Guide to How to Choose Hot Tubs

        Hot tubs are one of the most popular water recreations for both commercial and home use.  Hot tub are fun, relaxing, and can even be therapeutic.  Hot tub in their most basic form have been around hundreds if not thousands of years likely in the form of hot springs occurring naturally.  However, various cultures quickly adapted the simple concept of a body of hot water for the purpose of soaking into various spas of increasingly ornate design.  However, over time what was only available for the rich or at commercial facilities became increasingly available to everyday people.  Nowadays a range of well-known manufacturers and designers makes hot tub of different shapes, sizes and capabilities making selecting the right one difficult to say the least. This guide will cover a number of things a person considering buying a hot tub should consider to include type of hot tub, its capacity, maintenance and basic features.

Hot Tub Types

        Hot tubs usually come in one of four basic types.  Each type has its own pros and cons depending on a buyer’s individual needs and budget.

  • Above ground Hot Tub (Wooden): Wooden tubs are the oldest type of hot tub and remain one of the most popular kinds on the market. Wooden hot tub are generally considered durable and attractive in nearly any environment.  Wooden hot tub tend to be deeper and hold more water than other hot tub providing more room for guests.  However, their greater capacity also results in them being heavier and more difficult to move, but they are often shipped or are comprised of pieces making relocation possible.  Wooden hot tub also have the advantage of being able to be heated by either wood, gas or electricity.  Wooden hot tub usually range in price from $4000 to $9500 depending on size and other features.
  • Above ground Hot Tub (Prefabricated or Stainless Steel): Likely, the most popular type of above ground hot tub is the prefabricated version, which is usually made from a prefabricated acrylic mold with a backing of either fiberglass or plastic. The mold is then surrounded by either wood or a substitute.  Other above ground hot tub are made of stainless steel.  These tubs tend to last the longest, are extremely durable but can also be very expensive.  The price for prefabricated and stainless steel hot tub can vary substantially from approximately $2000 all the way to more than $17,000 for hot tubs with elaborate features and actual wood exteriors.
  • Inflatable Hot Tub: Although above ground hot tub are often considered portable as they can be relocated with some effort from one location to another, truly portable hot tub are inflatable hot tub. Inflatable hot tub are soft sided, flexible tubs, which are made rigid and sturdy by being inflated with air from a pump or motor.  Additionally, most inflatable hot tub have reinforced interiors, which add to the structures rigidity and overall durability when inflated.  Inflatable hot tubs are more susceptible to damage and punctures than other types of hot tub making them unsuitable for certain situations and environments.  Also, whereas other hot tub often can be equipped with powerful hot water jets inflatable versions usually only have comparatively weak bubble jets.  Inflatable hot tub prices typically range from the low hundreds to nearly a $1000 often depending on the type of features included.
  • In-ground Hot Tub: The final kind of hot tub is the in-ground hot tub. These hot tub are usually also the most expensive as they require complete installation in the ground as well as associated electrical work and plumbing.  However, in-ground hot tub can also be the most visually appealing as well as personalized to a person’s home allowing for the use of tile, wood, concreate, stone, marble or any number of different materials.  In-ground hot tubs are not portable and become a permanent fixture wherever they are installed. In-ground hot tub, requiring the most significant installation expenses can range in price from around $15,000 to $20,000 or higher.


        Not all hot tubs are built equally or capable of holding the same amount of people.  Capacity is really determined by the design and materials of the particular hot tub as well as the space available for its placement. One-person hot tubs, usually used for therapy, can be purchased and are available for both above ground and in-ground versions.  Most inflatable hot tubs on the market today sit 4-6 people relatively comfortably. Many wooden and acrylic hot tubs as well tend to have a capacity between 4-6 people.  In-ground pools however, depending on the specifications and budget can hold any number of people.  However, the larger the hot tub the more water is needed to fill it, and the more energy is needed to heat it, which will all drive up costs.


        Any hot tub regardless of size and features requires maintenance to upkeep the plumbing, electrical system if applicable, and most importantly the water itself.  Without maintenance on these systems there can be problems with maintaining the water at the proper temperature, ensuring water is pumped into the hot tub properly, an maintaining clean usable water that is not a hazard to anyone using the hot tub.  Most hot tub come with either an internal filter system for the water or an external system, which must be used on a regular basis to keep the water clean and useable.

Basic Features

  • Cover: Hot tub covers are perfect for preventing debris and other objects from falling in potentially damaging the interior as well as reducing heat loss. Most above ground and many in-ground hot tubs include a fitted cover, which depending on the quality and design can reduce heat loss significantly ultimately helping increase energy efficiency and reduce cost. Covers can also be purchased separate from the hot tub itself and should be weather resistant is purchased for an outdoor hot tub.
  • Water Jets: Water jets in hot tubs vary greatly in strength, number and placement. Water jets are also not a standard feature on all hot tubs.  As stated previously, many water jets in inflatable hot tub mainly produce bubbles and are not ideal for massage or therapy use.  Other hot tubs, being made of a solid structure, are much more capable of generating a stronger jet of water for therapeutic purposes.  These jets are often arranged in different patterns and placements to focus on the neck, feet, lower back or even whole body.


        Regardless of the type of hot tub chosen a prospective should always focus on their individual needs and how they intend to use the hot tub.  High quality hot tubs are available regardless of type with features and amenities capable of satisfying most users’ needs.

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