Why Are Hot Tubs So Expensive? (and how can you cut costs?)

When shopping around for your first hot tub, it’s easy to become overwhelmed at some of the prices you’ll see. That leads you to wonder why are hot tubs so expensive?

Here’s what I know from owning 4 of them:

A new hot tub can be as much as 100% markup, meaning the dealer doubled their cost on it. High-tech advances such as Bluetooth speakers, LED lights, enhanced hydrotherapy options have also caused hot tub prices to increase over the years. The average customer pays about $7,000 for a hot tub that fits 4-8 people.

But that’s just a quick answer!

In this article, I’m not only diving deep (pun intended) into WHY hot tubs are expensive, but I’ll also look at some key ways to save money when you do buy yours.

So let’s dig in deeper!

You should always be budget-conscious when making any big purchase. Hot tubs are a big investment, but they’re definitely worth it!

If you’re curious about how expensive hot tubs are, what their operating costs look like, or the usual cost of a hot tub, you’ve come to the right place.

One common question new hot tub buyers have is about whether there’s a difference between a Jacuzzi, hot tub, and a spa.

After all, if you Google around, you’ll see all 3 terms used interchangeably. Luckily, I get into the differences and specifics of each in a recent article.

Just click that link to read it on my site.

What is the average cost of a hot tub?


The average cost for a hot tub installation project is approximately $4,000-$8,500.

The average customer pays about $7,000 for a hot tub that fits 4-8 people. This includes installation, labor fees, and electrical work.

In general, hot tubs can cost anywhere from $2,000 to $18,000 or more.

It all really comes down to a bunch of different factors. Cheaper hot tubs are built with poor materials and workmanship from knock-off overseas companies.

These hot tubs can be ok if you’re looking for a very short-term experience. Most of these cheap hot tubs are poorly insulated; potentially increasing the electrical costs of heating them. That can also make them noisier as well.

As the price goes up, hot tubs start to have more features. Middle range hot tubs usually come with a select slew of features and lacking hydrotherapy options.

They do, however, have reliability and comfort.

Once you get into the $9,000 or $10,000 range, the increase in quality and style is very noticeable. The quality of materials and build is improved immensely.

They come with:

  • Great quality acrylic shells
  • Solidly built frames and cabinets
  • Better hydrotherapy jets
  • Comfort features like headrests and captain’s chairs
  • LED Lighting
  • Waterfalls

Premium hot tubs will run you between $13,000 to $18,000.

Sometimes, depending on features and technology, they can cost even more. These hot tubs will be well built, with a range of custom options that will allow greater personalization of your hot tub experience.

Many of these hot tubs will come with many more jets, waterfalls, or other unique massage features. They may also come with sound systems, light systems, and apps that allow you to customize and control your jet’s strength.

Is buying a hot tub a good idea?

If you’re looking for a great way to relax and also massage your body, and you have the money, then yes hot tubs are a great idea!

But like any other big investment, you have to ensure you can afford it!

When you decide to buy a hot tub, your total investment includes the upfront cost of the hot tub or spa, the time and effort required to maintain it, and the ongoing costs to run it.

Modern hot tubs are designed to enhance your home environment.

They complement your home, an excellent feature or addition that runs quietly in the background. It’s always ready when you need it. Your hot tub has many benefits, such as:

  • Supporting an active lifestyle by easing muscle tension after exercise
  • Helping you relax after a long and stressful day
  • Enjoying the space with family and friends

Your hot tub can also increase the value of your home. If you’re selling your house, it may help sway a buyer into purchasing it. Or, if you’re renting, it may do the same thing.

But a hot tub doesn’t always add to the actual value of your property when you go to sell your home.

To learn more about when a hot tub increases your property value and when it doesn’t, head over to this recent article where I get into all the specifics you need to know.

Just click that link to read it on my site.

Overall, you have to decide if it’s a good idea or not to invest the money in a hot tub.

Do you have the available money to afford not just the installation and purchase of a hot tub, but routine maintenance? Will you really use the hot tub? How often do you think you will use it? How can the hot tub benefit you?

Think about these questions and decide if a hot tub sounds right for you.

Is owning a hot tub expensive?

Like any big purchase. you’re going to be spending a healthy chunk of money!

Five main factors affect the pricing of a hot tub.

If you are interested in buying a hot tub, then ensure you have these five factors in mind, and use them as your hot tub buying guide.

1. Hot tub size

The first thing to look at is the size of the hot tub. A bigger hot tub means a more expensive hot tub.

2. Hot tub features

Next, you have to look at the features of the hot tub.

The overall design of the hot tub influences the price. Better built hot tubs mean a higher price, However, generally the more expensive the hot tub, the better it will be.

The more fancy the features are, the more expensive the hot tub will be. Hot tubs can come with automatic water maintenance, apps that control the power of the jets, waterfalls, speaker systems, light systems, and so much more.

3. Is it high tech?

Third, research the engineering of the hot tub. The more high tech the engineering, the more expensive the hot tub is going to be.

Some hot tubs can be controlled with wi-fi. Others come with Bluetooth speaker systems. Some also come with built-in chillers allowing you to convert it to swimming pool temperatures in the summer.

All of those features add to the cost.

4. Brand name and quality

Fourth, research the brand of the hot tub. Some brands are better than others. The last thing you want is to buy a hot tub and find out it was cheaply made in China.

The maintenance will cost you more than the actual hot tub.

The better the brand, the price will go up. But a great brand ensures that you don’t run into any issues and that if you do, they’ll help you out.

Want to buy an actual Jacuzzi brand; the brand that practically invented the hot tub?  That will cost you more as you’re paying for that brand name.

5. Ongoing chemicals and maintenance costs

Maintenance costs can run you $150-$250 a year in chemicals, cleaning, and filter maintenance.

After all, you’ll be adding hot tub shock weekly, and a sanitizer like chlorine or bromine more frequently. Then you’ll occasionally adjust the pH and alkalinity up or down too.

When you change the water, it’s a good idea to add a cleaner like Oh Yuk! (click to see it on Amazon), to help clean out the pipes of the bacteria, biofilm, and other contaminants that can get stuck in the pipes.

That will help reduce the number of other chemicals you’ll need to add periodically.

Lastly, you’ll have hot tub filters too. You’ll change yours every 1-2 years, and a regular cleaning schedule is the key to maximizing that lifespan.

Check out my recent article to see exactly what I do with my hot tub filters that double their lifespan. Just click that link to read it on my site.

6. Monthly electric costs

In truth, a hot tub isn’t that expensive in terms of your monthly electric bill.

I’ll get more into this in the next section down below, but expect your electric bill to go up about $20-$30/month by running a hot tub continuously.

7. Add-on options

You can splurge and get special add-ons for your hot tub like an Ozonator or saltwater system. This will save you maintenance money in the long run, even if it is a more expensive cost up-front.

 I get into the pros and cons of both ozone generators and saltwater systems for hot tubs in 2 recent articles.

So if you’re unsure about either one and whether they are worth getting, click here to read my article on ozone and click here to read my article on saltwater systems.

Both links take you to different articles on my site.

How much does your electric bill go up with a hot tub?

While the total price of running a hot tub depends on a variety of factors, many high-quality hot tubs can cost as little as $20 to $30 per month to operate.

Cheaply designed hot tubs don’t have the necessary insulation to keep out the cold without causing your electric bill to go up in cost.

However, quality built hot tubs will be able to stand up to the harshest winters with a minimal increase in the cost of your energy.

One myth to steer clear of is the idea that turning off your hot tub in between sessions somehow saves you money.

It does NOT save you money. Once the water is heated to your preferred temperature, you’ll save energy and money by keeping it at that temperature.

It actually costs more to reheat the water every time you turn it on.

Hot tub electricity cost depends on a few factors:

  • Unit price per kilowatt-hour
  • If your hot tub is on 24/7
  • The temperature you heat the hot tub to
  • If you have a quality, well-fitting insulated cover

To figure out how much it will cost you, you’ll need to know how much your electric company charges per kilowatt-hour. Mine charges 11¢.

Most standard hot tubs are 220-volt (meaning hard-wired and not the plug-and-play style that plugs into a wall socket). Plug and play hot tubs, despite having a less powerful heater, can often cost more because 110v is less energy-efficient than 220v.

A 220-volt hot tub will use about 7,500 watts which, in kilowatt-hours, is 7.5 kWh. Simply multiply that number by your electric company’s rate.

For me, my hot tub costs about $25 in electricity per month. 

One way to save heating costs is to set your hot tub’s thermostat circuit timer to heat your hot tub during the hours when it usually isn’t being used.

This means you’ll pay less per unit of energy.

A second option, which does not require a circuit timer, is to reduce the temperature the water is heated to by a couple of degrees.

A third option is to invest in a hot tub thermal blanket.

Lay it across the water and it will keep the heat in, allowing you to lower the temperature but still keep it nice and hot. I love the thermal blanket from Solar Cell (click to see it on Amazon).

It’s 8′ by 8′ but you can easily trim it to your size needs for a custom fit. It’s also got free Amazon shipping and outstanding reviews.

How many years does an outdoor hot tub last?

How long a hot tub will last depends on the quality of the hot tub you purchase.

But generally, high-quality in-ground or above-ground hot tubs can last up to 20 years.

That being said, 10-15 years is the average. Low quality and inflatable hot tubs rarely last more than 5 years. Luckily, in a recent article, I get into several things you can do to extend the life of your hot tub.

Just click that link to read it on my site.

Generally speaking, hot tubs made cheaply out of low-quality materials don’t last nearly as long as a premium hot tub made from high-quality parts.

A hot tub’s lifespan is based on a combination of two factors.

1. Quality of materials

Cheap hot tubs made with lower quality materials won’t last long, even with great maintenance (although great maintenance will ensure a longer than normal lifespan).

If the cheap hot tubs are not well maintained, they most likely will last no more than five years. Quality hot tubs that receive routinely great maintenance can be enjoyed for as long as twenty years, maybe even more.

2. Proper maintenance and timely repairs

Hot tub equipment will always need periodic maintenance to keep it running properly.

I’m talking beyond just adding chlorine/bromine and changing the water periodically. Filter cleaning and replacing is crucial. But eventually, you’ll also deal with leaks and heating issues, and breakers popping.

The majority of hot tub manufacturers and dealers will provide a hot tub owner’s manual when you purchase a hot tub.

This manual will show you the proper way of maintaining your hot tub equipment.

You should follow what the directions found in the manual. Improper or inadequate maintenance of the hot tub’s equipment can cause them to break. This can snowball into other issues with your hot tub, causing unnecessary stress and cost.

When in doubt though, search my website for answers to your problems, as I cover a LOT and my articles are a whole lot easier to search and read than product manuals.

Does a hot tub increase home value?

You can add significant value to your home with a hot tub that’s built into the ground with nice landscaping around it.

So, hot tubs can absolutely increase the value of your home.

However, an in-ground hot tub can hold its value better than portable hot tubs. In fact, an in-ground hot tub can add 50% of the original cost to your home value when you sell your home.

On the other hand, portable hot tubs may not add anything to the cost of your home.

Why do portable hot tubs not bring value to your home? This is because they are considered “personal property” (since they technically can be removed/moved). So from a real estate perspective, they aren’t considered much different than an appliance.

What makes a hot tub portable?

Well, if you see a hot tub displayed on a showroom floor, it is actually a portable hot tub. It can be moved and relocated, even if that means special equipment to deliver it to your home.

So, what makes a hot tub in-ground then? It literally sits in the ground, and the plumbing is built-in too, just like a built-in swimming pool.

That being said, I’ve owned 4 hot tubs including the 1 at my house now.

When I sold the previous 3 houses, 1 of the buyers insisted I remove the hot tub before the sale closed and 1 other buyer removed it after they bought it. But with the most recent one, the buyer actually loved the hot tub and asked that I make sure it was in top running condition.

For value, as they say, is in the eye of the beholder.

But I don’t buy portable hot tubs to increase the value of a home when I go to sell it, and you shouldn’t have that expectation either.

What is the markup on hot tubs?

Generally speaking, the profit margin on hot tubs is between 30% to 50%.

A 40% margin is probably the average. Profit margins and markups, however, are 2 related, but different things. A 40% profit margin actually equates to a 66.7% markup. (source)

That’s because profit margins take the difference between the selling price and the cost and divide it by the selling price. In other words, how much of the total selling price is the profit?

Markup, on the other hand, represents how much of the selling price is the cost.

That means if the sales price on a hot tub in a showroom says $10,000, most likely they paid about $6,000 for it.

To ensure you’re getting a good price, do extensive research online. Look at hot tub forums, research pricing, talk to other owners or potential buyers. And always keep your budget in mind.

To save money, buying a used hot tub can always save you money!

A used hot tub can be had for a lot less. I once bought one for only $150! But I paid $350 to move it and $750 for an electrician to get power to it. So there are definite pros and cons.

But ultimately, you can save thousands by buying a used hot tub the smart way. If you’re interested in buying a used hot tub, read this recent article.

Just click that link to read it on my site.

Did I cover all you wanted to know about why hot tubs are so expensive?

Hot tubs can cost up to $18,000 (sometimes more).

It all depends on the brand, the engineering, the size, and what special perks or attachments come with it (like extra jets or a sound system). But the average cost is closer to $7,000.

When you decide to buy a hot tub, your total investment includes the upfront cost of the spa, the time and effort required to maintain it, and the ongoing costs to run it.

If you are looking for a great way to relax, to rekindle romance, massage your muscles, or even just add value to your house, then you may want to purchase a hot tub. And always make sure you stick to your budget!

Want a hot tub but don’t yet have thousands to spend?

You’d be surprised how well-made some inflatable hot tubs are. In a recent article, I get into all the pros and cons of inflatable hot tubs.

They may not last as long as in-ground or portable ones. But they are EASY to move, just as enjoyable, can hold up to 7 people, and don’t require any special electrical connections.

And you can get started with one for just a few hundred dollars! Just click that link to read more on my site.


Photos which require attribution:

Tub19 by Dave Stone is licensed under CC2.0

Jeff Campbell

Jeff Campbell is a husband, father, martial artist, budget-master, Disney-addict, musician, hot tub lover, and recovering foodie having spent over 2 decades as a leader for Whole Foods Market.

Recent Content