Can we afford, and how to pay for, a hot tub / back yard reno splurge?

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Topic Author
guitarguy
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Re: Can we afford, and how to pay for, a hot tub / back yard reno splurge?

Post by guitarguy »

Continued thanks to everyone for the knowledge!

Re: Brands - can anyone recommend what they have and have been happy with? There have been a couple that have noted their makes/models and I wrote those down, curious to know what others have.

If you google this stuff it seems like a crapshoot...one site says a brand is total junk and another says it's top rated. :shock:

Re: electric - my good friend has one and he said it's not too bad on the electric bill where we live. Not sure about specifics but can't imagine the electric cost would be a deal breaker. He has a nice (and I assume very efficient and well insulated) one...we will be looking for the same.
Atomsplitter
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Joined: Fri Mar 22, 2024 12:35 pm

Re: Can we afford, and how to pay for, a hot tub / back yard reno splurge?

Post by Atomsplitter »

Electric is totally dependent on where you live, climate and electric bills vary greatly! I would talk to some friends and neighbor about theirs and that will probably be better than anything you get here, unless your buddy down the street is on here too. :D :D

As for reviews, positive marketing /negative marketing who knows the truth on the internet! I have heard it said Ben Franklin warned against trusting web pages that weren't willing to provide their real names instead of cute little "by" names but I am not sure he really said that! :oops:

I went Hot Spring due to many good reviews from people I knew and the "big" long term name thing. Love it but have friends with other brands who love theirs so..... :confused

May be a best deals with best local dealer thing too :wink: , and if your a DYIer don't over look the "we got one and never use it/ or dont want to repair it" market too. Had a buddy do that and his is still running fine many years later (did small repair up front) saved a bunch of money and got a tub that his family loved.
madbrain
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Joined: Thu Jun 09, 2011 5:06 pm
Location: San Jose, California

Re: Can we afford, and how to pay for, a hot tub / back yard reno splurge?

Post by madbrain »

exodusNH wrote: Mon Apr 01, 2024 6:51 am [quote=madbrain post_id=7797531
In NH, the electric bill is split in two -- generation charges and distribution charges. You can choose an alternate generator, but the distribution fees stay the same and go to the former monopoly. In typical times, it's almost 50/50. After the surge in natural gas prices, it was closer to 2/3 generation.
We have a similar split in fees in CA. Except the distribution fees are about 3/4 and generation only 1/4 . Recent solar customers under NEM3 can only offset the generation fees. Any excess is paid at a very low wholesale rate.
NEM1 customers could fully offset distribution fees. And NEM2 could offset about 95% of them.
My system is under NEM2 as of last year, and will be for the next 6 years. Previously I was under NEM1 since 2010, but expanded the PV just before NEM3 took effect.
The solar market in CA has completely collapsed because of NEM3. Economics don't work anymore . The only way to offset distribution fees is to use a battery to smooth out consumption from the grid.
Batteries are still too expensive and don't last as solar as solar panels. About 10 years vs 25+. I have some panels from 2010 still working fine.
When you sell excess capacity back to the grid, you only get the generation fee. There's no credit for distribution. Given we have this thing called winter, you will always have a bill unless you can generate 2x+ your annual usage during the summer months. (I actually agree with the model, since there are real costs to maintaining the grid, but it makes the payback period much longer.)
I don't agree with it when the distribution fees are 3/4 of the price. In some cities, we have municipal utilities, and the distribution fees are 10% of the price of investor-owned utilities like PG&E. Clearly distribution fees should not be 35+ cents per kWh.
I estimate my PV saves us about $10,000/year, based on consuming about 25,000 kWh.
Oir SREC market is also garbage. You have to opt into it. The utility is able to claim credit for anyone who hasn't taken a proactive step to opt in. Because the dollar amounts are so low, there isn't incentive to opt in and feeds into the cycle.
No SREC in CA.
HaveaNiceDay
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Joined: Fri Sep 16, 2022 7:32 pm

Re: Can we afford, and how to pay for, a hot tub / back yard reno splurge?

Post by HaveaNiceDay »

OP - Since you said you will have another power outlet near it for TV etc. just remember it is essentially a bathtub and needs a GFI (Ground Fault Interrupter) on the 220 and GFI on any nearby outlet. Since you have kids, I would get a GFI breaker at the circuit main panel and a second GFI at the sub pannel by the tub just to be safe. GFIs are cheap insurance like smoke detectors, no reason not to have some redundancy. I have seen plugged in boom boxes sitting on the edge of hot tubs and that is a disaster waiting to happen. So if you wall mount a TV etc, make sure if it falls it does not fall into the tub.

Since you have electrical experience, I am sure you know this, but many forget to also periodically test their GFIs.

Pools, hot tubs and weapons can be curiosities to kids and their young friends, so take appropriate precautions.

We use our hot tub several times a week, its great. Have fun!
Please excuse the typos, it is my way of showing the post is authentic....
nonnie
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Re: Can we afford, and how to pay for, a hot tub / back yard reno splurge?

Post by nonnie »

In my former life (before I moved to Independent Living) we had two HotSpring spas in two separate homes. Assuming they are still the same quality, they are top rated spas and extremely energy efficient. I would definitely put this brand at the top of my list.

One thing I haven't seen mentioned is the spa cycling on and off during the night. It sounds as though you have your location locked in, but if the spa will be near an open window you might consider that noise. Be sure to get a cover lifter and check out a cover for the cover as squirrels and other creatures love to perch on top of the cover and can puncture it with their sharp nails. Ozone is the way to go, much nicer for the skin

I miss the hot tub nearly every single day; definitely the purchase with the most bang for the buck in my entire life!
madbrain
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Location: San Jose, California

Re: Can we afford, and how to pay for, a hot tub / back yard reno splurge?

Post by madbrain »

Another thing about hot tub placement. If you can, place it in a spot that gets sun exposure. It is glorious to use the hot tub in the sun. I did earlier today. Occasionally in the summer, it may get too hot. There is no A/C on a hot tub, so the only way to cool it down is to pump some water out and add some cold water.
You should of course have a faucet nearby. That wasn't the case when I bought my home. I had to get pipes extended.
Topic Author
guitarguy
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Joined: Mon Dec 20, 2010 3:10 pm

Re: Can we afford, and how to pay for, a hot tub / back yard reno splurge?

Post by guitarguy »

Thanks for the replies all!

We visited two local dealers yesterday...Hot Springs and Jacuzzi were the main brands.

The Hot Springs dealer felt shady and pushy and we did not have a good experience there. $24k all-in quote for the grandee from their online form and that included a zillion extras and a big discount, yet the manager in the store tried to push the smaller Aria for $22k + tax for basically the hot tub and nothing else. Pushy. Ready to buy? Yes. You want to put down a deposit today? No. I see so you're not ready to buy. Well...actually we are looking to make a decision within a week...but why so pushy? Why are Hot Springs spas better for $10k more than other brands? "Better parts." Like what? Just better not made cheaply. Yeah...I'm gonna need more specifics than that. I'm sure they're nice tubs, but the dealer experience was awful.

The Jacuzzi dealer we visited was the opposite...very nice gentleman that was able to answer all of my questions and give lots of good specifics about the one we were looking at (335 model). $13.5k out the door including tax, lifter with hydraulic cover, steps, chemicals, delivery, on and on. This one has the UV bulb ozonator (kind of a bummer that the bulb has to be replaced annually but they don't seem super pricey), and the dedicated filter pump which I gather is important. Acrylic. Full foam insulation. Wifi control available if we want to add it (either with it or afterward...might try to bargain this in but we'll see). The dealer is 5-star rated on google and seemed very knowledgeable and customer service focused. They do all service and stuff in house. Right now we are leaning heavily in this direction. Need to make an appt to wet test our model...although the only crux is they won't have the 335 with the lounger, but instead the same size model without. We are on the fence on lounger vs. not. I sometimes like them but get hot quickly sitting there. DW doesn't like them. So maybe without is the best option for the most seating/flexibility.
Napa Car Guy
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Re: Can we afford, and how to pay for, a hot tub / back yard reno splurge?

Post by Napa Car Guy »

exodusNH wrote: Fri Mar 29, 2024 3:52 pm
guitarguy wrote: Fri Mar 29, 2024 3:34 pm I'm guessing - and I mean totally guessing as we have not gotten quotes yet - that the budget for the project will be $20-30k. I could be off. The project will include concrete slab for the hot tub along with small patio (we do have a concrete guy that will help with terrific pricing on this part), the hot tub, a gazebo or pergola of some sort with privacy, electrical work and plumbing work, permits, probably things I'm missing. I plan on doing the electrical work myself (I'm as experienced as it gets as a homeowner and can do more than basic electrical work), and I have a friend who's a master plumber that will give me good pricing on any work needed in that area.
I put in a hot tub with patio in the fall of 2019. It cost me about $25,000 in total.

However, since then, hot tubs have gone up by about 30%. The tub I got for $9800 is now $13,000+. Labor and supplies have also gone up substantially. This was for a 5 person tub. Obviously, you could squeeze more in, but that grosses me out.

This was with no pergola or any other sort of privacy structure.

The electrical was just an external "spa panel" and a 50 amp breaker with 6 ga wire running across the basement out to the spa panel.

I'm not sure what plumbing you're expecting. I just use a hose to fill it up and a sump pump to drain it. It has a gravity drain that you hook a hose up to, but that takes HOURS. Get a sump pump. Also, get an electric pressure washer to clean it. This will save you soooooooooooo much time.

Note that if you're going to be using electricity to heat, be aware that it uses A LOT of electricity. My bill went up $200-$300 per month. Now, I'm in NH, which has expensive electricity, but that is going to be your dominant cost. (It's basically a 440 gallon water heater that's sitting outside.)

Chemicals will probably run you $500/yr. With kids, you will probably have to clean it more often, so it might more. We are very careful and shower before we go in and don't use clothing that has had fabric softener on it.

Edit: a quick note on the electric usage, this is with me keeping it at 80 degrees during the week and turning it up Friday to use over the weekend. That saved about $50/mo. If you keep it at 100 all of the time so that you can use it at will, it will use more.

It heats up at about 4 degrees per hour. So, it requires planning.

And, oh, get the WiFi control option. There are many times when I wished they had offered that to me since it'd be nice to control it remotely.
WOW your electric is expensive for sure. Here in SW Michigan we have a Nordic Crown hot tub, 220V and it costs us about 35 bucks a month to run. We leave it at 104 and use it everyday. Ours is 22 years old and I did check for grins and could replace it same model for about 6500. I am sure labor and decking and all that is much more expensive than it used to be when we put this in but I would spend that money everyday of the week and twice on Sunday as we love our nightly soak, chat and decompress time.
madbrain
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Re: Can we afford, and how to pay for, a hot tub / back yard reno splurge?

Post by madbrain »

guitarguy wrote: Wed Apr 03, 2024 8:50 am Thanks for the replies all!

We visited two local dealers yesterday...Hot Springs and Jacuzzi were the main brands.

The Hot Springs dealer felt shady and pushy and we did not have a good experience there. $24k all-in quote for the grandee from their online form and that included a zillion extras and a big discount, yet the manager in the store tried to push the smaller Aria for $22k + tax for basically the hot tub and nothing else. Pushy. Ready to buy? Yes. You want to put down a deposit today? No. I see so you're not ready to buy. Well...actually we are looking to make a decision within a week...but why so pushy? Why are Hot Springs spas better for $10k more than other brands? "Better parts." Like what? Just better not made cheaply. Yeah...I'm gonna need more specifics than that. I'm sure they're nice tubs, but the dealer experience was awful.

The Jacuzzi dealer we visited was the opposite...very nice gentleman that was able to answer all of my questions and give lots of good specifics about the one we were looking at (335 model). $13.5k out the door including tax, lifter with hydraulic cover, steps, chemicals, delivery, on and on. This one has the UV bulb ozonator (kind of a bummer that the bulb has to be replaced annually but they don't seem super pricey), and the dedicated filter pump which I gather is important. Acrylic. Full foam insulation. Wifi control available if we want to add it (either with it or afterward...might try to bargain this in but we'll see). The dealer is 5-star rated on google and seemed very knowledgeable and customer service focused. They do all service and stuff in house. Right now we are leaning heavily in this direction. Need to make an appt to wet test our model...although the only crux is they won't have the 335 with the lounger, but instead the same size model without. We are on the fence on lounger vs. not. I sometimes like them but get hot quickly sitting there. DW doesn't like them. So maybe without is the best option for the most seating/flexibility.
Those prices for hot tubs seem pretty high. I paid $4600 for my Aquaterra Chesapeake on 2017. I know it was a long time ago. But there are lwss expwnsive hot tubs. The Chesapeake is 84x91. It is a Costco exclusive model, but manufactured by Watkins, who also make Hot Springs . I actually bought it from a Caldera dealer. It was a Costco return. So, I got the Costco price, but with dealer service level . Costco only delivers to the curb. They don't fly the hot tub above the hone to get it on the deck, like my dealer arranged.
I spent more than $5k to have the old old tub cut into pieces for removal, build a new tile floor on the deck, and minor electrical wiring.
The most expensive hot tub Costco sells right now is an Evolution Monarch, 91x91 for $8999. Something to consider.
Atomsplitter
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Joined: Fri Mar 22, 2024 12:35 pm

Re: Can we afford, and how to pay for, a hot tub / back yard reno splurge?

Post by Atomsplitter »

madbrain wrote: Wed Apr 03, 2024 11:12 am Those prices for hot tubs seem pretty high. I paid $4600 for my Aquaterra Chesapeake on 2017. I know it was a long time ago.
Ah, yes the inflation of relaxation index! See inflation is even making relaxing hard, next thing you know they will start to shrink the tubs like the food producers and a four-person tub will require everyone to squeeze into two seats! :oops: Kind of like how an airline squeezes 4 people into those middle aisles! :annoyed
Topic Author
guitarguy
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Joined: Mon Dec 20, 2010 3:10 pm

Re: Can we afford, and how to pay for, a hot tub / back yard reno splurge?

Post by guitarguy »

madbrain wrote: Wed Apr 03, 2024 11:12 am
guitarguy wrote: Wed Apr 03, 2024 8:50 am Thanks for the replies all!

We visited two local dealers yesterday...Hot Springs and Jacuzzi were the main brands.

The Hot Springs dealer felt shady and pushy and we did not have a good experience there. $24k all-in quote for the grandee from their online form and that included a zillion extras and a big discount, yet the manager in the store tried to push the smaller Aria for $22k + tax for basically the hot tub and nothing else. Pushy. Ready to buy? Yes. You want to put down a deposit today? No. I see so you're not ready to buy. Well...actually we are looking to make a decision within a week...but why so pushy? Why are Hot Springs spas better for $10k more than other brands? "Better parts." Like what? Just better not made cheaply. Yeah...I'm gonna need more specifics than that. I'm sure they're nice tubs, but the dealer experience was awful.

The Jacuzzi dealer we visited was the opposite...very nice gentleman that was able to answer all of my questions and give lots of good specifics about the one we were looking at (335 model). $13.5k out the door including tax, lifter with hydraulic cover, steps, chemicals, delivery, on and on. This one has the UV bulb ozonator (kind of a bummer that the bulb has to be replaced annually but they don't seem super pricey), and the dedicated filter pump which I gather is important. Acrylic. Full foam insulation. Wifi control available if we want to add it (either with it or afterward...might try to bargain this in but we'll see). The dealer is 5-star rated on google and seemed very knowledgeable and customer service focused. They do all service and stuff in house. Right now we are leaning heavily in this direction. Need to make an appt to wet test our model...although the only crux is they won't have the 335 with the lounger, but instead the same size model without. We are on the fence on lounger vs. not. I sometimes like them but get hot quickly sitting there. DW doesn't like them. So maybe without is the best option for the most seating/flexibility.
Those prices for hot tubs seem pretty high. I paid $4600 for my Aquaterra Chesapeake on 2017. I know it was a long time ago. But there are lwss expwnsive hot tubs. The Chesapeake is 84x91. It is a Costco exclusive model, but manufactured by Watkins, who also make Hot Springs . I actually bought it from a Caldera dealer. It was a Costco return. So, I got the Costco price, but with dealer service level . Costco only delivers to the curb. They don't fly the hot tub above the hone to get it on the deck, like my dealer arranged.
I spent more than $5k to have the old old tub cut into pieces for removal, build a new tile floor on the deck, and minor electrical wiring.
The most expensive hot tub Costco sells right now is an Evolution Monarch, 91x91 for $8999. Something to consider.
Yeah...being huge fans we looked into Costco but decided against it. The $13.5k Jacuzzi price does include tax, delivery, chemicals, steps, cover, hydraulic cover lifter, dedicated filter pump, all the help and guidance we need for taking care of it and getting the initial setup done right, a single point of contact for any service needs, etc. The higher end Costco tub doesn't have great reviews and lacks the dedicated filter pump and many of these other extras that probably add up close to the $4k difference in price.

The $22k+ Hot Springs we found to be pretty ridiculous. Weeded that one out.

We're planning to look at Nordic and Twilight dealers close by home today to compare those brands and the vibes we get from the stores, and then we'll probably make our decision.
db79
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Joined: Fri Oct 21, 2016 12:00 pm

Re: Can we afford, and how to pay for, a hot tub / back yard reno splurge?

Post by db79 »

Installed a hot tub and patio 2 years ago. In CT where everything seems to cost a premium.

Sundance hot tub $15,000
Electrical $1,700
Paver Patio (a lot larger and including features rather than just hot tub pad) $21,000

While our utility rates are high the hot tub didn't add that much additional to our monthly bill.
exodusNH
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Joined: Wed Jan 06, 2021 7:21 pm

Re: Can we afford, and how to pay for, a hot tub / back yard reno splurge?

Post by exodusNH »

Atomsplitter wrote: Wed Apr 03, 2024 11:20 am
madbrain wrote: Wed Apr 03, 2024 11:12 am Those prices for hot tubs seem pretty high. I paid $4600 for my Aquaterra Chesapeake on 2017. I know it was a long time ago.
Ah, yes the inflation of relaxation index! See inflation is even making relaxing hard, next thing you know they will start to shrink the tubs like the food producers and a four-person tub will require everyone to squeeze into two seats! :oops: Kind of like how an airline squeezes 4 people into those middle aisles! :annoyed
They jumped during COVID. Tubs from Bullfrog were on a 6-12 month waiting list.

Pricing now is 30-40% higher. The tubs are smaller. Mine is about 430 gallons. The higher priced ones 320-350 gallons.

By pure chance, we ordered ours in September 2019 and had it installed in November.
Topic Author
guitarguy
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Joined: Mon Dec 20, 2010 3:10 pm

Re: Can we afford, and how to pay for, a hot tub / back yard reno splurge?

Post by guitarguy »

We visited a Master Spa dealer today and think we have made our choice, still need to check out Nordic, but the Twilight 7.25 (or 7.2 with/without lounger) has everything we want and came in at $11k out the door fully loaded with all the extras and features we were looking for. From my research this seems like a darn good price (taking into account recent inflation on everything of course).

Got it lowered that far after chatting with a tech guy, noticed his Marine Corps picture behind the desk, got to talking about I have 2 brothers that were Marines and our family has been to Paris Island and stuff like that…he gave me one of his 3 friends and family discount codes for calendar year 2024 right there and saved us $1k!!

The dealer today was just awesome in all aspects. Top notch reviews online. Worked mostly 1-1 with the owner who has the same Twilight tub we selected. He started as an independent repair tech and was able to get into the nitty gritty details of design and engineering features. I’m an engineer so I found this very valuable and what he said completely aligned with my online research. Non proprietary components, open cell non hardening foam insulation, access to the guts from a single access point, etc etc. Plus a larger 5.5kW heater as compared to the 3.4kW on the Jacuzzi.

And - get this - the asst manager from the Jacuzzi store we liked a lot is actually coming over to work for this Master Spa dealer starting in June! I was like yeah we visited the Jacuzzi store and the guy was very nice blah blah and he was like, “oh yeah, Joe?” (Fake name). He’s coming to work for me! Had his biz card right on the desk. Thought that was a hilariously good omen.

Have wet tests scheduled for this weekend, which will obviously be a deciding factor too. We are extremely excited!

EDIT: I’ll also add that without this forum, we flat out wouldn’t be in the fortunate position that we are to be able to spend on a luxury item like this. Not just this thread, but the advice and guidance and wisdom and…….over the past I don’t know how many years on I don’t know how many topics. This is a wonderful community. :beer
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