Hot Tub Buyers Guide - Part 1 - Basics of Buying a Hot Tub
So, your interested in buying a new hot tub, but you don't really know where to start? Check out this guide to find the best hot tub to suit your needs. Our sales team has combined experience of over 30 years assisting our customers with their hot tub needs, and trust me when I say, between us we’ve seen it all. Many clients reach out with an idea of what they are looking for, but for many this is their first experience with hot tubs. Don’t worry, by answering just a few questions, you can narrow down your options to just a few models. It's time to find your new tub!
Q. Size: How big of a hot tub do I really need?
A. This one is probably the most impactful decision you can make when buying a hot tub. Getting the right size hot tub not only ensures that you are going to be comfortable, but also that you aren’t getting more hot tub than you need. So, here’s how we would recommend choosing:
First, ask yourself “who are the primary users?” Is it you and your spouse only or are you a family of five? If you are 1-2 people in the household, then a small-medium size hot tub probably fits your needs the best. Here we would recommend a tub that seats up to 3-5 people. Why bigger than two? Well, when a hot tub manufacturer states that it’s a four or five-seater model, their usually referring to the maximum occupancy of the hot tub. In our experience, a four-seater hot tub for example, really fits 2-3 adults comfortably, with the ability to get in a fourth when needed.
Next in importance, think about what you want to use the hot tub for. Do you entertain often, have family/friends over on the weekends or have a larger family that visits often during the holidays? Then it might be worth buying a hot tub that can accommodate a larger number of adults.
Lastly, you need to consider your size and comfort. A person who’s 6’ or taller probably should consider a medium to large hot tub, regardless of the number of primary users. Deeper, longer hot tubs will give you the leg room you need to stretch out comfortably, while also ensuring the jets are positioned to massage where they should. With a good hot tub brand, they will have designed the hot tub to fit differences in height and size.
Q. Do I want a lounger, or not?
A. With a lounger, you can get targeted massage over your entire body; back/neck, legs, and feet simultaneously, which can be very relaxing. The trade-off comes with the space taken up by a lounger. Let’s consider two hot tubs that we sell, the Hydropool Signature 670 and 695. Both hot tubs are the same size 7’ x 7’. The 670 has a full-length lounger, the 695 does not, but both tubs seat up to six people. The 670 has the lounger but would seat 4 adults comfortably with the ability to squeeze in up to six. The 695 doesn’t have the lounger, but seats five comfortably, with the sixth as the squeeze-in. A family of 4 might do better in the 670, where a family of 5 may consider the extra space in the 695 to be more advantageous, or go up to the next tub size.
Lastly, when choosing a hot tub with a lounger, you want to buy one that isn’t flat. Flat loungers can often be comfortable to sit in dry, but they make you much more prone to float with the buoyancy of the water and when the jets come on… you can easily end up in someone else’s lap. You want a lounger with a low center of gravity, where most of your weight is low in the tub while keeping you in the correct position for hydrotherapy.
Signature 670 (84"x84") Signature 695 (84"x84")
Q. Is the tub for aches and pains?
A. Hot tubs users generally fit into two broad categories, people who primarily want the hot water and ambience of soaking, or those who want to use the hot tub for therapeutic purposes. Whether you need the hot tub for insomnia, muscle pain, circulation or physically demanding work, hot tubs are great at assisting with all. But some tubs are better for hydrotherapy than others.
Ideally, if you want a tub for specific aches and pains, you want to look for two things: First, does the hot tub have the right jets and jet placement to massage where you want it to? Next, does the hot tub have enough power and proper water flow to give you the pressure you need. Ideally, a two-massage pump model would be best or, you can look for a hot tub with a heated air-blower that adds additional flow where needed. Make sure you avoid the trap of the “100 jet hot tub,” more jets are not always better!
Q. What are the deal-breakers for buying a hot tub?
A. When I plan large inground pool projects for my clients, this is the first thing I ask them to do when we meet. Write down your “must-haves,” “would-be-nice(s),” and “if money wasn’t an option” lists. These simple lists are a great tool for going into a sales situation prepared. For example, if your must-haves are that you need to have a lounger, and seat four people comfortably, you go in knowing a small hot tub isn’t for you. Or maybe you were in a friend’s hot tub, and they had waterfall pillows that you really liked. That’s a good option to put onto the “would-be-nice list.” The important thing is to go into a big purchase thinking about the product you want. A good salesperson will listen to your list and find a hot tub that fits as many of the items on your list, while also finding something within a realistic budget.
Q. What does the hot tub cost and what can I afford?
A. Answering this one is always tough for clients. There’s price, there’s value and lastly there’s affordability. The last one, affordability is the one we can’t answer for you. It’s a big purchase and sometimes for our clients it means that they are trading up on family vacations for a while, for investing in vacations at home in the new tub.
For the purposes of this article, let’s start by tackling the difference between price and value. Simply put, price is what you pay for, and value is what you actually get for your money. So, how do you know if you’ve got value for the price you paid? Here are some of the cost considerations when you buy a hot tub:
- Quality of the build. It’s a tiring cliché, but you almost always get what you paid for. There’s a reason why a box-store hot tub costs $7,000 while one from a specialty dealer may cost you $15,000 for a hot tub of the same size. It’s what goes into it, it’s the quality of the equipment, the insulation, the plumbing, the frame/structure. Often things the consumer sadly never gets to see when they buy but can soon find out if they’ve bought the wrong product. It would be awfully self-serving of me to say you have to buy a more expensive hot tub, but the truth is, you don’t. You just need to understand there’s going to be significant trade-offs to buying inexpensive products. It usually means a much higher operating cost to run, more money spent replacing parts and a shorter overall lifespan of the product. Do your homework, check out honest reviews by independent third parties, check out the business you’re buying from, and ask around the community.
- Operating costs. It can sting a bit if you’ve bought a hot tub that was designed for use in Florida, and you live in Nova Scotia. Maybe that hot tub from Florida was $3,000 less up-front, but over the next ten years, you will pay far more than that in the extra power cost. So, what should a hot tub cost to run? An efficient one, $30-$50 a month for power, depending on the month and usage. Ask for real world numbers from the dealer, and where it stacks up against the competition.
- The salesperson and product they recommend can mean the difference between the tub you needed, and the one you bought. I am in my 15th year in the industry, and I can easily spot a bad salesperson from a mile away. A good salesperson will sell the best product for you, bad ones sell the best product for them and their business. Your salesperson should ask you questions like those in this article, narrow down the selection for you and then offer you an honest opinion on what models they would recommend. Smart businesses are the ones who train their salespeople to sell the right way. Sure, you can push to sell the most expensive hot tub, but I guarantee that if it’s the wrong tub for their needs, the client will never recommend you to anyone. Good companies recognize this and approach sales by meeting their client’s wants and needs. Again, do your homework, check out verified reviews and see if the company is a good fit and one that you trust.
Q. What are the price ranges for hot tubs?
A. Hot tubs come in many shapes and sizes, and it’s a harder question to answer than you may think. But let’s break it down into the three main hot tub types:
- Soft-sided hot tubs: These are smaller inflatable spas with very basic equipment and often a handful of jets. They typically Range from $1,000-$3,000.
- Roto-molded hot tubs: Thermoplast hot tubs are an extruded resin construction, often with smaller pump systems with limited standard features. They are often offered in 115V configurations, for plug and play experience. Prices on these generally fit into the $6,000-$9,000 range.
- Acrylic spas: Most consumers would think of these when they picture a hot tub. Often, but not always 230V hard-wired with the maximum hydrotherapy and options available. These tubs generally fall into a very wide range, based on quality, size and options, $7,000-$25,000.
Q. Will we actually use it?
A. This one is simple, yes, you will. If you have done your homework and the salesperson is good at what they do, you will go away with a product that will make you happy for many years.
Here is the first-hand feedback I hear from my clients most:
- “I use it almost every day!” This seems to surprise a lot of people, but most clients get into their own routine for using the hot tub regularly. Whether it’s every night before bed, or in the evenings for family time, with the cellphones turned off.
- “We have people over all the time now.” Hot tubs are great for connecting with friends and family.
- “The hot tub has really helped with my pain.” We aren’t doctors and hot tubs are not a replacement for medical advise or treatment. However, there are many well researched and documented studies done on the benefits of hydrotherapy including increased blood flow and circulation, helping relieve muscle aches and tension, treating insomnia and headache relief.
- “I didn’t think I would use it when it was cold outside, but I am in it all winter long.” Winter was made for hot tubs and if you have thought out your placement, the hot tub will be in a spot that makes your winter even better.
Q. What else should I ask when I meet with my salesperson?
A. Here are some additional questions I would ask:
- What’s the warranty of the product?
- Who does the warranty repairs?
- Do you stock the parts to repair things in a timely fashion?
- Is the warranty just parts, or parts and labour?
- What do you include with your advertised price?
- Where is the hot tub made?
- How long have you been carrying this brand?
- What can you tell me about the manufacturer?
Hopefully, this article has helped to prepare you for the initial stages of buying a hot tub. There are two more parts to this series, next up, “2023 Hot tub Buyers Guide, Part Two...” This article goes through our recommendations for what to look for and avoid when buying a hot tub.