Hot tubs or spa are everybody's envy and few body's proud possessions. If you are contemplating to join the privileged spa-owners' league, you will have to browse through the vast amounts of online information on brands, models, variants, features, options, and a million other studies.
Then, the marketing tug-of-war will be endless. Each brand will try to prevail upon you with endless self-praise, and that will lead to the classic dilemma of what you want and what you need.
The entire exercise could be overwhelming. That is why we thought of compiling the essential aspects of hot tub purchase here. This article will give you clarity and simplify your hot tub buying decision. Read on and get ready for your big-ticket purchase.
What Should You Keep In Mind Before Buying A Hot Tub?
Your focus should be on the three R's - Relax, Romance, and Rejuvenate. Here are the essentials:
Should You Buy Online?
The answer is, NO. Even before you begin exploring online information, promise yourself not to get carried away and make a purchase straight away on an online portal. The spa is like shoes, you have to try it out before buying. So, online is for study and short-listing, not for purchase right away.
How Many People Are You Buying the Hot Tub For?
Are you considering a family hot tub, an intimate escapade for two, or a "social" hot tub that morphs into garden spa parties? Decide the spa seat capacity you want and then explore your options.
Where Are You Planning to Accommodate Your Hot Tub?
Indoor or outdoor? This may sound too basic a consideration, but a vital one. Today, there are exclusive designs for indoor, patio, garden, lounge, backyard, and covered outdoors. It is important to first decide where you want your spa before you indulge in which type you want.
What Types of Hot Tubs Should You Consider?
These are the main type of hot tubs available:
They are the most sought-after hot tubs, for good reasons. The category offers one of the widest varieties in sizes, features, seating capacity, and of course, location settings. Being portable, these hot tubs could be in your patio this weekend if you are in an intimate mood, or in the garden next weekend for a spa party. Thus, they fit into the mass perception of an all-season hot tub for all reasons. And they are very durable and energy efficient.
What else could you ask for? Go for a portable hot tub if you want a multi-purpose, cost-effective model that fits your budget, moods, and mindset. Versatile, adaptable, and reliable are its defining characteristics.
Apart from relaxing, rejuvenating, or romancing, do you also want to exercise and get in shape in your hot tub? Then go for this type.
Being like mini-swimming pools, these hot tubs are large, heavy, and static. They will also call for privacy and restricted access. Hence, you will need to allot dedicated space for it, like an entire secluded section of your garden, or a separate room in your home.
Constructing a strong foundation and erecting visual barriers will add to the aggregate investment in this hot tub. Its running cost will also be high since heating large quantities of water will guzzle energy.
To look at it positively, though, you will own a swimming pool that is also a spa, rather than a spa that is a swimming pool. Choose one if you agree with this logic!
These are roto-molded plastic hot tubs, characterized by their extremely tough build and long life. Like all other molded items, they are relatively light-weight - usually weighing under 300 pounds, hence easily movable to different locations. And their contoured seats offer comfort in sitting as well as stretched posture.
A combination of these features makes molded hot tubs great for hydrotherapy, massage, and rejuvenation. All this, at a relatively high return on investment since molded hot tubs are also energy efficient.
On the flip side, these hot tubs are unattractive compared to the wood and other sleek designs. You will choose one if you prefer form, function, and cost-effectiveness over style statement.
These are recessed, custom-built hot tubs that are "dug into" your backyard or garden. They are elite and exclusive, synonymous with large secluded villas and estates.
A typical underground hot tub can be visualized as a mini aqua-blue water pool finished with Italian marble or imperial green granite, with potted plants along its peripheral border, and spacious landscaped garden surrounding it. And of course, it is tucked away in a secluded corner of a quaint villa.
Being elite and made-to-order, this hot tub has the choicest spa facilitators. If you are thinking of building one in your backyard, you will proudly flaunt its high construction and running costs. Cost-efficiency is not its intended purpose, right?
These are lay-flat polyester or laminated PVC hot tubs that can be inflated when needed. They are available in a wide range of fancy shapes and designs.
Inflatable hot tubs are in the convenience category. They don't cost the world but also don't offer many of the exclusive features of hot tubs. They don't have seats and they are relatively shallow, so you will just float in them.
A big disadvantage of inflatable hot tubs is that they can be easily punctured. A single thorn prick or an abrasive rock cut, and all your investment will go in vain. Or, the plastic could get damaged by hot water or direct UV rays. To balance it, you can always deflate it and carry it with you to the beach or in the jungle.
Choose an inflatable hot tub if you don't want to invest heavily in a permanent spa but prefer low-cost, temporary, and "disposable" variant. Or, if you are a traveler who wants the luxury of hot tubs wherever they go.
What Do You Need to Know About Hot Tub Jets?
The best spa jets use a balanced mix of air and water, which ensures optimal massage power - neither too strong nor too weak.
There are different types of jets that offer different types of therapeutic options and sensory experience.
Generally, larger jets are for larger muscles and they deliver gentler water-flow, while narrower jets are for targeted massage and offer a more intense type of massage.
For a soothing, relaxing massage choose rotating single pulse jets, soothing shower jets, or relaxing firm relief jets.
Rapid double pulse jets offer a medium pressure massage for for deep relaxation and stress relief.
For an intense, deep-tissue massage, powerful deep relief jets and target therapy jets will be your best choice.
If you want to make sure the tub has strong jets, look for one two pumps, each with high horsepower.
Remember that too many extra powerful jets can lead to low overall water pressure and unsatisfactory jet performance. Aim for variety.
What types of Insulation Are There For Hot Tubs?
Hot tubs being a water-based entertainment and therapeutic medium require proper insulation. Look for multi-layered, scientifically designed insulation and enjoy the following benefits:
- Your spa will last longer
- More enjoyable - It will retain heat for longer
- Cost-effective - Better insulation means lesser energy consumption, hence lower running cost.
These are the types of reliable insulations for hot tubs:
Partial foam. This insulation is applied on the external surfaces of the spa. The material could be rigid foam boards or foam spray. It prevents heat escaping through the walls of the spa. It also adds structural strength. Partial foam insulation is used widely because it is cost-effective and traps heat efficiently.
Full foam. This is the current industry standard. It involves foam-spraying the entire inner area of hot tubs. Its offers superior heat trapping than partial foam insulation with these benefits:
- Lesser energy consumption and running cost
- Enhances structural strength
- Reduces the impact of vibrations and other spa mechanisms on the inner body
- Reduces damage to plumbing and other fittings
Multi-density foam. While partial and full foam insulation is done with single density foam, this method applies foam of multiple densities to offer the most superior insulation. It is part of the premium ranges of hot tubs.
Reflective wrap. In this type of insulation, flexible plastic or other materials with a reflective surface are wrapped around the entire internal peripheral walls of hot tubs. It reflects heat into the spa. Reflective wraps can be applied on partial or full foam insulation to increase their efficiency.
Although optional, a spa cover is an important accessory with excellent insulation property. Look for the ASTM F1346 - 9 (2018) certification for ensured quality.
Note that some spas such as inflated varieties do not use insulation at all. Hence they are the costliest to run and maintain. Do you want to check them out? It is your choice.
What Are the Important Safety Features to Check in Hot Tubs?
We will break this down into two categories:
Check for these important North American certifications:
UL 1563. This is the safety standard for self-contained and field-installed spas and assemblies, blowers, and controls.
CSA c22 No.218-M89(R2006) for the overall safety of spas, hot tubs and associated equipment intended for residential and commercial use indoors and outdoors.
Hot tubs that you short-list should also have electrical circuit breakers to prevent mishaps.
Water safety and hygiene
Look for features such as:
Efficient water management. The water inlet and outlet systems should be proportionate and integral, meaning, both the amounts should be constant and equal.
Water filtration and sanitization. This should be an ongoing process so that your spa experience is as hygienic as pleasurable. Some advanced models also offer repetitive sanitization several times a day.
What Are the Important Control Panel Features of Hot Tubs?
The control panel is a spa's command center. These are some important functions you should be looking for:
Blower. This button regulates the air influx in the hot tub to offer you different sensory experiences such as bubble, whirl, swirl, and more.
Temperature control. Ensure that they have different settings. This is important for all-season usability of hot tubs as well as temperature variation during spa sessions. Along with temperature control, hot tubs should also have heat sensors and digital thermometers to tell you the exact water temperature.
LED settings. Lighting has become integral to modern spa experiences. The control panel must have different lighting settings. Advanced models also offer light-audio configuration for synchronized experiences.
Audio settings. Music is a spa mood enhancer.Ensure that the control panel offers efficient music control and different modes.
What are Some Final Points to Ponder before Choosing a Hot Tub?
You would have gathered a fair idea of hot tubs, their essentials, and types, from the above information. However, before making a final choice, remember these points:
Always keep child safety in mind. Whether family or gathering, children are likely to be part of the hot tub users. So, make sure that the one you buy has safety features such as children's access lock, first aid, and emergency kit around.
Prefer a shape that is broad in the middle. This will give you stretching width as well as convenience for static swimming.
Try out a full session before buying any hot tub. Understanding the need for a full-fledged demonstration, most retailers offer this facility. And to repeat our initial caution, never buy hot tubs online.
Ensure that the hot tub you buy is easy to maintain in terms of surface cleanliness and hygiene.
All said and done, hot tubs mix the two most dangerous elements - water and electricity. As final advice, we urge you to pay enough attention to electrical safety features of the model you are buying.
Hot tubs aka spas are aquatic indulgences. Make a prudent and safe choice, so you can indulge in the three R's - Relax, Romance, and Rejuvenate.