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Archive for the ‘Consumer Research for Best Hot Tub’ Category

Hot Tubs & Spas: Cutting Energy Costs

August 21st, 2014 by

green-spa-2There are an estimated 3.5 million spas and hot tubs in the United States, about half a million in California alone! Each spa can use around 2500 kWh of energy per year – that’s almost 9 Billion Kilowatt hours!

This has caused various state and federal energy agencies to look closely at the way spas and hot tubs are designed, and how this affects their energy consumption. Several studies have been done in the last ten years, and they give us a good idea of where manufacturers and citizens can save energy around a spa or hot tub.

From a study commissioned by PG&E, for instance, we know that there are measures that can improve spa efficiency by up to 40% for spas of average to low efficiency. States with scarce power supplies (like California), are very interested in reducing demand on the grid.

The study aforementioned was responsible, in 2006 for the insertion of spas and hot tub standards being inserted into Title 20, California’s energy saving initiative. This set efficiency standards for new spas and hot tubs, similar to the cafe standards, which mandate minimum mpg for automobile manufacturers.

The standards have been revised and tweaked, and as a result of more research we now know more about how spas and hot tubs use energy. Here’s what we’ve learned:

 

Top 5 ways to Reduce Hot Tub Energy Costs

1a LIGHTS: Starting the list are our spa light or lights. Using LED lights, with a consumption around 3 watts, beats out halogen or other bulbs as the way to go. Most new spas are entirely LED, with some exception. Older spas can retrofit to use LED bulbs, in some cases without changing the light housing, or replace with a spa light kit. If your spa light does not have an auto shut off, install an indicator light in the circuit that you can see from the house, to keep off when not being used.

Possible Energy Savings: 5-10%

 

2aCONTROLS: Smarter control systems are now possible, with pumps that have a dozen programmable speeds, and timer clocks that allow you to optimize energy usage with multiple run times, programmed for your usage patterns, and taking advantage of cheaper off peak energy. Most spas are programmable, even if they have a mechanical time clock – but many people fail to optimize it.

It takes a lot of energy to start the pump motor and heater, extra amps aid in the starting-up, so although many daily on-off cycles are good, too many can be too much. For your spa, Experiment by reducing the hours, to find a sweet spot where the water quality or temperature won’t suffer, and you can cut energy costs. You don’t need to run it 24 hours a day!

Run the pump(s) less during the day, to avoid peak usage hours. My spa pump mostly runs on low speed, but it takes a long break in the morning and then another mid-afternoon siesta.

If you have two pumps, you have one smaller circulation pump, and a larger jet pump. Experimenting with run times on these can also result in savings.

Possible Energy Savings:  10-20%

 

3aPUMP: Running your pumps less helps yes, but for those spas out there with the 20 year old pumps, or the single speed pumps, or the pumps that suddenly disabled their low speed, or the failed circulation pump that was never replaced. I’m talking to you!

Replacing with the most current spa pumps will give you a boost in economy with a more energy efficient motors used nowadays. Side discharge pumps also have a boost in efficiency over center discharge.

Possible Energy Savings: 10-20%

 

4aCOVER: Your spa cover can either be saving you money, or costing you money. If you can see steam creeping out of the edges of it, or if your cover has taken on water, it’s not holding the heat in like it should.

The heat retention in a spa cover has to do with 3 things, the density of the foam, the thickness of the foam and the foam core wrap or seal. Although we offer a 1.5lb spa cover, a 2.0 foam density is best for holding heat in, with a taper of 3 to 5 inches at least. And when you order your next replacement spa cover, go for the options of the double wrapped foam core and the continuous heat seal – worthy add-ons that will save heat and protect your core from moisture.

Possible Energy Savings: 15-20%

 

5aINSULATION: And now, drum roll please – the most significant thing you can do to increase your spa or hot tub energy efficiency is to make sure your tub is well insulated underneath and around the sides. There are many portable spas that have virtually no underside foaming, and have a thin sheet of padding on the inside of the  cabinet walls. Hot tubs, true wooden tubs don’t normally have any insulation around the outside and can be extremely inefficient, which is why most are heated on demand, and not kept hot.

You can increase your spa’s efficiency by stuffing bats of fiberglass insulation everywhere you can under the spa, with the exception of the air space around the spa equipment. You can also use spray foam to fill in gaps, and eliminate air spaces and gaps – but it would be easier to use removable insulation, especially for future access to pipes or jets around the spa.

Possible Energy Savings: 25-30%

 

Other things you can do to prevent heat loss include:

  1. Build wind blocks around outdoor spas
  2. Use a floating spa cover in addition to your regular spa cover
  3. Avoid using the air blower, which cools the water
  4. Turn down the heat if you won’t be using the spa for a week or more
  5. Replace the cover promptly after using the spa

 

Happy Hot Tubbin’!

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works

 

Hot Tubs & Spas TOC – Total Cost of Ownership

August 15th, 2014 by

total-cost-of-spa-or-hot-tub-ownership

 

I hear the question all the time – “What’s it cost to own a hot tub?” The real cost of operating a spa includes a lot more than just chemicals.

In this post, we break down all of the costs in owning a hot tub, and add them all up.

What can you do with this information? Well, if you are thinking of buying a spa, or purchasing a home with a spa, you may want to know the cost of this backyard appliance.

If you already own a spa, I’ve included several cost savings tips, or ways to reduce your hot tub expenses.

 

Electricity

The largest energy user is the spa pump. Two-speed pumps are designed to run on low all the time, except for a few hours per day on high during off-peak hours. You can experiment with run times, and short periods of off times, to reduce operation costs, but be sure to filter the water every day for at least 12 hours on low speed, and 30 minutes on high speed. Maintaining good water balance and sanitation levels can reduce your filtration demand.

Your spa heater is  also electrical, and depending on it’s size, it can draw as much amperage as the spa pump. Reducing the temperature in a spa can save money, but not much unless you keep it below 95°. A good spa cover, floating spa blanket and good levels of insulation around the spa or inside the cabinet are ways to improve heat retention, and lower  consumption.

Spa blowers also consume energy, and your spa pack circuitry uses a small amount.

How much electricity will the average spa consume? Depending on a host of variables, most spas use around 2000 kWh of juice every year. The national average for electrical cost is currently 12 cents per kWh, Annual Electricity Costs – $240

Spa Chemicals

Most spas need very few chemicals to maintain water quality. You’ll need pH control, and some form of spa shock or oxidizer. If your water is soft, you may need to raise the calcium hardness level, and if your water is very hard or has high mineral content, you can use a stain & scale control chemical. Enzymes are a good chemical for spas that are used almost daily, by many people.

Many spas use an ozonator or mineral sanitizer. These are excellent purifiers and reduce the amount of bromine needed to keep the water sanitary. Mineral sticks last for 6 months, and ozonators usually need a ‘recharge’ in 18 months.

Bromine tablets are a usual expense, and a bottle of bromide booster to use after draining the spa. This builds a residual of bromide ions, which continuously convert to bromine with the addition of tablets.

Let’s say you have a bromine spa, and you test it, balance and shock it twice weekly, and you use either a mineral stick or an ozonator as a secondary purifier. This is what I do, and for me, my Annual Chemical Costs – $150

Hot Tub Tools

I’m speaking about spa cleaning tools mainly – skim net, vacuum, hose nozzle or a pre-filter if your fill water is hard or mineral rich. These tend to last for several years, so the amortized expense may be close to Annual Tools Cost – $10

Spa Accessories

These are items that also last a long time, such as spa steps or spa furniture, which is usually a one time expense. Recurring expenses could include a thermometer or a bromine tablet floater, or waterproof playing cards. Annual Accessories Cost – $10

Hot Tub Parts

Spas don’t normally need spa repair every year, and then you have a year that requires several hundred dollars in spa parts. At some point in the life of a hot tub, repairs are inevitable, I suppose. You may get lucky, but I would plan on Annual Parts Cost – $40

Spa Cover

Spa covers that are well built and well maintained are likely to last 5 years on average. Spa cover prices vary, but let’s say you spend $400 every 5 years for a new cover. Averaged out per annum, we have the Annual Spa Cover Cost – $80

Spa Filters

The spa cartridge filter won’t last forever. Each time they are cleaned they lose a little bit of their filtering ability. Replace your spa cartridge every 12-24 months, or after 12-15 cleanings. The cost of replacement spa filters is low in most cases. At $20 a pop, every 18 months, the Annual Spa Filter Cost – $12

Fill Water

The cost of city water varies dramatically around the country, but if your average monthly water bill is $50, and you drain your spa every 3 months, your spa is only using 1-2% of your total household use. Annual Fill Water Cost – $8

 

Let’s Add it all Up!

CALCULATE-YOUR-POOL-HEATING-COSTS

Electricity 240
Chemicals 150
Tools 10
Accessories 10
Parts 40
Cover 80
Filters 12
Water  8
         Total    $550

Of course, your mileage may vary, depending on the variables such as the size of your spa, climate, how much it’s used, how hot you keep it, how well insulated your spa is … your total cost of ownership for a spa or hot tub could vary either way by $100 or more.

 

- Jack

 

Wood Hot Tubs vs. Acrylic Spas

August 11th, 2014 by

 

animated-hot-tub

WOOD HOT TUBS vs. ACRYLIC SPASanimated-spa

Born in the fifties, growing up in northern California in the sixties, I can remember when my parents installed their first hot tub. It was a used oak wine vat that my father got from a winemaker he knew in Napa.

He set it up in the backyard, and filled it with hot water from the kitchen. After the first soak, when we all got out, our skin was stained a burgundy color! Mom was very nervous and put us in the bathtub and scrubbed our skin until it hurt.

Later on, he added a small Jacuzzi® brand pump, and pumped the water through a wood burning heater. A year or two after that he added a small pool filter, so he wouldn’t have to change the water so often. He also put in a gravity fed shower with a pull chain. It was a great outdoor shower, because the water was hot, straight from the tub.

This was 1965-ish, so remember there were no spa or hot tub suppliers back then, things were sort of cobbled together. And no, my parents weren’t hippies – they would consider themselves more avant garde – what you might call ‘early adopters’ nowadays.

Wooden Hot Tubs or Acrylic Spas - which is better?

 

ROUND ONE – APPEARANCE

round-1Both spas and hot tubs have appealing designs, but the natural wood staves of a hot tub, and the round shape has a more zen-like feel. Wrapped in a beautiful wooden deck and steps (which also hides the equipment and helps to retain heat, is the most beautiful approach to hot water soaking. The smell of the redwood or cedar wood gives off a natural aromatherapy

Winner: Hot Tubs

ROUND TWO – COMFORT

round-2Early wooden hot tubs didn’t even have benches, you had to stand up! Most hot tubs have simple wooden benches around the edge of the tub at different levels or depths. Hot tub walls are straight, and frankly, not that comfortable. Spas, on the other hand, have buckets seats, molded lounges and head rests.

Winner: Spas

ROUND THREE – COST

round-3With a wooden spa, you can definitely spend more than for an acrylic spa. Or, you could also build your own, from a kit or from scratch, (or from an old wine vat like my father) and save quite a bit of money. But comparing an assembled wooden hot tub with heater and filter to a modern spa of similar size, hot tubs are more expensive. A DIY wood hot tub, coupled with one of our spa packs is cheaper than most new spas.

Winner: Hot Tubs

ROUND FOUR – FEATURES

round-4Spas pummel hot tubs in this round! Modern spas have cool lighting, controls, waterfalls, audio/video. Hot tubs with a spa pack also have digital controls, and lights can be added to a hot tub, but most hot tubs are decidedly low-tech, and not usually feature rich. With a transistor radio and a nearby stream, you have all you need.

Winner: Spas

ROUND FIVE – MAINTENANCE

round-5Hot Tubs made of wood understandably require more maintenance than a hard acrylic or rotomold spas. The wood exterior should be stained and sealed every few years (just like a spa cabinet), and the inside should never be treated, only cleaned with a stiff brush and a hose when draining. Filter and chemical maintenance should be the same on both types, although the more equipment you have – the more potential for maintenance exists.

Winner: Spas

ROUND SIX – SANITATION

round-6Spas and hot tubs are equally sanitary when filtered and treated with spa chemicals, without which, both types would become green and potentially unsafe. However, spas, with their miles of hose and pipe, creates an ideal environment for biofilm, which can grow in poorly treated spas, or spas left empty. Hot tubs typically have very little plumbing for biofilms to form colonies. Although the smooth surfaces used in spas help with a clean surface, wood contains natural antiseptics, especially the rot and insect resistant types of wood used in hot tubs. This helps inhibit algae and bacteria from growing on the surfaces, kind of like Microban.

   Winner: Hot Tubs

ROUND SEVEN – EFFICIENCY

round-7Hot tubs made of wood are not as efficient as a well insulated acrylic spa with cabinet, even though both can use insulated hot tub covers. The thickness of the wood matters, and a hot tub can hold heat for hours, but it can never be as efficient as a well insulated spa. A poorly-insulated spa perhaps, but not one that is well insulated. However (always a caveat), if your hot tub is heated with wood, your electrical use will be less than a spa.

Winner: Spas

ROUND EIGHT – DURABILITY

round-8Even a well maintained wood hot tub will eventually develop wood rot. This can be repaired and stopped, or one can use a vinyl liner made to fit your spa, like a small aboveground pool. Even so, it is unlikely that a wooden hot tub can be continuously used for longer than 30 years. The surfaces of plastic or acrylic spas can scratch, chip or fade, but are generally impervious to structural damage. You could continue to rebuild a spa forever, I suppose – or at least 50 years.

Winner: Spas

 

>>> Let’s see, that’s 5 rounds for Spas, and 3 rounds for Hot Tubs. Some rounds were close, and both fighters gave it their all – but Spas Win!

On the surface, it looks like Acrylic Spas have more benefits than their wooden ancestors. But for people like my father, proud to have once told me that he has “never been in one of  those flooded boats” – there is nothing like a wooden hot tub with a wood fired heater, especially for homes that have lots of ‘natural’ appeal.

Either way you do it ~ enjoy your soak!
Carolyn Mosby
Hot Tub Works

 

 

 

Replace or Renovate an Old Hot Tub?

August 4th, 2014 by

old-ugly-spaMost spa owners grapple with this question, if they live in one place long enough.

It usually happens like this – one day a spa repairman hands you an estimate for repair, in excess of $1000, and in addition to that, it’s time for another spa cover, and the cabinet is looking, well – less attractive than it once looked.

The manufacturers life expectancy of a spa, even good spas, is only 10-15 years.

However, you could keep renovating the spa every 10 years, and keep the same spa shell forever. A new spa pack every 10 years, maybe a new topside control. Excluding any catastrophic damage from extreme neglect, you could operate this way for 30 years, easy.

However, you just happened to catch a glimpse of the glitzy new spa models, with so many jets and features, and you think it may be time for a brand new spa. I know many people that do it like this; every 10 years, they just go out and buy a new spa.

 

What’s your Type?

It all comes down to what type of person you are. Take my little quiz below:

[] Yes  [] No – Do you prefer to replace or repair other home appliances, when they need repair?

[] Yes  [] No – Do you buy a new car every 3-5 years?

[] Yes  [] No – Do you enjoy DIY repair projects around the home?

[] Yes  [] No – Do you own 3 or more flat screen Televisions?

If you answered Yes to 3 or more of these questions, you are what experts call a “replacer”. If you answered No to 3 or more questions, you are what we call a “repairer“.

 

What’s your Threshold?

New Spas range in price from about $3000 to $9000, with the average price falling just north of $5 grand. For many people, they would consider a new spa when repair costs exceed half of the cost of a new spa. Like an insurance actuary, you analyze the risk and benefit of repairing, renovating and refurbishing your existing spa, versus ‘totaling’ the spa, and plunking down some cash on a new one.

sick-carThe comparisons to automobiles are intentional, and here’s another one; keep in mind that your old spa has very little trade-in value. You may sell it to a close friend or family member, but really, no one else wants to buy somebody’s used spa. Some spa dealers will take it off your hands, if they are in the business of refurbishing, or if you buy a new spa from them – but  don’t expect them to write you a check for it.

It’s mostly a financial decision, or it should be, but often some emotion creeps into the equation. You may start to weigh the benefits of a new spa such as high tech features, warranty, appearance, size or seating configuration. Go ahead, add in these benefits, crunch the numbers again and see where you stand.

 

Spa Renovation Ideas:AquaRock Morocco 90 Spa

  • Refinish the wood Cabinet exterior
  • Construct a Pergola or Privacy Screen
  • Replace the Spa Pack and Control Panel
  • Clean and Polish the Spa Surfaces
  • Replace the Spa Cover
  • Replace the Spa Filter

You can do all of these things above for less than $2000, so if it were me, I’d Renovate my spa, until the cows come home. But then, I guess I’m just a repairer at heart. But I also have a threshold – I’m in year 11 now with my current spa – I think I can make it to 20 years…!

 

Carolyn Mosby
Hot Tub Works

 

 

Spa, Hot Tub or Jacuzzi – What’s the Difference?

June 6th, 2014 by

spa-tag-clougOK, class ~ it’s time to define the true meaning of the different types of hot water therapy. There’s some confusion out there, and I have to admit, we tend to throw terms around here somewhat interchangeably.

When people refer to a spa or hot tub or jacuzzi – are they all talking about the same thing, or something different? And what about jetted tubs and whirlpools? There sure are a lot of different monikers used for hot water immersion vessels!

SPA:

According to wikipedia; a Spa is a term associated with water treatment ~ also known as balneotherapy. Spa resorts (including natural hot springs) typically offer various forms of hydrotherapy.

The belief in the curative powers of mineral waters goes back to prehistoric times. Popular worldwide, but are especially loved in Europe and Japan. Day spas are also quite popular in the U.S..portable-spa-

But a spa is also used to refer to the American term for a hot tub that is equipped with strong jets which mix air into the water for a more pronounced massage effect. They can be above ground, like one of our portable spas shown here, or they can be sunk into an indoor floor or outdoor deck, or be a small part of an inground swimming pool, known as a pool and spa combo.

HOT TUB:

According to wikipedia: a Hot Tub is a large tub or small pool full of heated water and used for hydrotherapy or pleasure. Some have jets for massage purposes. Hot tubs are sometimes also known as spas or by the trade name Jacuzzi.

A perfect example of the confusion that exists – a hot tub to me, is not a spa, and certainly not a Jacuzzi. A hot tub is a wooden tub, first of all. hot-tub-woodIf you are talking about a swirly, acryclic finish with molded seats and a million jets, that’s a spa.

A hot tub is a (usually) round wooden tank, with a simple bench seat, and 4-8 jets around the side. Blowers and high speed pumps? Not in my hot tub, thank you. To me, a hot tub is a hot soak, without noisy equipment and turbulent bubbles bouncing me off the seat.

JACUZZI:

Jacuzzi is the name of one of the first and foremost portable spa manufacturers. Like Xerox, the brand name has been used to refer to the entire category of products. Hotels are famous for advertising an in-room Jacuzzi, when it’s a spa made by some other manufacturer. The Jacuzzi family has been fighting such brand dilution for years, to keep from becoming ‘generic’. If it is a Jacuzzi Spa, fine – call it a Jacuzzi. Otherwise call it a Spa, but please – don’t call it a hot tub.

JETTED TUB:

jetted-tubBonus content! A jetted tub is a bathtub, usually installed in the Master Bath, which has several jets around the tub. These are connected to small flexible pipes around the tub fitted to a circulation pump, and often an air blower. Luxury models are quite large and may even include a heater to keep the water that comes out of the tap hot. Fill it up like a normal bathtub and hit a few controls and let Calgon take you away. The main difference between a jetted tub and a spa or hot tub is that it is drained after each use, and for that reason they usually have no spa filter and no need for a spa cover.

WHIRLPOOL BATH:

Now here’s where it gets a little confusing, stay with me – a Whirlpool Bath is a trade name owned by Jacuzzi for their brand of jetted tubs, as in a Jacuzzi Whirlpool Bath for the master bath. Operation is the same as the jetted tub above, and is drained after each use.

THERAPY TUB:

therapy-tubsThese are those stainless steel tubs that you see in the training rooms and locker rooms of athletic facilities, used for loosening up the muscles of tired athletes, or for an ice soak to help prevent inflammation of injuries. These are filled with hot water (or cold water) and sometimes have a circulation pump and electric heater. Larger therapy pools are also used for neck deep, standing physical therapy and low impact exercise.

 

Now, I hope that helps clear up the confusion about what to call your spa, or hot tub, or what the official definitions are for hot water hydrotherapy. For me, I prefer the term “Spa” – but you can call it whatever you want, as long as when you need help with it – you call us!

 

XOXO;

Gina Galvin
Hot Tub Works

 

Preventing Freeze Damage to a Spa or Hot Tub

January 20th, 2014 by

frozen-spaFreeze damage  is when water freezes and expands inside of spa pipes or spa equipment, like your filter, pump or heater.

Water expands about 10% when it freezes. For pipes or equipment that have a small amount of water inside, for instance a pipe that is less than half full of water, unused space inside the pipe allows for some ice expansion.

When pipes, pumps or filters are more than half full of water, there is little room for expansion, and even very thick materials can burst from the ice pressure inside.

Today’s lesson centers on how to avoid freeze damage in a spa or hot tub, which can be a complicated and expensive spa repair, and in some cases, could ‘total’ the spa, with repair costs of thousands of dollars.

There are 3 ways to prevent freeze damage in a spa or hot tub

1. Winterize the Spa

We don’t recommend that you winterize your spa, unless you are sure that it won’t be used for at least 3 months, or it cannot be maintained (at a vacation home, for example).

Winterizing the spa is a process that takes a few hours, to drain all of the water from the spa, and use air to ‘blow the lines’, to force water from the pipes, hoses and equipment.

We did an article on How to Winterize a Spa, if you are thinking about winterizing the spa. It’s not difficult, but if you want assurances of a proper winterization, most spa service companies offer this service.

2. Use Freeze Protection

Modern spas packs will have a freeze protection mode on the spa that will turn on the circulation pump when temps get close to freezing. If you don’t see this available in your control options for the spa, you may not have freeze protection.BALBOA-SPA-PACK

Freeze protection works with an air temperature sensor that communicates with a controller, wired into the pump power circuit. Freeze protection is standard equipment on all of our Digital, Flex-Fit and Balboa spa packs, which is the simplest way of adding freeze protection for older spas with air activated spa packs.

For help adding freeze protection to your spa, feel free to call our spa techs with some information about your spa.

3. Run the Pump

As long as water is moving through the pipes – all of the pipes, the water won’t freeze. Open up all of your jets, if your spa has the ability to isolate banks of jets. Low speed can be used, as long as all pipes are utilized.

The water need not be hot, or even heated at all – in most cases. As long as it’s moving through all of the pipes and equipment when temperatures are below 32 degrees. The heat from the spa pump, under a closed skirt, is also helpful to heat up the equipment. Of course, a spa cover should be used during winter to avoid ice forming on the spa surface.

During winter, it may be wise to operate your pump 24 hours per day in cold northern areas, or set the time clock to turn on the pump for 10 minutes every half hour.

 

ALSO HELPFUL TO PREVENT FREEZE DAMAGE: frozen-jacuzzi

  • Adding heat to your spa, a hot spa can give 24 hours of protection
  • Keeping a tight fitting spa cover in place and secure
  • Spa insulation – the more there is, the more protection you have
  • Hang a 100 watt shop light, under the skirt, next to the spa pack

 

FROZEN SPA!

If you discover a spa or hot tub that is solid frozen, and maybe you spot some freeze damage already, the equipment needs to be thawed out. If there are cracked pipes, using electric space heaters could be unsafe, under the skirt.

If you have a camping tent large enough to place over the spa, you can thaw out a spa in a few hours. When I was servicing spas in Colorado, we had a tent we used whenever we’d get a ‘frozen spa’ call. We used a small kerosene heater once the tent was set up over the spa, and monitored it closely. If there was freeze damage, (and there usually was), we would drain it completely, make the repair and fill it back up.

Adding hot water to the spa is another old trick. With a small adapter, a garden hose can be attached to most sink faucets, to bring hot water to the spa, to raise the water temperature for a faster thaw. In some cases, you can gently wet frozen pipes with warm water – just don’t spray any motors, electronics or controls.

 

SPA POWER FAILURE!

COLD!

If your power fails during winter, remember that a heated spa with a good fitting spa cover has enough warmth to prevent freeze damage for 24 hours or so, longer if it’s very well insulated.

To maintain some heat under the spa skirt during a power failure, you could hang a 100 watt shop light in a location close to the spa pack. In some scenarios, a small space heater may be safe to use also, inside the spa cabinet, in a dry location, until power is restored.

 

Happy Hot Tubbin’
Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works

 

Accessorize your Spa or Hot Tub

October 15th, 2013 by

spa-swingWhat’s the hottest and coolest accessories for your spa? You probably already have the basics nailed down – spa cover lifter, spa steps and all of your hot tub chemical, testing and cleaning supplies. So, let’s move on to advanced spa accessories ~ fun and fanciful conveniences to help you enjoy your spa or hot tub more!

A spa is so wonderful just by itself, it’s hard to improve upon the experience, but these bits of small whimsy can add up to more time together in the tub. I have all of these items at home, and they have all added something special to my spa sessions, especially the spa swing! (shown left)

Bluetooth Speaker Set

Mini Bullet speaker setIndoor/Outdoor speakers by Grace Digital are extremely water resistant – not water proof, but they can be carefully set on the edge of your spa, or set them up on a drink table or tall side table that you can reach. These connect to any MP3 player, or music on most smartphones. Play your music selection through the wireless speakers, or with your device pull up online radio or music services like pandora and spotify.

Side Bar Drop Leaf Spa Table

spa-drop-leaf-tablesThis is my favorite type of spa table, for use with food or drinks, keys, phones or you can place your music speakers on it. The Side Bar measures 57 inches long and 15 wide, at nearly 2″ thick.

Add some stools and it makes a great spot for dining or conversation with those not in the spa. Folds down against the spa when not being used. I have 2 of these, the one on the far side is filled with (mostly) fake plants.

Towel Warmer

towel-warmerNothing is better than a warm towel when you come out of the hot tub. The towel warmer rack is a popular option, just stand it up near the spa, turn it on, and hang your towels on it before you get in the spa.

New on the market is the Towel Spa, which heats up towels and robes in just minutes, in a small compact size that holds 3-4 rolled up towels. Impress your guests with a toasty towel after their soak. Not waterproof, this will have to be located indoors, or in a protected outdoor location.

Booster Seats

spa-booster-seatFill it with water for a soft and steady spa seat. For those that are less than 5 feet tall, today’s newer and deeper spas can make it hard to keep your head above water. And, let’s face it – many spa seats, although contoured, are less than comfortable, for sitting or other things…

Be head and shoulders above the rest with this water filled booster seat. Adjust the firmness and height of the seat by how much water is added to the seat fill valve. Comes in 3 colors to match your spa.

Color Lights

LED-spa-bulbMost spas of any age, except for the new models, have a boring white light in the base of the tub. My spa was like that too, until I upgraded the bulb to a color LED spa bulb. Now I can cycle between four colors, although we leave it on red most of the time. This LED spa bulb replace #912 type bulbs, on a 12V spa lamp. Add some ‘chromatherapy’ to your spa sessions by simply changing the spa light bulb!

 

XOXO;

Gina Galvin
Hot Tub Works

 

Spa and Hot Tub Features and Options

October 3rd, 2013 by

modern-spas and hot tubs

Spa shopping soon? Whether this is your first spa, or your second or third, you may be surprised at all of the options available now for spas and hot tubs – it’s like buying a new car!

Many different models, with options like ‘jet packages’ or sound or lighting upgrades. And just like cars, groups of features are included with each model step up in the product line.

Here”s a rundown on some of the newest features and options available on modern spas and hot tubs.

Materials: And colors, too. The materials used for the spa, jets and cabinet offer a dizzying array of options. Acrylic is the most popular material, with the ability to swirl colors, and produce a high gloss, scratch resistant surface. Spas can also be made completely of molded thermoplastics, or use natural wood cabinetry, which looks better, but may require some spa cabinet maintenance.

Spa cabinet options is a nice feature, allowing you to choose from many colors, patterns and textures. A spa with easily removable and replaceable panels will allow you to more easily change the look of your spa.

Lighting: Spa lighting is not just a single bulb at  the bottom of the tub anymore. Manufacturers are placing lights in several areas  underwater, and above water, around the rim. Exterior lighting, down lights that help guide you around the spa, may also be offered. Small waterfalls are commonly lighted as well. Just like trim lighting inside newer model luxury cars, spa owners can switch colors and intensity for different lighting zones.hot-springs-accessories_IQ20

Controls: Spa side controls are more user friendly than ever, with some models allowing operation through smartphone apps, and others with floating remote control devices. Control your pumps, heater, blower and lighting from a touch screen. Program run times for filter and heater. Troubleshooting interface, pass code lock.

Massage Jets: My first spa had just 8 jets. Nowadays, it’s not uncommon for spas to have dozens of jets. More important than the number of jets is the location of the jets, and if you can adjust their flow, without having to turn off or reduce flow to some spa jets to increase flow to others.

There are dozens of types of patented spa jets, or arrangements of spa jets. Different whirly, twirly things that mix water and air – every manufacturer claiming their jet design and placement are the best. Foot jets are a popular option. I love my neck jet, which comes in right underneath the pillow on one seat.

spa-full-foam-insideInsulation: Spa shells are insulated with a thick layer of foam attached to the underside of the shell. Beyond shell insulation, all spa makers insulate a bit differently. Some will insulate the floor, or the the sides of the spa cabinet with foam panels. Many will do full insulation, and shoot the entire cabinet full of expanding foam, while others will do some form of partial insulation around the shell and equipment. Insulation is more important to you if you live in colder region of the country.

Sanitation: As another way to distinguish their models from the others, manufacturers may install sanitation systems to help reduce chemical maintenance. Ozonators have been a popular options for many years. Ultraviolet systems, which bathe the water in UV light are being used more. Many spa manufacturers are now also offering Salt systems on their spas. Add about 10 lbs of salt to the spa, and an electrically charged salt cell will produce all the chlorine you need.

Filtration: Most spas and hot tubs use cartridge filtration, and that’s fine. An upgrade to your filtration could be a larger cartridge, or one treated with Microban, for greater resistance to bacteria.boombox

Accessories: Add-ons that can really add on to the price of your tub! Many are hard to resist, such as a built in music system that can connect to a wireless music system, or through your bluetooth device  (I still have an old boom box next to my spa).

Waterfalls are popular options in higher end tubs, either a 6-8″ small sheet of water, or several small laminar jets that make a steady stream of water. Both can also be equipped with LED lighting. And just like with most automobiles these days, there are trim options, to add more bling to your spa. Stainless steel jets, or stylish trim pieces to adorn your spa.

spa-stepsSpa furniture around the tub makes it look much less boxy and allows you to place towels, supplies and plants neatly around the spa. At the very least, a set of spa steps is needed, to help you and your guests to get in and out safely. Gazebos or a pergola structure allow for some privacy and frame a spa nicely.

A spa cover and a lifter is also needed for whatever spa type you buy. It’s way too costly to keep it warm without a spa cover. Jack says that the spa covers used by most manufacturers are junk, and that “…I should tell you to buy our spa covers!” Lol, that’s mean, Jack.

Still confused? Start spa shopping by selecting your size first, and then decide which options are important to you. Jets, for instance, may not be desirable for the person that would prefer calm soaking to agitated water. Then you can more easily compare model to model, brand to brand. Good luck!

Carolyn Mosby
Hot Tub Works

 

10 Hot Tubs in the Most Unusual Places

September 26th, 2013 by

hot-tub-in-an-icebergSpas and hot tubs normally sit on the back patio, or built into the deck. Sometimes their placement can be rather bland, but the pleasure is none the less.

Want to add some excitement to your spa sessions? Place your spa in one of these outrageous locations, and you’ll enjoy it even more!

Without further ado, here are 10 wacky spas, in the most unusual places on earth ~

 

Hot Tub Suspended From Bridge

These loco locals in Switzerland suspended a platform over 600 ft in the air, from the Gueuroz bridge. Then they rappelled down ropes for the hot tub party!

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Hot Tub on a Mountain Top

Another group of local locos – this time a group of mountain climbers, decided to relax after their long hike to the top of Mount Blanc. At nearly 16,000 feet, it’s the tallest mountain in Europe.

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Hot Tubs in Computer Games

The Sims is a strategic life simulation video game, where users can create their own virtual reality, including the popular option of adding a hot tub, in nearly any location you wish!

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The top of the line Sims spa has many interesting features: Insta-hot heating coils, Dual pH gigabalance regulation system, redundant ultra-sav mood modulation rectifiers, 29 individual typhoon injector panels, rolling sonic wave instrumentation, no-stick polyfibred surface, stress inhibitor lounge seats, hybrid solar electric integrated feedback technology, nano-force streamlined air filtration apertures.

Hot Tub on an Aircraft Carrier

It’s hard work keeping those planes flying! This rescue boat is filled with water and connected to a hot water heater. Anchors away my boys, anchors away!

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Hot Tub on The River

On the river Thames, to be exact. These Londoners are enjoying a Hot Tub Boat, as they steam around town. You can rent these also in California and the Pacific Northwest, of course.

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Hot Tub in an Igloo

With an open roof, to allow the heat to escape. In this Swiss resort, Iglu-Dorf, you can rent an Igloo for the night, and if you book early, you can get one with a hot tub!

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Hot Tub in a Tree House

Sure, why not? Tree house resorts are springing up in all sorts of tropical places. This one is on the big island of Hawaii. I really want to visit this hot tub, with a glass of wine, and good friends…

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Hot Tub in a Mini Cooper

We’ve all seen hot tubs in limousines (yawn), but would you believe – a hot tub in the back of a Mini Cooper?  It’s modified of course, a la the movie “The Italian Job”, to support the weight of the spa, water and party people!

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Hot Tub in an Airplane

OK, truth be told, this one doesn’t really fly, it’s a hotel, the Airplane Suite at the Teuge Airport in the Netherlands. I’m told that hot tubs are too heavy (when full of water), so they are rarely installed.

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Hot Tub in a Cave

What’s cooler than a cave? At 55 degrees year around, it’s the perfect place for a hot tub! This hot tub, located on the Cayman Islands, is beneath a 48,000 sq ft mansion. Now, that’s living in style!

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Well now, there’s 10 hot tubs located in the most bizarre locations. Do you have another hot tub to mention, located in an even more unusual place? Leave a comment below, and I’ll add the best to the list!

XOXO;

Gina Galvin
Hot Tub Works

Family Games to Play in the Hot Tub

September 12th, 2013 by

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Want another reason for owning a spa or hot tub? Family Togetherness. A family takes work, to keep it knit together. It takes the effort to make it happen, to do things together.

A spa or hot tub is a place where there are fewer distractions, and everyone can enjoy the soothing sensation of the hot water, in close proximity to each other. The result? Conversation.

Have you ever noticed how conversations seem to just flow in a hot tub? People get into a relaxed and comfortable manner, and there’s not much else to do – except talk. Even surly teenagers tend to open up under the influence of hydrotherapy.

Spa Night can become a regular event for a household family, and it can also be a way to spend quality time with nearby relatives. A regular reunion can be held at your house, “bring your suits”!

Games to Play in the Hot Tub or Spa

  • Floating Chess / Checkers Game, for some brain exercising games that all kids know.
  • Waterproof Playing Cards can be used for casino style games or games like Go Fish.
  • Name Game. Pick a name, i.e. ‘Mike’, each person names a famous ‘Mike’, until they can’t.
  • Category Game. Pick a category, i.e. ‘Rock Bands’. Each person names a band that begins with the last letter of the previous suggestion.floating-drink-game-tray
  • Question Game. Ask a question, respond with a question. No statements, repetition or rhetoric allowed.
  • Uno. The card game has waterproof cards. Just use our floating Game and Drink tray for the card pile.

Have fun in your spa, and make it a point to soak with family! A spa or hot tub is the perfect way to reconnect and relax with your loved ones!

Carolyn Mosby
Hot Tub Works