Treat yourself to a luxurious hot tub in your own backyard. You deserve it!
A hot tub is a great addition for any person, family, or stage in your life. Whether you are looking to find quality bonding time with your spouse, wanting to get your kids to actually talk about their day, relax by yourself to alleviate day to day stress, add value and ambiance to your backyard for entertaining, hosting family over the holidays, getting a full body massage, maximizing health benefits, or recovering from an intense workout, injury, or tough round of golf, a hot tub may be just the solution you are looking for.
We understand the choices available can be simply overwhelming. We wrote this guide to help you decipher the industry-specific terms and determine what hot tub features are most important to you. This will ultimately assist you in finding the best hot tub for your needs.
Our overall goal at Country Leisure is to help you find ways to connect with your family, and we want to find the best product to meet that goal. Maybe that is our hot tub, maybe it’s not, but knowledge is power, and we simply want to educate you on the options available in the industry, so you make the best investment.
Bonus: Get This Guide in a 30+ Page PDF With Recommendations for Planning, Cost, Installation & More!
Hot Tub Costs
Understand all the different costs involved in buying and owning a hot tub before you make your purchase.
There are many factors to consider when talking about the price of a hot tub – we are going to look at the primary costs we feel our consumers are generally concerned with.
Initial purchase cost of a hot tub:
This is the most significant portion of the cost discussion, so we will spend quite a bit of time on this topic. This cost can vary greatly, starting at $2,500 and going up to $20,000. There are many variables to this component – mainly construction materials, jet count, equipment, and size of the hot tub selected.
Entry-level roto-molded hot tubs start at $2,500 and go up to $5,000. These are terrific hot tubs for anyone wanting to ‘try out’ the hot tub way of life, aren’t sure how much they will use a hot tub, or are looking for a convenient and easy start to hot-tubbing. They are also great options for lake houses or RVs. They allow for the comforts of a hot tub with a great level of flexibility. These tubs are generally very easy to move—weighing 250 – 450 pounds, and are the easiest hot tub to begin using, with little to no prep work needed. They have a 110v electrical connection (often referred to as a ‘plug-n-play’ since no additional electrical work is required) and can be plugged into a standard outlet. These hot tubs are a great option for renters since no permanent changes must be made to the dwelling to get the hot tub up and running!
After the roto-molded hot tubs, you will move into the more traditional hot tub with an acrylic shell and cabinet. This is where the pricing model gets a bit more involved, but can be simplified a bit by thinking about them in terms of an SUV. The key point to remember is you can easily go out and purchase an SUV for about $20,000 – BUT, you can also purchase an SUV for close to $90,000. All SUV’s are not created equal, and that is the same with hot tubs.
A traditional hot tub can be viewed as an entry-level SUV—a step up from a car (roto-molded hot tub), but the price can fluctuate greatly based on the features selected— the difference being upgrades such as heated seats, 4 wheel drive, hands free lift gate, upgraded sound system….the list goes on and on. Hot tubs are generally priced on the same model. You will find a variety of ‘series’ or ‘collections’, which essentially just equates to the next level of upgrades.
Most hot tubs manufacturers will have a base level series/collection—this will be similar to your base model SUV. They will have a nice assortment of jets, basic countryleisuremfg.com 4 cabinet, insulation, pumps, and filtration. These base level hot tubs will range in price from $4,000 - $8,000. The range in pricing within the base level hot tubs will generally relate to the size of the hot tub (how many people will the hot tub hold), and the actual number of jets in the hot tub.
The next series/collection will be a mid-range level, which will include all the items discussed above, but generally will have an increased number of jets, and more variety in the type of jets - some include specialty jets not offered in the base level series. This level of hot tub will have adjustable jets, allowing for more customization of the massage. They generally have larger pumps to allow for more control of water pressure and filtration cycles, upgraded control panels with increased functionality, and upgraded lights and speakers. The mid-range level hot tubs will start at $8,000 and go up to $11,000, again with the range in pricing being attributed to the size of the hot tub and the actual number of jets and type of jets offered in each model within this series/collection.
Lastly, there will generally always be a high-end series/collection of hot tubs. This is the equivalent to the fully loaded SUV—these hot tubs will have the best of the best - upgraded everything. Most times you will also notice different cabinet options with this series, and additionally, most come with some type of programmable massage seat. These hot tubs will have the most jets, the largest variety of different types of jets, and will allow for the most customization of water pressure. This series/ collection will have larger pumps, and sometimes even additional pumps, to allow for the increased customization of water pressure/flow. The high-end hot tubs tend to start at $12,000 and can go up to $20,000 depending on the brand, and following the other pricing models, this range fluctuates based on size and the total count of jets in the hot tub in most cases.
Another main component to the initial purchase price, that we feel isn’t discussed very often, is the type/brand of hot tub you are looking for. A lot of consumers just see a box of water and assume the only real difference between brands is the color options and the overall look of the hot tub. While this is true, to its core a hot tub is simply a box of water, there is a key differentiator between brands that will lead to a wide variance of price difference, and that is whether you are looking at a hot tub that is considered to be a ‘luxury’ hot tub brand or one that is considered a ‘production’ hot tub brand. Both are great options, and one will be a better fit than the other for you, the consumer. It is simply important to understand this difference when you are shopping, as you simply cannot compare pricing of these two hot tubs. It would be similar to comparing a Ball Park hot dog to a Johnsonville Bratwurst…not a fair comparison, and when you are looking in the meat aisle at Walmart, you don’t compare prices of these because you know the product is simply different. They are both essentially hot dogs, but not all hot dogs are created equal!
Production hot tubs are simply that – they are mass-produced hot tubs that glean cost savings based on the sheer production volume. These hot tubs will have basic features you would expect from a hot tub, a moderate jet count, and user-friendly functionality. You will find both roto-molded and traditional acrylic hot tubs in this class, and pricing will range from $2,500 - $7,000.
Luxury hot tubs are different, as the focus is not on the unit count, but the design and functionality of the hot tub. Luxury hot tub manufacturers spend a lot of time and money on research to develop what we refer to as ‘thoughtful design’, ensuring the overall comfort of the hot tub, and a wide range of customization, so that every person can have the hot tub experience that is best for their needs. Luxury hot tubs will range in pricing from about $6,000 for a 2-3 seater to $15 - $20,000 for a top of the line 6-9 seater.
DELIVERY COST OF A HOT TUB
The delivery of the hot tub is the next point to consider, and cost here will fluctuate based mainly on the hot tub you decide to purchase, and your location. Delivery charges will range from $200 - $500 depending on the size of the hot tub and how far away your residence is from the hot tub retailer. Some hot tub stores will include the delivery in the quoted price of the hot tub, while others will not – make sure when you are comparing prices, you know if the delivery fee is included or not, and that you understand what the delivery includes.
Some retailers will simply deliver the hot tub to your location, but will not hook it up to the electrical or fill it with water to demo the hot tub. Others will deliver to your selected location, wire to the electrical, fill it up and give a working model demo, and install your cover lifter if you purchased one. This is a definite value; so make sure to understand what is included with the delivery offered by the retailer.
UTILITY COST OF HOT TUB OWNERSHIP
Once you have determined that a hot tub is going to be a way of life for you, the next consideration is generally the utility costs associated with hot tub ownership. 99.9% of all hot tubs today claim they are properly insulated, so this is viewed as a huge selling point, however, you want to understand the type of insulation being used and the energy consumption on each hot tub. Most manufacturers use some type of insulation and have a story to support their individual message. The effectiveness of the insulation can prove to be a huge energy cost savings.
It will generally cost a bit more the month of the install as you will be heating the water initially, however, maintaining the temperature setting in Oklahoma should not have much effect on your electric bill given our temperate climate. Oklahoma only has about 2 months of significantly cold temperatures. Note that if you run your hot tub every day for 30 minutes - 1 hour with all pumps on high, that will tend to increase your electric consumption some.
MAINTENANCE COST OF A HOT TUB
The final question we hear on cost is ‘how much is maintaining my hot tub going to cost?’ With today’s hot tubs, the cabinets require very little maintenance other than a good wipe down every now and then with a rag and the help of your hose. The cover requires a protectant product be applied 2x / year, but one bottle of this will last multiple years at a cost of about $20. Your water sanitization will cost about $10 - $20 / month, depending on the method you choose and how frequently you use the tub (see Chapter 4 for a discussion of water sanitization options available).
What's The Right Size?
In order to determine the best sized hot tub for you, you must first evaluate the reason you are buying a hot tub.
Determining the right size of hot tub is generally evaluated based on the number of people you feel will be utilizing the hot tub daily, however, we would challenge you to evaluate this more based on the reason you are purchasing the hot tub. As we all know, there are a wide variety of reasons to purchase a hot tub – the most common are to connect with family members or for the hydrotherapy benefits.
If your primary reason is connection with family members, then selecting a hot tub based on number of people that will be using it makes a lot of sense. Generally, when using the hot tub for time to connect, you are using it more for ‘soaking’ and conversation purposes, and rarely have the pumps/jets turned on to full capacity.
On the other hand, we hear a lot of couples tell us they want to benefit from hydrotherapy but only look at a 2-3 seat hot tub since it will just be the two of them using it. For the purpose of hydrotherapy, the number of people utilizing the hot tub doesn’t tend to matter – what you want to consider is the jet placement in each seat to ensure the muscle groups you are looking to get massaged are served.
Generally, each seat of the hot tub will have a different number of jets, different type of jet and/or a different jet configuration, focusing on a specific area of the body. If you are looking for a full body massage from your daily soak, even if it is just one person using the hot tub, you will want to look at a 5-6 seat hot tub, as that will give you 5-6 different jet configurations and options to allow for a more robust massage experience. Think circuit therapy in a gym – you will spend about 5 minutes in each seat, allowing each area of your body to get the focused attention of that seat’s jet configuration, and then you move to the next seat. At the end of your 20 – 30-minute hot tub ‘circuit’, you will have received a full body massage.
Another point of consideration on the right size is whether or not you want a lounger in your hot tub. Loungers are a very personal decision, as it will fit each person differently. This is an area we highly recommend wet testing a hot tub with a lounger and one without a lounger.
From personal experience, loungers tend to sit much deeper and are not conducive to conversation. They do however bring benefits with them. Some hot tubs have a massage seat sequencer in the lounger, allowing for a more customized experience, but you will want to ensure the lounger fits you personally.
Caldera model line up based on the number of seats:
Aventine - Seats 2
Kauai - Seats 3
Tarino - Seats 5
Martinique - Seats 5
Marino - Seats 6
Palatino - Seats 6
Makena - Seats 6
Tahitian - Seats 6
Vanto - Seats 7
Salina - Seats 7
Niagra - Seats 7
Geneva - Seats 7
Cantabria - Seats 8
Hot tub functionality
This sections goes through every component of a hot tub and how you can customize your hot tub for your needs.
In this section, we are going to hit on the main components of the hot tub – may get a bit lengthy, but it will give you a great understanding of how a hot tub works and how they are constructed. We will start from the outside and work our way in.
HOT TUB CABINET
This is the main component you see from the exterior of the hot tub. This is generally constructed of a composite material or in some cases wood. The composite material comes in a variety of colors or even made to look like wood grain – it generally requires little maintenance and can stand up to the harsh outdoor elements. Wood cabinets will require a bit more maintenance as you will want to ensure you stain/ seal them periodically to keep the wood in good condition. Wood is very durable if maintained and will last for the lifetime of the hot tub.
Caldera offers two different types of cabinets. One option for a select group of hot tubs is the Avante™ Cabinet. This is a unique long-strand fiber composite material that is extremely durable and high impact resistant. These hot tub panels were designed to be a floating facade with no exposed hardware found anywhere on the cabinet. The second option of cabinet is an EcoTech™ Cabinet – a composite material with the look of real wood, but with the durability and easy care of a polymer.
Cabinet color options:
Underneath the cabinet will be some type of sub-frame, constructed either from wood or metal. This sub-frame provides the structural support for the hot tub as it holds the hot tub shell as well as providing a frame to mount the cabinet panels.
The bottom of the hot tub will have a sealed bottom or pan to provide protection of the sub-frame and equipment that is housed inside. The base will help seal out moisture and keep any unwanted critters at bay.
All Caldera hot tubs are constructed with a heavy-duty wooden sub-frame utilizing 2 x 4 and 2 x 6 construction, which makes the sub-frame extremely strong; in some cases 40 – 50% stronger than other hot tubs on the market. They come with either a heavy-duty ABS base pan, high-density polyethylene sheet or polymer sheet as their bottom, depending on the model/series of hot tub.
Most hot tub manufacturers foam fill their hot tub cabinets to the shell for insulation – it is by far the most popular form of hot tub insulation today. Caldera utilizes a material called FiberCor® – this is a loose wool-like fiberfill material that is applied at four times the density of the urethane foam found in most portable hot tubs today. The video below shows this product in action and explains it in much better detail ….
HOT TUB SHELL
Most portable hot tubs today have an acrylic shell that is reinforced with a fiberglass resin– this is the seating area of the hot tub. Acrylic is a popular option because it is a non-porous material that is highly resistant to chemicals, stains, high temperatures and, simply put, overall punishment. Maintenance required for an acrylic surface consists of simply wiping the surface with a cloth or sponge and a mild detergent or soap. Each manufacturer will apply the fiberglass in their own way and each will have a rationale behind the way they apply the fiberglass, and how many layers are applied in order to strengthen the shell.
The hot tub shell is definitely a component that you want to understand, as it is quite possibly the most important component of the hot tub itself. If you think about it, all other components are relatively easy to replace if needed, but the hot tub shell is not an easy swap-out!
Caldera hot tub shells are vacuum-formed in an oven that adjusts the temperature in 72 independent zones, allowing for areas that need to be stretched more to be heated as needed, and areas that don’t require as much stretching aren’t over-heated. This allows for uniformity in the thickness of the final acrylic shell. Fiberglass is then applied in two stages; the first coat locks in the dimensional stability and provides a strong foundation for the second coat to bond. The second coat provides the structural rigidity of the shell and extra fiberglass is applied underneath areas deemed to be ‘high-stress’, such as seats and the footwell.
A lot of thought went into the design of Caldera’s hot tub shells, ensuring maximum comfort in each seat. The contours of the seats account for the effects of buoyancy and are designed to ‘cradle’ your body. The seat bottoms are cupped and the seat backs are gently curved allowing for every size user to relax while using the hot tub. Careful attention is paid to three main anchor points to offset the buoyancy of the water – the head and shoulders, posterior, and feet. The shell includes a spacious footwell and unique footridge support to help users remain stationary while the jets are massaging. This helps shorter users, especially under 5’6”, remain seated and not float out of the seat – this ridge gives them an anchor point – definitely thoughtful design!
Shell color options:
HOT TUB JETS, AIR CONTROLS AND DIVERTER VALVES
The next components are the primary source of the hydrotherapy massage experience and allow for the customization of your individual massage.
Every portable hot tub will have a variety of jets and jet count, and those jets will be positioned as the manufacturer determines is best for their brand’s overall goal. As we discussed earlier, Caldera focuses their jets on muscle groups with a circuit therapy approach to their design in each seat.
Their jet options consist of:
Euphoria Jets® – uniquely designed jets that put out more water than they take in – a process known as ‘entraining’. This works because the nozzle of these jets is installed in a forward position, allowing for a vacuum effect to be formed around the back of the nozzle – this vacuum effect causes water to be drawn from the hot tub through the small oval openings in the front, creating 40% more flow from the nozzle than the pump actually delivers to it.
OrbiSsage Jet® – this jet uses a dual-port rotator behind a six-hole fascia to provide a unique pulsating massage – water flow on this jet can be regulated or turned completely off by simply turning the outer ring.
VersaSsage Jet® – this jet can be adjusted to provide a variety of massages simply by angling the nozzle to different degrees. The more the nozzle is angled, the wider the path of the rotating water; conversely, the less angled, the tighter the rotation. The flow of this jet can also be regulated or turned off by turning the outer ring.
AdaptaFlow® & AdaptaSsage Jets® – these are medium-sized jets that allow the user to adjust the water flow by rotating the jet face – shutting off flow to these jets will increase flow to other jets in the near vicinity.
Diverter valves are found in some hot tub models. These allow the water flow to be directed among the various seats throughout the hot tub, delivering more or less water flow to select seats as desired. By positioning the diverter valve at midpoint, water flow will be delivered simultaneously to all jets systems attached to it.
Air controls regulate the amount of air that is mixed with water flow at the jets, essentially controlling the intensity level of the massage felt from the jets. It is the millions of air bubbles that create the hydromassage experience.
THE EQUIPMENT PACKAGE
The final component to a hot tub is the equipment that makes it all possible. You will generally find a jet pump (larger hot tubs will have multiple jet pumps), occasionally a recirculation pump (we discuss in more detail in Chapter 4), a heater, and the control panel. Most of these items are self-explanatory, but we will discuss each one and explain how Caldera equips their hot tub line.
Jet pumps are just that, they are the pumps that power the various jets in the hot tub. You will find one or more jet pumps on your hot tub, depending on how many jets are installed, and in some instances, you will find two-speed pumps, which allow for even more customization of the massage experience.
Caldera uses a ReliaFlo® Jet Pump, and most of their hot tubs include a two-speed jet pump to allow for the gentle, low-speed circulations/massage, and the high-speed jet massage. They also provide ventilation and exhaust for the pump systems to channel the heat out of the equipment compartment, which allows for the motor to run cooler motors that run cooler last longer, and electronic components hold up better over time in cooler environments. Think of your home entertainment system or computer - they have built-in fans to cool them, enabling them to last longer.
The heater is the main component to keeping your hot tub water at your desired temperature setting – this is the component most impacted by improper water quality – discussed in more detail in Chapter 4. Caldera equips their hot tubs with an EnergyPro® Heater on most models, which has a heater tube specifically engineered to match the flow from the recirculation pump so calcium cannot build up on the heating element and cause corrosion. This allows for an unconditional warranty on this heater, meaning if the EnergyPro® Heater needs to be replaced for any reason during the first 5 years of ownership, it will be done at no charge!
Most Caldera model heaters are a 4.0 kw flow-through heater, meaning the heater can continue to function as needed to maintain the temperature setting, even when all other components are operating. Other brands typically use a 5 – 6.0 kw heater, which unfortunately leads to the heater being turned off when two or more other components are functioning, which, during colder nights, can result in your water cooling below a comfortable temperature during use.
The control panel is how you ultimately control the hot tub, so you want to ensure it is user-friendly and that you understand how to operate it. This is definitely the time to find the working model hot tub on the retailer’s showroom and get hands on – push the buttons and figure out how it works!
Other features you may find in conjunction with the equipment package include automatic freeze protection, delayed pump switching on 2-speed pumps to reduce wear on the motor when switching from low to high speed, summertime mode to help maintain comfortable water temperatures during hot summer months, and an external drain valve.
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Hot Tub Models
The ultimate line-up. Check out our Caldera Vacanza, Caldera Paradise, Caldera Utopia and Freeflow Roto Molded hot tubs.
Caldera Vacanza Series Hot Tub Models
Prices ranging from $5,499 - $8,999
Caldera Paradise Series Hot Tub Models
Prices ranging from $7,999 - $11,799
Caldera Utopia Series Hot Tub Models
Prices ranging from $12,499 - $18,999
Freeflow Roto Molded Hot Tub Line
Prices ranging from $2,499 - $4,999
Hot tub water care
Keeping hot tub water clean, clear, and healthy is key to hot tub enjoyment.
There are 4 popular options for sanitization – ozone, chlorine, bromine and saltwater (which is essentially just a chlorine sanitizer as it simply converts the salt to chlorine).
Ozone is a strong contender, and while you will still need to add chlorine or bromine in conjunction with the ozone system, the ozone will handle the bulk of the sanitization, and will greatly reduce chemical usage/cost. We firmly believe in the benefits of ozone sanitization, so we install a Monarch® Corona Discharge (CD) Ozone System standard on all of our acrylic hot tubs, and we offer an optional upgrade on our roto-molded hot tubs. This system mixes concentrated ozone bubbles into the water to neutralize contaminants. The ozone system operates continuously on most 220v hot tub models to mix highly concentrated ozone with the water as it travels through the contact chamber on its way back to the hot tub. Organic contaminants are instantly oxidized, which aids in keeping the water clean and fresh.
It is important to note when shopping for a hot tub, there are three different types of ozone generators used today in hot tubs – UV (ultra-violet), chip-type corona discharge and cell-type corona discharge. Caldera’s hot tub line utilizes the cell-type corona discharge ozone generator, which provides two major advantages over the other two types. First, minimal maintenance is required in order to maintain a constant ozone output level, saving you, the hot tub owner, money. Second, as a general rule, a higher level of ozone is produced – 650 – 750 ppm as compared to 220 – 250 ppm in the UV and chip-type generators. This results in much greater effectiveness of the ozone sanitization, which leads to fresh, sparkling clear hot tub water with less effort and less supplemental sanitizer needed.
If you have ozone installed on your hot tub purchase, you will still need to supplement with either chlorine or bromine. This supplement is simply used as a backup to your ozone sanitizer. The ozone will take care of the bulk of the sanitization; it is simply a conservative approach to keep a very low level of bromine or chlorine in the hot tub water to ensure sufficient sanitization – and it definitely helps when you have periods of heavy usage.
Caldera hot tubs feature the built-in FROG® In-Line Bromine or Chlorine and Mineral Cartridge System. Pre-filled cartridges eliminate the guesswork and combine bromine or chlorine and minerals for self-regulating sanitization. Chemical odors are minimized because you’ll use up to 50% less bromine or chlorine with the In-Line Frog Cartridges, and the minerals condition the water for a softer feel.
The hot tubs have a cartridge sleeve molded into the hot tub shell that holds the FROG® cartridges – you simply set the dial on the cartridges based on your hot tub usage, insert them into the cartridge sleeve, and replace as needed – no measuring or handling the chemicals!
A saltwater generator is an alternative to the ozone. This consists of a generator that converts salt into chlorine for your sanitizer – ultimately you are sanitizing with chlorine, just no harsh chlorine smell and it does not cause the skin/eye irritation that occasionally comes with chlorine as a primary sanitizer.
You can also choose to sanitize your hot tub with chlorine or bromine by themselves – this requires a higher level of either chemical to be used, as compared to the amount needed if it is used in conjunction with an ozone sanitizer.
Also when evaluating water care, you must factor in the filtration, as this component is just as important as the sanitizer you choose. The filtration determines how frequently the water is filtered and run through the ozone, or circulated to allow the chemicals to properly sanitize the water. Larger hot tubs, as well as particular brands, will have a pump that continually moves the water through the filter, commonly referred to as the recirculation pump – these types of systems have far superior water quality, because the water is constantly being moved through the filter and ozone (if installed), and any chlorine or bromine is constantly being circulated throughout the tub.
Caldera hot tubs utilize an EnergyPro® Circulation pump as the recirculation pump, where applicable. It operates continuously to filter the water and circulate the sanitizer for less than the cost of a 75-watt light bulb. Since it continuously filters the water, almost 6,000 gallons of water are circulated through the filter each day, so essentially, the entire volume of water is filtered between 13 – 30 times per day depending on the model of hot tub!
On hot tubs that do not have a separate recirculation pump, the jet pump will be used to filter the water. On the control system you will generally see an independent filter cycle program that can be set up to your specifications. This will allow for you to set the duration of each filter cycle so you can specify how long it will filter, and how many times/day the filter cycle runs. It is important to note the filter cycle will not be able to run while the hot tub is in use if the jets are turned on.
Most filters used in hot tubs today are cartridge filters. The filters are made of woven polyester fibers and are designed to remove tiny particles suspended in the water as it passes through the filter. You will want to clean your filters each month with a simple rinse with a high-powered hose nozzle, and at least twice / year in a filter cleaning solution. With proper maintenance and cleaning of your filter cartridge, they should easily last 2 – 3 years before needing to be replaced.
Hot tub warranty
You want to ensure you understand the warranty that is offered, and how the retailer supports both the warranty and your product.
Most hot tub brands offer a fairly comprehensive warranty. Preferably, you want a retailer that will help you navigate the warranty claim process, should the need ever arise, instead of simply directing you to a 1-800 number and having you ‘go it alone’.
There will generally be different warranty periods given on the hot tub shell, hot tub cabinet and the operating components ‘under the hood’. Ensure you are aware of the time frames on all pertinent warranties, and when they expire. Also, ensure you know who will be taking care of registering your product for its warranty – that way, if you need to make a warranty claim, you know your hot tub has been registered so no delays will be experienced during the claim process. Some dealers will register the warranty for you, others will leave it up to you – make sure if your retailer does not register the warranty for you, that you obtain all the necessary information and documents to register yourself.
Caldera hot tubs undergo a rigorous quality control and testing process before being delivered to your home. However, should something go wrong, the warranty period is below:
Hot Tub installation
When you're deciding where to install you new hot tub, there are many factors to consider.
Where to install your hot tub is an important consideration. Is there access to the location, will fence panels need to be removed, can the delivery crew get the dolly’s and equipment necessary down the ‘path’ to the final location of the tub? Will any special equipment be necessary to get the hot tub into position on a second floor deck or even installed inside a home? You also want to ensure convenient placement for your use – not too far away from the house so you have quick and easy access on cold nights or for snacks!
For periodic cleaning, you will need to drain the hot tub, so ensuring your location has an adequate space nearby for the water is also a consideration. You can always use longer hoses, but to minimize additional costs, having an area in close proximity that can handle the water volume is preferred.
At some point during the life of your hot tub, you will need to have a service technician out – they will most generally need access to the front panel where the equipment is, but in some instances, may need access to the back or sides as well, so ensuring you can comfortably walk all the way around the hot tub is an important consideration. If your installation site does not allow for access on all sides, ask your retailer for helpful alternatives for future service access.
Electrical requirements is the next point to think about. Larger hot tubs and particular brands generally require a 220 volt, 60 amp electric service, which does require an electrician. The cost for this wiring ranges depending on the distance the hot tub breaker box is from your main breaker box. If you have selected a plug and play option (a 110v hot tub), you can simply plug these in to an existing outlet, and no additional electrical work is necessary, however, you will need to consider proximity to an outlet. You cannot run a hot tub on an extension cord.
You additionally need to think about the surface where you plan to install your hot tub – you do not want to have your hot tub sitting on the bare ground or an unprepared surface, as it will prematurely age the tub, and factors such as soft ground, heavy rains, ground movement, etc. will cause the hot tub to shift and be un-level, which could lead to warping of the hot tub and your warranty being voided.
We recommend installing your hot tub on a concrete pad – this will generally cost $8.50 - $10.00 / square foot of concrete. On average, we see 10 x 12 concrete pads being the preferred size, so you are looking at an investment of $850 - $1,200 if you do not have an existing concrete area where you plan to install your hot tub. This is a small investment to ensure proper functioning of the hot tub and keeping your warranty in tact!
Other location options are decks or pavers – for these options, you want to ensure they are level, and if installing on a deck, you want to ensure the structural integrity of the deck. Hot tubs are HEAVY – especially when you consider the weight of the water.
**Make sure to check with your local municipality – believe it or not, some cities will require a permit for a hot tub installation**
Bonus: Get This Guide in a 30+ Page PDF With Recommendations for Planning, Cost, Installation & More!
Hot tub accessories
Hot tub retailers have a plethora of accessories for your hot tub, but some accessories
are more important than others.
You will want to ensure you have a hot tub cover, which is generally included in the purchase price, as it is vital. The cover is necessary to keep the heat in and keep the hot tub clean. A cover lift device is not a vital accessory, but hot tub covers are a little cumbersome. They also help keep the cover from sitting on the ground while the hot tub is in use, which prevents premature aging of the cover. We offer six cover lift options, ranging from a basic to specialty.
Steps are the next hot tub accessory to consider, and again, while not essential, are very handy to allow for ease of entry into the tub. Look for steps that are extremely durable and require little to no maintenance. Handrails are a nice compliment to the steps to ensure safe entry and exit from the hot tub – most have an LED light to assist with night time usage, and will swivel to assist with entry and exit from inside the hot tub as well.
Entertainment systems are a nice upgrade to assist with total relaxation and comfort in your hot tub. These include sound systems with Bluetooth enabled technology, allowing you to play music from any Bluetooth enabled device without the need for wires or additional equipment. To fully experience the benefits of this, you will want to ensure the hot tub you select has factory installed speakers so you don’t have to worry about providing your own. Some retailers will even have televisions that can be installed on or next to their hot tub, and can wirelessly pick up whatever is showing on your television inside the house.
For the hot summer months, or those interested in cold water therapy, there is a CoolZoneTM accessory option for Caldera hot tubs that is essentially a heat / cool pump that can be installed on your hot tub. CoolZoneTM will cool the water to as low as 60 degrees, and when you are ready, will work with the hot tub’s heater to efficiently heat the water back to your desired temperature within a few hours. The CoolZoneTM system is beneficial not only for cooling the water, but also can improve the energy use of your hot tub during normal operation, as it can reduce the amount of time the heater needs to run to maintain your set temperature, ultimately reducing operating costs over time. (Installation of this feature requires a licensed HVAC contractor)
For the technology guru’s out there, most hot tubs will have some type of remote hot tub monitoring system available to add on to your purchase. This will allow you, and sometimes your hot tub dealer, to monitor the hot tub’s status and control the tub’s function remotely, if so desired. These generally are subscription based add-ons and are paid either monthly or annually.
While all of these accessories aren’t a necessity to enjoy or utilize the hot tub, they definitely help create the ambiance of relaxation and comfort around your hot tub.
Reputable Hot Tub Retailers
When looking to purchase a hot tub, you want to ensure you are buying from a reputable company that is going to stand behind the product they sell.
Here are just few points to consider:
How long have they been in business? You want to ensure the company has been in business for a long enough time to prove they aren’t going to be out of business in a matter of months, leaving you with no support after the sale. Do they have a physical location you can easily access? Do they have a service staff, and a parts and maintenance tools/chemicals department that can support the hot tub purchase you are making?
Look for helpful staff that are willing to answer questions or help you troubleshoot through minor start-up questions. Do you trust there is a properly trained staff to assist with any possible warranty claims? While you are in the store shopping for your hot tub, notice if there seem to be plenty of staff on hand, and how helpful the employees are that you observe.
Another consideration we recommend is whether or not the store you purchase from is simply interested in making the initial hot tub sale, or are they truly interested in finding the right product for you and educating you on the product? A great question at this point is to ask why they sell the particular brand of hot tub you are looking at. A good hot tub retailer will have done their research on the various hot tub manufacturers and brands, and will have very specific reasons as to why they chose the product line they carry. This information will help you understand the value of that product, and will give you a good feel for how much education the retailer has actually done on the products they carry. It will also reflect how passionate they are about the product. Look for them to be as passionate about the hot tub as you are! A hot tub is a long term investment in your health, and family connection. You want to make sure you make the right selection and not wonder why the sales associate didn’t give you a heads up about something.
Also, listen to your gut feeling about the store and employees, and whether they are a good fit for you and your family ... do they seem like they are a one and done, or do they want to develop an ongoing relationship with you – do you get a good feeling when you are in the store? A hot tub is a long term investment. You want to make sure you are doing business with people you want to develop a long term relationship with!
What brand of hot tub is another consideration when determining where to purchase your hot tub – ensure it is a brand that has been on the market for a long time and is consistently ranked in the top 10 on consumer review websites – this will ensure you are purchasing a quality product that will last.
Keep an open mind when evaluating brands and prices – a lower price doesn’t always mean a better deal if the hot tub is inoperable and must be replaced within 3 years. Make sure you are evaluating the value proposition of the product and if the product’s purchase price might save you money in monthly maintenance, future repairs, energy savings and provide an overall better user experience.
The buying process
You've made your decision and know which hot tub you want to purchase, here's how to make it happen.
Once you’ve made the decision to purchase a hot tub and which hot tub to purchase, the process becomes fairly easy. It’s even something that can be accomplished without ever visiting the store if you prefer. Your sales associate, whether in person, via email, or via phone, will walk through any last questions you may have and then will simply get the information from you regarding the model you would like and the color of the shell, cabinet and cover; you will choose your accessories, ie. steps/ upgraded cover lifter, hand rail, stereo, etc. depending on what is offered on the model of hot tub you have selected. They will thoroughly explain accessory options which may be included with the hot tub ‘package’, but you may have the option to upgrade them if you choose.
The sales associate will get information from you concerning the delivery/install of the hot tub and may provide you with detailed instructions concerning the electrical requirements. From this point, the next person you will most likely hear from is the individual responsible for scheduling the hot tub installation – they will either be calling to set up a delivery time or to confirm the delivery time, if one was set at the time of your hot tub purchase. It is not uncommon for a retailer to request a quick pre-site inspection to ensure a smooth delivery.
From that point you are in the hands of the delivery crew, who will bring out your hot tub and install it if that is a service they provide. While that crew is on site doing the installation, they may demo the product and you may ask any questions that you have.
Financing is a good option when purchasing a hot tub – it is relatively easy to do and allows for better budgeting or management of cash flow if a 0% offer is going on. The application process is easy and most can be done online; there is even a pre-approval process that can be completed in most cases if you would like your application submitted to know what ‘buying power’ you currently have.
Considering the purchase of a new hot tub and have an old hot tub? Ask your retailer if they offer a trade-in for used hot tubs – some retailers have a market for used hot tubs and are willing to give anywhere from $500 - $3,500 for used hot tubs depending on the condition, and how well they have been kept up.
FAQ & Final Tidbits
We want to end with some of the most frequently asked questions and final bits of wisdom we have gained through our years of experience.
Do plug & play hot tubs have less water pressure in the jets due to less electric?
No, a Plug & Play hot tub, 110v, will have the same water pressure in the jets whether it is wired as 110v or 220v; the difference the electric plays in this instance is that your heater will not be able to run while the jets are running, which does not cause an issue in most instances after the initial heating of the hot tub.
If I have an ozone sanitizer installed on my hot tub, do I still have to add chemicals?
Yes, you will still have to add some type of sanitizer, such as chlorine or bromine. The ozone will do 99% of the sanitization, but the chlorine or bromine will supplement, and is used as a backup to your ozone sanitizer. It is a conservative approach to keep a very low level of bromine or chlorine in the hot tub water to ensure sufficient sanitization – and it definitely helps when you have larger bathing loads! You will also need to periodically add chemicals to keep both your pH and alkalinity in the appropriate range. This ensures your sanitizer is working properly.
How long should I expect my hot tub to last?
With proper care and maintenance, a hot tub from a reputable manufacturer should last 15 – 20 years.
Is there a particular hot tub color that is more popular?
National sales statistics show that the lighter colored hot tub shells are more popular. An added benefit, lighter colors reflect the hot tub lighting best, leading to a more calming ambiance.
If I don’t plan to use my hot tub for a number of months, is it better to drain it and turn the power off, or leave it full and running?
Even if you don’t plan to use your hot tub for months at a time, it is never a good idea to drain your hot tub and power it off – you always want to keep your hot tub full and running. If you would like to save money on operating costs, lower the temperature setting, so the heater isn’t coming on as often to heat the tub. Draining and powering off the hot tub will cause maintenance issues. Examples include pump seals drying out. A hot tub is simply better wet!
As you can tell from reading this ebook, there are many things to consider when purchasing a hot tub – we get it, this is hard earned money that is competing with family vacations, new cars, college funds, and the list goes on and on. The biggest piece of wisdom we would like to give you is that purchasing a hot tub is an investment in you – your health and well-being. Whether that is through the physical health benefits that are associated with hot tubs, the mental benefit of simply having personal time to reflect, or the family benefit of connecting with your spouse or kids. Don’t short-change this investment – it is just as important as the list of things competing for your savings!
Keep in mind that while price is important, quality and longevity is what you tend to brag about. Make sure you are purchasing the right product for your needs, and make sure you are comparing apples to apples.
At the end of each day, Country Leisure feels strongly in the family bond and health benefits that can be derived from hot tub ownership. We want everyone that is in the market for a hot tub to find the best product for their specific needs. We find this is accomplished through education, not selling, so we hope we have helped to educate you on hot tubs in general throughout this ebook. Happy Hot – Tubbing!