2. Hot tub exterior
The hot tub’s exterior is just as important as the interior when it comes to esthetics and protecting your investment. Be sure you ask about the materials of the shell and how it is insulated. Ask about the cover seal, the exterior material, and if the hot tub has full foam or a protective bottom cover as well. All of these are factors to protect the shell from heat, cold, critters, and your energy bill.
The outside of a hot tub is also where you will find exterior lights for ambiance and safety, cover lifts for ease of use, and audio units. Again, most hot tubs have these options, just be sure to ask if they are included.
The final thing to consider with respect to the exterior is how you are going to get inside the hot tub. Some manufacturers offer a complete line of matching steps, benches, and cabinets.
3. The operating system
When it comes to hot tubs, some manufacturers measure pumps by horsepower. This can be misleading, however. What really matters is how much water is pushed through the hot tub at what energy usage. The greatest flow, using the least amount of power, is optimum.
In addition, you will want to learn how to maintain the water balance in your hot tub. You definitely do not need a chemistry degree to own a hot tub, but finding a unit that makes water maintenance easier is beneficial.
4. Total cost of ownership
In terms of energy usage, hot tubs can be very efficient if insulated correctly. For example, an insulated skirt and solid cover create a tight vacuum seal, which keeps heat from escaping. Be sure to ask about energy usage on your hot tub. Many manufacturers provide energy estimates on each hot tub model. When it comes to maintenance costs, there is no upkeep required for the cabinet—just hose it down to keep it looking good and well preserved.
Finally, ask for a copy of the warranty. There are several types of owner protection plans available from various manufacturers, so you will want to consider plans that include coverage for the cost of both parts and labour. Further, be sure to read the warranty thoroughly so you understand exactly what is and what is not covered.
5. Just the right spot
Now that you know what hot tub you like, you need to decide where you are going to put it. Remember, location is everything! You will want to make sure you have enough space, a sturdy surface, and access to electrical.
A hot tub is a big part of your backyard. Depending on its location, it can be the focal point or an eyesore; therefore, it is a good idea to bring in a rough sketch of your backyard to your local hot tub dealer. You can review the layout together and find the best hot tub to fit into the space you have allotted. If you are still feeling unsure, you can also ask your local hot tub expert to schedule a site evaluation. Many hot tub dealers will come out to your house free of charge.
In addition, you will need a sturdy foundation for your hot tub. Most need to be placed on a reinforced cement pad (at least 101.6 mm [4 in.] deep) or a wood deck capable of supporting 4.8 kPa (100 lbs/sf). If these installation requirements are not met, it may affect your warranty, so always check with the manufacturer as to their installation requirements. Further, be sure to check your local codes before installation, and watch for any settling or erosion that could move your hot tub out of level.
You should also consider how you plan to supply power to the hot tub. Some units are ‘plug-and-play,’ meaning they require a standard 110/120-volt line; however, most hot tubs require a 220/240-volt line. If you do not already have this installed, you will need the services of a qualified electrician to wire the hot tub. Most require a dedicated electrical line that should be installed by an electrician. You will also want to consider what type of subpanel you will need—depending on the hot tub, a 50-amp or 60-amp service will be required. It all depends on how the hot tub is built. Either way, your dealer can likely recommend a local electrician. Other than these considerations, your hot tub is a self-contained unit, which means no plumbing is necessary.
Now you are ready to go shopping for your new hot tub! You know where you want to install it, what to look for inside and out, as well as how it operates and its energy efficiency. There are many different options available, so remember one of the most important things you can do is ‘wet test’ any hot tub you are considering before buying it!
Lindy Rickert is the corporate communications manager for Marquis Corp., a manufacturer of hot tubs and swim spas in Independence, Ore. She joined the company in 2013 and is responsible for many aspects of communication, including newsletters, social media, and its partnership with Make-A-Wish Canada. She can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.