How Much Do Hot Tubs Cost?

Nick Clamp Posted by Nick Clamp in Buying on 15th September 2019

As you start researching the market before you buy a hot tub, you’ll notice the wide range of price points that are available, ranging from cheap inflatable hot tubs starting at around £300, to the most luxurious acrylic models from leading hot tub brands with price tags that can go up to £25,000+.

Whatever your budget, read on to discover exactly how hot tub pricing works and how to get the best value when you do buy your shiny new hot tub.

Hot tub pricing is not unique

Photo © All Swim

If you go shopping for a new car, you’ll find on-the-road prices vary from under £10,000 to over £1million for the latest limited edition supercars.

They all get you from A to B in relative comfort (albeit at different speeds!), but that’s where the similarity stops. The ride quality in a Bugatti Veyron at £1.4million is difficult to compare to a Dacia Sandero at £6,995. In fact it will cost more than 3 times the price of the Dacia just to change the oil in a Veyron!

Some cars will hold their value better than others due to the brand strength and exclusivity, and their cost of ownership over the lifetime of the product will vary enormously.

Luckily, the variability in hot tub prices from the lowest price point to the highest is much more advantageous for the hot tub buyer, albeit the same above principles will apply.

Why is price important?

When you buy a really cheap hot tub, its residual value will be negligible to zero as soon as it arrives in your garden, its lifespan will tend to be short and it will typically be expensive to run (in terms of electrical use).

As you go up the pricing ladder and start looking at more established high quality branded products, the build quality tends to improve, the lifespan will be longer, residual values will be higher, reliability will be better and running costs will be lower (as energy-efficiency features are built-in to lower ongoing electrical running costs).

Hot tub price ‘v’ cost of ownership

Photo © My Spa

The initial purchase price of the hot tub 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 in good working order.

For example, if you buy a poorly manufactured hot tub for £2,500 but it breaks down after 12 months, and spare parts aren’t readily available to fix it, the cost of ownership is £2,500 per year plus any costs related to having to pay to have it taken away.

On the other hand, if you pay £10,000 for a good quality hot tub from a manufacturer of good repute, and it lasts 10 years, then you trade it in for £3,000 after 10 years, the cost of ownership is £10,000 – £3,000 = £7,000 ÷ 10 = £700 per year.

In these terms, it makes more long-term financial sense to go for the second option despite the higher initial price tag.

What factors influence hot tub pricing?

Manufacturing Factors:

  1. Manufacturer brand strength and consumer recognition
  2. Manufacturer quality assurance protocols
  3. Inclusion of unique patented features or technologies
  4. Hot tub size, and the pumps, plumbing and water jet specifications
  5. General build quality and materials used in manufacture
  6. Energy-efficiency and insulation properties
  7. Performance of water treatment equipment if included as standard
  8. Aesthetic styling features including interior and exterior lighting
  9. Quality of the audio system if included as standard
  10. Warranty cover included in the price (parts only or parts & labour?)*

*Also consider the technical expertise, training and aftercare support offered by the retailer, as they will normally be discharging the warranty cover offered by the manufacturer.

Retail Pricing Factors:

  1. Are 0% or low rate finance terms included?
  2. Are any extras included in the price such as delivery, installation, commissioning, steps, cover lifter, extra filters, water care products etc
  3. The quality of the pre-delivery and aftercare support programme offered by the retailer of the hot tub brand
  4. How much has a retailer invested in terms of retail location, display hot tubs, wet test facilities, delivery vehicles, merchandising and after sales product stock?
  5. How well trained and professional are the sales and technical staff?

We’ll look at each of these individual factors below:

Manufacturing Pricing Factors:

Manufacturer brand strength and consumer recognition

So how do you know which hot tub brands are reputable and will therefore perform better, be less expensive to run and will also retain residual value for longer? At WhatSpa? suggest the following market research methods before you shortlist hot tubs to look at:

WhatSpa? Professional 2019
  • Search our hot tub manufacturer directory to see which hot tub brands are WhatSpa? Approved.
  • Google the brand name to see how long the manufacturer has been in business, where they are based, what type of infrastructure they have and how they go to market in the UK.
  • Avoid internet-only sales websites as many have gone to the wall in the last decade. Often resulting in trusting consumers losing some or all of their money, and leaving existing clients high and dry with no after-sales support. They often sell unbranded grey imports using the website brand to mask the fact that the products are made cheaply in factories in emerging economies with sometimes very poor quality control. View more information on common hot tub buying mistakes to avoid in our dedicated blog post.
  • Always look for local bricks-and-mortar showroom dealerships that sell WhatSpa? Approved branded products supported by solid manufacturer warranties. You can view products first hand and even try before you buy to ensure that you choose the perfect hot tub for your needs at the price point of your choosing. This also avoids the hassle of having to enact distance selling legislation, which can become a nightmare if anything goes wrong with the product that you eventually choose if you’ve purchased online.

Manufacturer quality assurance protocols

Photo © Villeroy & Boch

Established brands have invested heavily in factory technology and also place great emphasis on quality controls to assure themselves and their customers that their products will be as reliable as possible (as this reduces costs after hot tubs have been installed).

Literally every hot tub that comes off the production line will be filled with water and fully tested to check that every component is working and that every plumbing joint is watertight.

The manufacturing process will be highly documented and all components will be traceable for every hot tub that comes off the production line, so that when they eventually get delivered with a residential customer, the manufacturer and dealer can trace spare parts for the entire lifespan of the hot tub, which can literally be decades for well-built models.

Inclusion of unique patented features or technologies

Photo © Villeroy & Boch

Top quality hot tub brands invest heavily in research and development and then protect their brand assets and new technologies via trademarks and patents.

If a hot tub brand has trademarked their logos, brand names and have patented parts like unique water jets, energy-efficiency features or water treatment systems, this is a good indicator that the brand is strong and they are investing in R&D, which will in turn benefit you both in terms of performance of the hot tub, and the residual value that it will retain over time.

Hot tub size, and the pumps, plumbing and water jet specifications

Surprisingly, the size of a hot tub doesn’t make a huge difference to its marginal cost of production, as it is the specification list like pumps, control panels, plumbing, jets water treatment systems and audio equipment that adds more to the cost of production and therefore its eventual selling price.

General build quality and materials used in manufacture

Photo © Caldera Spas

Hot tub build quality can vary enormously so look out for the following positive signs of good build quality:

  • Shell construction with multiple layers for strength and long term integrity of the shell surface and structure.
  • Sub-frame manufactured from treated timber or metals that are rust resistant for long-term strength and durability.
  • Cabinetry should be of either a weather-resistant synthetic material or a treated hardwood construction. Softwood should be avoided at all costs as it will quickly rot.
  • High quality insulation materials that will maximize heat retention resulting in low running costs (see next section).

Energy-efficiency and insulation properties

Photo © Vortex Spas
  • A good quality hot tub cover that again maximizes heat retention. A good cover should be tapered to allow rainwater to run away and should be at least 2 inches thick at the edges and 4 inches thick in the centre. Check that the cover has a ‘continuous heat seal’ down the centre fold so that heat retention is maintained in the centre fold when the cover is closed.
  • The area inside the cabinet should be sufficiently insulated using high density foam (or similar) so that heat loss is minimized between surfaces containing the hot water and the outside ambient temperature (especially in winter). Hot tubs will be classified as either full foam or part foam insulated. Full foam means that the entire cabinet area is filled with foam apart from the front section where the pumps and electronics are sited. Part foam means that the underside of the shell is covered in a layer of insulation, then the plumbing area is left free of insulation, with an additional thermal layer being added to the inside of the cabinet panels to retain any hot air generated by the pumps and heater. Poor quality grey imports tend to have neither and can be very expensive to run as all the heat generated by the heater is constantly escaping to ambient air.

Performance of water treatment equipment if included as standard

There are 4 main types of water treatment technologies that can be added in the equipment spec of the hot tub and may or may not be included in the price:

  • Ultraviolet (UV) systems
  • Ozone (Corona Discharge) systems
  • Salt Water systems
  • Mineral systems (Frog or similar)

Each of these systems automatically breaks down pathogens in spa water and each has their own merits and price ramifications. The important thing to consider is that your chosen hot tub has at least one of these systems built in to make safe maintenance of your hot tub water easier.

Aesthetic styling features including interior and exterior lighting

Photo © Hot Tub House Yorkshire

Top brands invest heavily in the interior moulds of their hot tubs but also in the exterior aesthetics of their hot tubs by developing cabinetry that is stylish and includes exterior lighting solutions and backlit brand logos etc. Look out for the following style cues when determining price ‘v’ value for money:

  • Unique jets
  • Stylish water features
  • Comfort and styling of the shell mould and seating
  • Interior underwater and topside lighting solutions
  • Custom control panels
  • Branded smart phone apps that can control functionality remotely
  • Stylish exterior cabinetry
  • Exterior lights that illuminate the area around your hot tub at night

Quality of the audio system if included as standard

Some hot tubs come equipped with third party marine-grade Bluetooth® stereo systems as standard. Always check the brand, specification and sound quality of the stereo system as they can vary enormously in quality depending upon the subwoofer and speaker specification.

Warranty cover included in the price (parts only or parts & labour?)*

Every hot tub that is manufactured by a bonafide manufacturer of good repute will come with a manufacturer warranty that is printed in plain English. Always ask to see a copy of a warranty certificate before you commit to purchase.

The warranty cover may include parts only or may include labour as well. If it does include labour, check whether a call-out fee will be incurred for each service call or whether this is also free of charge.

The more comprehensive the warranty cover the more expensive this is for the manufacturer and the dealership, which means that the retail price will typically be commensurately higher.

A good warranty is worth its weight in gold so skimp on warranty cover at your peril. Always buy from a well-established and secure dealership as it is the dealer that will typically be conducting your service work and discharging the terms of the warranty coverage.

Retail Factors:

Are 0% or low rate finance terms included?

Despite historically low Bank of England base rates, if a dealership is offering 0% Finance deals, this could be costing them anything up to 15% of the RRP in commission to the company that is providing the finance (depending on the length of the loan term).

This means that the RRP will need to include some of the cost so that the dealer doesn’t go out of business, so expect to pay a little bit more for interest-free finance.

Are any extras included in the price such as delivery, installation, commissioning, steps, cover lifter, extra filters, water care products etc

If the dealer is including any or all of these items in the deal free of charge, they will have to build some of the cost into the retail price, or absorb it completely themselves. These extras could cost hundreds of pounds afterwards so factor this in when you consider the deal on offer.

The quality of the pre-delivery and aftercare support programme offered by the retailer of the hot tub brand

Photo © Hot Tubs Hampshire

Cheap hot tubs sold remotely online typically include very little in the way of pre-delivery and aftercare support. WhatSpa? has seen examples of pre-delivery site surveys being replaced by a quick look on Google Streetview and Maps which can lead to access problems on delivery day.

Indeed some online suppliers do not even offer an installation service, offering what is called “kerbside delivery” only. This leaves the customer with the problem of moving a large inanimate object weighing up to half a tonne from the street to their back garden which can be extremely dangerous.

By contrast, professional hot tub dealerships will offer the following services as standard:

  • Pre-delivery site survey and advice documentation and checklist
  • A fully trained delivery team to ensure a safe and competent delivery
  • A full commissioning service including product training after delivery
  • Training on an ongoing basis for safe and easy water care
  • A fully trained service engineer to provide service and warranty support
  • A full stock of aftermarket products including water care products, filters, accessories and ongoing parts supply

How much has a retailer invested in terms of retail location, display hot tubs, wet test facilities, delivery vehicles, merchandising and after sales product stock?

It is cheap and easy to set up (and shut down) an e-commerce website to sell cheap hot tubs online with little commitment to aftercare support.

Where dealerships have invested in premises, merchandising, large displays of hot tubs and aftercare products, this shows a major commitment to business longevity and professionalism, which instills confidence at the point of purchase.

How well trained and professional are the sales and technical staff?

One of the biggest indicators of a professional hot tub dealership is its commitment to staff recruitment and training. Look out for WhatSpa? Approved logos, BISHTA (British and Irish Spa & Hot Tub Association) logos and other indicators of staff development such as Investors in People. All of these accreditations require hot tub dealerships to invest heavily in technical staff covering courses and competencies in the following areas:

  • Water hygiene and safety
  • Safe handling of hot tubs
  • Safe transportation of water care products in company vehicles
  • Technical certification for hot tub technicians

Finding The Best Hot Tubs:

For a snapshot of our our latest hot tub reviews and WhatSpa? Best Buys, view this page. Selecting the ideal hot tub for you can be hard without expert guidance, therefore our product reviews backed by rigorous testing are a must.

In Summary:

Irrespective of the price of the hot tub that you eventually buy, it will involve a significant investment of thousands of pounds of your hard-earned money. It will also mark the beginning of a long-term relationship with your chosen brand and dealership which could last for decades if you choose a good quality model backed up by professional aftercare and service support.

Whilst pricing is important, it is not the only consideration. Some online suppliers compete on price alone, while others may charge more but provide significantly higher quality products and 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 for the next 10 or 20 years.

Nick Clamp

About the author

Nick Clamp

I am the Editor-in-Chief at WhatSpa? Media Group and my job is to keep you informed about the very latest hot tubs on the UK market... the best job in the world! When I'm not being deluged with press releases and hot tub brochures I enjoy keeping fit and participating in endurance events including triathlons and distance running.

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