Hot tubs are a great luxury to have in your home and they are becoming increasingly affordable. However, it remains a larger purchase so make sure you know how to choose the right hot tub for you.
Hot tub reviews are a good start for finding out what other buyers think are great products. Looking deeper into a particular model can give you a better idea of how much it costs to run a hot tub and what range of tub accessories you need to purchase with it.
Top Tips For Buying Your Very First Tub
Besides finding the model with the right therapy needs and size for your backyard, you have to get the correct tools for maintenance. Owning this spa treatment means you will be using a spa vacuum and you’ll need to buy hot tub chemicals for keeping the water clean and safe.
Learn everything you need to know for buying a hot tub in this buying guide and enjoy the most relaxing spa experience in your very own home real soon.
Buying Spas. Hot Tubs, or a Jacuzzi – What’s the Difference?
Each of these terms essentially refers to the same thing; a large tub filled with warm water and submerged jets that create bubbles and pressure, used for relaxation or hydrotherapy.
A hot tub and spa are terms that you can use interchangeably but there is one key difference the term Jacuzzi. A Jacuzzi is actually a brand name so it refers to the products of this particular brand.
Different Types of Hot Tubs
There are so many variations of spas with many of them up for further personalization as well. Describing each specific one would make for a very long hot tub buyers guide but here are the main options of what to look for in a hot tub.
1. Portable vs Built-In
Firstly, when buying a hot tub you will need to decide on the type. Portable spas are not permanent fixtures which means you can move them, either by taking them apart first or moving as a whole. Built-in models are permanent features, often built in-ground or attached to a wall section.
Choose a portable model if you don’t want to use it year-round. Permanent models are more appropriate when you are redoing the landscaping or remodeling the home.
2. Swim Spas for Exercise
This is a very particular type of spa. Swim spas are much larger, big enough for one person to swim in and use for exercise. They still have the water jets and seats like a regular tub but with the added advantage of size.
In certain designs, the swim and seated areas are separated. Unless you need to do underwater physical therapy, this is a pricey option.
3. Inflatable vs Foam Wall Spas
The two most common types of portable spas are the inflatable kind and the foam-wall type. Both are lightweight and easily moved but the materials are the key difference.
Inflatable spas are made of vinyl and require an air pump to blow them into shape. A foam-wall portable spa has two layers, the structural foam wall and vinyl lining which acts as the insulation and protective layer.
The inflatable kind is the most affordable option however the ones with a foam wall are also affordable and are more structurally sound. The latter is the smarter choice for the long term and frequent use.
Check the Materials
Another clear difference between portable and non-portable models is their materials. The portable designs are usually made of lighter materials like vinyl, acrylic or plastic while the permanent models can be made up of different stones, concrete, tiles or stainless steel.
The materials of permanent models are sturdier but they are also more costly to build. Think about how much you are willing to spend on maintenance and initial installation.
Electric vs Wood Fired
An electric model is connected to an electricity supply which is also how the water is heated. This is currently the most common type. Wood-Fired versions are a traditional option and come with a separate wood stove for heating the water.
The electric models are clearly more practical but there is a sense of rustic charm with a wood-fired spa. However, having to keep a fire comes with its own safety issues and also requires extra space so think carefully before buying a hot tub that is wood-fired.
What Are the Water Options?
The most important element in a tub is the water and there are several options to choose from. The standard choice is a simple freshwater model, with only heated water, but there are more advanced models.
Cooling Capabilities – Best for Hotter Climates
Certain models also come with cooling capabilities. This means that besides heating the water, it can also cool the water. This type is a smart choice for the Southern states that have warmer weather year-round. It is also a good idea for areas with 4 clear seasons since a cooled spa can offer a nice refreshment during warm summer weather.
Indulge in a Salt Water Spa
A popular water option for therapeutic uses is a saltwater spa. There are many reasons why you should get a saltwater spa including both health benefits and practical advantages.
A saltwater version is gentler to sensitive skin because it requires less chlorine to keep clean. It also stabilizes the water pH levels so fewer water treatments are needed – both these factors lower your maintenance costs.
Saltwater is denser which makes you more buoyant in the water. Many people enjoy feeling lighter and find it even more relaxing than a freshwater spa.
There are some claims that saltwater spas help with certain health conditions like arthritis or swelling but this should always be discussed with your physician, first.
Always Include Built-In Water Treatment
The final option is a built-in water treatment system that treats hard water. If you live in an area with water that has a high mineral content, getting a model with a built-in treatment system is a smart idea.
This system is good for durability because it reduces the wearing down of materials that come with hard water. It is also better for your skin and bathing suit because the high mineral content can be harsh.
Another treatment option that is highly recommended filters for water purification. These prevent harmful bacteria from growing in the warm water.
What Size Should You Get?
A hot tub buying guide is incomplete without addressing size. This is the part that you don’t want to get wrong when considering how to buy a hot tub that suits your requirements. When it comes to size, there are two factors to consider. The first one is how many people will be using it at the same time and the second factor is how much space you have available.
Smaller tubs usually fit 2 – 3 people while 4 seats are the common size for a regular square shape model. However, bigger models can fit as many as 12 people or even more.
Think about how many people are in your household and how often you want to entertain guests in the spa. This should give a clear picture of how many seats you need.
Besides regular seats, there is also the option of lounge seating. Consider them a lounger that is molded comfortably to the human body.
Loungers are very relaxing and great for targeting different parts of the body with the submerged jets. To help you figure out the size imagine that one lounger is equal to the space of 2 regular seats.
Figuring out the number of seats already gives you a good indication of how much space you need for the unit. However, don’t forget to think of it the other way around, too – will your patio really fit a 6-person model?
How Many Jets and Pumps Do You Need?
This is one of the most misleading aspects, but also the key to performance. You get the best pressure from the right ratio of high quality pumps to sturdy jets that mix water and air.
Too many jets actually decreases the total pressure. This is due to the pump having to spread out the pressure over more outlets.
How many pumps and jets your tub should have depends on the specific type of pump and jet that it has. However, there is a commonly found ratio of 1:30, 1 pump for 30 jets, which seems to suit most purposes.
Check the Voltage
As mentioned, most models are electric and that is an important feature to understand for both safety reasons and your running costs. You have two choices; 120 volts or 240 volts.
Most portable models take 120 volts and can plug into regular home outlets. They take longer to heat but it does have lower running costs.
240 volts are more efficient in heating but it also draws more power i.e. higher electricity bills. Also, a higher voltage doesn’t necessarily mean more power but 240 volts are likely the more compatible option for a spa with more jets and pumps.
We hope this hot tub buying guide has helped you on how to buy a hot tub and what to look for in a hot tub to make your experiences and relaxation time totally enjoyable.