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Hot Tub Buying Guide – Everything You Need To Know

Hot tub mountain view

There are many things to think about when looking for the right hot tub for your family, from basic features such as the number of seats to more technical details such as the number of jets to the water filtration system used.

Buying a hot tub may seem like a daunting venture, which is why the team at Outdoor Living have compiled our years of expertise and knowledge into this hot tub buying guide, making it easier for you to filter through all the hot tub brands and models on the market.

Check out our step by step guide, taking you through the journey to finding the right hot tub for your needs.

    1. The importance of doing your research first
    2. Visiting a hot tub showroom
    3. Buying your hot tub
    4. Planning for your hot tubs arrival and installation
    5. Setting up your new hot tub
    6. Maintaining your new hot tub

1. The importance of doing your research first

From our experience, the research phase is the most important to ensure the final decision is not only the right one for your budget but also for your family and the future.

Buying a hot tub is a big investment, so it’s important you get all your facts and important pieces of information gathered before taking the plunge.

Is it worth buying a hot tub?

If you are going to be using a hot tub on a regular basis, then buying a hot tub is definitely worth it!

There are many advantages to owning a hot tub including its hydrotherapy benefits. Hydrotherapy is the combination of water and air, pushed through well designed hot tub jets to deliver a smooth, targeted massage to the key areas our body demands.

It’s commonly known that water soothes aching joints and hydrotherapy products have become popular for de-stressing and unwinding after a hard day.

The targeted, non-moving jets allow a range of water motions including swirling, pulsing and penetrating water flow, providing a deep therapeutic massage.

Is a hot tub and jacuzzi the same thing?

Jacuzzi® is a brand that invented the hot tub over 60 years ago and they are still innovating today. Here at Outdoor Living, we are proud resellers of Jacuzzi® hot tubs and you can discover the Jacuzzi® collections here.

A hot tub, otherwise known as a spa, is a large tub of water that is used for hydrotherapy or just a place to relax and unwind.

Which hot tub is right for me?

During your research look out for reputable hot tub manufacturers and search their websites for information. If they have a good reputation for quality, you’ll be able to see it.

Quality hot tub retailers and manufacturers will provide detailed product details, technical quality details, where to buy and their service information. Also look for manufacturers who offer a full hot tub warranty.

How much does a good hot tub cost?

There are a lot of things which will affect the price of a hot tub. From experience, we can tell you that the cheapest hot tubs will not always work out as the best value as they may cost more to run or need a more rigorous cleaning regime.

We recommend doing all the research you can, finding hot tub features you can’t live without and then finding a hot tub that ticks as many boxes as possible.

Consider the running costs of your hot tub

Hot tubs range in running costs depending on their size, insulation, capacity and heater.

A genuine Jacuzzi® brand hot tub will cost approximately £7/£10 a week to run (more in winter, less in summer) and our other hot tubs cost up to £20.

The cost varies depending on your use of the hot tub and the environment it is located in.

What should I look for when buying a hot tub?

The best hot tubs are ones that provide you with years of entertainment and pleasure, without costing you a fortune to run.

Below we have listed the main considerations you should think about before purchasing your hot tub.

The quality of the hot tub construction

Generally, if a hot tub is well made with significant insulation, the better it will be at retaining heat. Be sure to choose a hot tub with several layers of different types of insulation, which ensures maximum heat retention.

Other good indicators include a solid ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) base as it’s tough, rigid and heat resistant. A base like this, not only retains heat at the bottom of your hot tub, but also prevents garden creatures and outdoor pests from getting inside.

Hot tub jets

Consider the number of jets you would like and find out whether they are adjustable, with the ability to turn them on/off to customise your massage.

Hot tub pumps

There’s a common misconception that the more pumps and jets that a hot tub has, the more powerful it will be. Whilst the concept of this is true, there is a limited amount of power available to the hot tub due to the electrical supply from the house to the hot tub.

All our hot tubs have been carefully selected to provide maximum efficiency without losing out on power or hydrotherapeutic benefit.

Look at the pump quality and specification in the hot tub rather than the number of jets.

Hot tub filtration system

When choosing a hot tub, you should look at how it filters the water. Typically, hot tubs use pleated filters to trap any grease or dirt. Most Jacuzzi® hot tubs have one or two pumps that support hydrotherapy massage (the jets) plus a separate circulation pump which pushes all hot tub water through a filtration system. The system includes a number of pleated filters, skimmers or filter bags to trap all matter of debris that may enter your hot tub during use.

All hot tub filtration systems have both good and bad points. Some of the most common filtration systems are:

Standard – Basic hot tubs use a filter to capture part contaminants in the water, however chemicals are needed to purify the water with the most common being Chlorine, Bromine tablets or granules.

Clearray logo

CLEARRAY - A water purification system which uses a UV-C light to sanitise the water in a hot tub helping to prevent the growth of bacteria. Therefore, there is an average of 40% fewer chemicals needed to sanitise the water. The UV-C light kills up to 99.9% of bacteria in the water ensuring your hot tub stays in top condition.

Ozonator - Another water purification system that kills bacteria reducing the amount of chemicals needed. The system works by creating ozone which helps breakdown contaminants in the water.

Hot tub entertainment systems

If you want your hot tub to provide music, make sure you look at the entertainment system that comes with it as not all hot tubs are the same.

Jacuzzi® hot tubs in the J200™ series have optional Bluetooth music systems. The J300™ series and above all come with Bluetooth music as standard. Many of the Outdoor range of hot tubs we sell also come with Bluetooth music as standard.

Hot tub lighting

Using lighting inside your hot tub and around the exterior can really bring your tub to light at night. You can choose from a wide range of hot tub lights, to light up the massage area, foot well and the waterfall feature.

Hot tub water features

Having a water element such as a waterfall to your tub can create a calming and soothing environment. Make sure you do your research to discover what the water feature is used for. Many hot tubs use them as circulation, or some are just for aesthetics.

Hot tub warranty

When you buy a hot tub from us, your experience is backed by a comprehensive manufactures warranty.

Please be aware that different brands of hot tubs have different warranties, ensure that your purchase is backed by a trusted brand to fulfil your warranty not just the hot tub dealer themselves. For more information, please visit here.

What size hot tub should I get?

Hot tubs are available in all shapes and sizes. Firstly, it’s important to think about how much space you have in your garden – and the access to it. This may limit the hot tub size you can accommodate.

Next, think about the number of people you will have in the hot tub at one time. If you are planning regular hot tub parties, then you might need more seats than a standard family size. Although a larger hot tub may not always mean more seats, they are generally more comfortable with more space to move around in.

At Outdoor Living we sell hot tubs that seat between two and nine people.

Finally, think about the height of the people using the hot tub. Standard hot tubs are usually around 90cm high, but the lengths differ. If you’re choosing a hot tub with a lounge seat, make sure they accommodate taller and shorter people comfortably.

How much does a hot tub weigh?

An empty hot tub that can hold two to three people can weigh around 200-350kg. This dramatically gets heavier when it’s filled with water, weighing an average of 2000kg.

For a larger six to eight seater hot tub, without water a hot tub of this size weighs around 400kg and then once it’s filled, it can weigh up to 2,800kg.

What are hot tubs made out of?

The shell of your hot tub can be made out of vinyl, rotomolded plastic or acrylic.

What are your hot tub shelter plans?

A hot tub gazebo can help shelter users from the British weather and create a private getaway right in your very own garden.

We have a wide range of different sizes and shapes, all made from either pine or western red cedar, known for its resistance to rot and decay.

When choosing your hot tub gazebo, make sure it is wide enough to cover your new tub but also keep in mind the size of your garden – you don’t want it to take over your full outdoor space. Standard gazebos will not be high enough to incorporate the height of the cover lifter, ensure that you check the internal height.

2. Visiting a hot tub showroom

At Outdoor Living we have two hot tub showrooms, one in Hull and one in Leeds.

Pop in and see our friendly staff, who are always on hand to answer any hot tub questions you may have.

If you are unable to visit one of our showrooms our team of experts are always on hand to talk you through hot tub options over the phone or via email. We are also able to offer video tours if required.

3. Buying your hot tub

Searching the internet for information about Jacuzzi® hot tubs and spas is generally a good idea. Lots of people have hot tubs in the UK and are enjoying the various social and health benefits that come with them.

Read hot tub reviews or websites to get an idea about what a hot tub lifestyle is like and how it could benefit you. Understanding why you want an outdoor hot tub is sometimes a good indicator of what kind of spa you should research.

Although, don’t be fooled thinking you’ll get a better deal online. We highly recommend that you physically see the hot tubs in person before you buy them, especially to get a better idea on the quality of the tub you are purchasing.

Hot tub financing

Reputable hot tub manufacturers can offer finance packages so that you can spread the costs.

Look out for hot tub finance offers at Jacuzzi® authorised hot tub retailers. If you decide it's easier to buy now and pay later, Outdoor Living have a range of competitive hot tub finance rates available.

For further information on our latest hot tub finance packages, please call our sales team on 01482 212322.

Consider hot tub supplies and accessories

Once you’ve decided on your perfect hot tub, you should then start to consider the different types of accessories available to make sure you have the best experience every time you use your tub.

Hot tub covers

The hot tub you purchase should come with a cover as standard. If it doesn’t or the are charging extra for a standard cover, consider looking elsewhere.

A good hot tub cover will last for a 2-3 of years before you should consider replacing it.

Hot tub steps

For ease of access getting in and out your tub, consider buying some hot tub steps. When looking for your steps, make sure you do your research in to the durability and maintenance as well as the safety precautions. Reputable hot tub companies should include steps as standard.

Hot tub pillows and headrests

A hot tub pillow provides the right amount of comfort for you to lean back and relax when soaking in your hot tub. They need to be looked after with good care and because they are always partly submerged in water, they generally need replacing every two to three years.

For a more detailed selection of hot tub accessories, discover our range here.

Is there an option to try before you buy?

Yes, purchasing a hot tub for the first time is a big deal. The best way to help make a decision on your all-important hot tub purchase is by booking a hot tub wet test.

Both our showrooms have the facilities for you to test our hot tubs. We have a private changing facility, and the wet test area is closed off to provide privacy.

For more information, or to book your hot tub wet test, visit here.

4. Planning for your hot tubs arrival and installation

Before the arrival of your new hot tub, there are a few key considerations to think about.

These include:

  • Where will your hot tub sit in your garden?
  • Which direction will it face?
  • Will you be overlooked?
  • How will it fit in the space?
  • How will it complement the overall aesthetic and design of your garden?

How to install a hot tub?

To make sure you have an efficient installation, make sure you’ve thought about these three considerations:

  1. A level solid base for it to sit on
  2. A certified electrical supply
  3. A garden hose pipe

How to get a hot tub in the garden?

Crane lifting hot tub

Hot tubs are heavy, which is why we have special equipment such as spa dolly’s and trailers to help us move the hot tub safely into place.

The hot tub is transported on its side to get it into position and we will conduct a site survey to ensure we can get the hot tub where you would like it.

How to lift a hot tub over a fence

If you have problems with access to your garden, we will advise if a HIAB or crane is needed and will be able to recommend suitable companies.

Do hot tubs need electricity?

Yes, all our hot tubs will need a power supply to function. Typically, one pump hot tubs require a 13AMP supply, whereas larger hot tubs require a 32AMP power supply or more.

Depending on the hot tub you purchase you may need additional electrical work to create a 32amp supply or greater.

It is now a requirement by law that any electrical work in households across the UK is carried out by a competent person. We cannot commission a hot tub without a certified Installation Certificate or a Minor Works certificate. We need to know your electric supply is safe.

Hot tubs installations must also comply to section 702 in the Institute of Electrical Engineers Regulations. For more information on electrical guidelines for your hot tub, read our guide here.

What to put a hot tub on?

Your hot tub needs to be placed on a suitable foundation. It must be a solid and level surface that can support the weight of your hot tub when it contains water and has users in it.

The ideal base for your hot tub is concrete, however you can utilise gravel, patio slabs or block paving as long as it’s flat and level.

Can you put a hot tub on decking?

Yes, you can place a hot tub on decking, although if you already have a deck, you may need to consider whether it is strong enough to carry the weight of your new hot tub.

Hot tubs can also be installed on a raised deck. To determine if your decking can support your new hot tub, the general rule of thumb if that most decks can withstand 100lbs of weight per square foot.

Can I put a hot tub in a shed?

Yes, but it all depends on the type of shed you have or want to build.

Considerations include:

  • A strong base - strong enough to hold the weight of your tub
  • Ventilation of the garden building - the combination of wood and moisture over time will make the wood rot if it’s not treated properly
  • Space inside your shed and installation - leave enough room to reach all the necessary parts of your hot tub and enough height to remove the cover.

You’ll be able to find the measurements for the recommended clearance for your hot tub in the manual provided.

We recommend a hot tub gazebo, great for sheltering from the elements while avoiding the hassles involved in a garden shed installation. For more inspiration on hot tub gazebos, check out our range here.

5. Setting up your new hot tub

Setting up your hot tub involves filling up your tub, making sure you have the correct chemicals and fitting your accessories such as a hot tub cover.

How to fill a hot tub?

Filling up your hot tub can be pretty simple, although there are some careful considerations to think about before doing so.

Place your garden hose in the tub where the filtration is located and turn on your water supply. To reduce the risk of trapped air in your plumbing, make sure you fill the pipework with water first. If you do cause an air lock, your hot tub may a show ‘flow’ error message.

For more information on the error messages on your hot tub, read our ‘Hot Tub Problems and Solutions Guide’ here.

How long does a hot tub take to fill?

The average time to fill up your hot tub is usually around two to three hours although hot tubs are filled using a hose pipe so the filling time can vary depending on the capacity and water pressure.

How high to fill a hot tub?

The general rule is to fill the hot tub with water that is ‘kissing’ the bottom of the pillows. In order to fill your hot tub to the right level, it’s important to check your manufacturer’s instructions provided. Some hot tubs will have a level indication somewhere inside the shell.

Can you fill a hot tub with warm water?

You can fill your hot tub with warm water, but not boiling or hot. Water above 50°C will cause damage to the shell. Please ensure that you are filling using water below this temperature. Ideally around 40°C. This will mean once it is full and you have balanced your chemicals, you can jump straight in and enjoy!

Is hard water bad for hot tubs?

Yes, hard water is bad for your hot tub as it can effect the functioning of your tub.

Hard water can prevent efficient heat transfer, cause build-up of calcium in your plumbing and create scale deposits that can feel like sandpaper on your skin or even mark the shell of your hot tub. If you live in a hard water area we recommend using no scale to prevent the build up of scale in your hot tub.

Not only is hard water bad for the functioning and aesthetics of your tub, it can also be harmful to the skin, causing eczema, acne and leave your hair in a bad condition.

Soft water can also be bad for your tub as it can cause the metal to corrode away - the key is to find the right balance.

What chemicals do I need for a hot tub?

The essential chemicals needed for a hot tub include, sanitiser, pH increaser or decreaser and no foam.

Once you’ve bought these chemicals, don’t forget your test strips – it’s important to test the chemicals in your hot tub before every use. For more information on hot tub chemicals, take a look at our handy guide here.

Your new hot tub should come with a chemical starter kit with all the basics required to get you started.

What temperature should a hot tub be?

As the bodies temperature is about 37°C it will always feel warm above this temperature. Most people prefer the temperature between 38°C and 40°C depending on the outside temperature.

How long does a hot tub take to heat up?

There any many elements that affect the heating of a hot tub. Depending on the hot tub you buy it can have a heater from a 2KW to a 9KW. The hot tubs also have a range of water volumes and the time of year (winter to summer) will also affect the heating rate.

An example would be a 1,300 litre hot tub with a 2.7kw heater will take approximately 20 hours to heat. Once heated they are designed to stay hot 24/7 and the hot tub will only need to top up any heat loss.

A 2.7KW heater will heat up three degrees every hour which means for every half hour you use the hot tub it will take approximately 20 minutes to get back up to temperature once you have put the insulated cover back on.

For more information on the temperature of your hot tub, read our article here.

6. Maintaining your new hot tub

Many of you will be wondering, are hot tubs hard to maintain? The answer is, they aren’t high maintenance as long as you understand basic water chemistry and how to keep on top of your water care.

How much does a hot tub cost to maintain?

Kingston Lifestyle Hot Tub

This is like asking how much you will spend on fuel in your car. The more you drive your car, the more it will cost to run. The same goes with a hot tub, the more you use it the more chemicals and cleaning will be required.

If you’re using your hot tub two to three times a week, throughout the whole year, you should expect to spend around £200 on your chemicals and filters.

How to maintain a hot tub?

Create yourself a hot tub maintenance schedule and base this on how often you use your tub.

Consider daily, weekly, monthly and yearly maintenance based on the below key areas.

Water maintenance

Managing your hot tub water is important for your safety. Popular water treatments include Chlorine, Bromine and for more sensitive skin, Oxygen.

Make sure you choose a hot tub retailer or manufacturer who can help you with ongoing maintenance and your chemical questions.

For more information on how to keep a hot tub clean check out our ‘Hot Tub Cleaning Guide’ here.

Filter care

Your hot tub filters need to be cleaned weekly in order to work properly and keep your water clean.

Make sure you have a spare filer while the other one is getting cleaned and will be out of use. As long as you are rotating your hot tub filters, the lifespan should be around 18 months.

Take a look at how to clean your hot tub filters and discover our handy step by step guide.

Interior and exterior maintenance

Cleaning is an important part to keeping your hot tub in great shape for years to come.

Once you have drained your hot tub, wipe away any dirt and debris. Clean your hot tub pillows, hot tub cover and hot tub panels. For more information on how to do this, read our hot tub cleaning guide here.

Different parts of your hot tub need cleaning at different times depending on your hot tub use and the products used to maintain and care for your tub.

Can you leave hot tubs on all the time?

You should keep your hot tub hot 24/7 as this will ensure it is always ready for use. It uses a lot more energy to keep heating a hot tub than it does to keep it at temperature.

The only time we advise not to do this is when you may not use it for a few months. In this case we advise you to drain your hot tub to prevent bacteria growth. We perform a ‘winterise’ service to ensure your hot tub goes into hibernation safely when not in use.

How to service your hot tub?

You can request your hot tub servicing by completing our online form here. Once you’ve booked an appointment we’ll send one of our hot tub technicians who have all received industry-leading training and hot tub chemical training from BISHTA.

Our hot tub services include ’30 Point Service Checks’ and any defective or damaged parts will be replaced or repaired under warranty (if applicable) or replaced at an additional cost.

How do you empty a hot tub?

To empty your hot tub, turn off the power supply and source your drainage spigot. Attach the garden hose to your spigot and open the ball valve on your spigot so that water can drain, making sure the other end of your hose is facing downhill.

Do all hot tubs have a drain?

All our hot tubs have a drain at the bottom or inside the front panel for you to attach a hose to drain it or simply let it drain into the garden. Alternatively, we supply submersible pumps to pump the water out much quicker.

How long can you leave a hot tub empty?

You can leave your hot tub empty for as long as you want, as long as you follow steps to winterize your hot tub, turning off all power supply.

If your hot tub hasn’t been used in two week, it’s time to turn off power and begin draining and emptying your tub.

The longer you leave your hot tub empty, the more you risk elements such as the deals drying out and leaking.

If you have any further questions about your hot tub purchase, why not drop in and see us in either our Hull or Leeds showrooms. 

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