Hot Tub Reviews & Ratings – What are the Best Hot Tub Brands?
5 Best Hot Tub Brands Reviewed
Did you know there are over 50 different hot tub brands worldwide?
To find the hot tub that’s best for you, you’d have to spend a lot of time comparing hot tub ratings and brands. And that means less time enjoying your spa.
To help you with your hot tub selection, we’ve put together this comprehensive guide to walk you through the best hot tub brands based on spa quality and customer reviews. We also provide some tips and tricks in identifying trustworthy reviews during your hot tub journey.
Table of Contents
Here’s a quick overview and comparison of the best brands, listed in alphabetical order. Details about each brand’s features and benefits will come later in the article.*
Bullfrog Spas is known for its innovative engineering and design. Our goal is to create an experience that provides a peaceful body, mind, and home for every customer.
At Caldera Spas, they focus on comfort, design, and performance. Every element, from the seats to the jets, is optimized for a soothing, therapeutic experience.
Caldera offers 3 hot tub lines: the Utopia® Series, the Paradise® Series, and the Vacanza® Series.
Hot Spring is the largest hot tub manufacturer in the industry and has over 900 dealer locations worldwide. These dealers pride themselves on great customer care.
Hot Spring offers 3 hot tub lines: the Highlife® collection, the Limelight® collection, and Hot Spot® spas.
Jacuzzi is the original and best-known hot tub brand. The Jacuzzi brothers invented the first hydrotherapy pump in the 1950s and popularized the use of outdoor hot tubs by the 1980s.
Jacuzzi offers 5 hot tub lines: the J-500™ Collection, the J-400™ Collection, the J-300™ Collection, the J-LX® Collection, and the J-200™ Collection.
Sundance has been in business for nearly 40 years producing hot tubs designed to meet the consumer’s needs. They take pride in their reputation as a community-oriented company.
Sundance offers 4 hot tub lines: the 980™ Series, the 880™ Series, the 780™ Series, and the 680™ Series.
|Brand||Best Known For||Lines|
|Bullfrog Spas®||Innovative engineering and design|
|Caldera Spas®||Comfort, design, and performance|
|Hot Spring®||Great customer care with over 900 dealer locations|
|Jacuzzi®||Being the original hot tub brand and popularizing outdoor hot tubs|
|Sundance®||Reputation as a community-oriented company|
In a recent survey, hot tub owners were asked which hot tub features had the biggest influence on their purchase decision when comparing hot tubs.
The results of the survey showed that these are the top 6 features that influenced hot tub purchases:
1. Jets & Therapy
2. Quality & Reliability
3. Energy Efficiency
4. Style & Design
6. Water Care
Because these are the most important features, it’s important to know what each hot tub company provides. Here’s a comparison of these 6 features for each hot tub brand.
Because hot tubs are best known for their amazing therapeutic jets, it’s no surprise that the number one feature hot tub shoppers are looking for are quality jet massages. There is nothing more relaxing than soaking in warm water while receiving a soothing massage.
To help you find the hot tub with the best jets for you, here’s a breakdown of the jets and therapy features of each of the best hot tub brands.
Bullfrog Spas features the JetPak Therapy System® which allows you to select between 17 interchangeable jet massages called JetPaks, place the JetPak in the seat that fits your height, and adjust the massage power to your preferred intensity. This allows each person to completely personalize their hydrotherapy experience and target the exact muscles that need relief.
Using a holistic approach to hydrotherapy, each seat in a Caldera spa focuses on a different muscle group in the body. Known as hot tub circuit therapy, the user moves from seat to seat to massage different regions in the body.
The Moto-Massage® DX jet is the latest hydrotherapy addition to the Hot Spring® spa collections. The unique massaging jet produces two streams that move up and down your back. Hot Spring also offers 10 different jet types, including rotary, directional, and precision jets to create a unique spa experience for all users.
When it comes to Jacuzzi’s hydrotherapy systems, better jets are more important than more jets. Their PowerPro® jets feature Aqualibrium® technology, which provides the perfect balance of air and water, resulting in a high-flow, low-pressure massaging jet.
The Fluidix® jet system provides deep tissue relief and relaxation, working on the same pressure points targeted in reflexology. The jets simulate real massage sensations, from Shiatsu to Swedish, providing deep relaxation and tension relief.
Other than finding a hot tub with the perfect jet massages, the next most important thing to hot tub owners is finding a spa they can rely on.
The best hot tubs should last 10 or more years and should require minimal maintenance and servicing.
Here’s a comparison of the quality and reliability of each of the best hot tub brands.
Every Bullfrog spa is constructed with the patented, wood-free EnduraFrame™ structure. Designed for durability and longevity, this ABS spa frame doesn’t deteriorate or corrode with use. All components are injection-molded, ensuring a tight, leak-free connection between the frame, plumbing, and cabinet. All parts are manufactured and assembled in the U.S., guaranteed to meet the highest quality standards.
Caldera Spas uses high-quality heaters, pumps, and components. Their hot tub shells are made of durable, reinforced acrylic and last for years.
Hot Spring spa models also incorporate an ABS acrylic shell for improved durability and have high quality parts and components.
Jacuzzi portable spas feature high-grade, scratch-resistant acrylic shells to improve heat retention and durability. Exterior cabinets are manufactured using UV-resistant synthetic wood that doesn’t warp or degrade due to sun and weather exposure.
Sundance spas are built with a synthetic base to keep out rain and other elements. Their SunStrong® Skirt cabinets are also UV-resistant.
Just as it requires energy each month to keep your refrigerator cold, you use energy to keep your hot tub warm.
However, keeping your hot tub hot shouldn’t cost an arm and a leg. Great hot tubs are well insulated and have innovative plumbing to keep energy costs down.
Here’s a comparison of the energy efficiency of each of the best hot tub brands.
Bullfrog Spas are ranked the most energy-efficient hot tubs in their class based on data collected by the California Energy Commission. Since Bullfrog Spas uses 90% less plumbing than traditional spas, they limit energy consumption and retain heat more efficiently. Plus, their full foam design minimizes heat loss and lowers energy costs.
Caldera Spas makes energy efficiency a priority in all its hot tub designs. From the latest insulation to the most efficient pumps, Caldera Spas® uses materials that reduce environmental impact while lowering operating costs for users. Their EnergyPro® pump operates continually at low wattage, reducing stress on the heater and lowering overall energy use.
Each Hot Spring hot tub uses its Energy Smart® system to ensure maximum energy efficiency in all aspects of construction. In particular, all spas use the SilentFlo 5000® circulation pump, which continuously circulates warm water throughout the tub, consuming less energy than a 40-watt light bulb.
Jacuzzi’s high-end model, the J-LX, uses materials and components that maximize heat retention and lower energy consumption. This model exceeds energy-use standards in the industry without sacrificing the power and performance you expect from your hot tub.
Sundance Spas uses high-density insulation to prevent heat loss and minimize energy consumption. They also offer SunStrong® foam covers to increase efficiency.
When choosing a hot tub for your backyard living space, it’s important that your spa matches your style and home.
Here’s a breakdown of the styles and designs of each of the best hot tub brands.
The Bullfrog Spas STIL Spa is the only portable hot tub to have won the prestigious iF Design Award. Bullfrog Spas offers beautiful, updated cabinet and shell colors to go with any landscape and home design.
Caldera’s Utopia series offers various design styles such as Cottage, Contemporary, Tuscan, and Mid-Century Modern.
Hot Spring’s Highlife collection was designed in partnership with Designworks®, a BMW Group Company. Hot Spring offers 6 cabinet finishes on their spas.
The Jacuzzi J-500 has a curved design, unique exterior lighting, and 9 shell colors to choose from. In addition, the J-LX Collection features a flat top rail minimalist design.
Sundance offers classic hot tub designs with up to 10 different shell colors, as well as several cabinet and cover color options.
Have you ever sat in a public hot tub and felt really uncomfortable in the hard, scratchy seats?
Luckily, the best portable hot tub brands have smooth, comfortable seats and surfaces to maximize your spa enjoyment.
Here’s a comparison of the comfort features of each of the best hot tub brands.
Bullfrog Spas features various seat heights and angles so everyone can enjoy their spa experience. The new A9L model has ample space and has 8 seats. The popular A8D model comes with 2 premium lounge seats to maximize your relaxation.
Caldera Spas are designed for comfort with sculpted seats and soothing jet massages. Some hot tub models also feature the UltraMassage® lounge.
The HotSpring Grandee is Hot Spring’s most spacious hot tub with lots of legroom and seats up to 7.
Jacuzzi’s J-300 collection is focused on comfort with adjustable headrests and ergonomic seating.
Sundance spa models offer both open and lounge seating options. They also feature several large hot tubs that can comfortably fit the whole family.
Although only 6th on hot tub customers’ list of most important features, easy water care is quickly becoming a higher priority for hot tub owners. Hot tub brands are coming up with simpler, more automated systems to keep your spa water clean and clear.
Here’s a comparison of the water care systems offered by each of the best hot tub brands.
Bullfrog Spas provides 3 easy-to-use and highly effective water care systems. The Enhanced Ozone System (EOS O3™), FROG® @ease®, and the WellSpring Circulation Pump. Your spa water will require up to 75% less chlorine than ever before—saving you time and money.
Caldera Spas now offers the FreshWater™ salt system that automatically generates chlorine, making it easier to take care of your hot tub and keeps your spa water fresh for longer.
HotSpring also offers the FreshWater™ salt system on their Highlife and Limelight collections.
Jacuzzi offers CLEARRAY® UV-C technology to sanitize their spas. UV light kills bacteria and is quick and easy to use.
Sundance also offers CLEARRAY® UV-C technology for their spas.
When looking for the best hot tub brands, a lot of people ask which spa brands they should avoid. Here are a few things to look out for when comparing hot tub brands.
A brand with less than 4 stars out of 5 probably isn’t the best choice. In addition to looking at the overall rating, you’ll want to read a handful of the best hot tub reviews to see what the main complaints have been. We’ll dive more into detail about evaluating reviews/ratings later on.
Double check the warranty on your hot tub before purchasing to make sure any unexpected troubles will be taken care of. Spa frames and bases should be covered for at least 5 years if not more.
If your hot tub is only sold online or at a big box store, be cautious before buying. A local authorized hot tub dealer is the best way to ensure you get great service before and after buying your spa. Otherwise, you may be on your own if a part needs replacing.
Even though we live in the 21st century, unbiased and straightforward hot tub ratings and reviews are still difficult to find on the internet. And if you do find them, how do you know if these sources can be trusted?
The Complexity Behind Finding Reliable Hot Tub Ratings & Reviews
One of the reasons online hot tub ratings and reviews are confusing is that hot tubs, to date, have not been covered by some of the more historically trustworthy consumer review sources like Consumer Reports. Because of their size and space requirements it’s expensive to test each hot tub model. For consumer reporting companies, the interest in the category may not justify the expense of doing the testing.
Because of their size and space requirements, it’s expensive to test each hot tub model. For consumer reporting companies, the interest in the category may not justify the expense of doing the testing.
Some consumer product industries also offer their own industry-specific ratings and reviews. Unfortunately, in hot tubs, there doesn’t seem to be a strong trade organization willing to sponsor independent testing or at least provide a transparent and trusted review site for the industry.
Top 11 Hot Tub Review Sites
Given the current state of hot tub reviews online, we want to show you the kinds of websites you’ll likely encounter in the first page or two of your internet search. This will hopefully help you weed out the poot and/or biased information and identify the information you can trust when you go searching for “hot tub reviews.”
Below are 11 online review sites we’ll discuss.
Lead Generation & Advertising Sites:
1. Consumer Affairs
2. Top Ten Reviews
4. Consumer Search
5. Pool and Spa Ratings
6. Pool and Spa Buyer’s Guide by Poolandspa.com
Public Forums and Question Answer Sites:
7. Pool Spa Forum
8. What’s the Best Hot Tub Forum
Other Online Review Sites:
9. Better Business Bureau
10. Major Hot Tub Brand Sites (bullfrogspas.com and more)
We’ve organized these sites by their type with a rating based on a scale of 1 to 10. This rating is based on Bullfrog Spas’ opinion of how helpful they are for the person looking to understand more about hot tub brands, sellers, and models.
The factors that influence our rating are the presence of bias, correctness of information, transparency, and helpfulness. This rating is the sole opinion of Bullfrog Spas and should be used for informational purposes only.
Lead Generation and Advertising Sites
Lead generation and advertising sites give you information in exchange for your contact information to hot tub sellers, or provide a platform for advertisers. When done correctly, lead generation sites offer a fair trade—you get information, and hot tub brands/retailers get the chance to talk to you more about possibly purchasing from them.
Some of these sites are fairly transparent and the information they provide is actually valuable. However, many of these sites veil their true intentions and don’t provide great information. You may feel a bit tricked when you find out that the trade of your info for theirs wasn’t exactly fair.
The primary purpose of the Consumer Affairs site is allowing consumer complaints to provide lead generation opportunities to lawyers. However, the site seems to have expanded its focus and now also offers options for brands in certain verticals, like hot tubs, to pay for placement and leads.
Basically, hot tub brands pay an advertising fee to show up high in the “reviews” section. For this reason, the quality and authenticity of reviews can’t necessarily be trusted.
Without much detective work, you can clearly understand how their business model works.
Here’s a snippet from their About page:
“ConsumerAffairs is a private, non-governmental entity that empowers consumers by providing a forum for their complaints and a means for them to be contacted by lawyers if their complaints have legal merit. Your complaints and reviews may be published, shared with the news media and reviewed by attorneys at no cost to you. See our FAQ for more information”
The FAQ section further clarifies their business model:
“Are you non-profit?
Is this a government site?
Do companies pay you to recommend their products or services?
No. But companies pay us to become an Accredited Member (see below). We also receive compensation (sometimes from the company; sometimes from third party agencies), when we refer a consumer to a company’s site through a link on our site, although this does not affect our ratings or reviews.”
Somehow these accredited brands (AKA paying advertisers) do seem to show up at the top of their Compare Brands list. Mysterious isn’t it?
Operated by Purch, the same company that operates the lead generation service, Buyer Zone, Top Ten Reviews is a lead generation site that offers hot tub spa reviews in exchange for your contact information.
The fact that brands are paying for top placement introduces an obvious bias and degrades the trustworthiness of the reviews. However, this site does offer info on each brand and spa model.
The information appears more accurate than several of the other lead generation sites but is still very basic. As you read through a few of the reviews, it’s easy to assume the information is researched. But an expert in the industry will recognize that these “non-biased” hot tub reviews are more likely restatements of information gleaned from the brand’s website.
You’ll recognize fairly quickly that this site exists to capture your information and send it to hot tub sellers. Top Ten Reviews only sends your info to brands or stores that pay for their service, even though they “review” many other brands on their site.
Because Top Ten Reviews primarily exists to sell advertising space and to generate leads for hot tub companies, it is not particularly trustworthy. We say this even though Bullfrog Spas is currently at the top of their reviews.
This site is produced by Bigfish, a reputable company that publishes several pool and spa industry trade magazines. Spasearch offers a high degree of expertise in the field. The information available on Spasearch is well researched and applicable to the spa shopper.
In terms of their reviews, however, it’s important to understand that Spasearch only shows those brands and local dealerships that pay to advertise with them in their online program. So, the list of brands reviewed is not comprehensive. Like other lead generation sites, Spasearch solicits your information to provide it to their advertisers.
Spasearch does provide relevant information in the form of informational articles. Their advertisers are also mostly reputable brands. It is important to understand that there is always some bias involved in an advertising situation. With that in mind, you may want to consider the listings in the “Top Products” section of this site more of a paid directory than a list of quality independent hot tub spa reviews.
Consumer Search offers extremely vague information about hot tubs in general rather than specific ratings or reviews. Instead of focusing on hot tub models or even hot tub brands they instead seem to zero in on reviewing whole categories of hot tubs with very generic descriptions.
In reality, this site is primarily designed to sell advertising. The few brands and models it does actually list are mostly low-quality spas sold at big box and/or online retailers indicating that this site makes money off of affiliate deals with those retailers.
In general Consumer Search is not a great source of trustworthy information.
This site claims to have independent reviews based on the following information.
“We specialize in independent surveys. Unlike other websites, our ratings are not determined by how much money the hot tub manufacturers spend on advertising with us, our ratings are the result of our own extensive research by interviewing consumers, dealers, and taking compiled information from the better business bureaus.”
However, upon further review trust begins to really break down on this site. The specific methodology for reviewing hot tubs on this site is not well explained, it’s difficult to tell how they arrive at their findings, but most revealing is that nearly all of the brands that receive a 10 out of 10 are brands we’ve never heard of that all seem to be manufactured in the same plant in Tennessee.
Yes, this site appears to be a sham site set up to review a particular manufacturer’s brands well. A little digging seemed to confirm this theory.
The site’s domain registration information was hidden and it doesn’t seem to be receiving any updates. Furthermore, it appears (according to the BBB) that the probable parent company, Leisure Products, Inc may actually be out of business. A message sent to the contact email on the site went unreturned. This site never was, and certainly isn’t now, a good source of information.
PoolandSpa.com is an organization that sells pool and spa products and accepts payment from brands to advertise their products in information areas of their site. You will see preferential treatment for brands that are paying advertisers, however, PoolandSpa.com also provides some useful information.
One piece of information that is helpful as you start your hot tub research is PoolandSpa.com’s relatively comprehensive list of hot tub brands. Scroll way down (no really, way way down) on this page and you will find a table that lists pretty much every major and minor spa brand. They have also made a reasonable attempt to identify some of the characteristics of each brand intermixed with some seemingly arbitrary awards.
Don’t necessarily rely on the reviews on this site to help you narrow down your decision to a very best hot tub, but instead, use it as a starting point for understanding the brand landscape for hot tubs and spas.
Public Forums and Question Answer Sites
Public forum and public question/answer sites are another category of websites that you will find in your search for “hot tub reviews” or “spa reviews.” These types of sites allow you to ask questions or start conversations on a topic. Real people will answer that question in an online forum format.
These kinds of sites are especially helpful with more specific questions on brands and hot tub models. However, because you have to wait for someone out there in cyberspace to see your question and answer it, these sites aren’t always the best way to get quick information.
Let’s look at some of the forum and question/answer sites you’ll find.
This forum site is a bit of a mixed bag. There are a number of hot tub industry pros that regularly contribute. Their insight and advice is generally good. But, as with any open forum, you do have to weed through some shenanigans like self-promotion veiled as advice.
This forum is associated with Spasearch, a website covered above. Like Spasearch, the Pool Spa Forum exists to sell ad space and generate leads for hot tub retailers and brands. However, forum members are real people who are generally helpful and not overly promotional.
If you have specific questions, it’s worth a shot to ask them here but take it all with a grain of salt, understanding what biases may be introduced.
What’s the Best Hot Tub is probably the best hot tub forum site on the internet today. This forum features regular participation from a decent number of real people. This site also seems to be committed to the mission of providing relatively unbiased discussion and info.
Additionally, What’s the Best Hot Tub offers locations for real consumer reviews and a fairly detailed and accurate buyers guide.
The forum is open to everyone. Consumers and hot tub industry people all comment. As is the case with most online forums, you occasionally get opinions from “experts” who are actually just trying to sell you on their business or favorite brand.
However, for the most part, the regulars on this forum try to keep their advice as unbiased, helpful, and respectful as possible. Many of the forum participants are actual hot tub experts who are open and generous with their knowledge.
This site does sell advertising but it doesn’t hit you over the head with it or try to force you towards just the brands that advertise. Overall, What’s the Best Hot Tub is a good place to ask specific questions and get a variety of opinions from hot tub pros, hot tub owners and other consumers in the market.
Other Types of Hot Tub Information
There are several other types of information sources you will find when searching for hot tub ratings and reviews. These range from general business organizations to very specific brand sites to the largest search engines. By no means is this an exhaustive list, but it does represent many of the types of sites you will encounter and how you can use them to inform your research process.
Let’s look at some other sources of online information.
The Better Business Bureau is known by nearly everyone as the place to lodge complaints about poor business practices. Today the BBB has additionally grown into a provider of business information.
The BBB maintains a reputation as a reputable organization that continues to adhere to a mission of rating businesses based on consumer feedback, or at least the lack of complaints. You can use the BBB to weed out the poorest brands, companies, and local hot tub dealers but it won’t provide much in the way of specifics. Each region has its own BBB chapter and each of these organizations maintain records on businesses in that area.
Early in your search, you may want to locate your local BBB and make a list that includes accredited hot tub dealers in your area, accredited brands, along with those that have poor ratings for reference.
While there is a very clear opportunity for bias on brand sites, most of the best premium hot tub brands do a good job of providing locations for real customer feedback on their products. Look for customer reviews on specific hot tub models, blog comments, and real testimonials.
This said, many of the poorer brand sites do not allow consumer feedback, don’t provide locations for comments, or heavily edit what they do show. Be alert when you’re looking at these reviews and look for verified consumer review services to be sure you can trust them.
Any onsite review system can be gamed to some degree so when you’re visiting brand sites look for reviews that feel like they come from real people. Since satisfied customers don’t leave reviews as often as those who have had an issue, take the negative reviews with a grain of salt. They generally represent the minority.
You should, however, use these reviews to identify advantages as well as potential problems with those products. For example, if a particular hot tub feature continually comes up as a positive you can trust that it’s going to benefit you. Conversely, if a particular feature repeatedly gets mentioned in a negative light you can be sure to ask your dealer specifically about that feature or avoid it altogether.
In case you’ve been asleep for the last 2 decades or so, Google is the undisputed king of search on the internet. Their mission is to organize and present the world’s information. This mission has some value in your search for the best hot tub reviews.
You can use Google local searches to evaluate and find reviews on hot tub stores in your local area.
Enter search terms like “hot tubs + (your local area)” and you’ll usually see a list of most of the local hot tub stores. You can click on the “More” link at the bottom of that list to get a larger list and map like the image shown above. From there you can click on any of the locations and get a pop up with more information and customer reviews.
Keep in mind that, like any open review platform, Google reviews can be gamed to some degree. Because of this, sometimes the star ratings are not necessarily the best gauge. Instead, read through some reviews for each location. Look for those with honest sounding language and use that to give you a better idea of who you may want to deal with in your area.
Since the current status of online hot tub reviews leaves room for improvement, it’s important to learn to identify trustworthy sources, decide what information to ignore and to take some of the information you find with a healthy amount of skepticism.
Big box stores like Sam’s Club and Costco provide accessibility to customers, but they tend to carry cheaper brands in general when they do carry them. There are still advantages and disadvantages to take into consideration.
Why? Depending on your hot tub needs, a big-box store might not have the personalized approach you’re looking for to create the hot tub of your dreams. Let’s take a closer look by diving into the pros and cons.
There are two key benefits in purchasing hot tubs from big box stores:
- Low prices: Big box stores sell a wide variety of products in bulk while offering low prices. So if you’re on a tight budget for a hot tub, Costco and Sam’s Club can meet your monetary needs.
- Availability: Because the big retailers purchase and sell items in bulk, they aren’t likely to run out of hot tub brands and products.
Sometimes, low price and availability just don’t cut it. Since every customer carries a variety of personal needs and demands when it comes to buying a hot tub, having a personalized touch is crucial. But this can be challenging to find in the big box realm.
Large retailers tend to have:
- Lack of customization: Whether you’re looking for some shoulder or spinal relief, you need to get the right JetPak. And if you’re planning on using your hot tub during snowy weather, you need the right insulation system and cover. These customizable items are difficult to find in a big box store and often require the attention of hot tub experts to help you make informed decisions.
- Smaller selection to choose from: Though big box stores may purchase their products in bulk, this doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll carry all the product lines of a specific brand. You’ll likely need to visit a smaller retail shop that specializes in hot tubs to find the unique features you want.
- Limited customer support: Big box employees aren’t exactly hot tub experts. This can make it especially difficult to get straight answers to your questions, which makes the buying process pretty frustrating. Not to mention, finding post-purchase support for your hot tub troubleshooting needs can be little to none. For an up-close and personal experience, turning to your local mom-and-pop store is your best bet.
Now that you’ve seen a comparison of the best hot tub brands and understand how to evaluate online spa reviews, it’s time to design your own hot tub.
Choose the spa model that fits your family, the jets that target your aches and pains, the colors that match your style and landscape, and all your other favorite features and accessories.
You’ll even get an instant price quote when you’re done!
Also, keep in mind that nothing replaces an in-person experience with the brand and spa models that interest you most. A visit to your local dealer and wet test (the hot tub version of a test drive) the spas you’re most interested in.
*Info about each brand has not been verified by the individual companies and is subject to change.
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