Preppers Don’t Need Hot Tubs

A hot tub in a remote setting
Why do so many prepper properties have hot tubs? They won't be much good after the SHTF.

Have you ever wondered why so many prepper properties advertised on prepper real estate websites have outdoor hot tubs? Did the hot tub make it onto some prepper or homesteader list of must haves I’ve never seen? Or is it the secret dream of everyone who retires to rural America? I don’t get it.

Maybe that’s because I once owned a hot tub. Our prior house came with a hot tub, and it was fun, at first. Having sex in a hot tub is also fun, at first. However, the hot tub lost its luster. Before long, we stopped using it when the weather was hot, because who wants to get into 102 degree water when it’s 95 degrees outside? Eventually, we used it only for therapeutic reasons, when one of us had a sore back or leg paint. There were years where we didn’t use it at all. An empty hot tub with a cover stained and sagging cover is not only a little sad, it’s a waste of space and money.

The Downside

In general, hot tubs are expensive to maintain and use. If you keep the water up to temperature, it’s like paying for a second water heater; a 500-gallon water heater you use for 30 minutes once or twice a week. They also have circulation pumps which keep the cycling through the tub filters. That also requires electricity. In my experience, parts fail or wear out, requiring service at least every year or two. We replaced the cover once and multiple circuit boards. We also replaced pumps and plastic parts that degraded due to long-term exposure to chlorinated water.

Installing a hot tub costs more than just buying the tub. Ours required a 240-circuit and outside electrical box with fuses in it. The former homeowner paid for it and for shoring up the deck to hold 2,000 pounds of water plus another 1,000 pounds of people.

Hot tubs also require frequent upkeep. You have to maintain your hot tub like you do a pool, frequently adding chlorine and other chemicals. If you leave your tub filled, you must test and adjust the pH, chlorine levels, hardness, and alkalinity a couple of times per week. In addition to removing the filters and cleaning them monthly, you need to drain, scrub and refill your hot tub occasionally. That’s several hours of work and uses lots of water.

In short, I think our old hot tub cost me more to operate per year than my old pickup truck, and I was in my truck far more hours per year than I was in the hot tub. I would not buy a hot tub unless I was young and single.

The Upside

About the only benefit I can see from having a hot tub in a prepping situation is that you can use the water in it to flush your toilets in a grid-down situation. We did that only once in 20 years. (Trust me, you won’t want to drink this water.) You could also set it up as the catch basin in a rainwater catchment system. If that is your goal, I would recommend buying a large tank instead.

While there will probably be days after the SHTF when soaking your tired muscles in a hot tub would feel great, you won’t be able to heat or power a hot tub unless you have an over-sized solar power system.

If you are using your bug out location for occasional vacations, then having a hot tub could be part of that vacation getaway. If having a hot tub was a selling point to get your spouse to agree to spending time in a wilderness location, then yes, get the hot tub. But leave it empty when you are not at the house.

Recommended Alternative

I’ve seen soaking tubs that are hated by a wood stove. If you want some kind of therapeutic soak or just a way to bathe in warm water after the SHTF, then this would be the option I’d go with. They are smaller and use less water. They don’t require any electricity, and you can use locally sourced firewood to heat the water.

You could even build one using a large metal stock tank and a small wood stove. That sounds like the way to go.

Hot Tub Prepping

A hot tub makes sense if you’re a tech bro billionaire or celebrity who is spends millions to outfit their bug out location and plans to get there on a private plane with ten armed guards, your posse, and harem. For the rest of us? Spend your money on more important things.

Preppers Don’t Need Hot Tubs