Spa & Hot Tub Buying Guide
How To Pick The Best Hot Tub For You
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Adding a new spa to your home is an exciting investment in your family time, your health and/or your relaxation. There will be many decisions to consider, though, before you take your first soothing soak.
This guide is designed to help new spa owners find the perfect fit their lifestyle, space, preferences, and budget.
Permits & Requirements
Before any planning occurs, check all local ordinances involving hot tub and spa installations. Depending on your location, you may be required to build a fence around your spa, obtain a building permit, or receive utility clearance before installation. You can do this by checking with your Homeowners Association (HOA) or local Agencies.
Planning Your Hot Tub and Spa Site
One of the first things you should consider is where you’re going to place your spa. Will it be outdoors or indoors? Carefully look over your property or inside your home for the most ideal location. Below are a few key considerations to keep in mind while deciding on the best place to put your spa.
Hot tubs and spas must be placed on solid, flat, and level surface areas.
Make sure your spa location allows access to power. (Note: Wire locations may vary according to manufacturer of GFCI breaker. Refer to manufacturer’s directions and consult a licensed electrician to ensure correct wire installation).
Consider access to running water and adequate drainage, as you will need to empty and refill your tub several times a year.
To avoid electrical shock, keep the spa away from any electrical appliances (hairdryer, TV, radio, phone chargers, etc.) and outlets.
Leave enough room on all sides of the tub to allow for maintenance work and cleaning.
Outdoor Spa Requirements & Considerations:
Placing your hot tub on a concrete slab or wood deck is ideal. Concrete slabs should be at least 4” thick, and wood decks should be built according to local codes in order to support spa weight load, in addition to the weight of the spa’s occupants.
When your electrician is installing the electrical outlet outdoors, it should be no closer than ten (10) feet and no farther than fifteen (15) feet from the spa.
Ensure the thermal specifications of the tub can stand up to your climate year-round. For colder climates with sub-zero temperatures, the insulation design should be highly efficient. To get the most of your hot tub in warmer climates, look for cooling technology or a system that works with your spa's heater to quickly and efficiently raise or lower the temperature as desired.
Consider illuminating the surrounding area of your tub with lights for easy access at night.
Indoor Spa Requirements & Considerations:
We recommend measuring your doorways, hallways, stairs, corners, or any other areas through which the spa will be carried when it is delivered.
Keep in mind that indoor spas should be installed no closer than five (5) feet and no farther than ten (10) feet from the wall switches or electrical outlets. Lights or ceiling fans must be at least 7 ½ feet above the spa or higher with GFCI protection.
Ensure the room has proper ventilation to manage steam and moist air.
The floor surrounding the tub should be water- and slip-resistant for any spillage that may occur while occupants enter and exit the spa.
Cement walls, glass enclosures, or water-resistant drywall are the best options for surrounding wall material.
Styles & Types of Hot Tubs and Spas
Once you have an idea on the location, you’ll need to decide on which style of spa is right for you. Here at Watson’s, you’ll find bench style spas, lounge style spas, plug-n-play spas, and swim spas available in 110V, 220V, and mixed voltage varieties.Because the majority of this decision comes down to personal preference, consider the following:
Plug-n-Play Spas: As its name implies, a plug-n-play spa can be plugged into a standard outlet and enjoyed almost immediately, with almost no installation required. Because of this, in addition to their traditionally compact size, plug-n-plays make the ideal option for indoor or tight spaces, such as a balcony. Plug-n-plays may also be the most budget-friendly option, as they allow you to save on installation and electrical setup costs.
Plug-n-plays do usually take longer to heat up water and typically feature a limited number of jets or therapeutic settings. For homeowners who want a small, affordable hot tub that can be installed and moved easily, though, a plug-n-play may be the best option for you – especially if you are new to the home hot tubbing scene.
Bench Style: We find that our bench style spas are the most popular choice for spa owners. Thanks to their wide-open seating, bench style spas provide ample space for you and your guests to sit back, relax, and converse. Luxurious and roomy, bench styles offer a premium spa experience with lots of jets and hydrotherapy features to choose from. Plus, its flexible seating arrangements enable spa goers to move from seat to seat and experience the various therapy settings. If you have a large family or anticipate up to 8 adults using your tub at any given time, a bench style might be the best suited option for you. However, installation time and operating cost tend to run higher than that of a plug-n-play spa.
Lounge Style: Designed to include dedicated lounge seats, lounge style spas provide plenty of space to stretch out – allllll the way out. In addition to its defined lounge seat(s), most lounge style spas will also feature other types of seats, such as a raised cool down seat, a bench, or a bucket seat / captain’s chair. Many spa owners enjoy the lounge style for the ability to sit horizontally. You may find that stretching out in this manner means they are more susceptible to the water’s buoyancy, thus creating a “floating” effect, depending on your size. If you like the lighter feeling, the ability to stretch out, and room for friends and family, choosing a lounge spa that will fit you and your guest’s height, torso length, and legs comfortably will suit you well.
Swim Spas: The exercise benefits of a swimming pool and the hydrotherapy perks of a spa come together to create something even better: the swim spa. This unique hybrid offers a variety of low-impact fitness options for those looking to revamp their exercise routine – without having to visit the gym or public pool. Because you can swim against the continuous current, swim spas require less space than a traditional swimming pool. In fact, you can place your swim spa indoors for year-round use. Whether you’re walking on the underwater treadmill or perfecting your freestyle form using an underwater mirror, our swim spas come with a variety of custom options to help optimize your fitness goals. Need some post-workout R&R? No problem. Simply raise the water temperature, and relax and unwind in hot tub mode. It’s truly the best of both worlds.
Usage & Benefits
What is your primary reason for using a spa? Answering this question will also influence your decision in choosing the right spa and any features you’ll want. From enhancing health to social entertainment, here are common reasons why people own a spa and the benefits for doing so:
Fitness: Spas can help transform your fitness routine. If you are interested in exercise, you may want to look into owning a swim spa. They are the perfect space-saving solution for those looking for the hydrotherapy benefits of a spa, with the swimming capacity of a pool.
Physical and mental well-being: Spas offer a variety of therapeutic benefits for your body and mind. This includes the ability to help ease stress or tension, increase circulation, cleanse the skin and pores, aid with sleep, afnd relieve aches and pains associated with fibromyalgia, arthritis, and sore muscles, among others. If you are looking for hydrotherapy, then your spa’s temperature controls, the number and variety of jets, and spa pillows may be of interest to you.
Recreation: If you’re interested in enhancing your social life, a spa can certainly take center stage at any gathering. Guests will love getting together to enjoy the warm, soothing water as the conversation flows. A bench or lounge style spa, with ample space for seating and an audio system or LED lighting features, may be the perfect choice for you.
Care, Maintenance, & Chemicals
No matter which type of spa you choose, you will need to care for and maintain your tub semi-annually and annually, including draining and refilling your tub every 4 - 6 months. You’ll also need specific chemicals to maintain your spa. When it comes to keeping your spa water clean and safe for soaking, chemicals usually cost around $100 a year for most makes and models.
When you choose a spa at Watson’s, one of our Spa Pros will walk you through what to expect as far as chemicals and maintenance tasks you’ll need to know to properly care for your tub. As always, our spa and hot tub chemicals are backed by our Lowest Price Guarantee, so you know you’re getting the best value in the nation for all your spa and hot tub needs.
To ensure you will have an opportunity to use your spa soon after delivery, it is important the required electrical service has been installed and complete. Use only a qualified, licensed electrician for electrical hook up. Please note that this is the responsibility of the homeowner.
Digging or leveling the surface area may also be required. Watson’s Spa Pros can help with this installation process. Just ask!
We are the authorized service agents for every spa and hot tub we sell and are trained to best serve you and your investment. Find out more information about our spa and hot tub installation process by contacting us or visiting your local Watson’s store.
Best Time to Buy a Hot Tub or Spa
Are you in the market to purchase a hot tub or spa, but want to be sure that you find the best deal possible? We can’t blame you. When it comes to getting a hot tub for a great price, it’s important to pay attention to the time of year. Just like cars and many other large purchases, the time when you’ll most likely find discounted prices is at the beginning or end of the year. Why? Usually this is the case because there are newer makes and models that are ready to hit the market.
Another good time is when there are typically promotional deals such as Memorial Day, Labor Day, or Black Friday. This can also tie in with the end of the year period as many places may have holiday offers. If you’re willing to wait a bit before purchasing your hot tub or spa, your best option may be to take the time to monitor the deals that are offered around different holidays or times of year.
Financing options are also a good option to consider when purchasing a spa. A monthly payment is an affordable and quicker for you to enjoy the benefits of a new spa if the cost plays a large part in your decision.
However, you do want to remember that the lowest priced spa is necessarily not the best spa available. The majority of more affordable models will wear out more quickly than the higher priced, quality models that are available. Depending on your situation, it may be more affordable in the long term to purchase a more expensive spa that is of higher quality.
Best Value Hot Tubs
So, you want the most bang for your buck. Who doesn’t? But what exactly does “best value” mean? One definition is “the trade off between price and performance that provides the greatest overall benefit under the specified selection criteria.”
It’s especially important to factor in the costs of maintaining a hot tub. The best value hot tub will most likely be powerful and effective while using as little electricity and other resources as possible.
Let’s find out what the most essential qualities are in a hot tub in order to help you find one at an affordable price. When looking at various spa or hot tub models, here are some questions you might want to ask yourself:
- How many seats do I want in my hot tub?
- Do you know how many people will be using your hot tub regularly? If so, then you have an easy answer. If not, consider how often you will invite guests over to use your spa, and how often.
- What shape hot tub would I prefer?
- If you have a particular space that you will be placing your spa, then you’re relatively limited in your choice. If you’re building a patio or other area to place a spa, then this question may not be quite as important as the others.
- How many jets I’m looking for?
- More doesn’t have to mean better. Consider the location of the jets. Additionally, the more jets there are, the more pressure that is needed, which affects the pump power.
- What size - number of gallons as well as dimensions - do I want my hot tub to be?
- The amount of water required to fill your hot tub will affect the long term costs of maintaining it. Research how many gallons are needed for various hot tub dimensions. The dimensions will also be useful in determining where you plan to place your hot tub and what shape may work best for you.
- As a baseline, the average hot tub requires approximately 400 gallons of water.
- Do I have a preference on the pumps my hot tub uses?
- A good way to determine the efficiency of a hot tub’s pumps is to compare the number of pumps to the amount of jets. Another great way to evaluate is using the horsepower of the pump.
- What voltage heater do I want?
- To determine the voltage, you must multiply the number of volts by the number of amps. However, you should keep in mind that the typical outlet that’s installed in homes delivers 120 volts. If your hot tub requires more, there’s a good chance that you will need to install a different outlet.
- One tip to help you cut costs associated with maintaining your spa’s water temperature is to add additional insulation. Installing foam insulation is an easy way for you or your hot tub installer to help keep the water at its preferred temperature. You should also ensure that your spa cover provides insulation in order to keep the temperature more consistent between uses.
It’s important to weigh the pros and cons of different hot tubs in order to find the one that is perfect for you. Using the information above will allow you to narrow down your options when selecting the best value hot tub. Remember to keep in mind the time of year that you will most likely find discounts or other deals as well.
If you have questions or would like additional assistance, please contact Watson’s or visit your nearest store in order to learn more about our available spa or hot tub selection. Watson’s is here to help you find the best value hot tub to add to your space.