what to know when buying a hot tub

So, you’re gearing up to buy a hot tub?

If so, let’s get down to business. While enjoying the many benefits a hot tub has to offer might be fine and dandy, there are many things you need to consider before buying a hot tub.

With so many hot tubs on the market today, you must base your final decision on a number of factors, including budget, size, energy consumption, features, and so much more.

To make sure that your buying experience goes as smoothly as possible, we want to help you answer all of the most important hot tub buying questions.

Understanding Hot Tub Specifications

The first thing that you will probably look at when shopping for a new spa is the specs. To ensure that you have a good understanding of what you should look for in spa specs, let’s dive into each.

Dimensions

The dimensions of your hot tub should be the very first thing that you consider. You have to make sure that the hot tub you want to buy will fit in the space you want to put it in. Just because a hot tub has bigger dimensions, however, does not mean that it has more seats (more on this in a second).

While the length and width are important for fitting your hot tub in the correct space, you must also look at the depth or how high your hot tub sits off the ground. A high hot tub allows for a deeper soak than a low hot tub. However, a high hot tub might be difficult for certain people to get in and out of.

Seating

So as we said before, just because a hot tub has bigger dimensions does not mean that it has more seats.

A big hot tub might only have three seats to make it feel more spacious.

A hot tub with the same dimensions might squeeze in more seating so that people can take advantage of the jets. It comes down to what you prefer.

You need to think about the people who will be using your hot tub every day. 

A family of four might be fine in a four-person hot tub, though a six-person family might need a greater number of seats.

If you’re thinking of having family AND friends over on the weekends, you may want to account for that. However, do keep in mind that the purchase price typically increases with the number of seats you choose to include.

Water Capacity

A hot tub’s size typically determines the water capacity. The larger your hot tub, the more gallons of water it will hold. You will need to know how many gallons of water your hot tub holds for draining and refilling purposes.

Jets

People often think that hot tubs with a great number of jets are better than those with fewer.

This couldn’t be further from the truth. What you really need to explore is the design of the jets and how they are positioned in the spa.

50 mediocre jets won’t give you the same hot tub experience as 20 high-quality, pressure-point-focused jets.

Plus, the more jets you have in your hot tub, the more powerful your pumps will have to be. Yes, you guessed it. You ALSO need to consider the power of the pumps. If they can’t deliver enough pressure, you’ll never get the best massage experience.

We could go deep into detail about what makes certain jets great vs. others, though it would require an entirely different article. We recommend speaking with your local dealer if you are interested in learning more.

Pumps

As we said before, your pumps and your jets go hand in hand. If your primary focus is finding a hot tub that focuses on pain relief, you’ll need to find one with quality, powerful pumps.

Spa manufacturers will typically measure pump power in horsepower, so try to compare different hot tubs with this measurement.

Wattage

To determine the wattage of a hot tub, a manufacturer will multiply volts by amps. Of course, we’re not going to get into the science behind wattage, but just know that the greater the wattage of a hot tub, the greater amount of electricity it will require.

With that said, a higher wattage hot tub will also perform better. High wattage hot tubs are typically far more energy-efficient compared to low wattage hot tubs.

For example, if you get a hot tub that is 110 volts, otherwise known as a plug-n-play spa, you’ll be able to plug it directly into a dedicated home outlet. A spa with 220 volts or more will require special wiring by a licensed electrician. While it might cost more to get special wiring done, 220V hot tubs are far more energy-efficient and can heat up much faster, saving you time and money in the long run.

Heating Element

Every hot tub comes with a heating element. The heating element can be electricity-powered, gas-powered, or wood-powered. There are pros and cons to these different heating element types, which we explore in a separate article.

Bottom line: The less powerful your heating element, the harder your spa will have to work to heat up completely, meaning you’ll spend more time and money trying to heat your spa up.

Average Cost of a Hot Tub

  • Entry-Level Hot Tub: $3,000-$6,000
  • Mid-Range Hot Tub: $6,000-$8,000
  • Premium Hot Tub: $8,000-$12,000
  • Luxury Hot Tub: $12,000-$16,000+

Average Installation Costs

In the United States, the average cost for installing a hot tub is around $300. However, it can range from around $150-$500 depending on how complex the installation process is.

For example, installing a hot tub on a rooftop that requires a crane operator will be much more difficult than installing a hot tub in a traditional suburban backyard on a concrete pad.

Average Monthly Costs

On average, a hot tub owner will incur a cost of anywhere from $10 to $20 per month to keep their hot tub up and running. If you live in a cold climate where it snows, you will likely end up paying more during the winter than someone who lives in a warm climate.

If you use your hot tub quite a bit, you will lose a lot of the heat to the air. It is best to keep a cover on your hot tub when you’re not using it to stop the heat from escaping into the air.

You must also consider the age of the hot tub in question. Modern spas that use full-foam insulation are far better for energy and electricity costs.

Cost of Water Care

There are lot of things to take into consideration when it comes to water care, though on average, chemicals for a hot tub cost around $20 per month. If you upgrade your water care system, you could save a fair amount of money on maintenance.

For example, you could upgrade to a saltwater system, which reduces the need for chemicals. While an upgraded water care system cost might cost a lot more up front, saltwater can reduce the cost of owning a hot tub over a lifetime.

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Benefits of Owning a Hot Tub

Pain Relief

One of the main reasons people choose to buy a hot tub is that they are known to relieve pain. The beauty of warm water hydrotherapy is that it can reduce swelling thanks to the buoyancy of the water and the power of the jets.

People who have arthritis speak highly of the benefits of owning a hot tub, as hot tubs are known to heal arthritis symptoms, including pain, swelling, stiffness, and reduced joint motion. If you are someone who suffers from arthritis, works a laborious job, is involved with some type of athleticism, or find that your muscles and joints tend to hurt quite often, a new hot tub might be a great choice for you.

Improved Sleep

132 million Americans suffer from loss of sleep at least one night each week according to the National Sleep Foundation. People who have trouble sleeping often see their hot tubs as relief. Even soaking in your hot tub for 15 minutes before you hit the hay can improve your sleep immensely.

When you sit in a spa, the hot water temperature will heat your body up. When you exit the spa and go lay in your bed, your body temperature will cool down. This sudden drop in body temperature helps to ease your body into a much deeper, healthier sleep.

Entertainment

If you’ve been looking for a place for friends and family to gather, a spa might be just what you’ve been looking for. In a digital world where we are constantly attached to our electronic devices, a spa offers us a place to disconnect and spend your waking hours with the ones we love most.

Whether you are enjoying some good conversation with your family or partying it up with some good friends, spas offers a unique form of entertainment without the need for any technology in the mix.

Where To Buy a Spa

There are plenty of options to choose from when it comes to buying a spa. You can buy a spa online, at a local spa dealer, or through a big box retailer. Let’s explore the pros and cons of each of these options.

Buying a Spa Online

You can save tons of money right off the bat from purchasing a spa online. Compared to buying a spa locally, you may end up saving a few thousand dollars with ease. If you buy your spa online, however, the main downside is that it might not include installation and setup. You might need to hire some friends to help you move it out of your driveway and into the proper position.

If you need to perform special 220v wiring to support your spa, you will also need to hire a licensed electrician. Your best bet is to find a website that offers high-quality hot tub models and can provide you with both troubleshooting assistance and technical support when you need it most.

Local Spa Dealer

If you would rather pay a premium for a spa without having to worry about taking a risk with the installation and delivery process, we recommend visiting your local spa dealer to see what they have in stock. Yes, the initial cost will be a bit more, though there is nothing quite as good as having your spa installed by a professional who has done it many times before.

Plus, a local spa dealer will be able to give you a better warranty, as well as some of the best support that you could have. If you ever require service or repairs, a spa dealer will be there to help you out.

The majority of local spa dealers won’t ever make you a slave to the details of the offer. You just spent thousands of dollars through this store to purchase a new spa and they’ve made your happiness a priority so that you recommend them to your other friends and family.

If you’re someone who likes to visit fairs and expos, you will likely see some of these dealers showing off their best spas. They’ll typically offer you buyers some sort of special deals or pricing at these fairs and expos too.

Big Box Retailers

Another way that you might be able to share a few thousand dollars off of the asking price for a spa is through a big box retailer, such as Costco. Many of these retailers provide installation services unlike online stores, meaning you’ll receive a bit more than a big spa shell left in your driveway for you to deal with.

Most of the models that you’ll find through through these types of retailers come with some of the biggest brand name components and features, such as components from Balboa, which is the leading manufacturer of electronic components for spas in the industry.

With that said, you still need to do your research to ensure that you don’t end up buying some cheap, knockoff spa.

The one thing that you won’t receive from these kinds of retailers, unfortunately, is service. Remember, big box stores typically sell all kinds of stuff. They don’t have people on their teams that are experts on spas. They especially don’t have people that are just a phone call away when any trouble arises. However, they do usually have solid warranty programs, which you can acquire assistance with through a local representative.

Used Market

Last but not least, you may consider purchasing your spa used. Purchasing used is one of the best ways to save tons of money on a spa. You may be able to find a top-of-the-line, cutting-edge spa for half the price just because Joe from down the block doesn’t want it sitting in his yard anymore.

Now, obviously there are a few things to consider when purchasing a secondhand spa. The last thing that you want is to come home with a lemon. You have to make assessments, ask questions, and maybe call some experts to find out more about the spa in mind.

There are a couple of places we recommend looking for spas on the secondhand market, including Craigslist, local classifieds, and local dealer stores. If you can, stick with the local dealer. You may end up spending a bit more on a secondhand spa with a dealer, but you’ll have peace of mind that everything works properly. Plus, they might even supply you with some sort of warranty.

Best Hot Tub Brands

If you’re new to the world of hot tubs and you’re not certain what brands to check out, let us walk you through some of our favorite brands on the market to give you a jumping off point.

Jacuzzi

Jacuzzi is one of the world’s best hot tub brands and arguably one of the most popular out there as well.

In a lot of ways, the Jacuzzi brand name is synonymous with the word ‘spa’.

People who own Jacuzzi hot tubs often talk about how easier they are to use and the plethora of options that they provide.

One of our favorite features found on Jacuzzi spas is the aerated jet system.

This unique jet system mixes air and water to deliver a top-notch massage experience.

You can even use essential oils in your spa without having to worry about damaging any of the internal components. Jacuzzi is also known for its energy-efficient design. If you’re looking to save money over time, you might want to go with a Jacuzzi spa.

The second manufacturer on our list of the top brands goes to Hot Springs. Hot Springs is very similar to Jacuzzi in terms of reliability and price point. 

The one thing that separates Hot Springs, however, is how closely they pay attention to their luxury models.

Hot Springs works hand in hand with the BMW group company Designworks.

These spas are built for supreme comfort, which is one of the things that most prospective spa buyers check out primarily.

Beyond that, Hot Springs uses salt water systems in most of their spas.

The great thing about saltwater systems is that they are far easier to care for compared to standard water systems. They don’t require the same amount of chemicals, yet they can also kill bacteria much better.

If you’re in the market for a spa that is innovative and will stand the test of time, we highly recommend checking out Bullfrog Spas.

Bullfrog has been around for a few decades and has made some of the biggest leaps in the industry in terms of design and features.

One of the most notable things found in Bullfrog Spas is the interchangeable JetPak system.

The JetPak system was an absolutely jaw dropper when it initially hit the market.

The beauty of the JetPak system is that it allows people to choose the types of jets that they want to install in their spa.

Essentially, you can customize your spa experience.

The unique design also works to reduce energy costs, which is a huge selling point for a lot of interested buyers. All in all, if you’re looking for a company that is on the cusp of innovation, Bullfrog Spas is the company to check out.

Cal Spas

Cal Spas has been around since 1978 and is one of the most widespread spa manufacturers in the industry today.

The company has more than 28 unique spa trademarks and has more than 250 products in its lineup.

You’ll be able to find a massive lineup of unique products, add-ons, and upgrades to fit the needs of you and your family.

With the U-Select Hydrotherapy program, you can choose your own jetting packages that you want to use to customize your spa.

The beauty of purchasing through a company with a wide range of locations and dealers as Cal Spas is that you’ll never have to worry about getting help or service for your spa.

Are You Ready To Buy A Hot Tub?

The process of researching, comparing, and purchasing a spa might seem like it requires an overwhelming amount of work.

While you will have to put in some work, it is far better to take your time and find the perfect spa rather than not take your time an invest thousands into a hot tub that you don’t like or isn’t right for you.

With these considerations in mind, you should feel ready to visit dealers or search online while knowing what questions to ask.

See when its the best time to buy a hot tub. 

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Author S Krone

A lawyer never retires. So I would just say that I am not as active as I used to be. Now I simply dedicate myself to fishing, my hobby, and my grandchildren. For Business Finance News I write about legal aspects of mortgage policies, mostly regarding the rights of policyholders. I also have articles about personal injuries.

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