The Hot Tub Buying Guide: 8 Essential Steps to Help You Purchase a Spa
Step 1: Why buy a hot tub? Establish your reasons for purchasing
Buying a hot tub is often considered a major purchase, and it is one of the best investments you can make for your body, mind, and home. There are many reasons to consider buying a spa, so it’s important to understand what you are looking for, what benefits are available to you, and how to find the right spa and accessories that meet all of your demands.
Spending time in a high-quality hot tub can improve your health in a number of ways. On top of easing aches and pains and helping you relax, hydrotherapy is known to improve physical functions, restore range of motion and lost flexibility in muscles and joints, reduce headaches, burn calories, improve insulin sensitivity, and help you get quality sleep.
When spa usage is part of your daily routine, you feel better physically. This leads to being mentally healthier, which boosts your mood, eases anxiety and depression, and builds self-confidence.
In addition to health benefits like stress and pain relief, hot tubs provide an ideal location for families to spend quality time together. This is a perfect place for deep discussion, family meetings, brainstorming, and relationship building—with the added benefit of having no electronic devices involved.
Your family will enjoy creating a tradition of spending regular time together in your hot tub. Family members of all ages are able to relax and open up. Relaxed conversation strengthens family closeness, and builds lasting connections. Engaging in conversation makes each family member feel valued, which builds confidence and helps develop positive behaviors at home and school.
Not only will your spa benefit your health and well-being, but let’s not forget the aesthetic value. Now, more than ever, hot tubs are being offered in sleek, stylish colors and designs that are not just functional, but often include music and lighting that set a particular mood. Your investment will add infinite value to your outdoor living space.
Step 2: Select the right hot tub brand
Deciding which hot tub is right for you might seem overwhelming at first when you consider the hundreds of companies, options, and price points. Because hot tubs vary in size, features, and costs, it can take quite some time to choose the spa brand that is ideal for you.
Here are a few important points to consider to help you narrow down which hot tub brand is best for you.
1. Reviews and reputation
When you invest in a spa, it’s important to read about other user experiences and keep them in mind as you begin your search. Utilize the information available to you, while remembering that not all reviews should be considered equally. Try to stick to verified buyer reviews, and read the positives and the negatives alike.
2. Construction and reliability
Conventional hot tubs are typically constructed with wood or metal frames, which are intended to support the shell, plumbing, and insulation, and potentially protect the components from elements. Most spa companies direct their creative focus on the shell—or interior—portion of the spa, which is generally made from acrylic, and the plumbing, which powers the jets. But if your hot tub will be situated outside, there are other factors to consider, like rain, snow, and sun. Wood frames can rot, and metal frames corrode.
Alternatively, each Bullfrog Spa is built on our patented EnduraFrame™ support structure, a sturdy and precise molded ABS spa frame that does not use wood or metal, so it will never rot or corrode. The ultra-durable 3-layer spa shell is designed to last a lifetime, and the entire structure is further supported by energy-smart, full-foam insulation. In all areas of design and manufacturing your Bullfrog spa is built to last, and is backed by our comprehensive warranty.
3. Energy efficiency
Running a spa requires electrical energy, so you’ll want to find out how energy efficient each hot tub brand and model is. Bullfrog Spas are engineered with the patented JetPak Therapy System which uses up to 90% less plumbing than conventional spas. This means less demand on pumps so you can enjoy more powerful jets and improved efficiency. You’ll save up to 59% on energy costs by choosing Bullfrog Spas.
4. Jet therapy options
Hot tub jets are largely considered the most important feature of a spa. People love the relaxing massage hot tub jets provide, but it’s important to know that not all hot tub therapy options are created equal.
The ideal hot tub will have the following:
1. Multiple pumps with high horsepower to get the water to the jets
2. Smart plumbing that reduces friction and allows for maximum jet power
3. The correct mixture of water and air for just the right massage intensity
4. A variety of jet types and locations for full-body relaxation
5. Jet customization options to personalize your spa experience
Bullfrog Spas offers the proprietary and patented JetPak Therapy System™, which is the only system that allows you to align your spa experience specifically to your body, your therapy preferences, and your lifestyle. Select between 18 different therapy options called JetPaks, place the JetPaks in your favorite seats, move them from seat to seat whenever you like, and purchase a new JetPak at any time. Each JetPak features a different combination of jet types such as deep relief jets, oscillating jets, pulsing jets, shower jets, and more.
Step 3: Choose a hot tub model
1. Spa capacity
Consider How many people will be using your spa.
What is the main purpose for which you are buying your hot tub? For some, it’s intended as a place where family and friends relax together and strengthen relationship bonds. Others intend for their spa to be a place where they can escape into quiet thought and unwind. Still others will make the purchase for the medical benefits.
Whatever your purpose, it’s important to consider the number of people that you expect will be using it and keep this number in mind when looking at seating options.
Large hot tubs have anywhere between 8-10 seats. These are very popular and best for large families or people who want to frequently have friends over for backyard events and parties. If you are hoping to have more than 10 people use your spa, you’ll probably want to look into swim spas which are more spacious.
Medium sized spas are in the 5-7 seat range. This is also a popular size hot tub so you’ll find lots of hot tub models in this range.
Smaller hot tubs will usually have 2-4 seats and a great for singles, couples, or small families.
2. Installation location
Where do you want your hot tub? Most spas are installed outdoors, often on a patio or on a deck. You can also install your spa either fully or partially inground. Some people even put their hot tubs indoors.
Once you know where you want your spa to go, you should take exact measurements of your chosen space so you can be sure you are looking at spas that are within those parameters. Also, consider the space you’ll need for any additional spa features you want, such as steps or cover lifters.
When it comes to hot tub shapes, you’ll find that most hot tubs are square or rectangle, but some brands offer other options such as round or triangle shaped spas.
Most large spas are around 7’10” x 7’10”, with extra-large hot tubs being over 9’ long or wide. Swim spas can be 15’ – 25′ feet long!
Medium sized spas are generally in the range of 6’8” – 7’4” long or wide.
If you have a tight space or don’t need many seats, you can also find smaller spas. Bullfrog Spas offers some spa models that are 5’8” x 7’.
You can read our hot tub delivery & installation guide for more information and tips on preparing your home for a spa.
Additionally, you can see what any Bullfrog Spas model will look like in your desired location using our augmented reality tool. The spas are true to size so you can get a feel for exactly how much space the spa will need before buying.
3. Seating arrangements & layout
What types of spa seats would you like available in your spa?
Ask yourself the following:
-Do you plan to always sit upright, using the same specific set of jets?
-Do you need a cool down seat that sits you higher so you can cool off for a bit or to keep your hair from getting wet?
-Would you prefer to have a lounge seat option so you can have your feet up and lay down while getting a massage?
-Who will be using your spa? What are their heights so you can make sure there are seats that will accommodate everyone, including children?
Bullfrog Spas offers several seating options to accommodate families and groups of all types. You’ll find seats of varying depths, spas with 0, 1, or 2 lounges, intimate love seats, and even Adirondack style seats.
4. Jet count & options
Whether the spa you’re choosing has stationary jets or interchangeable JetPaks, you’ll need to determine which types of jets will best fulfill your massage needs. Though built-in jets are generally pre-installed, it’s always wise to find out their functions, figure out which muscles they work, and if they have more than one setting or speed.
If you have lower back pain, for example, make sure the spa has jets that will hit exactly where you need it. If you are prone to neck or shoulder pain, ask about jet options for that.
A variety of jet sizes and types that are strategically placed will offer the best therapeutic experience for you and your loved ones. Keep in mind that simply having a high jet count doesn’t necessarily make it a more therapeutic spa. After a certain point, you’ll start to lose jet power when there are too many jets competing with each other.
Step 4: Determine what additional features and accessories interest you
Other than jets, many hot tubs come with optional features such as simple water care systems, in-spa audio, and remote spa operation. These are designed to enhance your spa experience and make taking care of it easier.
It’s a good idea to decide what features you want before buying, so you don’t get anything you don’t need or miss out on something you do.
Consider your therapy needs, and what features you’d like to have in your spa package.
Does the model and brand you’re considering come with interior and exterior lighting? For example, Bullfrog Spas A Series spa models feature extensive full color in-spa lighting, back-lit water features, lighted cup holders, a power indicator light, and exterior sconce lighting for safety.
2. Water features
Nothing completes the ambience of your spa quite like the addition of a gentle waterfall. The harmonious sounds of cascading waters will transport you to a quiet, tranquil state of mind. Be sure to check out the water feature options of different spas before you buy.
Your spa cover does much more than keep the leaves out. Ideally, it should be made well enough to keep heat in, cutting back on the amount of energy required to keep the heater constantly running. Your cover should be made to withstand the elements, and hopefully, it looks great while performing those functions.
Bullfrog Spas proprietary Patio Performance™ spa covers feature an exclusive ultra-durable outdoor fabric, treated with a process used in high-end patio furnishings to create UV and water resistance. In addition, they weigh up to 25% less than standard vinyl covers. Your cover is made to withstand the rigors of outdoor use in harsh environments, and improve energy efficiency, all while keeping your spa safe and secure.
Bullfrog Spas’ M Series hot tubs also have an alert feature that will notify you via Bluetooth when the cover is opened for added safety and peace of mind.
4. Cover lifters
Cover lifters help you easily remove and replace your spa cover. Bullfrog Spas offers two cover lifter options to choose from.
Supported by an easy-to-use mechanical cover lift, the CoverMate I™ can improve the ease of removing the cover on your spa.
Loaded with state-of-the-art hydraulics, the CoverMate III™ offers beauty and superior functionality that requires no heavy lifting. The aluminum full-frame construction, paired with beautiful mounting brackets, provides extra peace of mind to go with the ease of use.
5. Audio system
Enhance your relaxation therapy experience by including a calming soundtrack.
Does your potential spa have an option for built-in audio capabilities? Soothing music will encourage you to let go of stress while you unwind in your spa or up-beat, fun music will entertain guests at your hot tub party.
Bullfrog spas feature series specific audio options that offer deep, rich sound, seat-surround speakers, a convenient location to rest and charge your electronic device of choice, an in-spa subwoofer, and easy Bluetooth connectivity for your phone or digital audio player.
6. Wi-Fi app
We live in the age of technology, and every year, smart-homes become more commonplace. Find out if the spa you’re looking at can be controlled from your tablet or smartphone so that your new hot tub can become an integrated part of your smart-home system.
The Bullfrog Spas CloudControl 2 app allows you to control your Bullfrog Spa from your smart device. Our simple to set up mobile app provides connection from wherever you go, and can be integrated to Alexa and Google Home systems.
Start your spa, turn on lights, change temperature, and adjust pump and filtration settings—anytime, from anywhere.
7. Control pads
What type of control pad does your potential hot tub offer? Is it simple to figure out and easy to navigate? The control pad should make it easy to control water temperature, lighting, jets, and more. Some Bullfrog Spas models even feature conveniently located auxiliary controls that allow you to control your jetted massages from any place in the spa.
What does your potential new spa offer in terms of easy entry?
Bullfrog Spas offers several options for hot tub steps that will suit your needs and style. With non-slip surfaces and durable construction, your steps create an attractive look while providing safe and easy access to your Bullfrog spa.
Bullfrog Spas also offers an optional handrail and backrail with the SelectStep™ to make it even safer to get in and out of your spa.
9. Water care
What is required to care for and clean the water in your spa? Each hot tub company will offer cleaning solutions, so make sure the hot tub you choose offers a system that requires little work from you and is inexpensive to maintain.
The Bullfrog Spas Premium Water Care Package combines the exceptional benefits of three clean water systems, to produce optimal results. With our systems, you can minimize time spent, as you easily maintain clean, clear, healthy water. Your spa water will require fewer chemical additives than ever before and minimal attention.
EOS 03 Enhanced Ozone System
EOS 03 is a revolutionary automatic water purification system that eliminates impurities through oxidation. This unique three-part system works by generating ozone, which is a powerful, natural way to purify water.
FROG @Ease for Bullfrog Spas
Bullfrog Spas filtration system, FROG @Ease is a water care system that creates fresh mineral water, which destroys bacteria, while SmartChlor maintains low chlorine levels. With @Ease in your spa, you’ll use up to 75% less chlorine, reducing the need for shock treatments to once a month, while protecting swimwear and skin.
WellSpring Dedicated Filtration Pump
Bullfrog Spas’ dedicated Wellspring filtration pump is a quiet, vibration free, circulation pump that is more than eight times as effective as standard filtration pumps. Your spa will use as much as 60% less operating energy, saving you money down the road.
Step 5: Pick the best place to buy your hot tub
There are generally 4 places you can buy a hot tub: your local spa dealer, online, a big box store, or at a show or fair.
1. Hot tub dealer
Your local spa dealer is the best place to buy a spa. They offer a wide selection of spa brands and models so you can get a feel for all your options such as colors and seating arrangements. Most dealers even offer test spas so you can try out different jets and see what you like before buying.
In addition, a dealer’s expertise is extremely important after you buy. They will deliver and install your hot tub for you. They will also teach you how to care for and maintain your spa and will provide any maintenance and warranty services you need.
Getting a spa online is usually the least expensive option up front, but comes at a big risk. Online spa purchases are usually left on your driveway and you are expected to install them yourself or pay someone else to install it for you.
Another problem is that most online retailers don’t employ local service people to help you clean, maintain, and care for your new spa purchase, should you need help with any of those things.
Before purchasing a spa online, do lots of research to make sure you’re getting adequate delivery, installation, and service help.
3. Big box store
Box stores like Home Depot and Walmart sell a small selection of hot tubs. However, these generally aren’t the highest quality hot tubs and don’t have the best therapy options. Also, the salespeople generally have less product expertise because they sell so many other products and will have a harder time making sure you get the spa that’s right for you.
On occasion, these box stores do sell high-quality hot tub brands that you can trust. In these cases, local hot tub manufacturers or dealers have placed their products in those store locations in addition to their dealerships, which means you’ll have access to full service, installation, and delivery.
Before you purchase your spa from a box store, do your research to make sure it is one that will last.
4. Shows & fairs
Other places you might find hot tubs for sale are at a home show, a county fair, or a parking lot sale.
Just like the big box stores, you need to be careful and research the brand before purchasing from one of these events. If premium spas are being placed at these events by local manufacturers or dealers, then it may be a great way to save a little money on a quality spa.
Often, traveling spa shows come to town offering cheap products. They advertise “once in a lifetime prices” and other unbelievable deals. Unfortunately, these are sometimes dishonest businesses that are looking to make quick sales and then leave to the next city without offering support or warranty. Think twice before buying your spa from one of these events.
Step 6: Decide when you should buy your hot tub.
There are many great times during the year to buy a spa.
Here are a few times to look for discounts:
· During the end and beginning of a new year when dealers are trying to clear space for new inventory and models
· Around seasonal holidays when manufacturers offer special sales promotions (Memorial Day and Labor Day are known to offer some of the best deals)
· Around normally slower months such as February or October when dealers are more willing to offer discounts
The best time to get a special deal on a hot tub is during event sales. When dealers are preparing for an event, they generally purchase several hot tubs at once, and because of this, they can often save money on freight. That savings gets passed down to you during the event.
Typically, it costs a dealer a lot of money to set up and advertise an event, so they have to get rid of a certain percentage of their inventory to just break even.
All of these factors can be a benefit to you as you negotiate your purchase. That dealer or business is motivated! They need to get rid of as many spas as possible. Even if the spa cannot be further discounted, there’s always the possibility of talking them into throwing in some accessories or upgrades.
Step 7: Look into hot tub pricing
How much does a hot tub cost? It’s an important question every serious spa shopper asks, but admittedly one that brands aren’t always great at answering. Unlike cars, TVs, or home appliances, hot tubs are a consumer item that most people don’t know much about until they’re ready to buy.
All hot tubs are made differently, using different systems and materials. Additionally, they cost a lot to ship to different locales. And hot tub markets vary regionally. For these reasons, prices for the majority of high-quality hot tubs have generally been set by local dealers. Since spa pricing, even for the same model, can vary by location, hot tub prices from most brands are not posted online.
Although hot tub cost may differ slightly depending on where you live, you can generally expect hot tubs to fall into these 4 tiers:
Elite Luxury – $17,000 to $23,000+
These hot tubs are the absolute best. They are fully featured, therapeutic, high-quality, and efficient.
Luxury – $13,000 to $16,000
These hot tubs are also very well-built and therapeutic but generally offer fewer features than the top models.
Mid-range – $9,000 to $12,000
These hot tubs offer good therapy options and basic features.
Value – $6,000 to $8,000
These hot tubs are generally reliable and comfortable but don’t offer great therapy options or additional features and accessories.
Entry level – $2,000 TO $5,000
These hot tubs are cheaply made and not expected to last many years.
Step 8: Design a Bullfrog Spa online, get an instant price quote
Sort through the different Bullfrog Spas models based on seating capacity, layout, and luxury class. Select your favorite model, colors, JetPaks, and accessories. You’ll then receive the MSRP of your spa and your closest dealer’s contact info.