Looking for the best hot tub this summer? We’re one step ahead of you. The leading hot tub brands in 2020 all offer products that install into your home or yard for year-round use and, with tiered pricing systems, there’s bound to be a hot tub at a price that fits your budget. Whether it’s for fun or relaxation, getting a hot tub installed can make you the envy of your neighborhood, and with capacities of up to eight people you could even invite friends around to entertain in your hot tub.
Our hot tub reviews looked at the range of models from the best hot tub brands and took into account factors such as sizing, customizability, and pricing transparency. If you want a two or four person hot tub, you can expect to pay less on average than you would for a six or eight person option. However, many of the best hot tub brands have multiple ranges of hot tubs, with an impressive cross-section of sizes spanning a variety of luxury levels. For the best of the best, you can expect to pay up to $15,000. For this, you’ll get high quality massage jets and smart features such as waterfall, lighting, and even WiFi compatibility included.
If you want a more simple hot tub, pricing will usually start at around $3,000. However, cost varies depending on where you live and the difficulty of installation. Like many products which need to be installed, it’s not possible to get up-front pricing of each hot tub, but the best hot tub brands will offer a fast response when you contact them for a quote, which is another thing we reviewed for.
To make the hot tub buying experience a little less overwhelming, we’ve teamed up with BuyerZone to create a survey. This will help you find the right hot tub for your needs, taking into account capacity, budget, location, and other specific needs. Not sure if you want to invest? Check out our guide to the best inflatable hot tubs. If it’s exercise you’re looking for, consider the best swim spas for your yard. Some of these spa brands even offer hot tub swim spa combos, for both work and play.
1. Sundance Spa: Best hot tub overall
Sundance Spas offers the best hot tub features, from standard built-in smart capabilities to its adjustable Fluidix jets. Though most of Sundance’s models fall in the premium and luxury price ranges, the brand does offer a good variety of spas
across the entry- and mid-level price ranges in small, medium and large tubs. Even the less expensive models come with multiple shell, cabinet and cover color options, as well as premium features such as UV-C water sanitation and waterfalls that many other companies charge as upgrades. All Sundance hot tubs are compatible with the SmartTub mobile app, though this requires a paid subscription after the first year - a bit of a bummer.
- Read our Sundance Spas Hot Tubs review
2. Master Spas: Best value hot tubs
Made in the U.S., Master Spas’ hot tubs offer a good mix of unique standard features and desirable upgrades, especially in the entry-level and mid-level price ranges. The brand has 21 hot tub models, 13 of which fall into the entry- and mid-level price ranges, and all of which are made in the US.
These spas span all sizes and represent four product lines: Clarity, Healthy living, Twilight and the Michael Phelps Legend series. Master Spas offers several premium features standard in all models, including waterfalls and a unique bio-magnetic therapy system.
Master Spas also has the best upgrade options, including both UV-C and ozone sanitation options, a Wi-Fi module and Bluetooth audio.
- Read our Master Spas Hot Tubs review
3. Bullfrog Spa: Best hot tubs for massages
Bullfrog Spas’ unique JetPak Therapy System lets you customize your massage with 18 options that each target a different type of massage therapy. Though most hot tubs offer some degree of customization when it comes to color options and even upgradeable features, Bullfrog Spas lets you pick exactly what kind of jets and massage therapy to put in each seat.
The interchangeable JetPaks, available for most models of Bullfrog Spas, give you sixteen seat back options for each seat in your spa that require less tubing and are more energy efficient than many spas on the market. Though Bullfrog does sell hot tub models without the JetPak system, the interchangeable jets and customization options are really the big selling point of this brand. Aside from the pre-set models, Bullfrog also allows you to design your own completely custom spa, as well.
- Read our Bullfrog Spas Hot Tubs review
4. Hot Springs: Best hot tubs for compact areas
Hot Spring has 20 hot tub models, five of which are built for two or three people. Most of the hot tub manufacturers we evaluated have only three models, so Hot Spring offers a better selection of small spas. Three of these spas are part of the brand’s Hot Spot collection, which fall into the value price range and have 10-17 jets.
The other two are premium-priced spas from Hot Spring’s top tier Highlife collection and have 14 or 22 jets. Hot Spring also has 10 medium spas and five large spas with various price ranges, all of which come equipped with energy-saving features and are certified by the California Energy Commission.
- Read our Hot Spring Hot Tubs review
5. PDC Spas: Best large capacity hot tubs
PDC Spas has a great selection of hot tub and swim spa combos, but it also creates some of the best large capacity hot tubs we reviewed. There's 16 hot tubs in total. The company has two three-person hot tubs, but it has eight models which fit either six or seven people. Each of these come with different features and feature in a different range of PDC's hot tub series.
There's three ranges of hot tubs to choose from. The LifeStyle Series is the most affordable of the group, with the Premium Series bridging the gap to the most premium Luxury Series. These tubs come with a 35 year warranty, but the LifeStyle models get a comparably weaker 10 year coverage.
- Read our PDC Spas Review
6. Cal Spas: Biggest range of hot tubs
With so many options, the website is difficult to navigate, and Cal Spas does not have pricing guidelines for its products, which makes narrowing down your options without speaking to a dealer inconvenient. However, Cal Spas has the most hot tub models available across its six hot tub product lines. The manufacturer has 51 hot tub models and several color and upgrade options as well.
Cal Spas is one of the only spa companies we evaluated with a salt water sanitation option, as well as UV-C and ozone options. This spa brand is a great option for different hot tub shapes as it offers oval and triangle spas in addition to the usual square options. All models are made in the U.S. which makes any necessary repairs super convenient.
- Read our Cal Spas Hot Tubs review
Still not sure which type of hot tub is best for you? Fill out this quick Buyer Zone survey to see customized recommendations...
How to choose the right hot tub
Before buying a hot tub, there are some key considerations you need to make to ensure you choose the right one. It’s a subjective process - everyone’s space, taste and budget is different. Here are the key things to think about to make sure you buy the best hot tub for you…
How big should a hot tub be?
Make sure you choose the right hot tub size by considering, firstly, how many people will be using it, and secondly, the space you have available. Small hot tubs will fit two-three people; larger hot tubs can fit eight or more. Most hot tub manufacturer’s websites list both the dimensions of each hot tub and how many people can sit comfortably within the tub, so you can be sure you're picking the right size.
How much does a hot tub cost?
The cost of a hot tub can be anywhere from $3,000 for a budget-priced tub to over $16,000 for a top-of-the-line spa with custom upgrades. Generally, inflatable hot tubs are the cheapest; above-ground hot tubs are more moderately priced; and in-the-ground hot tubs are the most expensive.
Your budget will dictate which options are available to you, so first consider how much you have to spend on your new hot tub. Also, it's a good idea to research how much a certain hot tub might cost to run and maintain (and make sure you choose an option with a lifetime guarantee).
Hot tub manufacturers rarely list the prices of hot tubs online because there are several factors that affect the price of each sale, including geography, dealer promotions and even the time of year. Of course, this also allows retailers to negotiate a higher price with people who don’t have good bartering skills.
Many hot tub companies will categorise their selections into price ranges: budget, entry-level, mid-level, premium and luxury. However, some won't provide price guidelines unless you enquire. Bear in mind that the final price of your hot tub might differ significantly from the price of the tub itself, after you've included any upgrades or extras, installation and operating costs.
Plan where you want to put your hot tub
Where will you hot tub go? This will be a major factor in deciding which type of hot tube to get and the features you'll need, so plan the location of your hot tub carefully.
If you are placing a hot tub outside, it is best to choose a model that holds heat well, so you’re not wasting energy by constantly reheating it. You might also want to consider the view, the distance from your house, and even how visible you will be to your neighbors. If you are placing your hot tub indoors, you might want to choose an area that is well ventilated so condensation doesn’t damage your home.
Know the features you want
Do your homework. We’d recommend viewing a hot tub in person, if possible, to do a wet test. It is best to try the hot tub out before buying it, as the moulded seats are designed for an average size person and if you are on the smaller or taller size these seat can become uncomfortable.
However, there are lots of features to consider when buying a hot tub, from seating style (do you want lounge-style seating, therapeutic seats or cool-down seats?) to jet type, the water filtration system (salt, ozone or UV-C?) and more. Try to choose an energy-efficient hot tub, too. Here are some areas to think about...
Hot tub therapy options
The number of jets in the tub, in addition to the placement and type of hydrotherapy the jets deliver are important features to think about when purchasing a hot tub. Hot tub manufacturers use different techniques to imitate a variety of massage types from deep tissue to light caress. Some use a combination of water and air, some use high-pressure and others use high-flow jets. If you want a full-body massage, look for a hot tub with lounge seats and leg or feet jets. Some spa models combine hydrotherapy and aromatherapy for a more relaxing experience.
Hot tub filtration & sanitation
The filtration and water sanitation systems in your hot tub keep the water sparking and clean. Spa models use different combinations of chemicals, filters, ozone and UV-C light to make sure your water stays clean. Most of the models we evaluated use multiple filters to remove dirt and small debris from the water. Many also offer ozone or UV-C sanitation options as standard installation or upgrades. These systems eliminate or neutralize bacteria as well.
Hot tub build quality
When shopping, look into the materials used in the hot tub’s construction. Most hot tubs use an acrylic interior shell supported by a frame made of either treated wood or metal and surrounded by a wood or synthetic cabinet. As long as it isn’t exposed to elements, the frame should last the lifetime of your hot tub, no matter what it’s made of.
Pay more attention to the hot tub’s insulation, as this directly affects operating costs. A poorly insulated spa costs more to heat because the heater has to run more to keep water at a set temperature, and overworking the components can lead to early malfunction. Getting a well-insulated hot tub is particularly important in locations that reach low temperatures. To this end, look for a full-foam insulated hot tub rather than a model with partial foam insulation or one that just uses a thermal wrap.
Hot tub upgrades and extras
Most hot tub manufacturers offer a variety of upgrades and extra features. In addition to an amazing soak, most manufacturers offer Bluetooth sound systems, mood lighting and waterfall or fountain water features. Many top-tier models also have built-in coolers and external seating. Some also have smart capabilities, such as an optional Wi-Fi module or companion mobile app. These smart tubs make remotely controlling or monitoring your spa easy, and they have the added benefit of making it easy to contact your local hot tub dealer.
Hot tub appearance
Most of the hot tubs we reviewed come in multiple shell and cabinet styles, with manufacturers offering more options for higher-tier product lines. Though not necessarily the most important aspect of your hot tub, appearance does play a role in the relaxing effects of your spa. Choosing a shell and UV-resistant cabinet in colors that blend in with your backyard creates a more laid-back setting, rather than an eye-sore.