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Hot tubs are in high demand in 2022 and it could still take months or even a year for one to ship. Our shopping advice has not changed.
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So, you’ve decided you want a hot tub. You’re not alone: US it. Hot tub sales soar in 2020 as people seek home comfort and entertainment during pandemic Demand isn’t decreasing in 2021 or 2022. If you’ve done a little window shopping, you’ve probably noticed one effect of the spike: Delivery times are now measured in months, Not days or weeks – or even months and years.
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In this guide, we will not choose a single model that is “best for most people,” as usual, because each family has its own tastes, needs and budget. Instead, we’ll guide you through the process of identifying, purchasing, and installing the hot tub you want—even if you’re just moments away from your first relaxing soak.
We spoke to two lifelong hot tub sellers—whose companies have great reputations and overwhelmingly positive customer reviews—to get their expert advice. Frank Carmona, sales manager for All Florida Pool & Spa Center, has been supplying Miami residents with hot tubs for over 20 years, and the company itself was founded in 1971. Marco Prisco is the owner of Prisco Hot Tubs, a store that has served the New York, New Jersey and Connecticut markets for over 30 years. We also interviewed Joseph Pettas, an online seller of bath products at Home Depot. And, as always, we study manufacturer and dealer websites and customer reviews to identify alternatives and uncover common questions and complaints.
A hot tub is a major purchase, and one that should last you at least 15 years. During this time, it will require constant maintenance (cleaning, pH balancing of water, regular refreshing of disinfectant chemicals, occasional refilling), and sometimes larger services (pumps eventually wear out, electronics can freeze). In this sense, buying one is like buying a car: you have to factor in the upfront costs and long-term maintenance costs.
Buying a hot tub is a lot like buying a car with almost endless options available. Some hot tubs are suitable for two people; Some fit 10. Some are bare bones, with just a few water jets and simple seating; Some have all the bells and whistles, like built-in speakers and underwater lights. Some even cost as much as a new car, although reliable, durable models can be cheaper. (Carmona says the base price of the comfortable hot tubs he sells is about $6,500; Prisco’s base line is about $4,000.)
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Before you install a hot tub you need to prepare your home. It can be as simple as creating a flat surface using sand and concrete pavers, but many installations require a professional contractor—such as reinforcing the deck to handle the weight—and many require the services of a licensed electrician. 220 volt power line.
For all of these reasons, we strongly recommend working with a local, specialty hot tub dealership rather than ordering hot tubs from major retailers that carry them (Home Depot, Lowe’s, and Costco, among others). You will have more options and more salespeople to drive to you. You’ll find advice on the site preparation you need, as well as manufacturer specifications that contractors can use to ensure safe measures. And your hot tub will be installed and hooked up by the dealership. Big box stores just dump hot tubs on the curb and then it’s up to you to figure out how to get them into your yard or onto your deck.
There are probably many dealers in your area – so how do you choose one? “The key is, you’re looking for a reputable dealer that has longevity, that has a service department that doesn’t do under-warranty work,” Carmona said. “And the reason I say that is because a lot of small stores disappear, so they leave the home owner with a warranty that nobody’s going to care about,” he added. Trial reviews of Home Depot’s highest-rated hot tubs (click on 1- and 2-star ratings), which are representative.
Big box stores just dump hot tubs on the curb and then it’s up to you to figure out how to get them into your yard or onto your deck.
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Find dealerships that meet their qualifications, then visit a few or make a few phone calls. Most dealerships only carry one or two manufacturers, so if you shop around, you’ll see more options. And you’ll also get a sense of each dealer’s approach to sales and customer service.
And, Prisco says, try to resist the urge — buy a hot tub you might be lucky enough to stumble upon while shopping. “A lot of people want a hot tub so bad, they’ll buy almost anything,” he said. Prisco specifically warns against buying “stragglers” that you can find in stores that sell hot tubs, but this does not limit: “Yes, they will get a hot bath quickly, but long life – they may not get what they want yet. Five or six years, maybe it is not the best hot tub, the service may not be strong.
I asked Carmona and Prisco how they match potential customers with hot tubs that meet their needs. And they had the same answer: They started asking a few questions because — no offense — “most people have no idea” about what they want and need when they come into the store, Carmona said. Think like a hot tub dealer – ask yourself the same questions before you start shopping – will make you a smarter customer. And it can help you quickly narrow down your options.
How many people will use a hot tub, and is it for adult relaxation or family playtime?
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“Do you want a spa fit for four, or six or more?” Frisco asked. “And you want to fit six people comfortably, or closer? People in my area [in and around New York City] tend to be more family-oriented, so they always get something that holds six people. There are many examples where, say, A couple gets a hot tub that’s big enough for another couple, so it’s a four-seater. Families leave a little room because kids want to jump in (the Pool and Hot Tub Alliance, the industry’s leading trade group, recommends (To keep children safe in hot tubs.)
Like Prisco, Carmona also sells hot tubs in a variety of sizes. But he noted the popularity of the two-seat model specifically in Florida: they are often the choice of retired couples who plan to use it therapeutically, eliminating sciatica and joint pain. In Florida, at least, the therapeutic concern has a financial impact, Carmona added — if you get a doctor’s note that you need a hot tub for medical reasons, you don’t pay sales tax.
This is a question in two parts. As a future owner, you will want to know where your hot tub will be installed, so the dealer can advise on necessary electrical work and possible construction arrangements. Both Carmona and Prisco said most dealerships can recommend contractors they have good relationships with. “But a lot of people ‘have guys,'” Prisco added, and that’s fine, as long as they’re licensed and insured: “Builders have all kinds of specifications for what contractors have to do.”
For dealers, the primary question is about access to your yard for installation. Ideally, they will be able to drive or forklift the hot tub to where it will be stored. But if your yard is fenced or inaccessible, they have to use other methods, which add additional costs. “If I have to use a crane or a helicopter, that’s extra,” Carmona said.
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“We’re in Miami, so you can imagine! There are a lot of penthouses that cranes can’t reach, so we use helicopters.
Most hot tub manufacturers offer several broad product lines: basic, step-up, and premium models. As you move up the line, the price increases and so do the number and types of optional features. But in each section, you can choose between open seating (where everyone sits close in a circle) and lounge or
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