Brand Reviews

Strong Spas Costco:

 

 

Dynasty spas:

 

 

Master spa:

 

191 Comments:

  1. 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.

  2. 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

  3. 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.

  4. 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!

  5. 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

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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?

  12. 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

  13. 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.

  14. 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

  15. 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.

  16. 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

  17. 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 🙂

  18. 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

  19. 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

  20. 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 🙂

  21. 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!

  22. 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

  23. 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.

  24. 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.

  25. 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.

  26. 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.

  27. 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!

  28. 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?

  29. 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.

  30. 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.

  31. 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…

  32. 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

  33. 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.

  34. 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…

  35. 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.

  36. 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.

  37. 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/

  38. 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?

  39. 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.

  40. 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.

  41. 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.

  42. 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

  43. 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

  44. 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.

  45. 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.

  46. 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?

  47. 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

  48. 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.

  49. 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…

  50. 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.

  51. 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.

  52. 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…

  53. 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.

  54. 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.

  55. 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.

  56. 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?

  57. 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!

  58. 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

  59. 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?

  60. 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.

  61. 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.

  62. 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.

  63. 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.

  64. 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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