Hot Tubs Buyer's Guide
Used hot tub prices and new hot tub prices
Table of Contents
Hot tub and spa prices vary widely, depending on the size and features. You could spend as little as $3,000 for a basic portable model that seats three or more than $15,000 for a huge, top-of-the-line model that seats 10 and has digital lighting and sound. Most portable models fall somewhere in the $4,000 to $8,000 range. For those interested in below-ground tubs, they start at $18,000 and get spendy in a hurry depending on the materials used as well as the complexity involved with the masonry. For more specific examples, take a look at what other BuyerZone users paid for their hot tubs.
Don’t forget though: the purchase price isn’t the end of your expenses – and with cheaper tubs, just the beginning. Be sure to budget for shipping and installation, sanitation, upkeep, and the energy it will take to power your hot tub or spa. Water maintenance supplies like chemicals and replacement filters typically cost between $90 and $110 per year (or about $10 a month), depending on the tub and usage. In addition, you can expect to pay anywhere between $25 and $100 per month in power costs.
The wide range in power costs highlights an important buying consideration. This is where you’ll find a vast disparity between a low-cost hot tub at a big-box retailer and one produced by a major manufacturer sold through a reputable dealer.
Compare a $4,000 generic model with a $7,000 equivalent produced by almost any major brand and you'll see that the cheaper model will have significantly less insulation. That means heating it will cost $100 or more per month in electricity, compared to $25 to $35 per month for the higher quality model. That difference will mean the $3,000 you "saved" on the purchase will be offset in less than three years, and you'll still be paying $100+ per month after that.
Used hot tubs
The market for used hot tubs is relatively small for a couple of reasons. Tubs that are permanently set into decks or belowground are not good candidates for resale, and portable tubs often get moved from one home to the next. However, if you can find a used hot tub that fits your needs, you can save quite a bit of money—potentially thousands of dollars on higher-end models.
Just be sure to test it before buying. In particular, make sure you see the tub filled with water and up to temperature, as small leaks or heating-element failures can be hard to spot. Most importantly, though the cheapies you find on craigslist are often tempting, you should still buy your used tub from a reputable dealer, enabling you to return the tub or get necessary repairs in case anything does go wrong.
Shipping and installation
There are a few things you’ll need to do to prepare for the delivery of your hot tub or spa. First, it helps to have a level surface selected for the tub, usually a concrete slab, porch, or deck that’s been designed to bear the hot tub’s weight. Next, if the model you select requires electrical wiring, it’s not a bad idea to have that work done in advance so you can start enjoying your tub or spa as soon as possible. Plus, it may facilitate access for the electrician, reducing hassle and subsequent hourly costs.
If not included in the price, delivery and setup can run several hundred dollars. Not surprisingly, shipping and installation costs also vary depending on the model you select. A hot tub that’s assembled on-site will cost a lot more to install than a one-piece plastic spa. Inset tubs or spas will cost more than aboveground models.
Make sure the dealer you choose carefully walks you through the delivery and installation requirements so you wind up with the most complete estimate.