Are Hot Tubs Worth It?
There are more than a few good reasons to add a hot tub to your property. That’s why there are millions of hot tubs in households in the U.S. alone – in fact, there were about 227,000 hot tubs sold in 2016. Why so many? Hot tubs, sometimes called spas or home spas, last for a very long time – up to 20 years or more – and that longevity means that many new homeowners find themselves inheriting a hot tub from the previous owners. But much of that number includes those who have chosen to partake of all the benefits of hot tubs and have one newly installed on their property.
A hot tub is a good investment for those who want some sort of relaxing, calming and beneficial feature for their home but don’t want to sink the money or maintenance into a full-sized pool. Though there are hot tubs that are almost as big as pools and placed in-ground, most hot tubs are above ground, made of an acrylic or fiberglass shell surrounded by a handsome cabinet. That cabinet can be created of a variety of materials, such as wood or synthetic stone. Hot tubs often sit on a level concrete pad poured specifically for that purpose, or are placed on a deck or patio that has been leveled or reinforced to accommodate the weight of the hot tub.
Many considerations go into the purchase and installation of a new hot tub, including practical points such as choosing the right location, assuring plumbing and electrical connections, and figuring out the proper level base for the size of that particular tub. There are also the more personal choices, such as the features you want or the price point you need. Modernize is happy to help walk you through the process of choosing the right hot tub for your property.
How Much Does a Hot Tub Spa Cost?
There are many points to consider when it comes to the cost of hot tubs. The size, choice of cover, choice of material for the shell, the number of jets and pumps, the size of the heater, and much more come into play. However, there are some basic ranges you can expect:
- Small hot tubs for 2 to 3 people: $3,000 to $5,000
- Medium hot tubs for 5 to 7 people: $5,000 to $12,000
- Large hot tubs for 8 to 10 people: $9,000 to $20,000
Keep in mind that these are the initial costs and might or might not include installation fees. However, installation for most hot tubs won’t be prohibitively expensive is it’s an above-ground model and there is already a suitable concrete pad, patio, or other level surface that can hold the weight.
What are the Maintenance Costs of Hot Tub Upkeep?
Maintenance costs for the hot tub include the increase in your electric bill, which might be rather modest with smaller spas. Keep in mind that these tubs are more expensive to heat during the winter than summer, and the more you use it during any season, the more you will run the heater. There will also be the cost of basic maintenance, including chemicals for the water – however, a water care system built into the hot tub can mean more of an up-front price tag but a lower monthly cost.
What are the Benefits of a Hot Tub Spa?
Though hot tubs are well-known for their recreational use, there are other reasons to opt for adding one to your backyard, pool area or even a dedicated area inside your home. The benefits of a new hot tub include:
- Relaxation. Anyone who has ever slipped into a warm bath can attest to the relaxation the water can provide. Add in jets and constant warm temperature, and feeling tense muscles relax is a given.
- Better Sleep. As your temperature drops after a good soak, your body relaxes into a state that can provide much better sleep.
- Improved Mobility. According to the Arthritis Foundation, time in a hot tub can improve quality of life. Participating in a warm water exercise program two or three times a week can help individuals move around better and with up to 40% less pain.
- Other Health Improvements. A hot tub can help with things other than sleep and mobility. A 2017 study on hyperthermic baths found that the warmth of a 30 minute soak can improve heart function and reduce depressive symptoms as well.
- Increase in Family Time. Just as with a patio, porch or other gathering place, a hot tub with plenty of room provides a good opportunity for a whole family to get together and discuss the events of the day.
- Increased Socialization. It’s not just your family that will enjoy the spa – your hot tub will draw neighbors and friends like flies to honey. Expect to become quite popular!
If you’re curious about other benefits of hot tubs, Consumer Affairs goes into deeper detail.
How do I Choose a Hot Tub?
When sinking money into an investment like a hot tub or spa, it’s important to understand all the features, what’s expected for upkeep and maintenance, and how to keep everyone safe around this sometimes quite large water feature on your property. Let’s look at some of the most important points.
In-ground vs. Above-ground Hot Tubs
In-ground hot tubs look much like smaller in-ground pools. They’re built into a patio or become a fixture of the landscape, sometimes surrounded by stone, concrete or tile. An in-ground hot tub might require a construction permit, the installation process is more involved, and the costs are higher. The hot tubs most people are familiar with are the more popular above ground spas, also known as portable hot tubs, which are installed on a flat surface and surrounded by a cabinet of some kind. As the name suggests, portable hot tubs can be moved if necessary. They can also come with a lower price tag and more options for additional features.
Hot Tub Dimensions and Number of Seats
The most popular shape of a hot tub is square or rectangular, and they tend to fall between six and nine feet in length. However, there needs to be ample room around all sides of the tub for comfort in climbing in and out, ensuring good maintenance, leaving room for equipment if necessary, and simple safety. It’s always a good idea to choose a hot tub with enough seats for at least those in your family, plus a few extra for the inevitable friend who shows up to enjoy it with you. Keep in mind if someone in your family is quite tall, you might want to go with fewer seats to allow more room to spread out.
When it comes to materials, most hot tubs are made of a molded acrylic shell. But there are other options, such as cast resin, roto-cast polymer, wood, or vinyl. Molded resin spas include the shell and the cabinet as one large piece.
Hot Tub Water Capacity
The larger the tub, the more water it will hold. Keep in mind that the water adds enormous weight, so it’s vitally important to have a strong structure underneath the hot tub to accommodate. The water capacity matters when draining the hot tub and refilling it, as there is the associated cost of the water itself. Larger units can hold 450 gallons or more.
Hot Tub Pumps and Jets
It’s important to remember that the number of jets doesn’t mean as much as the positioning of them. Consider what kind of experience you want – if you’re looking for something specific, such as lower back massage in a lounge-style seat, you can have your hot tub customized for that. The jet design and pressure can mean the difference between a good general experience and a very targeted one.
The more jets you have, the more pump power you will need. Those pumps determine the pressure you’ll feel coming out of the jets. Speak with the dealer about the pressure you want, and ask to try out various pressures in the sales center to determine what feels right for you.
Electricity and Heating for a New Hot Tub
You’ll have numerous choices when it comes to heating, but they boil down to either high-voltage or low-voltage. High voltage won’t need to run as log to heat the water, though it does take more energy to run. Determining wattage for your hot tub can be confusing for the average person who doesn’t have much knowledge of electrical matters. Generally, the higher the wattage, the more efficient your heater will be, and the more power you’ll get through the jets.
Consider how often you will use your spa as you determine how powerful you want your heater to be.
If your hot tub is a smaller model that uses 110 volts, you can plug it directly into any conventional, ground fault outlet. If it requires 220 volts or more, however – which is the most common scenario – you’ll need to hire a qualified electrician to install an appropriate outlet and ensure proper grounding.
Filtration Systems for Hot Tubs
As with any other water feature on your property, filtration of that water is the key to keeping it safe, sanitary and crystal clear. Hot tubs often include advanced “blue media” filters, which help prevent bacteria and microbes from latching onto your tub. You might need only one or two filters, replaced yearly. However, if you’re going for a large hot tub, you might need more filters and need to replace them more frequently.
Hot Tub Insulation Options
There are various types of insulation to choose from. Full-foam spas include spray foam insulation between the molded seats and the cabinet, which makes it difficult to make repairs. Some spas will need foam to support the structure, and this doubles as insulation – though it can be removed to make repairs easier. The insulated cabinet under an acrylic spa can use the heat from the pump to keep the area warm. Reflective backed foam insulation can also be helpful as it keeps more heat inside.
Of course, most of the heat lost from a hot tub is through the top. That’s where a good cover comes into play. Look for an insulated option to help ensure even more energy savings. Some are hard-shell covers that allow you to sit down on them when they’re covering the tub; others are simple, insulated covers made of vinyl or some other sturdy material.
Additional Hot Tub Features to Consider
As with pools, the features you can choose from are virtually endless – and if you can’t find it readily available on the market, a good contractor could likely make it a reality.
- Lounge seats. These larger seats are designed to allow you to lie back, fully submerged in the water, and often have full-body massage jets. They take up the equivalent of two standard sized seats.
- Lighting. Underwater lighting can add to the ambiance of a hot tub, especially when used at night. It can also be helpful for ensuring more safety in the water.
- Entertainment. Hot tubs can be equipped with music, video, and other entertainment features, all waterproof and specifically designed to enhance the soaking experience.
- Water features. Waterfalls, bubble jets that arc water over the occupants, and even swirling whirlpools are all possible. Whatever aesthetic you want, it’s possible!
Are You Ready to Talk to a Contractor About Your Hot Tub?
Whether you’re just looking for a general idea of what it might cost to set up a hot tub at your home or you’re already deep into research about which one you want, there’s never a better time to call a qualified contractor. Modernize can help you find a good contractor in your area who can help you mitigate the wide-ranging world of hot tub options and choose what works best for your budget, space and needs.
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