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Author Topic: Why not get an American Whirlpool hot tub?  (Read 645 times)

LynneA

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Why not get an American Whirlpool hot tub?
« on: September 10, 2021, 06:55:22 am »
I've been looking for a few weeks and like several of the Caldera Utopia or Paradise and Hot Springs Highlife models (lounger models).  Planning on wet testing soon although they don't have my exact models of interest but similar. 

We also looked at American Whirlpool / Vita Spa. I like the American Whirlpool dealer much better so that's the one I'm considering (471 or 481) and it's several thousand $$ less than any Caldera or Hotsprings model. They don't get a lot of good press but I'm unclear why. Here are some key items I've noticed
-Steel Frame - I've seen varying opinions. Since they're newish, is there any data or just opinions. Says there's a lifetime warranty "should it become damaged in the operation of the spa."  Does that mean if it rusts, they fix? I'll ask the dealer.
-Insulation - they call it Northern Exposure. Seems a positive that it's easily removed/replaced for service. We live in the Northeast so insulation is important. Is Caldera's fibercor much better? marginally better? the same?
-No 24 hr circulation pump - is that good or bad?
-Balboa and Waterway parts - seems like that's good
-ABS pan - the Caldera Paradise does not have one.

I'd really appreciate any knowledgeable input. This industry is hard to compare products!

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Why not get an American Whirlpool hot tub?
« on: September 10, 2021, 06:55:22 am »

Sam

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Re: Why not get an American Whirlpool hot tub?
« Reply #1 on: September 10, 2021, 07:23:38 pm »
Their insulation system is definitely not going to be as efficient as a full foam or fiber core insulated spa.  Full foam is best.  Even some companies that say they do full foam, do not actually fill the entire cavity under the shell (minus the equipment area).  Looking at you Master Spas.

Steel frame is bs.  It's thin and weak metal that rusts, especially at the point where screws enter. 

I personally like a dedicated circ pump, but by itself it's not a total deal breaker.  Same thing with base pan.  Nice but not the most important feature to worry about. 

Balboa is generally good but has more than it's fair share of problems depending upon which pack and topside they use.  Same with waterway.  I've had some major nightmares with Waterway products. 

More important is the feel of the hot tub for you.  The dealer is very important. Are you confident in their after sale support?  Do they do their own service/deliveries?  Are they there 7 days a week?  Do the people seem knowledgeable?

Generally speaking, Hotspring/Caldera have a better reputation than American Whirlpool, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't buy one. 


Tman122

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Re: Why not get an American Whirlpool hot tub?
« Reply #2 on: September 10, 2021, 08:43:01 pm »
Put a treated 2x4 in the swamp and put a sheet metal stud in the swamp, tell me which lasts longer.

Steel studs have been around for years and years. The ONLY advantage they have is fire resistance, (this is why they are used in commercial construction.)They are NOT stronger, they are NOT easier to work with, and they DO NOT last longer.

A lifetime warranty is like 7 years. Fine print.
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CanadianSpaTech

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Re: Why not get an American Whirlpool hot tub?
« Reply #3 on: September 10, 2021, 11:18:54 pm »
Can't recall ever seeing a metal framed spa rust to the point of collapse or have the bottom fall out when lifting for a move. Have seen PLENTY of rotted wood framed spas have the bottom fall out when lifted or moved. Seeing Stainless Steel framed spas coming out of China in droves right now. They should not rust providing they have enough chromium present in them to act as a protective barrier. Time will tell the tale on them. Usually when a spa rots or galvanized spas rust it's due to customer neglect not fixing leaks in a timely fashion, improper placement of the spa and/or poor manufacturer design that doesn't allow water to escape the floor pan. 

Tman122

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Re: Why not get an American Whirlpool hot tub?
« Reply #4 on: September 11, 2021, 06:26:57 am »
Can't recall ever seeing a metal framed spa rust to the point of collapse or have the bottom fall out when lifting for a move. Have seen PLENTY of rotted wood framed spas have the bottom fall out when lifted or moved. Seeing Stainless Steel framed spas coming out of China in droves right now. They should not rust providing they have enough chromium present in them to act as a protective barrier. Time will tell the tale on them. Usually when a spa rots or galvanized spas rust it's due to customer neglect not fixing leaks in a timely fashion, improper placement of the spa and/or poor manufacturer design that doesn't allow water to escape the floor pan.

I've never seen a 30 yo metal framed tub, have you?
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BullFrogSpasMN

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Re: Why not get an American Whirlpool hot tub?
« Reply #5 on: September 11, 2021, 11:39:58 am »
Put a treated 2x4 in the swamp and put a sheet metal stud in the swamp, tell me which lasts longer.

Steel studs have been around for years and years. The ONLY advantage they have is fire resistance, (this is why they are used in commercial construction.)They are NOT stronger, they are NOT easier to work with, and they DO NOT last longer.

A lifetime warranty is like 7 years. Fine print.

I agree, we see them all the time around here, it always seems to start after 2-3 years and it always seems to start at the 'door frame' of the spa, my lead tech is an expert at 'rigging' Cal spa doors so they can actually be re-attached to a rotted steel frame cause replacements parts are not an option.

LynneA

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Re: Why not get an American Whirlpool hot tub?
« Reply #6 on: September 12, 2021, 08:16:02 am »
Thanks for the replies.  Just to clarify - Caldera uses a wood frame. I have no idea if it's just stapled and glued or whether they use good furniture grade construction. 

The American Whirlpool/Vita Spas use metal framing.  In the video, it's a U channel design with gussets. At least it's not just angle. No idea the gauge or quality of the galvanized dip. As luck would have it, my husband is a metal fabricator for 3 plus decades. If we can get a look inside, he may be able to make a judgement as to quality.

Still haven't made a decision on a tub. I went to a Sundance dealer yesterday and I don't have a positive feeling about the dealer nor did I think their tubs were head and shoulders above competitors so I've eliminated Sundance.

wcmorris

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Re: Why not get an American Whirlpool hot tub?
« Reply #7 on: September 15, 2021, 04:13:08 pm »
I was in the same boat as you back in March when I was looking to order a spa. Looked at all of the major brands who have dealers in my area. This included American Whirlpool, Bullfrog, Caldera, and Hot Spring. I was drawn initially to the American Whirlpool for it's price and layout options. They also had the ones I wanted in stock. However, after doing more research I felt like the American Whirlpool was not up to the quality standards that I wanted for a few reasons. At first I thought a metal frame was a positive, but I quickly changed my mind on that after researching. Why don't other manufactures use metal frames? I live in the NE with harsh winters and a lot of rain. A metal frame in this environment seemed to beg for rust issues. I also don't like that they don't have a dedicated circ pump. This probably isn't a huge deal but there are some negatives. One, the full size pumps come on in order to circulate water. If the tub is close to a bedroom or something this could get annoying with it always going on and off. A circ pump is silent. Two, it can cause more wear on your jet pumps as those are the ones used for both circulation and powering the jets. This means there is potential for having to replace a big expensive pump sooner than you might if you had a dedicated circ pump. I knew there had to be some good reasons the AW was cheaper than the others and there is. Ultimately I concluded that they are not has high quality as the higher model collections of other brands like Hot Springs and Bullfrog. That's not to say they aren't a good tub and won't provide you with many years of use. They just aren't the same quality as say something from the Hot Spring Highlife collection.

I was seriously considering a Caldera and Bullfrog but just like the metal frame of the AW, I didn't like that Caldera uses a wood frame. Plus they aren't exactly straight forward on their website about construction materials. This gave me a negative feeling about them. I didn't go with the Bullfrog because we weren't sold on the jetpack idea. However, the construction of the spa seems great. Full quality insulation and full composite frame and pan. They have full foam insulation which is great for efficiency, but I prefer an insulation that is removable for easy access. After a ton of research I decided that these two things were requirements for me. That's what lead me to the Hot Spring Highlife collection; specifically the Envoy. It includes quality insulation that is easily removable in case I ever need repairs, dedicated circ pump, and fully composite pan and frame that should last pretty much forever. I've had the spa for two months now and it has been great. I would highly recommend it.

That said, there are many great options. I would simply say that if you prioritize quality then a dedicated circulation pump, fully insulated with easily removable insulation, and fully composite frame and pan would be requirements for me.   


Sam

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Re: Why not get an American Whirlpool hot tub?
« Reply #8 on: September 15, 2021, 06:38:50 pm »
They have full foam insulation which is great for efficiency, but I prefer an insulation that is removable for easy access. After a ton of research I decided that these two things were requirements for me. That's what lead me to the Hot Spring Highlife collection; specifically the Envoy. It includes quality insulation that is easily removable in case I ever need repairs, dedicated circ pump, and fully composite pan and frame that should last pretty much forever. I've had the spa for two months now and it has been great. I would highly recommend it.

That said, there are many great options. I would simply say that if you prioritize quality then a dedicated circulation pump, fully insulated with easily removable insulation, and fully composite frame and pan would be requirements for me.   

I'm pretty sure that the highlife collection uses full foam just like bullfrog.  This is also what tells me the whole fiber core insulation system is b.s. and just a cheaper way to build hot tubs.  Why else would they use full foam instead on their top of the line spas if the fiber core is better? 

Hottubguy

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Re: Why not get an American Whirlpool hot tub?
« Reply #9 on: September 15, 2021, 07:23:00 pm »
They have full foam insulation which is great for efficiency, but I prefer an insulation that is removable for easy access. After a ton of research I decided that these two things were requirements for me. That's what lead me to the Hot Spring Highlife collection; specifically the Envoy. It includes quality insulation that is easily removable in case I ever need repairs, dedicated circ pump, and fully composite pan and frame that should last pretty much forever. I've had the spa for two months now and it has been great. I would highly recommend it.

That said, there are many great options. I would simply say that if you prioritize quality then a dedicated circulation pump, fully insulated with easily removable insulation, and fully composite frame and pan would be requirements for me.   

I'm pretty sure that the highlife collection uses full foam just like bullfrog.  This is also what tells me the whole fiber core insulation system is b.s. and just a cheaper way to build hot tubs.  Why else would they use full foam instead on their top of the line spas if the fiber core is better?

That’s super rigid foam on hot springs not easily removable…….As far as fiber cor goes I wasn’t totally sold on it until about 2-3 years ago. We had a customer with a new Caldera Niagara. He went to the Caribbean for a two week long vacation and left his son home alone. On the 3rd night he was away his son used the hot tub and thought to shut it off he needed to shut breakers off. That was the only time the tub was used in his two weeks away. We had super cold weather here. Between 0 and 15 degree days. Naturally when he got home his tub was drained and iced over for the most part. We took the tub back to the shop to figure out what was and what wasn’t broken. After going through it a lot of the plumbing on the equipment side froze and cracked. The 2 sides encased in fiber cor we couldn’t find any damage. Fixed the noticeable damage and filled it up. Haven’t had another service call on the tub since. I would agree that the highlife is better insulated then the fiber cor full insulation but I don’t think the difference is as noticeable as one would think. Much easier to access and fix plumbing leaks as well

castletonia

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Re: Why not get an American Whirlpool hot tub?
« Reply #10 on: September 15, 2021, 09:13:12 pm »
They have full foam insulation which is great for efficiency, but I prefer an insulation that is removable for easy access. After a ton of research I decided that these two things were requirements for me. That's what lead me to the Hot Spring Highlife collection; specifically the Envoy. It includes quality insulation that is easily removable in case I ever need repairs, dedicated circ pump, and fully composite pan and frame that should last pretty much forever. I've had the spa for two months now and it has been great. I would highly recommend it.

That said, there are many great options. I would simply say that if you prioritize quality then a dedicated circulation pump, fully insulated with easily removable insulation, and fully composite frame and pan would be requirements for me.   

I'm pretty sure that the highlife collection uses full foam just like bullfrog.  This is also what tells me the whole fiber core insulation system is b.s. and just a cheaper way to build hot tubs.  Why else would they use full foam instead on their top of the line spas if the fiber core is better?

The Highlife insulation is multi-density foam.  Someone correct me if I'm wrong but Bullfrog and most other full foam hot tubs use the 1/2 # and maybe upwards of 2# density insulation.  The Highlife's are also not a fiberglass shell so the insulation is also providing structural support that Fibercor could not.  That being said, big fan of Fibercor for both it's insulating capabilities and also being service friendly.

CanadianSpaTech

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Re: Why not get an American Whirlpool hot tub?
« Reply #11 on: September 16, 2021, 08:19:59 am »
Two, it can cause more wear on your jet pumps as those are the ones used for both circulation and powering the jets. This means there is potential for having to replace a big expensive pump sooner than you might if you had a dedicated circ pump.

Don't get me wrong here circ pumps are good and have benefit however the total pump replacement I do most is small Circulation Pumps especially the small Lanig magnetic drive ones. Usually they can't be rebuilt. They usually fail internally and not from leaking seals. They run 24/7 365 where a main 2 speed pump runs 4 hours a day and can usually be rebuilt fairly cheap. Impeller, Seal and front bearing well under $100 if you DIY. Most times when a main pump needs service it is due to a leaking seal. In some cases the entire pump needs replacement but again kinda close to the cost as a circ pump replacement. It is also one more thing to go wrong as you will still have 2 main pumps in most spas along with the circ instead of just 2 main pumps. Some would argue that a main pump running on low for a 2 hour filter cycle will shed heat inside the cabinet (140 - 160 degrees) and allow you to recoup some cost of operation. It will also inject warmer air into the air injection valves. When air is turned on and air is added to the stream of water the valve pulls air from inside the cabinet. Air injection should always be turned off when the spa is not in use to reduce cost as they will have a cooling effect from drawing air from inside the cabinet that is usually colder than the water temp. JMO

Tman122

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Re: Why not get an American Whirlpool hot tub?
« Reply #12 on: September 16, 2021, 04:00:27 pm »
Two, it can cause more wear on your jet pumps as those are the ones used for both circulation and powering the jets. This means there is potential for having to replace a big expensive pump sooner than you might if you had a dedicated circ pump.

Don't get me wrong here circ pumps are good and have benefit however the total pump replacement I do most is small Circulation Pumps especially the small Lanig magnetic drive ones. Usually they can't be rebuilt. They usually fail internally and not from leaking seals. They run 24/7 365 where a main 2 speed pump runs 4 hours a day and can usually be rebuilt fairly cheap. Impeller, Seal and front bearing well under $100 if you DIY. Most times when a main pump needs service it is due to a leaking seal. In some cases the entire pump needs replacement but again kinda close to the cost as a circ pump replacement. It is also one more thing to go wrong as you will still have 2 main pumps in most spas along with the circ instead of just 2 main pumps. Some would argue that a main pump running on low for a 2 hour filter cycle will shed heat inside the cabinet (140 - 160 degrees) and allow you to recoup some cost of operation. It will also inject warmer air into the air injection valves. When air is turned on and air is added to the stream of water the valve pulls air from inside the cabinet. Air injection should always be turned off when the spa is not in use to reduce cost as they will have a cooling effect from drawing air from inside the cabinet that is usually colder than the water temp. JMO

A 2 speed jet pump will move more water in 4 hours than a circ pump will in 24 also.
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Sam

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Re: Why not get an American Whirlpool hot tub?
« Reply #13 on: September 16, 2021, 06:24:06 pm »
Just to add to the conversation, I've been told by engineers that 2 speed pumps have a higher failure rate than a similar 1 speed pump.

Tman122

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Re: Why not get an American Whirlpool hot tub?
« Reply #14 on: September 17, 2021, 05:47:40 am »
Just to add to the conversation, I've been told by engineers that 2 speed pumps have a higher failure rate than a similar 1 speed pump.

I don't doubt that
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Hot Tub Forum

Re: Why not get an American Whirlpool hot tub?
« Reply #14 on: September 17, 2021, 05:47:40 am »

 

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