Let’s face it, a hot tub is the kind of thing you’re only going to buy once. And whether you're looking for a budget inflatable hot tub or a luxurious top-end model which costs many thousands of pounds, it’s crucial you get your purchase right. We’ve done lots of searching and scrolling, and found it’s not all about lights and bubble-jets – there are many factors to take into consideration. Here’s our guide to finding your perfect hot tub, along with the best ones out there on the market right now.
How much should I spend?
Good quality inflatable hot tubs can be had from around £300, but if you want one to take permanent pride of place in your outdoor space, then prices steadily rise into the thousands. Inflatable hot tubs are great for use in warmer weather, but manufacturers recommend packing them away in the winter. If you want to use your hot tub all year round then it makes sense to spend more on a hard-shell hot tub - these are better insulated, and can be used even when the temperatures approach freezing.
What do I want from my hot tub?
Some might want a hot tub purely as a distraction: a cosy epilogue to a barbecue or al-fresco dinner. Others might find it a daily relief to medical problems such as arthritis and rheumatism. Either way, consider why you’re buying one, and take each product’s features into account based around your needs. If it's just for fun and relaxation, then an inflatable hot tub is a good way to see if hot tubs are for you. If you want a hard-wearing hot tub that's going to last years, though, then spending more on a hard-shell tub means that you don't need to worry about punctures, wear and tear, and dismantling your hot tub every winter.
Where do I want my hot tub?
Is your hot tub going indoors or outdoors? Getting one installed indoors comes with all sorts of implications, since you’ll be working around issues like humidity (which will require extractor fans to be fitted), slippery floors and electrical connections - it's a job for a professional. For instance, while smaller hot tubs will run from a standard 13 amp mains socket, larger tubs will require their own dedicated mains spur to supply the electricity current required.
Outdoors, you have the elements - rain, leaves, the cold - to contend with, but as long as you make sure to use a tight-fitting, thermally-insulated cover and follow the manufacturer's cleaning and maintenance instructions, it's something most people can set up themselves.
It's worth considering that inflatable hot tubs often have to rely on external filters and pumps, so they won't always fit as neatly into a corner of a patio. If you want a neater-looking hot tub that you can leave in place all year round, then a hard-shell model may be worth the extra outlay as these routinely integrate the pumps and filters into the outer shell.
What are the costs involved in running a hot tub?
As with anything that uses plumbed-in water and electricity, you’ll be paying for your hot tub long after you’ve bought it. It's necessary to keep hot tubs warm 24/7, so larger tubs will cost more to run - and if you live in a colder part of the country it will also prove more expensive.
It is possible to reduce the temperature when you're not using the hot tub, but this does mean that you'll need to set it back to a comfortable temperature an hour or two before using it. In short, you should budget to spend at around a pound per day on electricity to run a hot tub. Bear in mind, though, that many users have reported costs which are several times higher than that, so it pays to do your homework before splashing out.
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