiful addition. They are usually constructed out of gunite, fiberglass, or concrete, with fiberglass being the least common material used. In ground hot tubs usually have step type seats and between four and sixteen jets, with sixteen being the maximum. In ground hot tubs do not have the space constraints of above ground hot tubs and usually use large heaters, filters, and pumps. The heater for an in ground hot tub can be either gas or electric. The operation of an in ground hot tub is usually very quiet, as all of the operating components are usually stored away from the unit, as with a swimming pool. It is this distance from the hot tub that necessitates the large equipment. The downside to having larger equipment farther away is a bigger power bill and potential problems if a pipe breaks between the unit and its components. One of the benefits of an in ground hot tub is that the water heats up much faster and tends to maintain its temperature easier.
Since the in ground tub sits below ground level, you would enter it using steps leading down into it. You can find in ground hot tubs in a variety of styles and shapes to complement the existing landscaping. You will also find hot tubs used as a landscaping centerpiece, surrounded by either plants, rocks, or seating.
Each type of hot tub comes with its pros and cons. You will need to determine which features are most important to you and pick the hot tub style that matches them. One thing is certain, no matter which type of hot tub you choose it will bring you years of enjoyment.