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.
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.
Insulation: 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.
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 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!
Hot Tub Works