How Much Does a Hot Tub Actually Cost?

Here's a breakdown of what it costs to buy, run and maintain an above-ground hot tub.

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Among the questions to ask before buying a hot tub is how much it will cost. Here’s the cost breakdown to help you decide if a hot tub fits in your budget.

The Actual Hot Tub

Hot tub prices vary widely and depend on factors such as size, material, energy efficiency and specific features. These numbers give you a good indication of what you’ll expect to spend for a hot tub that sits on a deck or patio:

  • Inflatable hot tub: Typically cost less than $1,000.

  • Entry-level hot tub: $2,500 to $5,000. Entry-level hot tubs are usually made of less expensive plastic, have fewer jets and base-level insulation.

  • Value-priced hot tub: $5,000 to $8,000. Value-priced hot tubs are made of more durable acrylic and have more jets, better insulation and more features (LED lights, waterfall spouts, etc.) than entry-level hot tubs.

  • Premium hot tub: $8,000 to $11,000.

  • Luxury hot tub: $11,000 to $16,000.

For an in-ground hot tub, expect to pay at least $15,000.

Installation

Budget at least a few hundred dollars if you don’t plan to install an above-ground hot tub yourself. According to Home Advisor, “The national cost to install an above-ground hot tub averages $316, with most homeowners spending between $157 and $490.”

Site Preparation

With any luck, you have a site that can accommodate your above-ground hot tub. If you need to build a deck or patio first, the cost can rise substantially. Ditto if you need to install an electrical outlet, which must be a ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI), which shuts off the electricity if a ground fault occurs.

Electricity

Electricity costs about $20 a month for an above-ground hot tub and at least $30 a month for an in-ground hot tub.

Water

You’ll need to drain and refill your hot tub’s water about every three months. In most cases, water use is not a major expense.

You can estimate the water cost by multiplying the tub’s gallon capacity by how many refills you do per year. Then multiply that number by the cost per gallon of water in your area. If you have an average 400-gallon hot tub drained four times a year and your cost per gallon of water is 0.2 cents, you can expect to spend an extra $3.20 a year on water.

Hot Tub Accessories

  • Filter: While it’s standard equipment and necessary for proper operation, a hot tub filter needs to be changed once a year. They cost between $20 and $60.

  • Pool thermometer: You can get one for around $10.

  • Fun stuff: Popular swimming accessories and extras include floating drink holders, a floating Bluetooth speaker, water seats, stair steps and waterproof playing cards.

Chemicals

Hot tubs require a sanitizing chemical like chlorine. You’ll also need tester strips to monitor the pH (it should be between 7.4 and 7.6), alkalinity (between 80 and 120 ppm), calcium (between 150 and 250 ppm) and chlorine levels (at least three ppm) at least twice a week. Budget about $20 a month for chemicals and tester strips.

Cleaning Products

Two cleaning products you should buy:

If your hot tub has a wood exterior, buy a wood cleaner and a wax that protects the wood from UV rays.

If you plan on hiring out the draining, cleaning and refilling of your hot tub, budget at least $300 per cleaning.

Repairs

You shouldn’t have many repairs if you buy a new hot tub and maintain it properly. Just in case, it’s a good idea to keep at least $1,000 in a rainy day fund in case something goes wrong you can’t fix yourself.

The Grand Total

Here’s an estimate of how much a mid-priced above-ground hot tub that you install yourself and that needs no site prep or repairs would cost your first year:

  • Hot tub: $8,000;

  • Electricity: $240;

  • Water: $3;

  • Accessories: $100;

  • Chemicals: $240;

  • Cleaning products: $74;

  • Grand total: $8,657.

Check out the best hot tubs of 2020.

Amanda Prischak
Amanda Prischak is a freelance writer based in Erie, Pennsylvania.