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Vortex spas My experience good bad and ugly? Please read and respond

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Thought I'd provide a follow up now that it's been about 5 weeks since we've fired up our Aqualap.  We've really been enjoying having this unit in our backyard, and have been getting some decent use out of it.  Some observations:

(1) pool/spa chemistry is something completely new to me, and I've been struggling to get all of that to work nicely.  Local shops seem to have limited experience with large swim spas, and I've received some incorrect guidance on how much of each chemical to add (in the end the calculated suggestions from the water analyses seem to be bang-on).
(2) Gecko rates their in.clear system for up to 2000L of water; this spa has 8500L.  Although the implementation of the in.clear system in the Aqualap is not factory approved by Gecko, it does seem to work and work well; however, the settings are something that you need to play with.  I seem to have stabilized the system at "40" maintenance and using a boost 2x the number of bathers.  This is probably running the system harder than was intended, and will result in the need to more frequently replace the plates than in a standard hot tub.  When added to the cost of the Bromicharge ($50-60/bottle x 8 per season + any additional for splashout), this will likely be a very expensive system to run for the convenience of not having to add bromine every other day.
(3) The third swim jet of the Aqualap "Pro" (vs two in the standard and four in the "Extreme") is of limited use.  If you angle it straight, it blasts you in the head; if you angle it down it doesn't provide much lift, just a little more resistance... but not enough to really make a difference, as the current is largely passing under you.  I find that running the two jets with no air provides adequate flow for steady exercise.
(4) I would have preferred that the third pump was reconfigurable to run some of the spa seats while the main swim jets are running.
(5) the Gecko spa pack seems to have a limitation that shuts off the circulation pump if you set the temperature more than one or two degrees below the current temp - this results in you either having to ease the temp down one degree at a time, or you need to leave the covers open overnight to drop the temp quickly.
(6) the Gecko in.touch seems to be a little flaky.  It sometimes takes several tries for the iphone to connect to the spa.  Once it does, it's nice to be able to monitor and adjust from anywhere you have internet.
(7) the "Aquavibe" sound system with the Gecko is ok, lets say 2.5 out of 5 stars.  The works well and seems to be quite reliable in terms of connectivity.  The "speakers" (actually, tactile transducers) are adequate when you are in the water, although they have far less bass than I expected given the powered subwoofer in the shell.  I would have rated it a 4.5 out of 5 stars had they also supplied a line out so that you could connect another external amplifier and speakers to the built-in system easily, and create an integrated backyard sound system.  I will likely look into using a line out converter patched into into a speaker wire to accomplish this.
(8.) the spa seating is quite comfortable, our favourites so far are the lounger and the neck massage seats.  My wife also likes the taller position of the "cool down" seat.
(9) the lighting looks awesome at night.  However, I don't like that you have to scroll through 25-30 different settings to find the one you want.  It would have been nice to have direct access to a colour or setting.
(10) some of the LEDs are at times out of colour sync.  Brian thinks this is likely defective and will probably replace the lighting under warranty.
(11) some of the spinning jets are not spinning freely - this may also require a warranty replacement.

So far, we are quite happy with our purchase and the support received from Brian.  At times it is frustrating that there isn't a deeper organization  - if Brian is unavailable you're SOL until he's back.  But when you do speak to him, he is helpful and generous with his time.  We hope that this support continues through our ownership experience.

At this time, I have no regrets choosing the Vortex over other products.  As with every purchase, there are always trade-offs - I'm sure the Hydropool 19fX may have been a better quality product with better local support, but would have cost twice as much.  Canadian Spa Company may have provided Balboa systems, but for more money and a in a much smaller tub for more money.  The Vortex Aqualap provided us with the the size and features we were looking for, at a price we could afford.

I've had a Vortex Spa for a few years now.  I LOVE MY SPA.  I HATE THE COMPANY.  LOL  They are the worst in customer service.  Some of the worst I think I've ever encountered and that is saying something.  Actually I do believe they are no longer in operation as a supplier of tubs in North America.  I can't speak for their presence in other countries but I've written the "parent company" overseas many times and they have never responded. 

That being said...  I'm still extremely happy and here is why.  I bought this tub because of the shell design which is still to this day the best designed shell I've ever sat in.  THIS is the part of the tub I can't make.  The sides, the guts of it.  I can replace all that stuff.  I am not able to make my own acrylic shell.  So even if I never ever get a response from them again I'm still ahead in my book.  I got it for a song compared to the US companies.  I've not had any mechanical problems with it since I've owned it.  I'm finding the components are very common in the spa industry.  Design... not so common.  So even if all my electrical fried and I needed to rebuild it myself I'll still be ahead money wise.

My only concern now is that they are no longer a supplier of the tubs and the filters are not of a size that I can find on generic filter supplier websites which is frustrating.  The overseas companies don't appear to ship to the US.  What was Vortex Canada still sells the filters and I think I'm just gonna stock up with like 10 years worth so I no longer need to worry about them having a presence at all.  Cause that certainly could happen at any time.  I've been told that that Brian guy is no longer involved with them.  He has given me many a grey hair.   

Curious as to how the Vortex swimspa held up after all these years?


--- Quote from: drusteele on April 16, 2019, 10:08:29 am ---Curious as to how the Vortex swimspa held up after all these years?

--- End quote ---

Vortex Spas is now available from multiple dealers across the Country , Showroom locations can be found on their website . They have a facility in Vancouver where they stock , test and do the assembly of their products with Canadian made parts. These feedback are from 2014 and was made at a time where Vortex spas were only selling online and failed in deliverying their product on time . This is not the case anymore and I would suggest any of you looking for that product to go check the Ontario Distribution google review to see many real customer reviews .

best regards


--- Quote from: drusteele on April 16, 2019, 10:08:29 am ---Curious as to how the Vortex swimspa held up after all these years?

--- End quote ---

I think this is a year after your question, but I thought I'd respond anyway.  Please note that despite the positive tone of my "review" I am not affiliated in any way with Vortex Spas or BRW Distribution (Bryan/Brian) - I am just a customer who made their concerns/issues public, and feel that it's also appropriate to provide positive feedback where it's due.  Feel free to PM me directly if you wish to discuss.

The tub shell has held up great - the last 3 winters we have left it filled and heated, and we've discovered that due to the quality of the insulation the heating costs have been quite reasonable.

Repair requirements have been much higher than anticipated
 - two of the LX jet pumps had to rebuilt at in the third season due to seal leaks
 - the Gecko in.clear bromine generator cell had to be replaced after the 4rd season - this was somewhat anticipated as it wasn't designed to sanitize the 8500L volume
 - the cover became waterlogged after the 4th winter, and required replacement
 - the Gecko in.therm heater had to be replaced at the beginning of the 5th season - this was not expected
 - two of three LX jet pumps and the LX circ pump were leaking at the beginning of the 5th season
 - now in the 6th season, many of the jets don't work properly any more (the little disc deflector inside seems to jam)
 - the speakers/subwoofer sound quality deteriorated significantly last year

Bryan has remained accessible and supportive throughout our ownership experience.  He's made himself available to answer questions, and has helped source parts for repairs at very reasonable cost.  For the last two years he has re-started importing Vortex products with the support of a much larger business, and this has improved original parts availability (like filters).

The vast majority of the issues and costs we've encountered have been either with reputably-branded parts (like Gecko) or things that seem to wear out in spas (like the cover).  I don't know that we would have had better experience with any other brand, and again the support from Bryan has been great.  I have no regrets about the purchase or dealing with Bryan.


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