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Hot tubs are the ultimate patio accessory, allowing your family and friends to kick back and relax year-round. Not only are they relaxing, but hot tubs and spas can also help soothe sore muscles and joints, improve your sleep, and deliver other surprising health benefits, making it a worthwhile investment for your home.
With that in mind, here are the best hot tubs for your home.
If you want an all around top-rated hot tub, this pick from American Spas won't disappoint. This hot tub can seat up to seven people, and it boasts 56 hydrotherapy jets spread out among the various seats. There's even a lounger seat, so one person can kick up their legs if the hot tub is less occupied.
This square hot tub is 7 x 7 feet, and it has an acrylic lining, surrounded by an aluminum shell that's been painted dark brown. The unit is insulated, so it can withstand freezing temperatures outside, as long as you are maintaining the tub properly. Additionally, this model features an Ozonator, a water care system that helps keep the water clear without as many purifying chemicals.
If you want a good quality hot tub without the high price tag, pick up the Coleman SaluSpa Inflatable Hot Tub. While this hot tub will still run you a couple of hundred dollars, it can still accommodate four or more people at a time and gets rave reviews from happy buyers.
This hot tub is 78 inches in diameter and made from puncture-resistant, UV-resistant PVC material. Its walls are made using “i-beam” construction, so you can sit or support yourself on the walls without worry of it buckling. You can control the temperature and massage system via the digital control panel, and it has a maximum temperature of 104 degrees Fahrenheit. Plus, its power-saving timer can be used to automate the temperature of the spa up to 72 hours before.
Reviewers say this hot tub is a great bang for your buck and many like that it runs on a standard electrical outlet. While it’s sturdier than you’d think for an inflatable model, several reviewers noted that it does take about a day to heat up to temperature.
Best Plug-and-Play: AquaRest Spas Select 200 5-Person 15-Jet Plug and Play Hot Tub with LED Waterfall
Many hot tubs require special electrical outlets, which may force you to hire an electrician for installation. But plug-and-play models like the Aquarest Spas Select 200 use a standard 120-volt outlet, making them ready to go right away. This circular hot tub can seat up to five people at a time and has 20 stainless steel hydrotherapy jets that massage your body.
This spa measures 74 x 76 inches, and its digital control panel lets you adjust the temperature of the water to your liking, up to 104 degrees Fahrenheit. The Aquarest Spas Select 200 has an LED-backlit waterfall for a relaxing ambiance, and the unit has full foam insulation and a locking cover for unbeatable heat retention. Reviewers call this spa a “dream come true" due to its perfect size, simple set up, and easy maintenance. Plus, it's extremely enjoyable to use!
Want to be able to take your hot tub on vacation or when you move homes? The Coleman SaluSpa Inflatable is extremely portable thanks to its inflatable design and lightweight build. It’s made from a durable PVC material and measures 71 inches wide, and it weighs less than 75 pounds, making it easier to move than traditional tubs.
This inflatable hot tub can reach up to 104 degrees, and it has 60 air jets to deliver soothing bubbles. It includes a chemical floater, easy-to-replace filter cartridges, and a repair kit, just in case the walls are ever damaged.
Want to keep your hot tub just for two? Then this American Spas 2-Person Plug and Play Spa is perfect for you. This hot tub has everything you need, including 28 high-powered stainless steel jets, a locking hardcover, and an ozone water sanitation system.
The two-person hot tub is a unique triangle-like shape that measures 36 x 72 inches, and its cabinet panels are made from fiberglass, wood, and steel. It's full of features, including adjustable temperatures up to 104 degrees, powerful jets, an ozone water purifier, a quiet motor, and an easy-to-clean filter. Plus, it plugs into any 110 or 240-volt outlet for easy installation!
If you're concerned about energy use, The American Spa uses a smart technology system to help warm the water, and it’s designed to use as little energy as possible. Reviewers love this tub's easy setup, however, noted to check which voltage your home requires before installing.
For a mid-sized spa, you may want to consider the Lifesmart LS500. This five-person model features 23 jets, underwater LED lighting, and ASTM-approved locking cover, and more, and it retails for a reasonable price.
This hot tub from Lifesmart measures 87 x 77 inches, and it has an expresso-colored finish on its plastic exterior. You can control the hot tub via its digital control panel, which lets you adjust the jets and temperature up to 104 degrees. It has full foam insulation for energy efficiency and plugs into a 120-volt outlet for hassle-free setup. Reviewers say it’s great for two to five people, and many write that it’s worth the money.
If you’re in the market for an inflatable hot tub, one of the best ones out there is the Coleman SaluSpa 4-Person Square Inflatable Hot Tub. As its name suggests, this spa can comfortably accommodate four people at a time, and it can heat up to a max of 104 degrees as it massages your body with 114 surrounding air jets.
This inflatable hot tub is made from a durable TriTech material with “i-beam” walls that allow you to sit on the side without worry of it collapsing. It has a cushioned floor and comes with a chemical floater, extra filter cartridges, repair kit, and an inflatable cover with safety lock clips to keep the water warm when not in use. Reviewers rave about the quality and price of this inflatable hot tub, writing that it’s incredibly comfortable and does a good job maintaining a warm temperature.
One of the latest trends in hot tubs is to have a saltwater chlorinator, which saves you from having to buy chlorine all the time. To use this type of system in your hot tub, you’ll need a product like the ControlOMatic ChlorMaker Saltwater Chlorine Generation System, a plug-and-play model that can generate up to 30 grams of pure chlorine per day using regular salt.
This saltwater chlorinator has 10 built-in power levels, and it can support up to 1,000 gallons of water—plenty big for a hot tub of any size. Just make sure your hot tub is compatible with saltwater chlorine generators before you install this unit. In addition to reducing the maintenance you have to do on your hot tub, this system will soften the water in your spa, as well, making it easier on your skin and eyes. Reviewers say the system is easy to set up and much more affordable than other saltwater hot tub systems, but several do note that it will likely take you a few weeks to get the salt levels just right.
Everything You Need to Know About Buying a Hot Tub
By Erica Puisis
Sink into relaxation and soak up good times with a personal hot tub. A favorite way to wind down after a long week or a popular backyard party spot, a hot tub makes a great addition to your yard or deck. Personal spas are also popular for their hydrotherapy benefits. Many people that suffer with sore muscles and achy joints find the soothing sensation of a hot tub to help relax both body and mind while promoting a feeling of wellness.
Hot tubs utilize a heating element to warm water temperatures upwards of 100 degrees—creating a steamy spa for you to slip into. Additionally, jets are available that direct a stream of water onto tired muscles or aching backs. The heart of a hot tub is a pump (or in some cases two pumps) that keep water moving through the filter, heater, and jet system for a spa sensation in your very own backyard.
When considering a hot tub, the number of people it seats is a key factor to consider. You’ll also be deciding between portable versions and installed models. When shopping for a hot tub, you can expect to spend between $500 for a soft-sided, portable version and up to $10,000 or more for a deluxe model that is installed in the spot of your choosing.
What to Look for in a Hot Tub
- Size: When shopping for a hot tub, consider what size spa your patio, backyard, or deck can reasonably accommodate. You’ll need to consider both the square footage of the hot tub along with seating space.
How many seats are available in the hot tub can be an important criteria to consider. If you plan to use the hot tub solo or maybe just with one or two other people, a smaller sized unit may be all you need—saving you in terms of square footage and price. However, if you want to entertain friends and family frequently, then it makes more sense to look for a larger hot tub that can comfortably seat your guests.
Hot tubs typically seat anywhere from four to eight people, but there are both smaller and larger spa sizes available. You should know that seating capacity isn’t always directly related to the size of the hot tub. Lounge-like seats that allow you to sit back and stretch out will take up more room than standard seats. The result is less seats in the same amount of space as a larger hot tub. While this is good for you if you like to lean back and soak your shoulders in the tub, it could be a downside if you’re hoping to maximize space for company in the square footage of the hot tub.
- Jets: A hot tub experience just isn’t complete without the soothing pressure of water jets. Underwater jets are a common feature on most hot tubs that provide a gentle massage for your shoulders, back, feet, and more.
There are three key factors to consider when it comes to jets on a hot tub—type, number, and placement. More jets aren’t always better if they’re not effective and aren’t placed in the right spots!
The types of hot tub jets available include rotational, directional, pulsator, multi-massage, and cluster. Rotational jets will create a circular stream of air and water that is good for targeting large muscle groups. Directional jets allow you to adjust the position of the water stream to target specific spots you’d like some extra jet action. Pulsator jets have a center section that spins to alter the stream of the water coming out—creating a pulsing effect. Multi-massage jets feature a number of holes to create individual, high-pressure streams of water. Cluster jets are one of the most basic jets and usually don’t have an adjustable or visible nozzle—they just direct a stream of water into the hot tub. If your hot tub is equipped with an ozonator, then a cluster jet (also called an ozone jet) is used to send the ozone gas into the spa water to keep things clean and fresh.
The number of jets you opt for is going to be determined by personal preference and budget. Typically, more jets will translate to a higher price tag. Some people prefer a more serene spa experience and want minimal jets. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a hydrotherapy massage experience, then more jets in more places will suit your needs better.
Don’t be fooled by extra jets in places that you’re not likely to feel or appreciate them. Some hot tub manufacturers include extra jets to increase the appeal of a model, even though those jets are awkwardly placed or don’t add real value to the spa experience.
This brings us to a related point—jet placement. As mentioned above, the location of water jets will have a big impact on what type of massage you’ll enjoy when using your spa. For example, if you frequently experience tense shoulders and back muscles, look for a concentration of jets in those areas—perhaps with variable direction so you can target trouble spots. When possible, sit in the hot tub to see how jet placement lines up with your body.
When evaluating the jet system of any hot tub, consider the capacity of the jet pump. This pump system will be the workhorse that pulls water in from the spa before pushing it back out again through the jets. A pump that has too much—or too little power—will result in poor jet performance due to an imbalance of pressure. Some hot tubs with many jets will include two pumps to make sure that the system can keep up with the extra demand.
- Lights and Water Features: Set the mood and increase the fun with special effects for your hot tub. Some of the most common options on the market include LED lighting, water features, and stereo system integrations.
LED lights for your hot tub will provide atmospheric lighting while softly illuminating the water. Some lighting systems also include effects, such as color randomization for a fun light show in your spa.
Don’t confuse water features with jets. Instead of being below-the-surface, water features include waterfalls and streams of cascading water that add to the appearance and atmosphere of the spa itself.
Each of these items will add aesthetics to your hot tub but won’t affect the performance of your spa. If there’s room in your budget for them, they make fun additions. However, don’t let these extras break the bank on your spa shopping trip.
- Electrical Hook-Up: Hot tubs are typically wired to operate with either 220 volts of electricity or 110 volts. Hot tubs that can be plugged into 110-volt outlets are often referred to as ‘plug-and-play’ models.
While a hot tub that can connect to your standard household outlet with 110 volts of electricity offers installation convenience, it may have significant shortcomings in terms of power and heating ability. These hot tubs will generally need to be on a dedicated circuit, and they typically can’t operate the heating unit and pump simultaneously. It also takes longer for the heater to warm the water and it requires more run time to maintain the proper temperature. As a result, 110-volt hot tubs are typically smaller units.
If you want more features, jet power, and heating ability, look for a hot tub with wiring for 220 volts. Though you will need an electrician to assist with installation, you’ll gain better efficiency and more power in return. Many people find that 220-volt hot tubs offer better temperature regulation, more powerful jets, and increased efficiency when compared to 110-volt models.
- Pumps: Some hot tubs have one variable speed pump, while others may be equipped with two or more pumps that separately handle the filtration and jet action. Since filtration requires lower circulation speeds, the pump uses less energy when it’s only performing this function. High-power jets, however, require the pump to take things up a notch. So variable speed pumps can kick it into high gear to make sure you have a powerful spa experience.
The number of pumps you need in a hot tub depends on many different factors, including the size of the hot tub and the number of jets it has. Larger hot tubs with increased water volume and more jets will benefit from more powerful or multiple pumps. However, it’s important to know what the continuous horsepower is of a pump—since many manufacturers only advertise the peak horsepower generated when the pump powers on, which quickly drops off once the pump is running.
What Type of Hot Tub is Best for Me?
When shopping for a hot tub, you’ll most likely be considering either installed or inflatable models. Installed hot tubs will be set up in the spot of your choosing—typically on a patio, deck, cement pad, or other solid surface. There are a number of types of installed hot tubs to select from, but the differences primarily relate to the material and construction of the tub. There are acrylic, uni-cast, and wood hot tubs available.
It’s worth noting that installed hot tubs are also sometimes referred to as portable hot tubs since they can be moved if the need arises, but it’s not as simple as moving an inflatable version.
Inflatable hot tubs can be set up whenever and wherever you wish with ease. When you hear the term ‘portable hot tub’ this soft-sided version is most likely the hot tub that comes to mind. The downside is that they can be tougher to keep at an optimal temperature and you’ll have to be careful to avoid puncturing the sides or floor of the inflatable spa. Vinyl is typically the material of choice for inflatable or portable hot tubs.
There are also in-ground spas, which are sometimes (but not always) installed along with a built-in pool. This type of spa is very customizable, but you’ll need to investigate your options and pricing by consulting a contractor that specializes in the design and construction of in-ground spas.
- Installed—Acrylic: One of the most common types of installed hot tubs uses an acrylic shell. The acrylic often has a high-sheen finish and comfortable, molded seating. The important thing to know about acrylic hot tubs is that the spa shell and the housing are two separate pieces. This means that there are an abundance of different hot tub surrounds available to suit your style and décor. When well-insulated between the shell and the surround, an acrylic hot tub provides excellent energy-efficiency.
Many different colors and shades of acrylic can be used in forming the spa’s surface, resulting in a wide range of choice when selecting the appearance of an acrylic hot tub. Acrylic is noted to be extremely durable and provides a long-lasting finish for years of use. While these spas are relatively lightweight, they’re generally still heavier than uni-cast models.
- Installed—Uni-cast: Uni-cast hot tubs are also common referred to as roto-molded (or rotationally-molded) spas. They’re made from plastic that has been heated and molded into the shape of the hot tub. This means that the spa is all one piece—including the tub and surround. As a result, these hot tubs are generally considered to be rather durable.
The plastic construction of uni-cast hot tubs makes them lighter in weight than acrylic models. However, the matte finish is more dull when compared to the glossy look of acrylic spas. Energy-efficiency is also reduced when compared side-by-side with many acrylic hot tubs. Despite these shortcomings, uni-cast hot tubs are popular for their affordable price tag and lighter weight which makes moving and installation easier.
- Installed—Wood: Rumor has it that the original hot tub was nothing more than a wooden wine cask filled with piping hot water. Go back to simpler times with a wooden hot tub.
This type of hot tub may require some on-site assembly, but it provides a more rustic and natural-looking looking alternative to other types of installed hot tubs. These hot tubs are usually heated by means of a wood-fired heater, gas heater, or electric heater or some combination of the three.
The real appeal in wood hot tubs is the natural aesthetic—not an abundance of jets or options. If you’re shopping for a wood hot tub, you should know that you will likely have to do without some of the features that are commonly available on other types of installed hot tubs.
- Inflatable—Vinyl: If you’re looking for a simple, affordable hot tub that can more easily be set up and taken down than an inflatable version made of vinyl is the way to go.
Vinyl hot tubs are inflated and then filled with water. A heating element brings the water up to temperature, albeit more slowly than other types of hot tubs. These hot tubs are popular for the wide variety of spots they can be set-up in. People have used them in backyards, on camping trips, and even indoors.
The downside is usually limited capacity, poor heat retention, and lack of features. Additionally, you’ll need to be careful not to spring a leak—though most models contain a patch kit in case the unfortunate happens.
Inflatable hot tubs are a budget-friendly option but aren’t an ideal long-term solution if you’re looking for a year-round spa experience.
- Jacuzzi: The original manufacturer of the hot tub as we know it today, Jacuzzi brand spas are very popular. The company offers mid-to-high end portable spas with a reputation for reliability and excellent service through a vast dealer network.
- Canadian Spa Company: For the past 30 years, Canadian Spa Company has been creating a niche selling portable and inflatable hot tubs that are well-insulated and available in many different sizes and configurations. The portable model line-up includes popular plug and play models, as well as an inflatable option that is easily transported and set-up. A big advantage for Canadian Spa Company is the wide availability of models through retailers like Walmart, Home Depot, Lowes, and Amazon.
- Sundance: Sundance is one of the biggest names in acrylic spa manufacturing. They have more than two dozen models available, but their biggest claim to fame may be their proprietary bearing-free water jets that won’t wear out or break down over time.
- Hot Spring Spas: Hot Spring Spas prides itself on offering spas that marry the best of style and innovation. They’ve paid special attention to aesthetics and design by partnering with Designworks (a BMW Group company) to offer a luxury line of hot tubs that include engineering and efficiency details uncommon to other spa models.
- AquaRest Spas: Exclusively manufacturing roto-mold hot tubs, AquaRest offers affordably-priced spas that accommodate two to six people. The spas are energy-efficient and are plug and play models that can be plugged into a standard outlet for quick installation. An upgrade to the heater adds twice the power but will require a 240V outlet and an electrician’s assistance.
Cleaning and Warranty
Keep your hot tub in optimal condition by making sure it stays clean and sanitary at all times. Nothing is worse than letting the warm water grow stagnant with nothing to curb the growth of bacteria and germs.
Every hot tub manufacturer provides recommendations for care and cleaning of each specific hot tub model, but the general protocol usually involves regular water treatment and filter changes along with a periodic deep clean that involves draining the tub and flushing the lines.
Water treatment options will depend on the specifics of the spa system you choose, but most rely on chlorine and bromine to inhibit the growth of bacteria. There are also systems supplemented by ozone or saline for sanitation. While these more natural forms of water treatment are effective, they only reduce the amount of chemicals needed—they won’t totally replace the need for conventional water treatment methods.
Hot tubs also rely upon a filtration system to keep water free from debris and impurities. The type of filter will determine how often it needs to be cleaned or replaced, so follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for best results.
When it’s time to deep clean your hot tub, it’s wise to use a line flush cleanser to make sure that you aren’t letting biofilm develop in the plumbing. Otherwise, bacteria can easily overgrow in the water lines as they feast on the biofilm and find refuge from the chemicals you’re counting on to keep things sanitary. Once the lines are flushed and the tub is empty, you’ll want to use a hot tub cleaner spray on the shell of your spa to clean the entire surface. Then it’s time to refill, reheat, and enjoy your sparkling spa!
You hope that you’ll enjoy years of trouble-free use from your hot tub. But if a problem does arise, it pays to carefully consider the terms of the warranty before making your purchase decision.
There are many components that work together to power your spa and often these systems are covered by separate warranty specifications. Pay attention to the warranty terms for the shell and structure, cabinet, pump(s), heater(s), plumbing, and other components.
Typical warranty periods range anywhere from 2 to 10 years or up to a lifetime. Many of the leading manufactures stand behind their shell and structure for at least 10 years but offer more limited warranty periods of 5 years or less on heaters and other components. In addition to the duration of the warranty period, consider who will bear the cost for the service call and if the warranty work is performed by a third-party service vendor.