Hot Tub Buying Guide – Tips for Purchasing a Spa
Buying a hot tub is one of the best investments you can make for your body, mind, and home.
Justin B., a recent hot tub buyer said, “There is nothing better than jumping in my hot tub at the end of a long day. It’s not only relaxing but therapeutic. I’ve had it for over 6 months now, and can’t imagine not having it.”
There are many great reasons to purchase a spa. Other than stress and pain relief, hot tubs provide a place where families can spend quality time together. Many parents have even said that their hot tub is the one place where they can have quality conversations with their kids without cell phones involved.
Because hot tubs are not an everyday purchase, you may not be familiar with how to choose and buy one. To help you come home with the right hot tub for you, we put together this hot tub buying guide.
Continue reading to learn more about buying a hot tub, or jump to a section that interests you by clicking a link below.
Which hot tub should you buy
The hot tub that is right for you depends on several factors. Because hot tubs have varying sizes, features, and prices, it can take time to find your perfect spa.
Consider the important questions below. As you think about what matters most to you in a hot tub, you’ll be able to narrow down your spa search to just a few brands and models.
How many people will be using your spa?
Some people want their hot tub to be the place where their family and friends can come together and enjoy one another’s company. Others want their spa to be a place where they can escape and unwind. Look for a spa that will fit the number of people that you want using it.
What are your therapy needs?
Premium hot tubs are made with powerful, therapeutic jets. These jets are strategically placed to relieve back, neck, shoulder, or leg pain. If you have a specific muscle needing therapeutic relief, make sure you get a spa with jets that target that muscle.
What additional features are you interested in?
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.
How often do you plan on using your spa?
The more you plan on using your hot tub, the higher quality you will want it to be. A poorly made hot tub will wear out quickly with frequent use. You should also look for energy-efficient models that will keep your energy bill low even with using your hot tub daily.
How long do you plan on owning your spa?
If you plan on using your spa for 10+ years, spending a little extra money upfront to get a high-quality spa can save you thousands of dollars in the long run. A cheap model could need several repairs and would likely need to be replaced several times over a 10-15 year period.
Tim M., a hot tub owner, said: “I love my Bullfrog Spa. It’s 9 years old and looks and works like new. My friends went with other brands, and after 4 years, they ended up in the landfill.”
Look for a reliable, well-built spa when purchasing if you hope to take advantage of its benefits for a long time.
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Best place to buy a spa
There are generally 3 places you can buy a hot tub: your local spa dealer, online, or a big box store.
Watch this fun video, The Spa Dating Game, to learn about what kind of experience you can expect from each place.
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. Most dealers even offer test spas so you can see what you like before buying.
In addition, a dealer’s expertise is extremely important after you buy. They can 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 have local service people to help you clean, maintain, and care for your new spa purchase.
Do lots of research on a spa you find online before purchasing to make sure you get adequate delivery, installation, and service help.
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 right spa for you.
On occasion, these box stores do sell very high-quality hot tub brands that you can trust. In these cases, local hot tub manufacturers or dealers place their products in these stores in addition to their dealerships and offer full service, installation, and delivery.
Again, do your research on a spa brand you find in a box store before purchasing to make sure it is one that will last.
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 hot tub brand before buying from one of these events. If the 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.
In addition, many traveling spa shows come to town offering cheap products. They advertise “once in a lifetime prices” and other unbelievable deals. Unfortunately, these are often 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 hot tub from one of these events.
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Best time to buy a hot tub
Most people are aware that you can get great deals on cars by purchasing at certain times of the year or month. But what about hot tubs? Is there a best time of year to buy a spa?
Yes. In fact, there are many great times during the year to buy a spa.
Here are a few times to look for discounts on a spa:
- 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
You should also consider the best times for your situation. These might be:
- Spring – when you are already improving or landscaping your yard
- Summer – when you are planning backyard parties and events
- Fall – so you can get it installed in time for cold weather
- Winter – as part of your Christmas or other holiday gifts
No matter your situation or timeline, you should be able to buy and enjoy a hot tub during any time of the year.
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Should you buy a used hot tub?
Buying anything that’s used can be risky. But we all do it sometimes. We’re enticed by the lower prices, hoping that we’ll be lucky and that the used product will work as well as a new one.
Like most questions in this world, the answer to “should I buy a used hot tub” is: it depends.
However, you’ll find that generally it’s a bad idea and you shouldn’t do it.
When considering a used hot tub, think about why the person is selling it in the first place.
Was it not as high quality as they were hoping? Is it getting old and they need a new, better one? Has it had technical and warranty issues?
If the answer to any of those questions is “yes”, then you probably want to look elsewhere. Although one man’s trash can be another man’s treasure, an old, used hot tub isn’t the treasure you are looking for.
A new hot tub, on the other hand, can be customized to fit your exact needs. You’ll be able to find the right size for your family, the perfect colors to match your landscape, and, if you get a Bullfrog Spa, the correct JetPak massages to target your aches and pains.
They also come with warranties, better features, and professional delivery and installation.
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Hot tub costs
Hot tub prices are set locally by independently owned spa dealers. This allows hot tub dealers to take into account shipping costs from the manufacturer as well as run local discounts and sales not sponsored by the manufacturer.
Hot Tub Pricing Tiers
Although hot tubs may cost slightly different depending on where you live, you can generally expect hot tubs to fall into these 4 tiers.
ELITE LUXURY TIER – $16,000 to $22,000
These hot tubs are the absolute best. They are fully-featured, high-quality, and efficient.
LUXURY TIER – $12,000 to $15,000
These hot tubs are also very well-built and therapeutic but generally offer fewer features than the top models.
PREMIUM TIER – $8,000 to $11,000
These hot tubs are offer decent therapy options and basic features.
MID TIER – $5,000 to $7,000
These hot tubs are generally reliable and comfortable but don’t offer the best therapy options.
LOW-END TIER – $2,000 TO $4,000
These hot tubs are cheaply made and not expected to last many years.
Just as it requires a little energy and money each month for your refrigerator to keep food cold, your hot tub uses energy to keep water warm.
Hot tub designs are constantly improving and becoming more energy efficient. Make sure to look for hot tub brands that take you and your wallet into consideration when building their spas.
For example, Bullfrog Spas are built with full-foam insulation and an advanced water delivery system with up to 90% less plumbing to keep your energy bill low.
You can also expect to spend a few dollars each month on chemicals to keep the spa water warm. Consider investing in a premium water care system featuring Ozone or UV to keep your chemical costs down over time.
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Hot tub financing
Many hot tub buyers choose to finance their purchase. This allows them to spread their costs out over time and avoid spending too much of their savings at once.
If you are interested in financing your hot tub purchase, you have a few options.
Some dealers partner with a local lender so they can offer financing directly to customers. You’ll also see manufacturer-sponsored promotions that offer great rates around holidays or other events.
Other loan options
If your dealer doesn’t offer financing, you can consider these other options:
- Personal loan
- Home equity loan
To learn more about your hot tub financing options, read our hot tub financing guide.
Now that you know the strategies for buying a hot tub, you’re ready to start considering your options. By designing a Bullfrog Spa online, you’ll be able to pick your spa size, colors, jets, and features. You’ll even get a price quote sent by your local dealer.