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Author Topic: Bullfrog A6L / @Ease SmartChlor / First Hot Tub Experiences  (Read 3809 times)

Anthony0621

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Bullfrog A6L / @Ease SmartChlor / First Hot Tub Experiences
« on: March 15, 2020, 07:48:15 pm »
Hello everyone,

After over 6 months of creeping on this forum (and others), I finally purchased a Bullfrog A6L in January.

DISCLAIMER - I am by no means an expert, just thought I'd share my experiences with Bullfrog Spas and @Ease SmartChlor for anyone looking to get into it.

I first started to look into tubs around June of 2019. The wife and I enjoy them when we stay at hotels and I also have service related disabilities I try to manage. I figured it was a good time to consider purchasing one. I am 26 years old and have a solid job which allows me to have this type of luxury item. If you are not financially stable, I would suggest waiting to purchase a tub.

Initially, the water chemistry was a little overwhelming. After several months of learning the basics, and on top of actually balancing the water for the first couple of months, it starts to make sense and you'll get the hang of things.

Read Nitros guide to water chemistry over and over. Then read it again! Once you have that down, it'll make everything a little bit easier.

https://www.poolspaforum.com/forum/index.php?/topic/13634-nitros-approach-to-water-maintaince/

First, I'll start with my buying experience and what I got:

After looking at Hotspring, Caldera, Sundance, and Nordic, we pulled the trigger on a Bullfrog A6L floor model from a local dealer in southeastern Connecticut. We only got to wet test the Bullfrog, Hotspring and Caldera. The wife and I were sold on the Jetpack system and the overall appearance so we went for it.

Note - Without knowing what we wanted, we set our budget at $5000. We quickly discovered that was not viable and ended up extending it to $8500. We looked at it as an investment. If we ever sold our house, we could sell it to the buyers or simply take it with us. We weren't looking for top of the line, but we wanted something that was going to last.

I definitely suggest wet testing and researching each tub before going to look at it. I called all of the local dealers and wrote down each model they had available so I could familiarize myself with them before looking in person.

Pricing - After some negotiation, I agreed on $8200.00 out the door, delivery included, for the A6L with the following features:

Two pumps
Auxiliary jet controls
Ozone Generator
Interior / Exterior Lighting package
Cover & Lift
DuraSteps
6 months of @Ease Smartchlor
4 matching jet packs (obviously)

The A6L was manufactured in June of 2019 and delivered to the dealer's store new. The tub was used a handful of times for wet testing, including ours, and was kept inside. I am very particular and hesitant when buying expensive used items, so I made sure everything was legit before purchasing it. The dealer was making room for the 2020 models so I'm sure he wanted to get rid of it as well.

Overall, I think we got a pretty good deal compared to the other tubs we looked at and what other people were paying according to the internet. A new A6L would have been a few thousand dollars more and out of our set price range.

Note - I went to another dealer who was trying to sell me the exact same model A6L for $11,000 out the door (plus the circulation pump). I gave him the other price I was quoted and he told me there was no way he could come close to that. Do your research and talk to different dealers, you'd be surprised some of the price differences.

Pre-delivery purchases:

All the tub products I use are Leisure Time unless noted otherwise. I went with them because I can get it amazon prime and it's decently priced.

Calcium booster
Spa Down
Metal gone
Foam down
Alkalinity Increaser (before I figured out it's just baking soda)
Renew - MPS shock
Defender - Scale protection
Cartridge clean

Spa choice - Dichlor granules
Proteam - Gentle Spa borates
Clorox - Unscented bleach
Arm & Hammer - Baking soda

Taylor test kit K2006
Taylor 9265 Magnetic stirrer (easy testing)
Taylor 7 way test strips
Extra Frog test strips

Mesh hand skimmer
Handheld Spa Vacuum
Rubber ducky
New Bullfrog Wellspring Filters
Duck Covers - Patio table cover 92" (this fits perfectly over the tub and protects it from the sun).

I bought these items over 3 weeks as I was waiting for the tub to be delivered. This broke up the start up expenses and gave me time to prepare properly.
« Last Edit: May 03, 2020, 06:26:01 pm by Anthony0621 »

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Bullfrog A6L / @Ease SmartChlor / First Hot Tub Experiences
« on: March 15, 2020, 07:48:15 pm »

Anthony0621

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Re: Bullfrog A6L / @Ease SmartChlor / First Hot Tub Experiences
« Reply #1 on: March 15, 2020, 07:50:18 pm »
Tub Delivery:

The dealer dropped off the tub on my pre-made pressure treated wood platform. I used 44s for the base and then deck boards on top. Total cost was $220. Our driveway has an six inch slope to one corner, so it was tricky getting everything level. Eventually we are going to pour concrete, but the wood platform will hold us out until that happens. Make sure it's a level surface and refer to the manual for acceptable slope.

Note - Have the electrical stuff planed out so your tub isn't sitting for a long period of time without water, especially if it was wet floor model. I added a couple gallons of RV anti-freeze into the tub, per the manual, because the temps got below 30 for over a week.

Electrical:

I am fairly handy, but I decided to go with a licensed electrician to be safe. The total cost for set up was $800. I dug the 18" trench, 10 feet away from the house, which saved me about $300. Compared to what I saw online for quotes, I think I got a decent deal and I didnt have to take a day off to hook it up.

While the electrician is working, take some time to familiarize yourself with the components inside of the tub. I vacuumed up some loose debris and cleaned it up a little. I did happen to notice a hose for the ozone generator came off a nipple. I popped it back on and was glad I caught it.

Start Up / Decontamination:

As the electrician was working, I filled up the tub. I have well water with the following numbers:

PH 7.4
TA 50
CH 60

I followed the instructions in the manual for start up and it went perfectly. Temperature was set to 104 and off she went.

I let the tub get up to temp, made sure the water was balanced (PH 7.5, TA 80, CH 150) then decontaminated per Nitros instructions.

https://www.poolspaforum.com/forum/index.php?/topic/19115-decontamination/

The only thing I did differently was that I used Ahhsome to purge the system, then super chlorinated without draining and refilling in between. I got a very small amount of gunk out and I was satisfied it one decontamination process was enough.

I refilled the tub and started from the beginning again. This time, I used the recommended amount of metal gone. It took about 45 minutes to fill the tub which is 350 gallons.

Refilling the tub:

I used the Frog Jump Start packet that came with the tub to get the Free Chlorine established. I used it after balancing the water and as the tub was getting up to temp.

Once the tub got up to temp, I checked everything again. The PH was 8.0, so I lowered the TA by adding Spa Down (acid) then aerating until the PH no longer drifted. See Nitros instructions for lowering TA. The PH locks in when the TA is approximately 60 for my tub.

https://www.poolspaforum.com/forum/index.php?/topic/19149-lowering-total-alkalinity/

Note - While sifting through a post somewhere, I remember seeing a comment something to the effect of "Don't fight your TA". I tried to keep it at 80, but the PH continued rise above 7.8. It finally locked it when I followed Nitros instructions (I should have just done that in the first place). I also added 14 ounces of Gentle Spa (borates) per ChemGeek's recommendation *4oz = 35ppm @ 150 gallons* to help keep the PH in line.

So now that the PH and TA were set, I used the pool calculator to get the CH at 170, leaving the CSI close to zero (-0.16). Read Nitros guide for more info on CSI and why it's important.

Anthony0621

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Re: Bullfrog A6L / @Ease SmartChlor / First Hot Tub Experiences
« Reply #2 on: March 15, 2020, 07:51:03 pm »
SmartChlor:

Initially, I set the Smartchlor cartridge at 2 per the manual's instructions. I decided to bump it up to 3 after theSmartChlor indicator was too light in color and the the taylor test kit indicated it was at less than 0.5ppm FC. The next day I checked the FC using the kit and I was at 0.8ppm FC.

Note - Sometimes the Frog test strips will indicate low SmartChlor at a quick glance. I usually wait a minute or two for the color to change completely. As long as your PH is in range, the FC will be in range. The Taylor test kit is much better for checking the FC and the magnetic stirrer makes it even easier.

Cartrige lifespan - I'm getting about 5-7 weeks out of a single cartridge. I soak almost everyday for about 20-30 minutes. Sometimes the wife joins me. On the weekends we both soak for 30-45 min and the in-laws come over every now and then.

Once the old cartridge is almost out, I'll swap it with a new one. I'll leave the old one inside of the tub floating around and it'll take several days before all of the contents are gone completely. This will ensure I'm not wasting any product since it's significantly more expensive then dichlor/bleach method.

Note - When checking the cartridge, shaking it will release some of the small white rock-like contents. They will sink to the bottom of your tub and will stay there until they dissolve. Before I figured this out (not sure why I didn't right away), I thought it may have been calcium build up in the lines.

Shocking - I use MPS once a week using the recommended amount (1-2 ounces). The MPS drops the PH/TA a little bit, so I'll add in a enough Baking Soda to bring the PH/TA back up if needed. MPS can be used before soaking, but wait 15-20 minutes before use. Chemgeek has a post on MPS you can read up on.

https://www.poolspaforum.com/forum/index.php?/topic/9952-non-chlorine-shock-mps-dosing-for-hot-tubs-spas/

First impressions:

Right now I'm going on 2.5 months with this routine and the water is crystal clear. I'm sure someone will argue that since I use the tub everyday I should just use the dichlor/bleach method. I am still new to this and intend to test out that method later. For $15 every 5-7 weeks, I'll take the convenience of SmartChlor for the time being while I learn how to maintain the water.

Weekly regiment:

Other than MPS, I add a little baking soda here and there to keep the TA in check.. I could probably go week without adding anything, but I find it enjoyable to maintain the water perfectly. I also rinse out the filters with a high pressure hose. Do a visual inspection of the tub to make sure they are no problems. If there is debris in the bottom of the tub, I'll use the spa vacuum to clean it out.

I add Foam Down if needed, but we shower before and have a dedicated bathing suit supply to help reduce foaming. I use 2 oz of defender scale protection every 2-3 weeks, but who know if it actually helps.

Test kit/strips:

Taylor drop kit is recommended by pretty much everyone so definitely pick one up. I tried several different brands of test strips, but the results varied when compared to each other.

The only strips I would recommend are the Taylor and Frog Brand that comes with @Ease. Both are good if you want to do a quick test, but I found the Taylor stips are the most accurate. I'll use the test stips maybe 2 times a week to make sure the free chlorine is on point.

Filtration times:

I've read countless posts about this topic with no definite answer. I have it set on 3 cycles at 1.5 hours each. I've seen some people say they only do 1 hour cycles twice a day and other say you should do it 8 hours a day. So far it's working for me and I can adjust if necessary.

Electricity Bill:

January to February raised my bill $60 here in Connecticut. This included getting the tub up to temp and me messing with the water balancing for several weeks. I also use it almost every day with at least one jet on full power. I will track the other billing cycles and post something later when I have some more data.

Final thoughts:

I intend to keep this post updated with my failures and successes, hoping someone learns from it. If you have any questions feel free to post here or reach out to me privately. If you have any advice or if Im doing anything wrong, please let me know so I can correct it! You won't hurt my feelings.

-Anthony

Anthony0621

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Re: Bullfrog A6L / @Ease SmartChlor / First Hot Tub Experiences
« Reply #3 on: April 11, 2020, 04:45:00 pm »
Update:

While I was cleaning my cover, I noticed it is starting to get water in the foam core causing the metal bracket to rust and mold. I sent bullfrog and email asking for a replacement under warranty. Will update when I hear back from them.

I've adjusted my routine a little and the water maintenance is becoming easier.

I'll get my PH up to 7.8 which means I wont have to check it for several days and I know it's still in range as it drops a little. Every 3 days or so I'll check the water and it's usually around 7.4. I'll add some baking soda to raise the TA and the circle begins again. I am still using Defender scale protection and MPS shock weekly. Seems to work well. I ordered some bulk MPS instead of spending $20 on leisure time brand for a 1LB.

I've reduced checking the CH and FC levels since I got the hang of things. I'll use a test strip every 2 weeks or so just to make sure the SmartChlor is working. I could probably get rid of the stips completely because its always on point if the PH is in range. I have consistently got 5 weeks out of my SmartChlor cartridge on the 3rd setting for a 350 gallon tub.

It looks like I'm averaging $50 increase in my electric bill for the winter. I'm interested to see how the summer affects it.

Other than that, I'm still using it almost every day and there is no signs of stopping. Hope you guys are enjoying yours just as much!

-Anthony

Sam

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Re: Bullfrog A6L / @Ease SmartChlor / First Hot Tub Experiences
« Reply #4 on: April 17, 2020, 01:38:12 pm »
That is an insane deal.  Like unbelievably good.  That is an unheard of price for that.

Anthony0621

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Re: Bullfrog A6L / @Ease SmartChlor / First Hot Tub Experiences
« Reply #5 on: April 18, 2020, 01:02:39 am »
That is an insane deal.  Like unbelievably good.  That is an unheard of price for that.

Which is why I bought it! I am more than willing to show the invoice or refer someone who is looking in the area of New England.

jshep105

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Re: Bullfrog A6L / @Ease SmartChlor / First Hot Tub Experiences
« Reply #6 on: April 19, 2020, 04:57:08 pm »
Hi Anthony

Great post! This is all really helpful information for a first-time hot tub buyer like myself. I have been overwhelmed with all of the different Hot Tub manufacturers and branding there is out there. It is also hard with only being able to purchase from dealers as pricing is a harder to get. I am finding it hard to find honest reviews to use when trying to compare what brand to go with.

I am also located in the New England area and this seems like an unbelievable price on the Bullfrog A6 hot tub! I have been looking into the Bullfrog Spas and I have gotten a couple of quotes for the A7 model from a couple of local dealers and they have been $11K+. Do you mind PMing me what dealer you went through?


Thank you!
James

Anthony0621

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Re: Bullfrog A6L / @Ease SmartChlor / First Hot Tub Experiences
« Reply #7 on: April 28, 2020, 08:02:02 pm »
Hi Anthony

Great post! This is all really helpful information for a first-time hot tub buyer like myself. I have been overwhelmed with all of the different Hot Tub manufacturers and branding there is out there. It is also hard with only being able to purchase from dealers as pricing is a harder to get. I am finding it hard to find honest reviews to use when trying to compare what brand to go with.

I am also located in the New England area and this seems like an unbelievable price on the Bullfrog A6 hot tub! I have been looking into the Bullfrog Spas and I have gotten a couple of quotes for the A7 model from a couple of local dealers and they have been $11K+. Do you mind PMing me what dealer you went through?


Thank you!
James


PM SENT

PatterCTUSA

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Re: Bullfrog A6L / @Ease SmartChlor / First Hot Tub Experiences
« Reply #8 on: May 03, 2020, 07:48:14 am »
This is fantastic info.   Would appreciate a PM regarding the dealer you purchased from?

NeedlenoseNed

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Re: Bullfrog A6L / @Ease SmartChlor / First Hot Tub Experiences
« Reply #9 on: May 03, 2020, 03:09:20 pm »
my local dealer claims to have a nationwide price match, so I too would appreciate more info about the dealer. Thanks!

Anthony0621

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Re: Bullfrog A6L / @Ease SmartChlor / First Hot Tub Experiences
« Reply #10 on: May 03, 2020, 06:24:08 pm »
This is fantastic info.   Would appreciate a PM regarding the dealer you purchased from?

PM Sent

Derfme80

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Re: Bullfrog A6L / @Ease SmartChlor / First Hot Tub Experiences
« Reply #11 on: May 04, 2020, 10:32:41 pm »
Hey Anthony - this was helpful indeed. Thank you very much. I am a first time buyer and was looking at Bullfrogs. I also live in NE and wouldn't mind knowing where you got yours. Can you send me a PM with the name of the store?

I was quoted at $8700.

td89

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Re: Bullfrog A6L / @Ease SmartChlor / First Hot Tub Experiences
« Reply #12 on: March 17, 2021, 01:31:46 am »
@Anthony0621 - any chance you have the dealer info and other invoice information for your incredibly price on the A6L?

Hot Tub Forum

Re: Bullfrog A6L / @Ease SmartChlor / First Hot Tub Experiences
« Reply #12 on: March 17, 2021, 01:31:46 am »

 

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