A Guide to Understanding Hot Tub Pricing
The Big Question: How do I Find Hot Tub Prices?
Everybody knows roughly how much cars cost, or TVs, or standard home improvements. However, hot tubs are not a consumer item that most people think about pricing out until they are ready to buy. I want to help by giving you some information on what you can expect to find when you start to look for prices and what ultimately you can expect to pay for a hot tub, based on factors like materials, quality, features and size.
Why Can’t I Find Hot Tub Prices Online?
If you get serious about determining a hot tub purchase price you’re sure to ask this at some point. Whether right or wrong, the hot tub industry, at least the major brands, don’t typically list prices online. Most prefer instead to allow pricing to be set at the local level. There are some reasons for this that include widely varying costs in shipping to different markets, along with anti-trust and competitive factors. Whatever the reasons, this is the current situation and your best options for pricing will be local. Also, because this is the way that most major brands operate today, it may pay to be wary of many of the less than optimal brands and outlets that do sell online with published prices.
Get Pricing at the Local Level
As mentioned above, the best place to get specific hot tub pricing is at your local brand authorized hot tub dealer. Simply plan a short visit to one or a few of these businesses. They can offer the best service, an expert’s suggestion on the spa for you, and prices on specific hot tubs and spas in your area. Local authorized hot tub retailers also have the local knowledge of water chemistry, city building codes, and climate considerations that will help you get set up correctly.
What Do You Think a Hot Tub Costs?
Research in the USA and Canada hot tub markets shows that until people start to do more specific purchase research they are likely to assume that hot tubs cost about $5,000 USD. Well, this is not far off, but must be qualified. Some hot tubs actually do cost around $5,000. But, most cost a little more than this and a few cost less. I’ll try to break this down and offer some clarity.
The Low Down on Hot Tub Pricing
It would be easy to say that you get what you pay for in hot tubs and end this article here. While this is mostly true, there are unfortunately a few companies out there that prey on the consumer’s lack of understanding of what makes a true quality hot tub.
Keep in mind that the vast majority of dedicated spa retailers out there are honest and hard working and carry good products, they wouldn’t last otherwise. There are only a few of these companies to watch out for and you can usually pick them out by their tactics. Watch out for things like high pressure in-home presentations, travelling “spa shows” that pass themselves off as independent events but really only feature one brand or multiple brands sold by one company, etc.
So, do a little research and determine what and who makes quality spas and who are the quality retailers near you (you’re doing a great job if you’re reading this). Then you can look at pricing in terms of the value you are getting for your dollar, rather than just who sells the cheapest hot tub. In hot tubs it pays off in value to go with good brands and retailers.
There are additional factors like upgrade features and options to consider, which will affect pricing. However, for the sake of simplicity we’ll talk in base pricing for well-equipped mid-size and larger spas without additional accessories like steps and cover lifts, etc.
Why You’re Here – Prices on Hot Tubs
TOP TIER – $9,000 TO $18,000
Most high-end hot tubs built by the top manufacturers will cost around $9,000 – $18,000 in the United States and Canada. Consider things like how the hot tub is made, where it is assembled, what materials it uses, what jet technology is used, what quality of equipment like pumps and heaters are used, and the overall reputation of the company. Using these factors you can determine which hot tubs are the true high quality spas and which will give you the best value in this price range.
Pay attention to the sophistication of manufacturing facilities and technologies, reputation of the manufacturer, and materials used in the spa structure.
MID TIER – $5,000 TO $8,999
The same quality hot tub manufacturers mentioned above usually offer a mid-price, high-quality spa line that will cost $5,000 – $8,999. These spas usually have fewer features and less complete hydrotherapy features, but still offer outstanding reliability and comfort.
You will also find many other companies selling lesser quality spas in this price range. Many big box retailers will pass off these lesser quality spas as “premium” in this price range and even some companies that have been around for a while would qualify as low to mid-quality and yet still usually sell in this range.
Pay attention to these things to determine quality in this range: established brand, established dealer or sales channel, consumer feedback, sophisticated domestic manufacturing.
LOW-END TIER – $3,000 TO $4,999
Cheap hot tubs will cost you around $3,000 – $4,999. There are a few quality manufacturers making a quality entry-level spa in this range. Look for these first.
If this is the price range where you’re looking, it is wise to beware. Many spas in this price range are inflatable, roto-molded like your kayak or folding pic-nic table, or are built with poor materials with knock-off designs overseas. These can be ok if you’re looking for a very short-term or no-frills experience. One more consideration also creeps in at this price level – cost to operate. Most of these low cost hot tubs are not well insulated and your energy bills will let you know it. This leads us to the last thing you’ll want to factor into your decision – cost over time.
Pay attention to these things to determine quality in this range: established brand, materials, domestic manufacturing (made in USA).
One More Thing to Consider, Hot Tub Costs Over Time
When you’re making your decision on which hot tub to buy you should, of course, start with initial quality. You also need to consider how much your hot tub will cost to operate over time. This decision has 2 basic components.
- The expected life of your hot tub or durability
- The cost of operation associated with your hot tub
These factors, combined with your initial purchase price will give you the lifetime cost of ownership for your spa. Look for 2 things to minimize your lifetime cost of ownership – quality construction and energy efficiency.
Quality Pays You Back Over Time
A well-built hot tub will last you much longer than a poor quality spa, often a decade or more. This means your initial purchase price will be spread over many more years of use.
Example: a quality spa that costs you $10,000 initially and lasts 10 years costs you the same per year as a poor quality spa that costs you $3,000 and only lasts for 3 years and may cost less to operate each year because of efficiency. Both initially cost about $1,000 per year, but if the quality spa costs $30 per month and the cheap spa costs $120 per month the difference is $1,360 to $2,440 per year. Over 10 years the difference would be $13,600 for one quality spa and $24,440 for 3+ cheap spas.
Energy and Maintenance Savings Count
Using the example above, in reality, the quality spa actually costs much less overall over time because it lasts longer and uses much less energy. In addition to longevity, a quality spa will also generally require less maintenance.
High quality spas are usually fully foam filled except for the area where pumps and heaters are located. This helps to insulate the spa from the cold and keep warmth within the water. Full foamed spas, especially those that also use the warm air from equipment to help heat, will generally require much less energy to keep them at a constant temperature and ready to use.
One way to find energy efficient hot tubs is to look at the data compiled by the California Energy Commission, which keeps hot tub energy use statistics. Pay attention to the spa brands that consistently show at the top of these lists.
You Will Love Your New Quality Hot Tub for Years to Come
Hot tubs are extremely nice to own so you will want to own yours for as long as possible. You will have always-ready hydrotherapy, relaxation, and fun right in your own backyard. No other product offers as many health and lifestyle benefits. So, consider the quality and value first when making your decision on which hot tub is best for you. You will be rewarded with better features, better hydrotherapy, and a lower cost of ownership over time.