Your spa should be about pleasure and/or physical therapy (even the informal kind). So you need to use it a lot! Here’s a short list of things to take into account when you are planning your spa installation.
Location, location, location. I can tell you from sad experience that a hot tub that is downstairs and outside will NOT be used as much as the one two steps from the bedroom door. You have too much time and money invested to let it just sit there, so think about how you want to use it, when you want to use and then where it will be easiest to use to achieve those objectives. Some common factors:
- Planning to skinny dip? Best not to have the hot tub under your neighbor’s kitchen window. A privacy fence might help.
- Safety: We assume you have a secure cover on the hot tub, but consider also whether it is in an escape route, presents a flooding danger, exposes electrical conduit or connections, or carries too much weight for its platform.
- Convenience: This is the downstairs thing. Our neighbors built their house to have the hot tub outside the bedroom, behind a sheltering fence, and they use it any time of day, any way they want. You probably can’t rebuild your house, but try to get close the ideal even if you have to build a platform for the spa.
Electrical service. Your hot tub has an electrical system built for either 110 or, more commonly these days, a 220 volt service. Find out which one and make sure you are located close to a grounded, GFCI outlet or dedicated power source. We had to run a 220 line to our hot tub, but it was the only way to power it up. We recommend having a qualified electrician install a permanent service.
Foundation. Water is heavy, a little over 8 pounds per gallon. So you can easily figure how much your hot tub full of water and people might be (4 people, 350 gallons of water, and the hot tub itself is easily 4000 pounds!). Your ozonator is only a couple pounds, so it’s not that. But for the rest of the package, you need a flat, strong foundation. A deck should be rated to 150 pounds per square foot (at least), or use concrete, brick or packed gravel or d.g. as a bed.
Want it in-ground? You can install a hot tub in the ground, but you will need to leave ample clearance for maintenance, airflow around the whole tub, room for the cover in lifted position, and a system for drainage of irrigation or rain water (not to mention water changes, which you will be doing at least quarterly, right?). The low profile of the in-ground tub raises other safety issues also, include the tripping hazard and need for a reinforced top/cover. Frankly I don’t think it’s worth it, but if you really want the in-ground look, think about installing an above ground deck around the hot tub to give the appearance of being in-ground without the drawbacks.
Indoor spas. Some people want a spa experience in the convenience of the home. Many of the same design issues apply, but you also need to make sure it is well-ventilated or you may eventually re-create the wonderful odor of indoor swimming pool in your very own house. Just in case, a floor drain would be a great idea, and a real convenience for your frequent water changes.
We hope you enjoy your properly installed spa!