What Does Buying a Hot Tub Really Cost? 6 Hidden Expenses to Consider

by Travis Pizel · 18 comments

Many of us dream of owning our own hot tub one day. They’re a symbol of luxury, something that’s usually found in hotels, spas, or gyms. I used to be one of those dreamers, and about 10 years ago that dream became a reality.

Just a few days after Valentine’s day we had our brand new hot tub delivered. My wife and I were excited as we anxiously awaited the tub to be filled, and the water to be hot enough for us to jump in for the very first time.

But if you’re not careful, buying a hot tub can be a huge time and money waster. As we quickly found out, owning a hot tub was much more expensive than we thought.

Buying a hot tub is a lot like buying a car. There are almost infinite brands and models to choose from, all in varying price ranges. If you’re thinking of buying a hot tub of your own, the spending doesn’t stop the day your new jetted tub of relaxation is delivered.

Here are six hidden expenses that come with being a hot tub owner:

1. Installing an electrical outlet

Before we could even think about getting a hot tub, we first needed a 220-volt electric line run to where the hot tub would be located. This cost us close to $1,000. It was expensive, but at least the same line can be used for a faster charging station if we get an electric car one day.

2. A sturdy foundation

A hot tub needs a sturdy foundation to sit on. Whether it’s a deck, a cement slab, or something comparable, you’ll likely have to install special reinforcements. Luckily for us, we already had a cement slap available. But if you don’t, you’ll need to take this expense into account.

3. Increasing electricity bill

We asked the salesman how much having a hot tub would increase our electricity bill. He told us about $30 a month, maybe a little more when it was cold outside. He wasn’t even close! It’s been $50 minimum each month in the summer and well over $100 during the winter months.

4. Replacing filters

The hot tub we have requires a total of three filters which costs about $45 a piece. These filters need to be replaced every 4-6 months, so we had to create a recurring budget for this expense. I’m sure we could stretch out the frequency we replace the filters a bit, but the costs will still add up.

5. Chemical monitoring

Hot tubs are a lot like fish tanks; they require constant monitoring of their pH levels, as well as some sort of sanitation system whether it be Chlorine, Bromine, or something similar. A full set of monitoring strips and chemicals cost $100, and will last about two months.

There’s also a learning curve to figuring out how to keep everything in balance. If the pH level is too low, then the water may be cloudy. pH level too high and the chlorine may not work as well in killing germs. Chlorine too high and you will scorch your skin when you dip in the tub, but too low and there will be germs. You get the picture.

6. Constant repairs and upkeep

Here’s another parallel between owning a car and a hot tub. It’s not if your hot tub will break down, but only a matter of when. Our tub came with a full 5-year warranty, but we’re on our own after that. The pumps failed, pipes leaked, and even our main computer board went out once. The cost of upkeep and repairing a hot tub can be hundreds of dollars, and that’s if you can figure out how to repair it yourself.

The place on our patio where our hot tub once sat is now since empty, as we sold it a few years ago. The reason we decided to get rid of it is that the cost to keep it was just too high.

For the eight years we owned the hot tub we had countless good times relaxing in it both alone and with friends. So, if we could afford the costs we would definitely own one. We still have great memories of the old one though! One day we might buy another one, but this time we’ll be able to make an educated decision as to whether we could afford the real cost of owning a hot tub.

Have you ever owned a hot tub? What cost surprised you the most to maintain it?

If you are still interested despite the costs, then here are three of the more popular ones from Home Depot to consider:

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{ read the comments below or add one }

  • Dallas says:

    Lots of people with cheap spas posting here. Spend the money up front to buy a good spa and it will pay off in the long run. I have an Arctic spa, that I bought second hand, two years old for half the price of a new one. My cost to heat the hot tub in the mountains of Montana are about $20/month on average. In the coldest months of the year when temps never get above freezing, the heating costs will go up to about $30/month. It’s also a salt water spa, so it’s cheap to buy salt. The tub automatically regulates chlorine levels which prolongs the life of pumps, etc. I maybe add a little pH lowering chemical or de-scaler once every couple months, otherwise no maintenance at all.

    • Adrienne M Parker says:

      We bought a Marquis hot tub 240 gallons. It’s been costing over 100. per month extra for electricity. Everyone I asked and everything I read say 10. to 25. a month. It’s set up on 220 (which was supposed to be even more economical). What’s up?!

  • Dave Clarke says:

    I ran 55 feet of #6 wire for a outside hot tub, $155 at electrical wholesale, bought a Siemens 50 amp gfi in a pony box $129 on line free delivery. Got electrician to do final wire attachment $250. Sunrise hot tub out in Barrie, Ontario, Canada goes to minus -15 in January. Runs all year at 100 f, increase to 104 half hour before use. Hydro year average monthly is $42. This is for a 425 gallon five person tub. Use bromine pucks and chlorine shock. No huge costs, great investment a game of golf is $60.

  • Tim says:

    Sounds like you bought a bad spa. I used to sell them. A lot of expensive cheaply made tubs on the market. For me, my personal tub is a Sundance Spa which is by far the Cadillac of spas. I live in Northern Wisconsin and mine truly does cost me less than $100/month. For the memories my children and I have sitting out and talking while we soak…it’s worth every penny.

    • Ken toews says:

      100 a month to heat? My sundance spa, the Cadillac upped by hydro bill over 250 a month on equal billing in ontario canada, average summer winter, new cover every 18 month, 500 bucks, a couple of 2000 dollar breakdowns and to the trash. Lots of memories but what a waste of money over 10 years, value 10,000 to zero, actually 400 to landfill.
      I figure it cost 500 a month depreciation, electricity, covers, chemical

  • Evan E says:

    Without a doubt, hot tubs are one of the dumbest things to waste time and money on. Either run a bath inside and use epsom salt (magnesium sulfate) to further the muscle relaxation or go join a gym or club that has a hot tub. For what the electricity cost, you may be able to cover gym fees (plus you get an entire gym to use). It’s bizarre these things ever had a market big enough to support them. It’s like time shares, but with more upkeep.

    • Brian says:

      You’re missing an important element my dear Watson. It’s usually frowned upon to get freaky deeky in the gym hot tub.

  • Chris Conlee says:

    We also had to run a 220v/50A line from the house about 120′ to the new reinforced deck we built. The electrical was $1100 and the deck (we built it ourselves) was at least $1000. We have solar panels, but I can already tell that our electric bill is going to go up, as we’re using more than we’re generating for the first time since we installed solar. It’s definitely going to cost more than we realized, but it sure is nice to sit and soak after a long day at work.

  • Tim says:

    $1000 to run a 220-volt outlet? My dad would have died and gone to heaven to be able to charge that much. Actually, on second thought, he would have told the customer, “No, that’s too much money!”.

    • Travis @debtchronicles says:

      As I mentioned above, Tim…they had to do electrical work inside the house to add a circuit, and the length of the electrical line was pretty complicated and long to place the outdoor outlet where we needed it. Thanks for reading!

    • Karen L says:

      I saw that $1000 what they paid for the 220 to be run to the hot tub, and know when the electrician came to install mine, it only cost $300. Then again, the box was installed directly next to where I had the hot tub placed, on my concrete slab in the backyard.

      • Jason R says:

        I live in New England, so the winter months can be brutal. My electric bill easily went up $200 due to an inefficient cover (you could literally see the heat coming out the seams).

        The $500 “extreme” cover from Sundance is supposed have a 5-year life expectancy (replacing every 18 months seems ridiculous). We’ll see if the purchase pays itself off within 2-3 months.

        I also incurred additional electrical service costs to run a dedicated 220V line (you’ll need this as any licenced spa tech will not work on it if your unit does not have one)

        I use mine in moderation, shower before usage, along with the sundance mineral program, so the chemical levels are really easy to maintain and thus you will only have to refill every 4 months.

  • praveen says:

    Also if you are in Melbourne (Australia) like me, you will scared of the water bill here.

    • Travis @debtchronicles says:

      I know that water is much more expensive in other parts of the world, praveen…but it’s pretty cheap here! Thanks for sharing!

  • Emily @ Simple Cheap Mom says:

    When I lived at home my parents’ had a hot tub at one house. I’m not one for heat so I only went in a couple times. I do like baths now but I don’t think I’d want to deal with or pay for all the upkeep on a hot tub. Maybe a jaccuzzzi tub would be a good solution?

    My neighbour is installing a hot tub in his new deck, so maybe sneaking over there is the best solution?

    • Travis @debtchronicles says:

      We also have a jaccuzzi tub in our master bathroom….but it’s not quite the same – and you can’t jump in the tub with your friends. 🙂 Sneaking over to your neighbor’s is a great plan….be careful though, once you sit in a hot tub in the fall/spring when it’s a bit cooler out, you may be hooked!

  • jp says:

    We have had a hot tub for about 10 years. We recently moved it to another house. A 220 outlet ran $350-$400. The move itself with a concrete pad installed was $1,000. It costs $25-30 (estimate) to operate. Our costs may be lower because we live in the south. The silver iodide filter is replaced every 3-4 months and is about $50. The paper filter is once a year and is about $50. In the last 10 years we have replaced a jet ( l did it) and the main board which ran about $400. We turn the temp down in the summer to about 88-90 so it’s more like a pool. Right now it needs a new cover which runs $400+. The cost when we bought it was like a decent used car. I would add you will need a fence to restrict access. I think you were lucky to sell one. Most people have to give them away!

    • Travis @debtchronicles says:

      Thanks for sharing your expenses, JP….I would agree that your monthly operational costs are lower because you’re in the south where it’s warmer. I think our electrical cost more because they had to add a circuit to our breaker board, and the line to the concrete pad was extremely long!

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