Hot Tubs: Ratings of Sources
Billing itself as "your independent hot tub sourcebook" with "the only independent awards program in the hot tub industry," Spasearch magazine isn't owned or sponsored by any hot tub manufacturer. Endorsements are based on independent customer surveys, as analyzed by a team of third-party auditors. For 2016, 16 manufacturers are singled out as certified manufactures with the highest satisfaction ratings. Each gets a one-paragraph write-up along with contact information.
The Better Business Bureau serving eastern Massachusetts, Maine, Rhode Island and Vermont offers a detailed buying guide to hot tubs. It covers such issues as materials, choosing a dealer, financing, selecting a site, water treatment methods and safety tips. Although the article doesn't recommend specific brands or models, it's a useful resource for starting the buying process.
TopTenReviews.com has write-ups of ten hot tub models in this list of the best hot tubs of 2016. There is some good information here, though most of it can be also gleaned from manufacturer literature. Testing, if any, is not well explained.
HomeDepot.com sells more than 100 hot tubs as well as a good variety of portable models. Some receive only a little feedback, but others get dozens of reviews. Though none of the brands here get much coverage from expert reviewers, clear patterns of satisfaction make it easy to see which models are most likely to please owners. The site is also easily navigable by size of tub.
A good variety of hot tubs are available at Amazon.com, either directly or through third parties. Inflatable models are the most common type here and a few receive quite a bit of user feedback. A few above-ground hot tubs, including several Lifesmart and Coleman models, receive enough feedback to be helpful.
Like Amazon.com, Wayfair.com is an online retailer of hot tubs -- few of which are reviewed by any expert source. That said, some prefabricated above-ground spas and inflatable hot tubs get dozens of reviews, and well over a hundred in a handful of cases. Review quality is on a par with Amazon.com as well, which means that while some are brief, others go into nice detail.
Walmart.com offers many of the same brands and models of inflatable and preformed hot tubs as other online and big box retailers. Review patterns are similar as well -- though some spas receive hundreds of reviews.
This retailer sells parts, chemicals and accessories for hot tubs, but also issues annual Best Of Class Awards in both the hot tub and pools category. Awards are based on inspections of the company's products, phone interviews and consumer surveys.
The online-only version of Pool & Spa Outdoor is a lifestyle magazine for pool, spa and backyard enthusiasts. Although there are no actual reviews here, the site provides some good general articles on choosing a hot tub, as well as installation and maintenance issues. It includes numerous photos of fancy and less-fancy spas so readers can get an idea of what's available.
This site is run by What's the Best, a series of online guides for consumers contemplating major purchases. There's some good advice here, but most tips are short and very general. Owners can also rate their own hot tubs, but no brand or model receives more than a handful of reviews. A forum section covers issues such as repairs, special needs and maintenance.
This article discusses several factors to consider when choosing a hot tub. It compares indoor and outdoor installation as well as portable and in-ground models, and gives estimated costs for each. Although this is a good starting point for hot tub buyers, the article doesn't recommend particular brands or discuss the shopping process.