Used Hot Tub Prices Guide
Hot tub ownership can be expensive, so it's no wonder that used spas are becoming increasingly popular.
But with so much price variation on the used hot tub market, how do you spot the perfect deal?
In this article, I'll shed light on all the factors that affect a used hot tub's value and show you how to conduct a proper inspection.
Let's make sure your hot tub experience is a positive one from the get-go! Read on to learn more.
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Price Guide: How Much Does A Used Hot Tub Cost?
There are several factors, which affect the price of used hot tubs. A good rule of thumb for relatively recent models on the used market is to expect to pay around 50% of the cost of a brand new hot tub of similar specification. Although this may sound too good to be true, bear in mind the seller's alternative is generally to take the trade-in value listed by their local spa dealer against the purchase of a new hot tub. This trade-in value is usually only offered against purchases, not in cash, and is unlikely to exceed 50% of the original purchase price anyway.
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Factors Affecting The Price Of A Used Hot Tub
State Of the Used Hot Tub Market
The used market, like many industries, is governed by supply and demand. A used spa is only worth what people are willing and able to pay. Whether you're buying or selling a used tub, check the online classifieds to get an idea of what people are currently paying for similar spa models.
Size Of The Hot Tub
The hot tub industry produces models in a whole range of sizes. Smaller hot tubs tend to be cheaper, not just because of the lower quantity of materials used, but because they require fewer jets and less power from pumps and heaters. Also, many spa brands pack more features and high-quality components into their larger hot tubs as those buying smaller units are often constrained by budget as well as space.
There is a massive difference in quality between premium brand hot tubs and a budget or entry-level spa. High-quality hot tub construction (generally using durable, high-gloss acrylic shells, stainless steel jets, etc) will last much longer than cheaper materials, both in terms of shell condition and helping to keep the spa running properly. Quality does cost more though, and this is reflected in the cost of used hot tubs from premium brands as well as for those buying a new spa.
Specifications and Features
Hot tubs vary wildly in the specifications, hydrotherapy options, design features, etc. they offer. Here are some of the things to look out for in a more expensive unit:
Hot tub brands or retail stores usually stock extra accessories to go with their new spas. If the seller's backyard spa was purchased with any of these, they are likely to be including them in the sale:
Most used hot tubs will have developed at least some minor issues or imperfections. Although some flaws are purely cosmetic and don't affect the hot tub experience, it's important to carry out a thorough inspection on any used hot tub before buying.
There are several factors you will want to check out before deciding if a particular spa is worth buying. Some types of wear or damage can be factored into the purchase price and repaired/replaced, whereas others may indicate an old tub that isn't worth trying to resurrect.
Step 1: Visual Inspection
Always have a good look at a used tub before filling or checking the operation. There are some flaws/faults which may not be as visible once used spas are full of water and bubbling away. Here are some of the main things to include:
Step 2: Running Inspection
Following the visual checks, fill the hot tub and make sure the electrical hookup is connected. You are now ready to complete the second phase of the inspection process.
Should I Look For A Used Hot Tub That Is Still Under Warranty?
Although buying a used hot tub that is still under factory warranty may sound sensible, it actually makes very little difference.
Hot tub industry warranties are only applicable to the original purchaser and do not transfer to a new owner, so as soon as a used spa leaves the seller's backyard the warranty becomes void.
The only potential benefit is if your inspection shows a flaw that can be rectified, the current owner may be willing to get the work done under the factory warranty prior to completing the sale.
Potential Added Costs To Keep In Mind
If this is your first foray into hot tub ownership, it's easy to underestimate the other expenses involved beyond the purchase price. Here are some of the main expenses to be aware of.
If you have not bought a used hot tub before, or are still not clear on the inspection steps for a used spa, you may wish to commission a professional to come and inspect the tub for you before completing the purchase. This can cost anything up to $200 but might save you money in the long run.
Most of today's hot tubs run off a 220-240V hard-wired electrical hookup. As such, a qualified electrician is needed to safely disconnect the used hot tub in preparation for transport. This is not as complex as the installation process, so you shouldn't be paying any more than around $200 maximum.
However, some smaller plug and play models operate from a standard household electrical socket, so these will not incur the same costs.
Used hot tubs are large, heavy objects which require careful handling. They will usually need to be transported by flatbed truck and may even require a specialized dolly and/or crane truck to maneuver. Make sure you clarify whether local transport is included in the cost.
If you are buying from further afield the hot tub shipping costs will increase compared to a "local price". With this in mind, shipping could set you back anywhere between $300 and $1000+.
Hot tubs need to be placed on flat level ground.
Unless you are installing your used hot tub purchase on an existing deck or patio, you may need to pay for some groundwork in preparation.
Other costs for installation mostly relate to the electrical work.
In addition to setting up the electrical hookup, hot tub wiring should include the installation of a disconnect box and a Ground Fault Circuit Interruptor (GCFI) in order to comply with the National Electrical Code. The latter of these is often built into hot tubs from premium brands these days, but most used hot tubs more than a few years old will definitely need one added separately.
If the hot tub is more than fifty feet from the hookup, a relay might also be required. Otherwise, you can expect electrical installation to take a few hours and cost around $1000-$1200.
Recommended Used Hot Tub Resources
Many dealerships that sell new hot tubs also have used models available as a result of customer trade-in offers. You can find some of the best hot tub brands for a reduced price this way. Although you might not find the same range of used hot tubs as you would online, there are some clear advantages to purchasing a spa from one of these outlets.
Firstly, hot tub dealers will inspect all used stock, including a full check of the equipment area and the replacement of damaged parts. This work may even come with a dealer's warranty, which could save you money later.
Second, most hot tubs in dealerships are priced with shipping included, and some even cover the cost of installation for you (especially on premium brand models). They are also likely to have the specialized dolly/crane truck/forklift equipment needed to facilitate the safe maneuvering of the hot tub.
Although you won't get the same support with a purchase from Craigslist as buying from a dealer, this is definitely where you'll find the biggest range of used hot tubs. There are hundreds of listings, covering all the major hot tub industry brands, so the chances are you will find exactly what you're looking for. Just be careful, a buyer's inspection is an especially good idea in this sort of transaction and you will want oversight over the delivery process too.
In addition to used hot tubs themselves, Craigslist is also a great place to find replacement parts and accessories such as spa covers, steps, grab bars, etc.
These have fallen somewhat out of favor in recent years, so you are not likely to find a huge number of advertisements for exactly the sorts of used hot tubs you are interested in. However, it's still always worth checking the local classifieds as you may discover a real bargain in your area.
The Final Verdict
If you're really looking forward to spa ownership, but the cost of a new hot tub (or the type you want) is off-putting, you should definitely consider picking up a used model. As long as you do your homework in terms of what you should be paying, and inspect any used spa carefully before committing to buy, there's no reason this shouldn't be one of the best decisions you could make this year. Head over to our Hot Tub Blue Book to learn more.
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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.