Hot Tub Buyers Guide
A hot tub is a significant purchase. A quality hot tub can cost just as much as a used car, meaning it's a serious investment that you don't want to skimp out on.
You're here because you already know all of the benefits of owning a hot tub, and you're finally ready to take the deep dive and purchase one of your own.
Luckily, you've come to the right place.
Today, our hot tub buying guide will help you find the perfect hot tub at the perfect price for your specific needs!
How To Buy A Hot Tub
Look at Your Space
The first thing you need to do before seeing a new hot tub is to analyze your available space. Where in your home will your spa sit? People often place their hot tubs on patios, decks, porches, or concrete pads. When it comes to the size and design of your new hot tub, you want to make sure it will fit in your desired location.
Once you have a good idea of where your hot tub will sit, you'll want to take measurements of the area so that you can find a spa that fits within those dimensions. This part requires care, as the last thing you want to do is buy a hot tub that doesn't quite fit.
Determine The Hot Tub Size You Need
For starters, you'll want to look at the dimensions of your hot tub.
Larger square hot tubs are often around 8' x 8' long, though many extra-large hot tubs are over 9' long! If you're looking at swim spas, you can expect length anywhere from 15-25'.
On the other hand, it's possible to find smaller hot tubs anywhere from 5' to 7' long on each side.
Once you find the correct dimensions for your spa, you'll also want to think about the shape.
While rectangular hot tubs are less traditional, they're much better for those trying to save room, as they can be placed in corners without any dead space.
Lastly, you'll want to look at the seating capacity. Unfortunately, spa size and capacity don't always correlate, meaning a larger tub might not have as much seating as a smaller hot tub. To determine the ideal seating capacity, think about who you want to have in your hot tub.
You might like the idea of having a once-a-month hot tub party where you can invite your friends and family over. On the other hand, you might simply want a peaceful place you can soak and unwind after a long day at work. Whatever the case is, think about the number of people you might want to fit in your hot tub.
Most hot tubs can fit anywhere 5-6 people, while larger hot tubs can fit anywhere from 8-10 people. Of course, that portable hot tub for two might be the ideal option. It's entirely up to you!
Find The Right Seating Arrangement
Once you've determined the size of your perfect hot tub, you'll need to look at the seating options. To do so, ask yourself a few questions.
Are you okay with traditional bench seating with minimal jet arrangements, or do you like the idea of having lounge seating for a deeper soak?
Would you prefer having a cool-down seat, allowing you to sit higher in your hot tub to maintain a cooler body temperature while soaking?
Are there enough seats in your spa to accommodate all of the people you want to join you?
Know Your Electrical Needs
There are two main options when it comes to hot tub electrical connections, including 120V and 240V.
120V plug-and-play models plug into standard home outlets, meaning you don't need to hire a licensed electrician to get started. These kinds of hot tubs are great for those planning on moving in the future or are okay with smaller models.
240V hot tubs are more common. They are much more energy-efficient, heating faster and staying hot for longer, though they require wiring and GFCI installation from a licensed electrician.
Compare the Various Hot Tub Materials
There are many materials to consider when buying a hot tub, including acrylic, roto-cast polymer, wood, and vinyl.
Not only is your hot tub shell material important in determining your hot tub's aesthetic, but it can also determine the durability, insulation properties, and cost.
Acrylic spas are the most popular modern spas, as they look great, are very durable, and come in versatile designs.
Manufacturers will form acrylic molds with unique contours and comfortable seating. In addition, many hot tubs with acrylic shells have support from steel frames, wood, or synthetic cabinetry, all where the spa equipment is housed. Note that you'll often pay more for an acrylic hot tub, though the longevity can be worth the extra price.
Roto-molded hot tubs or roto-cast polymer tubs are hot tubs made of a single shell piece molded to create a durable and easy-maintenance unit. Many spa brands use resin finishes on these hot tubs to create eye-catching looks. You'll find many modern features in these hot tubs as well, including lounge seating, LED lighting, and more. However, these hot tubs are typically cheaper, as they come with fewer features, fewer jets, and lower-quality insulation properties.
If you're in the market for a portable spa, you might consider a soft-shell hot tub or inflatable vinyl hot tub. These low-cost hot tubs don't have all of the same bells and whistles as high-end hard-shell hot tubs, though they can offer the same relaxation benefits. Note that when we say "inflatable hot tubs," we're not talking about cheap kiddy pools. Instead, these soft-shell hot tubs come with jets, heating sources, and unique control features.
Lastly, we have wooden hot tubs. If you're going for a traditional look and feel, a wooden hot tub is a great idea. There's nothing like soaking with the sweet smell of cedarwood around you. However, note that wooden hot tubs lack customization and require frequent maintenance to maintain integrity. If you're okay with a lack of modern amenities, frequent draining, and lack of insulation, then you may be fine with a wooden hot tub.
Search For Your Ideal Features
Once you have the right material for your hot tub in mind, you'll want to find the right features that fit your needs and desires. Here are some of the top features to look for when buying a new hot tub.
There's no reason to buy a hot tub if you're aren't going to enjoy the jets every once in a while. High-quality hydrotherapy jets can deliver massage to soothe your muscles and your soul. With so much jet technology on the market today, it's essential to look at different hot tub brands to see what they offer.
However, a word of caution; the last thing you want to do is fall for the high jet count sales technique. A hot tub with 80 low-quality jets might not deliver the same high-pressure massage as a hot tub with 20 luxury jets. Read reviews and learn more about jet technology before you buy.
Your pump motor system will provide water flow for the jets. Now, a hot tub dealer might try to sell you on a model with tons of jets and high horsepower ratings, though that might not be the best option. Hot tubs don't often need a boatload of pumps or ultra-high horsepower ratings to deliver what they promise. Instead, these kinds of hot tub models waste massive amounts of energy.
Look for spas that have an ideal motor to jet ratio for the best in terms of strength and efficiency.
To keep your spa water crystal clear, you'll need a quality filtration system. A high-end filter will remove large, unwanted particles from your water, protecting your equipment from damage while improving the clarity of the water.
Newer hot tub models have advanced microbe-resistant filter systems that prevent bacteria growth and nasty odors. They are much easier to clean than standard filters as well. You should also note the number of filters your hot tub has. Some hot tub models have one or two filters, while others have up to five! Remember, filters can be a long-term cost, so choose wisely.
Different spa manufacturers use different forms of insulation. Most hot tubs use full-foam insulation, which is excellent for the most part. However, it can make future maintenance and repairs more challenging and waste pump heat.
If you're looking for the most energy-efficient option, we recommend going with reflective-backed foam insulation. Insulated cabinets with reflective-backed foam insulation act like mirrors, reflecting radiant heat into the hot tub.
You might also want to consider looking for a hot tub with an insulated base to prevent heat loss on the cold ground. With this small bit of protection for the bottom of your hot tub, you can save up to 20% on energy costs every year!
Don't think of a spa cover as "optional." To retain heat, keep your tub clean, and conserve energy (especially if you live in a cold climate), you'll want to get a spa cover.
Because heat rises, most of the heat loss comes from the top of your hot tub, not the hot tub cabinet, which is why having a quality cover is critical.
A great cover will have locking straps to keep dirt, inclement weather, and animals from getting in.
These covers are also necessary safety precautions for those who have young children in the home.
You might even consider getting a spa with a hot tub cover lifter, which is excellent if you feel you might have trouble lifting your hot tub cover on and off your hot tub every time you want to use it.
Technology is all around us. In the modern age, many spa companies are integrating high-end control systems to give users total control over the various parameters of their spas. Of course, not all hot tub models come with the same level of control, so it's important to do your research and see what's available with your preferred model.
For example, some spa brands use Wi-Fi systems that you can control with your smartphone or tablet, and some go as far as letting people use remote control so that they can flip their spa on and off and control the internal features while they're away from home.
To keep the water in your spa nice and clean, you'll need a good water care system. Every spa company offers different water care solutions, which is why it's up to you to find one that balances clean water maintenance and cost-efficiency.
Some spa companies use ozone cleaning systems, some use salt water systems, and some use traditional chlorine systems. We recommend researching the various types of cleaning systems to determine which one makes the most sense for your needs.
Many new hot tub models use LED lighting to accent certain parts of the shell and interior. For example, Bullfrog Spas offers beautiful in-spa lighting, lighted cup holders, back-lit water features, and exterior sconce lighting. So if you want to turn your backyard into a gorgeous, lit-up space where you can relax, find hot tubs that offer LED lighting of some sort.
You may also want to look into regular water features, such as waterfalls. The addition of cascading water features can transport you to a tranquil state, helping you to soak in the mental benefits of hydrotherapy too!
Another popular hot tub feature we see pretty often is the Bluetooth Audio System. Whether you want to enhance your relaxing hydrotherapy experience with a tranquil soundtrack or get the party started with your favorite fiesta tunes, having a convenient speaker system integrated into your tub can provide hours of entertainment.
Lastly, you might consider looking into hot tub steps. With good-looking hot tub steps, you can easily get into and out of your spa. These steps use non-slip surfaces, durable construction, and materials that match your spa shell for a more cohesive look.
Seek Out Various Hot Tub Dealers
Regular Spa Dealers
Buying from a regular spa dealer means you'll likely pay the highest price, though you get access to the best support post-purchase. The great thing about dealers is that they specialize in spas, meaning any problems you have with your spa later down the line, they'll likely be able to help.
Secondly, most dealers offer delivery and installation services as well, which you will likely need if you don't have a truck large enough to haul your spa or a group of friends willing to help you put it in place.
Lastly, most local dealers offer a wet test for potential buyers. With wet tests, you can try out your preferred spa in-store before buying it. Essentially, you can check out all of the tub's features, including jets, heating systems, and more!
Big Box Stores
Most wholesale retailers have zero knowledge of the spa models they sell. However, they offer fantastic deals on these spas compared to local stores, which can save you tons of money when trying to find the right tub. If you buy a hot tub from one of these stores, you're on your own if any problems arise.
The quality of online sellers varies, but one major benefit is that you can spend your time looking for the right spa and compare prices between different spa models without a salesperson hovering over you. While we do like this aspect of online shopping, beware that you might not get the same seasoned customer service and care that you'd get with a local dealer.
For this reason, it's essential to research the seller beforehand.
Many spa companies band together at local roadshows throughout the year. These roadshows often take place during county fairs or large local parking lots during big events.
Traveling spa shows like these typically offer products for much cheaper prices, which can be great for any consumer looking for a deal. Of course, it's important that you do your research ahead of time to find out more about the spa models they have in stock.
Buy At The Right Time of Year
Just like a car or a home, there are certain times throughout the year that are better to find good hot tub deals. Some of the best times during the year to look include:
If there is a specific dealer you want to buy from, you should wait until they're setting up for an event sale. To get a better deal on freight costs, dealers will often purchase several spa models at once when preparing for an event. Then, they often pass those savings onto the consumer.
A dealer must pay a lot of money to advertise a sales event, which is why they're usually pressed to get rid of inventory. As a purchaser, these factors give you negotiation power while motivating the dealer to sell.
Even if you try and negotiate with the dealer and they aren't able to lower the price, you still might be able to get them to throw in a few decent upgrades or accessories.
Ask About The Warranty Service
When researching hot tubs, you'll want to find a hot tub brand that provides a good warranty. While all new hot tub models have warranties in some regard, not all dealers will offer the necessary service if anything goes wrong. For example, a dealer may end up going out of business, which means you may not end up receiving any warranty service.
In some cases, people end up buying spas from big box stores. Unfortunately, while you might be able to save money through a big box store, you probably won't get the specialized service you need.
Hot Tub Pricing - How Does It Work?
Typical Hot Tub Pricing
One of the questions we get the most here at Yardsharing is,
How much does a typical hot tub cost?
Well, it's important to understand that every hot tub is made differently, using different materials and systems. Hot tub prices differ depending on the location you buy it from. Because spa pricing is so variable, brands and dealers will often refrain from posting prices online, asking potential buyers to make quote requests first.
With that said, most of the time, you'll find that hot tub models fall into one of four categories:
Luxury Spas - $13,000 to $22,000+
These are some of the best spas you'll find, made with energy-efficiency in mind and high-end, therapeutic features. Expect to find durable materials and the latest and greatest technological features.
Mid-Range Spas - $9,000 to $12,000
With mid-range spas, you'll find standard features, quality jet systems, and decent hydrotherapy options.
Value Spas - $6,000
Value spas are often comfortable and reliable, though you won't find many high-end hydrotherapy features or additional accessories.
Luxury Spas - $2,000 to $5,000
Spas in this range aren't very durable and won't come with any great features. If you're looking in this price range, we recommend only looking for inflatable spas.
Because as you know by now, a hot tub is a big purchase. Like homes or vehicles, not many people can purchase a hot tub outright. For this reason, hot tub financing exists.
There are many dealers out there that offer in-house financing, and those that don't will often offer installment plans. With an installment plan, you'll put a bit of money down upfront and make payments toward your spa every month.
Visit our Are Hot Tubs A Good Investment article to learn more.
Final Thoughts - Finding Your Ideal Hot Tub
Buying a hot tub doesn't have to be a stressful experience as long as you have a bit of direction during your search. With our guide, you know exactly what to look for and what to avoid!
Because price is the most important factor for most people, the majority of prospective buyers are looking for the best deals out there.
Rather than spending hours of your waking life trying to get in contact with local dealers to get price quotes you can compare, we can bring all of the quotes directly to you!
Simply fill out the free questionnaire below to get the lowest spa price quotes based on your desired preferences and specific location. Start soaking today!