Hot Tub Buying Guide: What You Need to Know to Get What You Want - Backyard Boss
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Hot Tub Buying Guide: What You Need to Know to Get What You Want

Hot tubs are a popular product that ultimately serves a wide variety of purposes. Great for relaxing, they also have hydrotherapy effects, massaging opportunities, and are wonderful to have available for more intimate social gatherings. But if you are considering the purchase of a spa, a common question asked is if hot tubs are a good investment for your needs.

This hot tub buying guide helps explain all the details you should know when shopping, and what you should look for in a hot tub before making a final purchase. Have you been asking yourself what hot tub you should buy? Consider these tips to help you decide what kind of tub is best for you. Write down your notes concerning any measurements, needs, and wants in advance, and create a checklist to ensure you address each of them while you consider various models.

Heat and Safety

Almost all spa models have a maximum temperature of 104 degrees fahrenheit and are regularly set somewhere in the 100 to 104 degree range. It is important that you are aware of how heat and existing health issues may interact with one another, especially if you have a heart condition or are treated for any chronic medical issues. It is also considered unsafe for many pregnancies when set above a certain temperature.

Always check with your health care provider if you have any concerns. Also remember that many panels allow you to control temperature if you want to take advantage of other features with a lower heat index.

What Space Do You Have?

A Hot Tub near to a Pool in a Florida Home.

Before making any decisions, always consider the space you plan on placing it in advance. Measure once, and then measure again, providing yourself room to move and maintain whatever model you decide to place there. This is especially important if you are taking advantage of deck, gazebo, or patio areas since you will want to place your tub on those surfaces and not overlap onto grass or another type of substrate.

When placing a tub in an indoor space, you need to provide room between the tub and any permanent structures for accessibility and safety. Air flow is important in order for it to run properly, and also to keep any mold or mildew from growing due to the damp humidity created by the tub.

Also consider inground convenience if you are having anything installed near or at ground level. You don’t want to set a tub on a downhill slope that will catch and pool rainwater and/or snow melt off. Think about your own needs getting to and from where the tub is placed as well.

How Do You Plan on Using It?

Think about what you plan on using your tub for: is this a product you feel you need for therapeutic reasons? Or do you just like the idea of a relaxing area and maybe a place to entertain and socialize? You don’t have to choose just one reason either as a spa can easily be used in a variety of ways. Simply consider the main ideas behind why you want one to help you better decide what sort of features you desire. When you have a chance to look over the seating and jet options of certain models this will help you decide your preferences.

What Size and Shape Do You Want?

Modern open jacuzzi in room

Obviously, you can’t get a tub in a size larger than the space you have for it, but that doesn’t mean you can’t consider various shapes and sizes for your needs. They don’t come in just a round or square shape, and you can easily find multi sided or even curved options for your needs. Custom made spas for your space are also an option if you so desire! There is no need to limit yourself to floor models.

What Do You Need to Run a Spa?

You do need a level, and structurally sound, surface to put your tub on. Raised decking is fine, but you may want it reinforced before adding the full weight. Remember, you have the weight of the tub, AND the water you will be adding. Add a few people to your calculations to determine how strong your surface needs to be.

Plug and Play models only require a standard home, 110/120V outlet to work. But many others require a 240V plug-in and generally needs professional electrical installation for both the outlet and breaker box to handle the generated power. You will need to consider this in advance, and tie it into your budget if you decide to go that route.

Consider Your Budget

hand with calculator and bills. symbolic photo for revenue, profit, taxes and costing

Wondering how expensive a hot tub is? It’s easy to get caught up with additional features and spa add-ons when shopping, so it is important to know what you want before you go shopping. Keep in mind your budget, as you most certainly can find something that will work for you and still keep you from breaking the bank. Plug and play models are especially on par for the money and have a surprising array for amazing prices.

You also have to consider the hot tub running cost. More permanently installed choices have additional costs associated with both installation and how much electricity it uses overall due to size. You will also draw more power in colder weather as the heater works to keep water at your desired temperature. These are all worth considering in advance.

Spa Types and Materials

Various materials are used in the making of a tub, all which are popular for their own reasons. These materials can also drive cost and efficiency overall, so it is important to understand the differences in order to get exactly what you want.

Unicast or Roto-Molded

This is a strong, durable, and long lasting material that is used to mold custom seating and lighting into one, uniform hot tub piece. It is very popular due to how many colors it comes in, making it an attractive addition to existing decor. The only drawback is it may not hold as many jets as other choices.


Bathtub jacuzzi in a modern trendy clean design white batroom

Acrylic is probably the most popular material choice as it is easily molded into custom seating and is highly durable for long-lasting use. It also is an affordable choice for larger sized tubs. Because of this, it is generally used in tubs that require professional installation.


These soft-sided tubs take advantage of thick, durable vinyl to make a portable tub option. They inflate quickly and are perfect to use in indoor, or protected areas since they are not usually a good choice for near or below freezing weather. They come in a wide variety of sizes and are a great budget option if you are wondering how much an inflatable hot tub is!


Keep in mind the maintenance required for the tub you are interested in advance. This will affect your overall operating costs as well and is dependent on the type and size of the tub you have. There are three C’s to consider in running a tub efficiently: Circulation, Cleaning, Chemistry.


Flowing water moved through the filtration system to keep the water cleaner longer. Many tubs have a cycle of circulation that will run a few times a day, but if your tub doesn’t, you may want to turn it on everyday or every other day for up to an hour to allow this to occur if you haven’t been using it. The more the tub runs, the cleaner it will be.


Blue ceramic hot tub wooden contruction with cover

Keeping your tub covered when not in use will help with the worst of large debris, but a regular scrubbing to keep scum from building up can go a long way towards a long material and filter life. White vinegar makes a great cleaning agent and is not damaging to any materials. It also does not create any chemically harsh problems if it gets into your tub’s water. You also should drain and deep clean every four months or so.

Proper filter cleaning and replacement is also crucial to keeping the water circulation working properly and also keping the water clean. Filters can generally be removed and rinsed as often as you want, and special filter cleaners exist to help loosen water minerals and dirt as well that you can spray or soak them in.


To keep your water from getting yucky due to outside contaminants, and keep your social soakers safe, you need to keep the water sanitized. To do so you will need to test your water tested for pH, alkalinity, and cleanliness and add chemicals to balance these out when needed.

Features to Consider

Many features do not come standard in all tub models, and the more you want, the pricier the tub will be. Keep this in mind when wondering what to look for in a hot tub and when shopping- and ask yourself if a particular feature is something you want, or something you need. This can also be a negotiating point if you are buying a model of a sale’s floor; if a less expensive model exists, but they are trying to sell a more advanced option with more features as is, you might be able to strike a good deal.


Custom seating, lounge seating, upright seating, cool down seating,submersion seating,  and therapeutic seating with massage points are all options you may run across. Think about why you want you spa and pick and choose what comfort you need to achieve that end.

Jet Style

Empty white massaging jetted bathtub with turquoise water on black polished stone floor.

Most jets are standard to the model you are considering, but some companies may allow for a customized experience. Be aware that jet styles include versatile rotary jets that allow you to direct them where needed, massage style jets, relaxation jets that provide a soft flow of bubbles, and direct pressure jets for deeper massage. Many spas may also provide pressure control through the release of air through the jets to soften, or strengthen, the pressure applied.


Many lighting options may be included with just about any spa, including side cabinet lighting, underwater lighting, changing filter lighting, and colored lighting. Some might even tie into any sound capabilities your tub has.


Waterproof speakers set into the lip of the tub or cabinet can provide a surround sound experience. Many of these can be tied to your electronics via Bluetooth so you can control our favorite music or even television.

Remote Monitoring

With the advancement in smart house technology some models can be tied directly to a home monitoring system in order to control temperatures, circulation, and even chemical readings remotely. Want to come home to a heat tub ready to relax? Now you can get it started even if you are over an hour away!

Where to Buy

woman and man thinking

If you are wondering where to buy a hot tub, always purchase from a reputable dealer who is spa literate and offers support and warranty. Good deals may look like it at the time from Big Box Stores, but getting the help you need both when purchasing, and for any follow up needs, is often lacking- if it even exists.

Good stores are both found as brick and mortar and online, and it certainly doesn’t hurt to see a tub in person to try out the seating and look at the size and features in detail. If you do buy online, be sure to ask in advance about their return policy in case it isn’t what you thought. Most reputable sellers want to make contact with you prior to shipping as well so they can personally answer any questions you may have.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions, negotiate, and get what is verbally told to you in writing. This is just good business, and if a seller is annoyed or upset that you want to do so, they might not be the honest seller they claim to be.


Not interested in traveling to a hot springs resort for hydrotherapy and hot water relaxation? Like the idea of your own backyard spa? On the hunt for the average price of a tub so you can get the best bang for your buck and make all your efforts shopping worth it? Then hopefully this buyers guide was helpful in pointing you in the right direction for finding a tub for a reasonable price that has all you want and need.

If you have any questions or comments, or want to share any ideas with us below, please do so! And, as always, please share this article!