By Erik J. Martin, CTW Features
There’s nothing quite as relaxing as a warm soak in your bathtub. Problem is that tub is likely too small to comfortably fit you, it cools off too quickly and it cannot massage your muscles. That’s where a hot tub comes in handy: You can enjoy a spacious soak at a steady high temperature complemented by jets of water that soothe tired muscles after a long day’s work.
“Anyone looking for a great way to relax, destress and sleep better can benefit from owning a hot tub. Those looking for hydrotherapy and relief from muscle soreness, arthritis or joint pain are great candidates, too. And people who relish entertaining and hosting gatherings get a lot out of a hot tub, as well,” says Manuel Brambila, director of operations for Epic Hot Tubs & Swim Spas in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Hot tubs come in different sizes and shapes. It’s important to think carefully about the right size tub for your needs as well as the square footage availability in your yard.
“For smaller tubs, typically around 7’ x 5’ in size, you’d probably require a yard area of about 10’ x 8’. For a medium-sized tub with dimensions close to 7’ x 7’, an area of 10’ x 10’ would be suitable,” Brambila continues. “For larger hot tubs that can measure up to 10 or 11 feet, a space of roughly 13’ x 13’ would be necessary.”
Karen Larson, co-founder of Soake Pools in Pembroke, New Hampshire, says a maximum size of 7’ x 13’ is ideal for your-round use “because larger water volumes are less efficient to heat and maintain, and anything larger is cumbersome to cover.”
When shopping for the hot tub, carefully consider how often you plan to use it. If you only plan to enjoy the hot tub one season out of the year, opt for a smaller size to save space and money, Larson recommends.
Other factors to ponder before committing to a purchase include how many hydrotherapy jets are included, where the jets are placed, LED lighting options, waterfall features, maintenance required, and the make/model.
“Established brands often provide better warranties and customer service,” says Josh Mitchell, a plumbing technician.
Ideally, your hot tub should be useable year-round, even in the dead of winter (when the hot water would be most appreciated). But that means choosing an appropriate yard spot.
“A location that’s both accessible and offers some privacy is best. Proximity to the house can make winter usage more feasible. Above all, avoid areas close to overhead power lines,” suggests Mitchell.
While some homeowners like to incorporate their tub into a garden, patio, or deck, the spot you pick needs to be accessible by the deliverers/installers.
Note that you’ll need to prep the chosen area with a concrete pad or reinforced deck, which is essential for stability.
“Your platform needs to be placed on compact and level ground and able to withstand the weight of a filled hot tub,” says Brambila.
Most hot tubs require a dedicated circuit, GFCI, proper conduit installation and necessary bonding and grounding. That means you’ll need to hire a professional licensed electrician for the power hookup.
“There are local codes and regulations that your electrician will need to follow to ensure your setup is compliant,” Brambila adds, noting that the electrical installation costs alone will likely set you back $800 to $1,600.
Indeed, Hot tubs aren’t cheap. They often start around $3,000 but can quickly exceed $10,000.
“The average cost of a two- to three-person tub is $7,000 to $11,000. If you want a four- to five-person tub, count on paying $8,000 to $14,000,” Brambila cautions.
Try to choose a dealer/retailer that offers the best combination of price, warranty, affordable chemicals and maintenance plans. Chemical costs can typically range from $200 to $500 per year, depending on your model and how frequently you use it.
“If you are on the fence about hot tub ownership, try an inflatable hot tub first, which can cost only around $400 to $1,200,” advises Kim Tokarski, category director of Pool and Hot Tub Lifestyle Products for Leslie’s. “They are much more portable and easier to move around than larger, heavier acrylic hot tubs.”