How Much does a Hot Tub Cost in 2018?
If you are in the market for a hot tub this year, one of the first questions you might ask is, “How much does a hot tub cost in 2018?” The answer is, it depends. Hot tub prices are not an industry secret. The main reason they are not displayed on the manufacturer’s website or most dealers’ websites is that prices vary, depending on several important factors. Here we’ll explain those hot tub price factors and provide the typical exact price ranges you will see in 2018 when shopping for a spa of your own.
What Makes a Quality Hot Tub?
A quality hot tub is an investment, and just like shopping for a car, options and upgrades can increase the price of a particular model. Once you’ve done your research, it’s possible you’ll determine that a more basic hot tub without a lot of “bells and whistles” is right for you. First though, you deserve to have the right information to make an educated decision. It will help you to understand why prices can vary widely and why it may be worth it to not simply shop for the lowest price. Ultimately, as an educated shopper, you’ll be able to decide for yourself what type of hot tub and what type of hot tub ownership experience will be best for you and your family.
Some of the important factors that can drive the price of a hot tub up or down include:
These model-specific variables probably make some sense to you already. It’s obvious that better quality, or a larger spa, will cost more. But there are additional pricing factors that you may not be aware of, and it’s important that we cover those, too.
Don’t be caught off guard by unexpected fees.
Some spa pricing variables are not based on the hot tub model you select. Instead, they are based on considerations like locale. It’s actually not uncommon for the same hot tub model to cost more in one city or store than another, and that is typically due to factors like:
- Dealer location and freight costs from the manufacturer
- Dealer overhead and other store costs
- Dealer-provided services included with the sale
First, let’s talk about price ranges.
2018 HOT TUB PRICES
The price of a new hot tub can range from about $4,000 to $19,000 and more. In theory, the further up you move in pricing, the more long-term enjoyment you get out of your spa. However, the initial cost of the spa is only one element to consider. When trying to determine which hot tub provides the most value for your money, you should also consider what the ongoing costs of ownership will be, how often you plan to use your hot tub, and how many years you would like your hot tub to last.
The following provides a breakdown of what you can generally expect from a hot tub within each typical price range.
ENTRY-LEVEL HOT TUBS
$4,000 to $6,000 Starting Range
While spas in this price range offer very few features, their affordability makes it very easy for first-time hot tubbers to start enjoying hot water massage – hence the term entry level.
Typically, spas in this price range are rotationally-molded – meaning the spa interior and exterior are formed out of a durable plastic. They look different than spas with shiny acrylic shells offered at higher price points. One benefit of a rotationally-molded spa? They are lightweight and easy to move. When shopping in this price range, expect to hear the term “plug and play,” which means that the hot tub only requires a 110V electrical connection. So, you will not incur additional electrical labor costs and installation is a piece-of-cake. Fill the spa with a garden hose, plug it in and enjoy.
VALUE-PRICED HOT TUBS
$6,000 to $8,000 Starting Range
This is the starting price range for spas with high-gloss acrylic shells, synthetic wood-like cabinets and lots of fun features, like dozens of jets lining the spa seats. It is important to understand that in this range, spa manufacturers are making trade-offs. In fact, this may be the most precarious price range for first-time hot tub shoppers. It’s important to consider the trade-offs.
A manufacturer offering a hot tub in the value price range – with a lot of big shiny jets, impressive lighting and water features, and other features – may be compromising by not using quality components or performance features like insulation that keep energy costs low. Or they may not be investing in access to customer service and warrantees.
On the other hand, another manufacturer of value-priced spas may focus on including high-quality components that allow for years of reliable hot tub performance. Their spa in this value price point may not have as many features, since they’re investing more in what’s “under the hood.”
PREMIUM HOT TUBS
$8,000 to $13,000 Starting Range
As you move further up in price, spas in the premium range tend to offer a better and more satisfying long-term ownership experience.
In addition to robust features (think high jet counts, water features and lighting,) spas in this range are designed and constructed using advanced engineering. As a result, these spas are usually more energy-efficient than value-priced spas, which reduces the ongoing cost of ownership. They often feature more advanced control systems. And, they may offer top-of-the-line filtration systems and water care options that can reduce the maintenance time requirements. The spa components such as the pump(s) and heater may also be higher quality, and warranty coverage is often longer than spas at lower price ranges.
LUXURY HOT TUBS
$13,000 to $19,000+ Starting Range
Spas in this range offer the very best ownership experience. At this level you are making the decision to invest more in the upfront price for a hot tub that will deliver exceptional long-term enjoyment. Expect the very lowest energy costs, minimal maintenance, simple operation and quality from a spa that can last 10 to 20 years or more!
Models in this range are the crème de la crème of hot tubs. In addition to robust features, high-quality components and durable construction, you can also expect some very special features in a luxury spa. One-of-a-kind jet systems for the very best hydrotherapy massage, leading-edge design that makes the hot tub a beautiful backyard focal point, top-of-the line filtration for the cleanest spa water possible, and other innovations that help separate spas in this range from models in lower ranges.
FACTORS THAT AFFECT THE PRICE OF A HOT TUB
Now that you have a general idea of how much a hot tub may cost, we’ll explain some of the model-specific factors that influence hot tub pricing.
Many hot tub shoppers wonder if hot tubs could really be that different. Don’t they all hold and heat water? Don’t they all have jets?
The next obvious factor influencing hot tub pricing is features. These are big price drivers.
THE BEST HOT TUB SIZE AND FEATURES
It’s obvious that big hot tubs cost more to manufacture than small hot tubs. There is more material, more labor and therefore more cost. The next obvious factor influencing hot tub pricing is features. These are big price drivers. Going back to the car analogy, you won’t find hand-crank windows or a non-adjustable driver’s seat in that new performance car. Technology advancements improved functionality along the way, and now those upgrades have added to the manufacturing costs and are built into every model. Similarly, many of the most desirable spa features, like lots of powerful jets, touchscreen control panels and improved filtration systems, are built into the cost, as these are now standard features included on premium and luxury spas.
Optional accessories affect price, too. While your hot tub should come with a cover, the cover lifter is an option. Steps, entertainment options and other items come with different price points, depending on what you choose. Those decisions will affect the total purchase price for a hot tub, but can add a lot to the pleasure you get from the spa and help you use it more often.
Engineering and quality
Many hot tub shoppers wonder if hot tubs could really be that different. Don’t they all hold and heat water? Don’t they all have jets? Well the reality is, what is under the hood can make a big difference in your ownership experience.
For example, a BMW 3 Series and a Nissan Versa® will both get you to work. But one is triple the price of the other. Features are one reason, but engineering – which determines the quality of the ride and the quality of the experience – is the other. A spa with advanced engineering will be more efficient, more intuitive and more reliable. As a result, you will use it more, so you will get the maximum return from your investment.
Quality is another element that is hard to see on the surface, but directly impacts spa life. Nature – sun, rain, snow, ice – is unkind to anything left outdoors. Since hot tubs are most often installed outdoors, a quality spa must be built to stand up to the elements over time. And the internal operating components must also be high-quality – heaters, jet pumps, circulation pumps – are all expensive components to have to replace. Investing more up front for a spa with quality components can save you money and angst down the road.
The way a hot tub looks in your backyard is more important to some homeowners than it is to others. Many hot tub brands today offer product lines that emphasize hot tub design and take it to a new level. If you are concerned about how your new hot tub will look with your beautifully landscaped outdoor space, you may be willing to pay more for a model that offers leading-edge design.
You might not expect your location to be a price driver, but it is. A quality hot tub is a large, heavy item and there is no way around freight cost. The freight cost is just like the destination charge that’s added to every new car sticker price. It’s unavoidable. Like a car, a hot tub costs more to ship to locations that are farther away from the manufacturing facility. All things equal, you’ll probably pay more for the exact same car (or hot tub) in Alaska than Phoenix. That doesn’t mean the Alaska dealer is pocketing a bigger profit at your expense.
Customers may pay more for retail products in Yonkers, NY than Wichita, KS because an East Coast urban shopkeeper probably pays double or triple the price per square foot (or more) for retail space than shopkeepers in the Midwest.
FIND THE BEST SPA DEALER
Purchasing a hot tub can be a significant investment, so we recommend that you find a local retailer that you trust and get to know the type of products, services and customer care they provide. Do they offer 24-hour service response time? Are their technicians up-to-date and trained on current spa technology? Long-term spa ownership depends on having access to a reliable local dealer; you’ll depend on that relationship for service support over the 10 to 20 year life of your spa investment. We can’t emphasize this point enough and encourage you to evaluate the benefits of purchasing from a quality dealership.
It’s also helpful to keep in mind that costs to operate a business vary widely. Large dealerships with multiple locations have different cost structures than small dealerships. Some dealerships compete on price alone, while others may charge more but provide significantly better customer service. It may be worth paying a little bit more for your hot tub to have the peace of mind of knowing that your local dealer will be there for you 10 to 20 years down the road.
The level of service provided affects the price of the hot tub. It makes sense that someone who picks up and installs his or her own spa will spend less than a customer whose dealer handles delivery, installation and setup.
Some dealers put great emphasis on developing a relationship with each customer. Since first-time buyers typically know little about hot tubs initially, white glove service is a comfort to many and often worth a slightly higher price.
Some dealers include comprehensive valet services. The package may include home consultation, hot tub hookup and installation, maintenance products and service calls for a time period after the sale, or other perks.
In the hot tub market, brand integrity and reputation are huge considerations. Ask who will help you if a problem arises. Does the brand you’re purchasing have a reliable warranty? Do they guarantee access to service support and parts for years beyond your purchase? The best hot tub brands and dealers are fully accountable. They openly engage, listen to and respond to their customers. A dealer’s (and brand’s) longevity, along with customer reviews can give you some insight into the level of service you can expect.
Some spa pricing variables are not based on the hot tub model you select. Instead, they are based on considerations like locale.
Other considerations regarding the cost of hot tubs
USED HOT TUBS
Pre-owned hot tubs come with advantages and risks. Many reputable dealers offer refurbished units that have been thoroughly cleaned, tuned up and double-checked for flaws. The warranty on a pre-owned spa varies and is inevitably shorter than the warranty on a new spa. The clear advantage to a used hot tub is the lower price. The disadvantage is that the spa’s early life has already been consumed, so you may not get as many years of use out of a second-hand spa as a new one. If you choose a used hot tub, be sure to go with a brand that is known for longevity and a dealer that is recognized for excellent customer care.
2018 FINANCING OPTIONS
Many shoppers do not realize that hot tub dealers often offer financing as an option. If you consider a hot tub as an investment in your family’s health and well-being, you may want to invest in a model that offers the best long-term value. By financing all or a portion of the purchase price, you may be able to get the model that has everything you want and pay a low monthly payment that you can afford. Talk to your hot tub retailer about hot tub financing options available.
Where can I get Exact Pricing on a Hot Tub?
The best place to get information about models, features, upgrades and costs for a hot tub of your own is your nearest hot tub dealer. We encourage you to visit your dealer in person. Bring a swimsuit and enjoy a test soak! Your dealer can answer all of your questions – even the ones you haven’t thought of yet – about models, features, options … and, of course, pricing.