What's the Best Hot Tub

Author Topic: What to buy?  (Read 353 times)

OldSchoolSwap

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What to buy?
« on: January 12, 2017, 11:20:36 PM »
Hello folks,

With countless manufacturers competing.
It makes my research even harder and need some guidance from you experts here!

I am a complete newbie when it comes to hot tubs.

Let's bring up car brands that we can all relate to.
We all know the following...

Entry level:
-Kia
-Hyundai

Mid Level:
-Honda
-Toyota
-Chevy
-Nissan

Luxury:
-Jaguar
-Lexus
-Mercedes
-Audi
-Infiniti

Super cars:
-Lamborghini
-Ferrari
-Bentley
-Austin Martin

Now that we are in tune with the cars.
 Can someone break down the brands of tubs by quality or "luxury" status if you will?
Every brand that I visit, I am told that there is no other tub/brand better than them and so forth.

I never grew up with tubs like we all do with cars, so I'm left clueless.....
My budget is around $8000 or so, but need to be certain I purchase the perfect tub for the money.

Any advice is greatly appreciated.

Hot Tub Forum

What to buy?
« on: January 12, 2017, 11:20:36 PM »

The Wizard of Spas

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Re: What to buy?
« Reply #1 on: January 13, 2017, 10:15:01 AM »
Here is the best advice I can give:

Before you center on brands in general, find out what dealers are located in your area and what brands they carry.  You're not going to get a- to use your analogy- Lexus if there is no Lexus dealer anywhere near you.

Once you've located dealers, do your homework on not just the brands they carry but look at their reputation:  Do you really want to spend money with someone who is not reputable?  This is important because in the hot tub industry, parts can be specialized and not every area has options outside of your specific dealer to work on / get parts for your hot tub.  So you're likely to have to deal with the dealer for warranty work, etc.  If you do live somewhere that has both the abundance of dealers, and brands, and people to work on them then you are in great shape.

(BTW- The moderators really need a pinned thread that covers Hot Tub Purchasing 101.  Look for other threads here to see other people's questions and subsequent takes on this topic).

Most dealers will have some sort of hierarchy in their showroom so "high end" will be relatively clear after visiting a few places.  Some brands are better than others, but some brands also have several different lines that they manufacture, which likely have varying degrees of quality.  I'll leave it to other commenters to establish what brands are better than others. 

I ask my customers qualifying questions to figure out what their needs are.  If they don't know what they want, these questions help identify what they don't want.  Either way- I am better educated in their needs.  Questions I tell my customers to ask themselves (in no particular order) are:

*Where is the tub going?  --This allows me to understand if there are physical restrictions on sizing (7' tub vs 8' tub) or if the delivery may become an issue down the line.

*Are you looking for a lounger or an open seating design? --It seems that for every hot tub that has a lounge, its almost a slam dunk that there is an identical version of that unit that has open seating, and vice-versa. 

*How many people do you expect to be in the tub 90% of the time? --This helps me understand usage habits.  If they feel only 2 or so will be in, a 7' unit is usually fine, and they're probably going to prefer a lounger.  If they believe 4+ on a regular basis, you're probably looking at an 8' tub and an open seating arrangement.  This also helps me get a better grasp on their sanitization needs too.

*What is your price range? --You have already covered this, but this helps me understand what direction you should be pointed to.

The most important aspect of buying a hot tub is feeling.  If you dont feel comfortable sitting / lounging in the tub physically, or do not like the feel of the jets, then there is no point going further with that product line. 

Narrow down the best feeling tubs in your price range ($8k will give you a decent number of quality options, btw) to a small handful and then start the comparison process.  Some places push construction, plumbing, jet style, motors, filters, ozone, on and on and on.  These mean different things to different people, and different brands, and different salespeople.  But always keep your physical comfort / comfort at the top of the list, as you're buying this for relaxation

There are a lot of smart people that participate in this forum who will likely chime in on this thread and you'd be remiss if you did not heed their advice. 

I hope this helps.  Good luck moving forward.

EDIT:  Spelling.  D'oh!
« Last Edit: January 13, 2017, 10:18:36 AM by The Wizard of Spas »

OldSchoolSwap

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Re: What to buy?
« Reply #2 on: January 13, 2017, 11:52:08 AM »
The Wizard of Spas,


Thank you very much for the detailed reply!
Yes! I agree, a pinned 101 guide would be extremely helpful for first time buyers and guidance. That was the first thing I was looking for when I found this forum website.

Hot tub shopping has been very difficult and misleading, a lot harder than shopping for cars or homes!
I have learned that some manufacturers can even construct a tub to look amazing on the outside and be all trash on the inside knowing consumers would never look "under the hood" so to speak, for components, insulation, support, size of hoses etc...
I even saw a YouTube video of a big box retailer selling a tub using bigger faced jets but when you pulled them out, the outlets were the same size as the smaller jets! Which means the pressure was the same on the bigger faced jets......

With that said, I think buying from a local retailer and expert on tubs is the best way to avoid these situations but also warranty and service as you mentioned.
Things I will be looking for will be:

-Dealer reputation
-Warranty on product
-Cost of maintenance

I live in Miami Florida and it looks like I have a lot of choices on my short research for local dealers.

I have found:

-CalSpas
-CalderaSpas
-Sundance
-Bulfrog
-Jacuzzi

I am sure there are more if I dig deeper, but this is a quick search.

My tub will be used for 2 people 90% of the time. Yes a lounger is a must. Specifically looking for the best Therapeutic benefits that money can buy, this is my primary focus.
I think a 4/5 seat is more than enough.
Outside location, no size restrictions. Will build a deck for it once I know the size of the tub.

I am one of those people that try to be as healthy as possible with food consumption (organic), cleaning chemicals inside the house are mostly natural and even my lawn fertilizer is organic! With that said, all these chemicals that need to be used in the tubs are a slight concern for me as I don't want to be exposed to so many different chemicals since I plan on using this at least 5 times a week for hours.
What should I look out for when it comes to this? Is there special filter systems/ozone that do better than others and use less chemicals or a safer kind? Again, clueless...

I think wet testing the tubs would be the ultimate idea to have the piece of mind as well.

Thank you again for all the feedback and replies...

richierich

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Re: What to buy?
« Reply #3 on: January 13, 2017, 12:15:55 PM »
Great post Wizard. It would be interesting if you (and any of the other dealers here) could recommend to the OP a tub or tubs based on your post. What brands do you carry and what would you recommend to the OP.  I know this won't leed to a sale but may help the poster and others may find it interesting/informative.

bud16415

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Re: What to buy?
« Reply #4 on: January 13, 2017, 01:12:46 PM »
Iím just a guy that was clueless as you two years ago when we began our search. Living down south you wont be looking at all the cold weather options we thought about up here in the north. You will be looking for a therapeutic tub similar to what we wanted. I wanted a tub that would work fine as a social tub with friends most all tubs will do that and bigger is better with 4 or more people. I wanted to spend between 20 and 30 minutes in my tub each evening and when I got out I wanted to feel like I just had a one hour massage. I would say the hot water is only half the experience there and the jets and how the different seats are laid out is the other half. The tub we ended up buying was described as a circuit training type of tub. It is designed that each seat or at least 3 or 4 of the seats can be rotated thru after 5 to 10 minutes. The seating in those seats is deep and feels odd when sitting in them without water, reason being they are designed to hold you against the jets without getting blown out of the seat. All tubs have diverters and different speeds to the pumps to regulate this impact and most people find full force a bit much. But you need that max force to be able to control the impact of the massage you require. Our tub also has a few settings for social use one nice one is a whirlpool jet that moves water in a circle around the tub without really blasting anyone. Another is it has an air blower also that has a whole different fun feel than water jets.

When you wet test look for all these things and spend some time getting a feel for them at both high and low settings. Just like a massage sometimes you want it harder than others. After we looked at a lot we expanded our budget as we really saw and felt the difference with the tub we ended up with. The dealer of course helped us in that direction but I think in hindsight the suggestion he made was valid. He said that tub is in your current budget and this one is higher. That tub will make you happy for a couple years and at some point you will want to upgrade and come in and we will make you a deal to trade up. We knew what he was saying was true and after talking it thru we didnít want the hassle twice and something like a hot tub is it is a you only live once purchase. It is nothing anyone has to have. Based on that we bought the Caldera Geneva.

They are all good tubs and the advice above is very good in that what fits one persons needs might not be the one for someone else.

Enjoy the process of looking and enjoy the tub you get.     

TheSunshyn

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Re: What to buy?
« Reply #5 on: January 13, 2017, 04:43:54 PM »
Caldera are excellent therapy tubs, but I will never forget how a competing salesman told me that my 10+ year (at the time) Caldera Paradise tub would last forever. I was shopping around at a show looking for possibilities for replacement that I assumed I'd need soon due to its age. I think that says a heck of a lot about the quality of the brand.

5 years later, that tub is still running fine but I've ordered a smaller Caldera model as a replacement. We needed something smaller, and I didn't want to risk something going wrong when my hot tub is so essential to my health (its my main pain killer for chronic pain).
« Last Edit: January 13, 2017, 07:36:19 PM by TheSunshyn »

TheSunshyn

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Re: What to buy?
« Reply #6 on: January 13, 2017, 05:00:48 PM »
Outside of Caldera, the highest quality brands that I always hear about are Hot Springs and Sundance. The dealer is as important as the quality since if/when there are problems, they will be the ones you need to be able to count on first. We lucked out with having an incredible Caldera dealer in our area.

Hottubguy

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Re: What to buy?
« Reply #7 on: January 13, 2017, 07:27:18 PM »
Depending on what you have around you I would check out the websites of caldera, marquis, hot springs, d-1, bullfrog, Sundance, jacuzzi. Can't really go wrong with any of those brands. Each offers entry level up to highest end

BullFrogSpasMN

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Re: What to buy?
« Reply #8 on: January 14, 2017, 01:28:00 PM »
Hydrotherapy, Quality & Made in the USA...Bullfrog R6 or R6L if you prefer lounger, go shop it/wet test it and buy it, it'll be the best decision you've ever made

16 min. Bullfrog Consumer Video if you aren't real close to a showroom: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_SjHrqYZSYY

Happy Soaking!

The Wizard of Spas

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Re: What to buy?
« Reply #9 on: January 16, 2017, 11:47:08 AM »
Great post Wizard. It would be interesting if you (and any of the other dealers here) could recommend to the OP a tub or tubs based on your post. What brands do you carry and what would you recommend to the OP.  I know this won't leed to a sale but may help the poster and others may find it interesting/informative.

I try to not recommend brands as the discussion inevitably gets mired in which-brand-is-best thread with everyone chiming in.  Thus- I tend to just keep you focused on the brands that are near you (in your town or service radius) while informing you on the questions that will help you identify the right tub for you based on your needs. 

And to be fair:  There are a handful of brands that are indeed outstanding.  I liken it to the automobile industry in that aspect, as there is not one brand that stands above the rest but several, and if you're in that echelon of quality, you're going to get a great product.

If you stick to the questions I posted earlier, you'll find what is best for you, the customer.  Brands do have some differentiation:  Some tangible and some is different for the sake of being different.  Some brands are made in the USA, some are not.  Some push their water chemistry or filtration systems, so on so forth. 

You may or may not care about where it is made.  You may really care about the filtration or may consider that water chemistry is water chemistry, regardless of the brand.  Its frame or shell may be something you are entrenched on, pertaining to its build design, etc.  Regardless- These are things that are only important to you and so I try not to influence on these lessor aspects of hot tub differentiation. 

So keep to what is in your neck of the woods, pare down what brands/units you like based on your criteria skimmed from the questions I mentioned above, see which dealer is reputable and what brands/units are comfortable in price/feel of the jets and then you'll have probably 90% or more of your answer.

Good luck moving forward.

OldSchoolSwap

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Re: What to buy?
« Reply #10 on: January 16, 2017, 02:39:42 PM »
Thank you all for the great advise...

I just Wet tested the Sundance Spas and was very impressed!
I must admit, it was the first time testing out a spa for my personal use, so I'm not sure if I am easily impressed.
My next wet test will be:

-HotSprings
-Jacuzzi
-CalSpas
-Bullfrog

I think I have a healthy amount of options here...
Learning like a sponge and will make an educated decision then.

Tman122

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Re: What to buy?
« Reply #11 on: January 16, 2017, 06:01:34 PM »
Thank you all for the great advise...

I just Wet tested the Sundance Spas and was very impressed!
I must admit, it was the first time testing out a spa for my personal use, so I'm not sure if I am easily impressed.
My next wet test will be:

-HotSprings
-Jacuzzi
-CalSpas
-Bullfrog

I think I have a healthy amount of options here...
Learning like a sponge and will make an educated decision then.

Great brands, don't focus on the hype or gimmicks of any of those brands. Your comfort is important. One person here may find a different brand that is more comfortable for them.

Your going down in quality from the others with Calspa. Not saying its a bad brand just less expensive and of lessor quality than the others.
Independent Repair Technician.

Hottubguy

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Re: What to buy?
« Reply #12 on: January 16, 2017, 08:02:39 PM »
Thank you all for the great advise...

I just Wet tested the Sundance Spas and was very impressed!
I must admit, it was the first time testing out a spa for my personal use, so I'm not sure if I am easily impressed.
My next wet test will be:

-HotSprings
-Jacuzzi
-CalSpas
-Bullfrog

I think I have a healthy amount of options here...
Learning like a sponge and will make an educated decision then.


One more tip. I don't know which Sundance you tested but try to test equal brands for each tub. For instance if you tested a 800 series Sundance then Test a A series bullfrog. Agree with everything t-man says as well

OldSchoolSwap

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Re: What to buy?
« Reply #13 on: January 16, 2017, 11:03:06 PM »
Thank you all for the great advise...

I just Wet tested the Sundance Spas and was very impressed!
I must admit, it was the first time testing out a spa for my personal use, so I'm not sure if I am easily impressed.
My next wet test will be:

-HotSprings
-Jacuzzi
-CalSpas
-Bullfrog

I think I have a healthy amount of options here...
Learning like a sponge and will make an educated decision then.


One more tip. I don't know which Sundance you tested but try to test equal brands for each tub. For instance if you tested a 800 series Sundance then Test a A series bullfrog. Agree with everything t-man says as well

I tested the 880 Cameo and the Aspen from Sundance.
Once I jumped in the Aspen, I got in big trouble!

All of a sudden, I'm more comfortable and free to roam around the tub effortlessly! I should have just wet tested Cameo alone....

Not sure what other companies will have in the same size range, but I'm sure not many do. I think Hot Springs and Jacuzzi are the only ones.

At this point, I'll probably go for the best priced one, since I just pretty much doubled my budget :/

Hot Tub Forum

Re: What to buy?
« Reply #13 on: January 16, 2017, 11:03:06 PM »

 

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