• July 19, 2024, 12:05 am

The best hot tubs of 2023 SoftAIT

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Update : Tuesday, November 7, 2023

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Since the discovery of fire, humans have sought to relax their stressed-out, overworked, and underpaid bodies in a heated bucket of near-boiling water. We have achieved this effect with hot stones, burning charcoal, and straight-up fire. And then came electricity, which meant that we could build actual hot tubs that weren’t just bowls of what was, effectively, human soup. Modern hot tubs (or spas, depending on your preference) have advanced features like powerful jets massaging your back and lower body. They have filters to keep the water clean and devoid of as much human by-product as possible, a necessity since, unlike in the olden days, we often share space in a hot tub. The truth is that you’re tired. We’re all tired. We dream of coming home after a long day of trudging through society, kick off most of our clothes, and find ultimate relaxation in 104-degree water. So, to save your limbs and time, we’ve done the legwork and found you the best hot tubs of 2023.

How we chose the best hot tubs

There are three types of hot tubs: built-in (below ground, often part of a pool), above ground, and time machine. Since built-in hot tubs can be any shape or size, depending on multiple pool-construction-related variables, and hot tub time machines aren’t available to the public, we focused on above-ground hot tubs. There are plenty of retailers specifically selling hot tubs and hot tub supplies. So finding the best hot tubs comes down to sticking with popular, public-facing retailers (Wayfair, Walmart) and looking for the best-reviewed hot tubs that fit within predetermined categories. What we end up with is a list containing a few very popular hot tubs, with one or two unique hot tubs mixed in. 

The best hot tubs: Reviews & Recommendations

Since their inception, modern hot tubs have become iconic pop culture backyard appliances. From entire episodes of TV centered around a hot tub, to the implied cultural connotations of owning one in the 1970s, it’s been difficult to deny that hot tubs are, and always will be, a thing. While they did take a hit for a little while (recessions will do that), they have once again become a very popular lanai accessory, thanks to lower voltage requirements and semi-affordable pricing. 

What are you looking for in a hot tub? Are you looking for an all-around functional general hot tub with dozens of jets? Or perhaps something a bit more romantic. Perhaps it’s all about party time or just having something to inflate and toss on the lawn for impromptu soak sessions. Or maybe you just want to lounge and let the world’s troubles float away. Regardless, this list has the hot tub you’re looking for, with or without Roger and Virginia Klarvin.

Best overall: AquaRest AR-150 Select

Specs

  • Water capacity: 156 gallons
  • Occupancy: 4-person
  • LED lighting: Yes
  • Number of jets: 12

Pros

  • Waterfall feature
  • Cup holders
  • Underwater LED lights

Cons

  • Can still feel a bit crowded
  • Takes a while to heat up

The AquaRest AR-150 is the spa you purchase when you don’t know anything about hot tubs and don’t want to spend a fortune. It’s moderately priced and has all the basic features you want in an entry-level, but highly-rated, spa. It has 12 jets, some built-in cup holders, LED lighting for setting the mood, and that half-boiling water your muscles need. But you might want to plan ahead for relaxation. As it runs off 120V (rather than 220V), it takes like a day to hit its maximum temp of 104°F. But while it’s heating up, take comfort in a 1.5hp customizable massage delivered through stainless steel jets.

It comes with a nice locking cover to keep out unsupervised toddlers and yard trash, but if you want steps, you’ll have to purchase them separately. It advertises that it can fit four people with little issue, but if y’all aren’t comfortable with innocent shoulder, hip, and toe touching, you might want to limit the capacity to three people. Regardless, with its patented Easy Kleen water filtration system, you don’t have to fret about dirty bits sullying the soup. AquaRest is one of the top online spa brands, and AquaRest AR-150 Select sits at the top of its offerings.

Best budget: Lifesmart Spas LS200

Specs

  • Water capacity: 220 gallon
  • Occupancy: 4 person
  • LED lighting: Yes
  • Number of jets: 13

Pros

  • High water capacity
  • Includes water filter
  • It’s not square

Cons

  • Lacks fancy features
  • No ozone purification

Lifesmart Spas LS200 shaves off the corners of the classic square hot tub to make a space-saving round spa with 13 jets powered by a 1hp pump. Based on price comparisons, it appears that the shape of a spa is directly reflected in the cost. That is, circles cost a bit less than squares, so this spa is the best budget spa. It usually costs less than $3k (especially during near-constant sales events), and while it doesn’t come with stairs, you can just tip your body into the spa without worrying about hitting a squared edge. 

The only real downside to a circle spa, even if it does hold a few more gallons than other spas, is it doesn’t have room for ozone purification plumbing. Though, it should be noted that according to the official product page, the shape is oval. That might not be a circle, but it’s close enough in the world of spas. Actually, the oval shape creates more opportunities to put the spa wherever you want: on the porch, in the yard, in the living room. The Lifesmart Spas LS200 is a great entry-level spa for families looking to step up their water-based massage game.

Best for couples: USA Spas OH-SM

Specs

  • Water capacity: 190 gallons
  • Occupancy: 2 person
  • LED lighting: Yes
  • Number of jets: 16

Pros

  • Includes ozonator
  • Acrylic instead of plastic
  • Well placed jets

Cons

  • Not good for families
  • Doesn’t come with steps

The USA Spas OH-SM is a spa built for two. There’s gonna be some touching, some twisting of limbs, and probably some other stuff that is best left to the imagination. Basically, leave your swimsuit on the shelf cause things are about to get freaky in this acrylic hot tub with 16 powerful jets placed in just the right places. Like, there are six jets right on your lower back, or if you’re sinking in a bit to get closer to your partner, they’ll hit your shoulders perfectly. If you are alone in the hot tub (which is perfectly acceptable), you have back and foot jets. 

This spa runs on 120V with a single 1.5hp pump. Its nice little oval shape will fit just about anywhere in or around your house. However, if you want a bit of privacy, we suggest purchasing a gazebo and some curtains. Your HOA might not approve of it sitting in your front yard, though. They are the worst. But what’s not the worst is crystal clear water, no matter the amount of flop sweat you are pumping into it. That’s provided by the built-in ozonator, which keeps that water nice and crisp. If it’s just the two of you, then the USA Spas OH-SM spa is perfect for everyday relaxation with your partner.

Best Inflatable: Intex 28431E PureSpa Plus

Intex 28431E PureSpa Plus

Specs

  • Water capacity: 210 gallons
  • Occupancy: 6 person
  • LED lighting: Yes
  • Total jets: 170

Pros

  • Cheap
  • Built-in pump
  • 170 bubble jets

Cons

  • No ozonator
  • No fancy features
  • Questionable durability

How the inflatable Intex 28431E PureSpa Plus fits 170 bubble jets in such a moderately normal-sized spa is beyond us. But you gotta have some catch to market an inflatable hot tub properly. Because it’s an inflatable, it doesn’t have the insulation or structural integrity of a solid hot tub, and it takes a while to fill up with fresh water from the hose every time you want to chill out while heating up. It doesn’t have an ozonator but does have a hard water treatment system to keep the water gentle on your clothes and skin. 

This is a very basic, fairly inexpensive hot tub for when you either don’t want to spend the money on a stationary one or like blowing things up to sit in them. In some ways, it’s a kiddie pool for adults, with a bunch of body massaging jets. But for some of us, it’s the perfect hot tub for quick fun and if we have limited space. The Intex 28431E PureSpa Plus isn’t some luxury hot tub, but it’ll do the job and fit conveniently in the storage shed. 

Best lounge seat: Luxury Spas WS-595

Specs

  • Water capacity: 365 gallons
  • Occupancy: 3
  • LED lighting: Yes
  • Number of jets: 47

Pros

  • 47 adjustable jets
  • Includes steps
  • Bluetooth sound system
  • Lounge seating
  • Cons
  • 3rd person seating is awkward
  • Expensive when not on sale

While the third-person seat is a bit awkward, the Luxury Spas WS-595 spa offers some of the best features in a modern hot tub. And since it’s a lounge-style hot tub, you don’t have to share with your weird neighbors peeking over the fence. Honestly, this is a two-person spa with room for a floating drink cooler. Pull out a fresh La Croix, put on some Sade over the built-in Bluetooth speakers, turn the LED lights to a soft purple, and let the 47 adjustable jets take the pain away. With a friend, partner, or your mom. Who are we to judge who you hot tub with? 

The filter runs continuously, even when not in use, to keep the water clean and sanitary, while the ozonator keeps the water crisp and clear. This is all made capable by the 240V of power running through the spa. And that power is what provides a powerful hydro-massage through, did we mention, 47 freaking jets? While it can get a bit expensive when not on sale, this is one of the most packed-with-features spas on the market. While not intended for families or large groups, you can take turns because the Luxury Spas WS-595 is worth it.

Best for parties: Lifesmart Coronado LS600DX

Specs

  • Water capacity: 285 gallon
  • Occupancy: 7 person
  • LED lighting: Yes
  • Number of jets: 65

Pros

  • Waterfall feature
  • Multi-color LEDs
  • Digital control panel

Cons

  • Lacks additional features
  • Doesn’t include steps

Strangely, there are many multi-thousand-dollar spas that don’t include steps, but you’ll want to get some for the Lifesmart Coronado LS600DX because people will be in and out of it all night. Thankfully, the water will never get gross, no matter how much salsa is in play, thanks to a built-in filter and ozonator. This is the party spa that you picture every time we talk about hot tubs and their legacy in pop culture. It seats seven people fairly comfortably, without too much skin touching or legs crossing over. Unless that’s your intent. Then there’s plenty of room for that. 

The 65 jets include a 14-jet nozzle turbo blaster and four-foot jets. It runs on 220V and is super insulated to keep electricity costs down and the water hot. It does lack some additional features, like speakers, but has a waterfall feature, so that’s something at least. There is also a thermal locking cover so that you can heat up the tub, and it’ll maintain temp while you finish your chores and prepare that tasty seven-layer dip. The real selling point of this hot tub is its actual price point, which is right around $4,000. Within the spa market, this is quite fair for a seven-person hot tub, making the Lifesmart Coronado LS600DX the perfect addition to your party.

What to consider before buying the best hot tubs

If you are about to invest thousands in a hot tub, you will want to do your research. That is, read the product descriptions and customer reviews to suss out any consistent issues. Ignore the ones about delivery; we always have to cross our fingers there. So, when it comes down to purchasing a new hot tub for the patio, you’ll want to consider at least the type, its human capacity, and any additional features.

Type

There are two main types of hot tubs: standard and plug-and-play. Plug-and-play is named as such because you can literally set it up and plug it into a standard 110V outlet. Most come with shielded cables to extend the plug and prevent water and electricity mixing. Most plug-and-play hot tubs are constructed from some type of polyethylene and usually take a little while to heat up. 

Meanwhile, standard hot tubs have stronger jets, are constructed from acrylic, and run off 220V. So, if you don’t have a 220V outlet handy (the one you do have is probably occupied by your clothes dryer), an electrician can install one. It’s worth it because they heat up faster and are a bit more durable in the long run. However, these types of spa are generally more expensive. 

Capacity

How many people do you plan on accommodating with your hot tub? Is it for the family? For parties? For romantic soaks? The trouble is, some hot tubs intended for two can actually comfortably fit four, while some hot tubs intended for seven can only fit five without too much weird shoulder touching. The general rule of thumb is for any hot tub not intended for only two people subtract one from the max capacity. 

Features

From LED lighting to neat little waterfalls to the type of jet output and Bluetooth speakers, there are plenty of variable features to look for in a hot tub. Of course, the more features a hot tub has, the more electricity it uses and the higher the initial price. Also, check if the spa you’re buying has a locking cover (for safety and keeping the heat in) and stairs. You may have to buy stairs separately; it’s the easiest way to get in and out. 

FAQs

Q: What’s an ozonator?

An ozonator produces ozone gas. This water treatment process removes heavy chemicals and kills bacteria, fungus, and protozoa better than any other type of water treatment process. You can’t just spray Windex in your hot tub and expect it to get clean. While not all hot tubs have an ozonator, the ones that do produce crystal-clear water and bacteria-free environments, requiring less annual cleaning.

Q: How hot should my spa be?

Most hot tubs max out at 104°F. The safe range is between 100°F (38°C) and 104°F, but kids should be limited to a lower temp, especially if they are going to be in there for a while. It should be noted that the longer you sit in water hotter than your internal temperature, the more it affects your body. Spas are meant to be used in short bursts, as sitting in hot water for too long can cause light-headedness, overheating, and dehydration. 

Q: Can I move my hot tub once it’s in place?

If it’s inflatable, you can move it whenever you want (when it’s not filled). If it’s not, it’s several hundred pounds empty and will be quite a chore to move. It’s not impossible, just really difficult. Plus it should move to a flat, level foundation. So when you get your spa, be sure to pick just the right spot for it because it’s going to be there for a while. 

Final thoughts on the best hot tubs

Owning a hot tub is an experience. It’s a relaxing way to end any day, soaking in super hot water with jets pummelling your exhausted muscles. But it’s also an investment, one that requires planning and a moderate amount of thought. It also requires maintenance and cleaning. Regardless, there are few activities more entertaining in the home than hopping in the hot tub with some close friends and a case of something cool to drink. 

Why trust us

Popular Science started writing about technology more than 150 years ago. There was no such thing as “gadget writing” when we published our first issue in 1872, but if there was, our mission to demystify the world of innovation for everyday readers means we would have been all over it. Here in the present, PopSci is fully committed to helping readers navigate the increasingly intimidating array of devices on the market right now.

Our writers and editors have combined decades of experience covering and reviewing consumer electronics. We each have our own obsessive specialties—from high-end audio to video games to cameras and beyond—but when we’re reviewing devices outside of our immediate wheelhouses, we do our best to seek out trustworthy voices and opinions to help guide people to the very best recommendations. We know we don’t know everything, but we’re excited to live through the analysis paralysis that internet shopping can spur so readers don’t have to.



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