Hot tubs and spas are great additions to any home. They inspire relaxation, fun, and can benefit customers through heat and hydrotherapy. However, the experience of purchasing a hot tub can be daunting. Should you buy new or used? Let's find out.
New Hot Tubs & Spas
New hot tubs are a good option if you love warranties and new shiny things. Sure, you'll pay more up front but you have the assurance and peace of mind knowing that the hot tub will be taken care of properly from the get go. The added security of a warranty makes people sleep better at night, but make sure you read the fine print on the warranty. Some warranties cover from the time the spa was delivered to the dealer, not necessarily from the time you purchase. If the spa has been sitting at a dealership for a year, it's possible that a year has been shaved off your warranty! Plus, most warranties will cover parts for 3 - 5 years but labor will only cover one year.
When purchasing a new hot tub, you must first ask yourself what it will be used for. If the purpose is to ease arthritis pain for example, you will want to ignore things things like LED lights and pop up speakers and instead focus on the water power behind the jets. Some hot tubs are specifically designed for hydrotherapy benefits; while they may not be as flashy, they are extremely effective. If your hot tub is just for fun and relaxation, features like in-shell stereo or other entertainment features may be for you.
In all cases, look for good insulation. The expense of heating your tub doesn't just come from heat loss through the cover, it comes from heat loss through the cabinet. Fully foamed tubs protect great against heat loss, but they are a pain to repair should you get a leak sometime down the road. Whatever you do, avoid non-insulated tubs or tubs that are insulated with packing peanuts (yes, it's been done).
Before purchasing a new tub, be sure to do a little bit of homework on the tub you are considering. The Internet is a wealth of information and reviews, and should help guide you. Note that there are high grade, mid grade, and low grade tubs and be sure to see what other owners think about the performance and quality of a model before committing.
Used Hot Tubs & Spas
A new car looks great coming off the lot but as everyone knows, the second it hits the street it loses value. The same is true for hot tubs and spas. Buying a used hot tub is an excellent choice for those looking to get a lot of bang for the buck. However, you have to know what to look for and what other expenses might occur as a result.
Do your research. Find out what brand names are reputable and which ones are less desirable. Determine the brand and the reputation of the brand for the hot tub you are considering. It's amazing that often times the first question we ask before moving a hot tub is "What brand is it?" and most customers just don't know. Just like there is a major difference between a Mercedes and a KIA, there is a difference in hot tub manufacturers.
The #1 thing people don't consider: Once you've found a used hot tub that you love, paying the seller isn't the end of the financial story. The move and installation will cost you money, and sometimes a lot of money. If you buy a poor quality hot tub, it could end up costing you more than it's worth!
First, there is the cost of moving the hot tub itself. This can vary depending upon the age, size, and condition of the hot tub as well as the complexity of the move and the drive time between locations. Considering moving it yourself to save money? Consider this: most 5 - 6 person hot tubs will weigh in around 1,000 lbs, and 8 person hot tubs can weigh over 1,500 lbs. The right equipment and the right manpower is essential to moving any object that large and heavy. We've written a guide to moving a hot tub, which goes more in-depth about this.
Next, electrical work will likely need done. Over 80% of all hot tubs sold run off of a 220 volt connection. These hot tubs require a separate sub-panel box that is mounted outside of the house and is wired into the main breaker box inside the house. This sub-panel box is designed to protect the main power breaker; if your hot tub gets struck by lightning or a circuit fries, the sub-panel breaker will blow but the main power in the house will be safe. If you can manage it, get the sub-panel box with the hot tub to save the cost of purchasing a new one. An electrician will need to disconnect it and then reconnect it to your home, but the cost of paying an electrician is less than the cost of replacing the box.
Finally, you will need to consider repair work. A "free" hot tub is never free, and many a customer has been frustrated to find this out the hard way. If you are taking on a "free" hot tub with the thought of doing the repairs and saving a ton of money, you will be in for a big surprise. If you can find the parts (big "if", depending on the manufacturer and age), you will still have to move the hot tub and worry about the electrical work. In our experience, most "free" hot tubs end up costing at least $1,000.
Ultimately, the decision to purchase a new or used hot tub comes down to preference and cost. While a used hot tub might require a few hundred to get moved, the benefit of premium features and saving money on the cost of the tub often makes it the better value compared to new tubs. If you are considering purchasing a hot tub, we would love to help you move it; just give us a call, and we'll be glad to help!