Hot Tub Buying Tips

A good hot tub should provide many years of relaxation and enjoyment. Here's how to buy the best one for the money.

By Jan Soults Walker

Soothe aching muscles and soak away stress when you relax in the warm, bubbling waters of your own hot tub. Here's what to consider before you buy.

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Darwin Webb

Tub Types

You'll find hot tubs made of cedar, molded fiberglass, or acrylic (or a combination of fiberglass and acrylic) within a redwood or cedar cabinet for durability in all kinds of weather. Each offers advantages and disadvantages. While cedar tubs provide a natural, rustic look and pleasing scent from a sustainable material, they require more intensive maintenance and aren't typically as comfortable as acrylic or fiberglass models, which usually feature seating that conforms to your body. Both fiberglass and acrylic tubs are considered durable, but acrylic is now the most common material.

Size Matters

Hot tubs offer various seating capacities and depths. Purchase one as an intimate escape for two or opt for one large enough to accommodate your entire family or a group of friends. Most people find a hot tub that's three to four feet deep most comfortable so the water rises above their shoulders.

Location, Location

Decide where you want to place the hot tub. Look for a spot close to an entry so the tub easy to use. Make sure the area is large enough to hold the hot tub that you plan to buy and that the surface can support the weight of the tub when it's filled with water and people. You'll also need an electric outlet nearby and access to water to fill the tub. (While most tub filters and heaters operate on electricity, you can also opt for natural gas or other power sources.)

If you purchase an acrylic tub, position it so it doesn't receive long hours of direct sunlight, as the surface may fade and bubble.

Ah, Massage

Diamond Spas
It's a myth that the more jets a hot tub has, the better. When comparing models, it's more important to select one with jets or jet groups targeted where your muscles receive the most benefit. Climb into each tub that interests you and note where the concentrated water streams will hit your body. Even better, ask the dealer if you can try a test soak in the model you're considering.

Browse more hot tubs and spa products and ideas.

Taking Care

Visit with hot tub dealers to learn how their spa models are maintained (knowing that all hot tubs require regularly checking the water's pH levels). Three sanitation systems are most common—chlorine, ozone, and salt water. Each offers pros and cons, so learn which one works best for your budget and schedule. Also, select a hot tub with a cleanable filter and quality, quiet pumps.

Cover Charge

Select a model with a quality insulated cover to hold in the heat, keep out debris, and protect the interior from damage. A lockable cover is a necessity if children are around.

Bells and Whistles

Depending on your budget, you may also consider hot tub models with fun and soothing features such as a waterfall, special lighting effects, aromatherapy, and wireless audio and visual equipment.

Other Costs

In addition to the cost of the initial purchase price, your utility bill will increase as you power and heat your tub. Look for energy-efficient features to minimize operating costs, such as a fully insulated tub and cover. Check the energy efficiency of the water pump and heater as well.

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