All too often I am asked, "Which brand of spa
should I buy?", or "What's the best spa?". Realistically, this isn't a fair
question, because there are too many GOOD spas on the market, and with the amount of money to be
spent being the biggest concern of the consumer, it can be very confusing to
If you are looking for a relatively
inexpensive NEW spa, then shop at your local building supply center (Home Depot, Lowes, etc.), as
these stores will carry a good-quality spa at a good price, typically between $1500 and
$2300. Just remember that at this price range and dealer type, maintenance and repairs will
typically fall to non-traditional warranty service centers, and may require you to pay upfront for
the warranty repair. You should also expect to arrange for delivery, setup, and electrical
hookup on your own. This is not always the case, but it is an issue that should be considered.
I've seen customers that are perfectly happy with their 5-jet
Morgan spa with a single 1.5 horsepower pump, a single button control, and a blower. (Then again,
these owners would be shocked at what is available today! Many retailers have trade-in
programs, and for those that don't, your old spa can be sold or given to a friend, relative,
When visiting showrooms, do not be afraid to get in the spas
and see how you fit, and how much room there really is.
If you honestly want to make the buying decision based on
logical and not emotional reasons, then the following points should help. Please understand that
these are from a service technician's perspective, and are strictly the author's
- Look at the base support and the skirt construction. It
should have wooden supporting members constructed of 2x4 or 2x2's, or, in other cases, full foam
insulation to provide complete support and integrity of the spa shell, plumbing and skirt. This
skirt, if wood, will most likely be a thin tongue and groove type, which is okay, provided that the
supporting structure or foam is there.
- Look at the equipment compartment. Are the pumps, control
system, blower,ozonator, etc., easy to get to? This is a primary concern when paying for service
say 3 to 5 years later.
- Does the spa offer the latest and greatest in
technological advances? Compare ALL major manufacturers to see what you would like to have
before making a purchase! I mean, with prices being so close to each other--manufacturer to
manufacturer-- you've got to really develop your own opinion here!
- Pumps and Blowers. Ignore horsepower ratings, as they can
When selecting any particular
make or model of spa, the key thing to remember is that no reputable manufacturer will build
a spa with weak jets. So, what you should really be considering is
- The number of jets. In my opinion, the more the better.
It makes life in the tub more fun and relaxing. And that's why you're buying the spa, right? I
personally prefer a minimum of 12 to 16 jets, with a "hot seat" that is designed for
maximum therapy, with 6 to 12 jets dedicated to it alone. Neck jets and massagers are really a
- Whirlpool jets. These are large jets that are usually
positioned out of the way of the seating area and are designed to create a large rushing water
effect at the perimeter of the tub, like a big whirlpool. Usually, there are shut-off/adjustment
valves for this jet because it takes so much water flow to make it operate that no other jets will
work when it is turned on. This is normal, and okay. On deluxe-model spas, there will usually be
one of these types of jets, which is all that is needed. I like whirlpool jets, and they can be an
added benefit for the owner.
- Volcano jets. Large jets that are positioned at the
bottom of the tub for quite an awesome water effect..
- What type of power source is required? In any case,
you will need to run dedicated power from the circuit breaker box in your home to avoid overloading
other circuits. This expense can be in excess of $300 plus the cost of the GFCI that should be
installed. But don't be fooled by a 110-volt spa though! Even with these, the expense of
running a dedicated line is almost the same!!! So whether you decide on a 110 or 220 volt
spa, be sure that you don't overlook the safety and security of running a dedicated power
- Where is your spa going to go? If you've got an
excessively elevated deck with limited access and a narrow stair case, you can expect to have to
hire a crane to get it properly placed. This will usually cost between $60-100 per hour with a
3-hour minimum (it takes about 1 hour on site to get it done).
- Some spa retailers will be combined with deck-building
and design firms, which offer quite a unique combination to give you the best of all worlds.
Typically, in this instance you will be more satisfied with your installation, and the builder will
stand behind not only the deck, but the spa as well. Be sure to choose a reputable company
that doesn't cut corners, and has a solid reputation and good references for building