Thinking of buying a stand alone hot tub.

Arizonarob

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Mar 25, 2018
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Chandler Arizona
Alright boys-n-girls, my wife and I are discussing purchasing a hot tub, and I’d like some feedback from folks that have them.
I have very little (ok none) knowledge on these things, and I’d like to know what to get, and what to avoid?
I’m not about to listen to salespeople for advice, so what ever tips you can give me would be greatly appreciated! :cheers:
 

JoyfulNoise

TFP Expert
Platinum Supporter
May 23, 2015
16,258
Tucson, AZ
Don't be offended if the salesman says - "Might I suggest the XL Model for a man of your obvious....*stature* ..."

1. Stay away from bromine.
2. Ask if any of their models are "salt water compatible" as you can then use a drop-over or inline SWG.
3. UV is ok, ozone is useless unless you plan to have a bromine tub (see point #1)
4. If you have a choice of heater, titanium heaters are better than Incoloy and will last longer.
5. Ahh-some is your friend....use it to purge the plumbing as soon as it is setup and then dump the nasty purge water. You will be disgusted at what comes out of a "factory delivered" hot tub :sick:
6. Find a nice location on your patio, out of the sun and nearest your master bathroom....always SHOWER before you get in the tub....ok, for you, always shower should just be the default....
7. If you decide to hot tub sans pantalons we do not need to see ANY of those images....

Get some quotes and some features and post them up....
 
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Jimrahbe

Mod Squad
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Jul 7, 2014
15,910
Bedford, TX
Rob,

My wife and I bought a used, one owner, hot tub for about 10% of the original cost. That worked great for us, not sure if it would work for you..

In addition to what Matt has said, here are a couple of other thoughts.

AC power.. Most spas take a 50 or 60 amp sub panel located in the same general area as your Spa.. Need to factor in that cost...

Spa size.. I have a small 3 person (really 2 person) Spa.. Works great for us as we as we are not party people... Having only 200 gallons makes it easy to drain, refill, an heat.. The down side is that it is only 32" deep.. The depth is also an advantage, as you can just swing your leg over the side.. With a larger spa, you have to have stairs or a deck or some way to get in.. At least if you are old as dirt..

I added a simple "over the shoulder" SWCG.. It works great for me, but obviously if buying new you should get one with integral SWCG..

I have a SWCG pool and I would never have anything but a SWCG hot tub.. It makes spa care as simple as pool care.

Most new Spas come with more "magic" sanitizing systems than Harry Houdini... I would not listen to anything the sales person says..

We use our spa almost every night. We only stay in 30 to 45 minutes, so not much of a bather load. One good thing is that it is ready instantly... Take off the lid and jump in.

I expected a huge increase in our electrical bill and to our surprise, we only saw maybe an increase of $10 to $15 bucks a month.. The spa stays hot 24/7.. It has an insulated top of course. Taking the top off of mine is pretty easy because the spa is small.. With a bigger Spa you will need a cover "helper"...

I highly recommend having a spa.. The one I have is a Caldera, which they say is one of the good brands.. Then again, none of say "we are the bad brands.." :mrgreen:

Thanks,

Jim R.
 

Newdude

Well-known member
Jun 16, 2019
1,972
NY
If you want a proper hot tub experience, get a full 220v tub. We bought a 'starter tub' by dreammaker. It was an afterthought of the pool build and not worked into the budget which was already way over. Its 6 person acrylic tub that doesnt have nearly the amount of jets/bells/whistles. It was also half the price of the $12k tubs. Told myself if we used it all the time i would get a full blown tub in a few years. It is 110v which i figured would save a bunch of electric costs. It can either heat itself, or run the jets. It cannot do both. Once the jets come on the temperature starts dropping. On cold nights you might only get one 15 min soak before the temperature is in the 80s. Also the few jets i have dont have alot of ooomph. Its like being hit with 4 garden hoses (no nozzles) in the back.

I'm 50/50 on whether i didnt like the hot tub because it only had 4 jets per seat and no power, or i woulda gotten bored of a big tub also. Either way my experiment that didnt work out saved me thousands.
 

Arizonarob

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Mar 25, 2018
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Chandler Arizona
Thanks guys, all good stuff.

Don't be offended if the salesman says - "Might I suggest the XL Model for a man of your obvious....*stature* ..."
That’s a given. At 6’4” 300lbs I need a tub with room.
I went tire kicking a few weeks ago, and I’m leaning towards a 6 to 8 person tub with a lounger built in. It’s only my wife and I that will be using it, but when family comes in I need room for everyone.
1. Stay away from bromine.
Why? I was reading up on the bromine spa, and thought it looked like the more popular choice.
4. If you have a choice of heater, titanium heaters are better than Incoloy and will last longer.
What’s an Incoloy heater?
7. If you decide to hot tub sans pantalons we do not need to see ANY of those images....
I’ll send you some “special” selfies of the tub. ;)

AC power.. Most spas take a 50 or 60 amp sub panel located in the same general area as your Spa.. Need to factor in that cost...
Jim, yeah I’m going to have to have a line pulled to the rear with its own panel. I’m planning on having a pad poured to place the tub, and bolt down a pergola.
I added a simple "over the shoulder" SWCG.. It works great for me, but obviously if buying new you should get one with integral SWCG..
I remember seeing your portable SWG, pretty cool, but I like the idea of one being built in.
So this poses some questions.
1. Which way is better as far a serviceability, and how often do they need to be cleaned?
2. Are the built in ones easily replaceable when needed?

If you want a proper hot tub experience, get a full 220v tub. We bought a 'starter tub' by dreammaker. It was an afterthought of the pool build and not worked into the budget which was already way over. Its 6 person acrylic tub t
I had looked at the 110v version “thinking” it would be a saver on electricity, but there is no difference in consumption. And quickly found out it just doesn’t have the features we’re looking for. So it’s definitely going to be a 220v.

——————————————————————-

So are there any brands that are better then others? Or are they all pretty much the same?

As far as interior finishes are concerned, is there anything to avoid?

Exterior, anything better suited for ease of accessibility to equipment for repairs?
 

joecooler

Well-known member
Jan 13, 2019
123
Longmont, CO
FWIW, I bought a new spa last November, and I really thought I wanted a build-in lounger - ah, stretch out in my new hot tub and luxuriate! Turns out, not so much. Problem is, the lounge sits pretty high in the water, so my chest and belly are not under water. Not a big deal this time of year but in the winter I really want the full submersion affect! Also, because of where I located the tub and how I had to orient it because of power routing, the lounger wound up being in the spot where you'd really want a couple of seats, for the best view. For my next tub I will be skipping the lounger and just getting a bunch of seats. More flexible and more room for friends.
 
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Bosley

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Nov 23, 2018
203
Edmonton, alberta
Rob, we have had our hot tub for 7 years. 2 pumps, 65 jets, water falls...All the bells and whistles except TV. The water fall never gets used, the stereo never gets used. If we want music we use a bluetooth speaker, With the built in stereo the speakers are right behind your head and you cant hear nuttin! the jets dont get used alot but when I need them i am glad I have them. Get a cover lifter. Makes life a whole lot easier to take the cover off. we use ours alot. Even at 40 below. As Joecooler said about the lounger, we dont use ours much. I have a favorite seat and so does the wife. Wish I had a SWCG :(
 
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JoyfulNoise

TFP Expert
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May 23, 2015
16,258
Tucson, AZ
Why? I was reading up on the bromine spa, and thought it looked like the more popular choice.
Bromine is very popular in hot tubs because there's lots of expensive chemicals the tub shops get to sell you. There's really not much advantage of bromine over chlorine and some people are actually allergic to bromine. If the tub has an ozone generator, then that can be used to regenerate spent bromide into bromine BUT the ozone systems fail pretty quickly and you literally have no way of knowing if it's working or not.

You can certainly try bromine out, there's a sticky on how to use bromine in the hot tub sub-forum, but a majority of TFP'ers prefer the dichlor-then-bleach method as it's easier to understand and you can use the test kit you have to get all the info you need.

What’s an Incoloy heater?
Incoloy is a metal alloy of iron, nickel and chromium (with cobalt in some grades). It's called a "superalloy" and it's often used in heaters in chemically corrosive environments. Titanium metal is another choice for the heater element. Titanium is much more chemically inert than either Incoloy or stainless steel. Some hot tubs use cheap steel heating elements that are coated with Teflon...those are junk too.

I’ll send you some “special” selfies of the tub. ;)
If you do, I will summon all of my Photoshop skills and bomb the internet with my creations.....you will be famous, but not in a good way.....:devilish:
 
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Arizonarob

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Mar 25, 2018
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the lounger wound up being in the spot where you'd really want a couple of seats, for the best view.
With the built in stereo the speakers are right behind your head and you cant hear nuttin!
Ahhh, now see, excellent advice guys!! I would have never have thought about the orientation of the lounger in regards to the placement of the tub. And I certainly wouldn’t have noticed the downside to speaker placement till it was to late!
This is why I love this forum!!! :cheers:
 

BMK

Bronze Supporter
Mar 29, 2016
375
SW PA
My wife couldnt even use the lounger in our first tub...she kept floating out of it!
So i'd also recommend skipping the lounger and built in music. Those are things that seem cool when you buy your first spa. You rarely want them when you buy your second one. With spas, like boats and motorcycles, you'll be money ahead if you just buy your second one first!
 

joecooler

Well-known member
Jan 13, 2019
123
Longmont, CO
Rob, we have had our hot tub for 7 years. 2 pumps, 65 jets, water falls...All the bells and whistles except TV. The water fall never gets used, the stereo never gets used. If we want music we use a bluetooth speaker, With the built in stereo the speakers are right behind your head and you cant hear nuttin! the jets dont get used alot but when I need them i am glad I have them. Get a cover lifter. Makes life a whole lot easier to take the cover off. we use ours alot. Even at 40 below. As Joecooler said about the lounger, we dont use ours much. I have a favorite seat and so does the wife. Wish I had a SWCG :(
Why not get an after-market SWG? I got the SmarterSpa, a bit spendy, but man am I loving it. My first fill I was constantly having to fuss w/the chems, check balance, etc, and still the water got cloudy and never totally cleared up. W/the SWG I hardly do a thing and the water stays crystal clear! Totally worth the investment!
 

Bosley

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Nov 23, 2018
203
Edmonton, alberta
Why not get an after-market SWG? I got the SmarterSpa, a bit spendy, but man am I loving it. My first fill I was constantly having to fuss w/the chems, check balance, etc, and still the water got cloudy and never totally cleared up. W/the SWG I hardly do a thing and the water stays crystal clear! Totally worth the investment!
Need to get off my wallet and it’s on the low end of things we need. Hoping next year