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Buyer's Guide

Hot Tub Buyer's Guide: What You Need to Know to Make the Best Choice

A Hot Tub is meant to bring rest and rejuvenation to your home by giving you a place to relax and soothe away the daily pains. And while slipping into to warm water is perfect for de-stressing, choosing the right hot tub for your needs isn’t as easy. To help out, we put together a hot tub buying guide to walk you through the key points.

Hot Tub Buyer’s Guide: What You Need to Know to Make the Best Choice

There several great reasons to take the plunge into hot tub ownership – and there’s a type of hot tub ideally suited to each type of owner. Before you start your search, think about how you envision using your hot tub:

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Considering a hot tub for health reasons?

Hot tub hydrotherapy can offer relief to people dealing with arthritis, muscle pain, sports injuries, and circulation issues. If medical reasons are the driving factor, you’ll want to focus on features like precise temperature controls, convenient location, and configuration of the massaging jets.

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Want a simple source of stress relief?

Soaking in a hot tub is a proven way to reduce stress and promote full-body relaxation. A smaller model offers all your need for personal relaxation, all in a compact and efficient package.

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Looking for a way to stay fit?

Opt for a specially designed swim spa: These extra-long spas allow you to swim against a "current" generated by powerful jets (many swim spas also feature separate hot tubs for a relaxing post-workout soak). Or stick with a standard hot tub that’s roomy enough for yoga or aerobic exercises like scissor kicks, squats, and lunges.

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Do you love to entertain?

If you envision your hot tub as a place to hang out with friends, you’ll want a larger tub that will accommodate five or six (or more!) with room to spare. You might also want to look into fun add-ons like programmable lighting, water features, or built-in sound systems.

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Buyer's Guide

Exercise and your hot tub

What, a hot tub for fitness? Absolutely! Learn about how to do a warm water cardio workout in a hot tub:

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Where Will You Put Your Hot Tub?

You’re not installing a full-sized swimming pool, which means you have more flexibility when it comes to setting up a hot tub. But you’ll still need to carefully consider the best placement for your spa. First, think of an ideal space that will make it easy to get in and out of the spa. You should also make sure that you choose a space that allows for routine maintenance like testing and balancing the water, skimming debris, and repairing or adjusting the control panel.

There are plenty of other considerations. But perhaps the most important question is whether you want an outdoor or indoor hot tub.

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Outdoor Hot Tub Installation

For outdoor hot tub installation, be sure you’ve covered these points: Level, stable surface: Even the smallest hot tubs are heavy, and they require flat ground capable of supporting the weight. A concrete pad is probably the best choice for most yards, but be sure there’s no slope that drains water onto your deck or in the direction of your back door.

Privacy: If you have nosy neighbors, you’ll likely want a way to screen your hot tub from prying eyes. Consider putting your spa in a place where you can use landscaping, hardscape, pergolas, or even portable screens to enjoy a soak in peace.

Safety: Make sure that your hot tub is installed at a safe distance from power lines. You should also check local regulations about pool and spa safety – some municipalities require pool and spa owners to install fences and/or childproof gates to prevent accidental or unwanted use.

Indoor Hot Tub Installation

An indoor hot tub requires a different set of considerations. Installing a hot tub indoors presents several potential challenges, and you’ll need to think about some solutions:

Water-resistant flooring: The floor underneath and surrounding your hot tub must be able to withstand standing water. Carpeting is a bad idea, as it allows seepage that can rot the base of the tub. Wood can deteriorate, so if the look of hardwood is appealing, consider water-resistant laminate. Bathers will appreciate non-slip flooring – or at least a matte non-slip finish.

Ventilation and Surfaces: Your hot tub room will produce plenty of steam, so the walls need to be moisture resistant. Good building materials for this include glass, concrete, cedar, or water-resistant drywall like green board. A vapor barrier between the wall and the wall studs will prevent dry rot, and an well placed can help reduce humidity.

Drainage and access to water: You need an easy way to fill your tub, so consider installing a water spigot nearby. Your space also needs sufficient drainage. A floor drain is ideal, which you’ll come to appreciate every time you clean or service your tub.

Splash Factor: Every time you step out of the hot tub, up to a gallon of water could come with you – not to mention any rowdy bathers who splash out the sides.

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Do you want your hot tub to be portable or permanent?


If your hot tub will be a permanent fixture of your backyard, you’ll probably want to go with an in-ground hot tub to get exactly what you want: customized shapes, quality finishes and materials, built-in steps, and tile or stone accents that blend beautifully with your outdoor space. Of course, an in-ground hot tub will cost you. It’s not a DIY project but a custom build that requires a qualified professional.


On the other hand, if you’re undecided about “the best” position for your hot tub or you like to redecorate your space occasionally, you might want to opt for an above-ground portable hot tub. In addition to flexibility, above-ground tubs are a little more economical. You get all of the benefits of spa ownership without the high cost of a days-long construction project. While they lack the range of customization options available for a permanent in-ground spa, portable above-ground hot tubs do have a few definite advantages, such as more jets than their in-ground counterparts and more comfortable seating.

More Expensive Over Time

Although they’re less expensive to purchase, high running costs make plug-and-play hot tubs typically more expensive than standard hot tubs in the long run.

Because different models of hot tubs have different power requirements, you’ll want a licensed electrician to ensure that yours is powered properly and safely. Many portable hot tubs are “plug and play” that don’t require special electricity. A plug-and-play hot tub operates at 110V (versus a 220V hardwire connection required for in-ground spas), allowing it to be plugged directly into your standard GFCI-protected home outlet. Since it doesn’t need to be hardwired, you can simply drain and move the hot tub to a new location, plug it in, fill it up, and voila!

What Hot Tub Add-Ons Are Important to You?

Once you’ve decided to install a hot tub, ask yourself what types of features and accessories you want for your hot tub. If your budget allows for add-ons, what about some of these?

Cover Lifts

Make it easier to remove the cover and keep it off the ground.

Spa Vacs

Multiple vacuum options make it easy to clean your hot tub.

Spa Trays

Trays that float or attach to the tub walls offer a place to set drinks and snacks.

Spa Umbrellas

Gazebos, pergolas, and umbrellas add shade and privacy.

Spa Foot Baths

Bathers will always step into your hot tub with clean feet.

Headrests, Pillows, Cushions, and Booster Seats

Guests can customize their comfort.

Outdoor TVs

Nano-coating technology helps outdoor TVs withstand the elements.

Outdoor Speakers

Disguise wireless speakers as rocks, or add Bluetooth speakers that double as USB ports.

The accessories guide →

Our accessories guide can help you think about other fun and unique elements to make your spa your own.