The dos and don’ts of buying a hot tub

Owning your very own hot tub has never been more within reach – with more makes, sizes and varieties on the market than ever before, creating your own at-home spa has become a luxury that’s now accessible for many more people. 

But while there are upsides to an increase in choice, it can be a bit overwhelming for those buying a hot tub for the first time.

With that in mind, we’ve put together this helpful guide on what you should consider when buying your first hot tub, so you can get the spa of your dreams with no nasty surprises down the line.

We’ve broken it down into the following categories:

  • Choosing a dealer
  • Finding your ‘why’
  • Deciding your budget
  • Visiting the showroom
  • Picking a brand
  • Checking the build quality 
  • Spa shopping checklist

And if you’re still not sure what to look for, just give us a call and we’ll be happy to give you some advice or set up a showroom visit.

Choosing a dealer

Do: buy from a reputable source

Don’t: compromise on the dealership

Before you pick a hot tub, you need to pick a dealer. They’ll be key to making sure you get the right hot tub for your needs and budget, and will be able to advise you on everything from manufacturers to maintenance. The right dealer will have a wealth of experience and advice, and should make you feel at ease.

What to look for when choosing a dealer:

  • Number of years in business – of course, everyone has to start somewhere, and new dealers aren’t necessarily bad, but not only will an established dealer likely have more experience, but there’s less risk of them shutting up shop and leaving you high and dry without a warranty.
  • Manufacturers they stock – the brands they choose to supply – and how long they’ve been in partnership – will tell you a lot about the quality of the dealer. Ideally, they should supply a selection of reputable manufacturers and should not have frequent changes. If the dealer changes their manufacturers often, then it could be a sign they’ll no longer be stocking parts for your brand of hot tub a year or two down the line.
  • Installation and after care – the relationship with your dealer doesn’t end when you pay for your tub. They’ll need to provide services and maintenance, do the initial installation and supply and advise you on chemicals, usage and after-care products to ensure you remain in warranty. Make sure your dealer provides these services.
  • Sales tactics – are they listening to your needs and offering you options that suit you? Or are they trying to change your mind or use high-pressure sales tactics to get you to buy a specific tub? Your dealer should be advising you in line with your needs, not trying to sell you something that doesn’t suit.
  • Reviews – look for dealers who have a good number of positive reviews from real customers.
  • BISHTA member – this indicates they are trained in water hygiene, and held to the BISHTA standards and code of ethics.

Shop around until you find a dealer that’s right for you, as your relationship with them is going to be key to a good spa experience for years to come – from servicing and chemical supplies to repairs.

Finding your ‘why’

Do: know why you want a hot tub and what your deal-breakers are

Don’t: buy based on one only one aspect

Whatever your reasons for buying a hot tub, you’ll need to stay true to them when shopping around – and don’t let additional bells and whistles distract you so much that you compromise on your core needs. It’s also important to use your dealer’s expertise to get the right spa for you. For example, we’ve seen customers who have their heart set on a spa because of the jet count, believing a hot tub with the most jets will be best for hydrotherapy needs. However, hundreds of jets powered by only one pump won’t have the strength to give an effective massage. Likewise, a huge number of poor-quality jets with no variation will mean an unsatisfying massage experience.

Manufacturers such as Marquis Spas offer a great hydrotherapy experience, using HOT zone technology and adjustable jets, which will give you a far better massage than a cheaper tub with more low-quality jets. Let your dealer know your primary reason for buying, and they should be able to show you some suitable spas in your price range that will work for your needs.

Deciding your budget

Do: work with your dealer to find a good match within your budget

Don’t: focus only on the upfront cost

Cost is, of course, a vital consideration when making any purchase. If you’re working with a really tight budget, then, naturally, you’ll have to shop around and possibly make a few compromises on nice-to-haves to ensure your must-haves are met. At the opposite end of the scale, if you have a large budget, you may be tempted to go for the top-priced option in the belief that all the bells and whistles means better. 

Be careful when shopping for deals online. If you see an offer that looks too good to be true, it’s possible the cost is being recouped somewhere else, such as in the quality of build (compromising on longevity, or costing you on bills and maintenance in the long run) or number of accessories included as standard, meaning you may end up paying far more than the initial price. Look carefully at what’s included with any tub you’re interested in to make sure you’re getting the most for your money and won’t be hit with any surprise charges.

When buying a hot tub, remember to factor in:

  • Delivery and installation costs
  • Maintenance and servicing
  • Electricity prices
  • Chemicals and care packages
  • Accessories such as lights, music, steps, covers and so on

Our advice is to always buy from a reputable dealer, as they can advise you on energy-efficient tubs, maintenance and service packages to keep your hot tub working properly and cut down the risk of major repairs or a voided warranty. They may also be able to offer you finance options to help to spread the cost so you’re not having to compromise on manufacturer quality. 

Bottom line: If you invest a bit more in the upfront cost on a hot tub from a quality manufacturer and a reputable dealer, you should cut your long-term costs.

Visiting the showroom

Do: research online first

Don’t: buy without trying

Shopping around online and doing your research is always a good idea. Buying a hot tub without visiting a showroom isn’t. Aside from the advice your dealer will be able to give you, it also gives you the opportunity to try before you buy. Your dealer should encourage you to get into the hot tub to see whether it suits your build and height, feel where the jets sit, and find out whether it’s comfortable for you. 

For the ultimate ‘try before you buy’, many dealers will also offer ‘wet tests’ – this means you can get into a full tub at the showroom before you commit to purchase, giving you an idea of the strength of the jets, and whether there are any problems such as seats that you slide off, jets that don’t hit the spot and water levels that aren’t right for your height.

Top quality hot tubs take the interiors seriously – with many enlisting experts to ensure they’re ergonomically designed and fulfil their hydrotherapy promises. In our experience, people will often contact us with their mind made up on a model based on the style – and then change it once they get to our showroom and try out a few tubs. Remember: hot tubs aren’t one-size-fits all. Recommendations are a great start, but a tub that’s perfect for a friend or neighbour may not be the right fit for you, so don’t be afraid to try a few out and keep an open mind.

Picking a brand

Do: shop around and be open to different makes

Don’t: decide based on superficial criteria (size, cost, familiarity)

There are a lot of reputable manufacturers out there – and, in recent years, there has also been an influx of cheaper, poorly made tubs that you can buy online. Even if you have a tight budget and an eye on cost, it’s best to remember that many of the cheaper brands won’t last as long or will cost you more in electricity in the long (or, quite often, short) term. Likewise, there are a lot of great manufacturers out there. You may have your heart set on a familiar brand when you begin your journey, but it’s important to keep an open mind and try out a few quality manufacturers to see which best suits your needs in terms of jets, pumps, energy efficiency, look and feel, and more. 

Checking the build quality 

Do: ask your dealer about the quality of the frame and insulation

Don’t: think all hot tubs are created equal

The size and look and feel aren’t the only things to think about – even if you’ve found the perfect hot tub for the right price, it’s also worth taking a look under the hood. Many cheap spas may look good on the surface precisely because they make their compromises on build quality. Most reputable manufacturers, on the other hand, build their hot tubs on a solid foundation of a good-quality base and insulation, helping to keep rot and rodents at bay – and energy costs low. American Whirlpool, for example, use pest-resistant material in their builds, and their moulded bases enclose a unique metal frame with a lifetime warranty.

Spa shopping check list

To be sure you’re getting the right hot tub for your needs, make sure to consider the following questions and ask your dealer for advice where needed.

Make & model – is it a trusted manufacturer with a good track record? Are they likely to stay in business and will it be easy to get replacement parts/repairs done? Is it under warranty?

Size – how many people will be using the hot tub on a regular basis? What size outdoor space do you have?

Seating – how many seats do you need ideally? Would you prefer a hot tub with one or more loungers? Do the hot tubs you’re considering come with a variety of seating heights and sizes that will suit you and your household?

Comfort  have the seats been ergonomically designed? Is the interior comfortable? Is the depth right for you and your family?

Power supply – is it a recommended 32 amp supply? Or is it only available in a 13 amp plug and play? 

Jets – what kind of jets does it have? Are they adjustable? Do they come in a range of shapes and pressures? Is it possible to get a full-body massage? Do they include any specific technology to enhance the experience such as HOT Zone (Marquis) or TheraMAXX (American Whirlpool)?

Energy efficiency/insulation – it is fully foam insulated or does it have any other insulation technology? Does it have an energy efficiency rating?

Build – what is the frame made from? Is it a solid structure that’s likely to resist damp and pests? Is it under warranty?

Pumps – how may pumps are there compared with the size of the tub and number of jets? How powerful are they?

The extras – what’s included as standard and what is optional in terms of lighting, sound and so on? Are the extras you want available, included or in your budget to add?

Remember – a hot tub should last you for years to come, so getting the right one for you is key to the best experience.

For more information or advice on buying a hot tub, or to book a showroom visit, contact us online or give us a call on 01974 241 642. Our friendly team will be happy to help. 

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