Home Spas and Hot Tubs
You deserve to sit back and be comfortable for an evening. Maybe you even want company. Regardless of your motivations, you'll be much happier if you're in a personal spa in your master bathroom or patio. Here's a guide of what to look for when buying a spa, whirlpool, or hot tub. Prepare to cough up between $600 and $6,000. Unlike with many home items, price here is not always directly proportional to quality.
Buying a spa or hot tub can be quite an ordeal. There are hundreds of models on the market with dozens of different features to choose from. In addition, buying a spa is in many ways like buying a car a dealer may only offer one brand, making it difficult to compare several different companies side by side.
The list of features on spas is seemingly endless. Below are the most important ones. For more information on each of these, check out Pool & Spa Living
for more information.
* '''Jets ''''''''
** Obviously, jets are one of the main attractions in your hot tub.
*** '''Neck jets''' are usually small and positioned to focus on tense muscles in your neck.
*** '''Lower back jets''' are usually bigger jets positioned on either side of the spine. If you prefer smaller jets on your back, find out if this can be customized.
*** '''Foot jets''' are positioned at the bottom of a lounger seat. If foot massages are your thing, this is a feature you should look for.
*** '''Water jets''' pump water in streams that range from a gentle swirl to a hard pressure.
*** '''Air jets''' make the water frothy by pumping air.
** Many people like to have a lot of different types of jets, but some may feel overwhelmed or pummeled by too many.
** '''Adjustability is important''', especially on high-end tubs. You should be able to control the position, intensity and programming of the jets.
** The most important thing to remember is that it is your tub. Don't let a salesperson try to convince you that you need more jets than you really want. It helps if you've done some prior research check out your friends' spas, and don't be afraid to ask for a demonstration in the showroom. Many dealers will let you try out the spas afterhours.
** There are lots of different kinds of jets but there do not seem to be any uniform names for any particular type of jet. It varies by manufacturer. As long as you have a good idea of what you want and can describe it, you should be alright.
* '''Size and Seating'''
** Size is an important factor in how many people can fit in your spa or hot tub, but not the only factor.
** Seating arrangement plays a big part as well. A tub that technically seats six may only be able to do so with some crowding. Pay attention to where everyone's feet will go, especially if you opt for a lot of special seats and loungers.
** In a hot tub, there is usually only one bench along the side, which makes it easier to fit more people. This is sometimes called "barrier-free" seating.
** Not everyone is comfortable in a lounge seat some people tend to float up! This is another area where research is important. You'll be able to relax if you can sit comfortably.
** If you plan to use the tub with your honey, make sure there is somewhere you can sit together comfortably. Double lounges or loveseat benches are popular options.
* '''Control Panel'''
** Should be easy for '''you''' to use make sure to try it out for yourself.
** Clear, simple temperature and jet control.
** '''Remote starter''' want to be able to fire up the spa from inside your house? Consider a remote control.
** '''Floating remote''' control lights, music, jets, etc. from inside the tub.
** Lighting is an important feature of a tub, especially if you plan to use it at night.
** Some tubs feature soft white lights to help you relax; others have colorful displays of light to entertain and dazzle you.
** Deeper tubs may be more comfortable, but they require more water and take longer to heat up.
* '''Climate-appropriate insulation''' to keep everything toasty.
** Good insulation will save you money on electricity in the long run and is always worth the investment.
** No one wants a lukewarm tub.
** If you intend to move it, look for a lighter, smaller model.
** Find out exactly what it covers and for how long.
** Keep water and heat in.
** Keep children, animals and debris out.
** If you have small children at home, make sure there's a good, sturdy latch on the cover that they can't undo.
* '''Voltage''' to heat the water and make the bubbles.
** Big tubs use 220 volts and smaller tubs only 110 volts.
* '''Noise''' of the motor.
** How quiet do you need things? That will cost you.
** Make sure to try this out in person.
* Entertainment Systems
** Some spas come with built in speakers or televisions.
** These features can really drive up the price of a spa.
** Oddly, the shell is the inside of the spa the part where you sit.
** Shells are usually molded acrylic or thermoplastic.
** Hot tubs don't have shells, although some have liners
** Shells are available in a wide variety of colors and finishes to match your décor, including marbled, granite, and pearlescent.
** The skirt is the decorative exterior of a tub that isn't sunken into the ground.
** Usually wood or synthetic wood.
** Real wood needs to be treated yearly; synthetic wood does not and looks just as good.
* '''Seating Terminology'''
** '''''Captain's Chair''''' but varies from one company to the next in the details.
** '''''Lounger''''' allows for foot massage and jets targeted to specific parts of the body.
** '''''Reversible Lounger''''' a lounger with headrests at both ends, so you can sit in it either way.
Where To Put It?
If not in your bathroom, it can go be installed in a couple of ways.
* '''Patio''' installation will place your tub on your deck or patio, assuming it can hold the weight.
* '''In-Ground''' tubs are often made by swimming pool manufacturers. They're sunk into your ground.
* '''Drop-In''' tubs are sunk into an elevated deck (and are mighty fancy).
* '''Custom-Made''' models look like you'd want. Do I look like a mind reader?