How to Buy the Best Value Hot Tub?
Nobody wants to buy the second-best anything. So of course we understand when people say they want to buy the best hot tub. Who wouldn’t?
Questions like this are common at our Hydropool retailers: “Is this the best hot tub you can buy?”
We would love it if we could just answer with a simple, “yes. We make the best.” That would be great for both of us.
We know we make a good hot tub. The best? That’s trickier, for a bunch of reasons. We have been in business for 40 years, and we have had competition in each of those years: We know there are others who would make the same claim of building “the best.”
Because what’s the best hot tub? The best according to who? The best at what? Is it even possible to have one hot tub that is the best at everything?
We get these kinds of questions at our retail outlets at Hydropool. We know that hot tubs and swim spas are products not everyone knows about and we understand people have such questions. How do you know what the best hot tub is, when you don’t know what you could have in the first place?
That’s why we wrote this article. When we look at hot tubs and swim spas, we know that different manufacturers have different focuses and preferences. We know there is no one hot tub or swim spa that is right for all people, like there is no perfect car, fridge or house.
But there are factors you can decide on. You just have to decide what amounts are important to you in each of the categories where hot tubs and swim spas compete. The main factors we see driving decisions are as follows:
• Cost: Straight up, what is a hot tub going to cost me?
• Value: What’s the best hot tub deal out there?
• Features: Waterfalls, lights and massage
• Ease of maintenance: How much is this hot tub going to cost me once I buy it?
• Branding/Aesthetics/Looks: How cool will the hot tub look in my backyard?
In this article, we will discuss how to choose a hot tub that rewards value. We have separate articles on each of the elements, so you can decide for yourself which is important to you (just click on the category if you want to head to one now, we’ll repeat them again at the bottom of this article).
Which Hot Tub Offers You the Best Value?
If you’re shopping for value, let’s first identify what elements matter to you most. What is a value-based hot tub? Within the industry, it’s most frequently considered:
• Solid: a hot tub that is built well and will last.
• Can be placed anywhere: One that works well in a range of temperatures and settings, from the heat in Florida to the cold in Calgary.
• Affordable Hot Tubs: Cost is a big factor. We know that we live in a world where the cost of everything is going up, up and up. So hot tubs at the lower end of the cost spectrum are often thought to have the most value as you get the hot tub experience at the lowest possible price (we have lots to say about what to pay for and costs in general: to read an entire article about hot tub costs, click here).
When discussing value, roto mold hot tubs should jump to the top of your list. They are built differently than acrylic hot tubs, which account for about 80 per cent of the market. But they are growing as a category because of their low initial cost and because they are actually made in a way that makes them more durable than other hot tubs. They cost less because of how they are built.
Hydropool doesn’t make a roto mold hot tubs, but we see the value in them. Brands that put a big emphasis on value include DreamMaker, and other roto-mold hot tub manufacturers like LifeSmart.
Rotationally molded hot tubs are made from plastic, warmed so it becomes liquid, then poured into a mold. The mold is then spun around in the air to ensure the plastic covers the entire mold evenly. Then it is cooled and dropped out of the mold and voila! You have a hot tub shell. Everything from boat hulls to pylons to children’s dolls are made with this method – all things that have to be able to take a beating. It’s an inexpensive way to build a quality product.
Hot tub makers have increasingly put effort into developing roto mold hot tubs because of their potential value: You can buy a roto mold hot tub that does everything an acrylic can, with jets, lights, you name it, but at a price south of $10,000 Cdn.
So is the best value hot tub a roto mold one? Possibly. You get a lot for a low price, and isn’t that what value is all about?
What are the Tradeoffs with a Roto Mold Hot Tub?
There are a few tradeoffs when you buy a roto mold hot tub to be aware of.
• Because the focus can be on low cost, most roto-mold hot tubs are sold as “plug and play” models, which can run the heater or the jets, but not at the same time.
• You need to step up to 220V to run both, which will often lower ongoing costs because the motor won’t have to work as hard, but it will require you to spend a little more up front. One of the best values available to consumers is a good 220V roto mold hot tub.
• Why a good one? Because a roto-mold tub that is made poorly is still going to be junk in a few years. You will still need to do your research on any hot tub you buy and be satisfied you’re buying a quality product.
• Keep in mind roto-mold hot tubs don’t look the same as acrylics. Their designs range from the clunky to the comely, with a lot in between. But because they aren’t made of acrylic, in many cases they look a little less glamourous.
Do You Have to Buy a Roto Mold Hot Tub for Good Value?
You don’t need to just buy a roto mold hot tub for value, even though it is a great place to start. Some acrylic hot tubs offer tremendous value.
Don’t just believe us. The New York Times-owned Wirecutter said this about Michigan-based Nordic Hot Tubs, for example: “Emphasizing simplicity, Nordic bills itself as “Affordable Luxury,” with models at the high end of the catalog comparable in price to some midrange tubs from other makers.”
That’s a big compliment and certainly highlights the company's image as a value-oriented line of hot tubs. Hydropool has two lines of hot tubs, the high-end Signature and the mid-pack Serenity series, which is more comparable with Nordic’s products.
These are hot tubs designed with higher-end features but at a lower cost. This gets at another core question: Does a hot tub have to be inexpensive to offer value?
• Hydropool’s Signature 570 Gold is the company’s best-selling hot tub. It holds five and is priced around $14,400 (its comparably sized model in the Serenity lineup is the 4500, and in 2023, it is priced under $11,400.) These are both top sellers for Hydropool, because they offer everything higher-end hot tubs feature, but in the price range where the largest percentage of consumers are shopping. So we think they are seen as offering value to customers, despite a price point that isn’t the lowest in the market.
So we believe you can find value in the low end of the market and in the middle of the market when shopping for acrylic hot tubs if you look hard enough. In general, we think shopping at the high end of nearly any market is not a value proposition. It’s about getting exactly what you want, which we will tackle in another article.
What to Look for to Identify Value (and what trips you up) in Hot Tubs
There are our major points when considering the best value hot tub:
• Decide what value actually means to you. Do you want your hot tub to do everything high-end hot tubs do, but at the lowest price? That’s what you’re looking for when buying a mid-point acrylic then. Or do you just want the lowest price and want a product that doesn’t cause any hassle and will last? Both are available to you, but know what you’re at getting into with each.
• Use a cost guideline: It is possible to buy a long-lasting, well-built hot tub for less than $10,000 Cdn. It is possible to get good value out of a hot tub selling for $15,000 Cdn. Above that and you’re shopping for specific preferences, brand names or both.
• Don’t expect to get the best value if you’re buying a niche hot tub: If you want a heart-shaped hot tub, you’re going to pay more for that than if you’re buying the standard rectangle. It costs more to run production lines for niche elements, and that cost gets passed on to you.
• Watch for hype: Any company screaming about a high number of jets is not selling value. Anyone who can’t explain where their products are built (you are welcome to come to the Hydropool manufacturing plant in Mississauga any time you’d like a tour) is not selling value, but likely the opposite. Anyone offering the lowest possible prices is offering value of a sort – you will get yourself a hot tub – but headaches are likely down the road.
• Look for a quality track record: Companies that have been in business longer have been making hot tubs that work. Otherwise, they’d be out of business by now. Hydropool began in 1980 and we have seen many companies come and go since then.
• Buy from a company with a retailer network: Is there a longstanding retailer who will help you post-purchase? We think this is important. So does Wirecutter: “… we strongly recommend working with a local, specialized hot tub dealership, rather than ordering a hot tub from one of the major retailers that carry them (Home Depot, Lowe’s, and Costco among them). You’ll have more options and more salespeople who can walk you through them. You’ll get advice on the site prep you need, as well as manufacturer specifications that contractors can use to ensure a safe setup. And your hot tub will be installed and hooked up by the dealership. The big-box stores simply drop the hot tub at the curb, and then it’s up to you to figure out how to get it into your backyard or onto your deck.”
We couldn’t agree more. Save yourself the hassle and buy from a retailer who will offer support post-purchase. There’s a lot of value in someone who wants to help and knows the product.
What to Look for When Searching for the Best Value Hot Tub?
Over the 40 years we have been in business, we have been asked many questions about hot tubs. We have dealt with many shoppers coming in to browse and to buy. The questions we are asked are generally around the following areas:
• Ease of Maintenance
In this article, we talked about value. It’s one thing to consider cost. But we all know that sometimes buying the cheapest works and sometimes it doesn’t. Are ten tacos for a dollar really a deal? Or ten hot dogs? At some point, you’d have to wonder what you’re eating, right?
We think hot tubs are one of those things: value is as important as cost as an element for any buyer. You want a good tub for the money you’re spending. We deal with customers taking that approach all the time, and we understand it.
In this article, we wrote our best tips on value and how to pursue it. If you want to read about any of the other attributes, click on the links above or visit our Learning Centre for more information. And if you’re ready to talk to a Hydropool retailer, click here to find the one closest to you.
Jon Filson is the senior content manager at Hydropool Swim Spas and Hot Tubs.
Disclaimer: In this article, we’ve used brand names not affiliated with Hydropool or Jacuzzi Brands LLC, the parent company of Hydropool. All information, including pricing and product details, was accurate at the time of writing (2023) and may change without notice.
Jon Filson is the Senior Content Manager at Hydropool Swim Spas and Hot Tubs.