A hot tub is quite a serious purchase, and the question of price is often the key. If we are talking about a saltwater spa, you should be especially careful with the choice because they are much more expensive than the classic ones. What is the reason? We will talk about it a little further.
In addition, the total cost of a hot tub also affects how much it will cost to care for it. Sometimes the price picture looks very different in the long run. If you’re intrigued, continue to learn all aspects of the cost of saltwater hot tubs, how they compare to chlorine hot tubs, and testimonials from users who have tried both options.
Which is better: saltwater or chlorine hot tub?
In theory, any hot tub can be saltwater if you buy a chlorine generator for it. Of course, it’s not that simple, and if you want to know more, we’ve told you separately how to convert a chlorine hot tub into a salt hot tub. Back to our topic, in practice, not every hot tub will last you successfully if you convert it to a saltwater hot tub. The instructions to spa should make it clear whether or not you can do this.
If the instructions don’t say you can convert a spa to saltwater, and you do, you are more likely to have problems such asbecause not all materials can successfully withstand the effects of salt. Plastic, glass, tile, stainless steel, stone, masonry, and concrete tend to resist corrosion quite well. Carbon steel, cast iron, ductile iron, copper, bronze, and aluminum are corroded to varying degrees depending on how they are used. In that case, maintainince and overall “survival” of a salt hot tub will become extremely expensive for you.
If you initially choose a saltwater hot tub, then its maintenance costs will be less than for a chlorine hot tub. However, the initial price will be higher, and you should be prepared for that.
Which one is better? Both types are quite popular on the market and have their fans. Chlorine requires more chemicals but initially costs less (at the same time, chlorine can be irritating and has a not very pleasant aroma). Saltwater is gentler on the skin, but you’ll have to splurge to have it installed or converted.
Why should you choose a saltwater hot tub?
In no way are we going to push you or force you to choose a saltwater hot tub. But if the benefits of this option are more appealing to you than the advantages of a chlorine spa, then the choice is obvious.
Let’s just say, if your budget allows, a saltwater hot tub will most likely give you more fun than a chlorine hot tub. Gentle soft water, minimal chemicals, and draining only once a year are what await you with a salt spa.
How much does a saltwater hot tub cost?
There are two options for getting a saltwater hot tub: buying or converting freshwater to saltwater. A saltwater hot tub will initially cost you about $7000-$18000. By the way, keep in mind that there are very few such options on the market.
If you want to convert a hot tub to a saltwater hot tub, the cost will be about $500-$1500. Of the extra costs — sooner or later you will have to buy a new salt chlorine generator. To be precise, you won’t have to replace an entire generator (exhale), but a cell, which will cost you about $80-$100.
The main expense that goes into maintaining a salt hot tub is replacing the salt element. One of these costs about $80. How often should you replace it? It depends on how much you use your hot tub and its size. Manufacturers claim that this element lasts from two to five years, but in reality, this is not quite true. Many users replace their element once a year or even more often.
You should take care of your salt cell to make it last longer. Usually, the problem is that scale builds up on the cell and it is worse at producing chlorine. Clean it about every 500 hours (most systems will send you a notification). Also, maintain optimal pH and calcium levels:
- pH 7.2 to 7.8.
- Calcium 200 to 400 ppm
Ways to save money on it
The main thing everyone says you can save money on by choosing a saltwater treatment system is chemicals. You won’t need chlorine/bromine, but you will still need to buy pH and alkaline. So, what are some other savings options?
First of all, choose your salt system carefully. Reviews should be positive, and especially pay attention to how often people have to change the salt element. The less often, the better the quality and the cheaper it will cost you. But on your own, you should also keep an eye on the salt cell and clean it on time.
Also, figure out your water chemistry. You can research all the chemicals yourself or bring in a professional. A handyman will be able to help you with balancing the levels of chemical elements so that it’s easier for you to just maintain it all in the future.
Ups and downs of a saltwater hot tub
To understand whether a saltwater system is right for you, you need to understand not only its cost but also its advantages and disadvantages. We will briefly remind you of them, and you can find out more about them in our article on comparing chlorine and salt water hot tubs.
- Softer water & a more relaxing soak experience
- No unpleasant odor or irritation
- No saline taste
- No extra expenses on chlorine chemicals
- You’ll have to drain a hot tub only once a year (while regular hot tubs need to be drained every 3 months)
- Costs more than a chlorine hot tub
- Takes time to adjust to maintenance
- Not all hot tubs can be converted into a saltwater
- Possibility of
- Not very eco-friendly (draining salt water can harm the environment)
Feedback from customers
We decided to talk to hot tub owners who had experienced both the salt and chlorine systems to draw more objective conclusions. Here are short excerpts of what they told us.
“I had a chlorine hot tub for ten years and a saltwater hot tub for the last two years. What can I say? If you take the time to understand the chemistry of the water and what it depends on and learn to feel the changes, a salt hot tub will serve you well. Don’t expect it to do everything on its own. You have to keep a good eye on it and maintain optimal chemical levels. Then you’ll have as few problems as possible. But in general, this applies to any hot tub”
“This is so much easier for me! I had a bromine hot tub for 15 years, and a year ago I decided to try the salt system… God, it’s a buzz kill. I use the hot tub almost every day and the water stays very clean. With that said, almost no other chemicals are needed. The pH rises slowly, but I stabilize it every 3-4 weeks and that’s enough. Instead of fiddling with chemicals, I buy 2 salt cells per year, drain the water once a year and that’s it.”
I have a saltwater pool, but I decided to do a hot tub with fresh water. Not many manufacturers work with saltwater hot tubs, and it seems to me they are still overpriced for elements that need to be replaced later. Also, I think maintenance with chlorine is easier, although it does take a little longer. When my chlorine system wears out, though, I’ll probably still try the saltwater system for a year or two.
Myths about saltwater hot tubs
Rumors are born in the world at a staggering rate. Since saltwater hot tubs have been around for quite some time, many legends associated with them have accumulated. Today we will dispel some of the myths you may have heard before.
- Saltwater hot tubs are just like oceans
Do you hear “saltwater” and immediately think of the sea or the ocean and how the water used to eat away at your eyes? Well, you won’t have that problem with a saltwater hot tub. The concentration of salt in it is about seventeen times less than in the seas and oceans and you can hardly taste it. Even your tears have 2-3 times more salt than a salt hot tub. And the low salt content will not harm you in any way. On the contrary, it will make your skin softer and more hydrated.
- Saltwater systems have nothing to do with chlorine
It is funny, but a saltwater hot tub contains chlorine, just like a chlorine hot tub. A chlorine generator produces it, and this process is called electrolysis. As we remember from chemistry class, salt is sodium chloride, so the electrical pulse helps release the chlorine from the salt to kill the bacteria in your hot tub.
This chlorine is naturally produced, so it doesn’t need to be stabilized with other products, and it won’t irritate your skin.
- No corrosion
A lot of people on the internet write that corrosion is bullshit, and it won’t happen to your hot tub. Or on the contrary, it can happen to any hot tub, not just saltwater hot tubs. That’s closer to the truth, by the way.
The reality is that saltwater hot tubs are more prone to corrosion because salt corrodes metals. That doesn’t mean you are necessarily going to run into that problem. But if you are negligent about maintenance, it will happen. In general, make sure the salt level is not too high, and you will be fine. And, of course, do not convert your hot tub to salt if it’s not designed for it.
A saltwater hot tub is an investment for many years and will pay for itself if you like to soak in pleasant water with health benefits. Spas with built-in salt systems cost a lot, but you can also choose the alternative of converting your hot tub from freshwater to saltwater.
That way you can save a little money on chemicals, save yourself the trouble of constantly adding chlorine to your hot tub, and you’ll remember to drain the water once a year. Moreover, the hot tub will be clean water, with no odor and not even a taste of salt water.
💰Do salt water hot tubs cost more?
Salt hot tubs are more expensive than regular hot tubs, but their chemical costs are lower than chlorine hot tubs.
📆How long do saltwater hot tubs last?
The hot tub itself can last you forever, but the salt cell in the chlorine generator will have to be replaced about every 1 to 3 years.
🔩Can you turn a regular hot tub into a saltwater hot tub?
Yes, you can turn most hot tubs into saltwater, but we strongly recommend reading the user manual first to find out if it is possible for your model.
🏆Are saltwater spas worth it?
In a nutshell, yes, they are worth it if you can afford them. You can read more about why saltwater hot tubs are so awesome in our article.
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