How to Buy a Hot Tub

What could possibly be better than climbing into steaming hot water at the end of the day and gazing over your garden while your cares soak away? Before you peel those clothes off, however, you'll need to make several decisions about your hot tub--chiefly regarding its size, cost, safety features and installation.


Decide where to place the hot tub. Take privacy, accessibility and aesthetics into consideration. Don't put the tub under overhanging trees or bushes that drop a lot of leaves.

Make sure the site can withstand 100 to 150 pounds per square foot (500 to 750 kg per square m). You'll want the strength and security of a sturdy deck or concrete slab.

Choose the size of a hot tub according to how many people will use it. The rule of thumb is to multiply 75 gallons (284 l) of water by the number of people for the total water capacity.

Determine your budget. Two-person hot tubs start at about $4,000 and six-person hot tubs start at $8,000 to $10,000. Ask for an estimate of monthly operating costs. Full insulation will save energy.

Consider what material you want. Today most hot tubs are made of acrylic, which is easier to take care of and longer lasting than fiberglass. Hot tubs made out of wood, most commonly redwood, are handsome but are likely to require more cleaning and upkeep, and they don't offer contoured seating as acrylic does. For a smaller investment, consider portable hot tubs made of vinyl (about $2,500).

Try before you buy. A good company will let you test hot tubs in the showroom. (You'll want to dress for the occasion.) Pay attention to the jets' noise level, how easy it is to use the control, and the seating arrangement (especially with premolded seats). Can you move around comfortably? Do you want a flexible seating arrangement?

Look for features and amenities to add to your pleasure and reduce any worries. Covers that lock with a key keep children safe and also help keep the tub clean. Thermostats keep the temperature under control. Safety switches, such as automatic shutoffs, are available.

Get the specifics about the dealer's delivery and installation service. Do you want the tub left in the driveway or brought right to its new location? Installation may add 5 to 10 percent to the cost, but you may find it worthwhile, especially given electrical and plumbing factors.


  • These days the terms hot tub and spa are used interchangeably for the typical acrylic tub, usually equipped with jets to circulate the water.
  • Look for a spa with a skim filter--located on the side of the pool just at the water's surface--instead of an underwater filter, which can catch hair and clothing when it pulls in water.