Opening and closing a hot tub cover is a hassle. And for my wife and daughters, while they could slide it off, they couldn’t get it back on. So I wondered what is the best hot tub cover lifter?
Here’s what I discovered and purchased:
There are quite a few to choose from, but Cover Valet makes some of the best products in the industry. Their products include both side & under-mount options, outstanding reviews and many with 5-year warranties. The hydraulic arms ensure anyone can open the spa lid quickly and easily.
Before we start picking out the best hot tub cover lifters on the market, we should first define exactly what a lifter will do for you, how they work and how to install them.
But in the review section, I don’t just list a bunch of randomly chosen expensive ones.
I list the best choices, including by budget, for different needs, such as minimal clearance, size, and shape of the hot tub, and ease of installation.
That way, there’s literally something for everyone. Let’s dive in!
Don’t want to wait?
What is a Hot Tub Cover Lifter?
A hot tub cover lifter is designed to remove or replace the lid of your spa. Instead of having to drag the lid around, you can depend on a lifter to do everything for you. Many of them are powered by buttons or remotes that you can sit back and click to activate. You’ll immediately love the sense of relief that they bring.
When you’re choosing a hot tub cover lifter, there are two different types: manual and automatic.
The manual lifters require you to use a bar, but it’s still much easier than rolling and overlapping your current cover. On the other hand, automatic lifters allow you to use a remote to control it.
Getting a lid lifter for your spa is a great idea if you have kids.
You can still lock the lifter to prevent them from entering, but it’ll make it easier for you to open for them. If you have any health concerns, muscle pain, or nerve damage, you should always get a spa lid-lifter.
Many people who purchase hot tubs do so because they want to soothe muscle tenseness.
Nothing makes sore muscles feel even worse than having to pick up an entire spa lid. Not to mention the fact that dropping the lid on the ground can damage it, causing you to have to buy a new one far before you should have to.
But beyond that, constantly sliding your lid off and letting it drop to the ground will significantly shorten the lifespan of your lid and the cover.
I know. At my last house, we didn’t have a hot tub cover lifter. My daughters and wife loved to use the hot tub when I was at work but struggled to get the lid off smoothly.
Most of the time it just fell to the ground, eventually leading to tears in the cover. Plus they could never get it back on, which became my job in the dark when I got home from work.
All in all, the benefits of a hot tub lifter go way beyond the budget-friendly prices that they usually come with.
Here are a few key benefits that you can expect:
- Easy removal and replacement of your hot tub lid
- Lock in place to prevent children from entering the spa
- Increase the lifespan of your spa lid by preventing drop damage
- Adding chemicals and cleaning the hot tub is much easier with a lifter
- No stress or pain on your muscles and joints
I mentioned a torn hot tub cover above.
Luckily, if you have that happening, you don’t always have to replace your cover. In a recent article, I walk through all the steps to fix a torn hot tub cover.
What really surprised me was not only how cheap the patch kits are, but how quickly you can make the repair. Just click that link to read it on my site.
The Ultralift Undermount is an easy-to-use hot tub cover lifter which features a bracket that slides under the hot tub prior to filling. It allows one person to easily lift the cover off and position it behind their hot tub. More info: https://t.co/Gn2noR05C8 @SMP_Ultralift pic.twitter.com/vNE5Bqa3CM
— Piscina & Wellness BCN (@PiscinaWellness) November 27, 2018
How Do You Use a Spa Cover Lifter?
Spa cover lifters are convenient in every sense of the word. You don’t have to do very many repairs at all, and they’re fairly self-explanatory. As mentioned previously in the article, there are two types of spa cover lifters.
Manual Cover Lifters
Using a manual spa cover lifter is actually quite simple.
These rely on hydraulic arms to do the heavy lifting for you. And these are the most common type of hot tub cover lifters you will see.
Different types work differently, but most require you to first fold the lid in half and then slide it into the holder. The holder then most commonly folds down the outside of the hot tub.
It’ll naturally hang, but the bar fully supports the weight of it. You can leave it folded in half on the side until you’re ready to replace the lid.
To replace the lid, you just need to pull the bar back to the center of the cover. This motion will instantly pull the cover with the bar.
That’s all there is to it! Fold and slide the cover back in place, and you’ll be good to go.
Automatic Cover Lifters
Automatic lid lifters are even easier than manual lifters.
Click a button on your remote or on the side of the spa (depending on your model) and watch it pull the lid off. Don’t forget to unbuckle the spa lid; otherwise, it’ll break right off, as the automatic motion is rather powerful.
The great thing about automatic cover lifters is that they can be set wherever you’d like.
You don’t have to remove the spa lid with an automatic lifter completely. Instead, you can leave it halfway off for a quick dip or take it completely off to enjoy a long, relaxing afternoon.
The only real downside of automatic spa lid lifters is that they are expensive, hard to find and often require professional installation.
But if money is no object, there are some fantastic options over at Corvana. Just go to their dealer locator and see if there’s a dealer near you.
— Spa Covers USA (@SpaCoversUSA1) October 5, 2016
How Much Room Do You Need for a Hot Tub Cover Lifter?
The amount of space you need on all sides of a cover lifter completely depends on the type of lid and lifter that you’ve purchased.
Many don’t require much room at all, while others need up to half the length of the lid. But on average, count on needing at least 12″ behind your hot tub for a cover lifter.
The types of lid lifters that fold the lid in half and place it horizontally on the side require half of the lid’s length on that side. This means that a 7′ lid requires 3.5 feet on the side that it’s hanging on. However, you might prefer these lifters because you don’t need any clearance on all the other sides.
Another type of hot tub cover lifter is one that requires about 12” to 18” on the back and 5” on the sides. The exact measurements are dependent on the size of your cover, but these measurements are average. Adding an extra foot or so is hardly anything, which is why many owners opt for this type of lifter.
Something else that you should take note of is the corner areas.
Many lifters don’t list the requirements, but you should always try to leave around 12 inches from each of the corners. This extra space allows the lid and the lifter to shift a bit as it moves around. Basically, you won’t have to deal with scratches.
The final factor that determines the clearance needed for a hot tub lifter is the shape of the spa.
If you have an octagonal lid, you’re going to need much more clearance (typically 18” +). On the other hand, circular and square tubs don’t need as much room (12” in most cases).
Again, the results vary and depend on the exact model that you choose.
What is the Easiest Hot Tub Cover Lifter?
Expensive, automatic ones aside, virtually all brands of hot tub cover lifters use powder-coated steel or aluminum and hydraulic arms to lift your cover into place and back again.
So really, they are all about the same in terms of how easy it is to lift the cover.
Most also require you fold your lid in half, which does take a little strength. But in terms of how easy they are to get on and off, they are all pretty similar.
For ease of installation though, the easiest ones are the ones that don’t require you to drain the hot tub.
So for that, look for ones that are side-mounted into the wood or plastic panels. Ones that are under-mount do typically require you to drain the tub first.
That being said, with mine, I didn’t use the flat piece that would slide under the hot tub. I simply screwed the lifter into a board and then screwed that into my deck; no draining the tub required!
Once you’ve drained, mounted, and filled the spa with the lid lifter, you can use the hardware to attach the bar to the lid that you have. The hydraulic poles on both sides of the lid add an incredibly cushioned feeling when you’re pushing the cover back.
There’s hardly any strain whatsoever. And yes, with the hydraulic type (the kind I bought) you can take it on and off with 1 hand.
You’ll also love that hydraulic hot tub lifters (a type of manual lifter) are usually much cheaper than remote-powered automatic lifters.
What’s better than using one hand to move an entire spa lid out of the way without spending too much money?
Now if money is no object, this is the one you should get! Check out their video!
How Easy Are Hot Tub Lifters to Install?
Most hot tub lifters on the market aren’t too challenging to install.
In most cases, a screwdriver or cordless drill and maybe a rubber mallet is all you’ll need. I installed mine by myself in about 15 minutes.
As mentioned in the last section, you might have to drain the spa to lift it.
If this is the case, you could even need four or more people. However, there are plenty of lid lifters that don’t require you to lift the entire spa.
Screws and brackets make up the vast majority of the hardware used throughout the installation process.
Fortunately, they provide easy instructions and clear details for you to follow. Before you buy any spa cover lifter, always make sure that you have the proper clearance for that model.
If you’re too worried about draining and lifting the spa or drilling holes into the side of it, you could always search for professional assistance. Many companies will come over and install lid lifters that you’ve bought through other brands.
But once drained, with the flat base of the cover lifter pressed against the bottom of your hot tub, with a rubber mallet and a little elbow grease, it shouldn’t be too hard to get it to slide under.
On a side note, almost all lid lifters don’t come with a lid. You’ll have to measure the cover that you currently have and match it up with the lifter that you’re searching to purchase. However, many of them are one-size-fits-all for the dimensions listed.
What things should I consider before buying a hot tub cover lifter?
Hot tubs and hot tub covers come in all shapes and sizes. Also where your hot tub is placed and the type of surface it is placed on all have to be factored into your buying decision.
Here are the top things to consider before just ordering one.
Many hot tubs are square, but it’s also not uncommon to see:
In fact, the less common the shape of your tub, the harder it may be to find a cover lifter. It also may be more expensive than the more standard shapes.
I have a fence on 2 sides of my hot tub. Because of the placement of that fence, it would be impossible for me to use a hot tub cover lifter that is mounted on the sides of the tub.
So I had to have one that mounted on the center of just one side.
But you might have yours pushed up against a gazebo or wall. In most cases, you’ll need at least 12″ on the side where you want the lid to hang when open.
Size of the hot tub and cover
The most common hot tubs are square and between 76” to 96”. But some get up well over 100″. The right hot tub cover lifter for you will be one that can handle the size of your hot tub cover.
How it attaches to your hot tub
Some mount under the hot tub, often requiring draining. Yet others screw into the sides of the paneling.
For that type, because it has to be screwed into 2 opposite sides, it wouldn’t work for me because there’s a fence on 2 sides of my hot tub.
But other people loathe the thought of having to drain their hot tub to slide the plate in for the under-mount style.
Which Hot Tub Cover Lifters Are the Best?
Now that you’ve seen all of the reasons that you should consider a spa cover lifter, it’s time to look at the best of them. Pick out your favorite brand, style, and various other features from the selection below.
As always, I only recommend items I either own, have used, have thoroughly checked out. And I only recommend things with at least 4 stars and where no more than 11% of the reviews are 1 star.
That way, no matter what you select, you know it’s going to be great!
1.Best Hot tub cover lifter with limited clearance
The Cover Valet CV400 Spa Cover Lifter (click to see the current price on Amazon) is a fantastic choice if you don’t have enough clearance room for the bigger options.
You only need between 4 to 6 inches on all sides, which is well below the minimum 12 inches suggested by most spa experts.
The gas-shocked-assisted poles allow you to pull back the cover without breaking a sweat. A single person can quickly remove or replace the cover in a matter of seconds. Keep in mind that this model fits spa covers up to 8 feet long.
This lifter mounts right to the side of the spa cabinet (wood or plastic).
Many customers prefer this product simply because you don’t have to lift or drain the spa to install it. The instructions are quick and easy, allowing you to put it together in less than an hour.
- Not much clearance room necessary
- Easy-to-use hydraulic system
- Quick and simple installation process
2. Best hot tub cover lifter for round or octagonal shaped lids
Cover Caddy Cover Valet Hot Tub Spa Cover Lifter
Next up is the Cover Caddy Cover Valet Hot Tub Spa Cover Lifter (click to see the current price on Amazon).
This one made the list, despite not quite having as high a star rating as I prefer, as unlike most, it’s perfect if you have a lid that is not square (although it works just fine on square lids too.
So for those of you with round, rectangle, or 80-sided hot tub lids, this one is probably the one you want.
You can install this cover on any hot tub of any shape. Just be aware you do need clearance behind the hot tub of roughly half the size of your lid. It includes spaces for lids that are not square.
- Fits on all hot tub shapes
- Includes spacers for rounded or tapered edges
- 5-year warranty!
- Takes just minutes to install with no drilling
3. Best hot tub cover lifter for those on a budget
The Slider Spa Cover No-Lift Remover & Storage System
This spa cover lifter by Spa Depot (click to see the current price on Amazon) might be the easiest option to install for beginners.
But it’s also just a tad over $50 bucks currently, making it, by far, the cheapest option on my list.
If you’re not handy with power tools, you can follow the simple instructions to have it up in around 30 minutes. All of the mountain hardware is included.
Each arm on this lifter has several rollers that take the stress off of the arms. They also allow you to slide the cover right off without stressing your muscles and joints. The rear mounting brackets hold the cover as you relax in the spa. When you’re done, simply roll it right back over to the top.
- Incredibly simple installation process
- Includes rollers to reduce stress on the product
- Comes with a storage bracket to hold the cover in place
- Folds the cover quickly for chemicals, cleaning, and more
4. Best hot tub cover lifter for large or rectangular covers
Cover Valet EX Cover
Another great spa lid lifter by Cover Lifter is their EX Cover (click to see the current price on Amazon).
This one is for extra-large spas, either square or rectangular.
It’s made with 100% aluminum to withstand the elements outside. Aluminum is also super lightweight, preventing possible stress and damage to your hot tub.
This lid cover assembly requires you to have about 12 inches of clearance behind the spa. However, it’s recommended that you have the same amount on all sides for an easier installation process.
All of the exposed aluminum pieces on this product are zinc plated and powder coated to prevent them from rusting and corroding. It also has a 5-year limited warranty through the manufacturer.
- Made with durable, lightweight aluminum
- Includes 5-year warranty
- Quick mounting system
- Vertically flat positioning
5. Best hot tub cover lifter for harsh climates
Carefree Stuff SpaEscort Easy Cover Lift
If you have a large spa, then the Carefree Stuff SpaEscort Easy Cover Lift (click to see the current price on Amazon) is worth looking into.
But this thing is also great for seaside areas or anywhere prone to rust and corrosion or any extra harsh climate.
It works for spas up to 96 inches in length. The clearance requirements include 18 inches behind the spa as well as 4 inches on all sides of it.
One of the best parts about getting this hot tub lid lifter is that it has a bracket template. It allows you to measure and place the mounting brackets much quicker than simply guessing where they should go.
The nylon straps on this product are designed to prevent rust from eating away at the metal.
As we all know, water and oxygen combine for a perfect rusty environment. Fortunately, the straps fight away rust before it forms.
- Great for large spa covers
- Includes a bracket mounting template
- Rust-proof nylon straps
- Supported by the ground and spa
6. Best hot tub cover lifter for easy installation
The Cover Guy – Hot Tub Cover Lifter
The Cover Guy focuses on making the best lids and lifters for hot tubs around the world, and this Hot Tub Cover Lifter (click to see the current price on Amazon) is no exception.
Going to a company that focuses on a specific niche is always a good way to get the best customer service. Their patented cover lifter sells to thousands of customers every year.
Part of the reason that so many people keep purchasing these lid lifters is that it has aircraft-grade aluminum tubing. Coated with powder, they don’t twist, bend, or corrode very easily.
The bar that stretches across the center of the cover is easy to operate. All you have to do is grab it with one hand and slowly guide it backward. When you’re ready to close the lid, pull it right back, and you’re all set!
- Made by a company with excellent customer service
- Powder-coated aircraft aluminum
- Simple installation process with instructions
- Prevents rust and corrosion
7. Best under-mount hot tub cover lifter for extra-large tubs
UltraLift Under Mount Spa Cover Lift
The UltraLift Under Mount Spa Cover Lift (available on Amazon) is one of the biggest systems on the market.
It can be used with hot tubs up to 109 inches, making it an absolute monster compared to other lifters on this list. It requires 16 inches of clearance around all of the edges, which is actually quite low for the size.
As the name states, this lid lifter is designed to fit underneath your spa.
You’ll have to drain and lift the entire spa to mount it underneath, but it comes with one huge benefit: You don’t have to drill into your spa or the deck. For those of you who don’t want to use power tools or damage the unit, this is a great unit.
- Mounts underneath to prevent drilling
- Quick and simple instructions once you drain the spa
- Fits spas up to 109 inches across
- Doesn’t require much clearance for the size
8. Best budget under-mount hot tub cover lifter
Cover Valet NP509 Spa Cover Lift and Caddy
This cover lifter and caddy by Cover Valet (click to see the current price on Amazon) is undoubtedly one of the most convenient products that you can own with a hot tub. The storage system on the sides completely gets the lid out of your way when it’s off the spa.
The hydraulic lift system is another feature that continues to attract customers.
You can remove the spa lid in seconds and replace it just as quickly. Once you unbuckle the spa lid (if you have a buckled cover), it’s as easy as you could possibly imagine.
Much like a few other models on this list, this cover lifter by MySpaCover is made with powder-coated aluminum. This material prevents harm to the unit, increasing the longevity and durability for years to come.
- Easy to lift, even for people with muscle pain
- A fantastic low-profile storage system
- Made with heavy-duty materials
- Created by a trusted company
9. Best heavy duty hot tub cover lifter (steel, not aluminum)
Hot Tub Spa Cover Lift & Storage Caddy by Cover Captain
If you’re worried about drilling and permanently changing your deck, then you’re in luck. The Cover Captain Hot Tub Cover Lift (click to see the current price on Amazon) is an under-mount system, just like the one from UltraLift.
Drain the spa, slide this product underneath, fill the spa, and you’re all good to go.
Rather than using aluminum, this cover lift takes it a step further with powder-coated steel. It won’t bend, crack, rust, or break any time soon. It also has a hydraulic assistance system to easily slide the cover right off with minimal effort on your end.
The caddy storage system folds sideways to sit flush with the hot tub when it’s not in use. Once it’s time to remove the lid, lock the caddy in place and slide the lid right into it.
The caddy slowly lowers the lid to the side of the spa to get it out of your way.
- Made with high-quality steel
- Low-profile, highly-functional caddy storage system
- Undermount system to prevent drilling
- Won’t rip or damage the spa cover seams
10. Best under-mount hot tub cover lifter for no-draining
The Cover Rock-It
The Cover Rock-It (click to see the current price on WalMart, which is cheaper than Amazon on this one) is another fantastic spa lid lifter by Cover Valet/California Home Spas.
This one doesn’t have a huge, bulky plate that you have to wedge under the center of the hot tub almost certainly requiring you to drain it.
Instead, this one has 2 small plates that get wedged under each side. A large flathead screwdriver and a rubber mallet are probably all you need to get these tiny plates under your tub without having to drain it.
It allows you to slide the cover right down the side of the hot tub to give you a 360-degree view. It’s also an under-mount system to remove the need for using power tools or screws. The plate that slides underneath measures 8.75 inches x 8.75 inches.
The powder-coated aluminum poles also have a layer of zinc. This combination stops rust caused by rain and steam from the hot tub. It also has padded joints to prevent stress damage from harming the lifter.
The clearance requirements are about 18 inches on the backside of the spa.
It’s designed to fit almost any hot tub up to 96 inches in diameter. Once you have it installed, there’s no need to remove it until you’re done with the assembly completely.
- Easy to install underneath the spa
- Coated with zinc to prevent damage
- Padded joints for additional protection
- Works for most hot tubs up to 96 inches
11. Best overall hot tub cover lifter
Cover Valet NP509 Spa Cover Lift and Caddy
Last but certainly not least on the list is the Cover Valet NP509 Spa Cover Lift and Caddy (click to see the current price on Amazon).
This is the one I bought and have on my hot tub right now. So I love it and wanted to list it last.
This system is one of the best for people who have physical limitations. The caddy holds the cover in place, slowly lowering it to sit flush with the side of your hot tub. My wife and daughters can slide this thing on and off in minutes with no heavy lifting!
It also mounts underneath, much like a few other models in the selection.
I mentioned this above, but I did not mount mine under the hot tub, so there was no draining required for me. That’s because my hot tub is on a wooden deck.
So I didn’t use the large mounting plate and instead just mounted it to a 2×4 that I then screwed into my deck.
But if yours is on concrete or pavers, you will likely need to drain yours to slide the plate under the hot tub.
This one is also an Amazon’s Choice product with the best reviews of any of them.
Another common feature is that it’s made with powder-coated, high-quality aluminum. This spa cover lifter works with hot tubs between 30 to 40 inches in height. The storage options include an angled position to keep it out of your view as well as a vertical position.
- Comes with a convenient, low-profile caddy and storage system
- Undermount system for easy installation instructions
- Made with high-quality, long-lasting materials
- Padded tips prevent damage to the cover’s seams
Did I cover all you wanted to know about hot tub cover lifters and which ones are the best?
Hot tub cover lifters are primarily designed for convenience, but they can also increase the longevity of the cover itself.
By preventing drops and other harmful damage, these lifters are an investment that pays you back.
Here are a handful of benefits of owning a spa lid lifter:
- Reduced stress of having to lift the cover by yourself
- Quick installation with simple instructions on almost all models
- Makes it much easier for you to put in chemicals or clean the tub
- Prevents drop damage and other problems
- Saves the seams from wear and tear
- Gets the cover out of your way for a beautiful all-around view of the backyard
- Made to last for several years, just as long as a typical hot tub cover
Hot tub covers are a necessity. But they also require upkeep and maintenance.
The worst is when they get full of water. I covered above how you can fix tears in a cover, but it might surprise you to learn you can also fix hot tub covers that get waterlogged.
In a recent article, I break down exactly what you need to do to fix a waterlogged hot tub cover, quickly and easily.
Just click that link to see it on my site.
Photo credits which require attribution: