By Lori Lovely
Hot tub prices vary widely, as the typical range of $2,000 to $35,000 indicates. Differences in costs stem from size, materials used, location (in-ground, outdoors, or indoors), site prep, energy-efficiency level, and other options that make pinning down hot tub cost difficult—although the national average of $6,000 provides a guideline of what to expect. Portable hot tubs will usually cost less than in-ground units, but the addition of features and accessories can level the playing field.
The cost of a hot tub depends on size, features, design, materials, quality of materials, type, and location. The number of people a hot tub can accommodate will also impact the cost. Name brands typically sell for more as well. Inflatable and portable styles are less expensive than permanent hot tubs.
Installation costs may vary according to the site, with an outdoor hot tub potentially requiring more site prep and thus raising the overall cost. If permits are required in your neighborhood, tack that cost on to the bill.
An in-ground hot tub will cost significantly more to install due to the added labor involved. In addition, running plumbing or electrical wiring to the location can increase the final price. Delivery is not always included in the price; count on additional costs if you require a crane to lift and place the hot tub.
The most typical hot tub sizes are two- or three-person units, which generally cost $2,000 to $5,000, although luxury two-person hot tubs can run as high as $15,000. A 4-person hot tub typically ranges from $2,500 to $8,000, while a six-person tub will cost considerably more ($3,000 to $12,000). Consider, too, that a bigger tub will require a larger pad and that delivery and installation are likely to be more expensive.
There is a surprising diversity of types of hot tubs for sale. For the ultimate in movable hot tubs, inflatable ones average as little as $400, while hard-sided portable hot tubs generally start at $2,000. If you’re interested in a saltwater hot tub, expect to add somewhere between $200 and $700 to the bill. Jetted hot tub prices range even higher ($4,000 to $16,000).
Not all hot tubs are built alike. Materials can consist of plastic, wood, or acrylic (the most common). Rotomolded plastic tubs are lightweight and portable but not well insulated. Next up the scale are wooden hot tubs, which last a long time but require more maintenance. Vinyl-lined hot tubs consist of a vinyl liner over a concrete or wooden tub; they are inexpensive but not durable and tend to fade over time. Acrylic and fiberglass hot tubs are insulated, energy efficient, and durable, but they tend to be the most expensive.
Delivery can cost $200 to $500, although the actual cost depends on the size and difficulty in moving the hot tub. If a crane is required to get the hot tub moved over the house to the backyard (about 5 to 10 percent of installations need this), the cost can escalate to $300 to $1,500. Using a Bobcat or removing fencing to get the hot tub situated can also elevate the cost. Moving a hot tub often requires anywhere from two to six people, whose time you’re paying for. Permits can run from $100 to $250, depending on where you live. Most cities don’t require a permit for an above-ground hot tub, but if you’re planning on an in-ground hot tub, you may need to be permitted.
If you live in a remote area, delivery costs can add another $0.50 to $3.00 per mile to the overall cost. You’ll need an area big enough not only for the hot tub itself but also for equipment, the pad, and access to it. The spot for the hot tub must also be easily accessible to the equipment panel, but at least 10 feet from overhead power lines.
Additional costs and considerations abound when it comes to purchasing a hot tub. The type of hot tub selected, accessories, and any upgrades affect the cost of the hot tub. The bigger the hot tub, the bigger the price tag. Keep in mind that larger units will also consume more electricity and require more water, increasing expenses. Installation charges can vary depending on where the hot tub will be located and how much effort is required to set it up in the chosen site.
Delivery and hot tub installation are merely two aspects of the cost of ownership. The ongoing costs of routine maintenance and upkeep—including any chemicals and cleaning products, along with the potential expense of periodic repairs—must be factored into the total hot tub cost.
Hot tubs are heavy. Installing them outdoors will require some sort of foundation: a concrete slab, pavers, or reinforced decking. If you don’t have electrical power in the hot tub area, adding a GFCI outlet will increase the cost. Even indoor installation may call for additional floor supports. Indoor installation also means added ventilation to handle the extra moisture. However, at $4,500, installing a whirlpool tub is still cheaper than putting in a walk-in shower ($6,000).
Above-ground hot tub installation generally runs from $4,000 to $15,000. In-ground installation costs begin at $15,000 and go up from there. This is because excavation is required, usually involving heavy equipment and skilled manpower. In-ground hot tubs are often next to or connected to in-ground pools, and they’re built in place using a rigid premolded or flexible liner. A built-in or below-ground hot tub will cost more to run: as much as $30 to $100 per month.
Saltwater hot tubs can add as much as $200 to $700 on to the price because they require a specific saltwater generator. These generators can even run as high as $1,500. However, because the system converts dissolved salt into chlorine, it can reduce maintenance. Additionally, salt is less expensive than chlorine and reduces the number of chemicals needed for upkeep.
A basic hot tub with limited jets and options costs from $4,000 to $8,000. Luxury items can easily double the top end of that price range. Luxury features include waterfalls, lighting and sound systems, therapeutic jets, water purification systems, and designer exteriors. All of them will increase the cost.
Hot tub use can add as much as $50 to $100 to your electrical bill each month, depending on climate, usage, model, and size. Some of the higher-end hot tubs are more energy efficient and will actually use less electricity than some entry-level models that aren’t well insulated. If you need to add or upgrade an outlet, you could face an additional charge of $1,000 to $20,000.
Proper routine maintenance involves draining and refilling a hot tub every 3 months. Depending on the cost of water in your area, as well as the size of your hot tub, this can add up over the course of a year. Often, this is not a significant cost of ownership.
Numerous accessories can add fun and function to your hot tub, along with some additional costs. A filter, which should be changed annually, helps keep the water clean, while a thermometer (costing about $10) lets you know if the water temperature is warm enough. You may want to invest in a cover for times you aren’t using the hot tub, a vacuum to clean the tub, or convenience items such as stairs, cupholders, and headrests.
Custom upgrades such as waterfalls, lighting and sound systems, JetPaks, and other fun factors can add anywhere from $500 to $10,000 to the cost of a hot tub. Bluetooth, smart speakers, and a hot tub TV are popular, if pricey, upgrades. Even a refinished wood exterior or new cover can be considered an upgrade.
Depending on the model, annual maintenance costs to clean and replace filters or add chemicals can run from $500 to $1,000. In general, a hot tub should be drained and refilled every 3 to 4 months because of chemical buildup. Heavy usage could decrease the interval.
The water chemicals need to be checked two to four times a week, using a test strip to verify the proper pH, alkalinity, calcium, and sanitizer. The filter needs to be cleaned every 2 to 4 weeks. The unit itself should be cleaned every other month, while the cover should be removed to air out twice a week. You can hire a company to do this work for $50 to $300 per month to save time.
The cost of repair depends on the issue at hand but tends to average $600 to $4,000. Depending on the model, annual maintenance costs to clean and replace filters or add chemicals can run from $500 to $1,000.
Size isn’t the only basis for differences in hot tub cost. Different types of hot tubs carry various sizes of prices. Price is a sliding scale, from the inexpensive portable or inflatable hot tub to the most luxurious custom in-ground hot tub. Don’t forget that not only does the price of the unit itself vary, but installation costs will also change according to the type of hot tub you choose.
In general, hot tub costs can be anywhere from $500 to $35,000, with prefab models weighing in at the lower end of the range ($500 to $11,000) and custom models at the higher end. Brand can also play a role in cost, with some well-known luxury brands charging more for high-end hot tubs.
Associated installation and maintenance costs must be calculated into the total cost of ownership as well. For example, an in-ground hot tub requires more site prep and installation costs than a portable hot tub.
Inflatable units cost much less than their more permanent cousins: usually $400 to $1,500. While easy to install, they are known as being less reliable and comfortable, as well as less durable than hard-sided units. They have a lifespan of about 5 years. An inflatable hot tub can be placed on either an insulated base or the ground.
A hard-sided portable hot tub typically costs somewhere between $2,000 and $6,000. These energy-efficient, durable units offer the widest variety of sizes, colors, features, and seating configurations. Although they can be moved to a new location, they are heavy and require an insulated base or pad to support them.
Above-ground hot tubs range from the least expensive inflatable portable versions to costly custom units. All will require some sort of pad for support as well as access to electricity. Depending on the materials used, size, and features included, they can cost $400 to $35,000 before installation. They require a reinforced deck or concrete pad for support.
The cost to install an in-ground hot tub can range from $15,000 to $20,000 because it requires excavation, plumbing, and electrical wiring—whether indoor or outdoor. Built-in tubs can be made from acrylic, vinyl, concrete, gunite, or stainless steel. They can also cost more to run— as much as $100 per month.
You can choose an in-ground hot tub with materials, colors, and other design elements to match your home’s landscaping or decor.
Saltwater hot tubs cost more initially because they require specialized equipment, such as a generator for electrolysis, which produces free chlorine. However, because they are a low-maintenance and low-chemical option, long-term savings may apply. Because the generator converts salt into chlorine to clean the water, the hot tub needs fewer chemicals and less maintenance—although maintenance tends to be more expensive because the saltwater systems are more complex.
Indoor jetted spa hot tubs cost less because installation is more straightforward, but they usually hold only two people. These tubs can be therapeutic because the pressure of aerated water alleviates soreness in muscles and joints. Jetted hot tubs can have anywhere from 12 to 50 jets targeting different parts of the body. These tubs appeal to buyers seeking hydrotherapy over a hot soak.
Custom hot tubs sit at the highest end of the price range, often topping $30,000. But, building a hot tub to meet your needs can be rewarding. You can choose the size and shape of the hot tub, materials, jet positioning, and location. Most of these are in-ground models that can take significant time to install.
Hot tubs provide numerous benefits that can improve your life, one of them being the therapeutic, muscle-relaxing effects of the jets. Still, there are other health advantages, such as improved circulation and blood pressure, stress relief, and reduced pain, to name a few.
The benefits of hydrotherapy have been known for thousands of years. Beyond the long-term health benefits, hot tubs can make people happy. Like swimming pools, they are a source of entertainment and a place for family and friends to gather, have parties, and enjoy one another’s company.
There’s something relaxing about warm, bubbling water swirling around your body that sends stress packing. Add soft lights, soothing music, and aromatherapy to the mix to boost the effects. Massaging jets promote relaxation, easing stress and tension. The warm, moving water also relieves pressure on your joints, taking away the pain.
Tense, tight, or achy muscles feel the relief the jetted water provides in a hot tub. Just as a soak in the hot tub after hard physical labor can ease aches and pains, a dip in the hot tub before exercising can also warm up those muscles. Exercising while not warmed up can result in injury or strain, so this is a preventive measure.
Hot baths can promote deeper, more restful sleep, according to some studies. Hydrotherapy has long been known as a way to improve sleep quality; a soothing soak before bedtime can put a person right to sleep. Hot tubs can be beneficial for sleep if combined with aromatherapy.
Using a hot tub can ease muscle pain and lower back pain, which an estimated 80 percent of all Americans suffer from. It can also alleviate symptoms of fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis. By reducing joint inflammation, relaxing in a hot tub can help improve range of motion and restore flexibility. Hydrotherapy can relieve the pain and inflammation of arthritis and other conditions through the combination of heat, massaging action, and buoyancy that takes the weight off the joints. Because soaking in a hot tub relaxes muscles, joints, and tendons, pain often dissipates. The jets can also relieve stiffness, resulting in more flexibility and range of motion.
A relaxing soak in a hot tub can raise your heart rate and lower your blood pressure. One study indicated that immersing oneself in hot water has a beneficial effect on blood pressure; it even goes so far as to indicate that passive heat therapy might help reduce cardiovascular mortality. Even just 10 minutes in a hot tub can be enough to lower blood pressure.
According to research, hydro- and thermal therapy may improve insulin sensitivity and help people manage their diabetes. Hot tubs have been proven to be an effective treatment tool for Type 2 diabetes and are routinely used as therapy for people with this illness. It can also aid in burning calories because a 1-hour soak can burn as many calories as a 30-minute walk. Weight loss can also help control Type 2 diabetes.
Installing a hot tub is not something most people want to do on their own; it doesn’t make a good DIY project. Not only is it a complicated job, but installing it yourself might void the warranty. With electrical wiring and plumbing involved, it’s best to leave it to the professionals to install.
If you need to do electrical wiring for your hot tub, it will have to meet code. Hiring a licensed electrician will ensure the wiring is done correctly, which will eliminate fire hazards. Professionals know how far the hot tub is legally required to be from the electrical panel, and they know the voltage needed.
Proper installation and wiring ensure that all components are functioning as they should, without residual damage resulting from incorrect wiring. This could also save money because equipment failure could ensue from faulty wiring and need to be replaced. And, of course, it’s a safety issue. Bad wiring could short out, spark a fire, or injure people.
Beyond electrical concerns, it’s challenging to move a heavy hot tub and get it accurately placed. The ground will need to be leveled, a pad or support created, and the tub situated. Adding it to an existing pool, putting it in the ground, or connecting it to a deck requires precise measurements and movements.
Choose a licensed and bonded installer and then check out their rating and reviews. If they have references or a portfolio of their work on previous jobs, even better.
Everyone has a budget, and everyone likes to save money. You can enjoy the benefits of a hot tub without breaking the bank. So many options exist. And it may seem counterintuitive, but hiring a professional installer may be another way to save money on a hot tub. Similarly, some dealers offer free (or inexpensive) installation and delivery as part of a turn-key package deal.
Before you choose a hot tub or hire an installer, there are some questions you’ll want to ask. While you’ll be able to get some of the answers up front, other questions may not be as readily answerable. Installation costs vary depending on the size of the hot tub, the chosen location, and other factors. Routine maintenance depends on the type of hot tub, usage, climate, and other factors.
Hot tubs provide relief for several medical conditions: diabetes, high blood pressure, poor circulation, sore muscles, painful joints, arthritis, fibromyalgia, insomnia, and stress. You can reap the benefits in the privacy of your own home or backyard. Because they belong to you, they are private, safe, and clean, and you can enjoy a hot tub any time you want.
Hot tubs make a great place to unwind and relax. They also provide a space for families and friends to gather to have fun. They can turn a backyard into a mini-resort, adding to the entertainment and the ambiance of a day off, a holiday, date night, a special occasion, or just an ordinary day.
But if you intend to get a hot tub, there are things you need to know about them, such as maintenance and cleaning, the cost of ownership (including power and water), and general safety issues. It starts with the purchase price but moves quickly to installation costs, permits, power, and more. It’s essential to understand all the ramifications of your hot tub purchase to get the most out of it.
Many people use the terms “hot tub” and “spa” interchangeably. Hot tubs used to be made of wood, but today are often called spas, just like the acrylic versions. Some consider a hot tub an above-ground spa, with a spa being typically in-ground, sometimes attached to an in-ground pool. A whirlpool tub is an indoor tub with jets.
It can be expensive to have a hot tub, with prices on custom high-end models reaching as much as $35,000. Portable and inflatable models cost considerably less money. However, there are added costs, including electricity, water, cleaning, and maintenance and repair to consider. Maintenance costs can reach $1,000 annually, and repairs can cost as much as $4,000, depending on the repair needed.
Electricity alone can cost $10 to $50 a month—even more for an in-ground tub. Water to refill it after cleaning is almost negligible, at just over $3 for an entire year, depending on water costs where you live. Chemicals and test strips to check pH and other levels will run an average of $20 per month. Cleaning products will run about $10 a month unless you hire a company to do the job for you. In that case, expect to pay about $300 per cleaning.
If the tub is tightly covered, the water should stay fresh for at least 2 weeks with proper filtration and sanitation. Much longer, though, and it can begin to grow algae, bacteria, or biofilm. That’s why experts recommend that hot tubs should be drained about every 3 months (longer for saltwater tubs: up to 12 months).
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By Lori Lovely