Looking for hot tub/spa recommendations


Old 10-30-04, 09:44 PM
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Looking for hot tub/spa recommendations

After numerous spinal surgeries, I'm considering getting a hot tub/spa to hopefully provide some pain relief. The tub will be outside but on a covered brick patio. I live in western Kentucky but want to use the tub all winter. The only reputable dealer nearby recommends Sundance but I've also looked at Jacuzzi and Thermospas.

Would anyone pass on recent brand/model/dealer experience or recommend other forums where I can see owners' experiences and recommendations?

Thanks for any help, Ken
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Old 10-31-04, 06:12 AM
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Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: NC, USA
Posts: 18,586
My Hot Springs Soverign was made in 1992 and it is still going strong. My spa has been moved four times (bumped, dropped, bounced down the road...) and still no leaks. Hot Springs is not the cheapest by any shot, but I wanted a spa that would last and be economical to operate.

When I was shopping for the spa, here were some of my thoughts:

Tub material: I did not want a spa made of fiberglass or acrylic and nothing smooth & glossy. The cheaper spas were glass and acrylic and had not seen any that looked good a few years later. They also seemed to crack more often, so I was looking for a "plastic" interior that could flex a bit without cracking.

Insulation: I did not like the spas that had fiberglass batts or pillows. It seemed as though animals & insects would get in and there were many gaps for heat to escape. I really liked the solid foam where they shoot foam between the tub and cabinet. It fills every nook & cranny and gives continuous support to the tub and plumbing and provides better energy savings.

Pumps & Filtration: When I bought the spa I was big into saltwater reef acquariums so I felt like a self taught filtration expert... I really liked the idea of filtering the water continuously just like my acquariums, so I only considered spas that had a small filtration pump that runs continuously and has a large pump you only use when running the jets. I also looked for a lot of filtration area. Some spas seemed really inadequate forcing their 2 or 3 hp motor to suck water through a single cartridge.

Seating & Interior: Early on I realized that I did not like the very contoured interiors, the ones with seriously molded seats and loungers. I did not want to be forced to sit in "their" positions. In the water you are mostly floating so a full La-Z-Boy recliner is not required. I like a more general, open type of seating. Long bench type seats at different elevations have worked well.

Jets: When shopping I thought I had to have everything (big jets, small jets, spinny things, up/down things...). In the long run, I don't use the jets that much. The spa is indoors, so I watch a DVD, read a book, or eat dinner (yes, I have a floating tray). The jets are nice for parties, but any jet system is noisy and splashes a bit. I spend more time just relaxing in the calm water.

So, after 12 years:
I will never have a spa outside. I have a bad back & knees (all those things that healed in high school & college have come back to haunt me) and I use the spa very often, summer and winter. Going outside when it is 34 degrees and raining really takes the fun out of it. Inside I don't have to "make time" to use it. I can do what I normally would do; eat dinner, or watch TV and soak at the same time.

When you are deep in the water, your body temp qickly matches the water temp. I keep the spa set at 97 in the summer and 99 in the winter. Many hotels have theirs set at 105 - 110 so you have to get out after 5 - 10 minutes. There is practically no chance of heat stroke or passing out witht the lower temps and you can stay in the water indefinitely (gotta get out for the bathroom and get more beer). In the summer the water feels warm when you get in, but your body cools to 97 and you actually feel a bit cool after a while. In the winter, the 98-99 feels very warm and you feel a bit hot after half an hour.

I started out with chlorine then tried bromine. So far my favorite is ozone and silver ion with a once a week shock treatment. I only add the shock once a week so maintenance is a minimum and there is no smell, no taste to the water, no burning eyes, no itchy skin...

Energy usage:
Since my spa is inside it is almost impossible to notice it on my power bill, so I'd say it uses less than $5 of electricty a month.

Oh, get a nice cover and a cover lift. The larger covers are a lot to handle. A good cover lift (about $150-$200) makes removing the cover an effortless one handed operation.
Old 10-31-04, 06:43 PM
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 344
I worked in the service department of a pool and spa retailer, we used to joke that we all learned two things:

Don't buy any pool.

Don't buy a Cal Spa (we sold them )

Oh, and none of us would have anything to do with vent-free fireplaces, also.
Old 11-02-04, 05:52 AM
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Thanks for the replies ...

Unfortunately the only Hot Springs dealers within 50 miles of here are terrible contractors. I think I'll keep looking for a Hot Springs dealer after all of the research that PilotDane did on this line. I've also heard bad things about Cal Spas so they are out. For better or worse, some of my "research" has been to read reviews at ePinions.com. Even though Thermospas products look and sound good, their reviews are very bad. The other line that has a good local dealer is the Sundance spa but their reviews are also bad.

Still looking ...

Thanks again, Ken
Old 11-02-04, 06:57 PM
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Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: NC, USA
Posts: 18,586
Here is a bit of my history with my Hot Springs. It was a demo in the dealers showroom, so it was a year old before I brought it home and I have not lived within 50 miles of a dealer for the past 8 years. The spa has been filled with water and running continuously for all but about 6 months during one move.

While it was under warranty Hot Springs installed a stiffener in the filter chamber. Out of warranty I've replaced about $100+ of parts (some Hot Springs brand, most were not) and my most recent purchase was a plastic knob for $1.50 (without postage). I am quite pleased that after so many years I can still get parts. The original Hot Springs cover lasted about 8 years (indoors)(I think the chlorine killed it)(It still worked but was brittle and cracking).

If/when this spa ever dies I will go through the whole shopping process again, but Hot Springs will start out at the top of my list.

Oh, and the original light bulb is still working. Go figure???
Old 12-28-04, 05:55 PM
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: So. Calif.
Posts: 540
Hot Springs Spas and Deminsion 1 are the only 2 Spas that I know of that have full polyurethane insulation .

full size sta-rite swimming pool pumps not down sized units like most other spas, they may be 5.0 hp but ill take the sta-rite 1.5 - 2.0 hp anytime.

Id suggest drive the 50 75 150 miles if necessary an but the dependably Hot Spring Spa.

when I had the spa store [ Arizona we were selling apx 100 spa per yr. Sundance, Gerico, Marlin, Hot Springs, Jacuzzi and worked on all other brands as well ,

Hot Springs for me { no Im not a shareholder , whish i was ]

lol steve
Old 12-28-04, 06:04 PM
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: PA
Posts: 1,854

great site...sorry you have such few dealers near you...i love my coleman (maxx in Arizona actually)
Old 01-03-05, 05:19 PM
thomas kramer
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As you see i live in milwaukee wisconsin farther north and much colder.........full foamspas are cheaper to run.........but are going to cost you a thousand dollars to fix a leak due to the fact that you must dig all the foam out to chace the leak down!
there are many dealers in town and looked for tubs for about , priced from 2k to 10k. a year and spoke to alot of owners, found a new guy in town went to his house (home) looked at his tubs did a .com search for gulf coast spas and found them to be a 5 star co. they have a good warnt.and good service ,the tub i purchased was comparable to some of the 8-10 k tubs i looked at.
I payed $4700.00. I did have a problem with it and they replaced the whole tub with in a week.......... ALL SMILES HERE again its Gulf Coast Spas in Fla.

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