Free Spa Buyer’s Guide
Although most spas (and every model we sell) can be used indoors or outdoors in any climate, the majority of people will choose an outdoor location for their hot tub. And so, the size of spa that you select will be determined by two factors: the available space, and how many persons will be using it at one time.
Before you even begin shopping, decide how many people you would like to entertain in your new hot tub.Â When relatives and friends visit, you might not want to have to ask them to take turns enjoying the spa. On the other hand, if you have a small family unit, or prefer to enjoy your spa in solitude, a smaller spa may be ideal for your needs.
Decide where you would like to put your spa. One trick for envisioning outdoor locations is to outline the hot tub’s dimensions with a rope or garden hose. This will give you a visual perspective and help make the decision easier. As you imagine how it will look, be sure to consider: accessibility of the users, proximity to the electrical service, privacy, and view.
For some great ideas on deck and patio settings, information on indoor installations, and some additional setup photos talk to our sales team.
Most acrylic spas are designed to operate on hard-wired 220V power service. A 220 volt electrical service results in much more rapid heating and is considered to be best for permanent installations of acrylic spas. 220V systems must be wired by a qualified electrician and require a GFCI-protected circuit for safety. Contrary to popular belief, there is only a slight advantage in electrical efficiency with a 220 volt installation. Again, the real advantage is reduced heating time.
When you stop to think about it, the warranty is really a statement of a spa manufacturer’s confidence in their product. Obtaining service, however, is difficult if the dealer is not willing or qualified to help coordinate warranty service… or worse, if you discover they have gone out our business when you need them most. The length of time the dealer has been in business and their reputation should tell you a lot. Spa stores come and go, but Bobs Intowne Spas has been selling spas since 1983. Our experienced Customer Care and Technical Service staff are available to assist you with warranty issues, should that ever be necessary, even long after the sale. Our reputation and our company was built on customer service, and our employees take great pride in helping our customers. In addition, even after your warranty has expired, we are still available with the largest selection and variety of replacement spa parts in the nation. Our toll free technical support is available to everyone, whether they purchased their spa from us, or from anyone else. We have never changed a dime for repair advice or parts assistance.
Customers frequently ask us where they can find spa ratings, reviews and evaluations. There are over a hundred different brands of acrylic spas sold in the U.S.A., and the quality varies as much between brands as with automobiles. It is difficult for consumers to get accurate information to make brand comparisons, since impartial studies from non-commercial sources like Consumer Reports magazine are lacking. Unfortunately, if you search online for spa ratings, it is pretty difficult, if not impossible to get unbiased information. Most of what you will find online is either provided by manufacturers themselves, or by paid advertising websites that are far from impartial. Below is a compilation of information on acrylic spas designed to help you make an informed choice, whether you decide to purchase your hot tub from Bobs Intowne Spas, or anywhere else. We’ve done our very best to be hype-free, so that you can draw your own conclusions. We hope you find this information helpful.
HYPE: Height doesn’t matter. FACT: The seating capacity of your spa, determined by its length and width, is important.Â You will of course want to choose a spa that meets your needs in terms of the number of bathers that will be using it. If you have a large family, and they will all be using the spa, you may need a larger spa than a single person or retired couple. But the fact of the matter is that the third dimension (height/depth) is more important. When comparing full-size acrylic spas, take a close look at the dimensions, and don’t forget the most important one: height. Deep spas cost more to manufacture, so lesser brands scrimp on materials by building them short. Since you’re buying a spa for the pleasure of immersion, be sure to check all of the dimensions when comparing spas so that you don’t waste money on a shallow spa, which you may deeply regret later. Note: If you are selecting a lounger model, be aware that shallow spas will likely not have enough lower-torso depth to prevent floating out of the lounge seat.
HYPE: The more jets, the better. FACT: Unfortunately, this is the biggest hype in the business. Rather than compete on the basis of spa quality, service, and value, many online sellers try to outdo one another with the highest jet counts. Far more important than the number of jets is the type, quality, orientation, and plumbing. Some inferior brands load up their spas with dozens of tiny 59-cent jets just to make their numbers look good. Then they must add larger, energy-wasting motors to overcome this friction loss. Such spa designs prove to be very uncomfortable and inefficient, wasting up to $100 in electricity costs per month. Jetting should be engineered for hydrotherapy action, comfort & optimum energy efficiency, not mere numbers. Believe it, sitting in a spa seat and having your back assaulted by dozens of tiny jets can quickly become a painfully annoying experience. Well-engineered spas provide vigorous, soothing hydro massage without dozens of useless extra jets. A good design also provides quiet zones for people who just want to soak, unwind, and relax.
HYPE: The more horsepower, the better. FACT: True in drag racing, but when it comes to spas, adding more and/or larger pump motors (to power dozens of useless extra jets) wastes huge amounts of energy. We’ve seen spas advertised online offering up to 15 horsepower. Sounds impressive, until you get your first electric bill. Buy a spa with the perfectly balanced ratio of quality jets to horsepower for a much better value. Beware: HP ratings are not yet standardized in the spa industry, so some manufacturers will greatly exaggerate their ratings and/or use made-up terms like “MRHP” (market rated horsepower). We read it as market rated hype, since some brands take a 1.5HP motor and call it 4HP, or a 2HP unit and label it 5HP.
HYPE: A powered air blower is a good feature. FACT: A powered air blower in an acrylic spa is a very bad idea. Although popular years ago, most good manufacturers have abandoned them. Blowers reappeared recently at some online sellers. Why? Again, they count the tiny air orifices as “jets” in their jet-count advertising. Air blower orifices can be sources of dangerous airborne mold and bacteria, since they can’t be effectively sanitized by the treated spa water. Blowers also rapidly cool down the spa, wasting large amounts of reheating energy. They are also loud, sounding like a vacuum cleaner. Quality-engineered acrylic spas have air-induction jets which mix air and water in the desired ratio without the need for a separate blower motor. The best spa designs draw ambient waste heat from the motor cavity for this purpose, further saving energy dollars.
HYPE: An ozonator will keep the water sanitary all by itself. FACT: Totally false. Ozone is a helper, and can oxidize some contaminants, but it will not replace spa sanitizers or keep the water clean by itself. If you’ve never owned a spa before, keep in mind that since the water is kept for 2 – 4 months, it is necessary to use a sanitizer system to keep it clear, clean, and odor-free, such as the Cleanwater Blue purifier system. If you buy your new spa, and the dealer does not include all of the necessary sanitizers and water balance chemicals, you’ll be in for an unpleasant surprise… a special trip to the local spa store to buy the required items. Bobs Intowne Spas provides a free professional startup kit with every hot tub sold, so you will save some serious dollars.
HYPE: Fully foamed spa cabinets are best. FACT: In reality, heat rises, and most of a spa’s heat loss is through the top cover, not the spa sides. (Just as in your home, most heat loss is through your attic, not the walls). Roto molded spas are typically fully-foamed to provide the needed structural support that type of spa cabinet requires. For acrylic spas, fully foamed cabinets are not the best approach to insulation. A far better solution for larger acrylic spas is to have an insulated shell and cabinet, with a dead air cavity in which waste heat from the pump motor is confined and recovered by air-induction jets. Dynasty Spas offer maximum energy efficiency.
A few spa outlets have been displaying a questionable star rating logo, similar to the representation pictured left. You may have seen it online.* To unsuspecting consumers, the emblem suggests spa quality or reliability comparisons. In fact it’s pure hype. The logo is actually provided by an Internet pool & spa supplies dealer, not a consumer’s research bureau, independent testing lab, or legitimate ratings reports provider. This company accepts advertising money from some manufacturers of spas, then awards them its so-called Best of Class endorsement. The criteria for star ratings it reports, if any, is not even disclosed. There are many factors consumers should consider when buying hot tubs, but this dubious and biased fake endorsement is certainly not one of them. Buyers beware.