Over 6 million people in the US own a hot tub. If you plan on joining them, you’ve got the important task of figuring out where you want it to be and how you plan on making it work in that particular setup. Unfortunately, it’s not quite as simple as going, “Oh, that corner looks nice, put it there.”
You’ve got to do a lot of planning. Consider the distance from your home, building codes, electrical output, your local climate, lighting (both natural and electrical), the view, and even how you’ll use it. Don’t be scared away though, because while it takes a fair amount of planning, a lot of it boils down to personal preference. If you know how you plan to use your hot tub, a lot of the planning becomes easy.
Many people think hot tubs require extra plumbing to be installed but that’s not the case. Most hot tubs are completely self-contained with water circulating through the hot tub’s plumbing and filtration system within the cabinet, or outer paneling of the hot tub.
A hot tub needs to be installed on a flat, perfectly level surface like a concrete slab or a deck. If you’re adding a hot tub to a current deck, be ready to do a little more planning. You’ll need to account for the dry weight, the weight with water, and the weight with water and people inside. Depending on the model, this can range from 2,000 to 8,000 pounds, which means your current framing on a deck almost certainly won’t be sufficient.
Installing a hot tub on an existing deck is a job for a professional, and it’s very important to note that certain municipalities have regulations on where and how hot tubs can be installed, and some HOAs require self-closing fences around all pools and hot tubs regardless of local laws. If your hot tub isn’t self-contained with the filter, pump and heater built in, some local laws require all of that equipment to be at least five feet from the tub. Additionally, a hot tub also needs a 230-volt ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlet to comply with the National Electric Code. In short, there are a lot of very specific rules and regulations when it comes to hot tubs. These are issues that a professional installer is used to and will handle for you with no trouble.
You’ll most likely see hot tubs running on 120-volt circuits, with more energy-efficient hot tub models requiring a 240-volt circuit. Regardless of the hot tub model you choose, hire an electrician to make sure your electrical panel is big enough to handle the dedicated circuit and required amps which could vary from a 20-amp, 120-volt circuit to a 60-amp, 240-volt circuit.
Both types of circuits need a ground fault circuit interrupter and a separate electrical disconnect at least five feet away from the hot tub, according to SF Gate. Some hot tub models come with a built-in disconnect.
There are a few things to consider if you want plants around your hot tub. Greenery can make for a great privacy screen, especially if incorporated into a fence, or it can provide a splash of color to brighten things up. Plant flowers like lilies or irises and you’ll attract hummingbirds and butterflies to watch as you soak. You want your hot tub to be a relaxing space, and staring at a brick wall or a barren patch of land while you’re using it probably isn’t ideal.
Lighting may sound simple, but it’s actually a pretty important aspect in setting the right atmosphere for your hot tub. If you’ll be having parties where you want a fun atmosphere, consider holiday-themed lights or tiki torches. If you’re going for more of a private hot tub, you can get a softer, more romantic feel with candle or lantern lights. Just make sure no lighting is placed hanging directly over the hot tub.
Planning exactly where to put your hot tub and how to design the surrounding area is the biggest hurdle in a hot tub purchase (well, except for the price tag of course). But, taking time to make sure it’s in the exact right spot rather than, “I thought we’d put it in that corner” can mean the difference between a seldom used piece of equipment you eventually end up selling and your favorite, most relaxing spot in your home that’s a centerpiece of the yard.