The 7 Best Hot Tubs for a Spa-Like Experience at Home (2023)

The 7 Best Hot Tubs for a Spa-Like Experience at Home (1)

Spending an evening soaking in a hot tub can be extremely relaxing, whether you’re alone or entertaining guests.

“Hot tubs can be an amazing way to socialize with friends, family, or significant others on a regular basis, in the comfort of your own home,” says Jordan Rash of Epic Hot Tubs in North Carolina. “They provide their value year-round and at a fraction of the cost and maintenance effort of an in-ground swimming pool.”

To come up with these recommendations, we tested three hot tubs at home, evaluating them on factors like setup, design, maintenance, features, and value. We extensively researched plenty of other hot tubs on the market to complete our list. For expert advice, we spoke to Rash for insight on how to maintain hot tubs so that they last for years.

Our Top Picks

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Best Overall Hot Tub

Aquarest Spas Select 150 4-Person 12-Jet Rectangular Plug-and-Play Hot Tub

4.7

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What Stands Out

  • It doesn’t require any tools or professional installation, so it’s ready to use as soon as you fill it with water.

What Could Be Improved

  • We found that it doesn’t fit as many adults as advertised.

For a classic hot tub that’ll provide a seriously relaxing experience, look no further than this model from AquaRest. We tested this four-person tub at home and were extremely pleased with its performance. It stands out for its “plug-and-play” style, which means you can plug it into a traditional outlet (no electrician or tools needed!). There was pretty much zero setup required, but it took us about 15 minutes to remove the packing materials and 28 minutes to fill it with water.

Even though it’s a pretty simple hot tub, this model features 12 multi-level jets with adjustable pressure for a relaxing massage. There’s also a cool LED-backlit waterfall, which has nine color settings to choose from. Additionally, the hot tub has four convenient cup holders (one for each person!) and basic bench seating. It’s advertised as a four-person hot tub, but we found that it could most comfortably fit two adults and two children.

It comes in three colors and can reach up to 104 degrees Fahrenheit when fully heated. The safety cover locks in place to save energy and keep leaves and debris out when the tub isn’t in use. And if you need to move the hot tub at any point, it’s luckily fairly lightweight.

Overall, we think that this is a great beginner or entry-level hot tub. It required a bit of a learning curve, but we were able to figure everything out within the two-week testing period. There aren’t many bells and whistles and it’s not as big as we thought it’d be, but if you’re looking for a great medium-sized hot tub, this one certainly won’t let you down.

Price at time of publish: $3,000

Type: Plug and play | Dimensions: 60 x 70 x 32 inches | Capacity: 4 | Shape: Rectangle | Material: Plastic

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Best Budget Hot Tub

Bestway SaluSpa Miami 4-Person Inflatable Hot Tub

4.5

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Our Ratings

  • Setup

    4/5

  • Design

    3.8/5

  • Maintenance

    5/5

  • Features

    5/5

  • Value

    4.5/5

What Stands Out

  • It’s very portable since you can deflate it for storage.

What Could Be Improved

  • It doesn’t have any seats, and the jet placement isn’t the best.

You don’t have to spend thousands of dollars to enhance your backyard with a hot tub. This inflatable pick from Bestway is budget-friendly, but we found that it was still high-quality. To set it up, you just need to inflate it with the included pump—no other tools are needed. (When you’re ready to put it away at the end of the season, you can remove the water and deflate it to save space.) In our tests, it took us about 30 minutes to assemble and inflate and two hours to fill with water. But unfortunately, instructions weren’t included in the packaging.

This hot tub is designed to fit up to four people, however, we found that its small design would be more comfortable for just three adults max. Due to its low price, there are no special features like adjustable jets, a waterfall, or LED lights—but the jets are quite strong, even if the placement is awkward (we wish they were on the sides for a back massage instead of on the floor). Plus, the hot tub has two cup holders. There are no headrests or seats, but you can easily sit on the floor and enjoy feeling the water all around you (it came up to our chest while sitting). However, it’s important to note that those who can’t pull themselves up easily may have trouble getting in and out of this hot tub.

You can adjust the hot tub’s water flow and temperature (up to 104 degrees Fahrenheit) via the digital control panel, and there’s a timer you can use to automate the temperature in advance of your soak. And when you’re all done for the night, you can either close the hot tub up with the included cover to keep it safe until next time or fully deflate it for storage. This might not be the fanciest hot tub around, but it’s still a solid option for those on a tight budget.

Price at time of publish: $530

Type: Inflatable | Dimensions: 71 x 71 x 26 inches | Capacity: 4 | Shape: Round | Material: PVC

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Best Inflatable Hot Tub

Intex PureSpa Plus 6-Person Portable Inflatable Hot Tub

4.5

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Our Ratings

  • Setup

    4.3/5

  • Design

    4.3/5

  • Maintenance

    5/5

  • Features

    4.8/5

  • Value

    4/5

What Stands Out

  • It comes with non-slip seats and inflatable pillows.

What Could Be Improved

  • The jets aren’t adjustable and don’t have massage functions.

Another excellent inflatable hot tub that we tested is this model from Intex. It features a whopping 170 high-powered jets set up all around the tub, and it’s designed to fit up to six people (although squeezing in that many would be a stretch—you might want to stick to four). Still, it’s on the bigger side compared to the two other models we tested. But for that reason, it’s worth mentioning that it took 32 hours to heat the water to 101 degrees Fahrenheit.

Setting up this lightweight yet durable hot tub takes minimal effort, though the instruction manual was a bit hard to decipher, which made setup take a little longer than expected. It only takes a few minutes for both the tub and the two included pillows to fully inflate when you use the pump. The tub comes with two non-slip seats, making for an even more comfortable soak—and you can adjust their heights as needed. There are also bright LED lights to illuminate the tub during nighttime use, and you can switch up and monitor the tub’s settings via the adjustable control panel.

On the downside, the hot tub’s jets aren’t adjustable and don’t have specific massage functions, which may be a dealbreaker for some people. But if you’re cool with just a general jet experience and love the convenience (and lack of commitment!) of a mid-sized inflatable hot tub, then this may be just the right model for you. Plus, it’s on the less expensive side as far as hot tubs go.

Price at time of publish: $864

Type: Inflatable | Dimensions: 85 x 85 x 25 inches | Capacity: 6 | Shape: Round | Material: PVC

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Best Small Hot Tub

Aquarest Spas 300 Select 2-Person 20-Jet Oval Plug-and-Play Hot Tub

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What Stands Out

  • It has great features like a colored waterfall and jets at your feet.

What Could Be Improved

  • The sides aren’t super comfortable to lean on, and it’s pretty expensive for its size.

If you plan on primarily using your hot tub by yourself or with just one other person, consider a small yet elegant option like this model from AquaRest. The tub is designed to fit two people and makes for a comfortable stay with its LED waterfall, two cup holders, deep seating, and more.

This hot tub is a plug-and-play model, so you can set it up almost immediately. It has 20 built-in jets, with some at ground level to offer foot massages as you soak. There’s a digital control panel you can easily use to monitor and adjust the tub’s temperature settings, and the tub also comes with a locking cover and full foam insulation meant to keep debris away when the tub isn’t in use.

Of course, due to its small size, it won’t be a good fit for anyone looking for a hot tub for several people (especially because the sides aren’t particularly comfortable to lean on). But for those looking for a compact yet functional hot tub, this is a great choice.

Price at time of publish: $3,500

Type: Portable | Dimensions: 68 x 80 x 31 inches | Capacity: 2 | Shape: Oval | Material: Plastic

Best Large Hot Tub

Futura Spas 8-Person 88 Jet Acrylic Square Hot Tub

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What Stands Out

  • It fits eight people and has seats with neck- and back-massaging jets.

What Could Be Improved

  • There’s no drain, and it requires an electrical hookup.

If you’re looking for a hot tub that can comfortably fit numerous people, we recommend this spacious model from Futura Spas. Designed to hold up to eight people, this large hot tub ensures that you can enjoy a fun night with friends in true style and comfort.

The tub is nearly 7 feet long on each side, and it’s made from durable acrylic and wood. There are 88 stainless steel jets throughout the tub, with bucket seats for your guests to comfortably relax. The jets are positioned to offer each person a neck massage, and you can adjust the height of some of the seats to ensure that everyone’s backs get proper soothing, as well.

Other great aspects include a waterfall, multiple cup holders, LED lighting to help with visibility at night, a footwall, and even an ozonator that’ll help regulate the water and lessen the amount of maintenance the tub will need, which is really helpful because of its size. One of the tub’s corners even has a “cuddler seat,” which is designed to let a duo snuggle up. It also comes with a foam-insulated cover to keep debris and leaves out of the tub’s interior.

This isn’t a plug-and-play hot tub, so you will need an electrician to hook it up. And there’s no drain, so changing the water is difficult. Still, if you can shell out the cost, it’s a great choice for a large hot tub.

Price at time of publish: $8,700

Type: Standard | Dimensions: 82 x 82 x 35 inches | Capacity: 8 | Shape: Square | Material: Acrylic

Best Hot Tub With Features

Lifesmart LS550 Plus 5-Person 65-Jet Standard Spa

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What Stands Out

  • The adjustable jets include both calf and foot options

What Could Be Improved

  • It’s very loud and only has four cup holders.

Want a hot tub that comes with lots of fun features to enhance your backyard and make the experience even more relaxing? This one from Lifesmart has all the bells and whistles, along with a five-person capacity and 65 powerful jets.

This hot tub has a waterfall complete with multi-colored underwater LED lights, making for a gorgeous addition to the tub that’s especially attractive at nighttime. It also has four cup holders, as well as an easy-to-use digital control panel so you can adjust the temperature. There’s an air control valve to adjust the water pressure, an ozonator to reduce the use of chemicals and create a more sanitary hot tub), and adjustable jets (with options to target calves and feet) so each person can get the exact pressure they want. Last but not least, this tub comes with a thermal locking cover and full foam isolation, keeping heat inside and conserving electricity when not in use.

Keep in mind that this hot tub is pretty loud—especially with the waterfall running. Additionally, the lack of a fifth cup holder might be annoying to that extra person. Despite these small issues, though, we believe that this is a worthwhile hot tub for anyone who prioritizes having plenty of space to hang out and loves taking advantage of fun-enhancing features.

Price at time of publish: $6,195

Type: Standard | Dimensions: 87 x 77 x 34 inches | Capacity: 5 | Shape: Rectangle | Material: Polyethylene

Best-Designed Hot Tub

Aquarest Spas Elite 500 5-Person 29-Jet Plug and Play Spa

4.6

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What Stands Out

  • It features a full-body lounger.

What Could Be Improved

  • It’s slow to heat up and is very loud.

For a hot tub with a standout design, we recommend the AquaRest Elite 500 5-Person 29-Jet Square Plug and Play Hot Tub. Built to fit five people, the tub has a striking look that’ll make it the center of attention in your backyard. It even comes in three colors—brownstone, graystone, and keystone—so you can choose the version that best suits your style.

This hot tub has plenty of great features, including a full-length lounger so you can lie down as you relax in the tub’s 29 multi-level jets. Like others on our list, this one has an LED-lit waterfall that comes with nine mood settings, as well as four cup holders. While this pick doesn’t come with matching steps for getting in and out of the tub, you can easily add on a matching set of stairs (with hidden storage!) for an additional fee. To keep the water fresh and sanitary, the tub also features a water purification system so you can avoid harsh chemicals and debris interrupting your relaxing spa experience.

Unfortunately, this hot tub runs constantly, making it quite loud and also slow to heat up to the right temperature. Still, we think the tub’s original design and valuable features make it a strong choice—especially since it’s a portable plug-and-play model and thus doesn’t require the help of electricians to be set up. You can start using this tub soon after it arrives and waste no time enjoying its many benefits.

Price at time of publish: $4,300

Type: Plug and play | Dimensions: 78 x 78 x 32 inches | Capacity: 5 | Shape: Square | Material: Plastic

Final Verdict

If you’re looking for a versatile, high-quality hot tub to use year after year, we recommend the AquaRest Select 150 4-Person 12-Jet Plug and Play Hot Tub based on our testing. We appreciate its easy setup, multiple features, and three color options. For a lower-budget alternative, check out the Bestway SaluSpa Miami AirJet Inflatable Hot Tub, which is a portable and lightweight hot tub that can fit up to four people.

Our Testing Process

We spent two weeks testing three different hot tubs at home, evaluating them on setup, design, maintenance, features, and value. Our evaluations began as soon as the hot tubs were delivered. We took note of the delivery method and whether any assembly was required. We timed the entire setup process, including inflation for inflatable hot tubs. We also recorded how long it took us to fill the hot tub with water and how long it took the water to fully heat up.

While using the hot tubs in our daily lives, we noted how much we were able to adjust the water temperature and the intensity of the jets, as well as other bonus features (like headrests, waterfalls, and LED lights). We also considered maintenance while evaluating these hot tubs. We followed the manufacturer's instructions to clean our hot tubs regularly and kept up with basic sanitary practices, taking note of how much time we spent on maintenance and whether we felt it was worth it.

How to Shop for Hot Tubs Like a Pro

Type

There are several different types of hot tubs you can choose from, including:

Portable: These hot tubs usually work by plugging into any standard wall outlet without any special circuits or hookups required, making them ultra-convenient. (That’s why they’re also called plug-and-play hot tubs.) These types of tubs “are typically high-performance and durable,” says Jordan Rash of Epic Hot Tubs in North Carolina. He adds that portable hot tubs “are known for having the most features and seating configurations.” However, they can take a while to heat up and don’t have the most powerful jets. Most of the hot tubs on our list fall under this category.

Inflatable: Known for their low costs and portability, these hot tubs can be inflated and deflated as needed (just like inflatable pools). “They’re great trial tubs for customers considering a permanent portable hot tub but aren't sure how often they would use it or what features might be important to them,” says Rash. They tend to be less durable and energy-efficient than other tubs, though, and have limited features.

Swim and spa: These hot tub/pool combos “are much larger than traditional hot tubs and feature exercise jets that allow for swimming or water exercise,” says Rash. “They also provide more than enough room for guests and parties and are a very popular alternative to swimming pools.” However, they’re very expensive to build and they won’t fit in every yard.

In-ground/standard: Standard in-ground hot tubs require professional installation and are often custom-built for users, especially in areas near pools. Tubs of this nature “can be great for aesthetics,” says Rash, “but the main downside is that these tubs are much more expensive to make and maintain.”

Size and Shape

To figure out what size hot tub is right for you, consider the square footage of your outdoor space. When measuring, keep in mind that hot tubs need at least a foot of space around the sides so that people can get in and out.

It’s also crucial to think about how many people you expect to use the hot tub regularly. Small hot tubs, which tend to be a little over 5 feet long and wide, can comfortably fit two people, while medium hot tubs that measure 6–7 feet long and wide can fit four to five people. The largest hot tubs measure 7–8 feet in length and width so they can fit at least six or seven people.

Once you’ve determined the right size hot tub for your needs, think about what shape you want. Hot tubs are typically square, rectangular, or round. Square hot tubs fit well into corners and give each person their own seating space, while rectangular hot tubs (the most common types) have a wide range of seating layouts and often boast more features thanks to their versatile shape. Round hot tubs, meanwhile, are good for fitting into non-traditional spaces and can allow an easier conversational flow.

Material

Hot tub shells can be made out of several materials, and each has its pros and cons. The best option for you depends on whether you’re most concerned about cost, weight, durability, or energy efficiency.

Plastic hot tubs are typically lightweight and “cheaper upfront, but typically lack durability and energy efficiency,” says Rash. Like plastic, fiberglass is “lightweight and cheap,” he adds, “but isn’t very durable because it’s prone to issues such as chipping.” Hot tubs made of acrylic are “typically very durable and energy efficient, but are much heavier and more expensive up front than something like plastic or fiberglass,” Rash says.

Maintenance

Hot tubs require regular maintenance to keep them in their best shape. “This includes surface cleaning, filter cleaning, filter replacement, chemical balancing, and periodic draining and refills,” says Rash.

Some types of hot tubs feature automatic circulation to keep the water passing through the filters, but others don’t, meaning you’ll need to refresh the water yourself a few times a day. And if your hot tub is made from plastic or acrylic, you may need to wipe down the shell often to get rid of debris and prevent scum from building up. Inflatable hot tubs require less maintenance, although they won’t last as long as other types.

Special Features

While everything above covers the basics of how to choose a hot tub, you can also look for models with special features to improve your experience.

  • Adjustable jets: Many high-end hot tubs allow you to adjust the angle of the jets, creating more personalized massages while in the tub. Rash adds that the “warm water and powerful jets” of a hot tub “can soothe sore muscles.”
  • Multi-colored LED lights: Some hot tubs feature color-changing lights that brighten up the tub during nighttime use and add some vibrant fun.
  • Seating: While most hot tubs contain some form of seating, some nicer models will have loungers, which allow for “the best full-body hydrotherapy,” notes Rash. Other hot tubs offer open bucket seating or benches.
  • Ozonators/circulation pumps: These sanitation-focused features “allow lower use of chemicals and result in a much more comfortable spa experience with less maintenance requirements,” explains Rash.
  • WiFi/Bluetooth: “Convenience features such as WiFi have become increasingly popular as people can now control their spa using an app on their mobile devices,” says Rash. Additionally, “one of the most popular features is built-in speakers with Bluetooth connectivity that deliver high-quality music and sound.”
  • Waterfalls: Regardless of cost and size, many hot tubs feature waterfalls or other aesthetically pleasing water features.

Questions You Might Ask

How much does it cost to maintain a hot tub?

"A typical maintenance cost for a hot tub with just an ozonator can be roughly $600 a year depending on the size of the tub and how often it is used,” says Rash. “For hot tubs with other sanitation systems like a circulation pump or UV sanitation system, people can expect to pay approximately $150 less per year for each feature.”

However, don’t forget to factor in the cost of electricity and water when thinking about upkeep. “Depending on local energy costs and how often the hot tub is used, electrical costs range anywhere from $150–$250 a year for an energy-efficient model and up to $400–600 a year for less efficient models,” says Rash.

How long do hot tubs last?

According to Rash, “high-quality hot tubs can last well over 20 years.” Make sure to stick to a regular maintenance schedule to ensure your hot tub has a long, healthy life ahead of it. In our testing, we made sure to complete basic maintenance tasks, such as placing the cover on the hot tub, checking water levels with a test kit and adding chemicals as needed, circulating the water, and rinsing the filter, just to name a few. All of these tasks may seem like a chore, but they’re worth the time spent to keep your hot tub in good shape.

What is the best month to buy a hot tub?

There isn’t really one best month to buy a hot tub. “One of the biggest advantages of a hot tub is its year-round usage,” explains Rash. But if you’re looking to score a great deal, you’ll probably get lucky purchasing for a hot tub in the fall and winter when the next year’s models become available. You can also keep an eye out for hot tubs on sale during holiday weekends.

Take Our Word for It

This article was written by Rachel Simon, a writer for Real Simple, Better Homes & Gardens, The New York Times, and many other publications. To write this article, we tested three hot tubs and researched many more. For expert insight, we spoke to Jordan Rash of Epic Hot Tubs in North Carolina.

What Is Real Simple Selects?

Next to each product on this list, you may have noticed a Real Simple Selects seal of approval. Any product appearing alongside that seal has been vetted by our team—put through tests and graded on its performance to earn a spot on our list. Although we buy most of the products we test, sometimes we do get samples from companies if purchasing a product ourselves isn’t an option. All products go through the same rigorous process, whether they are purchased or sent by the company.

Love our recommendations? Check out more products that have earned the Real Simple Selects, from humidifiers to cordless vacuums.

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FAQs

The 7 Best Hot Tubs for a Spa-Like Experience at Home? ›

Jacuzzi ® hot tubs are designed for reliability. Every part you see—and even those you don't—is exceptionally engineered with the best materials to ensure a superior product. With more than 250 quality checks and outstanding inspection standards, Jacuzzi ® hot tubs have a reputation for dependability. Marquis ® Spas.

What is the most reliable spa brand? ›

Jacuzzi ® hot tubs are designed for reliability. Every part you see—and even those you don't—is exceptionally engineered with the best materials to ensure a superior product. With more than 250 quality checks and outstanding inspection standards, Jacuzzi ® hot tubs have a reputation for dependability. Marquis ® Spas.

What is the most efficient hot tub on the market? ›

Bullfrog Spas Energy-Efficient Hot Tubs

They offer a full foam insulation system; durable, tight-fitting covers; and efficient pumps and motors. Bullfrog Spas' hot tubs also include a patented JetPak Therapy System™ which provides high-quality hydrotherapy while using 90% less plumbing than traditional hot tubs.

What is the difference between a spa tub and a hot tub? ›

The most obvious difference between these two is their actual use and location. Whereas a hot tub can have spa like qualities, a spa is often a standalone establishment or in-ground structure that also provides health treatments.

What hot tub requires least maintenance? ›

Bullfrog Spas WellSpring filter pump uses Microban® technology to aid the elimination of unwanted contaminants without requiring extra maintenance or high costs. In addition, for some models, Bullfrog Spas offers an optional Ozone purifying system that can boost the ease of water care and the cleanliness of the water.

Which hot tubs last the longest? ›

If you invest in a higher-quality hot tub from leading brands, such as Jacuzzi® Hot Tubs or Bullfrog® Spas, you're able to drastically increase the expected lifespan. These kinds of hot tubs generally last anywhere from 10-15 years and can easily be stretched to 20 years if you take good care of them.

What is better than a hot tub? ›

If you're looking for a hot tub alternative (perhaps you want the health benefits but aren't a big fan of water), then a sauna can be a great option. Price-wise, you're looking around the same price range as a Softub, so it's still an investment, but more manageable than a traditional hot tub.

What are the disadvantages of a hot tub? ›

Here are four health-related reasons you may want to avoid hot tubs if you're an older adult.
  • The water can make you sick. The CDC warns hot tub users to avoid swallowing the water or even getting it in their mouths. ...
  • The steam can make you sick, too.
  • You might get a rash. ...
  • The heat can leave you woozy.
Jun 17, 2021

Are spa tubs worth it? ›

The value of well-made, high-quality hot tubs is immeasurable. They offer a wide range of benefits and save the time and effort needed for maintenance. They can also last for decades, which makes the costs well worth it. If you want a solid investment, invest in a quality tub.

Is there a hot tub that doesn't require chemicals? ›

An alternative to a chlorinated hot tub is a salt system. These salt water spas are often called a “no chemical hot tub” because you don't have to add chlorine to the water. But that doesn't mean you don't need chemicals or there isn't chlorine in a saltwater hot tub.

What is the lifespan of a hot tub? ›

Essentially, a spa's life span is based on a combination of two factors - spa quality and spa care. A hot tub can last anywhere from 5-20 years or more. Cheaper hot tubs made with lower quality materials won't last long. If those hot tubs are not well maintained, they may not last more than 5 years.

Are there hot tubs without chemicals? ›

Unfortunately, there isn't a way to get rid of water-sanitizing chemicals completely and still have a spa you can enjoy without some concerns. Using your hot tub without any sanitizers at all is unsafe, and adding them only when you're ready to use your spa is inconvenient.

Does hot tub brand matter? ›

Hot Tub Brand Reputation

When searching for a trustworthy hot tub, you want to purchase from a company that has been in business a long time and is known for their history of quality. This means they offer a wide range of high-quality products, options, and sizes.

Are expensive spas worth it? ›

You save money over the course of your hot tub's lifespan if you invest in a higher-quality tub. The more expensive tubs are also the ones with better hot tub insulation, meaning they're more energy-efficient. If your energy bills are lower every month, at some point, you'll have paid less for the higher-quality tub.

How long do hot tubs last? ›

Essentially, a spa's life span is based on a combination of two factors - spa quality and spa care. A hot tub can last anywhere from 5-20 years or more. Cheaper hot tubs made with lower quality materials won't last long. If those hot tubs are not well maintained, they may not last more than 5 years.

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