Choosing a great hot tub is a wonderful investment you will love for a very long time. Having your own spa lets you get rid of the hassle of day-to-day life and relaxation at home can become a reality.
Since you are here, you most likely already decided you want a tub. Or you think you might want one and are not convinced. The information below will help you choose exactly how to choose the best hot tub for you.
The trick is to look at the following factors.
Space And Size
This is self-explanatory. Before you even start looking for a hot tub, you need to become aware of where you will put it, how much space you have available, and your electrical set up.
Usually, the hot tub is placed outdoors, in an area like a deck or a patio. But, it can also be placed indoors.
After you pick a spot, you have to measure it. Make sure you have enough space available for access, cover lifters, steps, and other equipment.
How do you intend to use the hot tub? How many people will use it at a time? Will you have guests?
Such questions will help you to make the right choice. If more people will use it, you will need a hot tub with several seats.
When the space available is limited or you just plan to use the hot tub alone, maybe with a significant other, the 2-3 people spa is just perfect. Extra seats can also be considered when you want to have more room to just stretch out.
You might also want to opt for lounge seats. These are reclined seats. You can lay back and get fully submerged in the water. The lounger offers a better full-body massage and usually features more jets. Also, the spa is deeper so you do not float out.
Remember that the lounge seat will be the size of two regular hot tub seats.
The 240V hard-wired hot tubs will heat faster. They will also stay hot for longer when compared to the Plug and Play tubs, which usually have a hook-up of 120V. This is a standard setup in most US, but voltages can vary a lot based on several factors. Remember that the spas that stay in place and are not moved usually have a higher voltage. They should be installed by qualified electricians. The plug-and-play hot tubs can be installed by the user.
Hot Tub Material
The most common hot tub material is acrylic. However, there are several other options you can consider. Basically, the shell of the spa will determine appearance, strength, insulation, and, of course, costs.
Acrylic is a versatile, durable, and beautiful material. With the use of molds, the shape can be fully customized. This is why there are acrylic hot tubs available in literally all shapes and sizes.
The tub is supported through the use of a frame. There is also a synthetic or wood cabinet that surrounds it. All the equipment is put within that cabinet.
Expect to pay anywhere between $1,000 and over $15,000 for an acrylic hot tub. Just remember that a high price is not necessarily an indicator of very high quality. The best thing you can do is buy your tub online if you want to save money. Alternatively, because of their high durability, you can also consider used acrylic hot tubs.
Resin Unicast Shells
These hot tubs are very durable. They are built with the cabinet and the shell as being a single piece. As a result, the spa is durable and strong. The finish tends to be easy to care for and eye-catching. Also, the price is usually lower, but the jets are fewer.
The problem with resin hot tubs is that there are some that will heat spas with a pump, not with a separate dedicated heater. These should be avoided because they will heat slower. Also, regulating temperature becomes difficult in weather that is very cold or hot.
Vinyl Soft Hot Tubs
A vinyl hot tub’s biggest advantage is that it is very affordable. The disadvantage is that there are not many features available. You can opt for 2 options:
- A very cheap inflatable vinyl hot tub.
- A more expensive vinyl soft-sided spa.
The inflatable option is a great short-term investment you can consider if you want the hot tub for a couple of seasons. But, it is mostly like an inflatable pool with a little bit of massage included, not much. The soft-sided spa option is portable. It is small, without actual seating, and minimal jetting. But it can be enough for some people.
After you consider everything highlighted above, it is time to analyze the different options, features, and equipment included in the models you find. The focus should always be put on exactly what you want from the hot tub. The main features to analyze are the following.
The very best massage is given by the jets that will mix air and water. High jet counts mean nothing, just like hokey massage packs. These are just costly or very hard to replace.
We should also highlight that the presence of too many jets will reduce water pressure. Adding more motors or a larger motor is the only real way to solve a pressure loss problem. The problem is that such an addition will lead to more costs, around $100 extra in energy costs per month.
Simply put, you need the amount of jets that makes sense based on the hot tub, and only secondary take into account your wishes, to see if they match with the model you consider buying.
The spa pump is what creates jet flow. More pumps and more horsepower do not necessarily offer a better massage. This combo does not offer a better tub. If the spa has a huge horsepower rating and several pumps (some models even have 6), a lot of energy will be consumed.
The best hot tub has a ratio of jet to horsepower that is perfect. The goal is to get the needed jet strength and have ideal energy efficiency.
In many cases, especially when the hot tub will be placed outdoors, the spa cover is a necessity. Having a quality cover is going to save money and conserve energy. Also, locking straps will protect your hot tub from weather, dirt, and even pests. Most dealers do include covers. Sometimes they say this is a special free bonus but in reality, it is a necessity.
The blower is also known as bubbler. It is practically a motor that will push air into the hot tub water. This creates bubbles like in champagne. The feeling is something you might enjoy but the air blower is not really recommended. The reason for this is that water temperature is lowered and energy is wasted since cold air is what is pumped. Also, the sound levels can go up quite a lot.
The very best hot tubs will have jets capable of mixing water and air. This removes the need of having blowers.
The full-foam spa fills the cabinet with special spray foam insulation. This sounds great but future repairs instantly become more difficult. Also, heat from the pumps is wasted.
A roto-molded hot tub does need foam for structure support. In an acrylic spa, the insulated cabinet that presents air space is better since it will capture heat coming from the pump.
You should know that you lose most of the heat in your hot tub through the top.
The energy-efficient hot tubs usually include reflective-backed insulation. The reflective foam is basically acting like a mirror. It will bounce the radiant heat and will put it back into the tub.
The last thing you should know is that if you put the hot tub on a cold ground area, an insulated base is a must. It will cut your heating costs by around 20% every year. And it also helps with keeping pests and moisture out.
You want to have clear water in your hot tub. This is what the filtration system is for. Besides having clear water, the filter will remove the larger particles present inside water. You gain extra protection for your parts.
Yearly filter replacements are usually the norm. And the best filters will prevent the growth of bacteria, which is definitely an added plus. Simply put, having a good filter in place will make the longevity of the hot tub much longer.
As a tip: buy your filters online. They will be a lot cheaper than directly from local dealers.
Audio, Water, And Lighting Features
Color lighting systems or audio systems are just some great things to have. They are not a necessity. But, we have to admit the fact that they are great when it comes to having a party in the hot tub.
What is important is to shop around if this is something you want. If you do not, it is very easy to end up overpaying.
Remember that many hot tub dealers will charge a lot more when you want to add options. And there are so many to pick from, including Bluetooth audio or all colors LEDs. Your budget and what you want from the hot tub will dictate what you want to add.
The last important thing to consider is the warranty you receive. A new tub will have a warranty. But, it is usually not that much. Also, if your dealer is no longer in business, you do not really have warranty. There is even a problem with the big box stores. If they are not specialized in these tubs, expert support is not really available.
When it comes to the warranty, use it to compare similar deals. If you get more warranty and the price difference is not much, it is a good investment to consider.
Prices And Costs
When we mention price, we mean how much you pay to buy the hot tub. But we have to also mention cost, which includes much more, like chemicals, power bills, potential repair costs, site preparation, and extra accessories. If you have to deal with thin covers, poor build quality, cheap parts, and improper insulation, the lifetime cost of the hot tub will be higher.
You may be tempted to think that all this means when you pay more as you buy the hot tub, your overall costs are lower. This is not always the case. You need to do the math right and take all factors that could impact costs into account to make the right price choice.
The hot tub is considered a big purchase. Not many have the cash needed to outright buy it. This is where financing can step in to help. The most common financing options available are the following.
Hot Tub Dealer Financing
This is actually quite rare these days. But, it is still possible that you find dealers allowing you to set up some sort of installment plan to pay for the hot tub. Some money will be needed upfront and the loan will have high interest because of the higher risk the dealer is exposed to.
Regular credit cards can be considered but there are also special home improvement credit cards available. They have high interest and a very high limit since they are created to help complete larger home improvement projects.
The special credit card is an option but you have to remember that high interest or variable interest cards are risky. You can be attracted by lower monthly payments but the long-term nature of the deal tends to be very costly.
Lines Of Credit Or Home Equity loans
Home equity is a great option to consider, especially when you couple the hot tub with a larger project, like building a new deck. You receive one lump sum and your home is used as collateral.
If you just want a loan for the hot tub, there is a lower possibility of being accepted by a bank. The best option, in this case, is to look at the deals of small credit unions. Just be aware of the fact that you use your house as collateral.
Where Should You Buy Your Hot Tub?
The last thing to discuss is where you buy the hot tub from because it is a very important decision, just as important as the hot tub you buy. Make sure to only consider reputable sources.
Prices tend to be higher with dealers. Many deals are presented as sales but they are just everyday prices. Also, several dealers use wet-testing. This means the dealer has one hot tub filled with water you can actually test. The problem is that the hot tub is usually one of the most expensive available.
Big Box Stores
The big problem with the wholesale retailer is that it offers so many products that not much knowledge actually exists when it comes to the hot tubs available in the catalog. Several low-cost deals are available and you can save a lot of money. But, you have to be ready for bad service after the sale.
Because of the very high prices and deplorable tactics used by several spa dealers and even big box stores, people look online for hot tubs. This is a very good idea but you still need to be careful. Not all online sellers will offer great quality. Only buy from reputable online resources.
Making The Final Choice
As you can see, there are several things to take into account when you buy a hot tub. Do not take the process lightly. Read as many reviews as you can and choose based on what is important to you. The best hot tub for you is not necessarily the best one on the market or the best one for someone else. This is a highly personal decision. Take your time so you do not regret it.