If you look at enough hot tubs you will likely come across two that seem to be almost identical, yet one costs thousands of dollars less that the other. In this scenario the obvious thing to do is to purchase the cheaper one, right? I mean if both hot tubs are the same size and have 30 jets, a 4HP pump and built-in LED lights, why wouldn’t you save $2000-$3000 and get the cheaper one?
There are actually several reasons why you would might want to spend a little extra on your hot tub though. While these two hot tubs might appear to be identical when you look at their specs, if you look a little closer you will find that they have some major differences. These differences include:
Simply put, the cheaper the hot tub is to buy, the cheaper the components that were used to build it.
As we will see, better quality components will improve the massage quality and energy efficiency of the hot tub, as well as reduce your cost of ownership significantly. Not only that, better quality components also significantly improve the reliability of your new hot tub.
It’s no surprise to anyone that cheaper components will break more easily than quality components. Spending a little more on a hot tub can therefore save you from spending a ton of money on repairs.
Not only will you have to spend more on repairs, you will also be without the use of your hot tub while it is being repaired. In the winter this can create even larger problems as below freezing temperatures cause pipes to freeze and break, creating a much bigger problem that now needs fixing as well.
Spending a little more on a hot tub will not only save you money in the long term, it will also save you a lot of potential headaches!
What if the cheaper hot tub has a great warranty though? If the manufacturer will cover the cost of repairs, is being without your hot tub for a week or two really that big of a deal?
While a lot of cheap hot tubs seem to have great warranties at first glance, if you dig a little deeper you will often discover that all is not what it seems.
Cheap hot tub manufacturers will often promote very long warranties (we’ve seen them as high as 30 years!). If you look at the warranty card, however, you will notice that these warranties only cover the structural integrity of the hot tub shell. Other components (like pumps, jets, plumbing etc) are typically only covered anywhere between 1 year to 30 days. Some don’t even include labour in the warranties; only offering free parts and charging you their full labour fee!
Spending an extra $2000-$3000 on a hot tub will get you a much better warranty. Our Canadian made Hydropool hot tubs, for example, include a full 3 year (parts and labour) warranty on components, 5 years on the surface of the shell, and 10 years on the structure of the hot tub.
When building a cheap hot tub, one of the first things to suffer is the quality of the massage. This can be traced to to things:
- Cheap components.
- Lack of research and development.
It costs a lot of money to make a hot tub with a good massage. All those jets, jet pumps and plumbing don’t come cheap. To make a cheap hot tub, manufacturers will install smaller jets, thinner plumbing, and cheaper pumps. They will then usually try to cover it up by adding more jets. To most people, a hot tub with 80 jets sounds impressive. They rarely are however.
The problem is that cheap pumps don’t push a lot of water, making the jets feel very underpowered. To get around this, manufacturers will restrict the plumbing going to the jets, increasing the pressure in the line and forcing the small amount of water inside to move faster. The end result is a more massage that feels more powerful, but one that quickly becomes uncomfortable (think of a shower head with too much pressure).
It also takes a lot of research to make a hot tub with a good massage. Small changes in the design of the plumbing, size and placement of the jets and design of the jet pumps can make a large difference in the quality of a hot tub massage. To achieve these results, however, requires investing in research staff and hiring consultants.
How can you tell if a hot tub has a good massage? Try it out before you buy. Any reputable hot tub retailer will let you wet test a hot tub before you buy it. To test the massage, sit in a couple of seats and focus on the power of the jets. Is it enough? Then focus on the placement of the jets, are they hitting you in the right spots? After doing those basic checks, sit in one seat for at least 5 minutes without moving. Hot tubs with cheap, high pressure jets will begin to become uncomfortable after only a few minutes.
What you will likely find is that the more expensive hot tub provides a better, more varied, and more comfortable massage.
Another thing that suffers when hot tub manufacturers start cutting corners is energy efficiency. There are two reasons for this.
- Less insulation.
- Less energy efficient equipment.
One of the biggest differences between good hot tub equipment (pumps, heater etc) and cheap hot tub equipment is their energy efficiency. Simply put, quality equipment draws less power than cheap equipment; saving you money.
Some higher end hot tubs, like Hydropool’s Self-Cleaning hot tubs, include more efficient filtration systems that save you money by allowing you to run your hot tub for less time. Hydropool’s Self Cleaning filtration system uses an ultra efficient filtration pump that uses only 1/6 of the power of a standard hot tub pump. It also features a pressurized filter that allows all of the water in the hot tub to be filtered in under 15 minutes! Since it filters so quickly, a Self-Cleaning hot tub only needs to run for a few hours a day, saving you a ton of money in energy costs!
More expensive hot tubs will also generally have more insulation than cheaper hot tubs. Hydropool hot tubs, for example, have two layers of insulation where most cheap hot tubs only have one. This added second layer helps to trap excess heat from the heater and pumps that is normally wasted and puts it to use heating up the pipes.
The difference in insulation also extends to the hot tub cover. Covers from quality manufacturers are generally thicker, made better and come with a full foam sealer to completely insulate the hot tub.
Buying a cheaper hot tub will save you money in the short term. Spending a little more initially, however, can save you a ton in ongoing costs; quickly making up the difference in purchase price.
At the end of the day, there is a reason why some hot tubs cost more than others. This doesn’t mean that need to spend $15,000 to get a great hot tub though. In fact, the difference between these cheap hot tub manufacturers and a quality, Canadian made hot tub is often only $2000-$3000.
While it might seem tempting to go with the cheaper option to save money, spending that extra bit of money initially can make a huge difference in the quality of components used to build the hot tub. This increase in component quality can greatly increase the lifespan of the hot tub, as well as your enjoyment of the hot tub. The combination of a better warranty, increased reliability and better energy efficiency can also save you thousands of dollars over the lifespan of the hot tub, more than repaying your initial investment.