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After a long day of work and hustling kids back and forth to activities, the idea of relaxing in a hot tub can be appealing. You may have done some online browsing, dreaming of one day becoming a hot tub owner. But during your searches, you’ve likely been overwhelmed with the information available. And the truth is, hot tubs come in all shapes and sizes and have various features, benefits, and of course, prices. We’ve tried to make your hot tub purchase experience a bit easier by outlining this helpful hot tub buying guide.
Highlights & Key Takeaways
- Purchasing a hot tub is an expensive endeavor - most hot tubs costs between $2,000 and $20,000.
- The maintenance on a hot tub, especially if you hire a professional cleaning and service team, can cost about $2,000 per year.
- Hot tub financing is available, but do your homework before you apply to ensure you get the best terms and rates.
- Purchase your hot tub from a reputable and well-established local dealer.
Are Hot Tubs Worth It? Hot Tub Pros and Cons
Hot tubs are not an insignificant investment. Not only are there costs for the hot tub, delivery, and installation, but most homeowners need to prepare a space for the hot tub for arrival, which comes at a cost, and they need to budget for ongoing maintenance. For this reason, homeowners need to be thoughtful when determining the answer to the question for themselves; are hot tubs worth it?
The way we see it, hot tubs have various pros and cons.
- Hot tubs are a great way for you to get some daily self-care and relaxation
- Using a hot tub has various health benefits such as muscle relaxation, stress management, weight loss, improved athletic performance, and more.
- A hot tub can add value to your home if it is well maintained
- A spa in the backyard or indoor space can encourage family togetherness and bonding
- You will need to do some home or landscaping renovations to prepare for the delivery and installation of your new hot tub
- Hot tubs can cost close to $2,000 to maintain, especially if you opt for professional cleaning and maintenance packages
- Hot tub repairs can get expensive - a new pump can cost $750 to $1,200 for the part alone, not to mention the labor for the replacement
How to Choose the Right Hot Tub Brand
As we said, hot tubs come in all shapes and sizes. And, various dealers offer different brands with different key features and benefits. The chances are that you have seen several brands on television and in advertisements, but you probably wonder if they are as good as they say they are. The most popular hot tub brands right now are:
- Sundance Spas
- Master Spas
- Jacuzzi (though many people consider a jetted bathtub or whirlpool a jacuzzi, this is actually a name brand, too)
- Bullfrog Spas
- Hot Spring
When choosing a hot tub brand, be sure to consider the following:
- Look for a brand (and a dealer) that has been in the business for some time
- Consider the features that are important to you, and rule out brands that don’t meet those needs or desires
- Seek a brand that has models that fit within your budget (but remember that more expensive is not always better, and cheaper is not always the best path either)
Hot Tub Brands to Avoid
Just as some hot tub brands are more popular than others, there are some hot tub brands that we recommend you avoid. The sad reality is that some brands make a lot of claims, but can’t back those claims in reality. Here are some of the things that can make a hot tub brand a bad one that is best for you to avoid.
- Poor reviews from customers - today’s consumers love to provide ratings and reviews for the purchases that they buy. So do some homework. A quick online search for reviews of a certain brand will yield you some interesting results.
- Lack of a service agreement - if your new hot tub doesn’t come with a warranty or service agreement, steer clear
These brands tend to have poor reviews. So, if these brands are high on your list, take the time to do some extra legwork to ensure you aren’t disappointed.
- Futura Spas
- Life Spas
- Laguna Bay Spas
- Coleman Inflatable Tubs
Hot Tub Sizes
There are many different options when it comes to hot tubs. Most are priced by the number of people that they seat, and the type of seating that they offer. The average-sized hot tub, however, is seven to eight feet square. However, some popular options are as much as nine feet wide by nine feet long. And on the other side of the coin, you can find small units that only seat two or three people.
Hot Tub Cost by Size
The prices for an above-ground hot tub will vary by size, which generally considers how many people will fit. A small hot tub will usually seat two to three people, with prices starting at $2,000. A large hot tub with room for ten or more can easily run as high, if not higher, than $20,000, depending on the unit’s features.
|Small (2 to 3 people)||$2,000|
|Medium (4 to 5 people)||$6,000|
|Large (6 to 7 people)||$11,000|
|Extra Large (10+ people)||$20,000|
If you decide you want an in-ground hot tub, you can anticipate that the costs will be more. With an in-ground unit, the controls need to be located in a different place so that they can be accessed. Preparation and installation often cost more, and the hot tub space needs to be excavated and then finished off after the hot tub has been set in place. As a rule of thumb, you can anticipate that your in-ground hot tub will cost 10 - 20% more for the hot tub itself, and installation will likely cost you between $1,000 to $6,000.
Hot Tub Material
Modern hot tub shells are made from acrylic, vinyl, or rotomolded plastic. In the past, you may have seen hot tubs constructed out of stainless steel, fiberglass, cement, and even inflatable PVC, but this is less common today. Acrylic is the most common material you will see a hot tub made out of. The acrylic shells are made from a single sheet of acrylic and are reinforced by fiberglass and resin, resulting in a strong and supportive structure for the hot tub. But, you will often see other materials used too.
Hot Tub Cost by Material
Here is a quick snapshot of how above-ground hot tub prices can vary based on the materials used for the exterior.
|Synthetic wood||$2,000 to $9,000|
|Wood||$3,000 to $10,000|
|Brick||$5,000 to $12,000|
|Faux stone||$5,000 to $12,000|
Hot Tub Types
Whether you are just window-shopping or are seriously in the market for a hot tub, you need to consider the type of hot tub you want. If you want something that isn’t permanent, an inflatable hot tub might be a great option and won’t cost you nearly as much as a jetted hot tub. Not only that, but inflatable hot tubs are lightweight and only require a standard 110-volt U.S. household socket. And remember, too, that the larger the hot tub gets, the more expensive it will be.
Here are some common types of hot tubs and their associated benefits.
- Inflatable - Just as it sounds, these hot tubs work similarly to an inflatable pool. You can position them in place, then fill them with your garden hose, and heat to the ideal temperature. Keep your inflatable hot tub set up for a few days, the whole summer, or year-round, the choice is up to you.
- Portable - Though inflatable hot tubs are also considered portable, a dealer referring to a portable unit usually means a smaller hard-sided hot tub. These units are lighter in weight than more traditional hard-shell hot tubs and can be placed on a trailer for easy portability.
- Saltwater - Almost all hot tubs can be converted into a saltwater unit by adding a salt chlorine generator. Saltwater tubs have many benefits too as they provide increased water softness and buoyancy, there is no unpleasant odor, they are gentler on your skin, and maintenance costs tend to be less.
- Hardshell - The traditional hardshell hot tub is what you typically see on someone’s deck, patio, or in a special moisture-safe room inside the house. These hot tubs are more durable than inflatable and portable units and can take on more wear and tear.
Hot Tub Cost by Type
Here are some starting estimates for hot tub costs based on type.
|Inflatable||$300 to $2,000|
|Portable||$2,000 to $6,0000|
|Saltwater||$2,200 to $16,700|
|Hard-shell||$4,000 to $16,000|
Hot Tub Quality
If you are taking out hot tub financing to buy the hot tub of your dreams, you want to know that it is going to last for as long as possible. This is why it is so important to consider quality when shopping for a hot tub, versus making a decision strictly based on price. Be sure to include the following in your decision-making process.
- Is the brand reputable, and has it been around long?
- Does the unit offer hydromassage and circuit seating? Avoid a hot tub with jets all in one place.
- How is the hot tub rated for energy efficiency?
- What is the required maintenance?
- Do you want an entry-level, value-priced, premium, or luxury hot tub?
Hot Tub Cost by Quality
The quality of the spa you buy will greatly impact the price. Maybe you just want an entry-level unit. Perhaps you have dreamed of owning a luxury hot tub that you can show off to guests when you are entertaining. Depending on the option you want, the pricing will vary greatly. Here is a quick guide on the price points to expect based on the jacuzzi quality that you plan to buy.
|Entry Level||$2,000 to $6,000|
|Value Priced||$4,000 to $8,000|
|Premium||$8,000 to $11,000|
|Luxury||$11,000 to $18,000|
In-Ground vs. Above-Ground Hot Tub
Though above-ground hot tubs are more popular amongst homeowners, some can splurge on an in-ground unit. However, there are several other factors to consider when purchasing an in-ground unit, such as:
- Maintenance and care (though it might be easier to access the inside of the unit, control panels and the exterior are not as accessible)
- Lifespan - in-ground units often have a lower lifespan because problems are not as easily identifiable until it is too late (or very costly to repair)
- Appearance - what is the look you are trying to achieve?
- Installation is a bit more complex with an in-ground unit as you will likely require excavation and finishing work around the hot tub once it is set in its place
- Resale value - if your unit is kept in good condition, it will likely add value to your home
In-Ground vs. Above-Ground Hot Tub Cost
If you are considering an in-ground hot tub, you should anticipate a higher overall cost than with an above-ground spa. Here is what you can expect.
|Average Cost of Unit||Average Cost of Installation|
|In-Ground Spa||$2,000 to $20,000||$1,000 to $6,000|
|Above-Ground Spa||$5,000 to $25,000||$200 to $5,000|
Additional Factors To Consider When Buying a Hot Tub
When purchasing a hot tub, you must consider more than just the cost of the hot tub itself. Doing your homework in advance will help save you some unpleasant surprises. Be sure to plan in advance for things such as:
- Location for the hot tub (excavation, leveling, concrete placement, finishing, etc.)
- Above-ground or in-ground installation
- Indoor or outdoor location and protection from the elements
- The brand you want (entry level, value-priced, premium, or luxury)
- Electrical requirements
- Maintenance packages
- The upgraded features you desire (seating options, jets, etc.)
Costs of Additional Factors
All of those additional factors can influence the price of your new spa. Here is what you can expect when pricing out the additional factors for your tub.
|Above-ground vs. in-ground|
$2,000 to $8,000 for above-ground
$5,000 to $25,000 for in-ground
|Installation and excavation|
$200 to $5,000 for above-ground
$1,000 to $6,000 for in-ground
Electrical costs, $1,500 to $2,500
8’ x 8’ concrete pad foundation, $3,000 to $5,000
Crane service, $800 to $1,500
|Electrical use||13.19 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh)|
|Maintenance packages||$150+ per visit|
Hot Tub Features and Accessories
Just like your car or your house, hot tubs come with many different features. And not all of those features need to be physically located on the hot tub itself. The most common features include:
- Spa steps and handrails
- Towel racks
- Covers and mounts
- Cover lifters
- Headrests and water-safe pillows
- Booster cushions for kids
- Spa lighting (interior and exterior)
- Waterproof games
- Spa soaks and therapies
- Hot tub test strips
- Protection from the sun (i.e., a pergola)
- Saltwater system
- Audio system
How Much Do Hot Tub Features and Accessories Cost?
Hot tubs are highly customizable, and with the right approach, you’ll be able to find a hot tub with all the features and functions you desire. All of these extra features can add to the unit's base price. Hot tub buyers must consider the following popular accessories and feature add-ons. Here are some typical accessory items and potential costs.
|Spa steps and handrails for safety and ease of access||$60 to $400|
|Covers and mounts||$350 to $500 (will vary based on size and components)|
|Cover lifter||$150 to $400|
|Headrests and water-safe pillows||$50 to $200|
|Booster cushions for children||$48+|
|Spa lights||$15 to $300|
|Spa appropriate waterproof games||Varies|
|Spa soaks and therapies||Varies|
|Hot tub test strips||$12 to $20 per kit|
|Saltwater system||$500 to $1,700|
|Audio system||$150 to $500+|
|Vacuum||$40 to $150|
Hot Tub Installation
There is more to hot tub installation than a simple drop-off at its future home. Installers and homeowners need to work together to determine the following:
- Location and accessibility
- Type of surface
- Electrical requirements
- Hot to fill and drain the hot tub
And the time it takes to install your hot tub can vary greatly depending on contractor availability, delivery, etc. As a rule of thumb, homeowners should anticipate it will take one to two weeks to prepare the site location for delivery of the hot tub. This means excavating the ground if needed, pouring a concrete slab, wiring for the electrical, etc. Then, once your hot tub is delivered, it typically takes four to six hours for it to get set up and filled with water.
However, this does not include the time it will take to heat the water to the desired temperature of 100°F to 104°F or initial chemical treatments. In most cases, water heats up by five to ten degrees Fahrenheit per hour. So, depending on its size, you should be able to get your hot tub to the right temperature in three hours.
How Much Does Hot Tub Installation Cost?
Here is a quick breakdown of the average costs to purchase and install your hot tub. Of course, exact prices will vary based on the size and type of hot tub your purchase and where you live.
|Hot tub||$2,000 to $18,000|
|Basic install||$150 to $500|
|New electrical wiring and installation||$800 to $1,600|
|Plumbing and installation||$450 to $1,800|
|Concrete pad or base||$500 to $2,500 ($5 to $10 per square foot)|
|Delivery and placement|
$200 to $500
|Permit and inspection||$100 to $250|
For some homeowners, the purchase of a new hot tub includes landscaping work as well to make the space an outdoor oasis. This can mean incremental costs for components such as a screened enclosure, landscaping around the hot tub, fencing, and decking. If you are looking to finance an entire hot tub and landscaping project, consider these incremental costs as well.
|Deck||$15 to $30 per square foot|
|Gazebo||$3,500 to $10,000|
|Screened enclosure||$150 to $3,500|
|Landscaping||$50 to $100 per hour + cost of plants, sod, etc.|
|Fencing||$13 to $25 per linear foot|
|Independent heater||$150 to $1,500|
Hot Tub Maintenance
With your new hot tub comes ongoing maintenance. With the proper care of your hot tub, you can anticipate it will last for five to twenty years or more. To ensure ongoing operations of your hot tub, you should plan to clean it once per week. Each week, do the following:
- Test your water levels and rebalance with your chemical supply
- Wipe down the hot tub’s shell, waterline, and jets once weekly with a non-abrasive sponge and approved cleaner
- Remove the filter weekly and rinse away any debris or build-up with hose water
- Wipe down your spa’s cover at least once per month
You should also refill the water in your hot tub about once every four to six months.
How Much Does Hot Tub Maintenance Cost?
We estimate that your hot tub will cost about $50 to operate each month. This may vary, however, based on the type of hot tub you have, its size, and your geographical location. If you use your hot tub regularly, you can anticipate an annual cost of approximately $2,000 if you elect a professional maintenance service and about $1,100 annually if you DIY and have no necessary repairs or equipment issues.
|Type||Monthly Cost||Annual Cost|
|Electricity||$30||$300 - $400|
|Filter Cleaning||$5||$100 for annual replacement|
|Plumbing Problems||As needed||As needed|
|Emergency Treatment||$0||$25 - $50|
|Total||$152 - $174||$2,090|
Where to Buy Hot Tubs
When you are ready to buy your hot tub, timing can be everything. Some homeowners get the best deals on their hot tubs during the end of the summer when dealers are trying to move the remaining inventory. Another great option is to check for special deals at your state fair. And don’t be afraid to negotiate a little, as many dealers will be desperately trying to get out with the old and in with the new.
If you don’t want to wait for a state fair or season close-out, here are the best places to buy hot tubs.
- Local reputable dealer (look for one that offers cleaning and maintenance packages)
- Home improvement stores such as Lowe’s or Home Depot
We recommend that hot tub shoppers avoid online orders or purchases from places where you can’t see and touch the same or a similar model before purchasing. For this reason, purchasing from online sites such as Amazon and Wayfair are best avoided.
Wherever you decide to buy your hot tub, ensure they give you the option to seek your own hot tub financing, have a warranty, and offer service packages.
How to Find the Right Hot Tub for You
Once you decide to invest in your own hot tub, choosing the right one is a big decision. We’re hopeful this hot tub buying guide has provided some helpful tips to help you feel better about your purchase and to educate you on what to expect. And now that you are in buying mode, here are the steps to follow.
- Make a list of your wants and needs related to your hot tub. Bring this with you when you visit dealers to ensure that your needs are met and that you can achieve as many of those wants as possible.
- Shop local dealers and identify the brand that you like the best.
- Check reviews for the dealer and brands to see what other consumers had to say.
- Ask the dealer questions about construction and reliability, energy efficiency, features and benefits, etc.
- Narrow down your list of ideal hot tub models to two or three options (if you can)
- Compare the price and features of these models such as spa capacity, where the hot tub will be located, layout and seating arrangements, jet counts and placement, etc.
- Ask about add-on features such as lighting, a locking cover and cover lifter, thermal blanket, audio system, Wifi, control pads, steps, and maintenance requirements
- Choose the right hot tub for you
- Get a price quote from the dealer and then select the best hot tub financing to meet your needs
- Get a service contract and a clear understanding of maintenance and cleaning packages - know what is included in your purchase and what is not
Hot Tub Financing: What You Need to Know
Most consumers don’t have the necessary cash on hand to fund their hot tub purchase, especially when they have to pay for delivery, installation, and other peripheral requirements. For this reason, many homeowners opt for hot tub financing options. But before doing so, and with any option you choose, it is important to consider the following.
- Ensure you can make your new payment on time every month - failure to make a payment on time can seriously impact your credit score
- Be aware that applying for new financing will ding your credit score by about five points and the inquiry will remain on your credit report for about two years
- Consider if the investment will help increase the value of your home and if it a hot tub purchase is worth it to you
What types of hot tub financing are available?
There are several ways that you can get the funds necessary for your hot tub, delivery, and installation. The most common methods are:
- Home equity loan - When done right, hot tubs can actually add value to your home. But this assumes your hot tub is high-quality and is properly maintained. For this reason, many homeowners will take out a home equity loan to pay for their hot tub and the associated costs. A home equity loan allows you to borrow money using the equity in your home as collateral.
- HELOC loan - HELOC stands for home equity line of credit and is similar to a home equity loan. However, in this situation, your lender gives you a revolving line of credit based on the equity in your home. You can use this line of credit as you wish, including for investments such as a hot tub, swimming pool, etc. Discover offers great loan options for those who want a no-fee HELOC. Figure is also a good choice for those who want fast decisioning on their HELOC request.
- Credit cards - Though a credit card can be an expensive way to purchase a hot tub and all that comes with it, occasionally, you might be privy to a special offer that makes it worth the time and expense. However, remember that if you use your credit card to purchase something sizeable, like a hot tub, it can push your utilization over 30% and cause a dip in your credit score.
- Personal loans - Personal loans are an excellent way to seek hot tub financing. Be sure to shop around for the best rates and loan terms, and ensure the lenders you look at are flexible in how you use your loan funds.
And though home equity loans, HELOC loans, and credit cards are reputable choices, many hot tub buyers prefer to seek separate hot tub financing.
Answer the questions below to provide readers with a better understanding of hot tub financing.
Where Can I Get Hot Tub Financing?
Several lenders offer competitive interest rates and high borrowing limits for consumers who want to finance their hot tub purchase. Here are some of the best lenders you may wish to consider.
- Lightstream - Best for transparency
- Upstart - Best for low credit borrowers
- SoFi - Best for a seamless application process
- Prosper - Best if you want to shop around for different loan types
- Best Egg - Best to help you receive clear information to aid in your decision-making
- OneMain Financial - Best for those wanting to finance the purchase of a smaller hot tub
What Are the Qualifications for Hot Tub Financing?
One of the best options is to see if you can prequalify for financing before you apply.
- Look for prequalification forms (not the same as an application), complete, and submit
- Undergo a soft credit check
- Find out if you are preapproved
- Formally apply so that you can get your loan funds
Can You Get Hot Tub Financing with Bad Credit?
Bad credit is usually considered a score between 300 and 669. However, if your score is in the poor or fair range, it doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t be able to get a loan to finance your hot tub. But, it does mean the following.
- You may need a co-signer or joint application
- You may be required to put money down towards your purchase
- You will have a higher interest rate
- You may not be able to borrow as much as someone with good or excellent credit
However, if you do not have a good credit score, you may want to wait to purchase your hot tub until after your financial situation has improved. This will help increase your chances of approval and will help you get a lower interest rate. Here is what you can do to improve your credit score in the meantime.
- Make all your payments on time
- Pay off your credit cards or pay down balances to 30% or less than your credit limit
- Get added as an authorized user on a responsible family member’s credit card
- Take our a credit-builder loan, make the required payments, and pay it off to see your credit score improve
How Do I Apply for Hot Tub Financing?
Here are the steps to take to apply for hot tub financing.
- Review your monthly budget to ensure you have the means to take on an additional payment each month.
- Check your credit report for any errors and file disputes with the credit bureaus if you see anything that doesn’t make sense.
- Check your credit score to understand your score range as you will have access to lower interest rates and better-borrowing terms if you have a good or excellent credit score
- Gather the required identification documentation that you might need for the loan. This includes your drivers license, proof of income (you may need to provide past pay stubs or a W-2), and proof of residence.
- Batch your loan applications so that you do not receive multiple hard credit inquiries that could damage your credit score.
- Submit your application(s).
- Carefully review your loan agreement before accepting the loan terms.
Hot tubs are a great way to add enjoyment to your life and add value to your home. But purchasing a hot tub takes a bit of research beforehand to ensure you make the right decision. This hot tub buying guide was designed to help you be in the know when shopping around for the best hot tub for you. Aside from the cost of the hot tub itself, be prepared for delivery and installation costs as well as ongoing maintenance.