If you have never owned a hot tub before the process can be overwhelming. So here is a simple step by step guide to help you make the buying experience easier BEFORE you go shopping.
- Decide where you want to locate your hot tub / spa. The closer the tub is to the house the more the tub will be used.
- Size of your space: How much space do you have for a hot tub? They come in many different sizes. Most popular is 7′ (84″) x 7′ (84″). But they can be smaller or larger as well. A 1-3 seater tub typically requires a 5′(60″) x 7′(84″).
- Shape: What shape do you want? They come in round, square, rectangle and curvilinear.
- Foundation considerations: A hot tub is heavy because of the water load. So the best material for a hot tub base is concrete. 4 inches thick with rebar reinforcement to minimize cracking. Other options are decks, gravel pads, paver, flagstone, etc. Anything that can be flat, hard and preferably level. Most concrete pads cost between $900 – $1,500.00
- Access: How you will this big appliance get from the street to your pad? Most all tubs are delivered by 2-4 people using a flat furniture dolly or a plastic sled. Costs range from $0 (included) to $1,000+ depending on difficulty. The tubs are stood up on their sides. Most hot tubs measure 29″-41″ when they are on their sides. So measure the distance between fence post gates, A/C to fence, fireplace brick walls to fence, gas meter to fence, etc. Make sure whichever hot tub your purchase will clear this distance. Otherwise a crane or other extra expenses will be incurred by you to create the access to get the tub where you want it. And since these tubs will be standing up on their sides you will want to measure any overhead eaves to make sure that the height of the tub clears the top as well.
- Electrical: How do you plan on powering this appliance? Most hot tubs require a dedicated 220v. That means you will need a licensed electrician to hard wire it from your main panel or sub panel directly into the hot tub equipment which is located inside the hot tub / spa. GFCI’d (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) breaker: 30A, 40A, 50A and sometime 60A is required. For a 110v powered tub, they will be either a standard 15A breaker or a special 20A breaker. The 110v setup should cover with a GFCI’d cord that just plugs into your standard outlet. This outlet too must be dedicated just for this appliance. Nothing else can be plugged into the outlet. Electrical costs can vary quite a bit. Some factors involve access to the main panel, distance between tub and panel, trenching, crawl space, attic, etc.
- Now that you know where you want it, what size fits into your backyard and what size you want, let’s move on to how much does a tub cost.
- Costs for tubs: Size effects the cost. So, the larger it is, the more it will cost. Just like a truck / SUV typically costs more than a sedan. Features, construction, design, equipment and warranty also will play a big factor in the cost. Just like a Porsche / Mercedes / BMW will cost more than a Honda, Toyota or Ford. The driving experience and quality are very different. So bigger hot tub manufacturers will offer different levels (Series / Collections) of tubs. Some basic with smaller warranties and different equipment and some with more advanced software, hardware, filtration and bigger warranties. The biggest rookie mistake to make is to assume that more jets is a better tub. That has nothing to do with it. After a while, most people just want to sit and soak quietly in clean healthy water and just relax.
- Where to buy: Should you buy locally, on-line or from a home show / Fair? The answer should unquestionably be a LOCAL dealer with a good reputation. Your purchase is a specialized outdoor appliance. It will need, at some point in time, service. You want to have a good local hot tub dealer to work with for warranty, parts, water service, and cover replacement. The last thing you want is to be fooled that you got this great deal at a show or online, only to discover that you could have gotten the same deal or better from your local dealer. And now you are stuck dealing with some out of state company for everything which can be time consuming, frustrating and expensive.