Brand Reviews

Beachcomber :

This brand is a mixed bag. I find it really over priced by a long shot, I saw the summer saver deal for 2017 and laughed so hard I almost cried.  Some of the suggested retail prices are literally 2x what they are really worth.

That being said they build to the right standard. Balboa control and heating system, waterways jets, hand rolled self-supporting shells, and glued and clamped plumbing lines. This is all the stuff I like to see on a Top Tub!Performance wise they top out at the mid end, their top performance tub has a few of the expensive hi-flow therapy jets some mid flow and a lot of the inexpensive small jets… pretty standard to most brands top tubs but nowhere near the performance of the really high-end massage spas.

I Don’t know if they still do this but one terrible thing they did for a long time was to make the tub with a non-removable skirt! We have one we just took on trade, it leaks and there is no way to get into it without draining and flipping the spa over and tearing it all apart… It’s crazy, you save a lot of money by making an integrated skirt because you just build the skirt into the spa whereas if you do it right you build a sub frame then build a skirt to attach to it so you can get it apart if you ever have an issue.

I also really dislike the way they count the jets… The whole industry counts each jet as a jet… to make it sound better they count every hole in every jet so they quote like 120 jets for a 28 jets one pump tub 🙂 but I guess when yer trying to get mad margins you need a healthy dose of spin…

Also, I am not a fan of the hybrid system, This is a classic example of old tech being regurgitated and rebranded as a new technology. When I started selling spas in the 80’s lots of companies had the pumps outside but you can’t reclaim the motor heat with this arrangement and this more than offsets the little extra foam around the bottom corner where the foam is twice as thick as the other 90% of the hot tub. It also leaves you in danger of quick freeze damage in a power outage, and you are always pumping your hot water outside of the insulation envelope in the winter… It’s bad tech done for a Unique selling feature more than any advantage.

 

Strong Spas Costco:

 

 

Dynasty spas:

 

 

Master spa:

 

350 Comments:

  1. How important is it to have the ability to add air to the jets? Also which brands do the best job in insulating the their tubs?

    • Hi Bob.

      All spas have the ability to add air to the jets and it makes a massive difference to the velocity of the water stream.

      Use common sense when it comes to insulation, you want the cavity filled with expanding foam but you want an open-celled foam that does not harden and stays soft in case you need repairs down the road.

      • I’ve noticed that some brands require that you step up a series in order to get air injection. I know Sundance does that and they add another pump. I had a 15 year old Catalina that injected air and only had one pump in total.

        • Wow, that is such a scam.

          the air injection is on every jet housing and the handle and plumbing to control it is peanuts, I can’t believe the scams some people pull…

  2. First off, you’re the man! Appreciate what you do here, as someone who’s a first time buyer and extremely skeptical of the industry, it’s been epic.

    Down in San Diego, and headed to look at some Masters today. I did look at the Caldera line and was pretty impressed by the Vanto. 2 questions for you,

    1) How much weight to you attribute to Caldera having so many repair questions on the forum. Do you think that is more a factor of how many they sell, or that the mechanisms are getting worse over time? You mentioned it below as 2nd brand on your list still. Would you hesitate to sell someone a Caldera these days?

    2) suggestions of locations to check out

    Thanks man

    • IMHO the Watkins line is a mid-grade spa with a lot fo less expensive proprietary parts and the requests for help fixing them is way disproportionate to the sales volume. I would not sell the line, in fact, I turned them down when they came to see me, I am fanatical about not having these cheap proprietary parts, I don’t want myself or my customer having only one source for parts… I think the Watkins, jacuzzi master brands are very close from a market share standpoint so the numbers of people asking for help is wholly disproportionate also Caldera is not thier big line Hot Springs is.

      Caldera is not my second line, Marquis or Artesian or Masters are my tier one brands, then beachcomber, Cal spa.

  3. Hey, looking at getting an arctic spa, is there anything other then the foam being on the frame only you don’t like about them?

    • Not big fan of this brand, they simply don’t spend enough on the construction and a lot of it is spa and marketing.

      Shell is good hand rolled self-supporting and it has a nice bottom but don’t be fooled you still need to do proper ground prep or the tub will not sit level so really it’s a side track issue and of very limited real value. see this video.

      They used to use Gecko control and heating system but they have gone to a cheap no-name brand likely from China. I hate these proprietary parts, they don’t work as well as the good stuff like Balboa and you can not get parts anywhere except through them which is simply a bad idea, I want a parts list that is competitively priced, readily available and better quality.

      They do not clamp the plumbing lines, they just dip glue them.

      The salt systems is old regurgitated tech, these systems are 1-3ppm chlorine or bromine and you are breathing that in, most guys went away from this tech a decade ago now because no one is using it some guys are re-introducing it as new tech… you can get 6 times lower toxic chem levels with aftermarket systems.

      The spa boy again is all gimmick… they say its automatic but you still need to do weekly tests and adjustments, it only telly you PH (you can buy an electronic ph meter for $20) you still need to dip and test alkalinity and test slat levels.. there are easier healthier and more reliable systems out there for much less money than this gimmicky outdated tech.

      The insulation is about R-8 and that crazy pitch about big air spaces being insulation is silly, these perimeter systems are just cheap simply as that.

      Taker all this into account and then ask why it’s so expensive? it with a cheap parts list, cheap plumbing, and cheap insulation it should be a mid-priced spa but the new business model is to build mid-grade, lock the customer into buying parts from you forever and spend lots on brand awareness and spin and marketing.

  4. Lookng to replace a 15 year old Catalina Cl700 that finally gave up the ghost with something of similar size (approx 82 x 82″) and simplicity. Could you comment/ rank: Artesian, Marquis, Sundance, Hotprings, Dimension One, Caldera, Jacuzzi ? Any others to consider?

    • My list goes:

      1. Master
      2. Caldera
      3. Artesian
      Sundance, D1 Jacuzzi, all the same company, mid-grade shell loads of p[[arts you cant buy anywhere but through them, great marketing and branding
      caldera, Hot springs same group same problem.

      • No Marquis or Bullfrog?

      • Hi Chris, We are looking to replace a 32 yr old Sundance that we have loved to death!! Literally…LOL I’m not seeing too many good reviews about Sundance..so sad. We are in Reno NV, so we dont have a ton of choices. Could you recommend? Looks like we have dealers for Hot Spring, Caldera, Sundance, and Cal Spas….that I’m aware of.. Thankyou for your very imformative site! Kuddos to you!

        • yeah Sundance used to be good but they got bought out by big investment equity firm and now its all about margin spin and branding 🙁

          Cal is the only one of the group that uses the good parts list but they seem to have a lot of issues in the build consistency. almost 5% of the requests for help on the forums from a customer with broken spas in Cal and they are a bit player so it’s really a lot of people trying to get help… always a red flag. I’ve been analysing data from the discussion forums (not what the “experts say” but specifically how many people are asking for help0 with which brands. The data is totally backing up what I have been saying for years. I analysed 20 pages (around 500 posts) and the big branded spas were crazy for breaking down.

          Watkins (Hot Spring Caldera etc) accounted for nearly 35% of the broken spas needing help, The jacuzzi group (Sundance, jacuzzi Dimension 1) were over 20% yet the biased experts will tell you they are the best spas :-), meanwhile Master Spas gets hammered on the forums mainly because they do these expo events in local dealers areas and take millions out of their markets so the experts hate them have 0 requests for help.

          I’m just working on an article about it now…

          go see these guys, the Marquis is a way better-built spa than anything else I found out there, its the only brand in your area I would put on my floor.

          http://www.sunleisurepools.net/hot-tubs.html

      • In this list you rate Master #1, Caldera #2 and Artesian #3. Master not available in area. I’ve also seen your stats about repairs that show Caldera is the worst. Would you chose Artesian or Marquis ahead of the Sundance group of brands and the Caldera group of brands?

        • For sure, the marquis and Artesian use a much better parts list and hand rolled self-supporting shells. they are miles and miles better from a build quality standpoint and ahead or on par from a performance standpoint.

  5. Can you give me your thoughts on the Artesian Rio Spas?

    • I like Artesian in general, they build good spas the way they should be built. the Rio is the island line which is the entry level so the jetting is fairly pedestrian, very few of the hi flow therapy jets and loads of the little inexpensive ones so its certianly not a high end therapy massage spa but I would say a good middle of the road performance with great build quality.

  6. Nothing I love better than to see someone with passion about what they do….and that’s what your site looks like!

    First time buyer here but have always wanted a hot tub. I have 2 dealers in my area (Newnan, GA – a little south of Atlanta) bullfrog and hot springs, and a rec warehouse. I had settled on the bullfrog but something just didn’t feel right when I started asking a few detailed questions so I figured I’d google about and see if I could find something better, and whammo hit your site. This is more frustrating than buying cars!

    Basically I’m looking to stay around 10k, cheaper is better, but anything is doable. I want something that I won’t be second guessing for the next 10 years. Was even considering something from modpools.com but still on the fence there. It’s just me and the kids so would like to have something therapeutic and fun. Have even considered building my own (bought the custombuiltspas guide) but not sure I have the time to get into all that as a single parent.

    • IKR? at least the car industry has regulations that keep them in the real world, this is the nightmare industry where spin and marketing rule…

      The bullfrog is like most… some good (parts, insulation) some bad (ABS shells) and loads of gimmicks (those goofy pods lmao)

      but better in my mind than the HS, I always stay away from anything with a goofy proprietary parts list designed to own your ass for ever…

      Go see these guys

      Atlanta Spa & Leisure
      4305 Ne Expressway, Doraville, GA, 30340
      Phone: 770-939-8000
      hottub@bellsouth.net
      http://www.atlantaspa.com

    • Due to my installation area, I am looking for a tub that has auxiliary control(s) on opposite side of tubs where master control/acess panel are located. I know Bullfrog has one and Marquis does as well. Anyone else? Also, what is minimum width of decking recommended to get in/out of tub recessed about 26″ into deck? Thanks!

      • Hi Sandy.

        The Artesian for sure out of those two, that plastic shell on the Bullfrog I am not a fan of, they have all these stupid pipes under neath to hold the shell together because its too weak to support its own weight with water and bathers.

        you really want to frame the deck out a foot on each side and make removable panels, that way no matter what happens you have access…

        • Thanks, and I figured a minimum of 1 foot of decking on side of tub would work.

          Interested in your perspective on Bullfrog spas. I found idea of jetpaks and less plumbing intriguing, and I didn’t realize the tub itself was flimsy.

          Is this a product from which I should steer clear in favor of Marquis?

          And how do you feel about Hot Springs? They have always performed solidly for me.

          Much appreciated……S

  7. HI, I was wondering your thoughts as to the Master Spas Healthy Living 8.5 tub? I was at a expo here in Phoenix, and this tub caught my eye. But from reading posts about how you can get ripped off at one of these events, what is the ballpark price I should be looking at with this tub? Thanks.

    • HL is a good line, i think they went to click in jets but apparently its a new design and they are hoping to avoid the usual problem with these jets of breaking.

      other than that it is well built and well insulated and should be a good spa, price wise I would expect around $10-11kish

    • What do you think of wind river spas in Colorado?

      • Alot of misinformation on the videos turning non-issues into issues to scare you,

        They make a big deal about circ pumps which is a low flow filter system, I don’t like them. The modern 2 speed systems are quiet and efficient and give you the option of being able to filter 5x more water that these circ systems if you have a party or need to clean up the spa. all spas have an option for a circ pump.

        They talk about CD ozone as being a big plus, most tubs have them and they really don’t do that much for long.

        They spew alot of outdated information to justify a less expensive insulation system read this article… http://www.hottubuniversity.com/hot-tub-insulation-systems-numbers/

        They use ABS backed acrylic, this was big 10 years ago, and most people went away from it, it’s cheaper to build but does not hold up well. the idea was that you could just vacuum form it and go, which is what they do… because of the issues we started fiberglassing the the ABS sheets and in the end went to Vinal ester resin with glass and acrylic, it’s strong and lasts.

        Its not a tub I would consider selling, a lot of spin and misinformation and really just a mid-grade small regional manufacturer that because of the volume can’t afford to the tech to do it right so he spun all the old tech into a pitch that makes it sound new and innovative.

        • Thanks for the info. Is there a big drop off on the artesian lines? it looks like they put less into the South Seas compared to the Platinum and Island. I’m looking for a tub that can’t be more than 68″ – 70″ in width. South seas has the 743D but looks like less foam and less other things that the Platinum and Island lines have standard.
          Also looking at the Master TS 67.25 and Marquis Spirit and V65L (marquis look more like 3 person and this is for a condo that will be rented so looking for more of a four person tub even if a bit cramped and one that is durable for the abuse renters can inflict). thanks for your help.

  8. Hi Chris,

    I live in Southwest Michigan and am looking for a hot tub for myself and occasional visitors. I have not need for the hydrotherapy but I love to sit, soak and enjoy a scotch and a cigar.
    I wonder if you could recommend a manufacturer for under $8K and a local dealer near South Haven.

    Thanks

    • Look at the Getaway and Clarity lines

      Master Spas Of West Michigan
      2055 28th St Se, Grand Central Plaza, Grand Rapids, MI, 49508
      Phone: 616-475-7770
      mrspas01@aol.com

      • Chris,
        I made a trip to Master Spas of West Michigan and I got a great deal on a Clarity Precision 7. Thanks for the tip and all the good info that you provide for all of us novices.

  9. This site is awesome thank you. I am looking for a first spa for my house. I live the san francisco bay area, and want one that has the best jets and features. have no idea where to start looking, Don’t really care about how much, redoing my whole backyard so it is a drop in the bucket,
    thanks

    • hey Chris

      The best performance spa out there is the Twilight series by master.

      check out this video, its a massage machine and its built as good as they get.

  10. I’m probably making the whole hot tub purchasing experience more stressful than necessary. Caldera and Jacuzzi offer financing incentives; whereas, Master Spa doesn’t at the two local showrooms. That leaves us with the option of getting a nice hot tub or if we go with a Master Spa brand, going with a Clarity line. Are the Clarity line “nice” or will it feel a bit too adorable by compromising quality? I worry that we might get what we pay for, subpar, since it’s their lower grade hot tub. Should we just wait until we can afford a Healthy Living or Twilight or would a Clarity offer us years of satisfaction? In your opinion of course.

    • Dude do not get me started on financing…. its a gimmick and the governments are arseholes for letting the financial world make crazy rules….

      So say I can get a customer 7% financing….

      The honest person says “the finance rate is 7% and is clear and open about their dealings.

      The next person says I can get you 5%

      The last person says Ill give you 0% for 3 years…

      Wow one of these people is great…

      the other two are playing you…

      If i pay the interest difference to the finance company you get the 5% deal

      If I pay the finance company the interest for 3 years you get zero interest.

      Its always built into the price man don’t be stupid…No one is giving you zero interest they are simply paying your interest and making sure they have the profit in the deal to cover it…. Haven’t you ever noticed the sticker price is high in the zero interest deals?

      From a trust standpoint the guy telling you what yer really paying is the honest guy the others are playing the edges…

    • Dude do not get me started on financing…. its a gimmick and the governments are arseholes for letting the financial world make crazy rules….

      So say I can get a customer 7% financing….

      The honest person says “the finance rate is 7% and is clear and open about their dealings.

      The next person says I can get you 5%

      The last person says Ill give you 0% for 3 years…

      Wow one of these people is great…

      the other two are playing you…

      If i pay the interest difference to the finance company you get the 5% deal

      If I pay the finance company the interest for 3 years you get zero interest.

      Its always built into the price man don’t be stupid…No one is giving you zero interest they are simply paying your interest and making sure they have the profit in the deal to cover it…. Haven’t you ever noticed the final cash price is always high in the zero interest deals?

      From a trust standpoint the guy telling you what yer really paying is the honest guy the others are playing the edges…

  11. Hi Chris, I love your site. Thanks for all of your helpful information. My wife would like a spa because she has a lot of neck and back pain, so we have been shopping around. We live in Oshawa. We also have two young kids (9 and 5) who will use the spa. May I ask your help in selecting a good quality tub? We would like a roomy spa, open seating, good therapy jets, but mid-range ($12-13k) price. Is there a specific model that you might recommend? Do you happen to know a local dealer that sells good brands? Thanks Chris.

    • Hey Shawn

      Those are old stomping grounds used to MTB the Rouge River Valley although I’m sure its developed by now…

      You Have loads of options out there but again if it is higher end therapy massage then the Twilight, in My opinion, is the best tub in the world right now. all around… good parts and build and more high-end therapy jets than almost any tub out there and you can put the whole 6hp pump through the captain’s chair… I’m broken and battered and it is my morning goto place.

      See the video I shot on my spa.

      try Grif, he is 50 miles away but he has good service levels and will take good care of you.

      Premium Wholesale
      , Toronto, ONT, M5A 1N1
      Phone: 519-895-0606
      griffryan@hotmail.com

    • Hello. Looking at replacing a 14 year old hot springs that held up well over the years. We live in Geneva IL. I haven’t had any success find a Master spa dealer near. We have close access to marquis, hot springs/caldera, jacuzzi and Nordic. I believe there maybe a artisan dealer 20 miles away. Suggestions?

      • Marquis, the best of that bunch for sure.

      • Hi Chris. I am looking at purchasing a Artesian South seas spa here in Delaware for $6700- that is all inclusive. The detailer has excellent reviews for several years. What are your thoughts on this brand? Also I am interested in a chemical free system- I have heard about copper- I wondered what your thoughts were on this also?

        • I like Artesian well built spa with a good insulation package and a great parts list.

          copper ion is ok if it comes free but dont spend extra on it… go to spa marvel or aquafinesse

  12. Chris,

    Thanks again so much for all the great information! I did a dozen hours of research before I really dived into your site, its been invaluable and it seems to line up with most things I’m finding.

    I did have one question in regards to Coast / their NorthWinds brand. I’ve read some other reviews where you list your critiques of them. I’ve been looking at both the NorthWinds 8C and Zenith – leaning more toward the 8C now. I took these and posed them as questions to my local dealer (they have great reviews and seem genuine in all the ways I’ve been researching that you want….been with that brand for about 10 years but many more with other brands before). Anyways, here were the responses: (1Q) Pressure filtration or are any suction based? Side skimmers or floor suctions? (1A) Suction-based (2Q) Heating elements under the bottom of the mold or just drainage? (2A) Heater is in-line 4kw titanium alloy (3Q) Do you know if the parts are generic or proprietary/unique? (3A) Balboa controls (4Q) Do you know the manufacturer of the jets? (4A) Waterway jets (5Q) Are the pipes clamped / adhered in any way? (5A) Jets barb clamp and glue (6Q) What is the power source requirements / specs for the pumps? (6A) 50 amp / 220volt.

    Those answers seemed to address many of the concerns you had listed for Coast….but still a bit worried. I was quoted about $6k for the tub (426 gallons, 40 jets, 2 pumps at 3hp each…have full other specs).

    I also did research / have available Viking (Legacy II), Bullfrog (X8), Jacuzzi (J-245), and Hot Spot (Rhythm). I also looked at Caldera but found their offerings for my price point (around 6k to 7k) to be sub-par compared to others. Unfortunately there are not Master or Marquis dealers near me (Rochester NY 14534), so don’t think I can get those.

    Essentially I’d very much appreciate any further advise you can provide whatsoever (be happy to show you the ton of research / notes I already have compiled if it helps). Basically trying to spend 6k to 7k (semi-flexible) for >4 person tub, no lounger, for hydrotherapy (great jets).

    Thanks again Chris!

    • assuming the info is correct on the zenith and if the shell is a self-supporting shell its an ok price… the performance is going to be fairly lacklustre… it will feel like its doing a lot but all the jets are the inexpensive small jets and a few of the midsize but none of the hi flow expansive therapy jetting…

  13. Hi, thank you for all of the information you have provided on this site. My husband and I are looking to buy our first hot tub for relaxation and health reasons. Although the information was helpful I feel even more confused on what brand is best. Not sure if this matters but we are oon well and septic, and our water is very hard, although we have a softener. We live in Valparaiso, IN. Thank you for your time!

  14. Hi there– what’re your recommendations for a hot tub dealer & brand(s) in Spokane WA or Coeur d’Alene ID? We’re looking for 4-person tub, w at least 1 deeper seat (tall-torso spouse). Thx much– really appreciate your webpage & advice!

    • I have looked in the area before and not found a lot of good choices, all the big brands with their mid-grade spas wrapped in the cosy warm blanket of branding and spin but none of the really solid well built brands. 🙁

      • Thx Chris– that’s what I was afraid you’d say… My local research wasn’t coming up with anything different. Do you see any of these options as more preferable than the others: Jacuzzi, D1, Hot Springs, Caldera or Bullfrog? Arctic is also available in Spokane, but it sounds like they’re clearly off your list. Thx.

        • Its funny I get mired in the minutia 🙂

          None of these brands are total nightmares, just none of them are awesome 🙂

          D1 used to at least use a non-proprietary parts list but it was gecko and man iI love a Balboa System, these guys have some key patents that keep them in a class of their own. The Problem i have always had with the Hot Springs, Caldera is the damn Invensys control system.. man they have had sooooo many heater relay board and spa side controller failures it is insane… you look on the discussion forums and go to the thread where people ask for help fixing their spas… This is the only place on those forms that are not all bullshit industry people and guess what… there are a crazy high number of people asking for help on the Watkins spas (Hot Spring, Caldera, Limelight, hot spot)… The only one of the group using the good parts is the Bullfrog but they use that damn plastic shell with pedestal supports… Man I hate these things, they were all the rage 20 years ago and most guys went away from them because they just don’t hold up like a good hand rolled shell…

  15. Looking to buy our first spa. Looking for 5 – 7 person and up to $10K in price. Located in Rhode Island, quite a few dealers for out tiny state, it seems. Have been most impressed with Vita Spas, Caldera brand and today looked at Strong Spa. Like I said we really know little about them. SE Connecticut is also in our range of dealers.

    • Man, I get a lot of fo requests from this area.

      You have the regular stuff down there:

      You have the guys with goofy parts list which is an absolute deal breaker for me, I never would sell or buy a line that did not have the North American top OEM parts so that takes the Sundance, caldera, Arctic, Jacuzzi off my list.

      Then you have the Bullfrog with the good parts but I am not a fan of the ABS shells… any shell that is too weak to support its own weight with water and needs pedestals to carry the weight is a no-no for me.

      The Strong looks good on paper but that was a strong spa in the Costco video that went viral…

      Vita is middle of the road, in my opinion, steel frame I do not like, its a gimmick and noisy.

      The biggest problem I have is the reflective insulation system, it’s cheap and not very effective.

      There are a lot of different reflective surfaces but the truth is it does not change the fact that they are reflective insulation only dealing with radiant heat and the backing has minimal thermal mass.

      The problem with radiant insulation is that it is just not that good at containing heat in a system, especially when installed in a hot tub. Radiant barriers work well at bouncing heat away so in Florida they are good in attics to keep the heat out.

      There are enough studies out there to make a good solid scientific case against these radiant systems used to contain heat in a system and the reality is some hot tub company with some marketing spin is in no way changing that scientific data.

      copper, whiteboard, Bi pet foils they are all the same theory.. reflecting infrared spectrum back… Changing the reflective material has almost no effect because it’s not the quality of the reflector that is in question it is the science of reflective insulation systems being applicable to this application that is in question.

      The only guy I know is 2 hours away which for a good dealer is doable and that’s crocker sales 9 High Street, Woburn, MA, 01801
      Phone: 781-933-2006
      hk@crockersales.com
      http://www.crockersales.com

  16. In the market for a hot tub and came across you website and have been using it to research. Unfortunately I do not have access to Master Spas on Vancouver Island. We have access to Coast, Jacuzzi, Arctic, Nordic and Maax. Based on your previous comments none of these are a great brand. I have been leaning towards Maax as they have Balboa components but could not tell if they use Waterway. I know you aren’t a fan of the insulation, but I’m wondering what else I should worry about with a Maax. Thank for your feedback.

    • Man in Vancouver it’s too cold to scrimp on insulation… It always amazes me… I could not use a couple of inches of blue max in my house… it would not come anywhere near to code yet I can put it in a hot tub and claim its awesome 🙂 A tub needs better insulation than a house because it’s hotter so the temp dif is higher so the heat loss is higher.

      funny I don’t get a lot of action in Canada but I do on Vancouver Island… I know you have a couple good guy there that do independent service which means you could buy out of market…

  17. I’m in the market for a spa. Visited a reputable dealer and really like the the Lanai model(2-3 person) by Tropic Seas Spas. The sales person told me it was an Artesian Spa but cannot find any supporting evidence to this claim. Is this a good spa? What 2-3 person spa would you recommend?

    • I don’t know for sure, I’m trying to find out f they build it our licence the name or if its a separate factory and build standard… no luck so far, I’ll try calling them again,

  18. Do you have thoughts on the “legacy Whirlpool” brand by Master Spa? We are looking to replace our old tub and a local expo had these in their mix of Master Spas. They referred to it as a Master Spa and the paperwork made it seem like it checks all of the boxes. It would be buying from a local Master Spa dealer as well. I am just a little concerned that since it’s branded as “Legacy Whirlpool” by Master Spa that they may have cut some of the manufacturing steps/corners when building. Until we left I thought it was a Master Spa. Any thoughts would be appreciated. Thanks!

    • It’s a Limited edition built on the healthy living platform with an open seating style… bang for the buck one of the best buys out there right now but they are done… Sept 1st was the last date to order them, they are like hens teeth!!! grab it

  19. Hey Chris, thanks for the the site and all the info…I live in Moncton, nb and the only dealers with good hot tubs carry beachcomber, coast spa, or maxx. What would you choose….I can get the best deal on the coast spa…and the dealer gets the extra spray package….and they are a good dealer….the beachcomber does seem overpriced a bit…..but I want to get the best tub for the money in terms of quality, thanks! Brian

  20. My wife and I are looking for our 1st hot tub here in Tuscaloosa Alabama. Not really sure where to begin. Between all the different manufactures it’s hard to narrow down to 1 or 2. We are currently looking at family leisure place but we also have a few other stores to look. The main question I have is an Artesian tub a reliable long lasting tub? We are looking for a 4-6 person tub. Price range 4-7K. Or is there a recommended place to go look at them in this area?

    • You have two brands there.

      the guys at Allstar Pool & Spa do Master they are my goto brand and the guys at Family Leisure Birmingham do Artesian a close second, if you are looking for anything other than the crazy hi end therapy massage spas either line will keep you in the good world, if you are after therapy massage spas then the Twilight line at Allstar is way above anything else out there…

      Allstar Pool & Spa
      1821 Tin Valley Circle , Birmingham , AL, 35235
      Phone: 205-655-8870
      pools1821@aol.com
      allstarpool.com
      https://www.familyleisure.com/

      Family Leisure Birmingham
      description
      7701 Ludington Lane
      Birmingham, AL 35210
      (205) 951-0707

      • Thanks, what about buying a used hot tub? I’m looking at a 2012 luxurious m series morgan. I think it’s made by master spa. Original price was 13k. Guy selling for $3500. No issues that I’m aware of.
        Better to buy new or take a chance with used.

  21. Chris, got a price for a Master Precision 7 for $8K including steps, cover, cover lift, starter pack and delivery. Is this good? I have a vacation rental property and not sure if this model is the right one. What do you think?

  22. Hello there,

    Many, many thanks for taking the time to post all this great info. Am studying and learning lots!

    First time middle aged potential spa buyer here – looking for help with re-occuring muscle pain issues and overall wellness.
    Have a question.

    I live in eastern Long Island, New York. Am looking for a 2 person triangle shaped spa for hot water therapy and massage. Was considering putting tub on top of a timber tech deck in corner next to house.

    Would greatly appreciate any feedback around good dealers nearby, brands, tub placement, noise of pump next to house…

  23. This is a great site! Dan you tell me your thoughts it hot springs high life envoy ? Salt water?

    Is their an Artesisn dealer in Long Island NY?

    Thank you
    DZ

    • don’t like the parts list on the envoy, these guys having less expensive parts made that just fit their spas instead of sticking to the ultra-reliable OEM parts makes this a no go brand for me.

      cant find an artesian dealer but there is a Master dealer near you.

      East Coast Spas Inc.
      , , , 10606
      Phone: 203-460-0514

      http://www.eastcoastspas.com

  24. Ok, so like many people on here this will be my families 1st hot tub purchase. Here in Alabama it seems we are limited on where to buy unless you buy from a box store. It’s really so overwhelming I can’t even ask the right questions to make a decision. I’m worried about going into a store and the salesman hook line and sinker me and my wife. Not that I’m a pushover when it comes to buying, but when you have no clue a good salesman can sale you anything. I don’t want that to be us. I’m trying to do research and semi narrow the search down. We are looking at family leisure for our purchase. (Looking at an Artesian Rio 500). They do offer a 5 year parts and labor warrenty with local contractors. Which I think is good. I have seen a lot of comments on other brands. Is Artesian a good brand? If I shop at family leisure do you recommend a particular brand or should we shop somewhere else? It seems as if you could please give us dummies your top 5 things you have to look for. We are looking to spend around 7grand. I almost feel like I should leave you my number so we can communicate through phone instead of text. Hahaha! Any response would be greatly appreciated.

  25. Thanks Chris for the awesome insight! I live in Ft Worth, Dont seem to have alot of options for a mid to high end tub ($6k to $11k). I looked inside a Marquis and it looked like a cheap frame. Other options are Bullfrog, Hot Springs, or Dynasty. And not being in a super cold climat, is 2-3″ of the foam sufficient insulation?

  26. Hey Chris,

    Wow so glad I foumd your site. Incredibly insightful for a first time hot tub buyer. I just bought a place at Deep Creek Lake in western Maryland. I’m looking for my first tub and wondered if you had a recommendation for a quality/efficient tub in the $5-6k range?

    Thanks,
    Eric

    • man, there is very little out there, Hotsprings with their Master of Confusion parade and everyone else is miles away.

      unless you are or know a good handyperson and buy out of the market you really don’t have any choices…

  27. Hello

    I live in Massachusetts and looking for recommendations on a spa with out lounge chairs that fits 6 and is energy efficient. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

    Thanks,
    Mike

    • from you IP I would say go see these guys and look at a Twilight or healthy living, top spas, well made.

      Peaceful Pool and Spa, Inc.
      25 College Highway (Rt 10)
      Red Rock Shops
      Southampton, MA 01073

      Phone# (413) 527-1358

  28. First time buyer and my options are Arctic Spas, Caldera, Bullfrog and Beachcomber. From what you have said Arctic Spas and Bullfrog are out for me but what would be the better purchase between Beachcomber and Caldera?

    • Beachcomber, the only bad thing about that brand is the stupid Hybrid pump outside deal… and I think you can order it without that hybrid option, they are also ridiculously overpriced. but they are built well, use a great parts list and have clamped and glued plumbing.

  29. I bought a D1 Spa in 1997. Aurora, first models made. Now it’s leaking a bit and I was thinking of upgrading to the exact same.. Not sure if something out there in brand names would be a better upgrade? What have you heard about the @Home brand they have? I know they are all blanketly owned by Jaccuzi.
    I’m hoping to get the next spa and have it last for 20 years like my current one.

    • Hey, Manny! 20 years ago all spas lasted 20 years 🙂 now they are engineered to fail like everything else 🙂

      Dude I looked at like 15 places and none are carrying the brands I would put on my floor, there was a guy selling the garden spas by artesian but I haven’t seen those yet and am not sure if they are built like the regular line.

      This is the closest but he is aways away trying and gauge his service out there, it might be he has a local guy in the area…

      david@davidshomeentertainment.com
      davidshomeentertainment.com
      Your local Master Spas dealer is 126.3 miles away.

  30. Hi.. we are looking to buy a new hot tub. My husband had one years ago, so is very familiar with them in general. He’s also a plumbing contractor and will handle any repairs that may come up. A local dealer has a 2017 Caldera Marino for $6400 (inc stairs, cover, delivery/setup, maintenance for a year and a few other things). I know Master is a great choice, but is going to be out of price range. We have Coast Spas, Artesian, and Marquis locally as well, although Marquis may be out of range too.

    Question.. is this a decent price for the Caldera or should we avoid it and keep looking? We won’t spend more than $6500. Preferably less.

    • $6500 is a good price but I just can’t endorse putting yourself in the position of being stuck with a proprietary parts list with no competition for pricing and no options except the manufacturer for parts.

      • I’m looking at a couple different Marquis spas, the Vector v77L ($7k) and the e-Series 435 for the same price. Any thoughts on the two models?

  31. Hi, I am so thankful I found this website as otherwise we would be the sad owners of a hydro pool hot tub!
    We are located near fenelon falls in the city of kawartha lakes, Ontario, Canada. The nearest Masterspa dealer appears to in Mississauga not in Peterborough as indicated on the Masterspa website. Assuming we cannot easily purchase a Masterspa what alternative brands would you recommend for our neck of the woods?
    Thank you, Karin

    • You have nothing out there within an hour, this means you really need a good dealer with strong communication and a good local handy person. which also means you can buy out fo market…

      The reality is a great dealer is not about proximity it’s about knowledge and communication, I have over 100 hot tubs over 3 hours away (some over 5000km away) and all of those people would call me a good dealer because when they call we know the information to give them and the reality is getting a local handyperson to swap parts is not hard to do…

  32. We are interested in a spa, and my wife saw the Everlast 90 jet spa at Sam’s club. It seems to have very good reviews, but I don’t know anything about the actual manufacturing of the spa. It seems to be similar in it’s size and jet configuration to the Caldera Geneva that I like. I’d love to get any feedback on this spa. We live in the Phoenix area, and the spa will be outside in our backyard.

  33. I am looking for a small spa that will retain heat for winter usage in Spokane, WA. I was told a 110 v unit would lose heat quickly while being used and I should install as 240 v for faster and better temp control. Does it make a difference?

    • yeah a big difference, in cold climates like yours you can only stay in a plug and play for 10-15 minutes and its getting too cold.. the 240v will have a heater 4 or 5 times bigger…

  34. Great site. Thank you are making me more knowledgable about my buying decision in an otherwise crazy industry. I’ve learned that it’s just as important, if not more important, to look under the tub than to focus on the finished surface. We are going to purchase a tub for installation in a new home near Hendersonville, NC. It looks like we have a good service/installation guy down the road, so I’m not focussing solely on locally available tubs. The local guy sells a tub I’ve not heard of: Alps Spas. Do you have any opinions on this tub. Thanks again for all your help.

    • So I had a chat with a nice old guy at Alps spa factory, then a sales guy… You owe me some social media love dude I spent a lot of time on this one 🙂

      They use a 1/2″ open cell foam on the shell and then a 3/4″ foam with mylar on the skirt, I’m not a fan of these systems, they are inexpensive and low r value and reflective foils are not good at retaining heat in a system, they have no thermal mass and when installed vertically create a lot of convection.

      Good electronic and heating systems mid grade jetting.

      The shell is not a hand rolled fiberglass shell its an ABS backed acrylic, these were big 20 years ago and had a lot of issues the good guys all went back to hand laying glass…

      glued and clamped plumbing

      try these guys they carry master David’s Home Entertainment & Recreation
      2566 Asheville Road, Waynesville, NC, 28786
      Phone: 828-452-5534

  35. Hi – I found your website very informative -but… no Master Spas dealers anywhere close to me in SW Colorado. Besides Cal and Sundance, there are Nordic, Dimension 1 and Caldera at dealers in Durango. A number of my friends have Wind River spas and all have had good experiences with them – although they appear to violate several of your rules. Looking for a 4 – 6 person, under $10k. I live at 7,200′ and it gets very cold here in the winter (typically 1 – 2 weeks below 0 F) and hot in the summer (mostly in the 80’s to 90’s, with a week or two bouncing into 100 F occasionally). Any suggestions?

    • Hi Jeff

      Yeah, I’ve looked at the WR stuff and both the shell and the insulation I am not a fan of, Parts wise and they are good and performance wise they are entry level to upper mid.

      I’m not saying it’s a nightmare spa it’s just what most stuff is… a bit of good, a bit of bad, and a side of ugly…

      Look at the Nordic, similar insulation package and the roto mould shells last for ever, also a good parts list and good plumbing system.

      Cal or even D1 would also be a better bet out of that group.

  36. Hi Chris- First time buyer. Lots of great information to review, very helpful and makes sorting through the dealer brands and information easier.
    We are considering the brand Artesian Spas, from what we see the insulation is described as you recommend, plumbing is glued and clamped, and a strong shell with a lifetime backing, and a local dealer. We were told it is American made but cant find information on availability of replacement parts. Your thoughts on the Artesian line and what do you know about parts.

  37. What’s your opinion on the Marquis E-series (the 545) hot tub? It’s about $7,300. Is it a good solid hot tub?

  38. Chris, I think I settled on Master spas but not sure what series: Twilight, Healthy Living, or Clarity. I have a vacation rental property in Scottsdale. I’d like something that is reliable but I don’t need tons of bells and whistles. Your thoughts?

  39. Good morning,

    I live in Western PA and had a Dynasty Spa for the last year. Nothing but trouble. Thankfully there is a crack in the foot well and they are going to refund my purchase price. Obviously, I want to make the best choice after that experience. Do you have any insight into the Strong Spa, Hot Spring or Caldera brands? Appreciate any advice you could provide.

    • Hi Gina!

      You dodged a bullet there, we took one in on trade and it was a piece of junk.

      the strong are no better…

      best I could find is far away there is a Marquis dealer 2020 BEAVER AVENUEMONACA, PA, 15061724-728-8888

      and a Master dealer: East Coast Spas Inc.
      1424 Easton Road, Suite 300, Horsham, PA, 19040
      Phone: 732-823-8606
      ben@eastcoastspas.com
      http://www.eastcoastspas.com

      • Thanks for the information. Unfortunately Marguis discontinued King Pool’s liscense due to low sale volumes I did find another dealer and I will be visiting them tomorrow. Thanks again, this certainly gives me some piece of mind.

  40. Hi – Love the videos. Its the reason I quickly moved off the Costco brands. I’m wondering about sudance’s insulation. They don’t talk much about it, other than to say they use 2 forms (both closed and open cell) and full foam. To a laymen, open and closed cell doesnt mean anything to me.

    Does the Sundance insulation roughly equate to your guidance on your insulation video?

    • Sundance which is the same group as Jacuzzi is not anywhere near my recommended list. They don’t hand roll the shells, they use proprietary parts, and they don’t fill the cavity with insulation… Typical of these Hot Tub companies that are owned by equity investment corporations… spend very little on the tub, spend lots on brand awareness and marketing and spin, and use inexpensive parts that only fit their tubs so the customer cant competitively shop replacement parts… This brand would never sit on my sales floor…

  41. I have heard a lot about the Bullfrog hot tubs here in Texas. They do sound “gimmicky” with the removable jet backs but at the same time my friends love theirs and I like the idea of exchanging the backs. What are your thoughts?

    • mixed Bag, the shell is a cheaper plastic backed shell that needs pedestal support to keep it from breaking, IMHO you just can not beat a good hand rolled fiberglass shell.

      the rest is good but the packs are stupid.

      If you get a spa with lots of the big therapy jets you can totally change the jetting in the whole spa easily and cheaply, the packs just limit the placement and cost a fortune to swap out and there is no real advantage.

      Ask your friend to do me a favor. there have been a lot of issues with bacteria behind the jet packs, you can buy bacteria test strips for $5 you run them on the wall behind the pack and it tells you if there is bacteria. I’m curious to see if they have fixed this issue.

  42. Would you recommend a Marquis from the celebrity line or a Dimension 1 from the At home line? Looking to spend around $6,500 or less.
    Brands offered around here are Marquis, hot springs (hot spot), dimension one & Mira.

    Not looking for anything cheap that isn’t going to last long. Any opinions??

  43. I am a first time tub buyer. We bought a home in Scottsdale and can’t seem to find a dealer who represents the top brands you recommended with the exception of Artesian. The nearest Master dealer is in Tucson, over two hours away. I see other local dealers offering Vita and Maax bit I’ve never heard of them. I believe the dealer helps make the product succeed but you have to start with a good product first. Any suggestions?

    • Hi Ed

      depends on the dealer. the reality is what makes a great dealer has nothing to do with proximity it has to do with communication and knowledge… the actual trouble shooting of a part is nothing and getting the part installed is easy for any local handyman, electrician, or independent hot tub service guy. 2 hours is nothing for a good dealer. I have customer hundreds of miles away who rate me 5 stars on google..

      • I will do more research on the dealer. In the meantime, do you have an opinion about Artesian and Master products? Also, any opinion about Vita or Maax?
        Appreciate your help and thank you!

  44. Hi! First time hot tub buyer here: looking into the Marquis brand. We are looking at the Hollywood tub which is from the Marquis Celebrity line.

    Any opinions on this one?

    • So celebrity is the entry level and I hope Marquis uses the same build quality through the lines.

      Performance it will be lower end with lots of the hi pressure low flow jets.

  45. I am set to purchase a new plug and play, 5 person with lounger. We have considered the Aquaredt from Home Depot, Costco, Overstock etc., but now have recently looked at an Watkins Excursion.

    This Watkins would be purchased from a local (45 miles away) more local store, Allen Pools.

    We need some guidance as to which is the best for our needs. Pricing is looking around $4000usd.

    • Funny enough it’s the Only Watkins product I don’t dislike 🙂 except it’s ugly as sin…

      see if you can find a healthy living its a new line built right and the arguably the nicest roto-mould out there right now.

  46. Hi Chris, if we have to settle for a hot tub with inferior insulation, is it safe for us to add our own? If so, what kind?

    Thanks!

    • Sure you can.

      The best would be expanded foam but that would cost you $400…

      or you could get industrial garbage bags and lightly wrap batons of fiberglass pink or roxull into batons, fit them around the spa but leave a good open area where the motors are.

  47. Thank you for this wonderful site! I hope you can help more struggling wannabe hot tub owner. The only Spa dealer near us is Atlantic Spas in Raleigh. We want a smallish tub just for two people and settled on the Jetsetter NXT by Hot Springs. We just found out friends of ours are moving and want to sell their Thermospa Park Avenue. They say they got all the bells and whistles and paid about $18K which seems a little crazy. But it has a lot more jets and features and they will sell it to us for $6000 but then we have to move it. Which of these is the better choice? I don’t know if this matters but we’d like to use salt water rather than chlorine or bromine.

    • Not up on thermos spa but 18 k is insane…. likely more like $12 from the look of it.

      But likely better than a Hot Springs… at least the Thermo has a good parts list that you can get replacements for anywhere.

      Salt water is the same as chlorine or bromine… it just makes the chlorine or bromine on board… its old tech and there are much better options…

  48. Hi! What can you tell me about The Sunrise spa line? We have a local dealer selling them and also the south seas line(artesian).we live in Pensacola, FL and are looking for great product with great warranty.
    Thank you
    Kim

    • Like most brands, they have a couple of good thing like a nice component list and glued, and clamped joints but a few bad things like a cradle supported shell and a questionable insulation package. In the building industry, the Roxul insulation is meant to be 6″ thick and then a vapor barrier around it, not 2″ stuffed in a bag. The R-value is not great and these perimeter insulation systems, even when done with Expanded foam, are mid grade at best.

      The Artesian spas, in general, are well built but I have not seen a South seas yet.

  49. First off, this is a fantastic website! I’m a first-time hot tub buyer and I really don’t know what to do. I’m looking for a six person hot tub for use 12 months of the year in cold climate (Montreal). So far we are considering the Jacuzzi J Dash 345 model but I know proprietary parts might be an issue. We also have an option of Sundance spas model 880 optima or cameo. Another possibility would be by Max I were looking at the 5400, 4400 or 4200 models.
    It’s so very confusing! Any help you can provide would be really really appreciated!!

    • So First off Sundance and jacuzzi are part of the same group and both have the parts issue and frankly, they are expensive for what they are. Maxx is good parts but the insulation is inexpensive and low r-value.

      I looked around and there is not any that hit my list of really great hot tubs…

      • First time hot tub purchaser. Living in northern Virginia – options are Marquis, Hot springs , caldera spas , Sundance. Over an hour away Masters spas in Maryland per the internet. I haven’t called to see if they service the nokesville va area. We are In our late 50’s and need it for muscle and Arthritis therapy but want it large enough for family. We Walked into a manassas outlet and prices were 12,000 to 18000 for a marquis – all other brands i listed came in under 13,000 for a 6 person tub. Help? Any recommendations? Any help would be much appreciated. Friends have old (10 years old) Sundance – love it I like the looks from a brochure of canatabria or tanitian but have no clue if price yet – we may be going out to visit this weekend. But if you could give us the low down on those -it would be much appreciated

        • the marquis or the master are good the big questiom is performance. both brand’s build good spas but marquis does not build anything that goes to the twilight spa level of performance… so if it’s a just a good hot tub with what every other brand bills as therapy massage then healthy living or vector 21 but if you really want top end performance the twilight

  50. Looking at Marquis. If we went with an E-series are there any upgrades you would recommend (ozone, extra insulation, etc)? Or just spring for the signatures series?

    Would mainly be used as a soaking tub with occasional therapy sessions.

    Thank you.

    • I always want more insulation, and really once you have a brand you know will stand up and last the rest is personal… if you don’t care about massage get an entry-level unit with good insulation

  51. Hi Chris,

    So happy to find your site, I am learning so much!

    We recently started looking for a hot tub in the Charlotte NC area.

    Have looked at Jacuzzi and Hot Spring so far, with husband liking the Aria model from Hot Spring the best.

    Other dealers in the area carry Bullfrog, Artesian and Tropic Seas.

    Of these brands which would recommend? If other than Hot Spring is there a similar model to the Aria you would suggest we look at with s different brand. I can not find a local dealer of Master.

    Thank you!

    • The problem with a lot of the big known brands is that they are private equity investor owned and that means they are going to follow the best business model for profit. The best profit model is to build a mid quality hot tub and spend a lot of money on Branding, marketing, spin, gimmicks, bells, and whistles, use less expensive proprietary parts that only fit their spas and now they have you locked in for life because you can only get parts from them…

      Of those brands the Artesian for sure…

    • Hi Chris, lots of great info here, thanks a lot for the site

      A question:

      we are looking at a hot tub for the cottage, Parry Sound area, Ontario.
      We are considering this possible situation……. Middle of Winter, -30c outside, and the power goes out for 4 days. Very unlikely, but possible.

      Is there a tub out there that is particularly good at not freezing up in a power loss situation.

      Currently our favorite tub is the Jacuzzi J-470, How do you think it would do with no power at -30c
      I see your comments on Jacuzzi parts, but this really looks like a luxury tub, and we like the open seating versus the Arctic Spa Summit that is non-open seating but as lots to say about TP insulation and also claims they are good for 5 days with no power in -30c

      What do you think?

      • Wow Parry Sound!

        I spent my childhood every summer there, I know tons of people from there 🙂

        I am not a fan at all of the Jacuzzi or the Arctic. The first because of the goofy parts list and even the 470 jetting is mostly inexpensive small jets with only a few of the expensive high flow jets. A lot of the companies owned by big corporations spend so much on branding, marketing, spin that they can’t afford to build great spas.

        Arctic is again one I dislike… They spend the money on a good shell, but the parts are all inexpensive imports, they sure don’t spend the money on the foam insulation, they use like 1/4 of what a really well insulated hot tub uses and claim the big airspace is an insulator 🙂 That’s bonkers… in a thermopane window we either create a vacuum between the panes so there is no air there or we inject the area with a higher r-value gas… no other industry would try and say that big are spaces are great insulators… it’s just inexpensive… hell they don’t even bother to clamp the jet pipes… I just can not see where they justify the price on this tub…

  52. Hi Chris,
    I’m in the market for a hot tub for therapeutic use after a hard workout to unwind and relax. Unfortunately, I cannot locate a Master Spa dealer here in San Diego. I’m looking at Cal Spas, Caldera Spas and Bullfrog. Any insight to which one you would recommend over the other and why would greatly be appreciated!

    • Man they each have pros and cons and none are nightmares. The cal uses some goofy old tech like pressure side filtration and questionable insulation system, the Caldera uses a goofy parts list which really locks you into them for life and the Bullfrog has a goofy pedestal supported shell

  53. What are the best hut tubs with great warranties in North West Florida? I’m reading that Bullfrog Spas have the best warranties. Does Bullfrog back their warranties? The Spa & Tub Manufacturer in Chickasaw, AL (1 hour from me) has been in business for almost 30 years. What do you know about them?

    • Im not sure how good the performance of the Bullfrog warranty is but I have not heard bad things. I think they are over priced for what they are, Im not a fan of the jet packs, its innovation for a unique selling point more than for any real advantage and they have had a lot of problems… they also seem to shed dealers pretty fast , we had two guys carry and drop the line locally. The parts and insulation are good, the Shell I am not a fan of, it’s not strong enough to support its own weight like a good hand rolled fibreglass shell so it has to sit on pedestals. https://youtu.be/_T9DY6am_E0

    • Hi Chris. We are about to make our first hot tub purchase and want your thoughts. Our local dealers sell Bullforg, Hot Springs, Alps and Dynasty.
      The Bullfrog and Hot Sprigs Limelight are around 10k. The Dynasty leeward was $6600
      Bullfrog and hot springs both service their products while Dynasty does not.
      Alps sales person not available to explain product or services at that time.
      I have read a lot of your comments regarding bullfrog.
      Needig a 5-6 person unit for therapeutic purpose mostly.

      • When you say “therapeutic purposes” do you mean the hot water therapy or specifically massage?

        Two groups near You can get a Marquis from http://www.petealewinepools.com/contact/ Well built upper mid end performance

        Twilight series or Legacy from Atlanta Spa & Leisure
        4305 Ne Expressway, Doraville, GA, 30340
        Phone: 770-939-8000
        hottub@bellsouth.net
        http://www.atlantaspa.com

        The twilight will be the top performer by a mile, the HL or Legacy will be on par with the Marquis. The clarity is great build but more like the entry level marquis.

  54. I don’t have a Master Spa dealer in the area (Wilson, N.C.) so I wanted to ask what your top choices would be from the dealers I do have available?

    Lifetime Pools – Hot Springs
    K&B Pools – Cal Spas
    Rising Suns Pools – Sundance
    Atlantic Spas -Caldera and Jacuzzi

    1st and 2nd dealer are local and 3rd and 4th are about 50 miles away. I have a budget of around $8,000.00

    • Man, they all suffer from either proprietary parts or bead insulation systems. I looked around the area and there are none that I love.

      You do however have an independent that does service of all brands so buying from a good dealer out of market might be viable. The reality is a great dealer has nothing to do with proximity it has to do with great communication and knowledge. The actual service part can be done through any handyman and parts only take a day or two to ship on the good brands with a compliant parts list.

    • Hi,

      So much info on this site, love it.

      I am in the market for an entry level spa and I have looked at a lot of them and am keeping all that I have learnt from your site in mind when looking at them all.

      Have it narrowed down to 3 and looking to make a purchase in a week or so.

      Marquis- Celebrity Series- Hollywood Model- $7000 + tax
      Sundance- 680 Series- Peyton Model- $6000 + tax
      Hot Springs- Hot Spot Series- Relax Model- $5695 + tax

      Do you have a favorite and why and what would be your second choice and why?

      I live in Southern California.

      So would appreciate your feedback.

      Thanks,

      Nick

      • Man of that group the Marquis… good solid North American OEM parts list and they build them well. The other 2 have a parts list they had made just to fit their spas IMHO it’s done to cut the cost of production and lock you in so you cant source parts from anywhere but through them…

        • Done – you made it easy for me, locally owned and operated for past 15 years.

          Last question- the entry level Marquis I am looking at has very little is no insulation. What is my best insulation option? Go with the ‘pink fibro glass in garbage bags’ for cavity areas, (away from pumps, etc.)

          Thanks once again.

          LOVE this site!!!

  55. Hello from sweden! 🙂 we are thinkin about buying a spa from the master spas series either the balance 7 or evolution 7.3. These spas are in our price range what is your opinion of these tubs? We live in a cold climate (north of Sweden winter temp is sometimes below 20 degrees celsius)

    Thanks for any input
    Bo

    • The Balance 7 is a new design and I love the layout… loads of open space which is really what you want in a water environment. It’s built well and has all the main things… Hand-rolled self-supporting fibreglass shell with a vinyl ester resin core, Great parts list, glued and clamped plumbing lines and a good full foam insulation system with good waste heat recovery.

      • What do you think of the master spas evolution 7.3 the seller says that it is comparable to the master spas healthy living 7 they just call the series evolution in europa. This tub is more expensive than the balance 7 tub http://www.ellipspool.se/spabad/evolution-7-3/

        At first i got confused that the evolution 7.3 is a costco tub but it seems to be a master spas tub.

        • 🙂

          evolution is a Costco tub from a different manufacturer and I Don’t know why they call it evolution in Europe and Healthy living here… but yes it is the same great build quality, just done for European power grid and standards.

          • Thank you for the input, we bought the evolution 7.3 we will will receive it next week. If you ever find yourself in the northern part of Sweden during winter ill hook you up with a spa bath watching the aurora borealis that would make a good review for the tube 😊

  56. great site. Any recommendations on a booster seat that works for short people. Bought lxs 8000 master spa. deep seats.

  57. We are looking to buy a hot tub. The two we like the most in our price range has been the Sundance Chelsee and the Dimension One Meridian. We live in the north and want to use it in the winter outside. Locally we have Jacuzzi, Bullfrog, Sundance, Dimension One, and Master Asia dealers. Which would you recommend.

    The Sundance and Dimension One were both priced at $8999. Sundance would not budge. The Dimension One said he could lowers it to $8499 and throw in the Bluetooth system for free, add a ladder, and the cover lift

    • Sooo… Jacuzzi, Sundance and Dimension 1 are all owned by the same group 🙂 they are all okish but I hate the parts list… all goofy parts they have made to just fit their spa so that you can’t cross shop parts 🙂 the D1 uses a more compliant parts list but not the top ones.

      Don’t Know what Master Asia is… unless you mean a Master dealer and an Asia dealer if you have a Master dealer go there…

  58. we are looking at getting our first hot tub first is the vita prestige spa and the maxx380 and the bull frogx6l whatbis your opinion ? we live in rochester ny and it does get cold in the winter we just want to make the best decsion our budget is 7k-8k

    • So the Bullfrog is good insulation, good parts, but a thin cradle supported shell and the jet packs really limit where the jets can go and where a regular spa can change out every individual jet inexpensively you need to change the whole pack out at 10x the price.

      Maxx is good except the insulation is inexpensive and nowhere near the R value of a good expanded foam system.

      Vita has a good parts list but again not much money spent on the insulation… reflective systems just are not that good at containing heat into a system. http://www.hottubuniversity.com/reflective-mylar-insualtion-systems/

  59. What is your opinion of Cal Spas

    • On paper good, they have all the right parts but an unshakable reputation for issues… no idea I need to look at a newer one but we had two local dealers carry then dump them that always speaks volumes.

  60. On the subject of Canada I love the design of the Coast Spa with the infinity edge and the pressurized filter system. I am a little nervous of support and getting parts through customs. What’s your opinion about Coast Spa?

    • On papper they are doing the right things, the reputation has a few scars from the factory support end but a good dealer should eb able to take care of you

  61. Chris, you website is fantastic and we have gained so much knowledge from reading your responses and your videos. I recently posted a question on your blog, but think I should have put my question under Brand Review. Anyway, living in Lake Havasu City, AZ are choices are very limited. Of the few lines available we are looking at the Hot Springs Limelight Pulse or the Artesian Private Label Spa Tropic Seas Oahu Spa, We value your opinion and it seems the Hot Springs is not on your “favorite list”, but there is not a lot of conversation on Tropic Seas. Need to make a decision fairly quickly and want to make the right choice, so any help would be appreciated. Thanks

    • Sorry Im on vacvation this week and latng around on a beach drinking beer tends to make me slow 🙂

      i have not seen the tropic seas but i Like artesian in general.

  62. I do not have Master Spa or Marquis any where near me. I’ve found Sundance, Jacuzzi, & D1. I know the first two are out after reading your information. The D1 dealer has 2 models on the floor that I’m interested in, but I don’t feel like I know enough to make a wise decision. They have a 2016 Aurora for $9500, & a 2017 Latitude for $9K. I love the room in the Latitude, but wonder if the quality is better in the Aurora. Help, please!

  63. Hi! Thanks for all the reviews on the site. I live in Middle TN and the only dealer in the area is in Murfreesboro and carries Caldera, Sundance, Nordic, and Fantasy Spas. My wife and I are leaning towards the Caldera brand. I have read mixed reviews on this brand both on this website and others. There is another dealer in the area that carries Dream Maker, Hotspring, and Sunrise Spas but I have not read or heard much about these particular brands. I was hoping you could offer some insight and if there was a better beat with any of these brands over the others. Thanks!

    • isnt the four winds spas facotry in murphysborough? hell its as good as any of those brands and you can buy seconds direct from the factory likely

  64. Hello we are looking at a Marquis Reward for $9500. Is this a good spa for that price?

    • Price is such a hard thing to talk about. It costs a lot to do business in some markets a not a lot of others 🙂 reading CA is not on the cheap end so that certainly seems like a reasonable price to me.

      It looks like a well jetted upper-end performance wise hot tub and I like their build model.

  65. I’m trying to decide between a used 2004 Master spa lsxs model or a 2007 dimension one chairman spa. My gut says go with the master spa because it is the King of tubs, but the other one is newer. Both are very well taken care of and have nothing wrong with them. Perfect working order. Very nice tubs. What should I do? Any opinion would be appreciated. Thank you

    • I really think the LSX series is a better spa Even if it were just the Balboa system on the LSX vs. the Gecko system on the D1 that alone would be enough to turn me but the LSX also has more of everything…. D1 is a good spa and both these tubs are super high end and you will be well served by either.

  66. Chris,
    We live in Whistler, BC. I’m interested in the most durable, reliable 6 man tub I can buy and I’m willing to pay for it. Unfortunately there are no Master or Marquis dealers near us. The closest dealers carry Maax, Jacuzzi, and Sundance. What should I do? I would rather have nothing than a tub that will be a headache.

    Thanks for doing this. Your site is the most informative I have found .

    Rob

    • Hi Rob

      Tough call… there seems to be a big gap out there I have loads of people asking for solutions in the area and have even shipped half a dozen out there as there are lots of independent service guys in the area.

  67. I live in a rural part of KY and my options for dealers are very limited. I am looking for a small (3-4) person hot tub. One dealer has QCA brand and the other has Nordic, Clearwater and Jacuzzi. Thoughts on any of these brands. I am 50 miles away from either Cincinnati and Lexington where my options get much bigger, but I am concerned about service, parts, etc.

    • The Nordic brand is a well-made spa and not expensive.

      Clearwater uses a pedestal supported shell which just means the shell is not strong enough to support its own weight and a cheap insulation system.

      QCA uses the ABS plastic shell with props and supports… either get a roto mould or a fiberglass hand rolled self-supporting shell these plastic shells were all the rage 20 years ago and are rarely seen anymore, they just do not hold up well.

      My problem with Jacuzzi is mainly the parts list. P{ropritary parts are a not a good thing in my opinion.

      • Thank you for the quick response. I might splurge for the Master Spa HL630 – do you have any dealer information in Cincinnati OH or Lexington KY area. I am about 50 miles from each city.

  68. Great site and info! Have you heard of Jeff’s quality spas in spokane? Says they build the with balboa board, waterway jets and 2 5 hP waterway pumps, Lucite acrylic tub, ozone purification system, Abs bottom/ polar pack R-16 thermal wrap insulation on bottom and cabinet walls (this seems like a low r factor) the diamond 50 sells for $5700. There are add on options UV sanitiser and circulation pump $1000 or air blower with 12 injectors for 300. Your thoughts would be appreciated thanks

    • I have never heard of Jeff’s quality spas in Spokane. I agree that the R16 seems underrated and again thermal wraps are just an inexpensive way to insulate a hot tub.

      I would check to see if it’s a cradle supported she’ll just to see if there’s any props or supports underneath the shell also check your plumbing to make sure it’s glued and clamped the price is certainly attractive

    • Really glad I found this site! We live in South FL and have been looking at a Premium Leisure LE 850 spa. Haven’t seen much info on the company or their spas. The dealer is within 30 minutes of us (The Spa King) and seems to have a good reputation. Priced at $7k with cover, cover lift, steps, bluetooth / mp3, leds, waterfall, etc.. Your info / opinion would be greatly appreciated!

      • We had a guy sell a pile of these in the area and then went bust and left.

        the biggest issue is the poor insulation but living in Florida that’s not such an issue for you, the shell is cradle supported but the parts are good.

        This is a mid-grade spa with a bit of bad and a bit of good.

  69. Mike – Love this website! so much valuable information and the videos are great. Of course, now my head is spinning.
    I looking for a solid 7-8 person tub – not rigid seating – mostly for socializing – large family.
    Bumped into Thermospas (10.5K for Gold Chesapeake with upgraded filter system ($800). I didn’t see any mention of this brand. With research I learned that Jacuzzi acquired different brads so it gets even tricker. They push the perimeter insulation, and the videos are well done.
    How does this brand compare?
    (They tout the warranty etc)

    • I would add the Dealer (Ontario, CA) for MasterSpas has horrible reviews, so what options are there?

      • The dealer there does a lot of expo sales around the country. These sales attract a lot of reviews from local dealers who are mad that they sold a bunch of spas in the market and in some cases customers who bought in areas where the service is spotty. You also have to consider that they do 4-5x more hot tubs than the top dealers so if they have 4 or 5 more comments then it’s really just a numbers game.

        If you are in their local market I wouldn’t worry

        I know them and they

    • Yeah, the big equity companies are buying up the big guys, it’s frankly part of the problem. Between Watkins and the jacuzzi group they own, caldera, Endless pool, D1, hot springs and a few more.

      Thermospa:

      The insulation system is a perimeter system they will sell against full foam systems by claiming it is hard to find leaks and to service but with the Icynene foam its not the case, the truth is its just a lot less expensive to do perimeter systems…

      The controls are good but the fact that they still use an air blower is a big warning sign. air blowers are cheap systems that blow cold air into the tub (even the heated ones are too cool), they are noisy and are used because it ups the jet count and adds value when selling but the reality is no one really uses these anymore except usually mass merchants and on-line guys.

      The 10 year warranty is pro-rated which means you pay after the first year 100% coverage for the first (1) year, 75% for the next two (2) years, 50% for the following three (3) years and 25% for the remaining four (4) years

      Also the labour aspect is only one year… You would be better with a 3 year parts and labor

      • This is a great site with lots of good info, thank you. I understand your trepidation with Hot Springs and the proprietary parts, etc. My question to you; Is there anything wrong with the spa itself, I.e., is it a well made solid product?

  70. David Mcconnell

    Chris
    My family are new into the search for a hot tub and been looking online and research for a number of weeks now. We are looking to get a 4-6 person medium size tub for relaxation time with our two kids. Our budget for a first time tub is around $4k-$5k
    Looks to be limited choices in our area of Winston Salem (NC), but have a selection of Leslie’s hot tubs with Alantis and Oasis and AR brands, or backyard leisure with bullfrog, cooperage, vita and max.

    Can you make some recommendation on these brands (or sellers) with respect to quality, and value for money
    Thanks.

    • The hot tubs at Backyard Leisure are going to be a higher-quality tub and more expensive.

      I’m not overly fond of the insulation system used on The Cooperage, Vita, or the Maxx Spa these reflective insulation systems are just not that good at containing heat within a system and are inexpensive.

      The bullfrog is a big gimmicky I don’t like the jetpacks, it limits where the Jets can go and there’s really not any advantage to it and It’s expensive to change the jetting on. All tubs have removable and interchangeable Jets and it’s pretty easy to customise the jetting in a normal hot tub and if they’re taking the time to glue and clamp their plumbing leaks are usually not an issue. They also charge top dollar for this Spa by their own admission they’re saving a lot of money on plumbing and plumbing parts and they’re using a cradle supported shell and they’re still charging top dollar for the tub I think it’s a bit overpriced and I’m not a big fan of the brand

  71. What great information! What are your thoughts about Celebrity, Freeflow, or Fantasy Spas? We live in the Springfield/ Branson MO area and are not able to locate some of your favorite brands. I’m torn between buying a very basic new spa and a used spa. Our budget isn’t much but I don’t need any bells and whistles. I’m happy just to be outside in hot water! I’m looking more for the relationship aspect for my family and friends.

    • of that lot the clebrity for sure

      • I know that isn’t comparing apples to apples. So, it seems my options around here are Sundance, Hot springs, Marquis if I want to invest $6500+. If I want to lessen my expense, free flow or fantasy. $3500ish a lot of the rentals use the later two. Is it because they are cheap or durable? No bells and whistles on those.

  72. Hi Chris, thank you so much for sharing all your knowledge with us. I’ve been trying to decide on a hot tub for months now, I’m about to drive myself nuts. I am really liking the Masters TS 6.2 and several times I have put in my info to try and find a dealer. It keeps telling me there is one 32 miles from me but will never let me get the address or anything. I live in Leitchfield, Ky 42754 can you help me find someone that sells Master Spas some what near me please? My husband stands on his feet 10 hours a day 6 days a week and I know he’s in a hurry for me to make up my mind, 🙁

    • Hi Chris,

      My wife and I are looking at the healthy living 8.5. we were quoted a price of 6500 USD for this spa including the pan, cover, set up, uv light, and circulation pump. good deal or not? your site has really helped me learn so much about spas as a first time buyer!

      • Hi Brian

        all good except get rid if the circ pump.. bad option, more trouble than they are worth , but don’t them I said so 🙂

      • Price is great.

        But I hate the circ pumps…

        Circulation pumps also called Hush Pumps, and silent flow pumps are sold as an advantage and often as an upgrade on Hot Tubs.

        The Pitch is that they are small efficient pumps that clean your water 24 hrs. a day and are quiet and efficient to run.

        It’s usually about a $500 upgrade and in my opinion, they are not as good a the alternative which is a high flow circ system.

        Although they use a small amount of power they run 24hrs a day whereas the high flow pump only has to run about 4 hrs a day to clean the same amount of water both systems use similar amount a power per day.
        They wear out more quickly because they run all the time.
        The tiny energy savings against the increased cost of replacement parts make them more expensive over the long run.
        They can only filter so much water a day. if you have a heavy bather load or a party or busy weekend of hot tubbing it can take them a while to recover whereas with a high flow system you can change how many hours the pump runs! So after a party you can throw it on 24 hr mode (or any other amount) and it will filter up to 6 times more water than a circ pump can over the 24hr period.
        Circ pumps are also low flow and this means you need to be very regimented with filter cleaning, if the filter gets too dirty they go into flow error easily, the hi flow systems don’t unless you are truly negligent.
        The new anti-vibration mounting systems make the good hi flow 2-speed pumps almost as quiet as the Hush pumps, there is very little difference.
        I’m not a fan I think they are sold to add margin into a deal or added value perception. It’s all marketing spin.

    • These guys do the swimmers and the LSX lines and might be able to get you a TS…

      Swim Spa International
      6228 Airpark Dr. Suite B
      Chattanooga, TN 37421
      Phone: 423-355-8930
      Fax: 423-744-8703
      swimspainternational@gmail.com

  73. I saw a Master Spa Healthy Living HL 8 unit on sale for $10k. Do you know what is different between three Healthy Living and the Twilight series units and does $10K sound like a reasonable price for the HL 8?

    • 10k is a good price on the HL.

      Big difference between the 2 lines, HL is like everyone else’s top of the line, 2 pumps one running each side of the spa, and a mix of high-end therapy jets and regular jets.

      Twilight is all high flow therapy jets and has the unique ability to concentrate and entire pump into just the main captain’s seat or into the foot jets or the lounger… the flow rate out fo the seat is insane…

      Both are great from a build quality standpoint but the Twilight is a therapy monster truly in a class of its own.

  74. Hi, we’re jumping into the hot tub game and trying to stay educated through the process. Just spent an hour digging through your posts and the comments – hugely helpful.

    My biggest confusion right now is around the insulation – it’s hard to even search for or interpret the correct insulation/heat recovery system combo on the product pages I’ve seen.

    We’re located in Central Oregon (Bend, Sisters, Remond, etc.) – do you know of a good dealer out here? I figure if I can get connected with a solid dealer they can help me navigate.

    Thanks in advance!

    • Insulation is the trickiest of the features to nail down.

      follow the money 🙂

      So filling the cavity with the motors under the skirt is expensive and lets you reclaim the motor heat effectively through the ozone system and venturis…

      Perimeter system use 1/3rd of the insulation and therefore cost 1.3 to make and have 1/3rd to 1/2 of the r value…

      reflective radiant heat insulation is cheap as chips and gets about R 4 per layer in an optimum installation perimeter but in a hot tub you are lucky to get R3 the reality is tall the science out there says this is not good for containing heat into a system, there is no thermal mass! so stay away, it is the cheap gimmick and is basically banned in cold climate house building as a primary insulator…

      • Thanks for the insulation tip. I think we’ve narrowed it down to an Artesian South Seas spa (thinking it’s our best option in Central Oregon) w/ the full foam upgrade.

        They’ve priced the 748B at $6100 and the 850B at $6500 (with cover, cover lift, steps, full foam, chemical kit, ozone and normal delivery.)

        Any other advice before we pull the trigger? Other upgrades we should be looking at?

        -Derek

  75. Hi, thanks for your great reviews! Do you know anything about United Spas of Modesto, CA? I live in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada so we do get some colder temperatures. We are about an hour from Modesto and have heard some good things about this company.

    • Yer making me work for this one. never heard of them so I looked online and here is the 2 cent review..

      Shells – really old designs, they have floor drains 🙂 its good to stay away from fittings and plumbing under the floor, big heat loss through conduction.
      – Hand rolled glass shell with good warranty.

      dont recognise the control system, but they do a good foam.

      sorry not much available online and they are closed 🙂

  76. Thanks for all the great information. I live in the Cleveland area and I am looking for a 5-6 person hot tub that is energy efficient for use in winter. What are your thoughts on getting one with a lounger? The brands I’ve seen at local dealers are Jacuzzi, Sundance, Bullfrog X series, Caldera, and Tropic Seas (Artesian)? I’m looking to spend $7k or less. Thanks for your help.

    • Bill of that bunch go Artesian.

      if you press Ctrl f the find menu will come up type jacuzzi or any other brand to find more on specific brands…

      • Hi, I’m on the east coast. Looking to purchase a Lounge swim spa. What’s your opinion on coast spa wellness party 2 verses artic arthabascan?

        Thanks Jen

        • Hey Jen

          Not Impressed with the Arctic. Great shell, Inexpensive foreign sourced parts, No clamps on the plumbing, Inexpensive Insualtion system and man those cedar skirts!!! If you like the look of a cedar skirt in the showroom then dont buy a Cedar skirt… It dates your purchase, a good vynal skirt looks like a new spa forever.

          That being said Cal is just ok.

          Your IP shows you near Ossining

          if so go see the H2X, 60″ Deep, better flow rates, built well it’s a good swimmer. Master pretty much invented these things and the years of R&D they did with Phelps and his Coach Bob Bowman on the MP line had a huge trickle down to the H2X line. It’s a great swim spa.

          East Coast Spas Inc.
          , , , 10606
          Phone: 203-460-0514

          http://www.eastcoastspas.com

  77. Hello, I’m just beginning my search for a 4-6 person hot tub. I’ve watched your videos and read thru relevant articles as well. I live in the Chicago suburbs and a budget of approximately $5000. Is there anything specific you recommend near that price range? I did make note of the “Getaway” hot tub which linked me to a seller not far from me called “Nationwide Spas” in Bensenville Il. Any input is greatly appreciated and thank you for all the information!

    • Rotomoulds have come a long way they used to be ugly ducklings and poorly made and some still are :-)They are easy to move and if they use the right parts mix and glue and clamp the plumbing lines and use a good full foam they can be efficient good performing nice looking hot tubs.

      Nordic also build a good one but the insulation is not as good.

    • Are there any getaway dealers around Toronto

  78. Chris,
    I think this website is wonderful for consumers considering purchasing a hot tub for the first time. First, let’s say that they are no small investment for the consumer. I work as a salesman for a local dealer in my area and we carry MAAX Spas and Master Spas. First, I will say there are few resources out there to educate consumers about hot tubs, and they rely on either sales people or the Internet about the various brands of hot tubs. This brings me to my next point that manufacturers do very little brand hot tubs to consumers. Again, this leaves the burden on dealers, sales people, and the consumers. In my area, consumers ask me about Costco’s Evolution Spas, which is manufactured by Strong Spas. I simply point them to the video on this page and I make the sale. I tell them that they are more focused on volume versus quality and customer service is handed by the manufacturer. Therefore, the volume of complaints and issues of their Evolution Spa is placed into a cue. I am not fond of hot tub manufacturers that sell out to big-box stores for the quick buck from consumers and leaving them with negative impressions about hot tub ownership. However, it is about brand awareness within this industry. I hope the quality manufactures out there start realizing this and start being proactive and supporting their dealers and create some national marketing campaigns that can inform consumers of their choices. However, this is a great resource for consumers. Keep up the good work.
    Mark

    • Thanks, Mark nice to get some industry love back 🙂

      Have a great day!

    • Happy Artesian owner with a local dealer

      “I am not fond of hot tub manufacturers that sell out to big-box stores for the quick buck from consumers and leaving them with negative impressions about hot tub ownership.” Yet you proudly sell Master Spas who’s M.O. It is to drop by the local fairgrounds, dump 30 spa’s in the market and leave town, leaving the install up to 3rd party providers with no local customer service?

      • Lots of dealers of lots of different brands sell out of their immediate market at expos, shows, fairs, home shows etc. It can be good if they have local service, good online and or phone support or they can be a train wreck if its a dump and run artist…

        Just like buying from a local dealer… if you get a good one great! if he is a bad dealer then it doesn’t matter if he is 10 miles or a thousand miles away it’s going to be a shit show.

        I often sell over 100 miles away and I have BBB A+ and Google 5 start ranking because I’m a great dealer and answer questions and sell a great brand and service the hell out of my customers…

        There are no Manufacturers doing these shows, they are dealers, Your point is off the mark because the brand of the spa has nothing to do with the dealer… Although it is nice to get both and it sounds like you did 🙂

  79. I’m looking into buying a “Tuff Spa”. What is your opinion on them? If it doesn’t have clamps/insulation, can I add them?

    • I love the solid lid except it blocks you view on 2 sides:-(

      They use Balboa heating and control and generally a good parts list but the insulation is cheap. This Bluemax, if used in a house, should be 4″ to 6″ thick to meet code. and because heat loss is directly proportional to temperature difference it makes sense that your hot tub should be insulated better than you house! There is just not a high enough R-value with 2″ of fibre insulation.

      Rotomoulded shells last forever and are inexpensive to make.

      That being said You are in so Cal and banning isn’t in the mountains so it’s not as big of a deal for you.

      Check around and see if you can Find a nordic or a Getaway hot tub, the Nordic has a similar insulation package and the Getaway hot tubs is full foam!

  80. I live in the Cleveland, Ohio area. This will be first hot tub. It will be used for relaxation. I think I need something rather basic and not looking to spend much more than 5k. Is this possible? Any help is greatly appreciated.

    • Hi VR

      It’s a tricky price point there is a lot fo junk at this price point and a few Gems.

      The Roto moulded spas can be excellent value for the money and the top one would be the Getaway spa, it has more insulation, a nice external skirt and great parts and build list.

      They sell the getaway spas here:

      Best Buy Pools And Spas
      731 Beta Drive, Unit B, Mayfield Village, OH, 44143
      Phone: 877-493-5570
      tdhted@aol.com

      Second best would be the Nordic spas, built just as well but not insulated nearly as well… they sell them here:

      Northcoast Spa Hot Tub Store:
      9040 Osborne Drive
      Mentor, Ohio 44060
      Tap: 888-772-2273
      Tap: 440-255-6620

  81. First time buyer. Love your site! I live in Cincinnati, OH and I can’t seem to find any Master dealers in this part of the state. Are there other brands I should consider where there is a local dealer I can reach? Based on reading all your comments, I was sold on Master..

    Thanks!

    • Hey Jon

      I like the Master stuff because it’s the whole package from the build, quality control, support, efficiency. They are hard to beat.

      But there are a few other brands that are in the good guy group. I looked at all the guys in your area the only two brands I like are both available from Tims… http://www.timshottubstoremasonoh.com/ The Marquis and Artesian are both decent spas.

  82. I am looking for a hot tub for my family of 7! Without breaking the bank. After spending hours of research on your website, among others – (thank you so much!) I felt confident enough to go out to my local hot tub shops and shop around. I went home discouraged. You are correct, the dealers only know what they are taught, and when I question something they tout as a good selling feature (such as shell frame support) a lot of selling jargon comes my way that really is only meant to befuddle the senses. In my area of Eastern Connecticut, on the border of Rhode Island, we have Hot Springs, Caldera, (same thing) Hot Spot, Vita, Nordic, and Bullfrog. (I tried for a Master Spa, but our “local dealer” according to their website is Pennsylvania).
    I am looking for a 6-7 person hot tub (no lounger) to fit everyone. After reviewing all these brands I feel as though I might be better off without a hot tub. Any way you could steer me in the right direction?
    Also, We just put in a really nice concrete patio, perfect spot for our outdoor furniture and hopefully our new hot tub. However, we had it slope away from the house so rainwater would not collect near the house and cause problems. Now the problem it seems is that the pitch (about 2 inches) is not the level ground that a hot tub needs. Any way to fix this issue besides having the concrete guy come back out? Is a 2 inch pitch really going to hurt the hot tub? Thank you for all that you do!

    • Hi Mary

      It’s crazy Isn’t it?

      The reality most people selling spas don’t know much about them, they just regurgitate the pitch they learned, it’s not even that they are being dishonest, they drank the kool-aid and believe the pitch. In all fairness, it takes a lot of years educating yourself, and doing due diligence to vet the info, and having the first-hand experience of what is working in the field to sort the wheat from the chaff.

      I just spent 30 minutes going through every single store within 40 miles of you and there are no brands that I would put on my display floor but the best would be Dimension one from Pools and Cues.

      The reality is any further out that 40 miles and you might as well be 100 miles away 🙂

      I usually advocate buying local but you might consider buying out of the area if you are handy with tools and can use a volt meter or have a good local handyman.

      The reality is a good dealer is more about communication than proximity, someone that knows what they are doing and answers their phone will solve most of your issues then and there and for actual service will be easily able to diagnose over the phone. The parts themselves as long as you stay with the good OEM parts lists are easy to source and easy to install.

  83. Not seeing my post, so trying again. We live in a small town and don’t have a lot of options for hot tubs, Nordic, Garden Leisure, Dynasty, Waters Edge and Jacuzzi. Looking for something to help husbands circulation problems. Any info on these would be greatly appreciated, Thanks.

    • Hi Leisha

      Nordic is a good reliable spa, well made and good parts, and inexpensive.

      • Thanks for you reply Chris. I found a place that does sell the Marquis 🙂 I’ll have to say I’m really liking that Reward, but gosh they are high. I can’t seem to find anything on their site or anywhere how they are made, and I want to make sure they do all 5 of those things you talk about before I take such a huge plunge, I’ll have to say I’m almost terrified. Can you give me any info on these tubs please.

  84. Hi Chris,

    I visited a hot tub show today selling Master Spas and they quoted me the Clarity Balance 8 with cover, lifter, and steps for $6500 delivered and set up. Is this a competitive offer? My friend is a huge believer of Nordic brand and is trying to steer me in that direction. What are your thoughts?

    • The Nordic spas are good well built tubs, they use the same parts as the Master but the insulation is sub standard. They use a small amount of foam on the shell and then a fiber wrap, its about 1/2 the r-value of the Clarity. Also it is a plastic shell which is not bad from a durability stand point but it is a lot cheaper to build.

      The Price on the Clarity is good, The shell is much better and the insulation is way way better, plus it is a beautiful open seating design, this is a brand new line and they nailed it on the layout, I love the usability of this spa.

  85. Wow, what a helpful site! We are JUST starting to look into hot tubs for our back deck. It’s just the two of us, nearing 40 in a few years and the husband has a bad back/shoulder. We’ve checked out a few brands, the bullfrog, the lifestyles? and then followed up checking out the Nordic. We live in the thumb of MI and we were told the Nordic is insulated for these areas as its made in MI. Not sure if this is true? The price point seems very reasonable, around 5000.00 but now Im wondering if a higher price point is needed? So much information out there, it’s overwhelming to two newbies!

    • Depends on what is important, the Nordic is well built and the insulation is middle of the road but it is a little shallow so if you are tall it might be an issue. They are also fairly basic jet wise so if you are looking for high-end therapy massage they really do not go to that end. Also there is a New brand by one of the big old Players called Get Away Spas, that is very similar to the Nordic spas but with better insualtion systems.

      Or go to http://www.johnsonpoolsandsupplies.com/ they do Marquis which is one of our go-to brands.

      • Thanks so much for the reply. After doing research on your page I think we are leaning away from Nordic .. Not really wanting to deal with a tub with sub par insulation in MI .. The Master Spas you keep referring to are looking very nice in our eyes .. Hoping we can find one in our price range! Thanks again for all your time and info on this site, it is much appreciated!

  86. We’re in south FL. The nearest Master dealer is 50+ miles away. Marquis dealer is > 100 miles away. The local “reputable” dealer Has Maxx and HotSprings. Another dealer sells Dimension One. I have not contacted the Master dealer to see if they would deal with us down here, deliver, install etc. Of the brands mentioned, other than Master, what would you favor?

  87. This is a great website and I’ve learned a ton! I feel much more informed but my head is about to explode! Anyway, we live in Raleigh NC and just started our search. There are several dealers here in our area. We found one that sells a brand called South Seas Spas…any thoughts on the quality of that brand? He also sells marquis, which I can see you recommending over and over. After reading your site, I’m getting the feeling that in order to get a quality 6 person tub, I’m going to have to drop at least $10K but was hoping to keep it around $7-8K.

    • Hey Penni

      You can get really well-built spas in the 7-8k mark but they will be simple units and the message will be middle of the road, One of the things you need to decide is what is on your list of wants… is it just a good reliable efficient spa to soak in and relax? Or are you looking for a good therapy massage spa? because the reality is to get a good therapy massage spa y7ou need to go to the 10k mark…

      South seas are built by Artesian which overall is a decent brand. but be careful because they price it and spec it out with a few cheap options and then offer you the option to upgrade. I would say that by the time you upgrade your price is going to be in the range that you could buy a better line. I am assuming you saw the South seas at Spa & Pool Outlet? they also do the Marquis spas which are good as well. I looked at all the other guys and this is your best locally.

  88. Hey there, great site. In the market for a new spa, left our 15 year old Caldera when we sold the house. Husband recently had spinal fusion and I have arthritis. We were looking at the Hot Spring Aria but after reading this I am going to have a look at the Twilight. Aria is about 13k a bit more than we wanted to spend but want something that has good jets and will last. Also they would throw in the Ace salt water filter, after doing some digging seems pretty gimmicky, thoughts?

    • Yeah all the miracle onboard systems are a bit gimmicky 🙂

      The parts list on the Twilight is the best you can buy, Waterways and Balboa parts are pricey but super reliable and very competitive and easy to source, HS went and had proprietary parts made to just fit your spa, this saves then money and traps your business because you can only get the replacements from them at whatever price they dictate.

      Also, the performance, if you are looking for therapy massage, is insane on the Twilight, I have one cause I am broken and IMHO it is the best therapy massage spa out there.

  89. Hello
    I’m trying to decide between Sunrise Paragon series Legend model and Caldera Tahitian. I live in Ottawa.
    Would appreciate any feedback.
    Thank you

    • Hi Joanne

      Sunrise is a small regional guy out of Grimsby and while there are some good things about the spa (good shell, good parts, good plumbing) the insulation is ridiculous. Roxull is used in house but in 6″ thick batons which gives you an R-value of around R-4 per inch which means these batons in the bags that they use are only around R-6 to 8 and because they are just tucked in they can be p[rone to sagging over time and do not seal to the shell so there is going to be a lot more heat loss through inconsistencies in the fit and through convection currents. The bottom line is at about .50 cents a square foot it costs about $40 to do this insulation system compared to the investment of a couple hundred thousand dollars for a spray foam booth and then $200-$300 worth of expanding foam to fill the cavity and get into the R-30 range. This is not innovation, or a better system it is cheap. When we talk about heat loss the math tells us that the amount of heat loss is proportional to the temperature difference so it is even more important to have great R-value in a hot tub that it is in your house because the temp of a hot tub is so much higher. So Roxul themselves and the building code says we need 6″ in a house then we really need to look at the claims that this is sufficient because with the temperature difference and the increased heat loss because of this we need at least 1.5 to 2 x more R value in a hot tub so we really want to be in that R30 range.

      On the Other hand, Caldera (owned by the same parent as Hot Springs) is one of the brands that have these stupid special parts made just to fit their spas and I’m never a fan of this. These guys that do this do not do it to make a better spa, they do it to save money on the build and then to trap your business forever… a cheaper parts list with only one place you can buy it is never a good scenario… see this video… https://youtu.be/7O6ynNUWqM8

      Let me see what I can find in the area…

  90. Hi Chris,

    I’m in western Canada, so our winters tend to be fairly extreme, which is the main reason I wanted to aim for a full insulated tub from a quality manufacturer.
    I’ve got a line on a new 2016 Master Spa HL8 for $8500, it’s got a couple minor upgrades, but has mostly been utilized as a floor model. This is our 1st spa for a family of 5.
    Is this a fair price and should I be concerned about anything?

    • Hi there

      HL8 for $8500 is a great price, even if it is a demo. I like the brand it is built right, has a good solid parts list, solid shell, clamped plumbing lines and is full foam… buy it

  91. Hello, just picked up a master twilight 8.25 in California for 8k out the door. First, does this seem like a fair price? Second, I did not get the upgraded master pure system. Can I use the aqua finese with the standard filters? Thanks.

    • Yeah, very good price the jury is still out on the Mast3r Pur I have my eye on 4 in the field and so far the response has been very good. It’s been a year in the field so ill get one to test this season and do a report on it.

      You can use AF on that spa.

  92. Love your willingness to help people through the hot tub mine field. Hoping you can assist me. I found a good deal on a Clearwater Spa Tradition – Beachcraft model. They have some great marketing, but your site is making me wonder what the quality is like.
    It does have Balboa components but I’m not sure about the jets.
    I’m in northeastern WA, so cold winters are normal. The touted insulation system makes me wonder how good it really is.
    Can you let me know if this spa is worth bringing home? Thank you.

    • Hi There

      It is a typical middle fo the road spa, some good some bad some ugly…

      The Good is the Control system, balboa is the Bomb!

      The Bad is the shell and the insulation. There is nothing more expensive to build than a hand-rolled Fibreglass shell with a vinyl ester layer I have had bad experiences with the ABS backed acrylic with the rigidizing layer, this was a big thing 20 years ago and it is out of favor now, it is less expensive to build and the structure is not there so they need to use props and supports under the shell to keep it from falling apart. While you can sell this as a plus by saying its extra support for real durability the reality is its a less expensive way to build a shell and nowhere near as good as a hand rolled self-supporting hull see this video…

      The insulation is cheap and I am not a fan at all. This reflective system made a big splash ion the 80’s in the housing and construction industry and then all the northern US states and Canada issued warnings and in some cases banned it as the primary insulation in homes. It is good a reflecting radiant heat so to use it in a warm climate to bounce heat away from your attic it works well but it has little or no thermal mass and is just not that effective at containing heat in a system. read this article and follow the links in the reference section if you really want to learn about it.

      The Ugly, Looks like rising dragon jets which is one of the cheapest you can buy.

      Boy I looked around your area and even into Coeur d’Alene and I’m not a big fan of any of the brands out there but you do have a robust community of independents that do service and parts so if you stuck to a good brand using the readily available parts list you might consider buying out of the market. You know I think a good dealer is critical but more and more the definition of a good dealer is changing, the reality is proximity is not as important as communication and knowledge. Frankly, most customer issues can easily be dealt with over the phone and most spas parts are plug and play so its pretty easy to get reliable parts installers. If you have a great shell and glued and clamped plumbing the reality is you will likely only every need parts put in as they wear out and if your spa is built with the top North American parts then its easy to source and install the parts…

  93. Chris,
    We’re starting out search…we don’t need a big spa (2-3 people), with decent jet strength. We live in San Jose, so not super cold (but great cool evenings). Our budget is around $4k, we saw a Maxx 102 (2016 model) that fits our space and budget. Would love your thoughts.

    • Maxx is ok-ish but if you watch their video you will see they use supports under the shell which indicate they are using a cradle supported shell which is never a great idea, and the insulation is dodgy as hell but again in a cold climate it’s not the end of the world.

  94. Hi,
    Thanks for all this helpful info.
    First time spa buyers in Northern California. Here’s what we need:
    -it’s for a vacation rental – up to 10 people allowed on property, assume 6+ hotub.
    -We are remote owners, need app control to shut it off at curfew time (!)
    -want high quality, but don’t need 20 pumps and 50 jets.
    -+/- other bells and whistles, open to your thoughts…
    -actively seeking a rec, we have no reference points! If it were my own family I would buy a soft tub and call it a day, but this is a different thing!

    Thank you!

    • For rental properties, you want minimal bells and whistles. you want simple… You also will need to have it maintained and checked bi-weekly with a log book to prove that the levels are ok.

      Shutting it off at curfew time will not protect you legally they can still sit in it, you need to bar access. Plus shutting it off for 12 hrs a day is not practical for the sanitation end of it. also for a vacation rental do you really need to control access? I would look into this and if you do need this from a legal standpoint then you need a gate that locks automatically or something else.

      it’s easy to have a wi-fi system that lets you see if anyone is using the jets but again the easiest might be a camera with a motion sensor but you might run into privacy issues.

      You also need to check local regulations you may very well need a commercial filtration system nd an overflow water recovery system…

      You need to talk to a commercial pool spa builder, a portable spa might not be your best option

      • Thanks for this info. I guess I wasn’t clear, sorry. The curfew is the time that they should be inside the house (10PM), no legal reason for bar or commercial tub. There’s been an existing portable yucky hot tub on the property for years, past owner was a lawyer, no issues with city code. Just interested in best product for durability for this application. We have maintenance folks ready to go, in past were coming every week. Thanks!

      • Hello! Thank you so much for all of the information you provide! We are just beginning our search for a Hot Tub. We are considering 4 brands as of now – Marquis, Dimension One, Master (only at expo center), and also a local brand named West Coast Spas. Do you know anything about the last brand? We were overwhelmed by the “solutions” out there for reducing chemicals in the water, and original thought saltwater would be easier / less maintenance, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. Any advice on the brands and water treatment systems would be helpful.

        • Hey Cori

          It’s a minefield out there 🙂

          Typically small regional guys are middle of the road only because their volume is not high enough for them to afford to adopt new innovation and build to a really high standard. That being said they are easily as good as a lot of the big “Top Brands” who spend more money on marketing and advertising and spin than they do on actually building a great spa! see this new video I did talking about the types of manufacturers and how it affects your Spa life…

          The sweet spot is that small group of players that spend most of the money on the Hot Tub…

          As for the miracle chemical free systems don’t buy your hot tub based on this, the truth is everyone has a decent onboard system but none of them are as good as the aftermarket stuff like Aquafinesse, Mineralux, spa Marvel… see this video I just did on the different chemical free systems and what to avoid.

          Of that group the master, then the marquis…

          • Hi –

            Thanks again for all of your support!
            I have a couple of questions about some comments you have posted on the site. You seem to really favor Master – but all comment on NOT buying from an expo. That is the only option in our area (Portland OR). The rep said they have local repair techs here and they have been very helpful answering my questions. Should I worry about purchasing from an Expo?

            Our other choices are Marquis or D1, but the Marquis is a little out of our price range.

            Thanks

          • Thanks again.

            You mentioned something in an earlier post about not buying from Expos, but that is the only way Masters sells (at least here in Oregon). They said they have local service reps, but wanted to see what you meant by that post? You seem to love the Master Twliight.

  95. How much do you know about Maax/Vita line of hot tubs. There is a local dealer that carries these lines of tubs, but haven’t heard of them or seen too much in the way of info with my limited research. Any input you can provide would be most helpful and appreciated!

    • Hey joe, Imo Maxx are middle of the road spas, except the insulation which is just cheap and Low R-value, I don’t like steel frames, wood is quieter, better r value, as strong or stronger and typically when they pitch a steel frame it’s because the shell is not strong enough so they are using a steel frame to try and hold it all together.

      Vita is middle of the road, in my opinion, steel frame I do not like, its a gimmick and noisy.

      The biggest problem I have is the reflective insulation system, it’s cheap and not very effective.

      There are a lot of different reflective surfaces but the truth is it does not change the fact that they are reflective insulation only dealing with radiant heat and the backing has minimal thermal mass.

      The problem with radiant insulation is that it is just not that good at containing heat in a system, especially when installed in a hot tub. Radiant barriers work well at bouncing heat away so in Florida they are good in attics to keep the heat out.

      There are enough studies out there to make a good solid scientific case against these radiant systems used to contain heat in a system and the reality is some hot tub company with some marketing spin is in no way changing that scientific data.

      copper, whiteboard, Bi pet foils they are all the same theory.. reflecting infrared spectrum back… Changing the reflective material has almost no effect because it’s not the quality of the reflector that is in question it is the science of reflective insulation systems being applicable to this application that is in question.

      http://www.hottubuniversity.com/reflective-mylar-insualtion-systems/

  96. Hi Chris,

    I’ve read through your site in detail and yet one area I haven’t seen many people ask about is using particular brands in cold climates. It sounds like Master is the way to go for hitting all the major points but would any other brands be a consideration for year round use in northern New Hampshire?

    My primary use will be for hydrotherapy for arthritis and rarely for entertaining so I’m looking for a smaller unit. I’ve seen many websites and forums saying to never use Epsom salt in today’s spas for the corrosion related issues. Is there any brand or discussion in the industry that will allow for Epsom salt usage?

    • Hi John

      The insulation and running cost is the most misrepresented area in hot tub land, there is so much spin and marketing and bullshit it will boggle your mind.

      I always look at what costs the most to do… in other words how much the manufacturer actually spent building your hot tub is a great gauge of what is really the best method.

      So The cheapest in reflective foils, you can wrap a whole spa in the white, silver or copper reflective foils for around $20-$50 spin up some silliness about space suits and hi tech radiant heat reflection… This crap made big waves in the eighties and nineties in the housing industry until it was banned in almost every northern state and across Canada as a primary insulation for houses as it simply did not work worth a damn… and it does not matter if its copper or mylar bi-pet or anything else… read this… reflective insulation systems

      The next cheapest is perimeter insulation it runs from the crazy end with attic insulation in a bag to 3 or 4 inches of expanded foam on the skirt, again it only costs between $150 to $250 to put that much insulation in and it ranges from R10 to R-18 on the top ones. read this

      The most expensive are full foam, worth around $450-$500 and you get around R-30+ the good ones recover motor heat as well or better than the perimeter systems and hold heat in twice as well as the best perimeter systems.

      As far a Epsom salts go yer right stay away, but you can go to Mineral salt systems like Aqua Finesse that are great for your skin and really reduce the chemical amounts in your tub… frankly AF is better than the best onboard system for easy and good quality water in my opinion.

      • Hi Chris, i feel like I dodged so many bullets in finding your website. We’re looking to buy a hot tub for the first time but have a much lower price point of $5-7K. What would you recommend? I’ve studied your site and am worried anything I buy will be junk. Would maybe buying a second hand Masters or other higher end tub be a smarter move and if so where do you find them?
        We’re in the long island/NY area and can find most dealers.
        Thank you, steven

        • Hi Steven

          The $5-$7k mark is doable but you need to be careful at this price, 90% of the spas in this bracket are flash and very poor quality.

          look for simple, any spa at this price sith a stereo or any other goofy flash things is going to be trouble, you need every dollar spent on the build.

          There is a limited edition Legacy called the 730L which you can get into for that money, it’s a discontinued line that gets released as a limited buy every few years and although it is a simple spa, it is reliable and well insulated.

          If you have a Master dealer in the area ask them about it. A lot of dealers don’t carry them because right now the flash sells but bang for the buck its a great spa.

          • Thank you. From reading your site that was where we were leaning. I’ll see if I can track down a 730L. We also went to a master dealer yesterday and are starting to narrow it down to a Clarity Balance 7 for about $6K and a bull frog (without the jet packs) for about $6,300. Both look comparable but is the Clarity a better buy?

            Masters also has a new Getaway Line for $4500. Smaller, fewer jets with a substandard shell and only 1.5HP motor but still the Balboa, waterway and foam. It’s $1500 cheaper but should I be concerned about the shell and smaller motor or would is that enough for only 38 jets?

  97. Thanks for great information provided. I have a question And maybe I’m just weird. We’re looking at master spa twilight 725 and also the master clarity precision 7… the twilight is almost 2000 more and appears much smaller only holding 300 gallon while the clarity holds almost 400 gallons and has a much wider look. Am I reading too much into the gallons. Is the twilight 725 that much better with the bigger pumps and jets?

    • Hey Matt

      Both good questions.

      The real difference is therapy massage… I love the open seating on the clarity and it really is a great roomy spa, perfect for entertaining and performance wise its right up there with the most of the top brands out there.

      Now Twilight is a therapy massage animal… if its all about the high-end massage then its worth spending the extra dosh on the Twilight, if on the other hand you want some good massage and party space for lots of people the clarity is the answer…

      • We too are new to the hot tub scene. We live in Waynesville North Carolina up high on a mountain so it does get quite cold here in the winter. Having read your comments, we ruled out a Jacuzzi brand. We are considering a Nordic but are concerned about the insulation issue you talked about. They offer something called a Nordic wrap. Is this something that might help with the insulation? There is also a Master Spa dealer in the area. Should we look there as well? we are not interest in therapy massage just a good quality hot tub for unwinding. Thank you in advance for any guidance you can give us.

        • Hi Teresa

          Go see the master guys, I love that brand, they spend more money building that spa than anybody.

          There is the limited edition Legacy series and the clarity hot tubs that are priced more reasonably and still built to the same high standard.

          Tell them you are there because I sent you 🙂

      • Hello again,

        Using the wealth of information you’ve provided and I’ve decided on the Twilight 7.25 spa but I have a dilemma. To purchase this spa I’ve got to go against one of your keys to go a good purchase. The Master Spa dealer in my area (the ONLY one in my area) I was warned by other dealers to be careful of. They have nothing but good things to say about the brand, only the dealer. I looked on the BBB site and indeed they have recent open complaints on service, the purchase and even the delivery itself. If I go outside my area I’d guess the delivery and setup fees will be crazy. Do you have any thoughts or should I purchase my second on the list tub made by Artesian?

        • Hey Matt

          It’s hard to say, Matt.

          I do really believe in the power of a great dealer, I also believe in the power of a Great Manufacturer 🙂

          Ideally, you have both. I would do this… call the dealer tell him you have a second-hand Clarity spa don’t go into details and just ask if they can fix it. Say the breaker won’t stay on… if they start asking you questions trying to figure out what’s wrong or if they offer to send a tech ou,t or they get back to you within 24 hours or so it might just be fake reviews or one issue with a vocal customer.

          I am always leery about what other dealers say about their competitors and of the review sites and rating sites…

        • Hey there Matt,
          Came across your question while exploring this excellent site. I have found that when I see bad reviews about a seller or service provider my best bet is to talk to the person about what I’ve heard. Their reaction will give you good insight into whether they are defensive or thoughtful, highly reactive or concerned. If I get a bad feeling, I pass.

          • The reviews are so risky… The realities are there are so many things that are wrong with the systems used for ratings that that are basically useless.

            1. Only a certain type of person posts to rating sites.
            2. Many times a rating for a product is given and when you read the complaint it has nothing to do with the product, just the users lack of understanding of how to use it… a prime example is water issues, I laugh my ass off when a customer rants about the cloudy water or foul odor or about the tub being unable to keep the water clean…
            3. Every brand has the problem spa if you are a big producer and unlucky enough for a couple hi responders to get problem tubs it skews the reality of the product quality. if it’s even a real issue.
            4. There is virtually no accountability and even the sites that need credit card verification or other means of trying to prove you are a real customer are easy as hell to fool.
            5. MOST OF THE REALLY GOOD REVIEWS AND THE REALLY BAD REVIEWS ARE FAKE!!! It’s true, there are dealers posing as customers, and some manufacturers hire paid bloggers, the discussion forums and the review sites are worse than useless, they are misleading, spin and marketing couched as consumer feedback.

  98. Master spa or coast spa?
    Who has more pros in terms of quality?

    • Master for sure, they do all the big 5 things… Top name brand parts (Balboa, Waterways), Full foam insulation, Glued and clamped joints, Hand rolled self-supporting shells, and easy access removable sides…

      Master is one of my go-to brand they do it all right, they spend the most amount of money on the hot tub than anybody does, they don’t piss your money away on spin and marketing they just quietly build top of the line spas. Here is a video where I tear one apart.

  99. Hi, I read your reviews and purchased an 8.2 Twilight Master Spa yesterday and feel much better about purchase. My concern is price. I did purchase at expo. What is purchase price of the unit with everything except sound system? I see Consumer reports say best by value at $9850. The expo had price was much greater than that with discounts that reflect that price. Other than that any parts issue that fail repeatedly or trouble area to keep an eye open to. Thanks for your time.

    • The best thing about the consumers digest best buy awards is that it isn’t one of these awards that you can influence their decision on, You can’t advertise with them, You can’t pay them, and you can’t even offer advice. When a product receives a best Buy Award award you can be sure it is genuine and not influenced by money.

      The downside to a Best Buy award is how they get the recommended retail price is by calling dealers and asking how much they can buy that particular product for. So inevitably what happens is the sales guy on the phone quotes a ridiculously low price to get the customer to come into the shop. Then once you’re in the shop absolutely everything is extra from the Stainless steel jets, led lights, water features, skirt, cover, eco pure filtration, ozone, cover, etc etc etc… Which inevitably brings you to the real recommended price wich is more like $15 to $17k.

      Because consumers digest is fanatic about non-interference from the winners they will not take recommendations on the price from either the factory or the actual sales figures from retailers to get a true retail average.

      They have the best parts list out there and very little trouble. If you have never had a tub you will for sure have water issues because of over-use and inexperience but for the most part other than a heater and a pump rebuild at the 4-6 year mark you should be reliably in hot water.

      Enjoy you spa… it is a crazy machine that has performance off the charts!

      • Hi, Thanks so much appreciate the time. I usually research the heck out of a purchase like this. Given what you said on price ,I paid 10 g for spa.. not to bad.
        In your expectance what is the warranty like with this company? Have had one spa in past was a older Hot Spring. Its been 4 years in between. With this unit any recommendation for water n chemical up keep.
        Thank you

      • Hello,

        We live 2 hours north of Toronto and are in search of well made hot tub that has a good reputation for hydrotherapy, parts, filtration, warranty.
        What would you recommend?
        We’ve gotten quotes for hydropool p695, coast spa radiance, arctic legend select, beachcomber 5 something, jacuzzi we didn’t even bother as customer service was awful.

        Is there a certain brand you highly recommend?

        • Of that lot the beachcomber for sure. everything is good from the Hand rolled shell to the glued and clamped plumbing to the Parts list, the only reason they are not a tier one tub is that stupid Hybrid system… its old tech rebranded as innovation and has serious downsides, plus they don’t have removable skirts which is a pain in the ass but its better that the rest.

          The Hydropool is a mess IMHO old tech rebranded as new. check out this review…

          Arctic spends more money on spin and marketing than they do on the tub, its mid grade with lots of spin, wouldn’t touch it with a ten-foot pole myself.

          Coast is middle of the road, hard to say between them and the Beachcomber.

  100. I went to our local Hot Tub Blowout event today, and it just so happens that it was a MasterSpa show and the tub I liked was the Twilight 8.2 that is reviewed here. They offered $10K for the tub delivered, with cover and stairs. That did not include the stereo or UV system. How good a deal is this? It’s kind of high pressure, so I came home to research, and was very happy to see this video. Thanks!

    • 10k is a solid price.

      List is closer to $15k and they routinely sell in the $12-$14k mark.

      And it is a mad spa, its the one i have here and the therapy massage is the best you can get, go buy it, dude you will not be disappointed

  101. Thanks for all the advice! We live in Northeast PA and have an older(14 yrs old) PDC spa that just had a pump fail (second service call in 6 months). The PDC dealer is out of business. The only dealer nearby is Star Spa and they sell Viking and Four Winds spas. I noticed your luke warm review of Viking, would Four Winds be a better choice? Or should we just keep repairing our existing spa?

    • Four winds is not a great choice either, Rising dragon jets, and the shell is abs they have had a lot fo failures stick to glass shells, also they use a particle board base and these little 2×2’s under it and the bottom starts failing after a few years.

      I get so damn many requests for PA its insane, there is just so very little available.

      • Chris, I’m a hot tub newbie and I’m so confused as to what tub to purchase. I live in a suburb north of Toronto, ON, so we get some frigid temperatures. I’ve looked at the Evolution at Costco (which had great reviews), the Beachcomber and HotSpring but after reading your blog it doesn’t look like I should purchase any of them. I want a 6 person with a lounger for relaxation and massage in the $6-9,000 CAD price range. Any recommendations would be much appreciated. Thanks

        • Hi Kathy

          Of that lot the beachcomber is the best but stay away from the stupid Hybrid system, its old technology remarketed as new and it is stupid… Why anybody would think that pumping your hot water out into a virtually uninsulated step in the winter would be a good thing is beyond me, not to mention you loose the ability to reclaim the motor heat and are way more prone to equipment freeze up in a power outage. No one does this anymore 90% of the market stopped this silliness 20 years ago and now that they are the last ones doing it the rebranded it “Hybrid” and tried to sell it as innovation…lol its spin and marketing for a unique selling feature and simply bad outdated tech.

          let me see what i can find in your area.

          • Thanks for your comments Chris.
            I’ve decided to steer clear of the big box.
            What do you think of the Dynasty Passport series with the upgraded insulation and stainless steel jets and 2 6-HP pumps?
            Katy

  102. What do you think about the quality and pricing of the Saratoga spa’s? I have a Saratoga Grand that is 10 + years old. It is on its way out the display no longer works, there is a crack in the shell and one of the motors is not working. The dealer thinks it’s a fuse. Shall I stay with Saratoga Spas? I don’t really want to spend much more than 5 thousand. We live in mid NY n winterscan be rough so I know we rely on the insulation in our tub which I believe Saratoga spas focuses on. Looking for your opinion.

    • Sorry I really don’t know much about the brand.

      they have been around awhile but never made it to the big leagues.

      The problem is with the small guys they just don’t do enough volume to be able to afford to built top spas, it sounds like the use an alternate shell material, you really want hand rolled glass. the fact that yer shell is cracked speaks volumes, shells should last forever…

      • Hello Chris, thank you for the education! We are getting ready to purchase and are torn between the Cal Spas Avalon EC-864L or the Artesian Spas, Antigua or Barbados. Finally, the South Sea Spas Deluxe Class 860 L. Any advice you can provide would be SO helpful. All the price points are close and the after service at both seem close to equal.

        • Hi John

          The artesian at that price point but you have the marquis factory right there in portland, let me see what we can do with them, they might do scratch and dets direct in markets where they don’t have dealers.

  103. We have 2 products which you have suggested are good in one way or another. They are Artesian and Beachcomber. Any thoughts on which you prefer of the 2 and why. I live on Vancouver Island and there are no Master Spa dealers here.

    • Hey Bob

      You know Vancouver island has a couple good independent service guys.

      of the Two Id say artesian, the performance is better and i really don’t like the external pumps on the Beachcombers, bad old school tech that they have rebranded as new because nobody uses it and it gives them a unique selling feature and looks innovative 🙂 The BC’s are also underpowered, and they skirts don’t come off which is a nightmare if you have and little failures…

      Other than that they both use good parts and goos insualtion and good manufcaturing techniques.

  104. I have read the previous postings and have researched the Hot Tub dealers in my area (Manteca CA). I do not see any that sell the tubs you indicate as some of the better quality.

    I am a single woman pushing 60. I have lower back issues due to a car accident and my stress tends to settle in my shoulders so my primary reason for a hot tub is for pain and stress relief.

    I already poured a pad and have run electrical.

    I live alone so I do not need a particularly large spa. My concerns are the price, the reliability, and to have good therapeutic jets.

    Can you provide me anyassistance in regards to reputable dealers in my area and hot tubs you might recommend?

  105. Thanks for all the great info! Much appreciated! I’ve narrowed my choice down to the Master Twilight TS 6.2 or the Marquis Spirit w/ 240v pump (I’m space limited).

    Question #1: How do the Master and Marquis water filtrations systems compare? I’m hoping to use as few chemicals as possible, and of course, general ease of use is a concern as well.

    Question #2: How do these two spas compare performance-wise?

    Question #3: I’ve read the owner manuals for both and noticed that the Marquis Spirit has a rather strange valve system where ONLY either upper or lower body areas are targeted (valve settings 1 & 2), or whirlpool option via the opposing Hot Zone jets (valve setting 3). All jets on is not an option. There is zero info in the user manual for the Twilight TS 6.2’s zone controls. Can you give a quick overview of how the valve system works on the Twilight?

    Thank you!

    Mark.

    • I like both these brands they are well-built spas.

      #1 Both tubs use the Microban filters which is nothing really, most studies have shown that there is little or no long-term advantage to micro ban filters vs. regular filters. The Twilight also has an active Copper Zinc Ion filter that kills bacteria, it is def going to be lower chemical… However, if you really want nice easy chem free water go to aquafitness on either spa… It’s amazing but pricey…

      #2 The 6.2 will absolutely blow the Spirit away… It’s a twin pump monster and the neck jet seat in particular is the best in the industry in my opinion. There are very few really high-performance small spas out there Twilight is hands down the winner in the small high-performance spa market.

      #3 Marquis uses a valve system because it is a one pump system, you need to be able to concentrate the water is different areas to get maximum pressure. the reason the 6.2 will kick its ass is because you have 2 pumps so you don’t need to move the water around… when you move up to a TS 7′ spa they then increase the jet count and then add the diverters to move the water around but 2 pumps on a 30 jets spa is crazy pressure already.

      • Thanks for the quick reply! Final question: I am now wondering if the Master Twilight TS 7.2 is the better tub for me. I can squeeze it in the space (with one inch space to the fence on the lounge side). Any reason NOT to go w the 7.2 over the 6.2? Cost difference is only going to be $500. 95% of the time it’ll be just the two of us in there, but the third large seat will be nice. Can I direct all the flow to just the two main seats on the 7.2? Thank you!

        • Dude if you can fit the 7.2 absolutely it is a way better performing deeper roomier your tub it has the ability to put an entire pump into the captain’s chair it’s a monster the 6.2 the great tub but yeah if you can take the space for that kind of money go for the 7.2

  106. This site is full of great information. Unfortunately, I still don’t know what do do…
    Looking to purchase a hot tub very soon. We have a concrete pad to place it on & or house was wired for a hot tub previously, so prep work is done. Main reasons for hot tub is for back pain for my husband. We also have children so would like to have enough room for 5. I did a quick search & can only find 2 local places to purchase a tub/parts. From what I can tell, the only brands they sell are: Jacuzzi, Hot Spring, Limelight, Hot Spot, & Free flow.
    Thoughts, suggestions? We don’t need all the big bells & whistles. My main concerns are comfort, cleanliness, durability, & ease of use.

    • Ooof I feel you pain. I just shot a video of why i really dont like the Jacuzzi, Hot Spring, Limelight, Hot Spots they all use a goofy cheap parts list to lock you in… have a boo at this video explaining why you want to stay away form this.

  107. Thank you for sharing all of your knowledge. First time buying a hot tub. I have neck and shoulder problems. The tubs that we have looked at in our are are Hydropool 570 $9300, Caldera Utopia $12,00 and D-1 or Dimensions $11,000 Marquis Spirit for $10,000… Can you recommend one for Hydro therapy under $10,000?

    Thank You!

    • Performance wise they will all be decent spas but build quality wise the Marquis is the tub.

      Hydropool is just a mess, so much old tech masqueraded as new innovation, The Caldera is a goofy parts list and really an over-priced mid grade spa they spend so much money on the marketing and bullshit that they nothing left to build a spa with 🙂 The D1 again is better but still lacking in the component list. The Marquis has the best parts, the best insulation and is the one to go to of that lot.

      • Awesome information! Thank you and I will also be looking into the Master Spa dealer near Boston.

        • Boston! that’s damn near my wife’s hometown 🙂

          Happy hot tubbing and make sure you tell them who sent you their way 😉 I need some love…

  108. Chris,
    I live in a small town, Chelan WA. The only spa dealer is offer us a Clearwater Beachcraft Series or an Artesian Antigua Elite. I don’t like the wood construction used in the Artesian, but it does have full insulation. I believe they both use Balboa controls. The Clearwater has the better warrenty (20 year structural) and uses no wood. What do you thing of these spas. Thx Brad

    • Hey Brad.

      You don’t care about the wood or steel construction.

      The wood is more than strong enough and it’s quieter with better thermal properties, you want wood.

      And as long as the base is sealed you don’t even care if it is pressure treated. it’s spin and marketing fixing problems that don’t exist, a total side track issues.

      Under the skirt of a hot tub is not outside its inside, dry and warm…

      I dont like the shell they use on Clearwater, abs was a big thing a decade ago but the best shells are glass. See the pillar supports? thats what is called a cradle supported shell, the shell needs props and supports to keep it together. The insulation is also low cost and low “R” value, cool to see them putting the mylar on the floor though its one of the only applications where reflective insulation works, its good at bouncing heat away from things. But it has little or no thermal mass so it is not effective for retaining heat in a system. It has a good parts list, and it looks like the clamp the plumbing lines.

      The Artesian is a far better tub.

  109. Arctic Spa Yukon vs. Master Spas Twilight 7.25? There is a slight catch, I have a local Arctic dealer but not currently a Master dealer for support.

    • Despite the Sparkles and fairy dust, there are only a few factors that really change from Hot Tub to Hot Tub.

      Most manufacturers do a few things really well and fail on a few others, very few do all the right things.

      Marketing and spin are often big effectors of the cost of your hot tub, The Master spa spends almost 20% more money on your hot tub and they are a much bigger and older company than Arctic spas so it’s not down do buying power, it is down to spending more on making the tub instead of more on marketing it…

      Performance Comparisons.

      Getaway spas – Coyote spas entry level
      Clarity spas – Coyote spas upper end and Arctic spas signature series
      Legacy spas- Arctic spas Signature and Legend series.
      Healthy Living Hot Tubs – Arctic spas legend series.
      Twilight series spas – Arctic spas legend and epic series.
      Michael Phelps Legend – Arctic spas Epic and above.

      But wait!!! arnt more pumps better????

      You might think so, and the spin and marketing would lead you to believe so but…

      Think about it… There is only so much electrical power available, it is limited to 50 amps and the 2 big pumps use all the available power.
      So if you have 3 pumps they have to be smaller.
      If you have 5 they have to be much smaller.
      There is no magic here folks there is only so much power available until the breaker trips… so whether you have 2 big pumps or 5 small pumps you still have the same amount of power and here is the catch.

      “The big pumps cost more and are almost 30% more efficient than the small pumps!”

      And you can flow way more water through the main chair with 2 big pumps and a diverter… in fact, the Twilight series 7 and 8 series can flow twice the amount of water through the main seat that the arctic or Phelps legend can… Because it can put a whole 6 hp pump into the main seat this is why it wins the consumer’s digest award every year…

      It’s a fact, research it… big pumps are always more efficient than small ones, every time, everywhere under every circumstance… so why do the Phelps Legend Hot Tubs and the Arctic Epic use 4 and 5 pumps???

      Because the average joe assumes that more is better, and we can charge you more 🙂

      1. Shell

      Both these spas use hand rolled self-supporting multi-layer fiberglass shells.
      That means there are no props or structural foams used to hold the shell together they are both the best-made shells in the industry.

      2. Heating and control systems.

      This system is $300 more expensive than the knock-off Chinese part.

      Master Spas uses Balboa heating and control systems, it is self-diagnosing and wi-fi enabled. It is the most expensive and the most reliable heating and control system in the world and the parts are readily available at very competitive prices from hundreds of sources. This part is used on all the top brands like Master and Beachcomber, Marquis, and Artesian. The only reason not to go to this ultra high end system is it is expensive.
      Arctic Spas moved from the number 2 system Gecko to a Chinese made system last season, they did it to cut the production cost of the hot tub, but they did not drop the retail price to you. They also did it to lock you in for life because you can only get parts for this proprietary part from them, at whatever cost they deem, for as long as they can get the part, and the failure rate on this part is much higher.

      3. Jets and fittings.

      The price on the jetting alone is almost $1000 more on the Master spa.

      Master spas uses the Waterways jets and high efficeny plumbing system. Again this is the most expensive and reliable system avaialble. The spinning jets use the same technology as everything else in your world that spins from the wheel on your car to the fan in your bathroom and the motor in your vitamax mixer… Stainless stell ball bearings in between two wheels… its reliable, efficient, and because it shares the friction between 30 or 40 surfaces it lasts. Also there is almost twice as much materialin a Waterways jet and it is a high end material.
      Arctic recently bought into rising Dragon jets in China. You can find this jet on many brands of spas, all the cheapest ones out there, no high end spa uses this jet… The price on the 5″ spinner from Rising Dragon is $15 The comparable Waterwasy jet is $45. It has replaced the proven reliable technology of ball bearing movement with Arctic spa new wonder technology of simply having a stick stuck through the middle of the jet that the spinner wobbles around on. yep just like your hot wheels car… and they claim they did this all to make a better spa??? This “ground breaking technology” costs 1/3rd as much to manufacture 🙂

      4. Insulation.

      The insulation system on a Master spa cost $300 more than the Arctic spa because it uses 3x more insulation.

      Master fills the wall of the spa, with icynene never hardening foam so you have super easy leak detection and repair. It has an R- value of around R-35
      Arctic uses 3-4″ of foam, with a crazy story about space between the skirt and the shell like being a house… It is a good analogy except the space between the skirt and the shell is the wall of the house and the spa area is the inside of the house. What house does not fill the wall with as mush insulation as possible? Also, big air spaces are not insulation, in fact in a thermopane window, they remove all the air from between the glass layers to make it efficient. It’s a crazy pitch playing on half-truths and misinformation to justify not spending the money to fill the cavity with expensive expanding foam insulation. The wall of the tub is 1/3 full and cost 1/3 the amount and has an R value of around R-18
      Dont get suckered into the fear mongering…. On the old style expanding foams that arctic uses it was hard to fix full-foamed tubs because the foam got so hard over time, but that was 10 years ago!!! The new foams do not have this issue as they never harden or break down and Arctic knows it but they still use the scare tactic to justify the inexpensive insulation system they use.

      Read this article …

      5. Motor waste heat reclaiming.

      Master uses intakes to suck the motor heat off the engines and inject it right into the water. super efficent, and if you discomnect the heater the tub will stay in the 80’s from the reclaimed waste heat…
      Arctic lets it float around in the wall where the insualtion should be and apparently there is magic that makes that free heat… It better be free heat because the r-value is half and therefore the energy required to keep up with the heat loss is twice as much as the Master spa

      6. floor of the spa.

      Master uses a vacume formed ABS bottom pan, nothing is getting through it, not moisture not vermin and because it is a self supporting hull the pitch is you dont even need a base you can put it right on the grass.

      Arctic uses a pressed fiberglass base nothing is getting through it, not moisture not vermin and because it is a self supporting hull the pitch is you dont even need a base you can put it right on the grass.

      They are both lying to you… You should prep the ground under antything heavy. It wont hurt the tub to throw it on the grass but it will not settle evenly, the tub will end up out of level and look stupid. We prep the ground under things like houses and sheds and hot tubs because they are heavy and we want them to stay level… if you throw them on the ground you will likely need to fix it later. guess what??? this means both these guys high tech bases are a waste of money because for around $250 worth of material you will have a 2″ think solid concrete patio stone base that nothing is getting through and will always be level 🙂

      7. Chemical Reduction Systems

      Master spas has Master Pur, and eco pure that uses minerals and ions and UV and ozone. it sis simple to use reliable and the water only has drinking levels of chlorine in it. It is Super healthy, super easy and super low chemical.
      Arctic has a salt generator that makes chlorine called Onzen and although they say it is easy to use read the owners manual… It’s not easy at all, it just makes chlorine, and the failure rate on the anodes is epic. this is old tech redressed up as now, most hot tub companies abandoned the tech years ago.

      8. Plumbing

      Master uses 2″ high flow pipe with external fitting for a true 2″ flow and instead of 90 degree angles it uses ultra efficint sweep corners that offer 40% less restricion. They also Glue and Hand Clamp every line so they never leak.
      Arctic dip glues only, they are notoriously leaky spas. Then they use a 2.5″ pipe and claim higher flow rates but again its a half way system with half truths and a healthy dose of BS. First even the super big pumps can’t flow enough water to outperform a 2″ pipe so the extra size is meaningless and they use internally glued fittings so it gets reduced to 2″ at all the connection points! It’s a total gimmick as the best flow you get is dictated by the smallest section that the water goes through 🙂

      9. Cover

      both spas can have the frp cover with the shiny middle and the ability to walk on or they can both have a regular cover… any spa can have any cover… again anyone before or after the sale can order a cover made to any specification, the difference in price is $200 for the walk on cover but they are super heavy so unless you are going to walk on it, dont bother. but either way, it has nothing to do with the hot tub…

      10. Skirt.

      Master uses a 2 part fully removable skirt, It provides great access and it is sealed to the shell so you have no areas where rodents or bugs can get in. They use composite skirts that are lifetime guaranteed and zero maintenance and look like new forever.
      Arctic uses cedar, it is a one pices skirt with acess hatches and it is really hard to get to the corner jets when they leak, and it requires tons of maintenance and looks like hell in a year… if you like the look of cedar skirts in the showroom then dont buy a cedar skirt.

      So why is the Arctic so expensive?

      They spend a ton on marketing, that’s real money folks and it affects he cost of the hot tub as much or more than the actual building of the hot tub. Master spends more money on thier hot tubs than Arctic does and bulds a way better tub that out performs, outlasts and is more efficient.

  110. What is your opinion on Viking, CalSpa, and Sundance spas?

    • The biggest problem I have with Sundance is instead of using these ultra-reliable and expensive OEM parts they went and had cheap parts made that only fit their spas. They did not do it to make a better spa, they did it to make more profit on the spa and to lock you into them for parts for life 🙂 Every time you have an issue there will only be one place you can buy your parts from and that is them at whatever price they decide for as long as they can get the part! Brutal!!! You end up getting a cheaper part and you loose the flexibility to buy parts anywhere on the competitive open market. Frankly, it is never a good scenario when you need something and only one person can sell it to you.

      Viking has been around forever but never really became a serious player, the problem is unless you get big enough you can’t afford to build everything to the top spec. While the parts are good, I dont like the plastic shells, the pipes are not clamped and the insulation is pants.

      Cal spa seems good on the surface is ok but there are so many bad reviews about backup… with a good dealer…

  111. Amazing advice THANKS. As hot tub newbies (as we’re just here from the UK where the weather doesn’t really make them an option!), I’m super nervous of buying the wrong one. I see you recommend Master Builds, Artesian and Marquis so I will look into them – any suggested retailers in Marin County/San Francisco area? And is it even possible to get a good one for $8k or am I being unrealistic?
    Thanks again
    Sarah

    • Hey Sarah

      You have lots of good options at that price, and lots of landmines!

      Let me see what I can find in the area.

  112. We are considering the Yukon model from Artic Spas. We live in Utah so the winters aren’t too harsh but it will be exposed to the elements. Any thoughts on this brand or recommendations for a better brand? Thanks for your site.

  113. I am considering an Arctic Spa, Yukon model. I live in Utah so not real harsh winters. Positives and negatives? Do you have a better brand recommendation?

    • 1. Shell

      Arctic spas use hand rolled self-supporting multi-layer fiberglass shells.
      That means there are no props or structural foams used to hold the shell together they are both the best-made shells in the industry.

      2. Heating and control systems.

      Arctic Spas moved from the number 2 system Gecko to a Chinese made system last season, they did it to cut the production cost of the hot tub, but they did not drop the retail price to you. They also did it to lock you in for life because you can only get parts for this proprietary part from them, at whatever cost they deem, for as long as they can get the part, and the failure rate on this part is much higher.

      3. Jets and fittings.

      Arctic recently bought into rising Dragon jets in China. You can find this jet on many brands of spas, all the cheapest ones out there, no high-end spa uses this jet… The price on the 5″ spinner from Rising Dragon is $15 The comparable Waterwasy jet is $45. It has replaced the proven reliable technology of ball bearing movement with Arctic spa new wonder technology of simply having a stick stuck through the middle of the jet that the spinner wobbles around on. yep just like your hot wheels car… and they claim they did this all to make a better spa??? This “ground breaking technology” costs 1/3rd as much to manufacture 🙂

      4. Insulation.

      Arctic uses 3-4″ of foam, with a crazy story about space between the skirt and the shell like being a house… It is a good analogy except the space between the skirt and the shell is the wall of the house and the spa area is the inside of the house. What house does not fill the wall with as mush insulation as possible? Also, big air spaces are not insulation, in fact in a thermopane window, they remove all the air from between the glass layers to make it efficient. It’s a crazy pitch playing on half-truths and misinformation to justify not spending the money to fill the cavity with expensive expanding foam insulation. The wall of the tub is 1/3 full and cost 1/3 the amount and has an R value of around R-18
      Dont get suckered into the fear mongering…. On the old style expanding foams that arctic uses it was hard to fix full-foamed tubs because the foam got so hard over time, but that was 10 years ago!!! The new foams do not have this issue as they never harden or break down and Arctic knows it but they still use the scare tactic to justify the inexpensive insulation system they use.

      5. Motor waste heat reclaiming.

      Arctic lets it float around in the wall where the insulation should be and apparently there is magic that makes that free heat… It better be free heat because the r-value is half and therefore the energy required to keep up with the heat loss is twice as much as the Master spa

      6. floor of the spa.

      Arctic uses a pressed fiberglass base nothing is getting through it, not moisture not vermin and because it is a self-supporting hull the pitch is you don’t even need a base you can put it right on the grass.

      They are both lying to you… You should prep the ground under anything heavy. It won’t hurt the tub to throw it on the grass but it will not settle evenly, the tub will end up out of level and look stupid. We prep the ground under things like houses and sheds and hot tubs because they are heavy and we want them to stay level… if you throw them on the ground you will likely need to fix it later. guess what??? this means both these guys high tech bases are a waste of money because for around $250 worth of material you will have a 2″ thick solid concrete patio stone base that nothing is getting through and will always be level 🙂

      7. Chemical Reduction Systems

      Arctic has a salt generator that makes chlorine called Onzen and although they say it is easy to use read the owners manual… It’s not easy at all, it just makes chlorine, and the failure rate on the anodes is epic. this is old tech redressed up as now, most hot tub companies abandoned the tech years ago.

      8. Plumbing

      Arctic dip glues only there are no clamps on the joints!, they are notoriously leaky spas. Then they use a 2.5″ pipe and claim higher flow rates but again its a half way system with half truths and a healthy dose of BS. First even the super big pumps can’t flow enough water to outperform a 2″ pipe so the extra size is meaningless and they use internally glued fittings so it gets reduced to 2″ at all the connection points! It’s a total gimmick as the best flow you get is dictated by the smallest section that the water goes through 🙂

      10. Skirt.

      Arctic uses cedar, it is a one pices skirt with access hatches and it is really hard to get to the corner jets when they leak, and it requires tons of maintenance and looks like hell in a year… if you like the look of cedar skirts in the showroom then don’t buy a cedar skirt.

      So why is the Arctic so expensive?

      They spend a ton on marketing, that’s real money folks and it affects he cost of the hot tub as much or more than the actual building of the hot tub.

  114. Looking at two used hot tubs currently about 10 years old. What’s your opinion on Sundance VS Cal Spa? Sundance has two pumps, 1 circuit pump and feet jets. Cal Spa has 1 two speed pump and also feet jets. Other than that the same features.

    • 10 years ago there was not as much difference and really if they have lasted 10 years its good…

      Look at:

      1 pump seals, look for water between the pump and the motor or white residue which indicates pump is getting near end of life
      2 evedence of rodent damage
      3 look at the heater terminals again residue means near end of life.
      4 covers are expensive are they in good shape?

  115. I’m in ohio, local dealer promotes Coast and Northwind spas. How do you rate those?

    • Both these tubs are very similar and mid grade at best.

      I spoke with a dealer last year and they are getting out of the Coast line, apparently they have a lot of issues with the spa right out of the box, mainly pumps not working, it could be isolated but when an established dealer is dumping a line it raises red flags. Also, our local guy here changed out the Coast line for another brand last season. We have a few services on them and it’s mainly been pump replacement.

      They Coast uses a fiberglass shell I would like to see a layer of Vinyl ester resin to address the osmosis issue so you don’t get blistering down the road. It’s an expensive step and according to their website they don’t do it. I also get a little nervous about the steel in the shell, if they were hand rolling and doing enough layers there is no need for this so it’s either a gimmick or it’s a thin shell propped up with the steel. the Northwind uses a multilayer shell but I’m unsure if they use ester resin or if they hand roll.

      Both brands glue and clamp joint which is good.

      Both these brands use an outdated pressure filtration system that they have resurrected and rebranded as new and improved….a lot of times manufacturers will resurrect an old outdated technology that non one uses anymore because a clever marketing guy can put a good spin on it and if it convinces the customer that it is new and good then all of a sudden they have what is called in marketing circles a “unique selling Point” Often times things are not really done because they are better, they are done because they are less expensive and they have a good “spin” to them which means you can make people believe in it, and if people believe it and you’re one of the only guys doing it then you have a unique selling point and that can close deals!

      The first example of this is the filtration system, It is an old pressure filter systems and the “spin” these guys have put on it is great!! People love the sound of a “pressure filter” housing, heck it’s filtered under pressure! It must be good! The reality is almost all of the industry has moved away from this filtration system and moved on to “suction side” filtration.

      There is one big difference between the two systems: On older “pressure filter” systems the water is filtered on the pressure side of the pump and on suction side filtration it is filtered on the suction side of the pump! That means that on this older pressure filter system the water goes through the pumps and through the equipment before it gets filtered!!! The accumulation of debris in the pumps and in the heater elements can cause damage and it just makes sense to filter that water prior to it going through the equipment! That is exactly why 95% of the industry abandoned these old pressure side filters decades ago and moved to suction side filtration, it filters the exact same amount of water but it does it before the debris goes through the heater and the pump.

      Another pitch they use is that when you remove the filter the debris from the filter won’t fall into your hot tub water. It’s silly because the debris falls into the filter housing and when you put the clean filter in and turn it on half of that debris gets blown into the tub anyway 🙂 not that it matters, the little bit of debris that falls into a hot tub or the filter canister when changing the filters gets re-trapped in a few minutes…

      Both these guys also have plumbing under the floor for floor drain or foot domes. Most guys have moved everything out from under the base of the spa, not only is it a heat sink as you now have water flowing under the floor where there is almost no insulation but floor drains in general, are a big source of leaks. The other reason why 95% of the industry has abandoned floor fittings is it causes a weakness in the floor both from a structural standpoint and especially from an insulation standpoint!!!

      Underneath the floor of a hot tub is very little room so we’ve only got a couple of inches of insulation under there, with a floor suction you need to put a fitting in the floor and then put a pipe running under the floor. There is no insulation now where that pipes running which means you are flowing all that hot water right across the cold ground and bleeding tons of heat through conduction! Most manufacturers have gotten away from putting any plumbing under the floor of the tub for that reason, also it’s the number one source of leaks because everyone is always stepping on the floor suction and it gets loose and starts to leak.

      They use the Balboa on their high end but make sure they are using Balboa on the mid lines as well.

      There is a lot of misinformation around the pump sizes… they claim to have 2 x 7hp or 3 x 5hp pumps but they claim to run off a 50 amp breaker which means the pumps have small motors on them… This might be why the dealer I spoke to said they have motor issues, you tend to go through motors if you try and drive to big of a pump head with too small of a motor. Our service records indicate the service we have done on them have been primarily pump replacements but we don’t have many in the area, they guy here only sold them for a year or so and he was a small dealer.

      In general, there is a lot of marketing and spin around the tubs. Steel in the shell, oversized pressure side filters, oversized plumbing, and amped up pump sizes. Most of this is stuff that is done more for the pitch than any real advantage in my opinion.

      Both brands have lot of old tech dressed up as modern innovation. The reality is it costs a lot of money to upgrade the shells and systems and once everyone else moves on to better tech you can pitch the older tech as new and make it sound like you are the innovator without spending any of the money required to update!

  116. I appreciate the information you are sharing on the website, I am learning several Items I had not not fully understand before.

    I have two questions for you. On the master spa twilight is the 8.3 worth the extra cost over the 8.2? I see you have an 8.2, wondering why you chose that over an 8.3.

    Secondly, I am comparing the MS Twilight to a Passion Spas (out of Michigan) Admire. Wondering if you have heard of or seen a Passion Spa and what your opinion is.

    Thank you

  117. Just beginning the hot tub research and know that we want to buy from a local dealer… lines they carry are: Maax, Dimension One, Jacuzzi from one dealer and Marquis from a dealer and Hot Spring from a 3rd. Where would you go…

    • Marquis for sure. They are doing all the right things

      Stay away from the guys who don’t use the Top OEM parts like balboa and waterways, jacuzzi and hot springs have the parts built just to fit their stuff, the parts are not nearly as good or as expensive and they own your ass because the only place you can get replacement parts from is them.

      If You have standard parts you can go anywhere for parts and that means better pricing and they are better parts so longer lasting…

      These guys didn’t go to these parts for any other reason than to cut costs and lock the customer into buying from them forever… Smart business for them bad for the consumer.

      • Ugh, I need a hot tub just to destress from all this decision making. Down to Vita Spa Envie at $7600 and Marquis E545 for $7k… Vita has much better financing options though. Any suggestions on the side by side comparisons? Seem pretty similar.

      • Dimension One or Marquis? Dimension One about 20% less expensive. Dimension One also claims with their filtration system, you don’t need chlorine. How is that possible?

  118. How are Strong Spas , DuraSpas.
    They are resin and look to be perimeter insulated.
    http://www.strongspas.com
    They claim to be very efficient with a triple heat capture system and motor heat reclaiming and substantial base insulation.
    From reading several of your great articles I’m not so sure.
    I was looking for a quality, reasonably priced spa, but also realize operating costs of a cheap inefficient spa can quickly add up and cost more then a quality well insulated spa.
    Any guidance or recommendations would greatly be appreciated.

    Thanks-
    Dan from the NY

    • This is a strong spa in the Costco video. needless to say I am not a fan 🙂

      Duirasport I am not too familiar with.

      Let me see what i can find for you.

  119. So glad I found this site! My husband and I have just started looking for a hot tub and I can not find any information on the brands our local dealers had. We want something to seat 5-6, looking for good quality and of course energy efficient. The one dealer had Mira M700 series for $5695. (83″ x 83″ x 36″ 2 pumps, 46 jets)
    We also liked the Clearwater Spas Orlando model which is $13,000 (92.5″ x 92.5″ x 39.5″, 4 pumps, 107 hydrotherapy jets). I’d like to be somewhere between the two but want a brand I can trust. Can you give any information on either of these brands?

    • Clearwater is like most of your hot tubs. In 2013 they changed from a good full foam system to a reflective foil system, it’s a cheap insulation system. It has good control and heating system but a thin shell that is supported by pillars to keep it from cracking. These ABS backed shells were big a decade ago. They were hailed as the inexpensive good shell but there were a lot of problems, most guys have moved away from this.

      • Thanks for the info. I don’t want to spend $13,000 for something with a cheap insulation system. Mira seems too cheap to be good quality, do you know anything about them? Can you make any brand recommendations? We live in southern New Jersey and we don’t have a lot of local dealers.

        • hi Sherry…We live in Williamstown,NJ.and just bought a ‘Marquis’ hot tub from Atlas pools and spas…There are plenty of spa options in South Jersey from Hot Springs, Sundance, Artesian, and Marquis to name a few…Good Luck in your search!

          • Hey Sherry and chris.

            the marquis would be the best of that lot, in fact I would actively stay away from the others with the possible exception of the Artesian

          • Thank you! I searched for hot tubs but so far haven’t found anything near me offering the brands recommended on this site. I wanted to stay local in case of any issues. I’m near Vineland, I’ll check out Atlas.

  120. Such a good website – I’m learning! We are getting recommendations from an installer about Tropical Seas. Have you any thoughts on this brand?

    • It’s hard to find much information, they have an option for an upgrade to a full foam insulation package and the control system is Balboa which is good. The standard insulation is a reflective system which I am not a fan of.

      As for the shell or the plumbing i cant find anything.

  121. Hi Chris,

    Thanks for the great site! Bullfrog and HotSprings we’re both on our short list, but after reading your recent comments we’re definitely reconsidering.

    What’s your favorite brand, and what would you recommend for someone in Southern California?

    Thanks very much!
    Christian

    • There are a few Brands I really like.

      I think Master builds a great product. For all the reasons I’ve stated in my Video’s, Good OEM parts list, Nice fit and finish, Top Insulation package and a Hand rolled self-supporting hull.

      I also Like Marquis and Artesian for the same reasons.

      So, Cal is an issue, helped a few people down there.

  122. How are Bullfrog hot tubs? I live a few miles from their headquarters and can buy directly from the factory.

    • Bullfrog has had a lot of issues, I have rarely seen a dealer carry them for any length of time, we had two local guys carry then drop the line.

      My opinion is its a gimmick with no real advantage and a couple big downsides.

      First, there was the problem with all the stagnation behind the jet packs, big health issue, I know they are working on a way to flow water back there but I’ve have heard there are still issues.

      Second, the whole pitch is about leaks and the ability to change the jetting. leaks are most common on the floor suctions as they are in the footwell and get stepped on and abused more than any other fitting and this spa still has to have those, second a good spa with glued and clamped joints does not leak anyway, so there is no real advantage.

      Third, The pitch about being able to change the chairs and the jetting is silly… First off you can change all the jets in any tub, move them around and go between pulse and dual and rotors with easy for around $25-$45 a jet, and most spas already have a mix of chairs and guess what no one even does that, I would love to see the number on how many people actually fork over $300+ to buy and change out the packs on these things but I bet it is low single digit percentage.

      Fourth, the jet pack restricts the jets to a tiny area of your body, so to counter this they started putting jets into the shell which was the whole reason they went to jet packs in the first place!

      This is not innovation, its change to give them a unique selling feature and frankly there is no value at all to this system and a lot of problems…

      • Hi, thanks for all the comprehensive reviews, it’s very helpful but somehow I feel even more confused now…

        I am looking for a hot tub for our ski condo in Windham, NY. Our season is November through March, with some very cold days. The Hot tub will mostly be used on the weekends for a family of five, looking for something that is about 7’x7′ large. Any advice? There is a bullfrog dealer in town, I wasn’t too impressed with the jet packs, but they have a ‘value’ series that comes with fixed jets instead of ‘jet packs’. Reading reviews online, I saw a complaint that the heater that comes with the x-series Bullfrog wasn’t up to the job in cold climates. What models would you suggest? More for relaxation and family fun than for hydrotherapy. Would love to stay under $10k.

        • I agree with you on the Bullfrog packs. I hate gimmicks and this tub is gimmicky as hell, and I can’t figure out where they get the justification for the price they are not spending much to make this tub, thin cradle supported shell hardly and plumbing so they are saving a ton there It’s cheap to build it should be cheap to sell, but again we are all hearing the name so I guess they and spending a lot of your money on branding…

          The only other brand around you is PDC and the insulation is that cheap gimmicky reflective system… Man, I thought we had heard the last of this crap when the building industry dumped in the 90’s after all the northern States and the CMHA all issued warnings about how ineffective it is at trapping heat in a system but it seems to be all the rage in our industry now… Cheap and not suited to the purpose for so many reasons.

          these guys carry marquis But they are far away, at this distance you might just go buy out of the market and find a local handyman to take care of you, you can save a lot sometimes buying from a dealer further away if they know you are going to handle your own service.

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