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By: Bill Meyer on June 5th, 2019

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Hot Tubs 102 - Installation

Buying Guide

Now that you know where to buy your new spa, (hint: it's your local dealer), consider where and how you will use it before you actually purchase and bring it home! 

There are 3 major items to consider before installing your hot tub.

  1. Location
  2. Foundation
  3. Electrical Power

Location:

Most spa owners will place their hot tub close to their back door, however nothing says you need to.  We've put spas on the roof of condos, in backyard pavilions & courtyards, in the ground, on boat docks, and a great many on or in decks.  We’ve also installed many with stone walls on 1, 2, or 3 sides and even put a few small ones inside the owner’s homes. 

Consider the following:

How do you plan to use your spa?  If it is largely for family enjoyment and/or entertainment you might put it some distance from your home.  On the other hand, if it will be used frequently for therapy, massage, and relaxation, positioning it closer to your back door might be better.  You also want to ensure enough clearance for easy access and at least a few inches from any walls to ensure the apron on the spa cover can extend down to properly seal your spa and protect the spa shell.

Visual appearance is also important.  You want to enjoy the aesthetics of your home.  Hot tubs tend to look like, well, hot tubs.  Many are quite attractive, but you might want something more subtle.  Because Bullfrog Spas are much less likely to leak (with their patented JetPak concept they have far less plumbing and holes in their spa shells) they are the ideal choice for enclosed installations, such as in decks, surrounding stone walls, and even in the ground.  

You want to pay attention to Electrical Codes.  In case you have an older home with overhead power lines, you need to ensure your spa is at least 10 feet away from a vertical drop from these power lines.  If your spa will use 240V power, you also need a GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) visible from your hot tub and at least 5 feet away. 

By the way, it is a bit more complicated than this, but 240V is simply two 120V lines so all homes have 240V.  Also, 240V, 230V, and 220V are all the same thing.  In fact, you likely have closer to 250V at your home. 

Check with your Homeowners Association if you have one.  Generally installing a hot tub will not be an issue if it is not visible from the street or by your neighbors.  If it would be, a few shrubs may satisfy your HOA.  HOA’s usually meet monthly and generally ask for a simple drawing of your plans.  I always advise our customers to “Follow their rules”.  HOA’s like that and when treated with respect they are rarely an issue.

Foundation:

You want your hot tub or swim spa on a Firm, Flat, and Relatively Level foundation but the needs of a hot tub are a bit different than for a swim spa.  It’s because of the additional weight of a swim spa.

Water weighs 8 1/3 lbs. per gallon.  Your typical hot tub holds 200 – 550 gallons.  Add the weight of the hot tub itself and some people, and it will weigh around 2,500 – 6,500 lbs.  However, a swim spa will often hold 1,700 – 2,800 gallons, which makes their weight 15,000 – 25,000 lbs. in total. 

A 4" thick, reinforced concrete slab is fine for a hot tub, and this is typical for all residential concrete work.  However, properly installed concrete pavers or crushed granite will also work well.

Swim spas require a 6” thick reinforced concrete pad.  Nothing else is strong enough to properly handle the weight.

I did mention that we install many hot tubs on and in decks.  Here you want your deck to support a minimum of 150 lbs. / sq. ft.  Larger hot tubs not only weigh more but they also have a larger footprint, so all hot tubs are very close to 100 lbs. / sq. ft. with water added.  We bump this up 50% for safety. 

Electrical Power:

All hot tubs require a GFCI and all 240V spas require an additional disconnect to quickly kill power to your spa.  With 240V spas your electrician will install the GFCI in their line from your main service panel.  240V spas are “hard wired”, that is they are wired directly to the service panel. 

120V spas will come with an electrical cord and the GFCI built into the plug.  This is why 120V are often called “Plug N Play”.  You will need a dedicated outlet nearby, usually within 10 feet. 

Let us know if you have any questions about installing your hot tub! We're happy to help!