Whether you’re looking for deep relaxation and stress relief, hydromassage for sore muscles, or a fun way to socialize with friends, a hot tub is a great investment that yields a wide variety of benefits. It’s also an expensive purchase that you’ll want to research thoroughly, to ensure you end up with the tub of your dreams.

But what are some of the major things to consider when shopping for a hot tub?

We know this can be a tough and often overwhelming journey, so to make things easier here’s our hot tub buyers guide updated for 2019!illustration of people enjoying a hot tub together.

What’s Your Budget?

Hot tubs are available in a range of prices — anywhere from $2000 to $20000. Your cost will depend on the size of the tub, the number of jets, add-ons like lighting and sound, and a variety of other factors. Decide ahead of time what your budget is and research possible models to find a quality tub you can afford.

You’ll also want to consider the monthly cost of operating your hot tub. This usually runs about $10-20/month, but will be affected by many of the factors above and by how well-insulated it is. A tub with thicker insulation will have a higher upfront cost, but you will likely recoup the difference over time, as better insulation makes heating the tub more efficient, leading to lower operating costs.

In addition, factor in some money for cleaning and maintenance costs. Again, a better-quality tub, though more expensive initially, may be less expensive to maintain than a cheaply made tub prone to breakdowns.

Where Will It Go?

Make sure you have space for your new tub. Installation will be easier closer to your house, as you’ll need electricity and a water source nearby. It also needs to be on a flat, level surface. Consider how the hot tub will get to its proposed location — will it need to fit through doors or fences on its way there?

Remember that you’ll need to be able to access the tub on all sides for maintenance purposes and that you’ll also need to drain the tub occasionally. Finally, if you don’t already have one, consider adding a walkway to and from the tub.

What Size Hot Tub Should You Get?

Size matters! First, determine what your hot tub is for. If you’ll be using it primarily for therapeutic purposes, a smaller tub is fine, as long as you have room to stretch out and relax. If you’re planning on hosting friends and family, bigger is better! Don’t be surprised if your home quickly becomes a social hotspot once you install the hot tub.

Jets and Pumps

When it comes to jets, variety is the key, not the the overall number. This is why it’s important to test your hot tub in person (often called a wet test). Try out as many options as possible, as you might be surprised by what you enjoy most.

A wet test will also help ensure that the tub model you’re looking at has the right number of pumps for the jets in use. Not enough pumps will get you more of a trickle than the intense pressure you’re looking for. Too many pumps can result in a tub that’s noisy and inefficient.

We carry Hot Spring Spas with a variety of fully adjustable jets so you can create a fully customized experience.

Other Add-Ons

There are all sorts of things you can add to your tub to make it more enjoyable — colorful lights, a stereo system, padded headrests and more. For the most part, we’ll leave those decisions to your personal preference. Colored lights certainly amp up the party factor, but if you’re using the tub primarily for relaxation and therapy, you might be just as happy without them.

One necessary accessory? A hot tub cover. Keep the things you want (i.e., heat) in and the things you don’t want (dirt, debris) out. Covering your tub will reduce operating costs by a wide margin, so it’s definitely worth investing in a high-quality one. If you can see steam escaping from your covered tub on a cold night, your current cover isn’t doing its job.

Where Should You Buy Your Hot Tub?

We recommend going with a reputable hot tub dealer who operates a brick-and-mortar store in your area for the best overall experience. Dealers see you as a long-term customer, so they have every incentive to make sure you are happy with your purchase. They’ll have a showroom with a variety of models set up, so you can take that all-important wet test and decide which tub is right for you.

They will be able to deliver, set up, and fill your tub for you, and walk you through its operation, so that you feel confident about your purchase. Finally, they’ll be around when something goes wrong and will be able to send a skilled technician with knowledge of your specific tub and the right replacement parts to get you back in business ASAP.

What Should You Avoid?

Big box stores – a big box store offers the convenience of buying a hot tub and stocking up on frozen pizza in one fell swoop, but hot tubs aren’t their primary business. You probably won’t get to test out the tub, delivery and setup may not be as thorough, and if something goes wrong, you’ll be stuck looking for a repair company.

Ordering online – Ordering online has many of the same problems. You won’t even get to see the hot tub in person, much less sit in it, feel the jets, test the pressure, etc. Delivery will consist of a box arriving at your curb, and it will be up to you to wrangle it into place — not an easy task and one that risks damage to an expensive tub if not done correctly.

Traveling shows – Traveling shows are a great way to see tubs, but are not recommended for buying one. Again, when the hot tub arrives or when an issue arises, the show has moved on, and the sales rep who was so kind and helpful while you were making the purchase is nowhere to be found or not in a position to help.

Craigslist – You might see great deals for used hot tubs on sites like Craigslist but here we can only say buyer beware. Never purchase a tub you haven’t been able to test out beforehand. Check for leaks and damage. Ask to see the current owner’s last few electric bills to determine the tub’s efficiency. And keep in mind that moving the hot tub to your home will almost certainly void any warranties. In general, this is not a route we can recommend.

Any big purchase requires serious research and planning — a hot tub is no exception! Doing the hard work ahead of time ensures that you will end up with a hot tub you will enjoy for years to come.