Natural Gas Hot Tub vs Electric
Part of choosing the perfect hot tub is deciding how you are going to heat it. This is important because your decision will determine how cost-effective it is to run, how quickly it heats up, and how easy it is to install.
So what kind of hot tub heating system should you choose? Is one better than the other?
Let's have a look and see what are the pros and cons of each option and which one ultimately suits your needs.
Not sure which hot tub to get? Let us help you!
Natural Gas Hot Tubs
This type of spa uses a gas heater that is installed externally. It requires access to the open air and will need a gas line that will have to be installed by a professional so that your heater can receive its fuel.
When thinking about purchasing a gas hot tub you often need to take into account how far away your hot tub will be from a gas line and if it has a clear path. Once it is all hooked up, you will need to ignite the heater to start it up.
Reasons To Buy A Natural Gas Hot Tub:
Gas is not as expensive as it used to be, and because it creates fewer BTUs it is also better for the environment. This means that gas heaters are an eco-friendly choice that have lower operating costs.
Best For Cold Weather
When bringing your hot tub water temperature up during the winter months, gas spa heaters offer a more cost-effective solution when compared to electric spa heaters. Additionally, if your hot tub does not have great insulation or heat/cold resistance, then going with gas heaters will be more energy-efficient and cost you less money overall.
If heating your hot tub was a race then gas would win every time. Most gas-heated hot tubs can increase in temperature by 1-2 degrees Fahrenheit each minute. This is a colossal contrast to the ability of an electric heater that can take an hour to do what a gas heater can do in a single minute. This makes it more energy-efficient since you can heat it up a few minutes before you want to use it rather than having to keep it on all day to reach the same temperature.
Drawbacks Of Owning A Natural Gas Hot Tub:
Higher Purchase Cost
The higher initial cost may deter some potential buyers. Though there are many pros, you will find yourself spending about $1,000 or more on this type of hot tub in the beginning.
Even after spending a hefty amount on the unit itself, there are additional costs for installation. One of the big ones is the gas line which you have to bury and depending on where you have it and how long you need it to be, could cost you about $1,000.
Additionally, these heaters are not small and are not easily hidden away like an electrical heater. Rather you need them to sit on the outside of your hot tub with access to fresh air and space for the exhaust.
While it is uncommon for gas spa heaters to pose a serious hazard to you and your home, accidents can happen. As with any appliance that uses gas, you should always consider the risks. The risks associated with gas heat is carbon monoxide exhaust poisoning as well as flammability. Preemptive measures include ensuring your gas line connected properly, and even hiring a gas contractor who can help with propane gas as well as natural gas line connections.
Electric Hot Tubs
Electric hot tubs have an electrical heater that is contained within a long stainless steel metal tube that has connectors on the outside. Sometimes people will refer to these electrical heaters as flow-thru systems however they are the exact same thing and most of them will include a way to monitor your temperature and water flow.
These heaters are easy to install however an electrician will need to put in a GFCI circuit breaker. Often people place these smaller heaters beside their hot tub or sometimes even underneath their spa though you should always check the manufacturer's guidelines and recommendations first.
Reasons To Buy An Electric Hot Tub:
Lower Purchase Cost
Electric spa heaters cost less to purchase. You can buy this type of heater for a fraction of what a gas heater would cost you. Often you will buy them for $150-350 which makes them a much easier purchase for those with smaller budgets.
You will need to pay extra for the installation but even here it is more cost-effective than what a gas heater would cost you.
Lower Running Costs
If you live in an area where there are moderate temperatures and your hot tub has reasonably good insulation with a good hot tub cover to keep the heat in, then the electric heater will be more cost-effective than its alternative.
However, this can also depend on your area and you should check the local electrical costs as some areas have high power costs that nullify this benefit.
Lower Repair Costs
Having a simpler system has its benefits. One of the big ones is simpler repairs and maintenance. Inevitably even the most reliable equipment can break down so when it does it is comforting to know that a repair should not cost you more than $100 and it should be a piece of cake for your local contractors.
Drawbacks Of Owning An Electric Hot Tub:
Depending on your hot tub and the outdoor temperatures the temperature can rise anywhere between 1-3 degrees per hour. When compared with what a gas heater can do, that really is very slow. Therefore you will need to take a lot more time to heat up your hot tub and you won't be able to just jump in as a last-minute thought unless you keep it running all the time.
Higher Running Costs
Electric hot tub heaters can be cost-effective but it can also cost you more depending on what your local area charges. Generally, if your local electrical costs are more than $0.25 per kilowatt then the electricity may be a more expensive option to run vs the gas hot tub heaters.
In colder climates, poorly insulated hot tubs cause a faster rate of heat loss, leading to less energy efficiency. And when it comes to your electric hot tub, you'll see that add up on your electric bill.
Though we never plan on any accidents, you should definitely consider the hazards that electricity could pose to you and your family. Be sure to get the hot tub wiring done correctly. Electricity and water are a dangerous combination that could potentially lead to electric shock. To avoid this, ensure that your circuits are protected.
The Final Verdict
If you have a well-insulated hot tub with a cover and you live in a temperate climate then the electrical version could be your best option since it will be more cost-effective to run long term. However, if your hot tub has poor insulation and you live in a cold area then the gas will be the better solution for you.
Both have their pros and cons but which one you'll need will ultimately depend on your area, the weather, your local gas and electric costs, as well as how important heating up your spa quickly is to you.
It should be noted that overall, the gas version appears to be an upgrade from the electric. Although, you do have to invest extra money into the additional benefits of owning one.
When you're ready to buy, or even just take a look around at pricing, simplify your research and let us do the work for you. Click the button below to get multiple prices quotes on hot tubs in your area.
About The Author
Bobby Gifford // Staff Writer
Bobby Gifford has over 17 years of experience with hot tubs and swimming pools. He has owned one pool and several hot tub brands over the years and has a wide scope of knowledge including buying information, maintenance and industry trends.