This generation is truly the “Hot Tub Generation.” Although hot tubs (or Spas) have been around for thousands of years (Roman Baths), it’s the advent of the portable spa that has allowed the industry to blossom. As the baby boomers age and suffer from sore muscles, migraines, arthritis and other age-related problems the portable hot tub have become a godsend -a soothing, private oasis.
The younger generation has also jumped in with both feet. Instead of the old-time pool parties, this generation is into “tubbing” or “tub parties.” The reasons are simple; a hot tub is a lot of fun! Tubs are very affordable and you can place them almost anywhere. If you have a small backyard or even if you live in a townhouse, a hot tub will fit. They’re designed to sit right on top of a patio or deck. The only preparation required is a solid foundation and electrical power.
Why buy a hot tub? A tub is today’s smart stress solution. It’s like having your own private resort – a place to unwind and eliminate the stresses and the tensions of today’s world- an hour in a hot tub before bedtime and you’re guaranteed to sleep like a baby. It’s also an excellent vehicle for conversation with friends and family.
But what goes into a well-made hot tub? Like almost every product on the market today, tubs come in different qualities.
Let’s first start with the structure that holds the water – the hot tub shell. The industry standard is cost acrylic backed with layers of fiberglass. About 90% of the tubs are made with this smooth comfortable finish that looks great and is easy to maintain.
Because the fiberglass is glued on, it’s subject to blistering, cracking and delaminating. A tub shell that blisters or delaminates is very difficult and expensive to repair.
This shell usually comes with the manufacturer’s limited warranty, which means if it ever fails after a set time, you’ll have to pay to have it repaired.
A far superior shell material available on better built spas is trimatrix cast acrylic otherwise known as #180 acrylic.
This shell is the Rolls Royce of spa structures. The shell is fabricated from cast acrylic and high impact thermoplastic. These materials are permanently bonded together (not glued) producing a shell twice as thick and several times stronger than the standard.
This material gives you the best of both worlds – surface beauty and long life with a resilient material that will never crack or delaminate. The spa shell usually comes with a non-prorated lifetime guarantee.
The Plumbing Method
The second item that determines the quality of a hot tub is the plumbing method. A common, inexpensive method is the standard loop. This method, however, produces uneven water flow to the jets. The jet closest to the pump gets the most hydrotherapy action and the furthest gets less.
A superior method is the manifold system. With this method, the hot tub user may sit in front of any seal in the spa and gel the some hydro massage as the seat closest to the pump.
Pumps and Heater
The pumps and power equipment con also have a bearing on a hot tub’s performance. Every tub comes with at least one pump, a heater and the touch pod to control it all. Here again, all tubs are not created equal.
A lot of spa manufactures use inexpensive 48 frame motors. This motor is probably the industry standard because of its low cost. A far superior motor is the 56 frame switchless model. This pump is quieter, runs cooler and is much more energy efficient. Its lifespan can be measured in decades rather than hundreds of hours. (Beware of dealers who advertise that their hot tubs stay warm without a heater. They will then try to sell you a hot tub with a heater!)
Every hot tub needs a heater. The average cost to run a well Insulated hot tub, as most are, is about $15 per month, providing you keep it covered when not in use. Most of the heat loss is through the top.
So you can enjoy your hot tub and not have to work maintaining it, look for a tub with a non-wood frame and base that will never rot, get mold or mildew.
Water Purification Systems
Last on the must-have list is the new, automated water purification systems available from the better spa manufacturers. This system uses charged oxygen to kill bacteria, viruses, mold and mildew. It keeps water sparkling clean and fresh and drastically reduces the need for conventional sanitizers such as chlorine or bromine.
There are hot tubs available today to fit almost any budget or lifestyle. Just make sure you get the best deal with the above important features. Don’t just buy a hot tub because it looks slick-like a vehicle, always check under the hood for quality.