Outdoor Hot Tub

What to Look For Esthetically & Technically in a Spa

An outdoor hot tub is essentially a party waiting to happen and a party in a box. The middle of winter your invitations go out and almost no one cancels. It feels great to be out under the stars, in luxurious warmth, with great friends and family. The perfect winter’s eve with steam all around. So, if you’re thinking about purchasing an outdoor hot tub you need to consider the following:

The Esthetics:

  • The Shell: do you want one made from acrylic, wood, thermoplastic, tile, vinyl or fiberglass? Acrylic is popular due to it’s versatility in color and texture.
  • The Mold: how many seats do you need and what levels would like them? Usually two to ten people is the norm for prefabricated hot tubs. Do you want bucket seats, possibly benches or perhaps lounges?
  • The Décor: Will the hot tub blend with your environment? Will the size fit your yard or will your rose garden be dwarfed by it?
  • The Convenience: Can you get a hot tub into your backyard or will you need a crane? They weigh on average (low end) about 800 pounds without water. If you place the hot tub too far away from the house you have two issues to consider. Can you get electricity or water to the location (there are wood burning hot tubs) and do you want to walk that freezing walk back to the house in the winter.
  • The hot tub cabinet: do you want wood, which could degrade with time or a simulated wood made from polymers or do you want a hot tub model which already has a cabinet that matches the inside?
  • Privacy & Noise: Is the hot tub loud? There is nothing like trying to have a romantic evening and your voice carries over to the next street because you have to talk over the sound. Do you have a private area in your yard or will you have to absorb the cost of a hot tub gazebo?

The Guts:

  • Jets: do you want the benefits of hydrotherapy? If so, you will need to ensure the jets are at the right level for your body. Do they have aerators to control the pressure of water coming from the jets? Types of jets include: handheld jets, stationary jets, cluster jets, oscillating jets, neck jets and rotating jets. You can usually have custom jets placed wherever you like, for an additional cost. To ensure the correct hydrotherapy you need an ergonomic designed seat and the right jet configuration or you could do more damage than good.
  • Pumps: Despite what people say, size doesn’t matter in most cases. A big pump costs more to run and can wreck the home spas plumbing system. Usually, hot tub pumps are rated by horsepower or continuous operating horsepower. There are 2-speed pumps which are used for jet action. Another type is the circulation pump which just circulates water. If you purchase the latter, you will need a primary pump for the jets.
  • Heaters: Do you need an immersion heater or a wraparound coil heater? Coil heaters last longer unless you are vigilant at balancing your water’s chemicals. A wraparound coil heater doesn’t transfer 100-percent of the heat to the water, making it less energy efficient. Both should generally have 5 to 6 kilowatt capacity. When buying your heater ask if the heater will work in winter conditions.
  • Cartridge Filters: Does the hot tub use one big filter or several smaller filters and how much are the filters to change? Ordinarily, a filter should be able to last one to three years. You also need to ensure that the circulation of your hot tub is good or these filters may be considered useless.
  • Controls: Should allow you to control the temperature, the jet speed, music, lights either in a wall unit, on the tub or in a handheld version (some are floating dolphins or ducks).
  • Water Sanitizers: options include: ozonators, brominators, chlorinators, mineral purifiers, copper systems. Some systems can use floating chemical systems and use bromine or chlorine in puck forms. Other hot tub chemical choices include liquid forms you can just pour in or granular forms, which can be attached to a time release/filter system.
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