Where is the best place to buy a hot tub?

By Jon Filson

Hydropool Hot Tubs and Swim Spas

Published Apr 29, 2024

We used to buy everything at the store. But today, we have options for everything. Grocery stores exist, but you can order groceries direct to your door.  

You can do the same with hot tubs too. There isn’t one way to buy a hot tub, there are many ways to do it. And in this article, we’re going to go through them all, and offer our thoughts on what the best pros and cons are of each of the major ways people buy hot tubs.  

We only sell one way, through a chain of 300 retailers all over the world. And we get asked at those retailers frequently, “why shouldn’t I just order one online?” Or “why shouldn’t I just buy from a big box retailer?” 

We have answers to those questions. And we will give you the best, most unbiased answers we can, so you can make up your own mind about where you want to buy your hot tub.  

Places you can buy hot tubs include: 

  • Home shows or other events 
  • Tent sales 
  • Online 
  • From a big box retailer 
  • From a local retailer 
  • Private sales, for used hot tubs 

We’ll go through them one-by-one! And hopefully by the end, you’ll know where you’re off to next to find the best hot tub for you.   

 

 

Should I buy a hot tub at a home show?  

The answer is … well, we wouldn’t. Here’s why: 

  • Since floor space is limited, you’re only likely to see a few models from any manufacturer, usually the most popular hot tubs. If they happen to have the one you’re looking for there, then great. But you’ll be missing out on a lot of options and possible choices and sizes of hot tubs.  
  • Be on the lookout for high-pressure tactics. Any company that has hot tubs at home shows are trying to move product in a hurry, and they often hire specialized sales teams.   
  • Are you going to be able to test it? A home show is not the most relaxing place to test out your hot tub in advance by getting in to a wet tub with swim trunks on, which we recommend.  
  • Who is going to service the hot tub after you buy it? You want to make sure at a home show that any hot tub you’re buying actually has service people in the area.  
  • Lastly, a home show is any easy place to get sucked into the bright lights and features of a hot tub, as opposed to measured, careful conversation about what you need and what would serve you best.  

If you want to go for it, there will be people to take your money. But we’d give home shows a pass. We have sold at home shows in the past, but Hydropool doesn’t go to them anymore.  

Is a tent sale a good place to buy a hot tub?  

It can be. Tent sales are common places where hot tub companies offer their best deals when they are facing overstock situations. There's a good chance of being able to show off all of the hot tub accessories, lounge seats, massage jets, hot tub covers, and both the small and large hot tubs. You're going to get a chance to see it all and see what the hot tubs costs are. Expect visible pricing, which isn't always there in this business (Hydropool puts its price right on each product page on its website, but if you check around you'll see most companies don't do this). 

They are popular because people get to see the actual models they are considering, outside, with little pressure. There’s often less pressure because hot tub tent sales draw buyers, and generally, companies know that when they have a tent sale, hot tubs will sell. The onus is often on the buyer to move early to get the best deals.  

At least, that’s a good tent sale. There are bad tent sales. They are often held by manufacturers who don’t have a base in a city. And they come in, with dozens of hot tubs, dump them on the ground, put up a tent and try to sell them. They often advertise by saying they have “multiple manufacturers” in the tent but if you ask, you will find out they are actually all owned by the same company. After you buy, often you will find there is no one to help you service the hot tub.  

So we don’t recommend shopping at those ones. Here’s what to look for: 

  • Look for tent sales put on by local retailers. We know we’re biased, but that way you avoid the sales where the manufacturers are just blowing through town, leaving you without support.  
  • Often, retailers will tell you if they are planning a tent sale. You may be able to arrange early access to see most models before the buying starts.  
  • Look for tent sales where you’re able to try out the hot tub. Ask for a “wet test" which is a hot tub version of a test drive.  
  • Look for tent sales where they are prepared to order you the hot tub you want, as well as show you what’s available right now.  
  • Be convinced before you buy that you will have someone service your hot tub after you take possession of it. Don’t take the salesperson’s word that “XXX store” will help you out. Phone that store or head there in person and make sure they will, before you buy.  
  • Make sure the hot tubs have the same warranty just as you’d buy a hot tub from a store.  

Can I buy a hot tub online?   

Absolutely. There are many companies happy to deliver a hot tub to your door and leave it there for you to sort out.  

And if that’s what you want, then go for it. We don’t recommend it, because at some point you’re going to need a little bit of help, beyond what the Facebook groups or your hot tub friends can give you.   

But it can work. If you know what you’re doing with a hot tub and have a place to put it, then this is a great option. It’s especially true if you’re buying a plug-and-play model that uses a standard plug-in. Those models aren’t usually acrylic, so these hot tubs are designed to be moved easily into place.  

So if that’s the type of hot tub you’re looking for, then online ordering can make a lot of sense. Hydropool doesn’t sell hot tubs this way though, so we don’t recommend it for acrylic hot tubs.  

What about buying a hot tub from a big box retailer?  

You will find the experience to be largely the same as buying online: You'll get a hot tub but no support. Here’s a quote from a Wirecutter article, a review site which is owned by the New York Times: 

… 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. 

Should I buy a hot tub from my local retailer?  

See above. We agree with Wirecutter here that a local retailer is best. This is why Hydropool is set up to sell its hot tubs at local retailers around the world. We believe in that system. So we’re entirely biased here, but we do have our reasons why. 

A local retailer will be there to support you when or if something goes wrong. They are there to support you with any warranty claims down the road.  

In some ways, a hot tub is like owning a car. A good retailer is like having a mechanic who can help you out with your car.   

Local retailers will also take the time to find out what is the right hot tub for you. There are many kinds out there and different types and a good retailer will work to show you the options and why some make more sense for you than others.  

Of course, there are times not to buy from a local retailer! If they aren’t helpful or knowledgeable, get out of there and don’t waste your time. When you buy a hot tub, you are forging a relationship with your retailer, and you want it to be a good one. So if it’s not there, don’t buy! Find a retailer you connect with.  

Can I just buy a used hot tub?  

This is a gamble. You can, and we know this has worked for many people, many times. We don’t recommend it for first-time buyers. But we understand the impulse. You’re likely going to save some money.  

Will it work? We can’t say either. Will you know what to do with it if something goes wrong? Only you can answer that. Will that aggravation be worth the savings? That’s for you to decide as well. Can you move it? If you have the equipment, yes. But do you? Will anyone service it after you buy it? You will want to know all that in advance.  

There’s an element of risk when buying used that you can just never ignore. If you’re confident it’s a good deal, have a way to get it to your house and know you’ll have support, then a used sale can work out for you. But if you have concerns … there’s no real way to mitigate them, is there?   

Note: We do not sell used hot tubs at Hydropool.   

What is the best place to buy a hot tub?  

We believe local retailers are the best place for most people to buy hot tubs. These retailers regularly have sales, and those sales are legit. So we’d suggest aiming for them.  

Tent sales can be great, but you want to make sure a local retailer is going to be behind them, or you’re going to end up with a hot tub but without any support, and that’s asking for a lifetime of stress and hassle.  

As for the rest of the options? We have to admit, at Hydropool, we’re not big fans. But we can see why some people would want to choose those methods, such as ordering online. We get that some people like to make purchases that way and there are cases even with hot tubs where it makes sense.  

We hope this article gave you a sense of where you can buy hot tubs and which might work best for you. If there’s anything we missed, I bet by now you know where we’re going to suggest you try: Your local retailer. You can find them by clicking here.  

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