What is the best hot tub to buy?
A Guide to Determining the Best Hot Tub to Buy for You and Your Lifestyle
Hot tubs and spas are a great investment in you. Your spa will provide years of relaxation and enjoyment for you, your family and your friends. That said, hot tubs are a significant investment and your hot tub purchase should be well researched and evaluated. When determining the best hot tub for your lifestyle the information can be confusing. However, if you do your research and purchase a quality spa, your investment will pay you back in health benefits, quality time and fun for often well over a decade.
So what should you consider when looking for the best hot tub to buy? Because you have your own individual needs and preferences and hot tub designs and features can vary so widely, there are a few important factors you need to consider before buying your hot tub. Budget, size, jetting configurations and seating layout can all vary and provide different benefits. Here are a few things to consider as you’re looking to choose the perfect hot tub for you.
Is there a difference between hot tubs and spas?
As you begin your search for the best hot tub for you and your lifestyle you’ll run into 2 terms used almost interchangeably: “spa” and “hot tub.” What’s the difference between a spa and a hot tub? Short answer: not much, but let’s quickly clear up this common question.
Although these terms have historically referred to somewhat different things, they are now generally considered to be the same thing—a portable tub of water with integrated heating and jetting. Traditionally, hot tubs were built from wood, similar to large whiskey barrels or wine casks, while spas were locations that featured permanent pools of hot water used for hydrotherapy. Today, however, you can consider these terms synonymous.
Spa Use and Size
How do you plan to use your hot tub? Are you looking to throw parties for the whole neighborhood, or relax with your spouse after a long day of work? Determining the desired size of your new spa can help you begin to narrow down your options. Sizes can range widely and size is not always equal to capacity. Look at both numbers, dimensions and capacity. Hot tubs from quality manufacturers range in capacity from intimate 2-seaters all the way to 8-seaters to entertain a crowd.
Start determining your optimal capacity by thinking about how many people you generally think will use the spa. Next think about the maximum number of people you think will ever use the spa. Try to strike a nice balance between these numbers and target hot tubs in that capacity range.
When considering the actual size of your spa, look at external dimensions, internal space, water capacity and depth. Don’t forget to measure your intended spa location to ensure the spa will fit with your space. If you want to put your spa on a deck or other structure, be sure it can support the weight of a filled spa. An engineer can help make these determinations.
In addition to size and capacity, consider the seating types that you expect to use the most. Many spas offer both upright seating and lounge seats. Lounge seating is a great way to completely recline and relax your whole body. Most spa layouts offer one lounge seat. A few models offer dual lounge seats and, if reclined seating is totally your thing, you can even find a few spas with 3 or more lounge seats. Additionally, some spas offer all upright seats, which tends to open up the space in the spa and allows for a higher capacity. Figure out what matters most to you in seating layouts – totally reclined relaxation, space for moving around or a little of everything.
Most quality spas today are made with a shell of waterproof and durable material placed on a support structure. Some spas are made with a rotary molded plastic, much like kayaks and folding picnic tables. This is a low cost way to make a spa but it has its drawbacks in terms of look, feel, and long-term quality.
Most top quality spas are made instead with a beautiful and highly durable acrylic shell material. This material ensures that you get a durable scratch resistant surface that is impervious to moisture, chemicals and the elements over time.
In making your determination on the best hot tub to buy it’s also important to consider what’s underneath it all. It is surprising how many hot tubs today are still built the way hot tubs were built in the 70s and 80s with wood framing that is still sawed and then nailed together. However, the best quality hot tubs today are built with more precise methods like precision molded ABS or other composite material that can be reproduced exactly the same every time. This ensures that you get a precise fit and finish with much less chance of human error.
In addition to the precise finish that precision manufactured support structure, you also get a material that performs better over time with water and the elements. Wood or metal framed spas can rot, warp or corrode over time. Be sure to find out what materials are used to form the unseen support structure of your spa.
Spa Jet Systems
Once you’ve decided on a size that will work for your needs, it’s time to look at the spa’s most attractive feature—the jets. Spa jets can vary significantly between manufacturers and models. In the past few years, spa jets have seen a lot of exciting new innovation, with several advances in hydrotherapy and interchangeable jets.
Look for spa jets that feature an ergonomic jetting arrays and an adjustable flow. The JetPak Therapy System available of course in Bullfrog Spas allows you to customize your jets at purchase, change jets around at any time, and adjust flow volume to completely dial in your spa experience. If you have the opportunity to design your jetting, be sure to include a variety of jet types that you like. Options for spa jetting include steady, swirling, rythmic pulsating, and oscillating streams. All of these produce a different massage sensation. It is best to actually test these out in the store before buying.
Be wary of spa manufacturers who tout only the number of jets in their spa models, as spa placement and quality are far more important than sheer quantity in terms of the overall therapy effect your spa will be able to provide. Also, determine if flow requirements will only allow you to use certain jetted seats at the same time. Many spas only work with a portion of the jets on at once.
If you’re seriously considering which hot tub to buy, you probably already know that there are some costs involved in heating and maintaining your spa. Because of this, it’s important to look for a well-insulated, well-designed, energy-efficient model that will help you save on monthly operating costs. Here are few things to look for in an energy-efficient hot tub.
First, consider insulation. The best hot tubs feature full foam insulation to prevent heat escape. Look for hot tubs that meet or exceed the energy guidelines of the California Energy Commission (CEC). This will ensure that your hot tub saves energy even in the coldest climates. A few brands claim to be built for cold climates but don’t necessarily perform as well in actually energy use comparisons.
Quality hot tub covers also have an effect on energy conservation. Examine the included spa cover to ensure it is well made, sufficiently insulating and fits securely over the spa. If you are ever considering a replacement spa cover in the future it is generally best to use an original manufacturer approved cover to ensure a tight fit and no energy loss.
Beyond the insulation and exterior of the hot tub, additional energy savings come from within. Plumbing design can significantly impact energy costs, as more plumbing means more exposure to the environment along with more friction and energy used to get water to the jets. Because of their ultra-efficient advanced plumbing design, Bullfrog Spas use up to 90% less plumbing than conventional hot tubs. This makes them the most energy efficient hot tubs in their class, according to test data compiled by the CEC.
In addition to buying an energy-efficient model, you can save money on energy costs by keeping your spa covered while not in use, cleaning your spa filters regularly, and lowering the spa temperature while away for extended periods.
Your hot tub’s control system should be intuitive and easy to use. In addition to the traditional main control panel on the spa itself, look for a spa that features a mobile control app that allows you to control heating, jet operations, and security monitoring straight from your smart phone. Auxiliary spa controls are another nice touch, as they allow you to control your spa settings from any seat in the spa.
Extra features can make a good hot tub great. If you have a little extra room in your budget, look for a hot tub that includes colored mood lighting and a built-in sound system. Additional spa features could include exterior spa lighting, hot tub cover lifters, and an ozone purifier system for easy water care. While these features obviously don’t change the general performance of your spa, they can be a great added features to enhance your spa ownership experience.
Purchasing a hot tub is a big decision and it’s not always easy to know which hot tub to buy. When you ensure that you ask the right questions and do the right research, you can be sure of your purchase and know that you will enjoy your investment for several years to come. Check out the Bullfrog Spas SpaDesign Tool for an easy step-by-step guide to selecting and designing the perfect spa model for you.
Still Have a Few Questions?
Read 25 Questions You Need to Ask Before Buying a Hot Tub!
Answer all of your questions before you buy. This informative buyers guide helps you ask the right questions about a new spas and answers the important questions you have. It’s a quick read that you simply shouldn’t miss before buying your new hot tub.