How much does it cost to install a saltwater hot tub?
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Saltwater Hot Tub Installation Cost Guide
Updated: January 9, 2023
Hot tubs are a popular addition to many homes, offering relaxation and entertainment. Many hot tubs use chlorine. However, saltwater systems are a welcome alternative offering a high-end solution with softer water and minimal maintenance. A salt chlorine generator can be added to a standard tub, which feeds salt into the tub to dissolve and make natural chlorine, keeping the tub clean. Saltwater hot tubs typically cost a bit more than a traditional tub because they need a cell or cartridge to generate electrolysis, the reaction with the salt that makes natural chlorine instead of using heavy chemicals.
The average cost for saltwater hot tub installation is approximately $4,500 to $10,000. The average homeowner pays $8,500 to install an outdoor prefabricated fiberglass saltwater hot tub for four to six people, including the cost of the tub and labor fees. On the low end, a two-person portable saltwater hot tub costs around $1,500. On the high end, homeowners could pay up to $21,000 for a custom stainless steel saltwater hot tub for 12 people with steps and a cover lifter.
Saltwater Hot Tub Cost
|Saltwater Hot Tub Prices|
|National average cost||$8,500|
Prefab vs Custom Saltwater Hot Tub Price
Both prefabricated and custom hot tubs can be upgraded to saltwater systems for easier maintenance and softer, cleaner water. Saltwater hot tubs range from $4,500 to $20,000, depending on whether you choose a prefabricated or custom model. If you are interested in a portable hot tub or one ready to install and use immediately, a prefabricated model is likely your best choice. Prefab options are available for indoor and outdoor and above-ground and in-ground use, running from $4,500 to $8,500. Otherwise, you can pay more for a custom saltwater hot tub, which could be anywhere from $10,000 to $20,000. Custom hot tubs are made to meet your specific needs, including a preferred size and material. A custom saltwater hot tub will be built into your home or the ground and may take several weeks to build, so keep that in mind when deciding on your saltwater hot tub.
|Construction Type||Unit Cost (Installed)|
|Prefabricated||$4,500 - $8,500|
|Custom||$10,000 - $20,000|
Saltwater Hot Tub Cost by Location
While many people think of home hot tubs as an outdoor amenity, they can also be installed indoors in some houses. Saltwater hot tubs cost $4,500 to $25,000, depending on whether you choose an outdoor or indoor model. While the price for a hot tub is about the same whether you put it inside or outside, installation costs are the main difference because it is usually more expensive to install a hot tub inside the house.
An outdoor hot tub ranges from $4,500 to $20,000, depending on if it is prefab or custom. Most yards offer natural drainage and proper ventilation to assist with hot tub installation. You need a stable foundation and plumbing/electrical access. Most outdoor hot tubs are made from plastic, acrylic, vinyl, or fiberglass. The same materials are used for indoor saltwater hot tubs, which range from $10,000 to $20,000, depending on if you buy a ready-made model or order a custom-built one. Indoor hot tubs need proper ventilation to minimize condensation, so install them in rooms with fans and a dehumidifier. The indoor space also needs a heavy-duty foundation to support the weight of the hot tub adequately. Anti-slip flooring is also necessary for indoor saltwater hot tub installation.
|Type||Unit Cost (Installed)|
|Outdoor||$4,500 - $20,000|
|Indoor||$10,000 - $20,000|
In-Ground vs Above-Ground Saltwater Hot Tub Price
When choosing a saltwater hot tub, you need to decide if an above-ground or in-ground tub is better for you. Above-ground hot tubs are more common for homeowners because they are easier to install and move. However, in-ground tubs are an option for some properties, particularly if you have an existing pool/patio area. An above-ground saltwater hot tub will be easier to find and install, ranging from $4,500 to $15,000. Above-ground hot tubs are usually prefabricated and may be drained and moved to different areas or properties. Soft-sided and molded options are available for above-ground hot tubs. They are less expensive but more difficult to enter and exit, particularly for those with limited mobility. An in-ground saltwater hot tub costs closer to $15,500 to $20,000 because it is built into the ground and requires plumbing, electrical/gas, and excavation work. It can take weeks to build an in-ground hot tub, usually made of acrylic or rotomold, so it lasts longer and increases home value.
|Type||Unit Cost (Installed)|
|Above-Ground||$4,500 - $15,000|
|In-Ground||$15,500 - $20,000|
Cost of a Saltwater Hot Tub by Occupancy
Saltwater hot tubs offer a range of occupancy options from 2 to 12 people. The more people that can fit in a hot tub, the larger it will be and the more it will cost. Hot tubs for two, four, six, and eight people are most common due to the popularity of square and rectangle shapes. However, you can find vinyl, acrylic, and fiberglass hot tubs to accommodate an odd number of people, too. Keep in mind that you should choose the appropriate occupancy to suit your family size and entertainment goals. If you try to fit too many people into a hot tub, it will not be comfortable or safe, and the tub may get damaged. The table below highlights the average prices for saltwater hot tubs by occupancy, ranging from $2,300 to $20,000.
|Occupancy||Prefab Cost (Installe)||Custom Cost (Installed)|
|2 People (5’4” x 5’4”)||$2,300 - $6,000||$3,800 - $10,500|
|3 People (6’ x 6’)||$2,800 - $7,000||$4,300 - $12,000|
|4 People (6’2” x 6’8”)||$3,800 - $8,000||$5,300 - $13,000|
|5 People (6’6” x 7’)||$4,300 - $10,000||$5,800 - $13,500|
|6 People (6’6” x 8’)||$5,300 - $11,000||$6,300 - $14,800|
|7 People (7’ x 7’)||$6,300 - $11,500||$7,300 - $15,500|
|8 People (7’6” x 8’)||$7,300 - $12,000||$8,300 - $15,800|
|9 People (8’ x 8’)||$8,300 - $13,000||$9,300 - $16,000|
|10 People (8’6” x 8’6”)||$8,800 - $13,500||$10,300 - $16,500|
|12 People (9’ x 9’)||$9,300 - $14,500||$11,000 - $20,000|
Average Cost of a Saltwater Hot Tub Price by Material
Many different hot tub materials are available. With the addition of a salt chlorine generator, any hot tub can become a saltwater spa. The costs of a saltwater hot tub by material range from $2,500 to $20,000, with prefab models cheaper than custom. Not all materials are used for custom hot tub shells, while some surfaces are preferred for in-ground or above-ground units. Choosing the right material is important because it heavily influences the look and feel of your home hot tub oasis.
If you want a cost-effective saltwater spa, vinyl is the least expensive material found on inflatable or soft-sided prefab tubs. Just keep in mind that vinyl will not withstand substantial wear and tear and may fade from sun exposure and chemicals. Rotomolded saltwater spas use polyethylene (HDPE), which is stronger than vinyl and not as expensive as low-maintenance acrylic or fiberglass. You will pay more for a wooden saltwater spa tub shell, although many homeowners love the beautiful natural look. Finally, cement and stainless steel saltwater spas are not that common, but you may find them at select spa stores. Below are the average prices of saltwater hot tubs based on the material.
|Material||Prefab Cost (Installed)||Custom Cost (Installed)|
|Vinyl||$2,500 - $5,000||N / A|
|Roto-Molded (Polyurethane)||$3,000 - $6,000||N / A|
|Fiberglass||$3,500 - $10,000||N /A|
|Wood||$4,000 - $8,000||$5,500 - $11,000|
|Acrylic||$5,000 - $9,000||$8,500 - $16,000|
|Cement||$5,500 - $11,000||$8,500 - $17,500|
|Stainless Steel||$6,500 - $12,000||$10,500 - $20,000|
Cost of a Saltwater Hot Tub by Shape
Something else to consider when investing in a saltwater hot tub is the shape and how that affects the price. While the shape itself is not a major cost factor, the shape influences the size, occupancy, and location, which then influences the total project cost, ranging from $1,500 to $20,000. Circular hot tubs are some of the cheapest due to their small size and shallow depth. If you want a small saltwater hot tub for two to three people, circular or triangular options can be tucked away into the corner. Otherwise, rectangular saltwater hot tubs are popular for three to five people and provide ample legroom. Square hot tubs accommodate 4 to 12 people in various sizes and styles. Many offer therapeutic jets, lights, and other in-demand features. If you prefer a custom shape and size for a specific location in your backyard or home, be prepared to pay more, as highlighted in the table below.
|Shape||Unit Cost (Installed)|
|Circular||$1,500 - $5,000|
|Triangular||$2,500 - $7,000|
|Rectangular||$3,500 - $8,000|
|Square||$4,500 - $10,000|
|Custom||$5,500 - $20,000|
Saltwater Hot Tub Cost by Voltage
The cost of a new saltwater hot tub also depends on the voltage required to pump and circulate water through the spa jets. You can get a 110v, 220v, or mixed voltage hot tub with prices ranging from $1,500 to $20,000. Depending on the tub’s voltage, you may need to upgrade a circuit or outlet. For a 110v tub that plugs into a standard U.S. outlet, look for a plug and play saltwater hot tub. These are smaller and do not have high-end jets and special features. However, they still offer relaxation and stress relief. Otherwise, you can go for a larger saltwater hot tub that needs a 220v outlet, usually hardwired into the residential electrical supply. There is also mixed voltage which uses some features on 110v and some on 220v. Hardwire installation is required to support these saltwater spas, which usually offer hydrotherapy and other in-demand luxury features. The table below outlines the unit and installation costs for each tub voltage option.
|Tub Voltage||Unit Cost (Installed)|
|110v||$1,500 - $5,000|
|220v||$4,500 - $20,000|
|Mixed Voltage||$8,500 - $20,000|
Saltwater Hot Tub Prices by Brand
The cost of a new saltwater hot tub also depends on the brand, ranging from $3,000 to $15,000 for spa models from different manufacturers. You can choose a budget-friendly saltwater spa or splurge on a more luxurious hot tub to fit all your family and friends. Lifesmart is at the low end, known for affordable plug-n-play models. Caldera Spas can be a little more expensive thanks to its innovative FreshWater® Salt System, where water lasts up to a year if properly maintained. Nordic is a popular mid-range brand with dozens of different hot tub styles fitting up to eight people. If you are comfortable spending a bit more on your saltwater spa, Bullfrog and Hot Spring Spas are more expensive but offer fancy features like adjustable jets and hydromassage. The table below highlights the average unit cost with installation for each saltwater hot tub brand.
|Brand||Unit Cost (Installed)|
|Lifesmart||$3,000 - $5,500|
|Caldera Spas||$3,000 - $10,000|
|Nordic||$3,500 - $10,000|
|Bullfrog||$5,000 - $15,000|
|Hot Spring Spas||$5,000 - $15,000|
Labor Cost to Install a Saltwater Hot Tub
Pool professionals offer installation services for hot tubs, although you may need an electrician or gas technician, depending on the complexity of your spa setup. The labor cost to install a saltwater hot tub depends on if you buy a prefab or a custom unit. One of the most important things to keep in mind is that a salt chlorine generator is necessary for any saltwater hot tub installation or conversion. If you buy a ready-made saltwater hot tub, it comes with a salt cell or cartridge. Otherwise, this needs to be purchased and installed separately.
With a prefab saltwater tub, you can expect to pay around $250 to $400 in labor costs, depending on the number of professionals required. If your hot tub is going in a hard-to-reach spot, you may need to pay an additional $200 fee for crane services. Prefab saltwater hot tubs are cheaper to install than custom built-in tubs because they can be placed on a strong foundation outside with limited installation work required. If you do not have the right foundation, you may need to pay about $1,600 to prepare a strong and smooth concrete surface.
Many homeowners opt for professional saltwater spa setup service, which costs from $200 to $800 based on the size and location of the hot tub. This service includes unboxing, moving, and assembling the hot tub on-site. Professionals will also test the spa parts to make sure everything is in good working order. If you opt for a custom saltwater hot tub, the installation costs will usually be included in the total cost because it is built to meet your preferences. For example, if you choose a custom four-person saltwater hot tub with an average price range of $5,300 to $13,000, about $2,000 to $6,000 goes towards labor.
Cost to Convert Hot Tub to Saltwater
If you’re interested in the benefits of saltwater hot tubs, you will be pleased to know that any hot tub can be converted to saltwater instead of traditional chlorine. All you need is a salt chlorine generator with a cartridge or cell that creates electrolysis with the salt to keep the spa clean, safe, and comfortable for regular use. The cost to convert a hot tub to saltwater depends on what type of salt cell or cartridge you choose. They range in price from $500 to $5,000. Drop-in systems are much cheaper than plumbed-in systems, which are more common for permanent, built-in spas. More affordable options like drop-in saltwater chlorinators can be used by homeowners to convert a hot tub on their own. Otherwise, professionals can assist with the conversion process.
Saltwater Hot Tub Heater Prices by Type
Any hot tub can become a saltwater hot tub if you install a salt chlorine generator, and no matter what, the tub needs a water heater to reach the right temperature. Most standard saltwater tubs have a heater included. However, some cheaper models or custom builds need a separate heater, too. Gas, propane, and electricity are the heating options for hot tubs. The one that works best for you depends on your property.
Many gas and propane heaters may be interchanged and run on either supply with proper installation. Natural gas is the most common thanks to the fast heating and low cost, although you need a gas line on the property. Propane does not need a natural gas line, making it a worthy alternative to gas. Then there are electric heaters, which may take a bit longer to warm up but offer consistent heat for your hot tub. Saltwater hot tub heating costs range from $100 to $1,500, as shown in the table below.
|Type||Heater Cost (Unit Only)|
|Electric||$100 - $500|
|Natural Gas||$800 - $1,500|
|Propane||$800 - $1,500|
Saltwater hot tubs are an exciting addition to your home and can be further enhanced with add-ons ranging from $25 to $600 per unit. These optional accessories are popular for improving the comfort, convenience, and safety of saltwater hot tubs. You can start with small add-ons like drink holders that attach to the side of the tub or lights that make it easier to use your saltwater spa in the dark. Steps are another smart idea, making hot tub entry and exit much safer. You can get stairs with handrails, non-slip treads, and built-in handrails. A hot tub cover is another good option because it prevents debris from getting into the tub and keeps young kids or animals out. Keep the water as warm as possible and make lifting the cover a breeze with a mechanical cover lifter. Finally, a hot tub screen offers greater privacy and relaxation, with several options like a folding screen, gazebo enclosure, fence screen, and trellis.
|Add-On||Cost (Unit Only)|
|Drink Holder||$25 - $60|
|Lighting||$30 - $60|
|Steps||$60 - $400|
|Cover||$75 - $400|
|Cover Lifter||$150 - $400|
|Screen||$150 - $600|
Proper maintenance for saltwater hot tubs is key to keeping the tub clean, safe, and enjoyable for many years to come. The use of salt minimizes maintenance requirements and means you can go up to 12 months between drainings. However, many homeowners stick to a schedule of every three or six months. With a saltwater hot tub, you need to replace the saltwater cell in the generator every two to five years for around $100 to $500. The frequency of use and maintenance impacts how long the salt cells last. Sometimes the titanium plates in salt cells chip over time because of low salt levels or poor maintenance.
Also, keep in mind that salt residue builds up on saltwater hot tubs, so this should be cleaned occasionally. Remember that saltwater hot tubs are designed to self-regulate, so the salt just needs to be topped up periodically. Some tubs use a reverse-polarity chlorinator that prevents scale build-up within the tub and its internal systems. The higher the quality of the saltwater tub and the more you keep an eye on the salt content, the longer it should last and the easier maintenance will be.
Pros and Cons
Many people enjoy saltwater tubs for relaxation, entertainment, and family fun. Saltwater is gentle on the skin and clothes, although it may lead to the corrosion of internal metal parts over the years. Even so, there are many benefits to look forward to, including lower levels of chemicals and longer-lasting water. Saltwater feels smoother, softer, and purer than traditional hot tubs. Also, saltwater is linked to improved wellness because it is denser and easier to float in, reducing the weight on muscles and joints to soothe tension. Fewer chemicals mean less irritation, too.
A few possible cons to consider when installing a saltwater hot tub include the potential for declined manufacturer’s warranties when an aftermarket salt system is used. The initial cost of a saltwater system may add $500 to $5,000 to a hot tub installation. Not only is the cost higher for a hot tub salt cell, but it also needs maintenance and eventual replacement. The possibility of corrosion and damaged heaters, liners, and underwater lights should also be considered.
Saltwater Hot Tub vs Chlorine Cost
Chlorine and saltwater hot tubs are two popular options for homeowners wanting extra stress relief, relaxation, and entertainment at home. Chlorine hot tubs are most common because chlorine creates hypochlorous acid when dissolved in water. The acid destroys bacteria in the water but becomes less effective over time, so hot tub chemical levels must be regularly monitored. Saltwater hot tubs are an alternative to chlorine tubs that do not require as much monitoring or maintenance. The salt chlorine generator in these tubs creates electrolysis with the salt, so you do not have to add chlorine directly. The costs are similar, although saltwater can be a little higher, coming in at $4,500 to $10,000 compared to $4,000 to $8,500 for a standard chlorine tub.
|Chlorine||$4,000 - $8,500|
|Saltwater||$4,500 - $10,000|
Bromine vs Saltwater Hot Tub Price
While chlorine is the most common option for hot tubs, saltwater and bromine are popular alternatives. Bromine is a sanitizer with a softer texture and odor than chlorine, making it better for those with sensitive skin. Bromine levels stay more consistent because the chemical is more stable. Saltwater hot tubs are similar in that they are better for those with skin sensitivities and require minimal maintenance. However, saltwater tubs are also known for corroding hot tub systems over time, which is why some homeowners opt for bromine instead. Overall the costs are similar, with bromine hot tubs averaging around $4,000 to $8,500 and saltwater tubs ranging from $4,500 to $10,000.
|Bromine||$4,000 - $8,500|
|Saltwater||$4,500 - $10,000|
Enhancement and Improvement Cost
While saltwater hot tubs are known for their clean, soft water, you can enhance the overall maintenance and cleanliness of the tub with an ozonator. This device combines UV light and ozone to keep chemicals to a minimum and reduces the need for water changes. Another benefit of an ozonator is that it may help prevent pipe build-up, which supports a longer hot tub lifespan. The average ozonator price ranges from $100 to $300, with several brands and sizes available.
Additional Considerations and Costs
- Hot tub type. All types of hot tubs can be made into saltwater tubs with the addition of a salt chlorine generator. Whether you prefer a portable hot tub or a built-in fiberglass saltwater spa, you can invest in a salt cell to enjoy the benefits of a saltwater hot tub. Some hot tub types cost more than others, which may influence the final price of your saltwater tub project.
- Permits. Many cities legally require a building permit for hot tub installation, with an average cost of $200 to $300. Keep in mind there is usually a $50 to $75 permit application fee charged by the town or city before they provide project approval.
- Warranty. Saltwater hot tub warranties vary by manufacturer. Most offer five to ten years of protection for water leaks caused by material defects or normal wear and tear. The shell warranty is usually around two to seven years and covers the surface against cracking or blistering. The plumbing and equipment warranty for one to five years covers spa equipment damage and replacement for filters, jets, and pumps.
- DIY. It is best to have a professional assist with the heavy lifting and electrical connections needed for the initial hot tub installation. However, you can do a few DIY maintenance tasks, such as cleaning the tub, adding chemicals, and checking the temperature and settings.
- Save money. If you want to save money, choose a saltwater hot tub of a smaller size with fewer features. If you keep your options open and buy a tub during a special sale, you may get a better deal.
- Climate. Many people enjoy a hot tub dip when the weather is cool outside. However, if you live somewhere warm all year, you may prefer a small pool over a hot tub for optimal comfort and relaxation.
- Ventilation. Outdoor saltwater hot tubs have better ventilation and natural drainage, although you can set up ventilation for indoor tubs, too. You will need fans and a dehumidifier to ventilate an indoor hot tub.
- Requirements. When installing a saltwater hot tub, keep in mind the drainage and ventilation requirements. Outdoor hot tubs are typically easier to install because of the natural ventilation and strong foundation.
- Safety features. Making sure there is support for safe entry and exit into the hot tub is important. Saltwater hot tubs can be made safer with lights, steps, covers, and cover lifters.
- Is a saltwater hot tub worth it?
A saltwater hot tub is often worth it due to the softer water and improved buoyancy for muscle relaxation. Maintenance is often cheaper than chlorine tubs, and the saltwater is gentle on the skin.
- Is a saltwater hot tub more expensive?
Saltwater hot tubs are more expensive than standard tubs because of the salt chlorine generator. However, this investment is usually worth it in the long run due to lower maintenance costs and the softer, safer water.
- How long do saltwater hot tubs last?
Saltwater hot tubs can last for 10 to 20 years, although the salt cell will need to be replaced every 2 to 5 years. Proper maintenance is important to ensure the saltwater tub lasts for as long as possible.
- Do you need a special hot tub for saltwater?
To convert a standard hot tub to saltwater, you need a cell/cartridge to generate electrolysis with the salt. A salt chlorine generator will sanitize the spa through salt rather than chlorine or bromine.
- How often do you change the water in a saltwater hot tub?
Changing the saltwater hot tub water once every three months is recommended. With saltwater and proper hot tub maintenance, this can be extended to 12 months.
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