Hot Tub Gimmicks and How To Avoid Them
Greetings! We here at Prestige Pools and Spas strive to be a source of information for all things swimming pool and hot tub related. As a part of the education process, we try to cut through information that is laced with nonsensical "buzzwords" and double-speak that can be confusing, misleading or downright false. Below are some of the features that tend to be the most over-sold aspects, or things that are purposefully vague, or somehow presented as they are differentiated between brands when there really are no differences at all...
Spa Blowout Sales
First thing to be very aware of in the hot tub industry are spa blowout sales. These sound like the ideal place to pick up the best deal on a new hot tub, right? Wrong, they are probably the worst experience for a potential hot tub owner to purchase at for several reasons most of which are listed in this article by the Better Business Bureau of Nashville Tennessee. Link to article. In short, pushy sales people, a lack of choices on spa models & colors, pricing that is severely marked up and then discounted, and a lack of support after the sale. They may also make it sound like you can shop several vendors at once by attending the sale, but in reality it is just one brand sold by one company that you are shopping.
Ozonators have become commonplace in today's hot tub market. In its most basic form, the function of an ozonator is to produce an enriched form of oxygen (O3) that is injected into the water supply, killing organic matter (bacteria, algae, etc), reducing your overall need for sanitizing chemicals by about 20%.
The two most common types of ozone generators are Ultraviolet (UV) and Corona Discharge (CD). The names reflect the method in which they generate ozone. UV ozonators (which only sterilize bacteria) have a lifespan of 6 to 12 months before the bulb burns out, whereas CD ozonators (which actually kill the bacteria) last 24 to 36 months and before the chip needs to be replaced. Replacement UV Bulbs can cost you anywhere from $50 - $150 per bulb, and a replacement CD ozone unit tends to price between $100 and $150 for a good model. When that happens- regardless of which type of ozonator your hot tub is outfitted with- most people do not realized their ozonator has stopped working, nor that parts need to be replaced.
This is important as many salespeople will exaggerate the sanitizing capabilities of an ozonator in order to stress how easy their brand of spas are to maintain. Price and quality of your hot tub is irrelevant when it comes to water chemistry: You will need to learn it and their is no way around it. We promise you that there is no ozone, special filtration system or gimmicks that will allow you to not have to balance your spa's water chemistry.
Every hot tub will have a filtration system that uses polyester-based cartridges (similar to an air filter in a car) to help capture suspended impurities. The size, length, width and number will almost certainly vary between hot tub brands. It is true that there can be variations in a cartridge's ability to filter but in all there isn't too large of a difference to sway you to choose a tub based on its filtration system and technique.
Consider: As noted above, water chemistry is the primary reason your water stays clean and clear. As with an ozonator, the filtration system can help with the cleanliness of your water. But it should never be positioned as the main reason your water stays clean and should never be presented that it will reduce the amount of sanitizers you'll have to use.
Ever wonder why so many brands have shell colors that are the same or similar to each other? The secret is there are 2 major acrylic shell suppliers to the industry, so in essence hot tub
Smaller manufacturers withstanding, most major brands not only buy from these two suppliers but they also have similar shell warranties: A shell structure warranty and a shell surface warranty. Most shell structure warranties run from 10 years to lifetime, and most shell surface warranties run 3 to 7 years.
In all, its extremely rare that a spa shell will crack. In the last 15 years Prestige Pools and Spas has only had one spa shell fail on a customer and we replaced the spa, no questions asked.
Motors & Jets
Hot tub motors range in horsepower and quantity. Dual motors tend to be the most common set up on mid-range to high end spas, but smaller tubs (based on water volume) preform just fine with a single motor.
Horsepower is generally measured two ways: Brake and rated. Brake horsepower (BHP) denotes the initial speed used when the motor is activated. This measurement is temporary as once the water is moving the motor throttles down to a lesser speed. This is the rated horsepower.
Whichever unit of measurement you use, motor size and quantity tell only half the story. The number of jets, their size, ability to move water and the plumbing connecting everything together all play into how well the water flows.
When motors are placed together on one side of the spa the tub is likely to have longer amounts of plumbing. Hot tubs with numerous diverter valves create bends in the plumbing that will slow down the flow rate. A high number of jets can be detrimental to the flow rate as well if not backed by either dual larger horse-powered motors or 3-5 smaller motors.
So when you consider the number of jets in a tub, understand that the number of jets doesn't really tell you anything about the feel and experience the hot tub will provide.
"I want something that is chemical-free." Sorry- But no such thing exists. Every hot tub requires a sanitizer as a part of its upkeep and needs adjustments to both pH and Alkalinity. Even salt systems produce chemicals to sanitize, whether it be chlorine or sodium bromide. Do not be be fooled by the salesperson who tells you your hot tub will be maintenance-free. (Check out our blog on water chemistry here.)
However, water chemistry is not an arduous process. You can monitor the water taking up only a few minutes of your time each week. Additionally- Many sanitizers on the market are very mild and virtually unnoticeable. So you're in luck if you're trying to stay away from a traditional sanitizer like chlorine.
Haggling is becoming more & more antiquated. Customers know that there is a price they are willing to pay, and salespeople know that there is a price they're willing to accept. If you're having to pay extra for this or that (ex. steps, cover, cover lift) then you are not really getting a deal. Many dealers will advertise spas starting at $2995. This sounds great, but then when you get to the store your salesperson will start adding on to the cost of a spa “Oh you want a cover with the spa too? Well that will add $400 to the price". Our recommendation if this happens is to just leave, if this dealer can’t be up front with pricing what else are they hiding?
Make sure you read the fine print inherent in some warranties. Some companies will boast a 5 year or longer warranty on their spa, but if you check the “fine print” on these warranties you may find that they are pro-rated warranties. In case you are not familiar with a pro-rated warranty here is an example: Salesperson tells you the spa has a 5 year warranty on the plumbing & equipment, but when you read the warranty you find that only the first 2 years of the warranty is 100% covered after year 2 you are responsible for 100% of the labor and 60% of the parts in year 3. These types of warranties will get worse as the spa gets older and you become responsible for more and more of the costs.
Our showroom salespeople have over a combined 40 years of experience in the industry. Feel free to ask us about the points made above or anything else you may pertaining to new hot tub sales or anything swimming pool or hot tub related. Thanks for reading!