Oak Hot Tub On Back Patio

Hot Tub Cost: Installation, Upkeep And More

Holly Shuffett9-Minute Read
February 11, 2021

The hot tub is a universal sign of rest and relaxation – spas and hotels frequently feature glamorous photos of hot tubs on their websites and it’s not uncommon to associate the steamy jets with feelings of serenity or health benefits.  

But most of us don’t have the means to frequent a spa every time we need to unwind, which begs the question: How much does a hot tub cost to own?

In this guide we’ll break down the cost of owning a hot tub and what you should expect before making a splash with this big purchase. 

How Much Does A Hot Tub Cost?

When it comes to owning a hot tub, price and cost are two different things that you’ll have to consider before purchasing. Price is what it sounds like – the initial, upfront price of buying a hot tub.

For most hot tubs that aren’t in-ground, otherwise known as “portable” hot tubs, initial prices can start at $2,000 on the lower end but can range up to as much as $16,000 for higher quality or luxury hot tubs.

The cost of a hot tub on the other hand, includes all of the necessary tools and tasks that go into hot tub maintenance over time. This includes things like site-prep before installation, the potential cost of the actual hot tub installation, accessories, and the cost of chemicals, sanitizer, and of course, water.  

When it comes to financing, it’s important to remember that the costs of a hot tub are just as important as that upfront price in order to keep things running smoothly. But try not to be intimidated by the numbers, as the costs of owning a hot tub come in many different ranges. This guide will help you figure out what options best fit your home, lifestyle and budget.

Factors That Impact The Price of A Hot Tub

Like anything, you can expect to pay varying amounts for different features when it comes to purchasing a hot tub. Here, we’ll discuss the factors that have the most impact on hot tub pricing so that you can best visualize what fits your wants and needs.

Size

It may seem like common sense, but the larger the hot tub, the larger the price tag.

Hot tubs are priced according to how many people they can seat, ranging from two to 10 seats. A two- or three-person hot tub typically costs $2,000 – $5,000 and is usually around 6’ x 6’ in size. Hot tubs that can seat more than six people are considered large units and will range from $3,000 – $20,000 depending on other features.

Larger hot tubs usually cost more due to obvious factors, like increased labor and materials, in order to construct the unit, but also in maintenance and use. For example, it will take more water and electricity to fill up and heat a six-person hot tub than it would a two-seater.

However, other features and designs can greatly influence the price of a hot tub, which is why in some cases, a luxury two-person hot tub could have a larger price tag than that of a six-person unit.

Materials

The material that makes up a hot tub is another prominent feature which can largely influence the cost. You should choose what material you want for your hot tub carefully. You may want a material that will work with the aesthetics of your home, but you’ll also want something that has the durability and lifespan you want from it. Typically, more expensive materials will garner a longer lifespan with less wear-and-tear.

Let’s take a look at the prices of the most commonly used hot tub materials:

  • Inflatable vinyl hot tubs ($1,000 – $4,000): This low-commitment, low-cost option is a portable and flexible model which can typically be set up most anywhere in the yard or patio. While its mobility and the fact that inflatable hot tubs draw less power can be appealing, know that you’ll have to settle for fans rather than jets and that the vinyl material doesn’t guarantee longevity.
  • Vinyl-lined hot tubs ($4,000 – $12,000): Vinyl-lined hot tubs skew on the low-cost side and can be used in both in-ground or above-ground environments. A popular option for pool add-ons, this form has a vinyl shell which lines the inside of the unit.
  • Wooden hot tubs ($3,000 – $10,000): Wooden hot tubs are an above-ground option which offer many more features than inflatable or vinyl units, including jets, lights and abundant seating. Usually deeper than other hot tub options, wooden hot tubs will run you a heftier price tag, though they’re one of the easier-to-operate options.
  • Soft-sided hot tubs ($4,000 – $6,000): These high-density foam models are a recent but more environmentally conscious option due to the fact that the foam insulation retains heat well and requires less energy than other models. Soft-sided hot tubs can still offer features like jets, lights and comfortable seating, but their thick, tube-like appearance might not be for everyone.
  • Acrylic hot tubs ($3,000 – $16,000): One of the more permanent and high-commitment options is an acrylic hot tub. Acrylic hot tubs are probably what most of us think of when we think of getting a hot tub, but they require some solid location planning as they need a supportive foundation due to their weight and size.
  • Rotationally molded hot tubs ($2,000 – $6,000): Rotationally molded hot tubs, otherwise known as rotomolded hot tubs, are made of a durable plastic similar in looks to kayaks or coolers. Although they don’t have as many options for add-ons as acrylic or wooden hot tubs, they come in a variety of shapes, colors and sizes.

Features

We’ve already touched on some of the features that are or aren’t offered with different hot tub models, but many of these features also affect the price and cost of a hot tub. Here are some of the most common add-ons for hot tubs and what you can expect to pay for them:

  • In-spa lighting: In-spa lighting is a popular choice for mid-tier hot tubs and is a great option for locations where light sources are limited. Although prices will vary depending on the brand and type of light you want, you can expect to pay within a range of $30 $50 per light.
  • Cup holders: Cup holders are perfect for those of us who want a hot tub to entertain friends and family and can usually be found in most hot tubs. Most drink holders should run you as little as $25 per set, or up to $60 for higher quality brands.
  • Independent heater: An independent water heater is a feature for hot tubs in higher price ranges and works best for more permanent locations. At $150-$700 depending on the size and your desired wattage, an independent heater will streamline the process of heating up your hot tub.
  • Cover lift: A manual or hydraulic cover lift can make prepping your hot tub for use – and cleaning up afterwards – a quicker, simpler chore. Manual cover lifts can cost you between $170 $225, whereas hydraulic cover lifts will look more like $250 $400.

Design

The last factor that will influence the price of your hot tub is the design you have in mind. Not only does this go hand-in-hand with the materials of your hot tub, but also whether or not you plan to have an above-ground or in-ground tub; a saltwater hot tub or a regular unit.

In-ground units will run you a larger price tag due to the construction and installation fees necessary for their design, and saltwater hot tubs can cost an average of $200 $700 more per unit. However, many swear by the benefits of a saltwater system, though saltwater generators can sometimes cost as much as $1,500 depending on the unit. It all comes down to your specific situation and what you see fitting into your lifestyle most seamlessly.

How Much Does It Cost To Install A Hot Tub?

The cost of installing your hot tub is a one-time fee but varies depending on whether or not you plan to have a professional installation, where your hot tub is going to be located, and what the design of your hot tub will be.

Let’s take a look at some of the different costs for installation:

Indoor Vs. Outdoor Installation

In most cases, installing a hot tub outdoors will cost less than an indoor installation. Since outdoor units only really require a level site, which can be fixed with some simple concrete pavers, and proper electrical work, the materials needed for an outdoor installation are usually low. It’s wise to consider having an electrician set up the wiring however, which can cost you between $400 $650.

Indoor hot tub installations on the other hand, require much more TLC: extra ventilation to deal with the excess moisture, water-resistant flooring, floor supports, and potentially construction for an in-ground unit. Indoor hot tubs typically range from $5,000 $25,000 depending on the factors we discussed earlier.

Above Vs. In-Ground Hot Tub Cost

In the case of above ground versus in-ground hot tub installations, an in-ground unit will cost you more. With an in-ground hot tub, you’ll need professional installation and other expenses in the form of landscaping and excavation on top of the actual hot tub’s price. 

DIY Vs. Professional Installation

Many might think self-installing a hot tub is a no brainer to save money, which it may do, but the labor and other costs involved in a DIY installation make it much easier said than done.

It typically takes six people to successfully install a hot tub – so be sure you have the necessary head count before trying to tackle an installation yourself.

You should also have a plan for picking up and transporting the unit from the manufacturer or spa dealer. Do you have a truck for transportation? Do you need to rent one? How large and heavy is your hot tub model? Will it be adequately supported and secured during travel? These are important factors to plan for before taking on a DIY hot tub installation.

Professional installations on the other hand, will save you the leg work but can cost anywhere from $150 $500 depending on your location, hot tub specificities and the state of your electrical and plumbing systems.

Other Hot Tub Costs To Consider

As we’ve learned, it’s important to know both the price and costs of hot tub ownership. And while installation and the upfront price of the physical hot tub will most likely have the loftiest price tags, the regular, recurring costs for hot tub owners are just as significant.

Upkeep Expenses

When it comes to maintaining your hot tub, the right chemicals and filters are essential in ensuring that your unit remains safe and in working condition for as long as possible. You’ll need sanitizers, oxidizers and alkaline, which cost an average of $150 $250 annually.

You should also expect an additional $10 $20 in your electrical bill each month and anticipate replacing your filters every 1 – 2 years at $20 $60 each.

Accessory Costs

After your installation and hot tub costs are covered, you may want to consider some additional accessories to make the hot tub lifestyle a bit more effortless:

  • Weatherproof stairs
  • Hot tub cover
  • Ozone sanitizers
  • Lighting
  • Jets and pumps – though, they’re sometimes included in a hot tub package

How To Find A Hot Tub In Your Budget

Before shopping around for a hot tub, figure out the amount that you’re comfortable with spending – and make sure it includes additional costs, like upkeep and installation fees. Once you have your budget set, use any of these tips to save more on your hot tub purchase:

  • Shop during a holiday sale or other promotional event
  • Cut back on luxury features to save money where you can
  • Don’t be afraid to negotiate with a hot tub dealer
  • Shop around – many spa dealers boast sales and close-out deals, but the prices may not be as impressive as advertised
  • Consider purchasing a used hot tub – they’re totally fine!
  • See what your local wholesaler has to offer (just be sure to do ample research and carefully read the reviews)

The Bottom Line

A hot tub can be a great investment to get that perfect at home spa experience, so long as you understand the responsibilities that come along with hot tub ownership – and the additional costs and chores associated with it.

If you’re interested in livening up your backyard, check out these other ideas to transform your yard.

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    Holly Shuffett

    Holly Shuffett is a freelance writer for Rock Companies where she usually covers lifestyle and personal finance topics. Holly is also an Oakland University senior pursuing public relations and journalism, and she is interested in learning more about the entertainment and travel industries. In her free time, Holly serves as the secretary for Dance Marathon at OU, is a member of PRSSA, and tutors part time for Dictionary.com.