Hot Tub Installation Cost and Ideas

Hot tub installation prices can vary depending on what type of hot tub is purchased, where it will be placed and what type of accessories or landscaping is desired.

110v vs. 230v Spas

Most spas require a 230 volt dedicated line with either a 50 amp or 60 amp breaker.  Some spas are made as plug and play models and work with a standard power cord (GFCI safety cord usually provided by manufacturer) that plugs into a dedicated household 110 volt power outlet, eliminating the need for an eletrician to install a 230 volt line.

There are always pros and cons to any arrangement, and while the 110 volt spa is much lower in cost up front, it may lack the ability to heat the spa water in the deep winter, or while the cover is open, so the temperature may drop faster than in a 230 volt spa because unlike the 3kw – 5kw heaters found in the 230 volt spa models, simple math says the 110 volt version can only have a 1kw heater (or 1.5kw max.) on a standard household power line.

Hot Tub Installation Cost

 Site Preparation – Outdoor Installation

The spa must be completely level, as otherwise the water level will not be even and there may be problems with filtration and air getting into the lines. Spillover can also occur when people get into the spa, and if the spa is uneven, water will spill out of one side easily.  The most common forms of levelling are done with a cement slab or other concrete underfooting, or the unit is placed on a supported deck or built into a deck.   A proper slab will have at least 6 inches of concrete or deeper to go below the frost line and fortified with rebar metal rods.  The actual cost of materials is under $100, but the labor can be a few hundred – also it can be a diy project (but watch out for getting concrete on shoes/skin..)

There is also an off the shelf hot tub foundation solution (4 pieces of foundation that fit together under the spa), but a concrete slab seems to be the most popular solution.

The more “building in and around” that occurs, the higher the price tag.   Some have had success just placing a bunch of levelled patio blocks to form a complete base.  The problem with that arrangement is that the blocks may shift over time, creating an uneven level at which point the spa must be moved and everything re-levelled.  That is why a good concrete pad that is winter-worthy (deep enough/with rebar..) will always work best.

Also be aware of just setting the spa on uneven surfaces such as flagstone.  While at first, it may seem that the spa is level, stresses and strains that may later cause cracking or other warping can occur because flagstone is never even and can create point stresses on the spa.   As long as the spa truly rests evenly on the foundation, it will not give you any problems over the long run.

Cost of the electrical installation depends on how long of a wire needs to be run and how much conduit, and the electrician’s hourly rate or charge.  You will also need a disconnect box with GFCI and enough wire from the GFCI to the hot tub, as well as a 50 amp or 60 amp 220v breaker and 220v supply in the main electrical box.  This can total anywhere from about $500 – $800 or more including materials, GFCI and breaker. (one guy on Yahoo seems to think it will only be $200-$300 so you may just get lucky!)

Filling the spa is usually done with a nearby garden hose, so that should already be in place, unless you need a longer hose.

When installing on a deck, be sure the load capacity will hold the weight of the spa, the water in the filled spa and the people in the spa all at the same time. Sometimes existing decks can be fortified with structural supports to support a hot tub.

Moving the Spa

There is curbside delivery and then there is moving the spa into place (usually in the back yard).  This involves either standing the spa upright/tall and wheeling it to the back, or even having to hire a crane to hoist it over the house if the passage to the left and right of the house is not wide enough for the spa to pass through.  Sometimes a fence piece may be dismantled and then reinstalled.  Sometimes the spa needs to go over grass, so sheets of thick plywood are used as an underlay to roll the spa across. Spa dollies or strong furniture dollies are sometimes used to move the spa.  Most spa deliveries can benefit from 3 or more people to help move the hot tub while avoiding injury.

Electrical Installation

A 230v spa will require an electrician to run a 6 (or 8) gauge wire from the main electrical panel (usually 6-2 wire with ground) to an outside disconnect box as per local code.
It is usually recommended to use a 60 Amp, 220 volt GFCI in the disconnect box (which, depending on local code needs to be at least 5-6 or more feet away from the spa).
The wire is then run through one of the side panels of the spa in order to get it into the interior of the cabinet, where the spa control box is located in order to hook up the power from the disconnect box to the spa.  At this point, many electricians get confused about how to wire the neutral wire, so special attention to the instructions that came with the spa should be paid by the electrician to get that right.

Sometimes, the wire will be pre-installed in conduit inside the slab coming up from the bottom at a predetermined location. It can also be drilled through the base of a deck.  In any case, silicone is then used to seal off any gap around the hole entering the spa cabinet.  Regulations will most likely require that all exposed wiring must be installed in Conduit.

Note that use of aluminum wire will void most warranties.

 

Here is a hot tub installation from delivery to bubbles!

 

Now that the spa is connected and running, you may need some hot tub accessories to fine tune your outdoor oasis.  Popular accessories include a cover lifter for the spa cover, weatherproof spa steps, a set of starter hot tub chemicals, a spare hot tub filter and even a submersible pump for easy and quick draining of the spa.