The stress melts away from your body as you relax in the hot tub after a hard workout or brutal day at the office. The jets release bubbles into the water, letting you drift away in feelings of serenity. Owning a hot tub is like having a hot spring in your backyard, and it’s a great way to relieve sore muscles and soothe your mind of anxiety and stress.
However, selecting the right hot tub for your home is a challenge. There are so many models available, how do you know which one is right for you? We put together this guide to help you make an informed purchase decision when buying your hot tub.
Deciding on a Location for Your Hot Tub
- 1 Deciding on a Location for Your Hot Tub
- 2 Seating for Your Hot Tub
- 3 The Electrics
- 4 Hot Tub Materials
- 5 Options, Features, and Equipment
- 6 Pumps
- 7 Jets
- 8 Lighting, Stereo, and Water Features
- 9 UV-C and Ozone
- 10 Blowers
- 11 Filtration Units
- 12 Covers
- 13 Support and Warranty
- 14 Cost Vs. Price
- 15 Financing a Hot Tub
- 16 Buying Your Hot Tub
- 17 Dealers
- 18 Big-Box Retailers
- 19 Online Vendors
- 20 The Final Thought – Don’t Use Bubble Bath
Before you start browsing online for the perfect hot tub, you need to complete your due diligence. Typically, most people fit their hot tubs outside, and you’ll need to find the ideal spot in your yard. If you own a patio, then a hot tub makes a marvelous addition to this area of your yard.
Selecting the right size hot tub depends on the space you have available. Most hot tubs have a footprint of 5 x 5-feet, with larger and smaller models available as well. Take a garden hose and mock-up the area of your patio or yard where you want to place the tub.
Remember to leave room for the steps and the top of the tub as well. Use a measuring tape to get an idea of the size you need, and then start your online search.
Seating for Your Hot Tub
After you have an idea of the right size for your hot tub, you need to think about the seating arrangement. If you have a large family, or you plan on entertaining guests in the tub, then you’ll need at least four to six seats to accommodate everyone.
If you’re intending on only using the tub yourself or with your partner, then a two-seater is a good option as well. Adding an extra seat also gives you room to stretch out in the tub. Some hot tub models come with lounge chairs molded into the body, allowing you to submerge your body under the water while the jets massage your body.
Most hot tub lounge seats are deep enough to stop you from floating around the tub. The lounge chair usually takes enough space for two standard seats, so you’ll need to take that into account when making your purchase.
Some hot tubs come with a standard 120V electrical outlet, allowing you to place them anywhere in the home or outside. The plug point lets you move the hot tub around until you get the perfect positioning, without worrying about the wiring.
Hard-wired hot tubs are immovable, and you’ll need to be sure about your placement before you wire everything up and turn on the tub. Hard-wired tubs using a 240V power supply will heat faster. However, you’ll need to hire a qualified electrician to install the tub if you want to keep your warranty.
Hot Tub Materials
Hot tubs come in a variety of materials. Depending on your choice, it will affect the price, maintenance, and longevity of your hot tub. Here are the most common materials used in the manufacturing process.
- Molded Resin – The tubs are long-lasting and feature construction with the cabinet and shell as one piece. This construction makes it easy to clean the hot tub, and it has an eye-catching finish as well. When we compare molded resin tubs to acrylic versions, the resin models come with all of the same features, such as lounge seats, but with fewer jets. Molded resin hot tubs are also reasonably affordable when compared to other models. Considering the robust, durable nature of the shell, they are one of the most popular choices for people looking to buy a tub on a budget.
- Acrylic Shell – Durable, versatile, and pleasing on the eyes, an acrylic tub is the most popular hot tub choice in America. Manufacturers mold the shell into form-fitting seats in a variety of sizes. A wood or plastic cabinet supports the tub, and all the equipment fits within the supporting structure, out of sight. An acrylic tub can cost you up to $15,000, depending on the seating arrangement and materials used in manufacturing the cabinet.
- Vinyl Hot Tubs – This type of hot tub is for people who are on a budget. Typically, they are the most affordable models, but they also don’t have the same longevity as resin or acrylic tubs. There are two types of acrylic spas in this material – the blow-up tub, and the soft-sided spa.
- Blow up – If you only want a tub for a few seasons, then a blow-up model is your best option. However, these tubs come with minimal seating that’s often uncomfortable, and it only produces bubbles, with no massage jets available.
Options, Features, and Equipment
After deciding on the size of your tub and the material, it’s time to take a look at the options available for your new spa. Let’s unpack the elements of a hot tub and see if your model offers you all of the features you need for a relaxing soak.
The pump is the heart of the hot tub, providing water flow to the jets. However, it’s important to note that high horsepower motors do not necessarily mean that you are getting a better tub. Tubs with high-powered pumps and six or more jets consume a staggering amount of electricity, significantly increasing your bill at the end of the month if you use the tub frequently.
Jets that mix water and air provide the best massage experience. High jet counts aren’t necessary to enjoy your hot tub. Four to six jets is plenty to give you a relaxing massage experience. However, adding too many jets also decreases pressure, reducing the massage function.
Lighting, Stereo, and Water Features
You don’t need a water feature, stereo system, or lighting in your hot tub. However, these optional extras may make your soak more relaxing, enhancing your hot tub experience.
If you intend on using the hot tub to entertain guests, then these are all viable option. However, you can expect the extras to add to the price tag, and it may be more affordable to buy a separate sound system for the room or patio instead.
Hot tub dealers add thousands of dollars to the price tag if you decide to take these options. Think about if you will use them and get value out of the optional extras.
UV-C and Ozone
Hot tubs use ozone to keep the water in your tub sanitary. Ozone oxidizes any microbes living in the water while breaking down harmful chemicals. Modern hot tubs also utilize UltraRay UV-C system technology that kills any pathogens lurking in the water as well.
Also known as “bubblers,”” these independent motor forces air through ports in the tub, creating a bubbling effect. However, we recommend that you avoid blowers as they push cold air into the tub. As a result, your pump has to work harder to maintain the temperature, leading to premature failure of the equipment. Blowers increase your energy costs, and they are loud during operation as well.
Filtration units help to keep the water in your hot tub looking crystal clear. Filters remove any particles from the water, enhancing water clarity while protecting the mechanical and electrical parts from damage. You’ll need to replace your filters every year to ensure you’re getting optimal water filtration.
New hot tub models include the use of advanced blue filter media. This media prevents the growth of microbes on the filter, and they prevent odors from occurring. Advanced blue media filters are also easy to clean, reducing the maintenance on your hot tub.
A cover keeps particles out of your tub, and it helps to speed up the heating thew water when you turn on the tub. Most models come with strap-down covers that are entirely removable.
Support and Warranty
Most new hot tubs come with warranties on the mechanical and electrical components, as well as the shell. However, cheaper models, such as blow-up tubs, may not have any warranty at all. We recommend you review your potential options for the best warranty terms and conditions before making your purchase.
Cost Vs. Price
When purchasing your hot tub, you need to think about the price of the model and the costs involved with running the tub. You may score a deal on a tub, but if it comes with a high-powered pump, you’ll end up paying more in running costs over the years. You also need to take into account maintenance and repairs on your tub over the years as well.
Financing a Hot Tub
Some hot tubs may cost as much as an entry-level car. Therefore, it’s not surprising to find out that many hot tub dealers offer to finance their products. However, we recommend that you avoid using in-store financing deals when purchasing your tub. Many dealers stack finance charges onto your purchase, and they may charge you a higher APR than a payday loan facility.
If you need to finance your tub, think about opening a home equity line of credit. Your bank will loan you money based on the amount of equity you have in your home. If you spent the last three or four years paying off a mortgage, then you likely have sufficient equity available to purchase your hot tub.
Buying Your Hot Tub
Where you buy your hot tub is as important as how you finance the expense. Always ensure that you make your purchase from a reputable and reliable retailer or dealer. Search online and on social media to find hot tub dealers near you. Review what people are saying about the hot tub model you are thinking about buying.
Here are the top retailers we recommend you use when purchasing your hot tub.
Most people visit a hot tub dealer when considering a purchase. However, we recommend that you avoid dealers if you can. Dealers often use smart sales tactics to upsell you on their products. A hot tub is a luxury item, and sales reps know that you are spending money you don’t need. Therefore, they are more likely to offer you an upsell on the model you are looking at buying.
It’s common for dealers to offer customer “wet-tests” as well. The dealer places their most expensive model on the showroom floor in working condition. The sales rep gives you a chance to soak in the tub, allowing you to get a feel for the jets and seating.
However, stripping into your bathing trunks in the middle of retail location is embarrassing. To add to the misery, you’ll also be soaking in the same water than hundreds of other people used in the wet test.
Before you commit to purchasing a retailer, tell the sales rep you need a night to sleep on the purchase. Go home and research the same model at online and big-box retailers, you’ll probably find the same model you were looking at, for a lower price.
Retailers like Walmart and Target may sell hot tubs, but they lack the service and support you get from dealers. However, what they lack in service, they make up for in pricing. The chances are that you’ll find some great deals during shopping holidays like Black Friday and Labor Day sales.
Most hot tubs will come with a warranty. However, if you need to use it at any stage, you might run into some difficulties finding the support you need. With big-box retailers, you’ll probably have to pay for the delivery of the tub to your home as well.
Shopping for your hot tub on Amazon is probably the best idea. Amazon has the best prices, and in many cases, they deliver the tub to you for free. Use price-checking apps like camelcamelcamel to find the best deals online.
The Final Thought – Don’t Use Bubble Bath
Some hot tub owners make the mistake of adding soaps or essential oils to their hot tubs water. We recommend you avoid this practice. The soaps and oils will clog up the jets and the pump, causing premature failure of the equipment. Keep you bubble bath out of the hot tub, and save it for your bathwater.