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Size Matters: What Size Wood-Fired Hot Tub is Right For You?

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A wooden hot tub represents a significant investment in your home, and you’re right to do your research before committing to the tub that you’re going to spend a lot of time with over the years to come.

One of the most common questions we receive is simply; 

“What size hot tub is best for me?”

Surprisingly, this isn’t always a simple question to answer.

In this post, we’re going to give you an overview of the factors you should consider when deciding on the size of the wooden hot tub you’re going to invest in.  We’ll discuss the factors that you might not have thought of, and give you the information you need to make an informed decision, to ensure that the tub you choose is the best choice for you.

What’s Out There?

Wood-fired hot tubs are available in a wide range  of sizes, from personal Ofuro hot  tubs designed to give two people an intimate bathing experience, to 2.2m polypropylene lined hot tubs that can accommodate 10-12 people at once.

While the shape of an Ofuro tub means they’re unsuitable for more than 2 people at a time, the smallest traditional wooden hot tubs start at 1.6m across, and seat 4 people with ample space to sit back and relax.

The most luxurious fibreglass wood-fired hot tubs are shaped to seat up to 10 people comfortably, with the smaller models accommodating 6-8 bathers.

Expecting Company?

The most obvious question to answer at first is simply “how many people will you be sharing with?”.

The size of your new wooden hot tub will dictate how many people you can share with at once.

If your new tub is going to transform your garden into the party capital of the street, and you’re expecting to regularly host guests as well as your own family you’ll need to ensure that your tub  can comfortably accommodate everyone (there’s nothing worse than waiting in the chilly air for someone to hop out so you can take their place!).

Wood-fired hot tubs are available in sizes suitable for seating up to 12 people, with the smaller Ofuro Tubs only suitable for 2 bathers at once.

Of course having more room to lay back in your tub adds to the luxury of the experience but knowing how many guests you’re expecting will give you a firm fitting to begin your decision-making.

Important Note: If your tub is fitted with an internal heater, the bathing capacity within your tub is reduced by 2 people to account for the space taken up by the heater – remember this when ordering! 

So Is Bigger Better?

Before you plump for the biggest tub you can fit with visions of floating around on an inflatable unicorn, larger-than-necessary tubs do have some drawbacks.

For one, larger tubs hold more water which means they’re going to take longer to drain down for cleaning, and longer to fill afterwards.  

Most folks don’t have a drain to or gulley to empty your tub into when it comes time to clean it, which means you’ll be relying on the natural drainage of your garden to spirit the dirty water away.  The largest wooden hot tubs can hold up to 2,700 litres of water (that’s the same as 18 standard bath tubs), and a small area of lawn can easily become overwhelmed with the volume. 

If you’re the type of person who’s likely to want to hop in your tub at a moment’s notice, it’s also worth remembering that a larger tub will take longer to heat up, and will need a few extra logs to reach temperature.  Although the difference isn’t huge, if you light the stove when you get in from work, a larger tub could mean the difference between hopping in at 8.30pm instead of 7pm.

For context, a 2.2m wooden hot tub (10-12 people) holds 2,700 litres, while a 1.6m tub (4-6 people) has a 1,400 litre capacity.  That’s almost twice as much water in the larger tub, and hence almost twice as long to wait for it to get toasty after lighting the fire!

If your tub is in regular use throughout the week, your tub will likely be warm from the day before when you come to light it.  If your use is sporadic, or mainly at the weekends you’ll find this heat up time more noticeable, as the tub will be heating up from cold.  Heating from cold always takes longer, especially in the winter when the water temperature in the hot tub drops lower than the summer months thanks to the colder outside air wicking heat away.

If you choose to use chemicals in the water to prolong the period between cleans, you’ll also need to factor in the additional capacity – chemical doses are worked out for a given capacity, which means you’ll need to add more to a larger tub to achieve the same effect.

When It Comes To Size, Wooden Hot Tubs Are NOT All Equal

When discussing size, it’s worth noting that not all types of wooden hot tub carry the same capacity of water.

Traditional wood-fired hot tubs, and lined hot tubs hold more water than a fibreglass hot tub.

The fiberglass liner is shaped within the hot tub exterior to provide more comfortable, ergonomic seating shaped to support you in the water.  This reduces the water capacity, because the liner does not fill the full interior space within the tub.  Where an external integrated heater is fitted, the liner is shaped around the stove, further reducing the water capacity.

While the effect of the liner reduces capacity by a few hundred litres (depending on the size of the tub), this can shave time off heating up, draining down and filling, as well as reducing the chemicals needed to maintain the water (if used).

Space & Access 

It may seem obvious, but the space available in your garden is also a factor.

Your wooden hot tub should be sited with clear access at all sides, for periodic inspection, maintenance and staining/painting of the exterior (if desired).  

Many customers like to position their tub beneath a pergola or canopy, and the supports for this will also need to be considered.  (Of course, if you decide to build your covering BEFORE the wooden hot tub arrives, please ensure the tub be maneuvered underneath after the pillars/supports are fixed in place!).

Wood-fired hot tubs all have a chimney from the stove (no matter which heater type you choose), which needs to vent safely and can get hot.  Access will be required for loading and cleaning the heater, so it’s important to remember this when positioning the tub.  Having to squeeze through a tight gap to load logs into the stove will quickly make the process something you dread, and take the shine off your anticipation of using it!

Although the space in position is a key consideration, an often-overlooked but vitally important aspect is the access available between the delivery drop off, and your new wooden hot tub’s final position.

Window sills, waste pipes and fence posts have all hampered Royal Tubs’ deliveries in the past, and we can’t stress the importance of a quick check with a tape measure before you order, to make sure your tub is able to reach its new home.  Having to hire a crane to position your tub is an expensive last resort!

So, What Size Wooden Hot Tub Is Best For You?

In summary, your perfect hot tub will be large enough to accomodate the guests you’re expecting, while fitting comfortably into its surroundings.

While it can be tempting to go all out on the largest tub you can fit/find, ordering an oversized tub can quickly make the experience of living with it a pain when it comes to filling and draining, and the extended heat up time can mean that the wood-fired tub you thought you’d be using every night quickly becomes a weekend-only event.

The true joy of a wood-fired hot tub comes in their innocuous, spontaneous enjoyment with the people who matter to you, and choosing a tub that suits your lifestyle as well as your circle of friends is the key to an investment that’ll keep you smiling for years to come.

Of course, if you’re still unsure which size wood-fired tub is right for you, you can get in touch at any time and we’ll be happy to help.

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