For many consumers buying a spa is a life changing event. It is an event often accompanied by stress, when the intention is to alleviate it. There are so many producers of spas, so many sizes and models, prices and quality levels. Making it more complicated is that many spas look and feel virtually identical, even though they are not. Adding further to the confusion some manufacturers use different names to describe similar features in an attempt to make their products appear distinctive. When confronted with so many choices, consumers often become overwhelmed. This guide will help you make a more informed decision about purchasing a spa by providing you with some basic facts. After reading this guide you will be well on your way to selecting the spa that is right for you, both practically and aesthetically.
How do I keep the water clean?
Proper water maintenance is vital to the enjoyment of your spa. While some sales people will try to convince you they can sell you a chemical free spa; that is not a practical option for truly clean water. Professional retailers and manufacturers most often recommend: Choosing a spa with an advanced filtration system, purchasing an optional ozone purifier with your spa and using mineral purifiers in conjunction with chemical-based sanitisers. These minerals can significantly reduce the amount of chemicals such as chlorine. Maintenance procedures are not difficult, and knowledgeable retailers will provide the start-up kit and instructions you need. Manufacturers recommend draining and cleaning your spa 3 or 4 times per year, depending on how frequently you use it and how well you maintain your water. In most cases this simple process will only take about an hour to accomplish.
How many of the spa’s jets are adjustable?
Real, beneficial hydrotherapy is directly related to being able to adjust each jet where it is needed. This is the standard by which physical therapy and athletic hydrotherapy systems are judged. A common point of consumer confusion is introduced when manufacturers load up a spa with lots of inexpensive, non-adjustable, stationary jets. Look for advanced jets that feature in- built durability such as bearingless technology, which oscillates with no moving parts and so will not wear out. It doesn’t make any difference how many jets a spa has if they are not properly located and plumbed to provide the correct balance of water, air and horsepower.
Is the spa full foam insulated?
All major manufacturers agree that completely filling the spa cabinet with polyurethane foam insulation significantly reduces heat loss, thus reducing heating costs. While this process adds to the cost of manufacturing, research has shown that full foam insulation provides substantial savings to the spa owner over time. In addition to greater energy efficiency full foam insulation locks the spa plumbing in place to support the joints when stressed as the jet pumps are turned on and off over time. Some manufacturers eliminate full foam insulation in an attempt to provide product at a lower cost.
How expensive is it to operate a spa?
The main cost of operating a spa is heating the water. If you have a full foam insulated spa with an insulated locking cover, the average daily cost is less than the price of a small bottle of water. In addition to the energy cost consumers should look carefully at the total cost of ownership. An advanced filtration system in conjunction with ozone will significantly reduce chemical expenses. Bearingless jets will not wear and need replacing. Also look for time saving features to reduce time spent on maintenance, thus increasing the enjoyment of your spa.
What do I need to know about horsepower?
Efficient plumbing, better jets, and flow control are more important than horsepower. A lower horsepower pump in an efficient spa will produce just as much jet power as a higher horsepower pump in an inefficient spa. Many manufacturers use oversized, high horsepower pumps to compensate for poor design. Other companies employ a more cost and energy efficient system to achieve the same ends.
How is the water temperature controlled?
Most quality spas have sophisticated digital thermostatic controls. These highly reliable modern systems are capable of keeping the spa water within 1 degree of any temperature you select. While this is important for comfort, it is also important for safety. You should pay particular attention to the control system if you have children who will be using the spa. Better control systems have safety locks and digital readouts combined with automatic cut off should there be any obstruction to water flow. A good indicator of the control system’s quality is to read and compare manufacturers’ warranties.
Is the spa installed indoors or outdoors?
A spa can be installed indoors or outdoors, although over 90% are installed outdoors. The two main considerations for installing a spa indoors are: will it fit through the door, and is the structural strength of the flooring adequate? Most importantly an indoor spa must have adequate and substantial ventilation. A typical 3-person spa weighs approximately 1,150 Kg when filled. The recommended foundations are: concrete pad of 75mm or thicker; or wood decking with a concrete foundation.
What should I consider for the control panel?
Not every spa control panel has the same ease of command, so test a control panel to verify it gives you the type of precision control you desire to fully enjoy your spa experience.
Will I have to install plumbing for my new spa?
No. All above-ground portable spas are filled with water using a garden hose. Check the spa can be conveniently and easily emptied.
Do I choose a synthetic or wood cabinet?
All cabinets used to be wood. A recent development in the spa industry is synthetic wood cabinets, which are now provided by many top-notch spa manufacturers. This product extends the “new look” of a spas surround, and eliminates the maintenance associated with wood cabinets. Synthetic wood cabinets are durable and UV-resistant, providing your spa with exquisite beauty for years to come.
What about the warranty?
This is one of the most crucial areas in the spa industry. Here are a few simple rules to keep in mind: A product warranty is a performance and reliability agreement between you and the manufacturer. Avoid spa manufacturers who add prorated and deductible provisions. Make sure you read the manufacturers warranty before buying, and compare coverage with other spas you are considering. Most quality spas will have at least 2-5 year warranties on parts, plumbing and labour without any service call charges.
What do I need to consider before purchasing a spa?
Consider “wet testing” a spa before purchasing. This means getting into a spa with water in it. All reputable spa dealers maintain filled demonstration models just for this purpose. Look for and verify that the seats provide lumbar support. When sitting in any seat, the water should reach at least shoulder level. If it does not, you will not get full hydrotherapeutic value. Lean your head back against the pillows. Make sure you do not have to hyperextend your neck to rest your head. If the spa has a lounge seat, make sure it is deep enough to keep you in the seat. Take notice of the alignment of jets with your muscles. Make sure they are massaging muscle tissue and not your spine. How convenient are the controls to use when you are seated in the spa? Stay in the spa with the jets on for at least 15 minutes. At the end of that time you will know whether the seating and jet arrangements are truly comfortable.
How much should I spend on a spa?
Quality spas are available in a wide range of prices. Just like cars, spa prices reflect features, materials and workmanship. The information in this consumer guide will help you determine the best spa for your needs based on value and performance. No matter which brand of spa you finally choose, we want you to be an informed consumer and have a satisfying spa experience.