After owning hot tub covers with and without a lifter attachment, I’ve had the experience of both sides. So is it worth buying a cover lifter?
Purchasing a hot tub cover lifter is a worthwhile investment. Lifters have many benefits besides making it easy to open and close your spa cover. The advantages of a cover lifter include avoiding injury, prolonging the cover’s life, savings on your energy bills, easier maintenance, and encouraging more frequent use.
After taking a closer look at why you should buy a cover lifter, I’m going to show you the different types on offer and which two models I recommend you should buy.
5 reasons you need a hot tub cover lifter
Ease of opening and closing
A new hot tub cover typically weighs between 50 and 70 lbs (23 – 32kg). However, the weight of the cover increases substantially as it ages. Over time, the foam inside absorbs more and more moisture from the spa water as it evaporates.
The problem is further worsened as the cover is exposed to the elements. Rain and melting snow significantly increase the weight of the cover as the years go by.
The increased weight combined with the size and shape of the cover makes it cumbersome to get on and off, especially for one person.
And if you struggled to move it before getting in, it’s even worse after a long soak as your muscles are now relaxed.
Investing in a cover lifter makes opening and closing your hot tub a breeze. It’s like having an extra pair of hands to help you open and close your spa. If you have any existing health problems, then trying to maneuver a heavy spa cover is asking for trouble.
Extends the life of your hot tub cover
Removing a cover on your own is not easy, and there’s a real risk of it falling and becoming damaged in the process.
Without a lifter, you’ll find yourself pushing, pulling, and twisting the cover as you attempt to remove it. Every time you do so, you risk causing damage which decreases its longevity.
Damaging the cover as you take it on and off can result in the cover being less energy-efficient, meaning that you’ll have to spend more on your energy bills.
Another issue when you don’t have a lifter attached is where to place the cover after it’s been removed.
Allowing the cover to sit on the ground while you soak is asking for trouble. Each time you do so, you run the risk of causing scratches, rips, and tears to your expensive cover.
Not only that, but a cover sitting on the ground is going to pick up all sorts of dirt, debris, and small insects that will end up in your spa water, meaning you’ll have to test and adjust the water chemistry more frequently.
While cover stands help to keep the cover off the ground, at least one corner of the cover will be resting on the floor if you’re having to remove the cover by yourself.
As you attempt to replace the cover after bathing, there’s a real risk of it falling on the ground. Its large size makes getting proper leverage very difficult.
A heavy-duty insulated cover might have set you back as much as $500, so the last thing you want is to have to replace it prematurely.
There are several different types of spa cover lifters available on the market, and I’m going to help you decide which is best for you later on. But with standard models costing less than $100, a lifter is worth it for the protection it provides alone.
Save on energy consumption with a cover lifter
A spa cover with a lifter bar attached is far more secure. It creates a better seal, which also helps to trap in the warmth and keep debris and small insects out.
One of the biggest expenses with any hot tub is the energy bill. Any little thing you can do to prevent heat from escaping is only going to keep running costs to a minimum.
Not only does evaporation require your spa heater has to work harder and mean more frequent water top-ups, but it also means not having to use so many chemicals because they can’t escape by evaporation.
For those days when you’re in and out of the hot tub all day long, being able to replace the cover between soaks means more energy savings, less strain on the hot tub components, and less work trying to balance the water.
And for the ultimate in saving money, purchasing an inexpensive spa blanket that floats on the water creates a barrier that reduces evaporation by 95%.
Blankets lower your energy bill, prevent your cover from absorbing moisture, and mean less time spent adjusting chemical levels. Check out all the other benefits of a spa blanket in my in-depth guide.
Lifters make maintenance easier
Having to clean and maintain your spa is a bit of a drag and isn’t quite what you imagined when you thought about buying a hot tub to relax in.
With any hot tub, the most time-consuming maintenance job of all is having to test and adjust the water chemistry, especially when it involves having to remove a cumbersome, moisture-laden cover each and every time.
It’s essential to perform regular checks to ensure the water is properly balanced and safe for bathing, so make you can make life ten times easier by using a cover lifter to get the job done more quickly and easily.
Lifters encourage more frequent hot tub usage
After investing thousands in a new hot tub, the last thing you want is for it to be sat unused. No one buys a hot tub just to look at it.
Any obstacles that are put in the way – such as having to remove the cover – probably mean you not using it quite as much as you would like.
If you live on your own, or your partner is out at work all day, then getting the cover on and off can be a real chore.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that owners use their spas much less when they don’t have a lifter fitted to their cover.
It doesn’t make sense to me to invest so much money on a hot tub, only to be limited in how often you’re able to use it all for the sake of purchasing a cover lifter that costs less than a hundred dollars.
So with that said, let me show you the different models available so you can decide which is best for you.
Types of hot tub cover lifters
There are two main types of hot tub cover lifters: manual and hydraulic. Manual lifters are the most cost-effective and help to bear some of the weight of the cover. Hydraulic lifters use pistons to bear all of the weight, making operation possible with just one hand.
Manual cover lifters
Manual cover lifters are the more traditional and economical choice for hot tub owners that are on a budget.
A metal bar sits across the fold in the middle of the hot tub cover, with each end mounted to the tub on a bracket that pivots.
In order to open, you fold the cover in half, lift it upwards, and push it back. The cover will hang vertically on the bar until it’s time to place it back over the spa.
When opening a hot tub cover fitted with a manual lifter, care needs to be taken not to push the cover with excessive force.
Doing so can cause the cover to rock back, damaging the lifter and spa at the stop point (where it rests when open).
Most manual lifters require clearance space of between 14” and 24” (36 – 61cm) behind the hot tub for installation and operation.
Hydraulic cover lifters
Hydraulic cover lifters are quite a bit more expensive than manual versions, but they make opening your hot tub an absolute breeze.
These lifters use hydraulic pistons to bear the weight of the cover for you, making them ideal if you often find yourself getting into your spa on your own.
The way hydraulic cover lifters work is almost identical to that of standard lifters, with an arm that lies across the middle of the cover that is held in place by brackets on the spa cabinet.
The difference is that the assistance of the hydraulic piston allows you to remove the cover one-handed, with the hydraulic piston counterbalancing the weight for easy opening and closing.
Another advantage of hydraulic lifters is that most models require less clearance space from nearby walls and fences. Several space-saving models require only 6” (15cm) of side clearance to install and operate.
And while most manual and hydraulic models have the same drawback of obstructing the view to one side of the tub, some hydraulic cover lifters are able to lower the cover down to ground level so that you can enjoy an uninterrupted, 360-degree view while you soak.
Installation can be tricky and is probably best left to the professionals. Many dealers will install a cover lifter for you when they deliver your new spa.
Which hot tub cover lifter is the best?
Here are my two favorite models of cover lifters on the market. The first model by Blue Wave is an inexpensive manual model, and the second by Lovatic is a powerful hydraulic model with all the bells and whistles.
Blue Wave Low Mount Manual Cover Lift
For me, the best bang for your buck is the Blue Wave Low Mount manual cover lifter. The bars are made from powder-coated steel that’s corrosion-resistant, so you don’t have to worry about rusting from it being exposed to the elements.
What’s great about the Low Mount model is that it lowers down to provide you with a full 360-degree view around your spa. That’s not something you see often from less expensive models.
The lifter has been designed to fit over most square or rectangular tubs with radius corners. All the required mounting hardware is included with the lifter, with coupler extensions sold separately if you want to achieve an extended length.
Blue Wave Low Mount:
- Makes lifting your spa cover a one-person job
- Easy to assemble
- Low mount design
- Made of high quality powder-coated steel
- Resistant to corrosion and rust
- Fits square- and rectangular-shaped spas
- Backed by a 1-year warranty
Lovatic SpaEase 200-2 Hydraulic Cover Lift
My personal favorite from among all the choice of cover lifters on offer is the Lovatic SpaEase 200-2.
Its original retail price is $300, but there’s no need to pay that much. You can pick it up easily for little over $200, making it very affordable and a much wiser investment than purchasing a manual model.
The SpaEase actually comes with dual pistons that use reverse pneumatic technology (RPT) to assist in opening the cover. Once the cover has been removed halfway, the RPT takes over to do all the heavy lifting for you.
The technology helps with closing the cover and even applies a downward pressure that keeps the cover firmly sealed to minimize evaporation and heat loss. It also features a built-in safety stop to prevent unintentional closings.
The arm is made from a combination of steel and aluminum and fits square or rectangular covers. The lifter only needs 10 to 12” (25 – 30cm) of clearance space behind the hot tub and 6” (15cm) on the sides.
Lovatic SpaEase 200-2:
- Manuver your cover with one hand
- Dual pistons with reverse pneumatic technology
- Built in safety stop
- Pressured seal to minimize heat loss
- Multiple points of attachment for easy adjustment
- Made of steel and aluminum
- Fits square- and rectangular-shaped spas
- Robe and towel holder
- Locking device for added security and protection in heavy wind areas
- Only 6 to 12” (15 – 30cm) clearance space needed