The Ultimate Hot Tub Buying Guide

July 28, 2021
14 min read

Hot tub buying guide

The process of purchasing a hot tub can be a daunting prospect, particularly if you know very little about hot tubs and are suddenly presented with a fleet of impressive luxury home spas.

Before you take the plunge (financially we mean), we have provided the ultimate hot tub buying guide to make sure that you’re making the best investment that suits your relaxation requirements.

Research is key

It is important to do your research prior to buying a hot tub so the fact that you’ve landed on this page is a great start!

You do not want to spend thousands of pounds on an unsuitable hot tub that cannot meet your needs.

Taking the time to investigate the different types of hot tubs available will allow you to select the right option for you.

We highly recommend that when you start looking for hot tubs, you purchase one from a local retailer rather than via risky auction sites or unfamiliar websites.

There are many websites out there claiming to sell luxury hot tubs that rival authoritative brands at a fraction of the price, however many of these rip off established brands in manufacturing companies with very few moderations.

Local specialists service your local area and it is in their best interest for the sake of the company’s reputation to provide good quality products and services.

Finding the right tub

When considering purchasing a hot tub, there are a number of factors to consider:

  • The size of the hot tub.
  • The number of seats.
  • The depth of water.
  • The filtration system.
  • Any add-ons such as lighting or audio systems.

There are many different types of hot tubs with different features and designs, suitable for a range of bespoke requirements.

Read on to find out more information about the different types of hot tubs or contact us and a member of our team will be happy to advise you.

The different types of hot tubs

To give you an idea of what the different types of tubs available are, we’ve compiled a list for you to browse.

Hardshell hot tubs

Hardshell hot tubs are the traditional type of hot tub and are often highly sought after due to their fancy designs and innovative features. The powerful jets and spacious interior of hard shell hot tubs make them a popular choice for homeowners.

Typical price range: £3,000-£15,000

Hardshell hot tubs are designed with a hard base, internal heating system and an abundance of jets. These luxury hot tubs can also be fitted with special add-on features such as WiFi, sound systems and foam insulation to stop the heat from escaping from your tub.

Typically seats 2-8 people

These tubs generally seat between 2-8 people but this number can vary. Hardshell hot tubs can be made of different materials such as plastic, acrylic and wood.

Advantages of a hard shell hot tub

  • Greater comfort – moulded seats in hard-shell tubs allow for greater comfort.
  • Greater insulation – hard shell tubs have good insulation due to being made from thicker material.
  • Durable and long-lasting – hard shell hot tubs are durable and lost-lasting.
  • Great features – hard shell hot tubs are designed with a lot of great features, including jets, lights, sound systems and more. Due to their technologically advanced design, they are able to be customised with far more impressive features than most hot tubs.

Disadvantages of a hard shell hot tub

  • Expensive – hard shell hot tubs are more expensive to purchase but can be more cost-effective for long-term use.
  • Portable – hard shell hot tubs are not portable and transportation of a hard shell hot tub requires a lot of planning.
  • High maintenance – hard shell hot tubs require a lot of maintenance.

Browse our selection of hard shell hot tubs here.

Wood-fired hot tubs

A wood-fired hot tub is exactly what you’d think it was – a wooden tub that heats up the tub water using a log-fired stove instead of electricity.

Typical price range: £1500-£8000

These tubs have an earthy aesthetic that works well in gardens, making them a popular choice for those looking for a hot tub that provides aromatherapy in natural surroundings.

Typically seats 2-8 people

Wood-fired tubs require nothing other than wood burning in order to provide heat to the tub. For some people, the sound and smell of wood burning whilst simultaneously having the opportunity to enjoy a warm soak couldn’t be more relaxing in the outdoors.

Advantages of a wood-fired hot tub

  • Energy saving – the only resource needed to heat up the water is wood.
  • No chemicals – no chemicals necessary.
  • Low maintenance – wood-fired hot tub maintenance is simple and easy.
  • Heat up faster – wood-fired hot tubs can heat water up faster.

Disadvantages of a wood-fired hot tub

  • Requires more effort – more effort is required to heat up a hot tub than an electric heater.
  • Unstable temperature – As heating the water relies on wood burning, this can mean the temperature might fluctuate unlike an electric hot tub.
  • Less comfortable – many wooden based hot tubs have a hard bench and walls which means that it’s not as comfortable as a traditional padded hot tub.

Inflatable hot tubs

Inflatable hot tubs are becoming increasingly popular due to their lower price tag and portability. Unlike a traditional hot tub which is fixed in one spot all year round, inflatable hot tubs can be blown up and used in different locations at times that suit you.

Typically seats 2-4 people

Typical price range: £500-£4000

Advantages of an inflatable hot tub

  • Cost-effective – an inflatable hot tub gives you the benefits of a hot tub at a fraction of the price.
  • Space-effective – inflatable hot tubs are ideal for smaller gardens or for those who want it to take up minimal space. These tubs are less bulky than traditional hot tubs and are a lot more space-effective.
  • Convenience – inflatable hot tubs can be inflated and deflated at leisure, and can be stored away when not in use; making them a highly convenient option.
  • Easy to set up – an inflatable hot tub is very easy to set up and installation can take up to just ten minutes with no extra parts to purchase.

Disadvantages of an inflatable hot tub

  • Not as comfortable – inflatable hot tubs often will not have seats which makes it more like a paddling pool.
  • Higher running costs – inflatable hot tubs take longer to heat up which results in higher running costs.
  • Poor insulation – inflatable hot tubs do not maintain heat as well as traditional hot tubs.

In-ground ‘custom’ hot tubs

A custom or ‘in-ground’ hot tub is often referred to as a spa. Custom hot tubs are designed bespokely and tailored to your requirements.

An in-ground custom hot tub can be built to your design specifications and size requirements.

Most will be built into the ground or built as part of a complex in some form.

Typical price range: £6000+

Advantages of in-ground custom hot tubs

  • Custom design – with a customised hot tub, you can decide what features you want your hot tub to have as well as the colours and overall design. Customised hot tubs are more attractive than traditional hot tubs because they can be tailored to the aesthetic you choose.
  • Save on installation costs – in-ground hot tubs are easier to install when performed alongside an in-ground pool and this can save on labour and installation costs.
  • Low-profile – a custom in-ground hot tub has a relatively low profile in comparison to traditional hot tubs as these tubs can blend into the property surroundings.

Disadvantages of in-ground custom hot tubs

  • Expensive to install – although it can be cost-effective to install an in-ground hot tub in addition to a pool, it is still more expensive than purchasing a traditional hot tub.
  • Higher running costs – an in-ground hot tub uses more energy to function and this increases overall running costs.
  • Fewer jets – in-ground hot tubs do not typically have as many jets installed as above-ground spas; with many featuring less than ten jets.

What hot tub features do I need?

There are so many hot tub features to choose from and the last thing you want to do is purchase unnecessary features that you don’t really want or need.

We’re going to run through some of the main hot tub features to help you make the ultimate decision.

Air blower

Traditional hot tub jets will use air and water to create the ultimate spa experience.

Some hot tubs will activate their air supplies using a valve or switch and an air blower is an independent motor delivering air to certain jets.

Why get an air blower?

An air blower can greatly enhance a hot tub experience as the volume of air provided to the jets will determine how much water will bubble and thus influence the intensity of the massage.

An air blower typically adds an extra £500 on top of the hot tub price. However, it can be a great choice if you want to add another level of relaxation to your spa experience and reap the benefits of hydrotherapy.

Hot tub filters

On average people are said to produce a pint of body fluid every hour in a hot tub. That being said, a proper filtration system is a must!

Skim filtration

Filtration in a hot tub is crucial for hot tub maintenance and maintaining a good hygiene level. Standard built-in filters are located behind the tub’s skimmer grill and as the filters are constantly coming into contact with tub water, dirt is able to escape and return to the water in use.

With this process, hot tub water is never properly clean.

Pressurised filtration

In a pressurised filtration system, filters will be located inside a canister that resides separately from the bathing water.

Why opt for pressurised filtration?

When looking at hot tubs, opting to buy a pressurised filtration system is recommended as pressurised filtration is disconnected from the water and this means that once dirt is caught up in the filter, it cannot escape.

A pressurised filtration system makes hot tub water maintenance far easier.

Built-in heaters

In order for a hot tub to maintain the same temperature that is always ready to use and does not require waiting time to heat up, it requires a built-in heater.

Standard hot tub heaters are around 3kw and will take on average between 10-20 hours to heat up a traditional hot tub and even longer if the weather conditions are poor.

Why is a good quality built-in heater important?

A built-in heater will keep the hot tub temperature at the right level and maintain it. A good quality hot tub heater will allow you to get the most out of your hot tub in the long run.

Jets & pumps

Hot tub jets push out water into the tub and determine the water pressure that makes for the ultimate spa experience.

Pumps drive water to the jets and actually enable the hot tub to function. Without pumps, a hot tub is simply a paddling pool.

Having a lot of jets doesn’t mean that the hot tub will be better, but having a good number of jets will certainly enhance the massage factor.

Considering the number and power of pumps, the hot tub’s size and placement of the jets are all important to a good hot tub experience.

How many jets in a hot tub are best?

We recommend a hot tub with a ratio of approximately 25-30 jets per jump. The more jets you have, the more pumps you will need as the power of the jets will be distributed between pumps and will be weaker if there are a large amount of jets and only one pump.

Why is jet placement important?

A good designer will consider jet placement carefully as having a good placement of jets will target common pressure points in order to enhance relaxation and reduce muscle tension.

A good quality shell

When thinking about buying a hot tub, considering the shell of the tub is important. If the shell of a hot tub breaks at any point, it’s game over.

A lot of acrylic shells can be treated quite poorly during the manufacturing process and this can place significant strain on their durability.

What sort of shell should I look out for?

Shell quality is so important and we recommend a fibreglass backed acrylic material as this strengthens the shell.

Always look carefully at the shell warranty and make sure you get a good one.

What hot tub accessories do I need?

To name a few…


If your hot tub comes with a Bluetooth feature, you can pair your devices and listen to your favourite music whilst relaxing in the bubbles.

Sound systems

Many hot tubs now have advanced in-built sound systems offering crisp audio when playing music.

LED lights

LED lights will transform your spa into an illuminated haven, creating the perfect romantic ambience or party mood.


Hot tub covers are integral to hot tub maintenance. They offer many benefits:

  • They prevent dirt, debris and insects from entering the tub when it isn’t in use.
  • They can be used for safety purposes as a concern can be that children or pets may enter the tub without your knowledge.
  • They provide extra hot tub insulation by retaining the heat. Leaving a tub uncovered can create problems for your water temperature when factors such as heat evaporation, rainwater and snow come into play.

Hot tub running costs

We understand that hot tub running costs can be a big concern for potential buyers, as there are fears that your energy bill will go through the roof.

Fortunately, most hot tub manufacturers recognise this and there has been a huge improvement to the manufacturing of hot tubs to maximise energy efficiency in design.

We hope to put your financial concerns to bed by answering some of those pressing questions.

How do I keep hot tub energy costs down?

The hot tub owner certainly plays a vital role in keeping energy costs down by making sure to follow the recommended guidance on hot tub maintenance.

Take care to follow the instructions and advice of the hot tub manufacturer and hot tub dealer and this should help you regain more control over your energy bill.

For more advice about how to maximise your hot tub energy efficiency and queries about maintenance, contact us.

How much energy does a hot tub use?

The overall hot tub energy costs will depend on a variety of different factors:

  • The hot tub itself i.e. its size, quality and design.
  • The frequency of hot tub use.
  • The cost of energy per kilowatt in your specific location.
  • Hot tub size.
  • Insulation quality.

How is hot tub energy used?

Hot tub spas will consume energy as a result of the following:

  • The more frequently a hot tub is used, the more energy it will require. This will create more heat loss and the hot tub system will need to work harder to compensate.
  • If you have to keep reheating your hot tub water rather than leaving it at a constant temperature, this can top up energy costs.
  • It is recommended that hot tubs are drained and refilled 2-3 times a year. Water will need to be reheated following a refill and this will consume energy.

Does turning off my hot tub between uses save money?

No turning off a hot tub between uses will not save money in the long run – especially if you use your hot tub frequently.

Every time you have to reheat the water, this will consume more energy than leaving the hot tub constantly running at the same temperature.

You can browse our selection of luxury hot tubs here or contact us and a friendly member of our team will be happy to offer advice to make sure that you make the best choice for you.

Can I spread the cost of buying a hot tub?

Some hot tub sellers will let you finance your hot tub over a period of time to help you manage the costs. At Tubs Direct, we offer 0% finance to do exactly that lets you spread the cost over up to 4 years.

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