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Gina Galvin's Posts

Hot Tub Heaters: Gas vs. Electric

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hot tub heaters gas or electric
In the old days, all hot tub heaters were gas-fired heaters. Or small pool heaters, specifically. Most hot tubs were not kept hot all the time, and they were not covered with a thick, insulated cover or spa top. Instead, they were heated up on demand.

When portable spas came on the market in the late 70s, manufacturers were looking for a way to market a plug-and-play appliance that could be easily installed without too much hassle. The spa pack was born – an integrated electric heater and controller system.

Nowadays, most spas and hot tubs are heated with an electric heating element, which is tucked into a stainless steel tube. Gas heat is always an option, however…so which is better? Today, they fight to the finish – Gas Spa Heaters vs. Electric Spa Heaters!

 

hayward gas spa heaterGAS SPA HEATERS

Gas spa heaters, such as the Hayward H-100 or the Raypak 106A, are powered by either propane or natural gas. They can be used for inground spas, free-standing wooden hot tubs, or even for portable spas if installed outside of the spa cabinet. A gas line is connected to the heater by a gas contractor to provide a constant supply of fuel, which is ignited by spark ignition.

 

PROS: Gas spa heaters do have some benefits, including:

  1. Low Operation Cost: Natural gas has become less expensive in recent years. Propane gas is more costly, but produces slightly more BTU’s than natural gas.
  2. Fast Heating: Gas heaters are the clear winners when it comes to the speed of heating. A gas spa heater can add 1-2° per minute, whereas an electric heater may take an hour to add a few degrees. This lets you keep the spa at a lower resting temp, and heat it up quickly as needed.
  3. Overcomes Obstacles: For large spas over 700 gallons, or for poorly insulated spas or wooden hot tubs that are used year-round in freezing climates, electric spa heaters can cost a small fortune to operate when compared to gas heat.

CONS: Gas spa heaters have a downside (like most everything), including:

  1. Higher Initial Cost: A gas spa heater costs about $1,000 alone. In addition, it needs to have a gas line connected to the natural gas meter (or the propane tank). Costs for a buried gas line vary based on the distance of the meter to the heater, and this added cost can sometimes exceed the price of the heater itself.
  2. They’re Gas: Accidents with gas spa heaters rarely ever happen, but it is a possibility. If you’re concerned about the safety of gas appliances, you should consider the associated risks, which include gas leaks and carbon monoxide exhaust.
  3. External Installation: Not that they are ugly, but you can’t exactly tuck a gas heater underneath a portable spa. It needs to sit outside in the open air, with access to fresh air and clear sky above for the exhaust.

 

electric spa heaterELECTRIC SPA HEATERS

Electric spa heaters are sometimes called flow-thru heaters, which are basically a long electric heating element inside of a stainless steel tube. Union connectors on the end make it easy to access the element inside the slim, compact tube. Attached to the tube are temperature sensors, high limit and pressure switches to monitor temp and water flow.

 

PROS: Electric spa heaters have their own benefits, including:

  1. Low Operation Cost: If your spa is located in a mild climate, is well insulated and has a good spa cover, using electric spa heaters is  usually less expensive to operate than gas heaters. That is, of course, unless you live in an area with expensive utilities.
  2. Low Initial Cost: Electric spa heaters cost much less to purchase than gas heaters – usually in the $100-$300 range. Also, there’s no gas line to run. Most spa heaters or spa packs are powered by 240 volts from a 60 amp GFCI circuit breaker.
  3. Low Repair Costs: Electric spa heaters are simple devices, and repairs usually cost less than $100. Gas heaters are much more complicated by design, and repair expenses are much more costly.

CONS: Electric spa heaters are also not perfect. Here’s some common complaints:

  1. Slow to Heat: The best you can hope for is 2-3° per hour on a small, well insulated spa with a 5.5 or 11 kw element(s). Cold outside temperatures and high winds can reduce heat gain to just 1° per hour on spas with smaller 4 or 5.5 kw elements, and smaller 1.5 kw heaters may not be able to keep up.
  2. They’re Electric: We all know that water and electricity don’t mix, but spa heaters are protected by a GFCI and several safety components to prevent overheating and electric shock. However, accidents can still happen with 240 volts.
  3. Higher Operational Costs: This is always a possibility, depending on circumstances. If your electrical costs are greater than 25¢ per kw, you’ll reach a tipping point where it costs more to heat with electric spa heaters than with a gas spa heater. Especially for spas or hot tubs with poor insulation located in cold Northern climates, you will find it more expensive to maintain hot water during winter.

 



BOTTOM LINE: 
For most people, myself included, an electric spa heater is simpler and cheaper, both in the short run and the long run. For those who live in much colder regions than Southern California, however, a small gas heater may be a better choice. It may also be a smarter investment for low use spas, which can be maintained at 85°, and cranked up to 104° in just a half hour.

COST COMPARISON: If you want to figure out the cost comparison between gas and electric, it takes 8.34 BTUs to raise one gallon of water one degree Fahrenheit. Assume that heat loss is constant in both cases (although it does increase during colder months), and know that gas heaters are only 80% efficient, while electric heaters are nearly 100% efficient. Then you can compare your cost of gas (in therms) and electricity (in Kilowatts) to produce your own analysis.

There doesn’t seem to be a clear winner in this contest! In the end, it really comes down to what will work best for you and your hot tub or spa. Both types have their fair share of pros and cons when it comes to purchase price, operating costs, installation and frequency of use.

Romantic Hot Tub Ideas

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romantic hot tub ideasLove is in the air, and Valentine’s Day is right around the corner! If you’re like me, you’re so over the typical Valentine’s dinner and a movie. The restaurants are all so crowded, and they usher you in and out as quickly as possible. Rushing out on a work night and trying to make everything feel so romantic can almost feel forced – there has to be a better alternative!

We have an idea if you’d like to try something different this year. Cancel the fancy restaurant reservation, and put away the slinky dress and high heels. Make a unique, personalized date for the two of you in your hot tub! It’s easy to pull off with just a little bit of planning. We’ve gathered a few tips and ideas to get you started.

The Spa-posal

The romance begins with a courtly gesture. Put together a memorable invitation that builds interest and anticipation. The ASK is more than just a simple proposition. It’s all about the presentation and packaging, and asking your special person to join you for a romantic night in.

  • valentine's day invitationHand-written invitations, hand delivered on fancy stationery is hard to resist. It’s an overture that will melt his/her heart.
  • Post-it Notes – Write your proposition in fancy script over many heart-shaped Post-it notes, placed on the bathroom mirror or in strategic locations around the house.
  • Send flowers in advance from a local florist. As an added touch, you can write a loving sentiment to your beloved.
  • Gift wrap a robe and slippers, a new bathing suit or some other nice gift. Include your date night invitation inside the box.
  • Print two tickets to a “Hot Show” on a ticket printing website, or make your own design using your favorite image editor.
  • Spell it out with sweets – Write your proposal on a cake, or use Valentine’s heart candies for a clever and tasty message.

Like any good invitation, be sure to include a specific date, time and location. Make it as formal or personalized as you want. Any gesture from the heart is sure to be well received. To kick it over the top, name the evening according to a theme. “Evening Under the Stars” or “Hot Tub Heaven” will help generate more excitement and enticement. It will also help you in planning your date, branding the evening as though it were at a resort spa or an exclusive tropical hideaway.

Choosing a Gift

The gift comes before the big event, so it’s actually a pre-gift, given at the start of the evening. Choose a sweet and thoughtful gift that’s related to the theme or your evening plans. As mentioned above, the gift can be combined with the “ask” in many clever ways.

  • Fluffy robes – Soft, matching robes and slippers. Bonus if you buy two sets so you match each other.
  • valentine's day giftBlooming flowers – A bouquet of his or her favorite flowers is still one of the most romantic and sensual gifts you can give.
  • Chocolate dipped fruits and berries, or go for the traditional heart-shaped box of chocolates.
  • Romantic apparel – For her, a new spring hat or summer dress. For him, a sports jacket, cap or pair of nice shoes.
  • Watches and jewelry – Take pictures of their favorite pieces, and visit a local shopping mall to find something similar. A new watch or a shiny bracelet makes for a perfect Valentine’s Day gift.

The pre-gift is an important part of the evening’s allure. It doesn’t need to be extravagant, nor does it need to be “store bought.” Remember, the presentation of the gift is key. It’s not so much what’s in the box, but how you wrap it and present it. Be sweet!

Setting the Mood

Setting the mood for the evening is also key. The hot tub is a natural mood setter, and adding little touches here and there can help make it more romantic. Use a few decorative elements or some personal touches to really make your spa area more inviting. Here are a few ideas on how to set a romantic tone around the hot tub.

  • Soft music and soft lighting – Set up some Bluetooth speakers and play a soft, romantic playlist. Use some candles to light the path or set a few around the tub.
  • aromatherapy crystalsRose petals – Create a path of rose petals leading to the spa. Set aside a bowl of petals to add to the water’s surface just before you and your partner enter the tub.
  • Tropical plants – Add a few large green tropicals or flowering plants around the spa to soften the view and add some natural flora.
  • Aromatherapy – Our diverse selection of scented elixirs and spa crystals add sensual aromas to promote relaxation and heighten the five senses. It really works!
  • Bottle of champagne, chilling in an ice bucket, with two (plastic) champagne flutes. Classically romantic.
  • Hang curtains – If your spa is out in the open, hang decorative privacy screening around spa. Using material like bed sheets or sheer fabric will usually do the trick.

Having a few conversations starters ready to go can help keep things light and fun. Playing “Remember when…?” or dreaming together about exotic travel plans are two good starters. Exchanging back, neck and shoulder massages is another great way to get relaxed and enjoy your time together.

Planning the Food

For snacks in the hot tub, I always recommend fruits and veggies, especially colorful berries and fruit wedges. Avoid any greasy foods or dips. Just some brightly colored fruits, best enjoyed au naturel. Here are some more romantic ideas for dining on Valentine’s Day.chocolate covered strawberry

  • Al fresco dining by candlelight – Set up a table for two on your patio, and enjoy the starlight overhead.
  • Private dining by candlelight in the comfort of your own home.
  • Private sunset picnic at the beach, lake or your favorite scenic overview.
  • Appetizer smorgasbord – Fill a large platter with your favorite restaurant style appetizers.
  • Breakfast for dinner – After soaking in the hot tub, jump in the car to go to IHOP or a small local diner.
  • Dinner with friends – Before kicking off your romantic evening at home, plan an intimate Valentine’s dinner party with a few of your closest friends and their partners.

Don’t be afraid to heat things up this Valentine’s Day – or any day, for that matter! Your hot tub is the perfect way to spend quality time with your significant other and personalize it for just the two of you. This Valentine’s Day is sure to be a day to remember.

New Year’s Eve Hot Tub Party Ideas

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new year's hot tub partyNew Year’s Eve is coming up fast! If you’re thinking about what to do for a small New Year’s Eve party, you’ve come to the right place. There’s no better time for a hot tub party than on New Year’s Eve!

Ring in the new year with a midnight dip in the warmth of your spa or hot tub. It’s simple, really. Just invite your close friends and family members over around 9 p.m., and have the music, snacks and drinks ready to go.

Even if the holidays have left you procrastinating on party plans, we have a few last-minute ideas on how to plan your New Year’s hot tub party.

HOT TUB

The day before the party, check and balance your spa water, then thoroughly clean the filter. Vaccuum out any dirt or grit in the tub, give it a thorough wipe-down, and shock the water the night before the party. You want the spa to be as clean as possible for your guests! Also clean the walking paths around the spa to prevent dirt from being tracked into the water. For a finishing touch, try adding a bit of your favorite aromatherapy to the spa right before your guests arrive.

spa jetsIf it’s just a few friends or a small, intimate group of people at your hot tub party, you can decide whether or not you want to use the hot tub this year or next year – or maybe you’ll actually be in the tub when the clock strikes twelve.

Most New Year’s Eve hot tub parties never actually turn into hot tub “parties” until the new year starts. Everyone will come out and touch the water, and maybe say some nice things about the spa. But in my experience, at least for New Year’s, the REAL hot tub party starts after midnight.

Expect about half of your guests to be gone by 12:30, as they head home to relieve baby sitters or get some needed rest before the end of the holidays. For those that are still around, soaking in the spa is a great way to celebrate the new year!

No matter what time the spa use starts, be sure to remind your guests of the buddy system (no single users allowed), and have them limit their soaks to no more than 30 minutes. These two rules will keep guests safe and help everyone enjoy their fair share of time in the hot tub.

MUSIC

Have some good music playing and make sure it’s loud enough to be heard over the jets, but don’t leave electrical devices sitting too close to the spa unless it’s something like a waterproof speaker. Plugged in devices should never be set on the edge of the spa, and for obvious reasons. The music should be close enough to keep things lively, but not so close that it becomes a potential safety hazard.

If you have neighbors, you’ll probably need to turn down the music shortly after midnight. Turning down the tunes will also encourage your guests to keep the noise at a reasonable level. Leaving the air blower usage at a minimum will also help keep the noise down.

Most importantly, don’t forget to have Auld Lang Syne ready to play at midnight. It’s tradition! “Should auld acquaintance be forgot…

ENTERTAINMENT

waterproof cardsIt never hurts to have some extra sources of entertainment at a party. Board games, charades, or even outdoor games like cornhole, washer pitching, horseshoes or lawn bowling can help pass the time. If you happen to have a deck of waterproof playing cards lying around, you can start a game in the hot tub.

As the clock creeps closer to midnight, be sure to have the TV turned on and tuned into the ball drop in Times Square. Also, keep an eye on the skyline for fireworks. If it’s an option, you might consider providing your guests with sparklers for a mini fireworks show in your backyard.

SNACKS

For your inside party, platters of pigs in a blanket, seven-layer dip, gourmet popcorn, fruit and veggie trays or any other type of snacky food will fit the bill perfectly. A spiral sliced ham with potato rolls, cheeses and mustards make for an easy display. Small bowls of nuts and candies are simple to put together, and a few desserts like cookies, brownies, cakes or pies are great for those with a sweet tooth.

In the spa area, usually the outside party, do yourself a favor and prohibit food. Fruit may be OK – strawberries, grapes or apples perhaps. But keep all other kind of food away from the spa. I remember a few years back, when I cleaned my spa filter from what appeared to be Cheetos – disgusting! Let your guests know in advance: no food, no glass in the hot tub.

DRINKS

champagne near hot tubTradition dictates that you must have champagne (or some other sparkling beverage) available at midnight for toasting. For large crowds, buy the plastic flutes that you can assemble, fill and distribute on large trays. For smaller parties, just a few bottles and some special glasses is all you need. Plastic flutes are a must if you’ll be doing your toast in the hot tub!

Near the spa, offer infused water or light juices for your guests to drink from festive plastic cups. On New Year’s Eve, I don’t ban alcohol from the tub, but I do encourage guests to drink a glass of water before they get in the water or right after they get out. Better to be safe than sorry!

Tradition also may dictate that on New Year’s, you pull out the good stuff. Whether it’s beer, wine, vodka or fine whiskey you are serving, make sure you have some premium brands available. It’s an end-of-year blowout, after all!

Happy New Year!

Cloudy Hot Tub After Shocking

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cloudy hot tub water

 

Getting cloudy water immediately after shocking your spa or hot tub is pretty common, and usually considered normal. After all, there are a lot of chemical reactions going on when you shock a spa! Clear water should return to a spa within just a few hours.

That said, when adding just ounces of a spa shock makes the water cloudy, there are probably other things going on. Here are just a few reasons you might be getting cloudy hot tub water after adding spa shock.

 

Swimming Pool Shock

Using pool shock will almost always make your spa or hot tub cloudy. It’s not as refined and the particles are much larger, meaning they won’t dissolve right away. Pool shock is also loaded with calcium, which can be a problem if you’re in a hard water part of the country. If you want to use chlorine shock, use Spa 56 chlorinating compound, which is specially formulated for hot tubs. The best advice for shocking a spa or hot tub is this: DON’T use pool shock. Only use spa shock for spas and hot tubs.

High pH & Alkalinity

Before you shock a spa, it’s always best to check the water’s pH and alkalinity. This is especially true if you add shock right after using the spa – few sweaty bodies into your hot tub can spike the pH and alkalinity levels up too high. When the pH and alkalinity are out of balance, strong shock treatments can knock carbonates and bicarbonates out of solution and make your spa water cloudy. Keep some spa pH decreaser on hand so you can use it to lower both pH and alkalinity.

Hard Water Hot Tub

My water comes out of the tap with a calcium hardness of about 450 ppm. This is high, but not as high as some in nearby desert areas or those drawing from a well. When your spa water is hard, that means it has a lot of dissolved calcium in it. Spas and hot tubs operate best around 200 ppm, and when there is more than that, it can come out of solution as visible scale on spa surfaces. If your spa pH is high and you also have high calcium hardness, shocking can make the spa water cloudy. To avoid this problem in hard water areas, fill your spa with water that has gone thru water softening tanks, or use a pre-filter on your garden hose to keep calcium levels low.

Lotions & Potions

If you host a get-together and there are a lot of people using your hot tub, the water may get a little funky by the end. It’s a common reaction to add spa shock once the party’s over, but then the water turns cloudy. Why? It’s because of all of the body oils, sweat, dirt, makeup, lotion, deodorant and who knows what else that has washed into your hot tub. Spa shock doesn’t do very well with oily gunk. The shock has trouble breaking it down, which can turn your hot tub cloudy after shocking. To prevent this problem, keep your spa as clean as possible and encourage everyone using the hot tub to take a quick shower – or at least be reasonably clean – before stepping in. Using a spa enzyme once a week can also help to break down the oils and organic materials at the root of this problem.

For best results, keep the spa as clean as possible, make sure calcium hardness stays around 150-200 ppm, and maintain proper pH and alkalinity levels to lower the risk of cloudy water when shocking your spa. If cloudy water continues to linger after a few hours, keep reading. We have another blog that can help you isolate and fix the cloudy water culprits hiding in your hot tub: 10 Reasons Why Your Spa Water is Cloudy.

Hot Tub Water: Test Like a Boss!

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Manage hot tub water balance with a proper test kit.

Testing hot tub water regularly is important to avoid peaks and valleys of sanitation and water balance. Testing every day is not necessary unless your spa is used on a daily basis. Instead, test the water 2-3 times per week – more often if the spa is used frequently.

When you are only working with 300-500 gallons of water, it’s crucial to be accurate. Otherwise, it’s easy to underdose or overdose your hot tub when adding chemicals. Here, we’ll show you the good, the better, and the best of the business when it comes to testing your spa water.

 

spa test strips

GOOD Hot Tub Water Test

Spa test strips are made to work with hot water, and are “calibrated” especially for use with spas. They are inexpensive, easy to use, and several options are available depending on your needs. You can use test strips that for a single aspect like bromine levels, or you can use a multi-test strip that looks at six (or more) components of your spa water.

Test strips are both useful and economical, and many people use them to keep their hot tub water balanced. However, the wide range of results and hard-to-determine color matching scale can make them less accurate and less reliable when compared to other types of hot tub water tests.

 

BETTER Hot Tub Water Test

AquaChek TruTest Digital Pool Tester

A better way to test spa water is to not abandon test strips, but to simply remove human error from the equation. The AquaChek TruTest Spa digital test strip reader analyzes the test strip from 16 million colors, which improves accuracy of test strip use immensely.

Replacement TruTest strips cost as much (or less) than other multi-test strips, so it doesn’t take much to keep a constant supply handy. The AquaChek digital reader measures free and total chlorine or bromine, pH and total alkalinity with excellent precision in just seconds.

 

BEST Hot Tub Water Test

Taylor Test Kit

The best way to test hot tub or spa water is to use a “liquid drop style” titration test kit. Titration test kits are different, and here’s why. First, you take a water sample in a test vial and add the reagent. Next, you’ll add an indicator solution drop by drop, counting the drops until you achieve a solid color change (from red to blue for example). Multiply the number of drops x 10, and you have your calcium and alkalinity reading, accurate to within 5 ppm. When testing for sanitizer levels, accuracy falls within 0.5 ppm.

titration-test-for-hot-tubs

Yes it takes longer to do a titration test, but not much longer. You can do a full battery of tests (bromine, pH, alkalinity and hardness) in less than 5 minutes. If your balance is off, the charts in the booklet will tell you exactly how much adjustment chemical to add. There are more options available for the type of test you’d like to perform on your hot tub, but the more inclusive tests usually come with a higher price tag.

 


When choosing a hot tub water test, it really comes down to what is most important to you. If you’re looking for unparalleled accuracy, a titration kit or digital strip reader are the both a good way to go. If you check the water often and don’t want to spend a lot of money on testing supplies, regular test strips are a solid option. The digital test strip readers have become quite popular in recent years because they offer a good balance between test strips and titration kits when it comes to cost, accuracy and ease of use.

 

July 4th Hot Tub Party

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Fourth of July PartyWant to get some friends and family together, but don’t have a swimming pool? Do what I do – host a July 4th hot tub party!

Planning a hot tub party on the 4th of July is just like any other Independence Day party. The only difference is that your guests can enjoy a relaxing soak in the spa. Watching fireworks from the hot tub is one of the best ways to enjoy the show!

Needing some quick and easy tips on hosting a successful 4th of July hot tub party? You’re in luck!

 

Prepare the Spa

A few days to a week before the party, check the water balance. Lowered the pH down around 7.3-ish, and gave the spa a healthy shock treatment. On July 3rd, clean the filter and vacuum the spa. Before the guests arrive, bring an extra ounce of “wow” to your party with some aromatherapy crystals in the tub. Nothing says a summer party quite like a cool glass of sweet sangria, and Spazazz brings that essence to your spa with their Wild Fiesta scent.

Get creative with fun and patriotic signs to direct your guests to the hot tub. If the spa is behind the house, hang a sign on the side gate or the front door to direct them toward the back. This will also save you time with your guests since you won’t be running back and forth to point them in the right direction. Spice it up with American flags, red/white/blue confetti or balloons to make it festive and noticeable!

Don’t Start Too Early

If you’ll be serving alcohol at the party, be careful not to start the party too soon! If you start around 6 or 7 p.m., there will be plenty of time to eat, drink, relax and socialize before the fireworks start. This shorter timeframe on the party also means that guests leaving the party after the show will still be in a relatively sober state of mind.

patriotic playlist

Pump Up the Jams

It should go without saying – every good party needs good music. For your 4th of July party, create a playlist full of patriotic songs and let the good times roll! Save the best ones to play during the fireworks so your guests can be serenaded under the glittering glow of lights.

Even if it’s just sparklers, no Independence Day party is complete without John Philip Sousa’s famous version of “Stars and Stripes Forever” playing in the background.

Turn Down the Heat

If you can get away with it, turn the heat in your spa down to around 100 degrees. Especially if you have guests that are unaccustomed to hot tubs, this will help you to worry less about the guests overheating or staying too long in the spa. You may even want to have cooler water, around 85 degrees, and use your spa as a cool dunking station for your toasty guests.

If your hot tub buddies are old pros, they may want it bubblin’ at 104 or less. However, remember to limit each guest to 30 minutes maximum in the tub. This will allow room for other guests to enjoy the spa, and it will also prevent dehydration and overheating on a warm summer night. With alcohol, a lightheaded, dizzy feeling can come over those who spend too much time in the spa. Because of this, it’s also a good idea to help your guests get out of the spa safely.

Patriotic Food & DecorationsFourth of July Party

There’s no need to overdo it, so don’t stress out about having a dozen different red, white and blue recipes and elaborate decorations. Focus on just a few recipes and decorations.

In addition to the previously mentioned gate sign to direct guests to your hot tub in the backyard, you can add patriotic vibes to the party with a number of simple accents. A nice red tablecloth, a firecracker centerpiece, and a proudly flying American flag are all a good place to start.

Simple dishes and finger foods will be easy to both prepare and enjoy, so you don’t have to get too crazy with it. Don’t forget to offer plenty of hydrating refreshments to your guests.

Whether it’s just a few friends or a block party – have a super-terrific 4th of July! Happy Birthday, America!

Hot Tubs with a View

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Every once in a while, we like to step away from the nitty gritty of spa and hot tub maintenance to feature topics around hot tub lifestyle, design and decor. A showcase for hot tub owners who have created a true spa oasis with innovative decking, landscape or location.

And speaking of location, some settings are just a natural fit for a hot tub. Continue reading for a collection of 11 beautiful hot tubs with spectacular views, some of which are available for short-term rental! If your hot tub has a great view, leave a comment with a pic – maybe I will add it to the list!

Estes Park Colorado Hot Tub Home VRBO Rental - Photo by Linda, Owner

Estes Park, Colorado, VRBO Rental – Photo by Linda, Owner

 

Hot Tub on Smith Mountain Lake, Va, Home Away Rental, Photo by Owner

Smith Mountain Lake, Virginia, Home Away Rental – Photo by Owner

 

Buffalo River Arkansas Rental with Hot Tub, Photo by Buffalo Outdoor Center

Buffalo River, Arkansas, Rental with Hot Tub – Photo by Buffalo Outdoor Center

 

Hot Tub at Fossil Bay Resort, Shirley, BC, Photo by Fossil Bay - click to visit Fossil Bay site

Fossil Bay Resort in Shirley, British Columbia – Photo by Fossil Bay

 

Hot Tub overlooking a California Bay, Zillow Photo by Brad Anderson

Overlooking a California Bay – Zillow Photo by Brad Anderson

 

Scottsdale, Arizona Hot Tubs- Zillow Photo by Imagine Backyard Living

Scottsdale, Arizona – Zillow Photo by Imagine Backyard Living

 

Hot Tub with a View of Lake Tahoe, on VRBO, Photo by Owner

Lake Tahoe, California, VRBO Rental – Photo by Owner

 

Hot Tub on a Yacht, Photo by Miami Boat Charters

Yacht with a Hot Tub – Photo by Miami Boat Charters

 

Hot Tub In Seattle with a View on Realtor.com, Photo by Owner

Seattle, Washington, listing on Realtor.com – Photo by Owner

 

Acorn Cabin Rentals #701 Hot Tub in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, Photo by Acorn

Gatlinburg, Tennessee, Acorn Cabin Rentals #701 – Photo by Acorn Cabins

 

Penthouse Hot Tub view overlooking Sydney, Australia

Sydney, Australia, Penthouse View – Photo by Poynters.co.nz

 


 

I would Love to soak in any one of these hot tubs with a view! My home hot tub view is not quite as grand, like most people I look across the backyard, noticing all the plants and things that need my attention.

Oh well, I can always close my eyes, and can imagine that I’m on vacation, somewhere fabulous! That’s the greatest thing about hot tubs – it doesn’t really matter where it is, I can always find my happy place!

 

XOXO;

 

Gina Galvin
Hot Tub Works

 

 

 

Wi-Fi App Control for Spas & Hot Tubs

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Control your hot tub from anywhere in the world!

That’s how the tagline reads for a new generation of smart hot tub controllers that can communicate wirelessly to your mobile device. Super convenient, now that you don’t have to shuffle out in the cold and lift the lid to turn up the heat. Just pull up the app where you can view current temperature and status, and operate all spa functions like pumps, heater, lights, music – like a topside control panel, in your pocket!

All of the major spa manufacturers and spa control makers now offer wifi-enabled spa paks with the software to connect to your spa controller via bluetooth and wifi. And, most spa techs now have a half dozen or more spa manufacturer apps on their smartphones, useful for bypassing control panels, and for certain diagnostics.

Arctic has OnSpa, Jacuzzi has ProLink and Sundance has SunSmart, proprietary wi-fi modules, control software and smartphone apps that operate with their control packs. And for those spa manufacturers using Balboa or Gecko spa packs, Balboa offers BWA module and app, and Gecko has the in.Touch system.

 

HOW DOES HOT TUB WIFI WORK?

A wifi-enabled spa control has a bit of software revision to communicate with a wifi module and to your phone or tablet via the app. The module allows for direct connection from a nearby phone or tablet, and also connects to your home wifi network, for connection to the internet. Balboa uses a single wifi module, good for about 65 ft, and Gecko includes two transmitters, one for spa mounting and one for mounting next to your home wifi router.

 

ADDING WIFI TO A HOT TUB?

Well, there may be a little problem… you see, hot tub wifi modules only work on wifi-enabled spa controls, and these are still a standard feature only on luxury lines of spas, and for spas produced in the last five years or so. If you have a late brand name spa with all the bells and whistles, including Wi-Fi, see your dealer to purchase the wi-fi module kit, and you can then connect to your spa with the app.

For Balboa Controllers, only the BP line of spa controllers is wi-fi enabled as of current. The wifi module 50350 plugs into the BP500/BP600 circuit board and puts out a signal to connect with your home wifi and directly to nearby devices.

For Gecko Controllers, the in.touch remote control system uses two RF transmitters to connect to your home wifi network and to nearby devices. Gecko in.touch works with in.xe, in.xm and in.ye, in.yt controllers, with the new software revision for wi-fi.

Other aftermarket spa controllers, by ACC, Acura and Waterway for example, offer an add-on wifi module that fits select spa controls, for remote control from inside of the house or monitoring your spa while away from home.

 

HOT TUB WIFI – NOT SO SIMPLE?

Unless already equipped, you basically need a new digital spa control if you want to control your spa with your smartphone. 🙁 And, it must be a wifi-enabled spa controller, and you must also purchase the additional module or transmitter to connect from the spa to your home wifi and nearby devices.

If your spa control or spa pack is fairly new, it may have wifi capability, check the owner’s manual or contact the manufacturer for information.

Or maybe you’ll have to continue to shuffle through the cold, to check-on, or turn-up your spa or hot tub – the old fashioned way!

Your next spa (or your next spa control) will likely be part of the Internet of Things, and more accessible 🙂 It is a nice feature I must admit, my new Sundance has wifi and I love it! I use it to play music from my phone, thru the spa speakers, and use it inside the house to turn up the temp (and turn it down, too) or for running extra filter cycles, or to check if I left the spa light on again?

6 Hot Tub Chemicals You Should Always Have

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If you are like most spa owners, you have more than 6 spa chemicals on hand, and like most of us, there is a larger collection of various spa chemicals, including sanitizers, balancers, clarifiers, cleaners and other specialty chemicals.

Every spa is different in terms of what is needed for proper and optimum water chemistry. Things like spa use frequency, number of users, cleanliness of users, filter size and effectiveness, pump run times, fill water quality and factors like sun, wind and rain can all call for different spa chemicals, at different times.

However, there exists a core set of spa chemicals that a hot tub owner should always keep in stock, because they are used more often than others. You will need other spa chemicals from time to time, to adjust water balance to proper ranges, or to control other water conditions, but keep a good stock of the basic inventory.

 


SANITIZERS

Every spa needs a means of controlling the ABC’s – algae, bacteria and contaminants, on a daily basis. When hot tubs first came on the scene, everyone used bromine tablets as the primary sanitizer. Bromine tablets are used with a bromine booster, to build up a bank of bromide ions, which can be easily regenerated by simply adding a shock oxidizer to the spa.

Many spas are outfitted with ozonators, which allow for much lower levels of bromine, or you can use a spa mineral stick to accomplish pretty much the same thing. Frog has two popular bromine+minerals floating sanitizers, the traditional Spa Frog floating system and the new round flip-floater, called @ease.

Chlorine tablets are not used as a spa sanitizer, because they dissolve too slowly, and lower pH and raise cyanuric acid levels, however Spa 56 by Leisure Time is a popular granulated chlorine that dissolves quickly and maintains a chlorine residual for 5-7 days.

SHOCK

Spa shock is in a class of chemicals known as oxidizers, because they will oxidize contaminants in the water, pipes and filter. Even though spa water may be clear, there exists at any given time, various ABC’s and other particles and byproducts that reduce sanitizer and filter effectiveness. Spa shocks destroy everything in the water, both inert particles and pathogenic organisms.

Shock your spa after each use, or every 7-10 days, whichever comes first. Shocking regularly is important to kill bacteria that may have escaped your daily sanitizer, and reduce build-up of oils, soap, skin, dust and other particles that enter the spa naturally. You can use chlorine spa shock or non-chlorine spa shock (MPS), they are both very effective.

CLARIFIER

Spa Clarifiers are positively charged polymers that are strongly attracted to negatively charge particles, which make water cloudy. They work by forming large clumps of very small particles, those that would normally pass right through your spa filter, making them easy for your filter to trap.

Clarifiers like Bright & Clear make the water more pure by removing dissolved solids, which increases the effectiveness of your sanitizers and shock. This in turn, makes your spa water last longer, increasing the length of time between water changes. Leisure Time’s  Protect Plus also adds a stain & scale additive, and Rendezvous’ Natural Clear adds an enzyme to remove oils and soaps from spa water.

pH DECREASER

At any given time, you may need either pH increaser -or- pH decreaser, but most people need the latter. Spas and hot tubs are small bodies of water, and with regular use, pH tends to rise in most spas. When pH rises above 7.8, sanitizers become less effective, and scale can form more easily. High pH is also a better breeding ground for algae and bacteria.

pH should be maintained in the 7.2-7.6 range, just slightly basic. If you are having trouble adjusting your pH, or if pH is very erratic, changing fast and often, test the Total Alkalinity of the spa water. 80-120 ppm is best, to provide a buffer for the pH level, helping it to remain steady for longer periods. Add Alkalinity increaser if below 80 ppm, and use pH decreaser to lower alkalinity levels in excess of 120 ppm.

COVER CONDITIONER

This one doesn’t need a long explanation, other than if you regularly condition the marine grade vinyl on your spa cover – it will look better, stay cleaner and last longer. Clean your spa cover first with a mild dish soap and a dish sponge to clean surfaces.

After drying, apply the spa cover conditioner to seal and protect the vinyl from rain, dirt, snow and sun. Regular use can add years to your cover lifespan by preventing breakdown and tears in the outer vinyl surfaces.

FILTER CLEANER

Hosing clean your spa filter gets most of the big stuff, but it won’t easily remove oils and mineral scale, which clog up the pores of spa filter cartridges. In such cases, the water pressure can push oil and minerals deeper into the fabric fibers, contributing to early failure.

Spa filter cleaners gently lift oils and mineral scale with a combination of mild acids and degreasers, like Rendezvous Filter Fresh or Leisure Time Filter Clean. Just soak your cartridge in a bucket or pail of water with the recommended amount of filter cleaner added, or use our own spray-on filter cleaner and let it sit for a few minutes, before rinsing clean.

 


 

As mentioned above, you may need other hot tub chemicals from time to time, but these are what I call the core set of chemicals – those that are needed most often, which are also (coincidentally) the most popular spa chemicals, or those that are purchased most often. I hope this was helpful!

 

 

XOXO;

Gina Galvin

 

Spas & Hot Tubs in the News

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Reporter Gina on the job – rounding up news story from around the globe, about hot tubs and spas. I’ve been clipping news stories for months now, waiting for another chance to present Spas & Hot Tubs in the News )))).

Today’s line up is full of fun and feel good stories, well not all of them actually. Stories like these really show how much spas and hot tubs really are woven into the fabric of America. Not just a fad from a bygone era, people really like to soak in hot water!

 

Iceland Spa has Hot Tubs filled with Beer

3 guys in a beer hot tub, drinking beer

At the beer spa Bjorbodin, in Árskógssandur, Iceland they offer warm soaks in a wooden hot tub filled to the brim with beer, water, hops. Beer for drinking is also included, so please don’t drink the spa water. Just another reason to hop on a flight to Iceland, says the article. Full Story

 

Wanted: Hot Tub Stolen from Fairport Canal Days

By , D&C, June 5, 2017

Fairport police are looking for a hot tub stolen from a vendor during the annual Fairport Canal Days. Overnight, a Softub brand hot tub was stolen from a vendor. The 2-person hot tub is a tan T-150 Softub spa. Soft tubs are easily portable and weigh less than 75 pounds when empty, according to Softub. Full Story.

 

Former UMKC basketball coach has hot-tub problem solved

by , Fox4KC, May 12, 2017

Retired UMKC basketball coach Darrell Corwin had contacted Fox4 Problem Solvers because he wanted to warn the public about a hot tub repairman who had taken $800 from him and disappeared. After the story aired, that repairman returned Corwin’s money, but the news got even better. Watkins Hot Tubs called Problem Solvers. It recognized the 33-year-old tub in Corwin’s backyard as one of its own and wanted to give Corwin and his wife a new one. “It ended up I got the money and I got the hot tub,” Corwin said smiling. “I really appreciate it.” Full Story.

 

Hot Tub Huckster Barred for Life

By Doug Jenkins – WBGZ Radio, May 24, 2017

James Flanagan has operated businesses under the names of Hot Tub Addict, Hot Tub Recyclers and Two Guys and a Spa Dolly. He has been barred from selling hot tubs or offering hot tub moving or repair services in Illinois. He has also been ordered to pay $48,000 to defrauded customers. Better Business Bureau spokesman Don O’Brien says that incidents like this can tarnish the whole industry. Full Story.

 

Driver backs spas for a cause

By Staff, Independent Free Press, June 3, 2017

Race car driver Gary Klutt has teamed up with one of his sponsors, Pioneer Pools, for a cancer fundraiser, Spas for a Cause pink hot tub giveaway raffle, with all proceeds going to the Canadian Cancer Society. Ballots are $5 each and can be purchased at a Pioneer Pools location or online at spasforacause.ca. Full Story.

 


 

Well that was fun! I hope you enjoy peeking into the news surrounding hot tubs, as much as I do! Much thanks to the original authors of these articles, keep them coming, your readers (like me) love to hear about spas and hot tubs!

 

XOXO;

 

Gina Galvin
Hot Tub Works