Consider your family size and how often you expect to entertain friends and relatives. How many people do you wish to seat comfortably? Seating options typically range from one person to seven.
Every person is different and before picking a model, test drive it by sitting in the seats. Not every hot tub and every seat can be perfect for each person. Reputable hot tub retailers will offer free demonstrations or testing so take advantage of this service.
One of the big advantages of factory-manufactured hot tubs is the variety of jet types. Over the long term, you will appreciate the different types of massage for relaxation and recovery—so look for hot tubs that offer a wide variety of jet types, not just the total number of jets. High-volume, low-pressure jets with a 50/50 mix of air and water are preferred by many.
Lounge Seat or Not?
Hot tubs broadly fall into two categories: models with or without a lounge seat. Try out both options to see what is right for you. Many shoppers also appreciate partially submerged cool-down seats that permit an easier transition in and out of the water.
Look for spas with practical entertainment features such as stereos with integrated memory to store digital music, USB ports, docking stations for your iPod, MP3 plugs and subwoofers. Avoid expensive gimmicks such as built-in televisions because you probably won’t use them. If you want a TV, get a stand alone unit that can be used anywhere in the backyard.
Size and Space
How large is your backyard or patio? If you have limited room or a small access gate, consider models that are less than 30 inches tall or models with a small footprint. Convertible models offer the ease of being able to plug into most standard wall outlets.
Select a hot tub with full-foam insulation to ensure heat retention. Inexpensive models without foam will cost more over time to operate. Also look at the skirting/cabinetry. The spa skirting goes around the outside of the hot tub and is important to the overall look. Advanced options include easy care synthetic materials that look like wood or stone to coordinate with landscaping.
Make sure that your hot tub comes with an insulating cover and be sure to utilize cover locks to keep children out of the spa when adults are not supervising.
Not all hot tubs are created equal, so choose a brand with a local authorized dealer for service and a track record for making quality products. Be sure the manufacturer has been in business for decades. Manufacturers that offer third-party endorsements or awards from highly reputable organizations, such as The Good Housekeeping Seal, will provide the greatest consumer assurance.
Established brands offer free guides to homeowners to help in the planning of backyards for the arrival of a hot tub. These brochures are highly informative and are available through the manufacturers’ Web sites.
Not sure how to install a new hot tub? Basic installation is easy—all you need is a hard, level surface like concrete, electricity and a garden hose. Be sure to do your homework before heading out to buy so that you get the perfect model to complement your lifestyle.