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When shopping for anything, knowledge is essential. Buying a spa is no different. It's a decision that you shouldn't be rushed or pressured into. Be sure to ask the dealer a lot of questions and consider requesting a "test soak" to feel the jets and overall comfort of the spa before making a purchase.

Most "spas" are made out of either fiberglass or acrylic. Acrylic spas are, by far, the better of the two types and will provide longer life and service to their owners. "Hot tubs" are made of wood, sometimes with a liner set inside. They can provide you with that "jet action", but without the contoured seating acrylic spas offer.

To answer this question, you will need to consider where you want to put your spa and how much you are willing to have done to your home to install the spa.

Portable, self-contained spas require no external plumbing, excavation or electrical work since they plug in to a standard household wall socket. Most can be easily carried by a few people.

This means that you can bring them outside in the summer and inside during the winter months or take it with you if you decide to move. Portable spas can be given a "built-in" look with added decking or built on steps.

Portable Spas
Inground Spas

Inground spas can be set in an outside deck, sunk into a cement floor or can be installed semi-inground with a wood or tile deck built around it. They do require some plumbing, electrical and sometimes gas work, however, your dealer can arrange all these services for you as well or work with your own private contractor. Inground spas are initially more costly than a portable unit, but can add substantial value to your home.


There are 2 basic ways to heat a spa: electric or gas (natural or propane).

Most portable spas are heated by electricity in a range of kilowatt power: The higher the power of the heater, the faster the spa will heat up from a cold temperature. All spa heaters are thermostatically controlledand any size can the normal desired heat range.

When purchasing an inground spa, you have more choice when it comes to heaters. Inground spa packages are more of a custom design, where each piece of equipment needs to be sized individually depending on the size of the spa shell you select. The heater should be a separate consideration. Either electric or gas heaters can be used. Gas heaters are initially more expensive, but will be less costly to run on a monthly basis.


  • Learn about the spa's specific features, ease of use and maintenance.
    When the spa is not in use, does the water always remain hot and clean?
    Do the jets and jet systems allow you to customize your hydro massage experience?
    How loud are the jets and pump?
    Does the spa offer a balanced filtration system?
    Is the water continuously filtered 24 hours a day to ensure clean, clear water?
    Are the filters top-loaded for easy access?
    Is the heating and filtration system fully automatic with no programming required?
    Is there an automatic clean-up cycle after you exit the spa?
    Inquire about the heater—the most vulnerable component. Make sure corrosion will not occur.
    Are the controls user-friendly, easy to operate and adjust?
    Are there optional features to make spa ownership easier?
    What are the electrical specifications of the spa?
    Are both 115v and 230v available? (115v can be far less expensive to install)
    How is the seating configured? Are you able to move about easily? Is there lumbar support for your back?
  • Learn how the spa was constructed and its energy efficiency.
    The components should be fully tested and backed by the manufacturer's warranty.
    Make sure the spa is totally insulated, not just fully-foamed.
    Ask how to estimate your monthly operation costs. (Beware of less expensive spas which can cost in excess of $50 per month to operate).
  • Obtain a copy of the warranty.

  • Ask for a copy of the warranty and read it thoroughly.
    Beware of the dealer who is reluctant to provide a copy.
    What spa parts are covered under warranty and for how long?
    Make sure the heater, surface/structure, components, tile and skirt are included.
    How does the manufacturer's warranty compare with other brands?
    Make sure there are no undesirable limitations or exclusions.
  • Obtain information on the manufacturer and the dealer to ensure you will receive quality service both during and after your spa purchase.
    How long has the manufacturer been in business?
    How long has the dealer been in business? Inquire about their service policy.
    Research Consumers Digest Best Buy awards in the portable spa category.
    Call the Better Business Bureau for more information.
    Ask for customer references.