Hot Tub Construction Anatomy 101
1. Insulation Value - Foam vs Base and Perimeter
Full foam insulation, traditionally, has been used for many years. The hot tub industry is moving away from that technology. Not only is that material not recyclable but it makes repairs very
difficult, expensive and often the siding is glued to the foam making repairs impossible without damaging the spa. Once the foam has to be compromised in a repair, there is no way to recuperate your insulation value.
Base and perimeter insulation, commonly referred to as Heat Lock, are not only highly efficient and exceed the California Energy Guide standard, which all of the best hot tub manufacturers are required meet, but it makes access for repairs very easy, less expensive and the insulation value is not compromised. The insulation can be removed during the repair and then replaced after the completion, returning the hot tub to its original condition with no damage to your spa.
2. Structure – Wood vs Steel or Composite Frame
Steel and composite hot tub framing provides greater structural integrity than wood as well as superior corrosion protection for a much longer life. These materials will not expand or contract with moisture. The inorganic properties will never rot, warp, split or crack and eliminates the worry of animal infestation or termite damage. These frames, combined with Heat Lock insulation, make the tub lighter and stronger than traditional wood frames with foam.
3. Base – Pressure Treated Wood/ABS Sheet vs ABS Sealed and Insulated Base Pan
The ABS sealed base is made of one-piece construction and is fully insulated, providing a rugged foundation that seals the bottom of the spa, locking in the heat and sealing out moisture.
4. Siding – Composite vs Natural Cedar
Most manufactures have gone to a variety of composite material sidings in a variety of color options. We have natural cedar options still available as an option on some models. Ask for details.
There are only two names you should look for in hot tub control systems. Balboa or Gecko. These have the best warranties, ability to have the most features, including multiple pumps, full LED lighting packages, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, for your hot tub and are the most dependable. They are readily available for the future of the spa.
6. Jets – Not all Jet are Created Equally
Jets are designed to deliver a complete massage like you would get at a massage clinic. There are five massage techniques that are commonly performed to improve circulation, relive tension, stimulate blood flow and relax. Clearwater Spas, Vita Spa and Dynasty Spas use various jets and configurations to deliver these massage benefits. Look at jets closely to see if you have a wide variety. Also check the size and ask about supply line size. The jet may have a large face but that does not always mean stronger pressure. Jets should also be recessed into the shell to minimize pressure on your skin. Ultimately, it is the number of jets per pump that affect the amount of pressure. Look for overall performance and variety to get a complete, satisfying massage.
7. Pumps – BHP vs HP
When it comes to pumps you need to consider one useful fact. You want continuous horse power (hp) rather than break horse power (Bhp). Some salesman will tell you it has a big 6Bhp pump in it but in reality it is 3hp pump. Rule of thumb is that typically hp is one half of Bhp. Make sure to ask what size pumps are in the tub. Also verify how many jets are on each pump. 2 speed pumps are better. Low speed is your soft tissue therapy and high speed for deep tissue therapy. You also want energy efficient 56 frame pump(s) installed on an anti-vibration, noise reducing pad. A 24 hour circulation pump is the most efficient way to run and filter your spa. It works with the heater, ozone and filters 35gpm. It is the quietest, most cost effective way to run your spa. All of the top of the line manufacturers install circulation pumps in their hot tubs.
You always want to sit in the spa and verify it fits you correctly and has adequate room for family and friends before purchasing. Make sure the seats are deep enough and that neck or shoulder jets hit you in the correct location. Does the spa have an appropriate entry step that will double as a high seat for those who get too hot but don’t want to exit the spa?
Your spa will require a certain amount of maintenance and care to keep it clean. Ozone purification units reduce your chemical use by as much as 50%. Traditional sanitizers for hot tubs are chlorine and bromine; however, new for 2020 we have a chemical free system which can be added to your hot tub making the use of harsh chemicals obsolete. For those who are sensitive to chlorine and bromine this is the perfect alternative in lieu of salt water spas that sound very appealing; however, salt is extremely corrosive and repair costs are substantial. See more information about mineral enriched water.
Online sales, Costco, Wayfair, etc offer hot tubs between $2000 - $5000; however, their warranty typically ranges from 1-3 years and you have no local company to service the hot tub when you need repair. They also only deliver to curbside, leaving the hard part to you. Buying a hot tub from a Home Show or Expo Sale with high pressure sales often forces you to make a decision quickly resulting in buyer’s remorse. You do want to buy from a local company with a physical address who can honor and service the warranty and who you can hold accountable if any issues arise. Average quality hot tubs have warranties ranging from 5-7 years on the shell, 3-5 years on the cabinet and 1-3 years on the components. The brands we carry have some of the best warranties in the industry with Lifetime on the cabinet, 20 years on the shell and 5 year on the components. Warranties are only as good as the company behind it and we have the best.