Hot tub buyer’s Guide: Comparison on Coast Spas versus budget hot tubs

budget hot tubs
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What is the true cost of buying a cheap hot tub?

When it comes to choosing a Hot Tub, there are so many options. Knowing which one is right for you can be confusing. 

Should you buy a budget hot tub? 

Or splash out on a more expensive model?

Hot tub costs range from around £3000 to £20,000. So, buying a hot tub can be as expensive as buying a car. Everyone knows the difference in quality and manufacturing between a Rolls Royce and a Skoda. But do you know the differences between your hot tub manufacturers?

Until very recently we sold Coast Spas. A premium, quality hot tub, with an average cost between £8000 – £10,000. So we are used to being asked why our hot tubs are more expensive than cheaper ones on the market. 

In this post, we look at the pro(s) and cons of buying a cheap hot tub. We look at the differences that make Coast Spas dearer than their online, low-quality counterparts. And why we think they are worth the money.

While we don’t sell Coast Spas anymore, we firmly believe in the quality of hot tubs that they manufacture. And are strong supporters of the old adage “you get what you pay for”.

What the difference between cheap and expensive hot tubs?

5 seat hot tub
On first look, Hot tubs may kind of look the same. They all have acrylic shells, jets and a cabinet. But there is a lot more to it than that.

When purchasing products manufactured outwith the EU or North America, there are a number of issues relating to quality and service that you should be aware of, especially if buying from an online retailer.

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Why you should buy a budget hot tub.

There are positives to every hot tub. But, with budget hot tubs, there is usually one major reason they get people’s votes. PRICE!

1. Budget online hot tubs are cheaper

Let’s get the main (and really only) pro of buying a budget hot tub out of the way first. 

Cheap hot tubs are generally manufactured in China. This usually makes them cheaper due to cheap parts and labour. Some might say a price that seems too good to be true.

What are the main reasons that a hot tub might be cheaper?

1) Poor quality

Many Chinese hot tubs I see being sold are cheaper than we can buy North American made hot tubs for directly from the manufacturer. While some people might have some cynical views on why this is, the reality is that they are cheaply made. 

You get what you pay for. And deep down you know that a low cost reflects cost cutting somewhere along the line. Whether this is through low-quality parts or low paid unethical manufacturing plants, costs are being cut somewhere (usually both).

This can be detrimental to your safety and your bank balance. With running and repair costs adding up over the life of the hot tub.

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2) Low-profit margins.

Why do you care if a company makes money as long as you get your hot tub cheap?

Hot tub companies who run on seriously low-profit margins are cuttings costs somewhere. Whether it be on service levels, warranty support or staff wages. 

And the really cheap hot tub retailers, more often than not go out of business because it’s not a sustainable business model. 

It’s happened far too many times in the UK. And if this happens, it voids your warranty. Where do you go when you have a problem? 

If supporting sustainable business practices, and the local economy is high on your list of priorities then you may want to consider buying from a local, quality hot tub retailer. 

Problems with buying a cheap hot tub

Initially, low price is a pro! But it's usually an indicator of poor quality parts and labour, from a business that might not be a around to help with after sales.

Why you should not buy a budget hot tub

There are a few problems you can face if you decide to buy a cheap hot tub. These fall into two groups. 

  1. Budget hot tubs are poor quality
  2. Budget hot tubs have poor after sales 

1. budget hot tubs are poor quality

Budget hot tubs have weak shells

If your shell cracks there is no economical means of repair. It’s potentially the single most important feature of your hot tub. Although admittedly, also one of the least exciting to think about. 

Acrylic shells might all look the same. But how they are treated throughout the manufacturing process determines the shell quality, strength and expected lifetime. 

On budget hot tubs, the acrylic is thinly stretched, rending it only as thick, strong and chemical resistant as a standard bathtub. 

This will not stand up to the heat and pressure fluctuations hot tub shells are subjected to and will likely crack and leak over time. 

Coast Spa Hot Tubs are the first and only manufacturer to use Owens Corning© Fibreglass reinforced shells. With 12 layers of fibreglass, or more. Delivering the toughest and most durable shell available on the market. Coast Spas shells come with a 10 year structural warranty.

Budget hot tubs have poor filtration systems

Coast spas hydrocyclonic filtration

Budget hot tubs use cost-cutting skim filtration systems. With these, the filters sit behind the skimmer plate. They are constantly in contact with the bathing water. Which allows any debris that is trapped to float back in and contaminate the water.

Yuk! That’s not clean.

Coast Spas use a pressurised filtration system. The filters are completely separate from the hot tub water, so once the dirt is caught in the filter it stays there.

It is 83% faster and 20% more efficient than skim filtration systems. 

Budget hot tubs are poorly manufactured

Hot Tubs mix water with electrics, so ensuring that your purchase is safe for use is paramount!

Many budget hot tubs state that they are CE approved. But self-certification makes testing this difficult to verify if they come from outwith the EU or North America. They are also not wet-tested before the sale, meaning parts may not be fitted correctly with sometimes dangerous consequences.

Coast Spas have been recognised for their high-quality manufacturing process with an ISO 9001:2008 certification, the highest internationally recognised quality standard for manufacturing. 

Budget hot tubs are expensive to run

We constantly get asked how we can justify £10,000 hot tubs when others are £3000. But people forget to compare the running costs. Building a good hot tub isn’t just about making sure it runs well, for a long time. But ongoing running costs and environmental impact should be considered too.

Hot tubs should cost around £30-£40 per month to run. But we speak to people who are spending upwards of £100 per month. Which, is an insane amount to be paying on top of your normal electrical bill.

This is because budget hot tubs are poorly built for energy efficiency. They don’t use efficient pumps. They don’t have good covers. And they don’t utilise full foam insulation in the cabinet cavity. Resulting in poor energy efficiency and a sky-high electrical bill. 

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We always recommend you opt for full foam insulation. Alongside the standard energy efficient components and insulated cover. This should leave you with a monthly hot tub bill of £30-£40/month.

2. Budget hot tubs have poor aftersales

We’ve already mentioned some of the issues with cost and after sales earlier. And while it’s not fair to tar every company that sells cheap hot tubs with the same brush. There is a common theme in that cheaper hot tub suppliers usually have poorer after sales.

This is partly due to the fact that less care is taken by the manufacturers in ensuring they have the right suppliers on board. They need to sell volume, so the more the merrier. Which can mean some (not all) of the suppliers aren’t great. And also, as we’ve discussed. Costs need to be cut somewhere. And it’s often on the service side. 

In addition. The ability to get servicing on budget hot tubs by alternative companies can be an issue. 


It's difficult to source replacement parts for budget hot tubs

If anything does go wrong with your hot tub you want to know that you can get replacement parts easily.

We carry out repairs on all different hot tub manufacturers. So we know just how difficult it is to source parts for unbranded hot tubs. Now while this can be the case for some proprietary parts for premium hot tubs. It is more common in the case of cheap hot tubs.

Often in the case of cheap hot tubs repairs, we have to replace multiple parts. Which drives up repair costs. 

It’s not uncommon to get a ‘great deal’ on a hot tub. Only to spend the same amount (or more) on repairs over a few years. 

Coast Spas parts can be sources directly from a Coast Spa supplier. Or, as they don’t use many proprietary parts you can get suitable replacement parts such as pumps, jets and control boards from a local supplier.

This makes any future repairs or replacements easy.

Many companies avoid repairing or servicing budget hot tubs

No matter how much you spend on a hot tub, problems can occur. Finding a reputable company to carry out service or repair work on your budget hot tub can be difficult. 

We always try to help, but it’s not always possible if the hot tub is unbranded or unsafe. And we know that a lot of the good hot tub companies within Scotland refuse to go anywhere near a hot tub if it doesn’t have a recognisable name. 

Even if you decide not to stay with us for a service plan. Any reputable company will be able to offer service and repair on a Coast Spa hot tub. 

Warranties on budget hot tubs are hard to claim

The problem with budget hot tubs is that, not only do they have poor hot tub warranties. But it is difficult (or impossible) to claim them.

Best case scenario they send replacement parts. But, as with above, not many companies are willing to carry out the warranty work for another hot tub company.

Warranties are carried by carefully selected stockists, which are backed by Coast Spas.

In summary

The truth is, you already know that you get what you pay for. 

You know that a cheap price tag on an item that should be expensive is too good to be true.

Hot tubs have a lot of moving parts. By buying a cheap hot tub you are making a compromise somewhere, whether you realise it or not. 

We strongly believe that to get a quality hot tub, from a reputable supplier, that will last you a long time you have to pay the price for it. 

Coast Spas consistently build one of the best in the business. And that is worth paying for.

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Debbie Ekins
Debbie Ekins
Eagle Leisure - Sales & Marketing Manager Mission = to arm you with the knowledge you need to make the best buying decisions. Fuelled by coffee (and naps). Explorer of Scotland and the world.
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