Hot Tub Buyers Guide

Hot Tub Buyers Guide

Buying a hot tub is a nightmare.

The truth is, there are so many side track issues, exaggerations and outright misinformation perpetuated by manufacturers and retailers alike that even an intelligent, diligent researcher does not have a hope in hell of making an educated buying decision.

Part of the problem is most of the retailers don’t really know that much about the hot tub industry or what really makes a great hot tub. For the most part, they are just regurgitating the pitch they got when they bought the line of spas they are selling.

I’ll break this down into a few sections, first lets talk about the real issue that will make the biggest difference to your hot tub buying choice, then the pitches that are all about side tracking you… I call these the spin issues, then a list of questions to ask your local retailer.

After more than 20 years in almost all aspects of this industry, I don’t know much… but I know way too much about the hot tub industry….

The Stuff that really matters

The Dealer:

Ok first is the Dealer…

Trust me here folks… A good industry person with 20 years under their belt who has been under the spas fixing them, selling them and designing them will have made a good choice on the line of spas he carries. They will also know how to look after you and the product in the field… If you are lucky enough to have an expert in your local market then you are golden, but the reality is most of the people in the hot tub industry are not experts… They just went shopping for hot tubs like you are now except they went to the spa industry show in las Vegas and bought in a line of hot tubs based on a sales pitch from the manufacturer… And now they are regurgitating the same pitch back to you… Ask questions… Get a feel for their industry knowledge instead of just product knowledge… Just because someone believes something to be true doesn’t mean they have an understanding of the nuances of the product,sometimes it just means they drank the Koolaid :-).

There is no substitute for experience and a good dealer will make more difference to you than any other single factor…”

Components:

Now I will only say this a million times so listen close… components, components, components, components, components, components, components, components, components, components, components, components, components, components…

In case you missed that people, it is all about the components!!!

When we build a hot tub we can buy good solid proven track record components like Balboa heating and control systems, and Waterways jets, pumps, and fittings or we can buy inexpensive components like Rising Dragon jets, controls and filters… And there are also a whole pile of guys in the middle. but understand one thing!!!

No hot tub company in the world really builds their own electronic control and heating systems, nor do they make their own jets, pumps or fittings…”

The idea is ludicrous really, there is no way any hot tub company, not even the giants like Master Spas and Watkins could ever build and maintain their own electronic fabrication facility nor could they build their own plastic fabrication plant. The idea is silly… All they do is have someone build the parts for them and then private label it.

If a company is claiming that they build their own components then they are almost certainly hiding a cheap component behind a fancy label…”

If they are using the number one big brands like Balboa and Waterways then they are going to talk about components because they are using the best you can buy and want you to know it. If they are using cheap Chinese knock offs then they will talk about the side track issues, like shells, bases, and frames. In some instances even claim they build their own parts…

Shells:

Shells construction can vary vastly and the way a shell is built will affect how long your spa will last…

Almost everybody uses the same shell materials but the manufacturing technique can make a drastic difference in the cost and the reliability of your hot tub main component… the shell

  • Hand rolled self-supporting shells are rare, most use a band aid approach of props, supports, and steel re-enforcing to try and keep cheap shells from falling apart.
  • Thick edges do not mean the whole shell is thicker, it just means they make the edge thick to give you that warm fuzzy feeling 🙂
  • supports under the seats to support the shell are not a good thing they mean the shell is cheap and thin and needs supporting to hold up

The Side-track issues

This list is Huge because there are more non-issues spun into issues than anything else.

“While the manufacturers of the components like Balboa and Waterways hold many useful patents on the parts in your hot tub, Very few hot tub manufacturers hold any really significant patents…”

Base of the hot tub

The pitch from the companies that use these over engineered bases is that the base is critical to keeping moisture and vermin out of the tub and that you can put the tub right on the grass without hurting the tub. The pitch is that the overall cost of buying the product is going to be reduced by not haveing to properly prepare the ground… Folks this is just bad advice. We don’t do groundwork to protect the tub we do it to make sure the ground does not settle unevenly.  If you drop a tub on the ground you will have to lift it in a few years and re-level it… Do it right the first time… no matter what the sales guy says put a patio stone base down and avoid the many issues that come with bad ground prep.

The moisture issue is solved by any vapor barrier on the base and the really important issue for controlling moisture is the base you put the tub on, make sure there is good drainage under the spa. Vermin on the other hand generally get in through the corners at either the bottom where it joins the base or the top where it meets the shell.

What’s important

All you care about here is that there is a vapor barrier, and ideally, you will put a patio stone or similar base that drains well under the spa.

Some Manufacturers put super heavy-grade bases under their spa but the truth is there is little or no real value here.

The tubs with crazy moulded bases fall into one of two groups:

  1. Low-end tubs using cheap parts and thin shells that need a heavy grade base to hold the shell together, or use the base as a sidetrack issue to cover up a cheap component list.
  2. Crazy super hi-end spas that have every conceivable upgrade and you are paying the crazy Hi-end prices.

In either case, don’t put too much weight on this feature, it will not really make a difference to your spa experience or to the longevity of your hot tub.

Do not buy into that crazy pitch that you can put your tub on any flat level surface without the proper ground prep. It will not hurt the hot tub, but the ground will not settle evenly and in a couple years, you will have to lift your tub and do it properly.

Frame

On modern spas, the frame is just there to hold the skirt on, again all but the cheapest end of the market makes self-supporting shells now which simply means the shell can hold the water without support from a frame.

  • Spas that use heavy frames or steel frames are usually using thin cheap shells that need to be supported.
  • The frame does not need to pressure treated, it is not like your deck that is exposed to the elements, your frame is covered by the skirt and is dry and protected.

“It is dry as hell under the skirt of a hot tub, you do not care if the material is wood, pressure treated wood, or metal, you will never have a frame failure…”

728 Comments:

  1. I can choose from three brands here in my neighbourhood: LA spas, Artesian and Vortex spas. Which one would you prefer? Thanks.

  2. Hi Chris,

    We live in Swansea, MA 02777 and are just starting our journey to find the right tub. Can you give me a list of tubs that are close to us? We are looking for a 7-8 person tub.

    Thanks,

    Andrew

    • You have some options down there.

      your local guy seems to be mostly a pool guy, can’t even find a brand of hot tubs. best Brands would be master and Marquis, both built right Master will have some higher performance models that Marquis doesn’t offer but in the mid-end they are fine.

      my first goto would be these guys: for a Master

      Crocker Sales Co. Inc. (ma)
      9 High Street, Woburn, MA, 01801
      Phone: 781-933-2006
      hk@crockersales.com
      http://www.crockersales.com

      Then try these guys for Marquis

      APOLLO POOLS AND SPAS
      8 Harding Street
      Lakeville, MA 02347
      GET DIRECTIONS

      CALL US
      Phone: 508-923-7381

      • Thanks for the input. Leaning towards the Marquis Euphoria. What are your thoughts on this one. We were quoted $13,599.00. I thought it was a bit high. Thoughts?

        Thanks,

        Andrew

        • That seems like a high price to me but not outrageous, the reality is you need to let a retailer make enough that they can afford to take care of you 🙂 I find a lot of time when the price is too low the dealer is lazy… lmfao

  3. Hello! I have a person selling a 6-7 year old Spa Dimensions hot tub. It’s the “Chairman” model and they say they paid $15K for it brand new. They’re asking $3000 for it. Do you think this is a decent tub and worth the price?

    Thanks

  4. We live in Kington, ON and I don’t think there’s a Master dealer in this area. Therefore, after talking to many people, St.Lawrence Pools and Spas came out as the best dealer in town. Their best product seems to be the Hydropool. We considering the H570PSM – Self-Cleaning – Salt water Bromine system E-Z Ultra with the Tranquility Package. The quote we got was for $12,399 before taxes which includes the delivery, cover and steps. I’m curious to know your opinion on this, considering Master Spas isn’t in the area. Unless you know a company that would deliver to Kingston. Also, how much would a Master Spas LSX 800 cost approximatly in comparision? I understand it’s a much higher quality but a ball park number would be great. Thanks, Sylvain

  5. Looking for good plug and play – I live in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada. We are right in the middle of three of the five great lakes so it’s cold and lots of snow. The only choices I have are online, Nordic dealer (in the states) who has a good selection of plug and plays such as All In 110V Sport, All In 110v Retreat etc., Coast Spas ,Hydropool and bullfrog. That’s it!

    What would you recommend and why? We want no bells and whistles. Just using it to stay warm. Don’t even like jets.

    Thanks…

    • Nordic is great except the installation is not great.

      Coast I don’t like the old pressure side filter systems.

      Hrdropool I don’t like anything except the parts list

      Bullfrog I don’t like the cradle supported shell.

      its really hard to find brands that really do all the right things.

      Re think the 110v option, in the cold climes like the Sault they get cold really fast on cold days once you take the cover off.

      try and find a Getaway Hot Tub Ochos rios… basically a Retreat with better insualtion.

  6. Love the website, info and videos. Have been reading all of the comments in each section. I live in Washington state (Seattle suburb) and am looking for a hot tub more for relaxation a few times a week. Size for 4-6 people. Went to a fair just to see what’s out there before coming across this site. So many options, very overwhelming. You seem to really like Masterspa, but I can’t find any in the area besides what I think is an expo. You also like Marquis, which has a dealer nearby. I’m hoping to keep the price in the $6-9K range, is that a reasonable expectation for a balance of value and quality? I don’t even know where to start with models. Are there other brands/models to consider? I prefer to buy from a dealer (that I like) after reading up. Thanks so much!

    • $6-9k is a big range, at the 6k mark be careful it’s a dangerous price point. there is a lot of junk in that price range but there are also some real gems.

      If the main goal is r&r then stay away from bells and whistles and big jet counts, keep to something simple, well build and efficient.

      6k-7k go for a Getaway roto mould spa, arguably the best put together entry level spa out there. in the 8-9k then go to the Marquis or a Master

  7. What is your opinion on West Coast Spas? We live in Arizona outside of Phoenix. I’m looking for a spa with good deep massage therapy jets. I’m in a networking group with someone who’s the dealer for West Coast Spas. I would like to honor him with my business if I decide his Spa is the best way to go. I am just trying to research the best brands at this point and gather information before I make my choice. I was also thinking about Hot Springs which my friend has and loves or the Legend series of Master Spas.

    • West Coast there is not any info on, sorry but see if they do the 4 important things at least… Hand rolled self-supporting shell, good north American parts, full foam insulation and glued and clamped plumbing.

      Hot Springs, I would never put on my floor, they are one of the groups that are getting cheap parts made that just fit their spas.. they reliability of the parts is worse and they now have you on a hook for life because you can only get parts from them… good scenario to make big profits… A bad scenario for the owner.

      Master I like, great build quality, top end parts, clamped and glued plumbing, and hand rolled self-supporting shells, plus if you want to they do so many lines you can get anything from entry level right up to insane therapy spas like the twilight series.

      • Thank you, we just went out and bought the Legend series LSX 800. After reviewing all of the things you point out to look out for when buying a hot tub, it just seemd like the best choice. We decided to go for the bigger one with the better therapy jets, it wasn’t that much difference, just a few thousand. Some of the reviews on the other sites are so bad it does scare me a bit but all of the hot tubs have good and bad reviews so you can’t really go by that I’m thinking. If I focus on the build quality and jets, Master Spa wins out. I can’t look at those others hot tubs with the skimpy Jets and be happy after I saw the Master Spas.

        West Coast Spas does not have a tub that is hand rolled. They do not clamp their plumbing. They also use perimeter insulation. The volcano jet is on the floor which I hear overtime because of stress can lead to leak possibly. Also I like how Master Spas have an actual pan under the tub instead of just a thin plastic sheet. I’m concerned with mice coming in and eating the wires and things. I like the idea of a solid pan. Master spas’s also vent the hot air from the motors outside the hot tub and West Coast Spas do not do that, which was another considering Factor because I hear Motors that are overheated don’t last as long.

        Those were the main points I was considering when I picked Master Spas. I’m going for longevity and I figure with the better build quality there the better pick. I probably paid too much but I purchase the LSX 800 with everything including the stereo and Wifi, UV filtration cleaning system and a little side table attached to the tub for $13,900. They said that was $1,000 off the price normally it’s $14, 900. They threw in the stereo and WiFi for free along with the cover and the table and the steps. It’s the larger 94 by 94 size with 4 pumps. My husband didn’t fit comfortably on the lounge seat of the 84×84 one because he’s tall, six foot one. If you’re going to spend the money you might as well spend a little more and get the better one I figure.

        Another quick question , do you think I can take advantage of the heat coming from the motor somehow to create something to warm the towels? Just trying to get creative. Thanks for all your help!

        • Hi Kristine

          I that’s a great idea with the towels 🙂

          for now throw them in the dryer 10 mins before you go out and then throw them in a cooler to take out with you 🙂

  8. Hi! Ive asked a question previously about brands and we listened and kept looking. Thank you. Now we have arrived at Marquis. Head is still spinning with the options. We thought we came across one we liked after spending hours in the store. We liked the feel of the jets and the feel of the seats. We came back here to read. The Marquis Vector 21 series. You stated in another reply its old tech and such. My question to build on that is, what is your opinion on the Laminar Flow that Marquis is advertising on these spas? Is it a negative? or is it neither good or bad? I know you said you hadnt seen a vector 21 in action but Im sure you are familiar with this type of flow. Again, thank you for any help you can offer.

    • The tub is fine i just laugh at how they changed the names and looks of all the jets and controls to make it sound new 🙂

      also on the 94’s they use volcano jets I dont like,m you trip on the damn things all the time, they are better if they are in the side of the footwell..

  9. Ok Great. I will look into those brands. Any idea on what we’re looking at for costs?
    Thanks for your reply and the great info you have on here

    Eddy from Toronto

  10. I’m from Toronto and looking at the sunrise, IPG and Coast tubs. Can you comment on these which would be the best.

    • sunrise is ok except the insulation, IPG is a buying group, not a manufacturer I think hydropool or sunrise build their line now. Coast again the cheap insualtion…

      dude in Toronto you have all the good ones, there are master, Marquis, and likely Artesian…

  11. Hi, new to page and to purchasing a hot tub. I live in Toronto Canada and t here is a Marquis Promise spa floor model on clearance for 10K Canadian with constellation lighting, aroma infusion, cover lifter and durawood step II hinged. They told me that they have stopped carrying them because they are now carrying Four Winds hot tubs. Is this a decent price, and/or do you know anything about Four Winds?

    • Yeah four winds had a lot of problems with the plastic shells, they were using good insulation and good parts but I would not personally buy anything that did not used a hand rolled self-supporting fiberglass shell we had 15 four winds shell failures in our area and if the shell goes you are screwed.

      buy the floor model.

  12. Love the page – thanks for your dedication and awesome answers!!

    So I’ve read almost all the posts. I live in the greater Indianapolis area. I have narrowed our search to a Master Spa; Twilight or Clarity – but not sure which one yet. We’re going to go try them out.

    This I don’t understand based on advice you’ve given others (SEE BELOW). There are manufacturers and there are dealers. There is no “middle man” or manufacturer selling direct. So why would this local “dealer” (?) say “We are the factory”? when I asked him if he had a showroom and how many years of service, what brands he represented, etc.

    Can the factory sell direct?

    “We are the factory. The factory is 1.5 hours away in Fort Wayne. We have selling Spas in Indianapolis for 25 years. The factory has been there since 1978. We have 2 full-time service technicians that service just central Indiana. We do only carry Master Spas. That entails 7 different lines of hot tubs from our most basic Getaway Series to our top of the line Michael Phelps Legend Series. We are the largest manufacturer built in the United States. If you have anymore questions, call or email. We would love to earn your business. Give me a heads up on what time would be good for you.

    • Hi Chris

      Typically Master does not sell direct but there are some big dealers that sell “factory direct” or “warehouse direct” and who knows in their local area they may. The reality is as long as the price and the service are good who cares?

      Twilight and Clarity are vastly different spas, twilight is all about therapy massage, clarity is all about room and entertaining. Both are well built well insulated spas.

      • Indiana HotTubGirl

        Great thanks for the reply! I feel you’ve done all the legwork/research I would have normally done so THANK YOU a million! We’ll definitely be checking out our IN Master Spa dealer asap!

    • Hey there. Thank you so much for your website, it’s amazing, so much useful and realiable information here that I haven’t found anywhere else! So we live in Montreal, Canada, we’re buying a spa for the first time and we’re willing to pay as much as needed for a good spa. We need something for 5-6 people, well insulated for winter, light if possible (because it’s for a reinforced terrasse), and we’re looking for something top of the line. HotSpring looks really nice, but we’re afraid it might only be the looks, the nice jets might break too soon. Or Arctic, looks too old fashioned and i’ve read you don’t like them… or Sundance. How about CoastSpa, so far they have offered us the best service, in this one store they seem to repair several brands of spa. There is also Jacuzzi, trevi, and severals others around here… choosing is so difficult and confusing. Could you give us some advice please?????

      Richard

      • Hi Rick

        The truth is all the brands you know by name are known because they spend a pile of money on branding and marketing which means they don’t spend enough on the hot tub and charge too much 🙂

        You have a couple good independent service companies out there fixing spas, that means you don’t necessarily have to rely on local retailers.

        The truth is a good dealer is critical but a good dealer is not about how close they are to you. Great dealers are about strong communication and knowledge, the reality is most of what you need from a support standpoint is someone to talk you through teething issues… the actual service is easy on a spa using a good parts list and similarly, diagnosis is easy over the phone, then it’s a day or two to ship a part and any local handyman can put it in… the good spas are plug and play parts.

  13. I’m looking at buying a used Sundance Maxxus or ArcticSpas Summit. Could you tell me anything about build and component quality of these? Also how would they compare to a Master or Artisian? Thanks from Alberta, Canada. Love your site!

    • So Sundance and Arctic are both goofy proprietary parts, that takes them off my list right away, Arctic Don’t even clamp the plumbing lines and only uses a few inches of the expensive foam insulation instead of filling the cavity. They charge a ton for these tubs and frankly, I can’t see why…

      What I like about the Marquis and Masters is they spend the money on the hot tub. hand rolled shells, expensive parts list that you can source anywhere, lots of insulation, and glued and clamped plumbing… these four things make a big difference to long term durability.

  14. Hi Chris
    So thankful for your site. Live in Anchorage Alaska and on the verge of buying a tub from HotSprings, or Sundance….Then I found your site. Not sure of other brands available here in Alaska as I have been inundated with the Sales Pitch from these two brands. Costs here are quite a bit higher due to shipping, so willing to spend the right money, but want the right Hot Tub. Best recommendations?

    • Both spas use a proprietary parts list. so instead of spending the money on the top parts that really last, they have their own special little parts that just fit their spas so they can own you for life for replacements.

      There is a master dealer up there

      Alaska Spa & Bath Company
      1657 E. Dowling Road , Anchorage , AK, 99507
      Phone: 907-562-7727
      jrice@akstovespa.com

  15. We are in South Central Alaska (Anchorage area.) We have been researching for a while, plus spent all day yesterday at the state fair talking to dealers about Caldara, Beachcomber, Sundance, and Jacuzzi. Except for Beachcomber, these are local dealers with Service and technicians. Speaking to all of them, we narrowed it down to the Makena Caldara spa which would run about $12,200 (state fair price, usually about $14,500), delivered to our home, set up on our prepared site with class on water treatment for owners. That’s about top of our budget.

    However, we also have researched and like Artesian Tropic Seas Waikiki, which would have to be shipped from Seattle to our home, then we’d have to hire local tech to assist in setup (unknown cost yet.) That unit runs about $8,350 + additional shipping of about $1000 or so. Pricewise, obviously the Artesian is less money– but my wife is concerned about doing it on our own, without a local brand rep or service shop. What do you think about these two choices? (We have read your general comments favoring Artesian more than Caldera.) What are risks of having tub shipped by barge and trucked to our home for installation on our own? Other considerations? Other tIps or links about outdoor Arctic winter use? Thanks, so much, very happy to have discovered HTU!

    • Caldera Sundance and jacuzzi all suffer from the dreaded proprietary parts… cheap parts that just fit their spas so that they are guaranteed your parts business for ever… I would never ever have a spa that did not have the Balboa/ waterways parts.

      man, they are also charging you a fortune… these things are not rocket science… any handyman on site with a meter and a good dealer on the phone can diagnose and put parts in, esp if they are using the good parts.

      If you have a handyperson, or are one then buy a brand with a good oem parts list and a dealer you can get tech support from…

  16. Info on a used hot tube…. 2013 master spa 8.2 its at an estate sale. Info was hard to find I it. In the sale it said never used. Not like i believe it. Sale is on Saturday. What should i look for in it. What kinda build did they use then? waterway and balboa? Thanks for your help

  17. Hi, love the site! I’ve learned a lot that’s helped me make some sense out of what originally seemed like a muddled mess.

    I’ve been looking into getting a Marquis spa, specifically either the Promise or the Euphoria (my current favorite). My local dealer would be Parrot Bay Pools & Spas out of Fayetville, NC.

    Any insights on the specific tubs or the dealer?

    • They both look like great tubs, this is getting into what is personally going to be good for you… I am unaware of the dealer standing. sorry!

  18. Thanks so much for the great site, I’ve learned a tremendous amount from reading it while getting ready to buy a hot tub. I was hoping to take my turn asking for your advice now that I have enough specifics to ask good questions.

    My wife and I are looking for a small (3 person size is fine) tub with an emphasis on good therapeutic jets. She’s had health issues in particular.

    We have the ability to run 240V if needed. We also have natural gas near the site, and could extend that, if any of the options include natural gas for heat.

    Our zip is 97222 which puts us in close range of several stores including a few highly rated ones. The top 3 in terms of local ratings sell:

    – Marquis (I see you rate this brand pretty well)

    – a dealer that has Artesian and Nordic brands in that size, both of which you seem to like but not as much as the Marquis? Is that particularly true with the emphasis on therapy jets?

    – This place called West Coast Spas (www.westcoastspas.com) that appears to manufacture their own brand? I don’t see any reference to it on this page, are you familiar with them? If not, how do you advise determining their build quality compared to the others? I’ve already asked them about proprietary parts.

    Would love any advice as to distinguishing between those choices. Thanks very much

    • The Artesians and the Marquis are very similar and both would be reliable, the rest is personal… keep in mind the more large jets the more expensive the jet package, try and stay with fewer big pumps as oposed to many pumps, diverters that let you control flow the seats are good as well…

  19. Het i found out more about that spa. It’s a 2013 twilight 8.2. They say it has 2 jet pumps and one circulation pump would that be right? As well that makes it 4 years old now. Where they made right back then? Waterway jets and balboa pack?

    Thanks again for helping
    Curtis

  20. Hey Chris;

    Thanks for providing such excellent information and a site for people to get some expert information on tubs. Much thanks to you, I have purchased a Healthy Living Tub for my home in Northern Alberta. It was tough finding a Master Spa dealer, but they are willing to deliver 9 hours north of Calgary.

    Cheers!

  21. Great site and wealth of information! Had a Viking Aurora 2 from ~2007 that we loved the size/layout of (and even had Waterways and Balboa control that you like!), but sadly after sitting idle for a couple years after moving, the start-up had too many issues and we’re looking for hot tub #2.

    We don’t have a lot of options around here (zip 61061, northwest IL) and ones we haven’t ruled out yet are Jacuzzi, Caldera, Sundance, Viking, Hot Springs. Pretty much all the ones you don’t think highly of and may end up with something bigger than our original. Since it seems we may have to go with one that uses proprietary parts, I’m wondering if you feel these parts and construction are truly inferior, which is why you don’t rate them high, or is it mainly just because they are proprietary? And, if these are our choices, are any of them truly superior to the next?

    • the best parts are also the most expensive. there is no reason to go to another parts list. the good ones work really well and yes they are far superior. the only reason to do a proprietary parts list is to save mo ey on the build and to guarantee profit down the road because they always have to come back to you for parts. it’s funny if you go to the discussion forums and look in the section where people ask for help you will find a disporortiante number of people look g for help with the brand’s with sub standard parts… what goid for the bottom line is often not what is best for the end user…

  22. Hey can’t find any info on a master spa m5700? There is 2015 model for sale what are they like? They say never used…… still be 2 years old so what kind of price would be fair? Thanks

  23. We live in the mountains outside of colorado springs at 8500 feet. Im considering a viking spa. Our budget is limited to a max of 6000 dollars. I see it has some of the components you recommend like balboa power system, but lacks some of the other traits you mention. It sounds like it has good warranty and the dealer was great. Is this a good purchase to consider or should we wait another 3 years or so for a different brand when we have more funds?

    • 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 don’t like the plastic shell, I really want a good Hand rolled fibreglass shell. The pipes are not clamped, and the insulation is not my recommended system. all in all its what most spas are, some good, some bad and some ugly…

  24. I’m a first time hot tub buyer. I like to do comprehensive research before I buy, but there is very little reliable information on hot tubs available. So, thank you for this site!
    I live in Mississauga and there are a plethora of hot tub dealers in my area. I agree 100% with your views on quality components like Balboa and Waterways. That being the case, which manufacturers and series would you recommend for the best quality parts and construction for a 6-7 person tub? I’m willing to pay for quality and am looking for a fun hot tub more than a therapeutic hot tub. Thanks!

    • hey Rob.

      on my phone so excuse the poor response.

      in you area there are tons… Master has a couple dealers and so does marquis. both good brands

      • Looking for best “brand” and “dealer” in Indianapolis, IN. Have you heard of Royal Spa…made here in Indy. I just want one for 4 people, smaller, best filtration that runs 24/7, and energy efficent. Any info you can help me with?

        • Sorry for the delay been away 🙂

          I quickly looked at Royal, not impressed, looks like they do good shell but old style mechanical packs, circ pumps, and perimeter insulation are all inexpensive ways to build spas, old school pressure side filtration as well… A lot of spin and misinformation to justify an inexpensive build.

          These guys sell artesian, and you are right By Master spa Factory in Fort Wayne…

  25. I would like to have an inground hot tub/spa. Would it be more cost efficient to buy the shell and add the components and hire someone to do the installation or find a good dealer and buy and have them do everything? Do you have a recommendation for make of inground unit? I live around the Chattanooga, TN area. Thanks!

    • This is really something outside of my expertise, it is more like building a pool than a portable hot tub.

      You could buy a tub, remove equipment and replumb it to a remote equipment site, best to get someone in locally to advise.

  26. Hello and thank you for all you do to help in the crazy world of hot tubs!

    I have a private sale opportunity for a brand new Master Spa Model HL7 being offered at $6000. Buyer says they purchased for $10K and come with cover, stairs and start up kit. What are your thoughts on this model and price?

    Thanks! Dragan

  27. I’m trying to decide between the following models, and I suspect all are around $9000

    1) I live in North Florida where it rarely ever gets cold, so the hot tub sellers are saying NOT to get full foam insulation. Is this correct?

    The models are;
    2) Sunrise Spas; Paragon-Essence model, add; LED Sunlite, 03/UV sanitizing system, Microsolk, cover. Price unknown yet.
    3) SouthSeas Deluxe Class 860L add; lighted LED and Pillowfall, Diamond AOP, cover, cover lifter, do NOT add full foam due to heat of Florida weather. $9,000
    4) Shoreline Spas 863L add; LED backline jets, Clear Sanitation System. Price unknown.

    NOTE: South Seas Spas (Artesian) has the shortest amount of warrant coverage when compared to the other brands.

    • In warm climates, there is still the advantage of the plumbing being supported which cuts down on leaks down the road, and there there is no disadvantage, in fact, the full foam systems usually have better motor cooling than the perimeter systems that trap the motor heat in the insulation envelope.

      South Seas I am unsure of, I haven’t seen he spa yet but I generally like Artesian… forget warranty some guys build it into the price of the hot tub some let you have the option of building it in… Typically an extra year should cost $300

  28. Looking at a Caldera Geneva. Local brands are hot spring, caldera and Nordic. Nordic tubs look way lower end to me and I don’t even desire to try them. I know caldera and HS are both Watkins brands. Concerns with one over the other?

    • Wow, I searched your area and frankly, there are no super brands. those two are as good as anything around and the differences are primarily personal preference.

      There are however 2 good local service guys that do work on any spa brand, this can open you to buying out of the market and saving some money.

      The reality is a great dealer is more about strong communication and knowledge, the actual repair and is pretty straight forward and can be handled easily by a local repair center.

      • Okay I’m positive I’m not doing this right but don’t know how to start my own question….apologies to all
        Looking for best hot tub for cold Minnesota. Only really need 2 or 3 seats but use it almost daily for chronic back and neck pain. I’m from central MN St. Cloud would be largest city but Mpls/ St Paul isn’t out of the question. Looking for brand, model and dealer recommendations.
        Our 15 year old Cal Spa is finally dying and too costly to resuscitate. My search list thus far includes but not limited to Cal Spa, Arctic,Master Spa, ThermoSpa, Caldera,Sundance….. I’m lost. Too much contrary information on all. HELP! I’m so confused and overwhelmed and my back is killing me.

  29. Oh my gosh! My head is spinning! I’m so glad I stumbled oaths website!

    I’m looking to purchase my first hot tub, and I’m flying blind and solo. I don’t have a clue about hot tubs and I’m trying to wade through the information without any real heal here.

    I’m in San Diego, Californina and have been looking at Jacuzzi versus Cal Spa. I’m seeing brands listed on here that I’ve never even heard of and I’m wondering if there is another brand / dealer I should be looking at.

    Are you familiar with what direction I should be looking in my market? This is a big purchase for me, and I don’t want to throw my money down the drain here. I want to buy it right and not have to worry about it failing and falling apart on me.

    Thank you for any guidance you can provide me. I sure do appreciate it!

    • Hey Rachel

      It’s not your fault, it is a spinny world out there It does my head in the crazy shit you hear companies saying 🙂

      I always look at the build cost, forget the marketing spin I want a guy that is spending the money on the hot tub!

      If you want great build go to the Beachcomber dealer here: or the Artesian dealer here.

      These are both good solid well build spa lines. The Artesian will have some higher end performance models than beachcomber available.

  30. I’m looking at getting either the Artesian south seas 735 deluxe series for 6k or the spa manufacturer Inc octoround for 4495. Same number of seats, comparable number of jets and lights. I know from previous posts that you generally like the artesian brand. I’m on the fence about this manufactures tub. Spa manufacturers inc. has been in business for 30 plus years, they say their components are balboa and it is a hand rolled fiberglass hull with 8 layers. It has 3 pumps 9 horse power. He said that they only usepanel insulation on the cabinet walls which is concerning to me. However, I live in clearwater, fl where our most severe winter snap has us at 35 degrees for maybe a few days. I’m going back tomorrow to ask a few more questions. Thoughts? Advice would be greatly appreciated.

    • Hey

      never heard of them but there are lots of these little local guys. first thing… the numbers are B.S. there are not 3x 9hp pumps 🙂 not enough electricity… and 8 layers of fiberglass???…LMFAO…

      When the first thing you hear is bullshit it usually does not get better…

      The artesian is a known quantity and works well.

      • Hello ! I just found this blog! I am looking to buy our first tub. we want a basic not many fixtures tub that have good quality. Our budget is limited to $5000. I have a Thermospa guy coming to see us tomorrow but I am reading no many reviews about them.
        I live in the Boston area so winter is an issue and we would like to use it. It will be outdoors.
        What do you recommend?

    • Phillip Weinstein

      I am down to two tubs. Celebrity Vegas or Hot Springs rhythm. Only hesitation on the Rhythm is the seating with the “cool down seats”. Prices are similar. What say you and thank you!

      • The Celebrity is a Marquis, good solid tub with the right parts list and build method… my choice for sure out of that pile

  31. I am a handy guy, so I tend to work on things myself. There isn’t a Master dealer near me, so would you buy out of state and just maintain yourself? I am in the Jackson, TN area which is between Memphis and Nashville.

    Thanks,
    Mark

    • This opens it up a lot. as long as you have a good dealer that answers their phones and knows their stuff you can get a really good deal, buy out of your local market and save a ton… Great dealers are about great communication and knowledge not about proximity…

  32. Hey great site! I’m in the Boston area and looking for a 5-7 person tub, 7′ x7′. Looked at Jacuzzi 300 series and Hot Springs so far. Hoping to spend $7-8K but may not get that price. Floor model etc would be OK. Questions-

    Nobody advertises prices so it is hard to price shop. Seems like a scam. In your experience, can you negotiate much off what they quote you? It’s kind of like price shopping for a mattress, hopeless. I would have thought I could go to websites and just price shop and order what I need. Then find a local service guy if needed down the road.

    Wife is pushing for salt water tub, but I am not aware that this would be better than Cl/Br. I assume salt water is gimmicky and undesirable, correct?

    Maybe not within your knowledge, but i have a 240V tub I’ll be removing, I can it unwire for extraction. I am planning to connect the new tub myself as I think it just involves electrical connections and water proof housing. Am I missing something as i don’t know if this is discouraged. I am an engineer but not an electrician.

    Thanks for any advice!

    • The pricing thing is tricky it’s a very messy product to buy, a lot of spin marketing and bullshit and not a lot of guys really spending the money on the build.

      The salt water systems are old tech that is being re-introduced it lets you get to around 1-3 ppm of chlorine or bromine. The better systems stand alone aftermarket like Spa Marvel or Aquafinesse which can get you to .5ppm (drinking water levels) see this video… http://www.hottubuniversity.com/chemical-free-hot-tubs/

      the older tubs sometimes ran on 40 amp lines check your breaker it likely needs to be 50 amp for modern tubs. I would advise getting an electrician (admin covers ass for future litigation 🙂

  33. I am looking at spending between $6,000-$7000 on a nice hot tub made with good quality. I have been looking at the Tropic Seas by Artesian Maui or Waikiki. The only difference between the two is the Waikiki has 6 more jets, foot blasters instead of regular foot jets, and a third pump just for the foot blasters. In your opinion is it worth $700 for that or is it a waist of money?

    Also, Speakers in the tub with Bluetooth. I have heard that it is just more to go wrong with a tub. With so many other music options out there is it a bad idea to put speakers in the tub where they will always be exposed to moisture? That is an extra $500 and again not sure if it is really worth that.

    Is there anything in that price range that you would compare to the quality and features of those two tubs I am looking at? I live in Indiana…

    Thanks in advance for your help!!

    • I would way rather 2 big pumps with a diverter than 3 pumps, read this article: http://www.hottubuniversity.com/small-pumps-large-pumps/

      The stereos are pretty reliable since they went Bluetooth but you are correct they are not the best value for the money there are better options although it is cool to have it integrated…

      • The pumps for the seats are all the same. The added pump is for the foot blaster. The Waikiki has footblasters with a 3 HP pump just for those. Where as the Maui just has two regular hydrotherapy jets running off of the two pump system. Is the footblaster set up really worth the $700? Not necessarily the extra pump. Is there any other brands or hot tums you would recomond comparable to the quality and price of either the Waikiki or Maui by Artesian? Or for the money are the Tropic Seas my best options as far as quality and expense?

        Thanks again!!

  34. Hi! I’m looking in I two spas, the Arctic Spas Summit, and the Coast Freedom. Which would you recommend? I live close to Winnipeg, Manitoba, and the Arctic dealer has a technician that drives through my town daily. The Coast dealer that was nearby just switched to Cal Spas, which I know nothing about. My dad had a Coast spa, and really likes it, and I like the filtration system.

    Any recommendations?
    The Summit quite came in at around $13k, and the freedom (from the no longer Coast dealer) was $12k. I haven’t yet spoken to the Coast dealer who I now have to travel further in to Winnipeg to visit.

    • Hey Jay. The cal spa is an older pressure side filtration system, the more modern spas use suction side, the only real difference being suction side cleans the water before it goes through the pump! but all spas filter systems work well to remove debris and having suction side protects the equipment better. Both dealers that carried them here dropped them within a season or two.

      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.

  35. I’m not getting the reason I’ve now left 3 posts and none are showing up? Is there some secret code, eye wink, and handshake?

    LISTEN UP TALL PEOPLE!
    1) The questions are: Seats that fit a 6’2″ tall guy; about 36″ seat depth
    2) I live in NW Florida, and there isn’t a Master Spa Dealer within 4-6 hours. If I go to a Master Spa retailer, buy a spa, then what happens when a repair is needed. Is the warranty voided by a non-approved repair shop?
    3) DRUM ROLL……I want a spa that has the 1) Fully-Insulated shell with Iceyene & motors encased, 2) pressure lines double clamped, 3) High quality American made non-proprietary parts, 4) High end controller, 5)Hand rolled self-supported shell, etc. , so where can I find that type of manufacture being sold in NW Florida? None of the brands I’m seeing being sold in my regional area (3 hour drive-Gulfport, MS to Tallahasse, FL) have high quality brand hot tubs?

  36. I’m in the Seattle area. From the spas you have recommended, we have Marquis and Artesian available. I’m looking at either the Marquis E Series (545), the Artesian Antigua or the Artesian Nevis. Do you have any preference between the Marquis and Artesian??

    I’ve tried to post a few times, so hopefully this third attempt will work. Thanks for the help!

  37. I just bought he healthy living 8.35 from masterspas directly. Very easy buying experience and easy set up. Getting stuck on the maintenance. I listened to many of your videos but How do you use aqua finnesse to regulate it easily? How often do you need to empty water? ( I have 7 family members using 2-3 times week.

    Thank you for your awesome advice!!

  38. HOW DO YOU RATE LA KONA SPA TROPICAL SERIES? THERE IS A USED 2006 FOR SALE IN OUR AREA FOR $800. NOT SURE IF IT IS WORTH THE HASSLE TO MOVE? THANKS

  39. Ok, I guess I’m missing the secret hot tub handshake.
    I’ve posted twice in the past 24 hours seeking advice before we pull the trigger for the first time and hot tub university keeps deleting it?

    Just looking for advice on the following:
    Hydropool, Arctic spas, Tidal Fit and H2X

    Just want an honest opinion on overall best value on a 14-19foot swim spa.
    Thank you
    Eric

    • Hi, Eric.

      Sorry man, I’m busy with the real world 🙂 this site is killing me!

      I don’t know about Tidal but Hydropool insulation system would make it a no go for me, and the old pressure side filtration systems and the sections in the floor are seriously old tech that 99% of the industry abandoned years ago and is now being rebranded as innovation… Here is a review on it. http://www.hottubuniversity.com/hydropool-hot-tub-review/

      I just shot a video of an Arctic spa, not released it yet but I am really not a fan of the line, they make a good shell but the parts are all inexpensive Chinese brands, the insulation is inexpensive and they don’t clamp the plumbing line… these guys market this spa as high end but I just don’t see the justification except to cover what must be a very expensive branding and marketing cost.

  40. Any concerns with arctic swim spas?
    Seems like a good solid shell, decent plumbing and insulation?
    Designs seem a little stale compared to Hydropool or H2X but is the value really there?
    They boast super low monthly operating costs $17-35 / per month to heat and clean.
    They also claim to be industry’s only spa that allows you to see exactly how much it cost to operate via your iphone app?
    Thanks
    Eric

    • Not a Big Fan of Arctic. Look at where the money is spent… Shell Great, but everything else is inexpensive non-standard parts, no clamps and very little money spent on the insulation…

  41. Any concerns with arctic swim spas?
    Seems like a good solid shell, decent plumbing and insulation?
    Designs seem a little stale compared to Hydropool or H2X but is the value really there?
    They boast super low monthly operating costs $17-35 / month to heat and clean.
    They also claim to be industry’s only spa that allows you to see exactly how much it cost to operate via your iphone app?
    Thanks
    Eric

    • Hi Eric.

      They build a good shell but the rest is magic.

      The plumbing is not clamped, they manage to convince people that spending less and using less insulation is better than spending 4x more and filling the cavity it’s about r-10 vs R30 on a full foam spa and all the parts are the inexpensive overseas parts.

      they use a salt water system which runs 1-3 ppm chlorine or bromine which is a lot higher than the newer systems and the machine is $1300! and needs regular anode replacement.

  42. In the Seattle area, we have reputable dealers that represent HotSpring, Jacuzzi, Marquis, & Artesian. MasterSpa has a goofy ‘distribution center’, where they show their product one or two weekends a year, but no show room. Which of these manufactures would you recommend?
    I’m looking at either Marquis E-Series (545) or Master Spa/Legacy (Enterprise). Any thoughts on comparing these two? I’m a bit uncomfortable buying MasterSpa Legacy Enterprise through a sales rep who doesn’t have a show room and staff, but I would consider if the Enterprise is a better product.

    • Hi William

      it doesn’t matter so much if they have the local showroom, you care if they have the local customer care and support… they are all good spas but bang for the buck that Limited edition Enterprise is very hard to touch…

  43. I live in Ontario, Canada and am lucky to have a reputable marquis dealer a few minutes from my house. Ive made up my mind id like to purchase a marquis tub. Currently stuck between 2 models of tubs. I was looking at the Vector21 and the E-Series. The Vector21 costs slightly more but includes the inline sanitation system and volcano floor jet. Do you have any opinions or experiences on the E-series line? I haven’t been able to find much for reviews on them

    • I looked at the Vector 21 and it’s a goofy tub, nothing new just the same stuff rebranded for the sake of marketing. I hate pseudo innovation but at least it’s built right… Find out what brand of jets and controls the vector 21 uses, I always wondered if it was waterways or some off brand.

      volcanoes are again old tech that most guys have moved away from and it’s common for this old tech to resurface as innovation after a while. most companies got away from any fittings and plumbing under the floor. although i see they made a raised Chanel for the plumbing which is good, the down side is they are tripping hazards and always in the way.

      Performance wise i have no idea… never seen a vector 21 in action but if you can wet test them both send me you feedback!

  44. I live near Seattle. There are no Master Spas dealers in our area. Do you have any advise about alternatives in my area. Seems odd that they don’t service a large city like Seattle.

    • I’m in the same situation as Norman in the Seattle Area.
      Seattle Hot Tubs carries the Marquis. Seattle Hot Tubs seem like a good group (located in Kirkland, not Seattle).
      Black Pine Spas carries the Atresian.
      Master Spa has a show this weekend at XFinity stadium in Everett. I’ve had some spotty communications from a salesperson from Master Spa, who said he could arrange delivery. I contacted another salesperson from Master Spa who represents this area, his phone is 952.543.0220, and he had info on how to order Master Spa in this area.

      My question to Admin:
      In the Seattle area, we have reputable dealers that represent HotSpring, Jacuzzi, Marquis, Artesian, and a goofy distribution center which can deliver Master Spa, but no show room. I’m looking at either Marquis E-Series (545) or Master Spa/Legacy (Enterprise). Any thoughts on comparing these two? I’m a bit uncomfortable buying through a sales rep who doesn’t have a show room and staff, but I would consider if the Enterprise is a better product.

      • The marquis or the artesian or the enterprise are all great spas. but bang for the buck that limited edition Enterp[rise spas are hard to beat right now… who has the best service?

    • Thanks for the quick reply. How do Marquis spas measure up in terms of shell construction, insulation, and components? There website does not provide much in the way of detailed information. Hard to understand this lack of detail in this day and age.

      • The problem is no one talks about the real issues, it’s all the gimmicks and bells and whistles…

        all the brands I recommend have one 4 things in common… well-built shells, good parts list, good insulation and glued and clamped plumbing lines, Marquis is a good solid spa in all these respects.

  45. Thanks for your informative website. I’m very interested in the Master Spas after watching your videos. I live in the Seatttle, WA area and I can’t find a dealer. On top of this, I find it annoying that the Master Spa website requires you to provide personal information just to find a dealer. Then the only dealer that comes up is for a guy who sells their product at a show. Seems inconsistent with the high quality product. What gives on their sub-standard distribution? Seattle is not exactly the sticks.

    • Yeah, it’s a big old country man and a lot of brands out there. The reality is most retailers don’t know a lot about hot tubs. They know how to regurgitate the pitch for the brand they carry but that does not mean they have a great understanding of what really makes a great sustainable hot tub…

      There are some big dealers down in the US doing these Expo sales and if you have a good local service guy it can be a good option. The problem in your area is there are a lot of the big fancy marketing brands and some small regional stuff but it’s thin on the ground for really well built hot tubs.

  46. We are re-thinking the budget… We like the Master 8.2 and Artesian Grand Bahama Elite. Both are essentially the same price. We like both about the same. Are there any reasons you would recommend one over the other?

  47. Hi, I’m looking around for my first hot tub. I saw Hotsprings SX and Aqualife 5 as i do not have a lot of space. I’m getting mixed up… Is it better if there are a lot of jets like in aqualife or is it a gimmick? And about the frame… Is it true that termites attack hotsprings wooden frame? I’ll be installing it on patio next to the garden. I live in Malta and here they do not do wet tests.
    Thanks

    • I would not expect any problems with a wood frame, and if you have termites then you want to address that anyway 🙂

      A lot of jets is usually a gimmick.. the small jets cost $10 the big hi-flow therapy jets cost $40… so actually, a 40 jet tub with good jets would be much better than 100 little ones…

  48. Thank you for your advice. We were seriously looking at the Beachcomber 590 but finally got a chance to look at Master Spas. We settled on the Clarity Precision 7 based on space limitations on our deck and budget. Couldn’t believe the amount of room in the foot well and overall layout inside!! They also had the Legacy Series but didn’t have the same amount of room in the foot well due to the configuration of the seating. We weren’t interested in the lounge option.

  49. Any thoughts on Be Well Spas made in Montreal?

    Looking at the Original series.

    Gecko controls (your second choice)

    Includes an air pump which I don’t see using in the cold season.

    Any other pros and cons you can see in the tubs themselves?

    • Never heard of them, but an air blower? usually, you only see those on the cheap stuff hardly anyone uses them anymore.

  50. I am would appreciate a brand or 2 recommendations. I have a budget of ~$7000. Looking for a “5-6” person (really 2 or 3) with a lounge seat (thinking 7′). I am in Michigan and want something that is not gonna be ridiculous to run in the winter. I have looked at a lot of different brands. Most comfortable so far is Strong SL45 and it fits the budget, but construction details are next to impossible to get. Nordic, Viking, Bullfrog, & Passion were not comfortable. D1 seems to be out of the price range. Mira M700 might be a possibility, but details are lacking and I do not get a nice warm fuzzy feeling from the dealer. Hot springs and Sundance seem to be well out of the budget. And help is greatly appreciated.

  51. Hi Gents! Love the site. I have a lead on a Master Spas TS 240 that was a demo model. The dealer experience has been lackluster over the phone and seems to hire inexperienced help to do their sales. Anyhow, this particular tub is priced at $5500 USD delivered and installed, but only carries a 90 day warranty. The tub looks like new and is currently setup at a local mall here in Castle Rock, Colorado. I am a bit apprehensive about the dealer experience and lack of substantial warranty. Does this price seem inline for what’s actually being sold? Should I be hesitant of the short 90 day warranty, or can I relax in knowing the parts used to comprise this tub are solid?

    For comparison, a brand new comparible TS240 comes with a 3 year bumper to bumper warranty on parts and 10 year on the shell, lifetime on the cabinet and run’s 10-12k USD.

    Please advise if you can 🙂
    Thanks,
    Kelly

    • So it’s a used tub and therefore you can expect to put a motor or heater in the next few years, This particular tub has generic OEM parts so you can find them anywhere which also means you don’t have to use the dealer after the 30-day mark… I am going to assume in a city the size of Colorado there are several independent guys fixing tubs… Hell call any dealer in North America and they will sell you parts. and any handyman can put them in.

      Price e is good Tub is good

  52. Could you tell me your opinion of the PDC spas? I am considering their ‘denali’ spa which is their mid-range spa. The area I am in has only two dealerships, the other dealer sells bullfrogs exclusively and I am aware of their shortcomings.Iis PDC a better bet?

  53. My wife and I are looking at a Master Spa HL628L and Marquis Spirit. They are competitively priced. The Marquis has a 160gpm pump for a 200 gallon tub. The Master doesn’t have a gpm rating for the pump and has a 170 gallon capacity. Is one significantly better than the other ?
    Thank you in advance

  54. Hi,
    Posting again! After reviewing your website I looked into the Masterspa line. I’m trying to decide between a Masterspa Clarity 8 for 7500 dollars or a Coast Mirage with 84 jets for 10,700. I love the size of the Coast but am concerned about maintaining the tub, and any issues it may have that makes it a headache. I never owned a hot tub and I don’t want to get stuck with a lemon. Which tub would you choose?

    • The Clarity is a great design, huge amount of room and better built than the coast

      • Greetings Professor Wheatley,

        Thank you so much for getting back to me so quickly, I really appreciate you taking the time. I went to the dealer you recommend and I will absolutely follow your advice and purchase the Clarity if that’s what you recommend.

        *I followed the advice in your videos and called both dealer to see if they would service a Costco tub. The Masterspa dealer agreed to a service call for 165 dollars, which provided an hour of labor. They Coast dealer agreed to come out for free.

        Now to my question, the MasterSpa dealer has 2 star Yelp rating and the reviews are less than complimentary regarding their service department. the person selling the tub is a young kid about 20 who doesn’t seem knowledgeable about the service of a tub or its ideal maintainance. He quotes the brochure very well but I’m concerned about what will happen to me once the tub is my yard and not their showroom. Especially with their reviews. Also, for a service package for the spa, to come bi weekly for the year they are requesting 2k (they will provide all the chemicals).

        The Coast dealer, is The Pool and Spa Guy, his name is Steve, he has a great rep, but only deals in Coast although he does service other types of spas including MasterSpa. He has been in business for 26 years and has had the Coast line since 1999. He seems incredibly knowledgeable about several different Spa lines and has actually recommended to me to skip many ugrades and bells and whistles that he feels are unnecessary or prone to issues/problems. He seemed very competent and trustworthy (even the MasterSpa service director complimented him to me), which I know per your videos a good dealer is important.
        So in your opinion which is more important the better built Clarity or the reputation and warm and fuzzy from the dealer.

        My second question is regarding warranties.

        For no extra charge Coast warranties the plumbing for 10 yrs, the mechanical components for 5, the electrical for 5, shell for life.

        Masterspa will only provide much shorter warranties on the plumbing mechanical and electrical, unless you purchase an extended warranty for 500 dollars which buys you a 5 year plumbing warranty, mechanics 5 yr, electrical 5 yr and the shell for life.

        My question is why the shorter warranty than Coast if it’s a better product and is a warranty of that length enough to keep me safe or should reconsider the Coast.

        Thanks in advance for even reading this missive..lol I really appreciate all your advice, your my beacon in a storm!

        Respectfully,
        Your favorite Hot tub Student

        • The Coast dealer will service the Spa bi weekly for 940 dollars for the year and he provides all the chemicals!

        • hmmm so I always say that coast on paper builds a good spa. and with a great dealer its hard to say…

          The warranty is always paid for by you, some companies put it in the cost and give you 5 or 3 and some guys don’t and give you one with the option to buy more years… It’s all the same in the end take the price of the 5 years extended warranty and add it into the total cost…

          Lifetime warranty is a bad thing… there is no legal definition for what lifetime entails… the life of the product? your life? The life of that model in that configuration? read the warranty and see what they call life…

          As for the rating, I’m not a big believer in the rating systems… in 5 hours I could create 20 emails use a VPN and create 20 yelp account and tank or rocket either rating…

  55. Hi, thanks so much for your website! I have been trying so hard to research spas but finding reliable information seems impossible. I am looking at the Coast Mirage spa 54 jets for 11k installed. I can’t seem to find too many reviews of Coast or the Mirage except for at pissed consumer. What is important to me is to have a large tub that will seat 7-10 people, I don’t need the bells and whistles but would like to use it in year round and I live in NY so winter is a concern. Do you think Coast is a good company or would you recommend another tub?

    • Coast is not a bad spa on paper but has always had a bad rap, I think there are some issues with quality control and support.

      check out The Twilight they sell it here: Suntek Pools And Spas
      1282 Rt. 110, Farmingdale, NY, 11735
      Phone: 631-249-7727
      sales@suntekonline.com

  56. First, thank you for what is one of the only informative sites on this topic. Secondly, I’d appreciate any advice you might have in choosing between a Caldera Kauai and a Master TS-240 in the Bucks County, Pa. area. I’m assured by both dealers that their spa is vastly superior to the competition. My own assessment is that the Caldera dealer seems more established than the Master Spa dealer, but that the Master TS-240 is a better product choice. Any advice you might have would be much appreciated.

    • The Caldera and the TS are both well-built spas but the Kauai is nowhere near the performance standard for the 240… That little tub is a crazy good massage spa.. who puts 2 pumps in a small tub like that!!

      On all fronts, the TS240 is far and away a better spa

  57. Great videos. I am wondering if there is a list of who does the fiberglass they way you talked about. I am new to Hot tubs, but have decided to get one. Unfortunately my budget is only around $7k. There is someone in the area with a two year old Bullfrog A8 wanting to see it for $6k. They said it was over $10k originally. No issues and need the cash apparently. I was also looking at a Vita Envie. It is a floor model and $6500 with a UV system. It does not use foam, but I have been unable to find a good monthly cost difference between full foam and thermal insulation. The Bullfrog is from a homeowner with a transferable warranty and the Vita is from a dealer that we liked. The bullfrog holds about 155 more gallons. I do realize neither of these are your ideals, but I have a budget and don’t want to buy an old hot tub. We are looking for something approx 90″x90″ and both these fit. The Vita does have a lounger, but if the bullfrog is better then I am fine with it. I don’t know if weight means much, but the Bullfrog is 758lbs and the Vita is 979lbs. I was curious if I could get some constructive thoughts on these two options. thank you.

    • The bullfrog is light because it’s a plastic backed shell pedestal supported, The Vita is a glass shell.

      I have to be honest I’ll have to look at a Vita haven’t seen one in a long time.

  58. I am looking at the Marquis either the Promise or Euphoria. The dealer is Griffin Pools in Lexington, SC about 1 1/2 hrs. away. OR Master Twilight 8.25 from David’s Home Entertainment in Waynesboro NC about 3 1/2 hrs. away. I’m in Camden, SC. Any advice. I’m 6’3″. I’m concerned about the distance from David’s though they say they do the service. Any thoughts?

    • A good dealer will use local resources, my biggie is that someone with knowledge answers the phone, that’s 90% of being a good dealer, the rest is easy, you can usually diagnose over the phone and send the part directly and any handy man can put parts in.

      Both are good tubs from a build standpoint but TS is a performance monster, look at the jetting… it has all the expensive hi flow low-pressure therapy jets, the Marquis is like most top end tubs, some expensive jets and a pile of the regular jets.

  59. We were all set to by the Grand Bahama tub by Artesian and of course, I started reading more reviews. It seems that there are many problems with Artesian customers being ticked: https://artesian-spas.pissedconsumer.com/
    What is your take? We are looking to buy from World of Hot Tubs in Guelph. If we do decide to go ahead, what is a fair price for the tub? We were quoted $11 500.

    • Im not sure how much i would listen to the reviews i perused some of them and a lot of sounds like user issues and delaer support issues.

      the pricing seems resasonable but it is always hard to say on a product like this cost of doing business is a lot different so pe]rices can vary

      • Hello! I’m thinking about trading my 2004 master spa to a updated 2017 master spa HL8. What is the price range going for? I don’t want to get ripped off. Thanks again.
        Tammy

        • Hi Tammy

          HL8 full pop is around $12k but dealers may sell for less and pricing on these products vary depending on area, the cost of doing business in NYC is a lot more than small town America and proximity to the factory can save a lot as well

  60. This site is the one beacon of hope in a shady industry. So, first…thank you!
    I’m about to buy my 3rd spa (other 2 were included in the sales of previous homes), so this is not my first rodeo. I can understand how first-time buyers feel like it’s a dizzying game of pin the tail on the donkey…and a lot of donkeys get bought/sold.

    I’m down to two choices, narrowed mainly by the intersection of the best brands offered by the best local dealers (Venn Diagram stuff):

    Beachcomber 725 Hybrid vs. Bullfrog R7L. Monday is wet test day for both, so I thought it would be fun to post here with the frustrating “slippery math” of spa shopping, and then report back with the litmus test of actually wet-testing the products. Beachcomber has NO wet spas in store (dummies), so we’re driving an hour to their Montreal warehouse. Bullfrog has several wet at the dealer.

    I want ZERO bells and whistles (waterfalls, lights, stereo, aromatherapy junk, 9 pumps, bluetooth/wireless connectivity)…just a good basic spa that performs and lasts in our crap Quebec weather. Final deals on both include GFCI, steps, lifter, cover, delivery and placement. Bullfrog is simple “place spa on pad” delivery, while Beachcomber offers free delivery (in your laneway) OR for the low, low price of $499, puts it on the pad and has a “tech” to come and do your fill and startup water chemistry and chemicals.

    SHOWDOWN:
    Beachcomber 725: enhanced package (promotion) with circulation pump and blinky stuff, but it’s more expensive for a stripped-down without the package. Positives: well-regarded manufacturer, pretty transparent website (you can price everything out without getting dealers involved), okay Gecko controls. Negatives: only a 2 year free warranty on pumps/controls. Gets pricey in the 7 series (two pumps vs. 1 pump in 5 series). Total pre-tax: $12 593 CDN

    Bullfrog R7L: Standard equipment, good pumps and controls(Balboa). Positives: choice of 4 jet-packs (admin would move that to the negative column, but I think they’re nifty), decent price, better layout for my yard (Beachcomber’s integrated Hybrid stairs have to have a fixed orientation or they charge $), 5 year free warranty on pumps/controls (Beachcomber charges $599 to bump the warranty from 2 years to 5). Aesthetically more pleasing (to us) vs. the BC’s 1980’s look. Biggest positive is price…the difference between Bullfrog and BC will pay for my electrician and foundation with $1,000 left over. Negatives: Bullfrog reviews are hot and cold (esp. regarding Jet-Packs), no transparency on the website, and the consumer is left uninformed and confused. No circulation pump (never was an issue on previous spas). Dealer is an hour away. Total pre-tax: $9999 CDN

    I’d love to hear any info or debates I left out, and I will report back after our back-to-back wet tests in 2 days.

    • wow you want a job?

      Yer just like my mate Sandy… venn diagrams indeed 🙂

      The beachcomber pricing is bonkers… i saw thier summer flyer and almost pissed myself laughting…. now it is a much better spa than the Bullfrog, especially the shell constrution.

      niether are super good performaers but both would be efficent…

      • Beachcomber wet test done. Bullfrog appointment was postponed until next week. So, if these two brands are ho-hum (I thought I’d weeded the ho-hummers out), are there any in my neck of the woods (Greater Montreal area) that you would recommend?

      • Just came back from the wet test(s). We’ve now evaluated Beachcomber, Coast, Artesian and Bullfrog, in addition to the 2 other spas I’ve owned, and those of my friends. I contacted Master Spas, and they gave me the cell number of a parts dealer that “carries the brand” in our area, but doesn’t do service. No wet test possible for a few hundred miles. Deal breaker.

        So…the big reveal? Bullfrog R7L, baby. And it wasn’t even close. I can hear admin punching the wall and pulling his hair out. But hear me out!

        Jetpacks:
        Those “gimmicky” jetpacks translate to all kinds of variations on the type of massage you want, and which part of the back/neck are targeted. In other words, the same jetpack in 6 different seats gives you 6 different targeted clusters. With 4 packs and 4 jetpack seats, that’s a lot of flexibility. Strong pumps at full, quiet at half power, the seats fit us far better than other brands, and the jets actually spin/pulsate/penetrate/massage…not always so for the competitors.

        Shell: okay…you win. it’s not fibreglass. It relies on the frame for structural integrity. 15 years from now I might have regrets. I can feel you smirking. Stop it.

        Pumps and controls: strong jets, quiet at low, Balboa controls, 5 to 7 year warranty. All good.

        Dealer: Holy Sh^#! This is the THIRD Bullfrog dealer I have attempted to work with. Just yesterday, I went to a well-known retailer in Ottawa. The son of a seacook lied on 4 occasions and was $3000 above in IDENTICAL specs. I have the papers. But he’d knock $300 off if I picked it up myself and faked an Ontario address (thereby voiding the warranty). No words. If I evaluated Bullfrog on a metric of (Product x Dealer)/2, they would get a failing grade. Time will tell, but I think this dealer’s solid.

        My body’s all kinds of beat up from years of motocross, and my girlfriend is a competitive equestrian jumper with back issues. We both felt much better relief after this wet test, and for once I didn’t feel like choking the salesperson. I think we have a winner.

        • After 17 years of having a Hot Springs spa, we are looking to purchase a new one. We are very taken with the bullfrog R7L. It appears to have everything we want. We like the warranty and the jet pack ideal. Our concern is, how does it handle through the very cold weather ? We read one review that said the we read one review that said the material on the shell cracked due to cold weather. We Live in West Virginia and typically do not have terrible winters. We can get some snow and occasionally some very cold temperatures with high windchill’s, but that is generally only every 3 to 5 years. Amy thoughts?

          • I do not like the plastic shells with the pedestal supports, I have seen too many fail over the years and most guys have moved away from this tech.

        • That’s great and I have always said that other than the shell it is well insulated and uses good parts, but every tub can change the jets… I’ve never said it’s a nightmare tub, just that it is like most of the stuff, upper mid performance and some good and some bad but it’s priced like a spa that has all the right stuff.

          Every tub has the ability to change jets in seats and customise the seating, especially something that uses a lot of the 3 and 5″ jets, in fact something like the twilight would have many more possible was to jet the seats by a long shot because each jet could be changed to any of 6 or 7 different jets types. so while jetpacks might be more flexible than a tub plumbed with lots of small bullets jets it’s nowhere near as flexible and adaptable as a really high-end therapy spa, and not even in the same universe for performance. Now compared to the Beachcomber, Coast, and artesian spas it is a close race they are all similarly powered and jetted but again nowhere near the flow rates or performance of the crazy end.

          I’m sure this will be a good tub for you and of the brands you shopped they would all be fairly comparable and you are right, a good dealer is king!

          Happy Hot Tubbing!

  61. Great info on this site… This is our 1st hot tub purchase, you seem to be big on Master Spa & Marquis, we did get a quote on a Caldera Geneva, we liked quite a bit (about $11k), what’s your take on that, vs. a similar sized/featured Marquis? And approx the price diff. We always like to quality, and don’t mind paying a few $’s more, but don’t want to spend too much more than that. I can’t find a Master Spa dealer near me in Oakland, CA.

    • Good tub and for the market the price seems reasonable.

      Build quality wise they are good sound spas, and performance wise they can get tot he mid upper level.

  62. I am looking at buying my first hot tub and am making myself crazy over researching. I came across this site and learned more in 30 minutes than I have researching all week.

    I basically have two dealer choices where I live in Cleveland, OH. The Great Escape who sells Viking, Jacuzzi and Bullfrog. The second is Litehouse who sells Artesian and Caldera. I totally get how important the dealer is bases on your advice and they both seem knowledgeable.

    The two models I have it narrowed down to are the Bullfrog X8 and the Tropic Seas Fiji by Artesian.

    I see you have a negative opinion of the Bullfrog jetpacks, but the X8 has regular jets built into the shell NOT the jet pack. It is very open and roomy, but my only reservation is the jets are either on or off, no option to increase/decrease the jets power with a control knob on top of the tub like most models. This model has the Bluetooth speaker system and tons of led’s in the jets and tub.

    The Artesian Fiji has the power adjustable knobs for the jets and 11 more jets, but less speakers and LED lights. It has one less seat than the X8 and is a bit more contoured around the body than the X8. But looks like it might provide better massage based on the look and feel of the jets.

    I would appreciate your opinion on how to decide between the two!

    • That’s crazy…. so now Bullfrog is putting jets in the shell which is the whole pitch about having jets packs!!! lmao… soon they will go back to regular jets and abandon this sytem entirely.lol

      Go with the Artesian better jetting better flow control, better shell and not so heavy of the gimmicks…

      • Hello,

        First time buyer. Looking at the Tropic Seas Spa- Kona. I have not seen many reviews on this and was curious of your thoughts. We also were considering Saratoga Spas (no specific selected yet).

        Looking forward to your opinion.

    • Hey there, based on reading here I found a master dealer in my area. When I said I was interested in the Twilight I was told that the only difference in twilight and HL was lighting and for hydrotherapy HL is much better. Might be because they only had a small corner twilight in Stock but tons of HL due to a recent show. Looked at the HL 7 but honestly now have a bad taste due to the non sense. I really like the caldera Geneva both of us have bad backs so need good massage not pins and needles. Thoughts? Need to order soon… Kelley

    • I am in Staten island NY and we are limited to spa dealers. I went to look at the Artesian/ Island spa grand bahama. I like the layout and the jets. The skirt looks “plasticy” as do the matching step option, which i dont like.
      I read here that you recommend this brand. Ive scoured the internet and didnt find much in the form of reviews, but most were negetive. This is my first spa and i want to get it right.
      They are asking 9k delivered plus tax of course. Is this spa worth it?
      51 jet & dual clear footblaster
      3 pumps
      5″ cover
      Std cabinet
      12″ tranquility fall
      Dynapoint led
      Crystal AOP
      Frog @ease

      Add ons
      Umbrella – 400.00
      Top arm – 300.00

      Not sure if it includes upgraded color. The one that was shown to me had tuscan sun which is an upgrade.

      • Price is hard to say depends on where you live.

        I looked them over pretty good in Vegas a few years ago and they were building good spas, I’m not a big believer of the rating and complaint forums, every one in the industry with an ounce of savvy is throwing money and fixing and wrecking brands.\ there is very little verifiable reliable data out there on this product.. look for verified complaints like BBB

        Don’t buy the low flow circ pumps or the miracle upgraded chemical free systems.

        Try these guys, look at a Twilight spa says they are 53 miles away

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

        http://www.eastcoastspas.com

  63. Looking for entry level spa. Pretty base a few jets some lighting no bells or whistles. 4-5 person. I am located near Saskatoon, SK Canada so winter is big issue. Hoping to find something in $4-5000 range. Can I find something decent in that price range?

    • Super Dangerous price… that’s $5k Cdn which is like $3700 USD.

      So much junk at that price, a normal retailer with overhead would be hard pressed to sell you anything that wasn’t junk at that price… Maybe a Getaway Hot Tub or a Nordic but I think you will need to stretch to $6k to get something good.

  64. Hello! I am so glad I stumbled upon this site. Great information. I have been doing some research and have just started visiting dealers in the phoenix area. I am new to the spa world. I really liked the MAXX spas that I saw, but from what I read you are not a big fan. We have a Caldera dealer that I visited as well, and it seems that may be a better choice after reading reviews. Is there anyone else I should check out here in Phoenix?

  65. Took your advice and checked out both Marquis and Master Spas. Found 2 models that fit our budget and our needs. With Marquis it was the Signature “The Promise” and with Master Spa it was the HL 7.5. Is one much better than the other? Any advice as to which one to go with is much appreciated. Thanks for taking the time to help by maintaining this blog!

  66. Johnnie;) & CC

    Hello, we’ve used the site a good deal as we prepare to buy Spa #2. Spa #1 was a 2-3 person Master Spa that the buyer of our house wanted included in sale. Limited space and getting the hot tub on our then massively high deck were deciding factors but we were so pleased with the spa!
    No longer can get a Master Spa from any local dealer in the Fayetteville or Raleigh, NC areas.
    Now looking at Jacuzzi J-235, South Seas Spas Deluxe 748, Cal Spas Pacificia (Escape series) & Artesian Spas Island Spas (no specific model chosen yet). We both exercise & use the spa for recovery (& get more benefit than that of course). The prices are within $1,200 of each other so with a little more time to save we could get any of these.
    Would love to hear your top picks. Thanks for providing this site!

    • Artesian out of that group, or parrot bay sells marquis.

      As a second time buyer you might consider buying out of the market because I agree with you that the Master is one of the best out there.. you can save a lot and if you have a handyman who can use a meter and swap parts the proximity of the dealer does not come into play as much.

  67. Wow…what passionate dedication. I saw that you replied to someone tonight, on the 4th of July.

    I would appreciate and value your opinion on something.

    I am having trouble pulling the trigger on a new hot tub. I want to make sure I get the best quality I can for my current budget. We live in Northwest Lower Michigan so winter is a huge concern. We currently have a 17 year old Dimension One @Home series hot tub that recently died. It worked flawlessly until one seat cracked last fall, and after repairing that it started leaking elsewhere. Finally one pump died and we decided it was time to give it up.

    Our current budget for a replacement is around 5K. Dealers are limited in our area, (two within 50 miles) one sells Viking and the other Hot Springs. Because we live in a high income tourist area the deals are also rare. We no longer wish to have a lounger so this limits the models as well.

    The best dealer in our area only sells Viking, and has been doing so for many years. I know by your comments that you are not fond of Viking, but under the circumstances I feel it may be my best or only option.

    They seem to use premium parts compared to others in this price range. They are made 200 miles from here in Grand Rapids Mi. I’m afraid my second choice would be a tub sold by Lowes or Home Depot, and I am certain those aren’t made near me or you! I do not wish to own an over priced Hot Springs tub.

    The troubling part to me is that the dealer includes the optional Reflectix “bubble” wrap, and an additional 1″ outer cabinet foam board insulation, plus a plastic bottom pan to protect from critters! (My tub will be on a solid concrete pad with pea gravel around the base.) Nothing ever bothered my current tub.

    If I decide on this brand, what if any of this is important to me? If these items are hype, it bothers me that the company even puts them in the brochure!

    The other thing that bothers me is that the brochures do not talk about the frame, the insulation, or the construction at all. They do however stress that they use Balboa, Waterways, and other US made parts.

    I realize 5K is an entry price but I would like something that is going to last, and not break the bank to operate monthly. I have seen some articles about the different methods of insulating a hot tub, and it is certainly very confusing knowing what is “needed” beyond the foamed shell which itself is not negotiable.

    Any thoughts and suggestions would certainly be appreciated!

    Thanks for a great site!

    • 5K is a tricky number, there are some good spas in this range and lots of junk.

      If the dealer is good and has been with the line for a while then it might not be the worst buy but man I hate that insulation system, esp in a cold area. I don’t hate Viking, just don’t love them…

      • My D1 @Home has the same insulation system. Just foam over the plumbing and shell. The D1 has no other insulation beyond that. The cabinet has no insulation.

        I’ve read that the Reflectix is pretty much R-1 in quality. To be fair they don’t say it actually insulates, but reflects heat back in. The foam board insulation is around the entire cabinet and is for insulation and sound. The plastic pan seems like overkill in my situation as well. These all run over $100 each……..do you think I need any of this? I could see where the foam board might help. As I said, my D1 didn’t have any of this. (It was also $15 a month to heat!) It also comes with a Mazzei Injection Ozonator as well.

  68. We’re first time spa buyers. Although originally focused on Bullfrog, forums like yours and others have made us focus on the dealer first and we found a good one locally. He carries Artesian and Marquis. From what we’d researched on the internet, we probably won’t go wrong with either, but are leaning toward the Artesian island Elite series. Any thoughts regarding these two brands of spas that might help in our decision making?

    • They are both good and once you get past that point it comes down to dealer support so call them and say you have a Costco spa that’s leaking and see what one is willing to help you 🙂

      • Thanks Admin. Since the July 4th post, that dealer has been somewhat unresponsive and keeps delaying filling any of his spas because “we’re getting the latest and greatest models in soon”. We’ve since found a good dealer in Raleigh that sells Caldera and Hotspring. We liked sitting in the HS, until we went to wet test both spas. Hands down, we liked the Caldera Salina better than anything. We like the looks of the Caldera Niagra, but have not been able to wet test it anywhere. Since I’m 6″2″, I’m concerned about the comfort in their wide headrest corner, (it’s not comfortable to sit in dry). If I’ve learned anything from you and my experience to date, a wet test trumps all!

        • A wet test is a funny thing… The truth is how a tub will affect you long term and how it feels short term are very different.

          Tubs with lots of the little jets “feel” like they are doing a lot but the reality is these low flow high-pressure jets assault the dermal layer where all the nerve endings are and therefore feel like they do a lot but they dont do anything for deep muscle mass, the shit you need to deal with if you really want mobility and range of motion improvements.

          Its funny a lot fo people moving from a regular tub with mostly small jets to A really high-end therapy spa often complain right away that the pressure sucks. It is because if you have as lot of the Big expensive Hi-flow therapy jets they are a High flow low p[ressure jet and they really do not feel like they are doing as much. But they are moving the whole muscle mass and long term you will really notice a difference…

  69. Need help in Nashville! We’re new to looking at hot tubs and have looked at both Caldera and Tropic Seas, which is made by Artesian. Or are there others brands in this area we should consider? Thanks

    • Tropic Seas over those two hands down. but you also have a Master dealer there. it’s my go-to brand… Vicki’s Pool And Spa Place

      Vicki’s Pool And Spa Place
      1134 College Street, Clarksville, TN, 37040
      Phone: 931-645-9786

  70. Hi I live in England and I’m looking at spending about £7000. I nearly got a hot springs tub as I have a local dealer, but have since seen your feedback so now looking at this dealer http://www.goodwinshottubs.co.uk. They sell elite spas. Any help from over the water would be awesome. Many thanks
    Paul

    • Even though the elite spa line is not a go to for me the dealer seems awesome, sometimes that’s more important than anything else.

      • We are just about to place an order this week for an elite passion 2 for £8795. Can I ask why aren’t you keen of the brand? It was between this and the vita prestige. Would love your opinion.

        • I assume you mean the Elite built by Maxx (now part of the Maxx collection)

          The biggest issue is the insulation system and in the UK this matters.

          Bluemax is a combo reflective and a small amount of insulation mass.. reflective insulation in this application is not very effective: read this: http://www.hottubuniversity.com/reflective-mylar-insualtion-systems/ You really want a good Icynene foam insulation system if you can find it.

          Air blowers are a joke, not seen them on spas in a long time and usually only on the cheap mass merchant spas… see the video on the Costco tub, basically, this uses a similar insulation system and the video explains the air blower too.

          from a performance standpoint, it would be on par with the middle to upper end

          I also do not like these steel frames, noisy and they are heat conductors

  71. Hello,

    I am a really large guy (6’4″ – 390 lbs) and am looking at purchasing a hot tub. Live in Chicago and not sure if there are specific questions someone of my size should be asking or if there is a line that might be more spacious.

    Thanks

    • Hi shane

      For you its all about big open seating and footwell space. try and find something like a Clarity spa, they have massive amounts of space in them. Also don’t go smaller than 7′ or you won’t have area to displace the water.

  72. I’m in the Nashville area and just started looking for a hot tub. I’m not sure where to start. Any recommendations in Nashville?

    • Yeah, you have an Artesian dealer and a Master dealer, both great spas from a build standpoint and if yer looking for real high-end therapy massage see the Twilight series.

  73. Hey Chris,
    Just found this site and it is awesome!!!

    First time hot tub buyer and looking for a reliable middle of the road hot tub, 6 person, with some good jets – mostly for relaxation and entertaining, but some hydrotherapy would be nice too! don’t need all the crazy lights or bells and whistles, just something that will work well.

    do you have recommendations on certain tubs? or good dealers in the los angeles area?

    thanks so much!

    • Man Seth you live in a world where spin is king 🙂

      All the brands out there are the big marketing expensive spas that are just not that well built… Some markets its all about the brand awareness and marketing and spin and unfortunately from a hot tub standpoint that’s the brands that are selling out there… Funny in such a hi-tech area.

      The good thing is thier are loads of independent service centres so you could buy from out fo market and get a reliable backup and usually the price is better.

  74. Chris,
    Do you have any thoughts on Saratoga Spas? I’m looking at the Adelphi and Champlain models. They are supposedly full foam insulation, and the factory says the plumbing fittings are glued and clamped, except for air fittings. Local dealer has been in business >20 years.
    Thanks,
    Mike

    • Good parts list and a good insulation system.

      But the shell… These ABS plastic shells made a splash 20 years ago and most people have moved away from them, they are a less expensive way to build a shell and the failure rate is a lot higher than a hand-rolled fibreglass shell. Most companies have moved away from this tech.

      • What do you know about Dimension One Spas?

        • Ok, I had to have a revisit here, been a while since the name has come up.

          The Group that owns Jacuzzi bought them and kind of lets them be the poor cousin even though its a probably their best line which isn’t saying much when it’s all big corporate investment firm shit 🙂

          Ther Big boys are not the best hot tub makers they are the most profitable hot tub companies… good for them bad for you…

          The craziness on the sanitation systems is epic… the base one with the silver ion is ok the rest are a waste of money unless you go to the UV system and that’s likely not worth the price… never seen so many words to describe ozone 🙂

          The crazy shape is done to guarantee the repeat cover business and this shit dates your purchase… on long term purchases keep it simple, fad colour or “current styling” is going to date you and you will look stupid in 3 years.

          Gecko control and heating system is our distant number 2 system but at least you can get parts for it.

          Good open celled foam insualtion system.

          All in all its better thamn most, from aeprformance standpoint again it is m,iddle of the road or ” a good mix of jets” as most people would call it.

  75. I am so confused. I am looking for a large swim spa 18_20ft with seperate hot tub. I have looked at master spas h2x, endless pools and vita swim spa. I am so confused. I live in nj and just want a good spa.

    • The endless pool is now owned by Watkins who owns hot springs and Caldera. I’m not sure if they have messed with the line much or not but typically as a big corporate entity they are all about profit and that means not so much about build quality.

      the H2X will outperform all of them for swim pressure unless you go tot he crazy end like the water wheel option on the Endless or the Phelps trainer. the VIP plate on the H2X is a great technological improvement and flows a lot of fo water. H2X also benefitted from the design program with Bob Bowman and Michael Phelps swim spa so it is easier to stay in the swim lane and can flow more water so you can get much better resistance training, it also comes with all the work out gear and at 60″ deep it has tonnes of water. Add to that the fact that it has a hand rolled shell, glued and clamped plumbing, top of the line parts list and a good icynene foam insulation system and it is really hard to best.

      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/

      Dude for a good dealer 60 minutes is nothing, especially if you have or are a handyman that can do basic repairs…

  76. This site is fantastic! I’m in Minnesota and getting ready to buy a hottub. I have narrowed it down to 2 options (after much research) and I would love your opinion…

    I’m looking at the Bullfrog X7 (the model without the jetpacks but they still tout the much less tubing involved)

    And the Sundance Chelsee 780 (which I am told was a special order that was cancelled and is a fantastic deal according to dealer)

    Both are $8,000

    What are your thoughts? Thank you so much!!

    • 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…

      Sundance is now owned by jacuzzi.

      The only problem I have with this tub is the proprietary parts, I hate when guys build a part that just fits their spa… but of the two it would be my choice.

      I did a search in the area and you have a Calspa dealer http://www.spastores.com/contact/ and a master dealer http://www.masterpoolandspa.com Both would be better choices with master being My preference.

  77. Can I ask a question about building a hot tub pad? I’ve searched the internet but can’t seem to find the exact answer I am long for. I recently put new pavers in my yard, before I realized I wanted the hot tub. The corner where I’m planning to put the tub slopes, enough so that even to my untrained eye I know that I need to make alterations in order to properly install the tub. It seems the best way to do this is with a pressure treated 2×4 frame filled with 3/4 inch crushed rock. I’ve read pea gravel works also but they say it’s more prone to freezing and moving compared to the jagged rock which kind of inter locks and holds its shape. More importantly, what is the correct way to build this frame and attach it to the pavers so that it lasts 20 or so years? Concrete screws? Should I sister two studs together and place them on the 4x side? Or would it be secure enough to just do one stud places on the 2x side? Thanks for the help.

    • You will have a hard time fixing it to the stones, they will likely crack. Build a strong 2×4 frame and use crusher dust or type one driveway gravel (1/2″ max)

      or easier still… pull up 8′ of the stones and relay that section…

  78. First off, I love this website. I learned more from you in a couple of hours than I did in the past 2 weeks doing my own research. So thank you!!

    Spent hours/days researching hot tubs online, going to all local dealers here in Ottawa. There are so many conflicting things being said.
    Almost bought a Jacuzzi/Hydropool!

    Arctic Spas sales man was very convincing, saying their perimeter insulation can’t be beat and they are the most energy efficient tub on the market. Said that their jets are the best because they are not ball bearing (wtf!). Another good line was that Canadian made tubs are better value due to the strong US dollar. I had a good chuckle after your review and break down on their tubs debunking each of their sales talking points.

    We went to both Marquis and Artesian dealers. Both dealers are very good and within a 10 minute drive.
    I wet tested the Artesian Island Elite series (Captiva) and the new Marquis Vector21 series.

    The Vector21 felt kind of cheap and it is considered their entry level model. They don’t cover labour cost under warranty. I am 6’2″ and the seats were all too shallow for me. Their entry level model is over 11k (all in).
    The signature line was on display and looks to be a higher end tub with great jets, but was well over 14k and dealer is unwilling to budge on price. At 14k it is stretching our budget.

    The Island Elite series is almost 2k cheaper than the Signature line and has about the same warranty coverage.
    They use Helix jets, do you know who makes them?

    You have given both companies good reviews in the past.

    How would you compare the Marquis Signature line with the Island Elite series from Artesian?
    Is the 2k price difference justified?
    Would really appreciate your input.

    Thanks,
    Rob
    Rpb

    • Both good tubs.

      performance wise I prefer the Marquis, more of the high flow therapy jets and twin diverters vs. the artesian which has more jets but they are mostly the inexpensive small high-pressure jets, and only one diverter so less flow control.

      The Marquis also has 2 big pumps which are going to be more efficient than three smaller pumps read this article on the pumps…

  79. Janice Macfarlane

    We are first-time hot tub buyers and are looking for a mid-priced hot tub. With all of the information out there and all of the different brands, we don’t really know where to start! We live east of Toronto so want something that can withstand Canadian winters. What are your recommendations for the brands we should be looking at and do you know of any dealers in our area that provide great after-sales service?

    Thanks in advance.

    Janice

    • Hey, Janice.

      Toronto has lots of options, there are good independent service guys all over the place and you have access to some great brands.

      The Marquis warehouse is there and I’m sure there is a dealer, You are also close to the biggest Master spa dealer in the country, I’m sure they service the whole region.

  80. there is only one dealer in my area that sells gateway tubs so I can’t do comparison shopping. I was quoted: Ocho Rios LE for $ 3,995.00 including cover, steps, lifter and chems. I this good? How can I learn what are good and bad prices for tubs? Thank you in advance. Looking at Nautic next.

    • You will be hard pressed to meet the spec of the Getaway. Balboa control, clamped plumbing lines, and good full foam insulation. plus the nice features like the eco pure filter and the removable skirt really make it a go to hot tub.

      Most of the tubs in this end of the market are under insulated with cheap parts and ugly.

      Price sounds good too.

    • Its hard to beat the Getaway spa in that class and price point.

      This spa has it all, full foam, Balboa control system, glued and clamped plumbing and the full skirt set it off.

      Most spas in this price point are not built to this standard and the price seems right.

  81. Chris,

    Thanks for all the info. Was going to get a Hotsprings Grandee but you led me to Marquis with your info. How’s a Marquis Euphoria with steps, cover, cover lift, ozinator, inline frog, Microsilk, start-up chemicals and delivery for $11,500? Feels like I should be able to get a better price.

    Phil

    • It seems a bit on the high side, but that depends on a lot on where you are. The cost of doing business changes dramatically across the US and so, therefore, does the cost of products.

  82. I know that you have a video of strong spa from costco, but we just saw a strong spa 9191 at our local hot tub store (this store bought out another stores inventory) Would this be just as bad as the costco one you made a video of? Or did they make a better version? The closest one we could find online to compare it to was the strong spa s65. The price was 5650, delivered, steps, cover, lift, chemicals included. Thanks for any help.

    • Everything I have seen of the brand follows the same lines as far as shell and insulation which right away would take it off my list.

  83. Looking at an ( aqua rest ) AR-300, junk? good? OK?

    • I don’t recognise the control and heating system and no clamps on the plumbing. it is what it is, at that price you just know they need to be cutting a lot of corners to make anything at all.

  84. I just wanted to say…THANK YOU! for your knowledge and input! My wife and I are shopping for a new hot tub….WAS considering Vita but now moving on.

    Your information as well as others posting is invaluable!

    Thanks again!

    • Have you any opinion on AquaLiving selling Dr Wellness spas? They say they are the largest hot tub retailer in the U.S. with 36 retail locations. Manufactured in Tennessee – they sell tens of thousands. I’ve watched all your videos and asked them all my questions. They say they use all U.S. parts – Balboa parts, Waterway jets, molded Lucite acrylic with microban coating; antifungal tubing behind it; radiant coating sprayed on to hold heat; then chopped fiberglass; spray foam with 5x microbubble cells after that. They fill their tubs with water for 5 days to test them. Their prices are great — and I was sold, but they have a few lousy reviews online. When I questioned that, they said they ‘only’ have problems with 1.5% of their hot tubs — what do you think about that? The other problem is a 5 year warranty on most everything except service is only 6 months. And no local dealer or service person – only someone who travels around installing/servicing in southwest Virginia.

      • LOL The largest hot tub retailer in the US? they are not even on the radar… They might be the largest in the state… I would be surprised if they are in the top 50 🙂 Crazy this world we live in people just say anything..

        Radiant barriers were all the rage in the 80’s in the building industry, luckily the building industry is regulated and all the cold climate states and Canada banned it as a primary insulator or issued official government warning about radiant barriers being ineffectual at containing heat in a system… Lucky the Hot Tub Industry is virtually unregulated so they can use that cheap junk in hot tubs:-)

        Forget the antibacterial pitch it does nothing, and 5x microbubble is just a stupid name to make foam sound better 🙂

        So if they were really the biggest they would be in the 30,000 tub a year group and testing for 5 days would mean they had 150,000 days of testing so that would mean they would have 410 hot tubs on test at all times taking up approx 100 sq feet each meaning the factory would have to be taking up 400,000 sq feet and their entire production facility is 250,000 square feet… LMFAO! and why? if it’s working and not leaking in an hour it working and not leaking, I hate when guys spew this amount of bullshit, that alone would make me walk.

    • I’m looking to buy a Maxx rendezvous spa. Do you have any opinion on this brand?

      • The Maxx is good except the insulation system, Bluemax is a combo reflective and a small amount of insulation mass.. reflective insulation in this application is not very effective: read this: http://www.hottubuniversity.com/reflective-mylar-insualtion-systems/ You really want a good Icynene foam insulation system if you can find it.

        Air blowers are a joke, not seen them on spas in a long time and usually only on the cheap mass merchant spas… see the video on the Costco tub, basically, this uses a similar insulation system and the video explains the air blower too.

        from a performance standpoint, it would be on par with the middle to upper end

    • I guess I am not seeing his post that made you decide against Vita. What was the reason? I’m looking at a Maxx Vita Rendevous.

      • The biggest issue is the reflective insulation system…

        This is just an inexpensive, low r-value option that is really not suited to the purpose.

  85. Our local dealers with service are Hot Springs and Sundance. Both have sold these for 30+ years. I checked on Marquis and Master and they listed expos as their dealer.

    Given that, would you go with the brand the dealer offers- or chance an expo? I’m worried about wet testing, and I liked that the dealer will test water for free on site to help troubleshoot. This would be our first spa.

    • That’s a tough one and depends on a lot on yourself sufficiency and the quality of local independent service network and the quality of your local dealer.

      The truth is if they local guy has been selling the same brand for 30+ years they are a top dealer and know how to deal with the unique circumstances of those brands.

      If you have a good local service guy or even a handyman that can use an electrical meter and you have a reliable knowledgeable seller who answers their phone and knows their shit (like me 🙂 then you can have a great long distance romance.

    • Anytime you have a dealer with 30 years selling a specific product then you are likely good. While I do not like some things about these brands they are not nightmares and a good dealer is hard to find

  86. Hello, I am looking into purchasing our first new hot tub. I have researched many types and brands online. I found a site that sells “integrity spas” out of Leawood Kansas. They appear to have some nice options and good prices. Have you heard of Integrity Spas, and if so, can you tell me anything about them? Would this brand be worth purchasing?

  87. Hi Chris

    The closest hot tub stores are an hour away from me in Lloydminster ab. They are Beachcomber, Jacuzzi, Maxx & Arctic Spa.

    None of the hot tubs have everything you say to look for. I have visited all dealers and am satisfied that any dealer would good. They all wet test but at different days of the week so I will not have time to do them all so can you help me with making a short list?

    • If you need to buy out of market then anything over 45 minutes away might as well be 45 hours away 🙂

      Your secret for success is having a local handyman and a really good dealer who can diagnose over the phone, then just buy from anywhere and count on yourself for the little issues.

  88. Looking at Bahama spa. Sunset Cove. 3-4 person. price is 5250. looks like they may have been called something else a few years ago and changed names. Looking at good therapy massage. Dont need top of the line but is this a decent one? Has geko system. Insulation is what you suggested from what they say. Hoses clamped and glued. Ofcourse we need to look under the hood to see if that is true. Can you suggest a comparable spa or does this one sound good? Thanks

    • I dont know alot about them, but check and see if the shell has supports under it or if it is a hand rolled shell… make them take the side off.

      Gecko is my number 2 system.

  89. Neil OCallaghan

    I bought an arctic spa x-display model, with 1 years parts and labour warranty in the UK, 3.5 months afterwards it developed a fault with the shell peeling away.

    They refused to honour the warranty and stated it the shell was damaged before they dispatched it and therefore excluded it from any warranty.

    I have had to constantly chase them, they do not respond to emails, they are not interested in customer service at all.

    They are now trying to worm out of the warranty and the sale of the spa, I would tell anyone wanting to buy an arctic spa, go elsewhere, other spa companies have much better after sales service.

    • You should have recourse if the shell is faulty. Maybe try head office in Canada…

      I love how they have 24-hour service for sales but only limited for service 🙂

      24/7 Live Sales Support: 1-780-789-0340
      General Phone Support: 1-800-309-1744

  90. Hi Chris, great videos you are turning out! Thanks for the great work. Can I get your opinion on the Belize UltraRay UVC-67DL: 5-Person 67-Jet Double Lounger Spa? It has dual loungers and that is something i’m interested in. I’m not sure what jets they use, they do say that they reuse the heat that the motors are putting off. Also, the use the UV light for purification…???? Looking forward to your opinion. Thanks, Myles

    • Myles I’m having a hard time figuring out this tub.

      I think it might be a Pacific hot tub but the net says the link is still not safe, it’s using a redirect so i give up 🙂

      sorry, dude.

      • I called them today, on this tube 67DL they use Balboo controls, CMP jets, ADF motors, blowers. They don’t spray the insulating foam, I’m sure I can add more insulation if needed. They told me (without even asking them) that they don’t use weird parts that you can only buy thru them, etc. I’m wondering , since the motors seem to burn out more in FLA, maybe cut a vent hole and install a vent grate where the motor sits? It is pretty warm hear year round, maybe 50’s in the winter for a few weeks. The company is SpaDepot.com that might help you to browse their site and find some info. I think the call was worth my time. They only delivery to the front of the house off the street. I’ve used an old swimming pool solar panel as a sled with a rope thru the end tube to move a spa before on the grass, gravel, etc. you can cut it to width if needed to go thru a door way. I also went to recreational warehouse today, they only carry Leisure Bay, no Balboo controls, etc. Myles

  91. Hi Richard,

    I’m looking at purchasing a CaldreaSpas Tahitian – seems like a good deal but it’s a floor model from 2016. Should I be concerned?

    What’s your thoughts on Bullfrog A7 & Jacuzzi J345?

    Thank you
    Stan

    • So the first group uses a lot of proprietary parts not my recommended course of action. see this video for why I don’t like them.

      Bullfrog uses good parts list but its a pedestal supported shell and I really do not like the jetpacks, limited area where the Jets can go, old school loop plumbing and all so they can fix the problem of leaky tubs… Anyone who is glueing and clamping the lines already solved the leaking tub problem and all the jets are removable so you can already customise any hot tubs jetting for a lot less money than buying those packs… It just seems gimmicky to me, no real advantages and some drawbacks.

  92. We have a house in the Outer Banks of NC that is used as a weekly rental. The house is located 1 mile from the beach.

    There are 2 dealers that we have gone to so far. One sells Jacuzzi, interested in the J-series 360 – or higher that have the foot jets and lounger. It is a husband and wife ownership, they have been in business for over 25 years, selling Jacuzzi since 1998. They offer the weekly service needed for incoming guests for a fee. 5 year warranty.

    The other dealer is a hardware store that has their “Outer Bank” specific hot tubes. These tubes are made by Sea Crest and Dynasty. Their tubs are basic no frills tubs. They say they took the water fall, head rest and handles that allows you to control water flow of jets off so there is less for the renters to break. They do not offer their own service but carry all of the parts, so we will need to hire another company to do it, cost is similar to the other business. They at one time had the Jacuzzi brand tubs. 2 year warranty.

    There is a $3,000 price difference between the two. We of course have heard the Jacuzzi name but have never heard of the other ones. Both places include full delivery set up. Both tubs have 2 pumps.

    Do you have a recommendation on how to pick a tub for a rental home? While saving $3,000 sounds enticing, I don’t know the life expectancy of them.

    Thank you

    Mary

    .

    • Hey Mary

      The Sea Crest and Dynasty would not be on my recommended list, I recently did a video on the Dynasty.

      The Jacuzzi are what they are, but a great dealer can make all the difference if they have been jacuzzi that long they know the quirks and will likely keep you happy.

      • I had my husband watch your videos. We found a Master’s dealer in Virginia Beach and ended up with a healthy living HL 8. The arm seats were awesome. Can’t wait to have it installed. Thank you for your videos.

  93. I’m close to replacing my Dynasty Spa Excalibur Series Lancelot 3000. I’ve had it for 10 years and looking to switch it up.

    I’m down to Jaccuzi J-345, Caldera Utopia Series Tahitian or the Bullfrog A7. As you know the price range is approx 13-16K, which would you recommend and am I missing out on any better choices.

    Thank you
    Stephan

    • These are all well-known spa brands Because they spend a lot of money making sure they are well-known brands.

      In Toronto, you have better choices for sure. Talk to Griff at Premium Wholesale, see the master TS series. I know the guy personally and vouch for him.

  94. Dave Shoemaker

    Question. Looking at Vita Spa Envie 500 series. Price is $8500 for floor model, that includes, lift, cover, stairs, delivery, 3 months of chemicals, nature II, test strips, and removing my old tub.

    Is a Vita tub and good quality tub, and worth the money. I livein Michigan with cold winters.

    Apologies if this posted a few times. Not sure what I am doing wrong

    • Again like most brands out there it is middle of the road.

      They do a great hand rolled shell with a vinyl ester resin barrier that’s great, and they use a good parts list balboa heating and control system and waterways jets.

      But the insulation is a mix of radiant heat and some small thermal mass. The redient heat systems are just inexpensive and nowhere near as good as an Icynene foam system.

      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, especially installed vertically and without a specific air gap 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/

  95. Hi Chris,

    We are new to the hot tub scene and as you’ve mentioned several times there is a lot of BS out there regarding these products. There are a few brands that I’ve been referred to by owners of these brands, they are Beachcomber, Coast and Bullfrog. They all seem happy with their products. The Beachcomber and Bullfrog buddies have had their tubs for almost 10 years. The Beachcomber buddy uses the Aqua finess product and I must say his water is always clean. I live on Georgian Bay, between Owen Sound and Collingwood, so I do get real winters. I have 2 young children. I’m looking to spend no more than $10K. I don’t see a Master dealer near me. So what do you think Beachcomber or Coast? or is there another brand or dealer near me I should check out? BTW I am often in Halifax, so I may have to pop by your place.

    • HI Richard

      Georgian Bay is old stomping grounds for me I spent many a summer cruising from Port Severn up to the Benjamin Islands… awesome.

      Of the lot Beachcomber but again stay away from the hybrid system the only reason it rates better on the CEC energy testing is that the CEC test parameters test at 60 F so the test tells you very little about the heat loss and lots about the filtration pump… Because beachcomber hybrid uses a low flow circulation pump it rates better than the non-Hybrid model in testing but the reality is the integrated system they sell through Costco is a more efficient cold water spa and has the ability to filter a lot more water if you get into heavy usage like parties or just a lot of bathers.

      The Coast always looks good on paper and again the only thing that keeps it off my top list is there always are complaints about the factory support to dealers, spoke to 2 ex-dealers personally who dropped the line because of it although that being said a really good dealer will cover over that shortcoming.

      Bullfrog is my least favourite of the group only because it’s gimmicky and overpriced. the cost savings of using a loop jet system is a lot, the shell is a thin pillar supported shell and this tub should be mid-priced but the branding and marketing have driven the cost up. the reality is the Beachcomber and coast spend more money on the tub build. I also find the stupid jet packs really limit where the jetting can go. They also continue to be haunted by sanitation issues behind the jet packs.

      Do me a favour and get yer friend to pop out the easy to chage jet pack and run your hand over the surfaces behind the pack and tell me if it feels slimy or rough… Maybe shoot a video and I’ll feature you in an article 🙂

      • Hi Chris,

        Thanks for the quick reply and thanks for the great info.

        So just to confirm the non-hybrid Beachcombers they sell at Costco are ok in your opinion?

        My buddy with the Coast mentioned that he went with them because of the commercial grade sealed filtration system as opposed to the other brands (including Beachcomber?) that have floating filters that allow the filtered debris to return to the water when the pumps are off “recontaminating” the water. Is there any truth to that?

        In regards to the Bullfrog, I highly doubt I’d get behind the jets, its my brother-in-law’s tub, I don’t think he’d be too happy with me looking under the hood! 😉

        • Ya could have been a star Richard 😉

          This “Closed filtration” and 100% Filtration, and Pressure side filtration are all old recycled technologies that were abandoned by 90% of the Market years ago. Now it is coming back because guys are marketing it as “new technology” It happens all the time

          This is just using a buzzword to fool you… How all filter systems really work is the water goes through a filter which cleans all the debris out of the water, then that water gets dumped back into the tub so right away it gets mixed into the unfiltered water… over time more and more water is filtered and after a few hours there is no debris left. The only way to really have 100% filtration or “Closed filtration” is to pump the water through a filter into another container, then once it is all filtered you can put it back into the hot tub…

      • Good Morning,

        First, thank you for this site, I had no idea there were so many options and things to consider when buying a hot tub. I am in the market right now for a hot tub. I live in Suffolk County NY. I recently looked at the Viking Spa Heritage 2 and I’m wondering your thoughts on this spa. I’m heading over to see the Master Spa today. My budget is 7k and I would really like a company that will service the product. I will take any advice you can give.

        • Hey, Latoya.

          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 don’t like the plastic shell, I really want a good Hand rolled fibreglass shell. The pipes are not clamped, and the insulation is not my recommended system. all in all its what most spas are, some good, some bad and some ugly…

  96. Thanks for a lot of the comments above. Very helpful while I research my first hot tub purchase. I am trying to not break the bank all while still purchasing a quality product. I am not buying a hot tub to have a world class massage or ease pain but simply to have a relaxing place to spend time with family and friends. My requirements for a hot tub are simply (at least I think so):

    1- Efficiency (don’t need to see my elec bill skyrocket)
    2- Reliability (quality parts I can buy anywhere and make simple repairs/maint myself)
    3- Overall value

    Unfortunately I don’t have $8K+ to just drop on a hot tub and am hoping to stay closer to the 5-7K range which I know limits my options significantly. I was hoping you could provide a few brand recommendations that I should really focus in on that would all be using quality components with solid insulation for my lovely Chicago, IL weather (wouldn’t mind taking a soak while it snows).

    Thanks

    • Tyler look for a Rotomould, with the money you save on the shell construction you can get a good parts list and good insulation.

      The getaway Hot Tubs I like a lot then the Nordic.

      • We are military moving every few years. Our new house in No VA has wiring where an old tub was located. I’d like to get a hot tub that I can enjoy for a few years. It’s not really a long term investment, I’ll be moving again in a few years. Would these rotomolds be a good place to start looking?

        • For sure, Rotomoulds have come a long way and 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.

          There is a new line Called Getaway Hot Tubs, they do all the right things and they look nice, and they use a full skirt to really make them look right. Nordic also build a good one but the insulation is not as good.

  97. My husband and I are looking at hot tub and swim spa options for our backyard to help with long-term health and fatigue issues. The information on your site is helpful, although so comprehensive it makes my head swirl a bit.

    Our local pool store (small town in Central Florida) recommended Swim Spa Manufacturers in Clearwater, which is about 2 hours away. http://www.swimspamanufacturers.com/swimspas.php

    I’m not sure what to make of their products, based on what I’m reading here. The two main things going for them seem to be long-term business and high BBB ratings. However, I’m wondering if their technology has kept up with the times, and I’m wondering how to know. And I saw they are against full-foam, which you recommend.

    • I have never heard of these guys so I picked up the phone and spoke to the owner 🙂 nice guy and told be all the bumpf.

      The good is the component list, they use Balboa packs and pumps which are a nice brand that’s easy to find and source replacements for and that control and heating system is reliable.

      They have a bit fo a weird way of making the shell and although it’s not my favourite way to dance it seems like they make a decent enough shell… self-supporting, using 7 layers of glass and a vinyl ester resin against the acrylic which is good, they then glass in a 1/2″ plywood sheet on the base and this one kills me they glass in 2″ schedule 40 PVC pipe along the sides 🙂 I really would like a hand rolled glass but it seems like they are going so far overkill on the layers that it’s likely a sustainable shell no matter how unorthodox! But again this is simply based on what the nice man on the phone told me 🙂

      No they use nylon flex hose into the old manifold and jet sockets, again this is an old way to do it but not a bad way, again I would like to see a barbed internal fitting glued and clamped, and really if the joints are glued and clamped we don’t really even care if the hose is poly tubing or nylon flex, actual tubing failure is rare.. its all about the joint between the pipe and the fitting.

      The insulation is bad… There is no way would I sell this anywhere but a warm climate, and even then this is not going to be an efficient tub.

      Now they say “a picture takes a thousand words” and if that’s not quite what they say it should be 🙂 because these photos spoke volumes. The jetting and performance is going to be very pedestrian I would not count on a good swim. With two old school Jets used for the swim stream, this tub is not going to have a great swim current, it will choppy, low water volume at high pressure and it will be harder to stay in the swim stream without proper shell contouring. The internal design is full of hard angles and weird protrusions taking up a lot of space and no doubt making the water turbulent and affecting the usable space a lot. also the jetting in the massage seats is again pretty low end. I also noticed it uses an old school pressure filter system.

      The long and short of it is this. If you want just a small pool with very limited swim ability and you are not interested in all the other workout you could do against the current, and you live in a warm climate this tub would not be the worst thing out there and better than half the stuff out there. But… If you want to swim, use resistance training equipment against the current for core and upper body workout, or do water aerobics and if you want to have a good therapy massage seat then this is not the swimmer for you. It’s also shallow at 50″ shell height (about 43″ of water) I really find the 60″ depth of the top swimmers makes a massive difference in the usability of the product.

      • Hi!! I am looking at MAAX spas and the Master Spa as options for purchase. I have not seen much on MAAX spas and was wondering what you thought of them in compared to the Master Sap. We live in Nashville so we do get some cold in the winter, and very hot in the summer!!

        • The Maxx is good except the insulation system, Bluemax is a combo reflective and a small amount of insulation mass.. reflective insulation in this application is not very effective: read this: http://www.hottubuniversity.com/reflective-mylar-insualtion-systems/ You really want a good Icynene foam insulation system if you can find it.

          Air blowers are a joke, not seen them on spas in a long time and usually only on the cheap mass merchant spas… see the video on the Costco tub, basically, this uses a similar insulation system and the video explains the air blower too.

          from a performance standpoint it would be on par with the Healthy Living line but The master stuff spent a lot more on the insulation package and that just will save you money on the long run.

          • Hi, I’m in Ireland and there’s no Master Spa unfortunately… Any comments about the Canadian Hot Tubs brand?

            There aren’t too many brand options here. It’s them or Hydropool, Arctic. Wellis or the very expensive Hotspring.

            Thanks, Lisa

          • Ya know Im not a fan of mass merchant tubs but the Canadian Spa is absolutely the best of that lot, good hand rolled shells, and good parts.

      • Thank you so much! I was going to call them, but wouldn’t have gotten half this much information and wouldn’t have been able to make much sense of any of it. So, I’m very appreciative of your checking in to them, and explaining what you learned so thoroughly. Do you have any swim spas you recommend? Of the concerns you mention, I’d be willing to save some money by compromising on insulation, because we do live in a very warm climate. But you’ve convinced me that the Balboa parts and better swim current are worth spending some extra on. Also, since I’m 5’10 and am the shortest member of my family, I think the 60″ depth would be pretty important for us.

        Thanks again for your thorough research and informative reply!

        • Hi

          You live by my MOMMY 🙂

          If you see her say Hi she will be wearing pastels and driving around in a golf cart 🙂

          There are not too many brands doing the 60″ depth. and really the guys who invented swim spas are still leading that pack by a massive margin.

          Let me see what I can find.

          • I will definitely tell her Hi if I see her 🙂 And I’ll look forward to any further information you find. Would “the guys who invented swim spas” be Master Spas?

          • So the story goes but I think I was the first really 🙂

  98. Revolution Spas?

    • Revolution builds a roto mould spa similar to Nordic spas, Getaway Hot Tubs Dream Maker etc.

      The good:

      These shells on all Rotobmoulds literally last forever.
      They use Balboa heating and controls.

      The Bad:

      They don’t clamp the plumbing lines
      Friction fitting for heat is a gimmick.
      Very little money spent on insulation.
      Low performance and jetting.

      If you are going Roto mould, getaway hot Tubs are great, Nordic is great except the insulation is upper middle while the getaway uses a top full foam system.

      • Thank you. Those are the tubs one of the major companies near me sells. I live in the North Olmsted Ohio area. Is is possible to get a tub for me to relax in after a day of work for around 5k or less?

        • For sure. Again be care full at this price point, if you buy a 5k spa with lots of bells and whistles it will be junk.

          Personally, I would go to a roto mould shell and save a pile there then you can get something with a good solid reliability and efficiency.

          The rotomoulded spas are all durable from a shell construction standpoint but the Getaway Hot Tubs is by far the best insulation system and also uses good parts and clamps the joints… next would be Nordic, a close second except the insulation system…

      • I can not find any information on getaway hot tubs!

  99. Hi what is your thoughts on a Viking hot tub? We are looking into this brands for our first one?

    • Hi Erica

      They are a Middle of the road spa.

      They use a plastic shell, the video looks like an ABS shell. these were all the rage 10 years ago, and most of the top end has gone back to Fiberglass, They offer a lifetime guarantee on the shell and every time I see that word I worry. Lifetime guarantee means nothing, it has no legal definition, it can be interpreted to mean almost anything including the lifetime of the product which means as long as they are building that model without changing it 🙂 give a 5-year guarantee over “lifetime” any day 🙂

      They use good parts.

      They do not clamp the plumbing lines

      They use a small amount of insulation and a barrier wrap.

  100. Hey, I see the mass amount of comments on this page and really appreciate the time you must put in replying to all these people. I am currently looking into buying a hot tub spa for the first time. I live in Canada where an average of 3 months the temperature can get to -45.. yes really extreme weather conditions. I need help in picking the right spa for my area, and the weather it will encounter. Currently the only big name brands close to me are Arctic Spas, Polar Spas, Beachcomber, and costco brands. There is a small town local dealer that sells hot tubs. But I feel I do not know enough about the equipment to make a decision. I got a quote from Arctic Spas for around $13,000 which I feel is extremely expensive. This does include shipping and install.. If you have any information on buying a spa where weather conditions can get be so extreme I will really appreciate the input. Also I would appreciate your opinion on a $13,000 valued spa. Thanks for your time.

    • Hi Morgan

      I have a hard time with the price of the Arctic Spas. For that kind of money, I would want to see a lot more money spent on the tub.

      – They do a good hand rolled self-supported shell so they spent the money on that end.
      – The insulation is 3″ of expanded foam so they spent mid money there.
      – The Jets, fittings and filtration systems are Rising Dragon Brand once of the cheapest in the world so they are not spending the money there
      – The electronics are a no name brand likely from China so they are not spending the money there.
      – They don’t even bother to support the plumbing or to clamp the plumbing lines so they are not spending the money there.

      Sounds like it should be a mid-priced spa to me unless they are just spending a fortune on branding, spin, marketing, and gimmicks 🙂

      Yer in Fort Mac! You only have one local guy there the Coast and the Cal are not nightmare spas or talk to the ladies at Empress hot tubs in Calgary and just get yer service done with a local…

  101. Are there comparable brands to Master? Or do they stand above the rest? Thanks!

    • I am purchasing a Hot Tub for a beach house. We are right on the Long Island sounnd and the tub will be subjected to rather severe weather from time to time (Noreasters etc)
      Any considerations regarding weather??

      • Hi Dean

        Noreasters eh? those puppy’s roll right on up the coast and smash into us on a regular basis 🙂

        The key thing here is a good full foam insulation, and get some good hurricane straps for the cover for when the storms come. While you can buy them online the best is to go and get a couple 12′ nylon straps and put a couple hooks either into the base of the spa if it is built right or into the deck and when she blows put the ratchet straps on.

        Go see the boys at Suntek, good brands good service. http://www.suntekpoolsandspas.com/

  102. HI, Thanks so much for this amazing site!!!! I have been researching tubs for a while now and found this gem the other day! So thanks, I totally appreciate your expertise. SO I am considering purchasing a Master 87.3 or a Hot Spring Envoy. I was wondering what you think the better buy is and cleaning system. Masters Eco Pure vs Hot Springs ACE. Thanks again.

    • Hi Andrew

      I’m not a big Hot Springs fan, They are one fo these brands that have these goofy proprietary parts made for their hot tubs instead of using the expensive but super reliable OEM parts like Balboa heating and control systems and Waterways jets, fittings, and hi efficiency plumbing systems. When a manufacturer does this it to cut the cost of building the p[roduct and to trap you into only being able to source parts from them. see this video that explains why I am aginst this.

      As for the chemical reduction systems, ACE is a salt water system, these were all the rage back in the 90’s because it let us go from 3-5ppm of chlorine to 1-3 ppm of chlorine but all they really do is make chlorine or bromine and there are a lot of service issues. Everyone moved away from the tech 10 years ago but a couple guys have gone back to it and rebranded it as new 🙂 tits the old recycle the technology deal… the truth is the best advances in hot tub water care of the last 20 years have been the aftermarket stuff… I would not buy into any of the onboard miracle systems. They all are pretty good but none are near as good as things like Aquafinesse mineral system which you can use in any tub.. or even stuff like spa marvel enzyme systems… See this video on the various systems.

      The Master also has a new UV system called Mast3r Pur that uses the same technology that water treatment facilities use to treat municipal drinking water. It is showing some real promise.

      Look the reality is Master spends a lot of money building a great hot tub and backing it up, Hot Springs spends a mid amount of money building a hot tub and a lot of money on spin marketing and hype… see this video on the different kinds of hot tub companies.

  103. Thanks for this great information. We are looking at either a Hot Springs Pulse or a Master HL 7.5. The Master we can get for $7,495 and includes cover, lift, steps chemicals and haul away of our old tub. What are your thoughts on the HS Pulse as well as that price for the Master? Thanks!

    • Hi Ryan

      That’s a solid price on the HL and although the Hot Springs are better marketed, the Master is better built. The problem is there are two successful business models for hot tub companies. One is to build a mid grade spa and market the hell out of it, and the other is to build an awesome spa but then you don’t have as much money left to market it. Unfortunately, the mid grade spa with great marketing is the best business model for profit and the big guy like HS are all about the bottom line 🙂

      I’m not a big Hot Springs fan, They are one fo these brands that have these goofy proprietary parts made for their hot tubs instead of using the expensive but super reliable OEM parts like Balboa heating and control systems and Waterways jets, fittings, and hi efficiency plumbing systems. When a manufacturer does this it to cut the cost of building the p[roduct and to trap you into only being able to source parts from them. see this video that explains.

      • Hi Chris, thanks for the reply. Devil’s advocate here – are you biased towards Master because you sell them, or do you sell them because you are partial to them? I just see sites like these (http://www.poolandsparatings.com/spas.html) that rate otherwise, and then see the power difference in the pumps between Hot Springs and the HL and have to wonder.

  104. What a great site – we can scoop up a Master HL 8 for $7,495 delivered and installed, with cover, lift kit, stairs and chemicals, along with haul away of our old hot tub. Good deal or push harder? Our other options were a Hot Springs Pulse or one of the Sundance models, but don’t think you’re a fan of those. Thanks!

  105. Hi…. can’t express enough what a great service you’re providing. you’ve educated me tremendously and saved me from a couple of bad decisions. Sadly no Master dealer anywhere near Dallas, Texas… but there is a Marquis dealer as well as Artesian.
    I’ve visited the Marquis dealer and took a liking to their new line called Vector 21 Series… it is newish …and the marketing is just plain goofy…. but wondering if you’ve had any experience with them. The 2 dual speeds pumps aren’t huge…just 2hp… same pumps as in the Marquis Signature series. The ability to push via control knows all the water of a single pump into a single chair seems nice… but just wondering if it’s gonna be ‘all that’. thanks again for your service!

    • OMG, I just watched the video… Never heard so many ridiculous made up words and bullshit in one video! lol

      Now I like Marquis but that tub is just goofy marketing… loads of spas have diverter valves that move the water around and while calling them V3 Throttles sounds cool if yer 10 years old for us big people it’s the same thing 🙂

      And the pumps are tiny!!! 3.2 amp high speed is super small pump the big ones are 12 amps or more… I’ll be honest there is nothing new here despite the hype and nonsense and it’s seriously low power spa so dont expect much performance.. its a bot of a weird one really… hyped up like its going to be a high performance spa but powered like a chevy sprint 🙂

  106. Hi
    I would like your comments on 3 different hot tubs
    Artesian Island series
    Sundance Cameo
    La spas Heet
    I live in Sweden and want to buy one of these spas
    Kind regards
    Andre

    • Hi Andre

      Sundance is owned by the same company as jacuzzi and Dimension One, they are ok but the parts are goofy proprietary parts that you can only get from them and the proprietary parts are never as good as the Balboa and waterways OEM parts.

      Artesian is a good spa good parts, well made.

      LA is mid grade, gecko control system which is mid, and a cheap perimeter insulation system using batons instead of expanded foam, it blows my mind how in the Homebuilding industry there is no argument expanding foam is the most expensive, longest lasting and highest R value yet in the miracle world of hot tubs where apparently the laws of physics are suspended guys pass these cheap systems off as better than expanding foam…

  107. We ate looking at 2 different hot tubs and would really like your opinion! Nordic Hot tub Encore and the Hot Springs Envoy. Both are about the same amount and we like the jets on both. We live outside of Chicago but tub is protected and we have a concrete pad that our old hot tub Sat on. What are your thoughts?

    • The Nordic. The Envoy uses a difficult to source proprietary parts list designed to ensure you can only buy parts from them. The nordic on the other hand uses the top north American parts list. both insulation packages are similar.

      • Thoughts on coast spa? They claim to be the world’s best built spa, or is that as true as world’s best coffee from the local gas station?

        • You know on paper they build a good spa. the parts are good, and they glue and clamp the joints on the plumbing and they have an available upgrade for a full foam package. The shell is a goofy one instead of hand rolling multiple layers of glass they use a vinyl ester resin then spray glass and put metal in and spray bonding resins…. I would say it’s likely a good shell, not as good as a multi-layer hand rolled shell but certainly better than most fo the shells out there.

          But… for some reason they can never shake the bad reputation, they consistently have bad reports about the level of support from the factory side and it is not just the ratings and forums are I mostly ignore, the dealers I have spoken to report the same.

          • thank you for the great report on coast spa, it waas either them or a twilight or legacy, from master spa and ive read your thought numerous times on those so i think i know where i should go!

    • We will be buying a hot tub in the next few months but are having electrical work done at the house in the near future. I’d like to run the power for a hot tub at that time. I see varying power requirements for tubs but I’m wondering if it would be best to just run a 240V 50 amp circuit which meets the highest requirement I see on spec sheets and then I’m not limited on which brand/type of tub to buy. With RV’s that had 30 amp systems we would often hook up to a 50 amp outlet with an adaptor with no problems. Does the same hold true for hot tubs?

      • Good catch dude because builders always spec it out for the cheapest which is a 40 am because that drops you to 8AWG cable…. get the to run 6 AWG 3 conductors plus a ground typically called 6-3 cable and make it Copper… aluminium sucks for high current surge devices. Also, keep in mind local code may have a rule that the GFI outdoor breaker be a minimum distance from the tub (here it is at least 5′ away) also make sure they leave at least 15″ of cable on the outer wall…

    • Also looking at Nordic brand spa and need assistance. Both my wife and I are in early 60’s with some arthritis. Live in upper peninsula of Michigan. Want for therapy year round use with very good insulation R value. Looking at Nordic Crown XL with 30 jets and T-20 certified Nordic Wrap insulation and Arctic Summit Legend Select with 61 jets. Your thoughts are appreciated. Thanks!

      • Hi Brad.

        The Nordic is a far better product than the Arctic, It has a better parts list and they hand-clamp the plumbing lines. Frankly, I am not a fan of Arctic, cheap Chinese parts, no clamps on the plumbing, it’s really a mid grade spa imo.

        That being said neither have great insulation… I know they have a pitch about a magic fairy that lives in the big air space where the insulation should be that makes free heat but the truth is it’s a cheap insulation system… its only 3 ” of insulation or about R15 try and find a good full foam system you can get to R30+

        See if you can Find a dealer for the Getaway Spas, same build quality as the Nordics but full foam Icynene insulation system.

  108. Hello,
    I’m confused concerning a brand and hope you have some insite. I’ve looked at and think I’ve found the tub that suits me best and has the best local support in my area. On the surface is says its made by Artesian Spas and hits all the main selling points that you recommend (parts list, shell and insulation) As I researched it more it’s actually Tropic Seas Spas selling under the Artesian name. I imagine if they’re willing to put the Artesian name on this brand they’d meet the same requirments as tubs sold on the Artesian website.
    Do you have any thoughts on this?

    • ooo not heard of that ill have to look into it. but my gut says no, lots of times companies will sell a cheap line and use the name to add cred… that’s a red flag and I might need to re-evaluate my recommendation of that brand if that’s the case…

  109. Chris, thanks for all of the information you provide that is not available anywhere else. I live on Long Island, NY and the only dealer here for Master Spas is Suntek Pool and Spas. And the Marquis spas dealer is GPM Pool & Spa? Are you familiar with either of these dealers? The price I was quoted for the Twilight 7.2 series is $9500 USD. Is this a fair price? Thanks!

    • $9500 is a good price for the area, It’s expensive to do business there.

      I’m not personally aware of the companies but just see what you can find for local reviews and BBB.

  110. Also now debating between Beachcomber and Artesian. We are located in Erin, Ontario. Is one line better than the other?

    • They are both good tubs but if you go beachcomber stay away from that stupid “hybrid” system. this is a classic example of old technology being dragged out of the closet after the whole industry has moved away from it in favour of better technology and one meat head rebranding it as innovation… No one puts the pumps outside the spa anymore because you can not reclaim the motor waste heat, you pump your hot water outside of the insulation envelope in the middle of the winter and in power outages your equipment is prone to freeze up 10x quicker than pumps that are under the spa…

      • I am confused as I thought the Beachcomber tubs were the only tubs who put the pumps outside of the spa. All of their models do this and it is proprietor as no other spa can copy this idea, therefore other spas haven’t moved away from it because they haven’t done it. They have been doing it for a very long time and have had no issues with equipment being more prone to freezing up. I also like that this option leaves room for the entire spa to be insulated underneath. We live in the country and get several power outages a year and have not had any issues……

        • Hi L

          Nope. They Trademarked the name “Hybrid” that’s all… 30 years ago when I was in this industry lots of spas had the pumps outside, but then everyone moved them inside to protect them from freeze up, reclaim the waste heat from the motors and to better contain the heat in the system. when you put the pumps under the spa the small amount of insulation you take out is in the corner where it is 3-4x thicker than 90% of the spa… it barely effects the overall R value and is more than traded off by the loss of the waste heat generated by the motors and the fact that you are pumping your hot water outside of the insulation envelope of the hot tub.

          While you may have been fortunate in never having a freeze up during a power outage there is no arguing the science. Pumps in a step with minimal insulation will for sure freeze up much much more quickly than pumps underneath 350-500 gallons of hot water… it’s a no brainer… IMO The whole Hybrid thing is bad tech and done to provide a unique selling feature more than for any scientific reason.

          • So, we went to the Beachcomber Hot Tub Outlet in Oakville today. Michael, the salesman, was telling me that I can get a Beachcomber 750 for $12 999 by going over to Costco (block or so away) with him and is not a hybrid model but the rest would be the same (saving me $2000 off hybrid pricing in shop). He said that he would be the one looking after me once I purchased the product. A non-hybrid, following your advice = good but this whole thing sounded a bit fishy to my husband and I. Thoughts?

          • Hi Val

            It’s all true, The Beachcomber in Costco is the same except for they Hybrid and frankly I do not like the Hybrid, it is bad old technology rebranded as new innovation.

            The Costco version at $11k is comparable to what you can buy any of the good brands for but keep in mind, the top Beachcomber while I like the build and quality has never been a great performer, their best tub is still a mix of low flow and mid flow jets with only a few of the expensive hi flow therapy massage jets.

            This has always been my argument… Mass merchants are never great prices on hot tubs… They do not do enough volume and the $11k price tag on the Beachcomber backs this up… they either have cheap spas at retail prices or in this case Good spas at high prices.

            One good dealer will sell more hot tubs than all the Costco’s and home depots across Canada combined, they do not get good prices for a lot of reasons… read this article…

  111. Hi there. We are interested in the Artesian line of tubs and torn between paying the extra for the platinum line or sticking to the Island line. Also, the tub will be used by myself, my husband and our 3 kids but we are not sure what size to go. Any suggestions. The Antigua seems like it would fit us but will the extra room be preferred? Also, how much difference does size make to the heating factor/cost?

    • the size only matters when… Sounds like the beginning to the punch line of a joke doesn’t it :-)… anyway it only costs more with the cover off really, so if you want the space and are going to regularly pack people in go for it…

      As for the two sub-lines, there really is not a lot of difference. from a performance standpoint they both seem fairly similar, a lot fo the cheap small jets and a few of the high flow therapy massage jets… I would have expected the higher end line to be all hi end therapy massage jetting but there does not seem to be that much difference

  112. We are in the market to buy a hot tub and remodel our outdoor space. We have looked at two brands, one sold by a local dealer an the other included in a bid for the entire space, which are Viking spa model Royale and Vita model Monaraque. Would you recommend either of these or keep looking?

  113. Would you please give us your opinion on the Marquis Spirit spa? Is the Micro Silk upgrade worth the extra expense?

  114. Pingback: Hot Tub buyer's guide:

  115. I am between purchasing a Beachcomber Hybrid 3- Key West from Aquafirm and a MAAX Elite 7000. Any insight would help me significantly. My concern with the Beachcomber is that I am receiving a significantly discounted, so the price of both is about the same, but is it a better hot tub as I cannot see the model in person? thank you.

    • Hi Pam

      I see where the Maxx is sold is Sunset spas but where in Mesa or Pheonix are you getting a beachcomber Hybrid?

      Listen I love the Beachcomber but not the Hybrid… It’s old tech rebranded as innovation and is just not a good idea, I know you are warm down there so it does not matter as much but you still get cold nights.

      Between the two brands the beachcomber is def your choice, but If I were you I would go see Presidential pools and spas, 525 East Baseline Road, Gilbert,
      http://www.presidentialpools.com they have the Master Spa and these guys spend more money building their hot tubs than almost anyone… top parts, Hand rolled shells, glued and clamped plumbing systems, full foam, easily removable skirts for access… They have it all and not many do. The beachcomber is a good second, and marquis if you can find a dealer there but I didn’t see any around you…

      • May 4, 2017 at 10:09 pm
        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.

        • Hey Cori

          I really think the TS tubs are one of the best therapy massage spas out there.

          Having a great dealer is less and less about p[roximity and more and more about communication, knowledge and availability. Frankly, you can have a great experience with the dealer at arm’s length if you can get ahold of them and they know what they are doing and subsequently you can have a terrible experience with a local guy that does not answer his phone or have a good grasp of what he is doing.

          about 80% of customer issues are sorted out over the phone, and diagnosis over the phone is pretty easy for most of the issues, and if the parts list is a good name brand available part and if the spa is engineered well any meat head who can turn a wrench can swap parts… my litmus test for buying from anyone is testing their backup… Call and say you bought from the them and the breaker is tripping and see how quick they are to respond…

  116. We just left a spa expo and purchased a Master precision 8. Now that we’ve made the purchase we’re wondering if we will be able to use this in the winter…as it gets chilly in Northern Wisconsin. Do you have any advice or experience on these hot tubs being used outside in the cold winter months? Thank you! Great blog by the way.

    • It uses a Canadian Icynene insulation system it’s arguably the best insulation system out there so I would see no issues with using it all year.

      HL is a good line, well built with a good parts list, hand rolled shell, and glued and clamped plumbing lines.

      Enjoy your spa!

  117. Greetings – and thank you – from Northern Alabama. Local pool dealer has three locations in area but only sells Four Winds Spas made in Smyrna, TN. Made several notes on what to look for per this page and your YouTube videos. Didn’t see anything on Four Winds in in recent comments. So, any feedback appreciated. Please help … trying to keep hubby from making quick decision!

    • LOL reign him in girl!

      The four winds I have around here were from 5-7 years ago. the shell uses a rigidiser and prop supports so its mid-grade, we have 5 that blistered here and that’s not a good sign when we repaired the shells they were quite thin. the control and heating system is Balboa which is great, but the jets and filtration is Rising Dragon which is cheap. they used to have them on a chipboard base wrapped in plastic and then sat on these little 2″x2″ struts and after a while the tub would sag on these supports… We ended up pulling a bunch of spas and taking the subframe off and it was better.

      It’s not the worst but it certainly uses some questionable ideas and manufacturing tech…

      • Hi again. Appreciate the quick feedback. I will question dealer tomorrow on the Rising Dragon jets. He did confirm Balboa and Waterways components … but will confirm that Waterways jets are used. So much to be aware of. Last two conerns: (1) Balboa ozonator is extra $$. Do you recommend an ozonator? (2) Insulation – Shell is insulated; foam-insulated cabinet is optional which may not be needed in our Northern Alabama climate although it does get down to freezing once in awhile. Do you recommend insulated cabinet?Thanks soooo much.

        • Hi Trish

          They might use waterways now but the ones here from 5-6 years ago were Rising Dragon, I know Kevin Sparks the owner sold the place a few years back so who knows…

          • Four Winds now uses CMP (Custom Molded Products) jets – not Waterways. CMP is headquartered in Atlanta, GA. This reassures me that they are not made in China – which you suggest to stay away from. Hubby and I are satisfied thus far with Four Winds and our local dealer. Will update this blog when we get our Titanium, two-pump, 47-jet spa in 4-6 weeks. Till then, thanks again for your help and broad knowledge of the crazy spa industry.

          • Awesome, let us know how it plays OUT.

  118. Hi Chris,

    Thank you so much for taking the time to answer everyone’s questions, your information is very valuable!!

    We are in Ottawa, Ontario with cold winters and are looking for a 4-5 person hot tub in the 10-12k price range. We don’t have a fence so we NEED a hot tub that has a cover that locks. I have spent the weekend going to different dealers in town and have looked at several brands and have spoken to several sales reps:
    Arctic
    Bullfrog (This was the first one I looked at and even I knew it was odd)
    Jacuzzi
    Caldera (only sales person that offered us the chance to come in after hours and try out the tubs – no one else did)
    Hot Springs
    Beachcomber (sales person not too knowledgeable – the first thing they did was show me how easy access to the motor was when it needed repairs)
    Mater Spa (after seeing your review but I had to email the company as no dealer in town)

    What is your experience with covers that lock for safety? Should these be readily available with any brand? This and good insulation will be an important factor for us to consider. Any suggestions?

    We are also not in our forever home so would like the option to bring our hot tub with us when/if we move.

    • Hi Sarah

      Say Hi to Justin for me 🙂

      So first all spas have CSA approved hard top lock down covers and they are all very similar. The arctic uses a walk on one that is fibreglass re-enforced but frankly unless you are going to walk on it stay away they are heavy as hell.

      Of that Lot I would stay away from them all except the beachcomber and the Master, The Arctic, Caldera, and Hot Springs all use proprietary parts, stay away from these guys who make these cheap parts that just fit their spas, not only are the parts not as good as the top OEM parts like Balboa and Waterways, but they also have you locked up for life because only they can get you parts because they had them made to fit just their spas 🙂 see this video… I need to redo it as its a bit scattered but you will get the gist…

      The Bullfrog is gimmicky, I’m not a fan.

      The Beachcomber is good but stays away from the Hybrid models… old tech being rebranded as innovation and a lot of downsides to the system, I also heard that their skirts are non-removable! if that’s true its nuts… call and see if the sides can be taken off and let me know will ya?

      The Master and the Beachcomber both spend the most money on the tub, they use all the right manufacturing techniques and use all the top systems and parts.

      The best insulation is the most expensive… full foam, the more foam the more heat retention.

      • Thanks Chris! I found a much better Beachcomber dealer in town than the first place i went to. I will let you know what I find out.

        • Hi Sarah,
          Can I ask which dealers in Ottawa is your preference? We are also looking for a tub and had considered Beachcomber.
          Thanks.

          • You really can’t go to too far wrong with the beachcomber spa from a build quality standpoint, but keep two things in mind.

            1. Do not get the Hybrid option, I know they sell it is a better system but it is not, it just adds profit into the deal, it is old bad tech that has been resurrected for the 80’s and rebranded as new and improved.

            2. Beachcomber does not make a really high-end Massage spa, the best tub they do is a mid powered, mid jetted spa, it competes nicely with most top tubs but if your aim is high-end therapy massage it does not have the water control, nor the jetting to be in that class of spa. http://www.hottubuniversity.com/wp-admin/edit-comments.php?comment_status=moderated#comments-form

        • HI Sarah, I have been on the hunt for a hot tub in Ottawa too. Can I ask what dealers you visited? I visited Beachcomber in Orleans and was quite happy with them.

          Can I also ask which hot tub you ended up getting?

          Any response would be greatly appreciated. There’s a wealth of hot tub info out there but “local opinions” are woith their weight in gold.
          Thanks!!

  119. Helen Day-Hitchen

    Hi,

    I live in the UK; my husband and I have been looking for a while and have been following all of your advice so thank you very much. We have narrowed it down to Artic Spa Cub or Hot Springs Envoy. (Unfortunatly the UK no longer stock Master Spas)!! Do you have any advice on Hot Springs? We are really struggling to find objective reviews.

    Thanks,
    Helen

    • God, I am not a fan of either brands… both have these goofy cheap parts made just to fit their spas… watch this video…

      I’ll see if I can find you a good brand in the area.

  120. Hi, My husband and I were looking to buy a hot tub in the future. Our current hot tub came with our house, is very old, and having leaking problems. Not worth putting more money into it, in our minds. Only the two of us use the hot tub for helping with our aches and pains. We don’t need any special features and don’t want to spend over $7000.
    Today we went to a spa expo and ended up signing on the dotted lines for a Master Spa Clarity Balance 7. I always research things before making a huge purchase like this, but didn’t this time. Was this brand a good decision for living in WI? Any other brands you would suggest? The company we purchased it from is 30 minutes away.

    • Hey Susan

      Great spa and good price, I love the massive open footwell in that spa, it’s a simple reliable spa, you should be fine…

    • How is your spa? I signed up for the exact same one. I’m nervous now after reading reviews from the BBB

      • Hi, Jennifer.

        Forget reviews, most are fake.

        Master gets hammered by local dealers for going into their markets with the expo events, you see a pop in the ratings every time they do one and it’s mostly pissed off retailers.

  121. I am looking to buy a hot tub I live in bush Alaska where the temperatures get down to -20 f. I have read your blog and would like to see what you would suggest for name brands. We would like to purchase a 3-4, 4-5, or 5-6 person hot tub. I will purchase the tub in Seattle and ship it on the barge. Reading the blog I know the insulation package is important. The availability of parts are easy to get for I will be doing the maintenance Myself.
    The efficiency has to be good for the KW here are .56/kW. The filtration system needs to be good and hopefully won’t use hazmat material for shipping is expensive (ozonator?). Would you suggest some name brand options. Thank you for your time.

    • Hey Pete.

      Since you are doing your own service make sure you stay away from proprietary parts… you want balboa and waterways… You want full foam, Master, marquis, beachcomber with the integrated pump (not hybrid!!!)

  122. Hiya
    Would love to know which you’d pick as a better bet – the Artesian South Seas 735L, or the Legacy Inspire. Both being offered at approx same cost for Artesian and Legacy. Seems hard to choose between them to a total newbie like me – although your site totally got me to this point! You already commented that the Legacy is a great unit, thank you, so am now just torn between these two models before we finally make our purchase next week.
    Thanks – again!

    • I got to say, I’m, a big fan of the Inspire, its a limited edition Master does and its just a great spa for the money check out the video I shot of it the other day…

  123. Hi! I’m just doing some cursory investigations into getting a hot tub and one of the main issues is that I live in a small town that’s pretty remote (Gander, Newfoundland in Canada). We have a Beachcomber dealer in town… are there any of those hot tubs you would recommend for around or under 10k Canadian? Any other suggestions on how to get a higher quality product in a remote location? Thanks!

    • Hi Ryan

      The Beachcomber is a really well-built tub but they are way overpriced, the performance is mid grade, and the Hybrid gimmick is old tech rebranded as innovation.

      Let me look into it.

      • I am in the market for a Hot tub Time Machine, so far no east coast dealers are stocking them, any recommendations on which is the best, I looking to travel back to the 80s.
        Great site and very informative articles, you guys rock!

  124. Hello, I have been researching reviews and luckily found this forum. Thanks you sir for all the comments and help you have provided for everyone who like myself is trying to make a desicion.
    We owned an artisan spa ( grand Bahama) years ago and had no complaints with it, we moved and it stayed with buyers. We are buying another one and was trying to decide between an artesian spa model (island margarita elite) or a marquis model (the epic). Then I found a dr wellness spa model (g-16 tranquility) that I really like the sitting positions, and the amount of jets and that is in each seat.
    Do you know anything about the dr wellness spas as far as type components they use or any other info about them.
    Also do you have an opinion on which one would be your choice to purchase.
    My wife and I both have neck issues so really like the overtop neck jets that each manufacturer offers as well as a great lounger with basically a full body coverage with jets. The dr wellness really has a great lounger but haven’t seen one in person where as I have seen and sit in the artesian and marquis.
    Thanks for any information or advice
    I live in Cleveland tn which has all three dealers within a 60 mile radius of me.
    Shane

    • I can’t find much real info on the Dr wellness a lot of vague references about inexpensive spas being affordable, It’s using some control and heating system I have never seen and I have seen all the top 5. I love the crazy free heat pitch about the friction manifolds 🙂 The laws of physics are clear and they do apply even in the blissful world of your hot tub 🙂 electric immersion heat is super efficient… Friction heat means we take electrical energy transform it into mechanical energy of the spinning motor (loose a percentage from the transfer), then transfer it to water pressure in the pump (loose a percentage from the transfer) then convert the water motion back to mechanical energy of the friction heater (loose a percentage from the transfer) then make heat ..LMAO… its a gimmick… way less efficient than just using the electrical energy and making heat this ain’t Kansas Dorothy and there ain’t no magic bullets:-0

      The Marquis is my recommendation of those brands.

      But if you really want massage to look at a Twilight… the neck jet system in that spa is the best out there and the performance is mad… see this video…

      • Thanks for then info, I watched the video. Was wondering does the master legends series LSX 800 and 900 have the same components, jets you describe for the twilight series and are they a good hot tub? My wife wants a bigger one so she can actually throw a float in it so we are considering the LSX 900 for our choice since it seems Master is the way to go.
        Thanks,
        Shane

        • Hi Shane.

          Master uses the same component list on all their spas, and yes the LSX is a great spa.

          As far as air pockets, I assume you mean blisters in the shell? this is extremely rare on a tub using vinyl ester resin cores but it can happen in rare circumstances, I have a few people think that the textured non-slip floors are air pockets but it is super rare and they would replace the spa if it happened.

      • Also meant to ask have you heard many complaints about air pockets in the master tubs, on the master website there is several reviews where customers have problems with air pockets in theirs.

  125. Hey – very happy I stumbled across this website! So good to see, real, unbiased reviews and opinions – has all been very helpful.

    I would like your opinion – have been quoted 9500 CAD for a Marquis Vector 21 (V74) model that includes cover lift, stairs and upgraded lights and conditioning system. The vendor has been in the city (Hamilton, Ontario) for 40 years and seems very reputable and offers top to bottom service. It is hard to find comparables and I also have a limited selection – so wondering if this is a really good deal, or if I should just keep looking.

    I have also looked at some Jacuzzi models – do you have any insights on them?

    Are you aware of any other reputable vendors in the Greater Toronto Area that would be worth looking into as well?

    Thanks again for all of your helpful information

    • Sounds like a good deal on the Marquis.

      Not a Fan of Jacuzzi, stay away from the guys that make parts in some third world country that only fit their spas, they are cheap, fail more often and lock you into having no options for replacements except the them…

  126. Very much appreciate your educative insights. I’ve been looking for a first spa and because I am very tall, and because some places won’t wet test the models that have interested me, I have settled on two choices: The Sundance Cameo and the Bullfrog A8l. Both have lounges, and because I’m 60 and do a lot of sports (judo, cycling), I need something for sore legs, and a lounger seems sensible to me. Both lounges are long enough. Not all are. Both seem to have good reputations. The interchangeable jetpack on the Bullfrog seems like a great idea, and the dealer makes a lot of the cleaner, simpler plumbing. I am wondering whether the Bullfrog is worth the extra $4k CAD. Thoughts?
    (I should also say the Arctic Spa Klondiker was quite appealing, until I started doing due diligence research and found more online complaints about the manufacturer than all the others combined, or so it seems. The Klondike price is exactly in the middle…more expensive than the Sundance, less than the Bullfrog. Their sales staff do brag uncontrollably, I find.
    Anyway, I digress. What do you think of the Bullfrog A8L? And the Cameo?

    • I’m not a big fan of any of those brands all for different reasons.

      The Arctic and the Sundance have a proprietary parts list, man I can’t stress enough stay away from the groups that have these goofy parts list built in 3rd world markets that just fit their spas, they don’t do it to build better spas they do it to build cheaper spas and to lock you into them for life for parts replacement at whatever price they dictate… It’s critical that you stay with a good easily sourced reliable parts list preferably Waterways and balboa if you really want reliable operation and flexibility for replacement parts.

      The Bullfrog, on the other hand, is just hype and silliness… The reality is it is creating an issue to then solve the issue. Well made spas with the right parts and glued and hand-clamped joints don’t leak. I have seen 3 dealers bring in the line only to drop it I never see any dealers carrying it long term there have just been too many issues.

      The truth is it’s a bit of a gimmick and although it seems like a cool idea there are a few big problems with the concept.

      First off you will likely never change the seats out. It’s a pain in the ass and there is really no reason to. On most modern spas you can change all the jets out anyway and who the hell want to pay $500 or more for a new jetting package?

      Second, you really limit where you can get jets to just your back. Because of the jetpack you can’t get a good wide range of jetting, they all are just in the narrow area where the pack is. Because of this they now have normal jets too which is hilarious because it’s the whole point of the dumb little packs to start with!

      Third were epic sanitation issues behind the seats from lack of circulation, bacteria forming in the dead water area behind the seats caused some big sanitation issues. They have band-aid fixed it but I am not convinced…

      Fourth there is no point to it… the whole premise was to fix a problem that really does not exist on a good hot tub. They did all this just so there would not be leaks but the truth is if a company glues and clamps the joints and uses the waterways self-aligning through shell fittings then they don’t leak anyway. Also, the most common leak by far is from the floor suction in the bottom of the tub which all tubs including the bullfrogs have to have to meet code!!! These fitting in the bottom of the spa get stepped on kicked and abused way-way more than the wall fitting and they are the number one cause fo leaks…

      So…. The whole idea is just silly really… It was all designed to fix a problem that is not really a problem on any well-built spa…

      I’m a big fan of real innovation, I am a bit disdainful of gimmicks and IMHO this is a gimmicky spa that just has a lot fo issues…

      • Well, thanks. Your logic seems sound. I violated your rule about avoiding home shows over the weekend, and attended a home show, and bought a loaded-up Master Spa LSX800. The dealer is hundreds of miles away, but has a local subcontractor here in Ottawa who does warranty work. Big expenditure; the LSX is a tad more expensive than the most expensive Bullfrog. But I did get to sit in it, and the arrangement of the jetting is just what I need for my aching legs, and the lounger fits, so bring it on. I bought all the extra lighting and stereo and wifi, too. What the hell…..

  127. Hello – thank you for all of the great info!

    I have never had a spa and I don’t have 10K to spend on one. Is there one of the “affordable” spas that are worth buying? I know the old adage “you get what you pay for”, but you also have to work with what you have!

    Any of the plug and play or inflatable ones decent? Or should I give up on my desire to have a hot tub?

    I am in MA.

    • Ya know there is a lot of junk in that category and a few Gems.

      Most of the stuff is ugly, cheap and has no insulation.

      Getaway spas are new this year and having a major player behind it has kind of changed the game… Balboa controls, glued and clamped joints, full base, dress skirt, all in all, a solid well made spa.

      Nordic also builds a great tub but the insulation is substandard.

      • Hi Chris,

        I’ve had a Master Twilight 6.2 for a few months now, based on your hands-down recommendation of Master. Thanks so much – it’s awesome!

        Have a few questions if you don’t mind:

        – i’ve seen my energy bill go up substantially (like $75-$100 per month, rather than the ~$30 i was expecting). recommendations on energy efficiency? i currently have it on two 2-hour filtration cycles per day.

        – the water in your video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tsFC5S3AYZo&feature=youtu.be) is CRYSTAL clear. my water starts looking sorta dingy after a few uses, despite sprinkling oxidizer in there after every use and cleaning filters regularly. any trick to keeping it always super clear?

        – how do you recommend keeping the chlorine levels high enough to avoid contamination from medium to heavy use? a floater with a certain number of chlorine pellets per week?

        – my backyard has a lot of trees, and sometimes a bunch of small debris falls into the tub. is there a floater built to suck that up, or anything you recommend to keep it free of debris?

        Thanks so much!
        Adam

        • Hi Adam

          – the energy use of any spa is directly related to usage and is a yearly average. first time owners who buy in the winter always go bananas when they get their first bill because it’s a novelty and it the time of year, when most of you $350-$400 yearly cost is spent 🙂 So first the running costs are based on a few days a week for 15-20 mins, averaged over the year, you don’t see anything gin the summer and very little in the autumn and spring but winter usage, if you are in it a lot, can be a big spend… no matter how well insulated a spa is when you take the cover off it’s like opening your windows with your furnace on high 🙂

          – I am never a big fan of any of the onboard systems on nay brand of hot tub, while the systems help I always either go to spa marvel enzyme or aqua finesse mineral systems, you can buy them online and they are easy low chem and perfect water. regardless of usage, also try and eliminate soaps and oils and lotions from getting in that helps a lot!

          Also the first batch of water is a train wreck… over usage, inexperience, and resins and stuff from the manufacturing process make it the most unreliable batch of water you will have…

          • Ok great that is very reassuring re: the winter cost, and makes a lot of sense! If you are planning to not use the tub for several days (or even weeks), do you put it to Rest / Low Heat mode, or do you always leave it on Ready / High?

            Thanks also for the mineral / enzyme recs. 🙂

          • Hey Adam, I never mess with the modes… I guess if you are going away for weeks or more it would save a bit but the reality is it is usage that costs money, sitting there ticking over with the lid on is not the expensive part of owning a hot tub.

          • Is this the Aqua Finesse mineral system you recommend? https://www.amazon.com/AquaFinesse-Hot-Tube-Water-Care/dp/B00480E9SW/

            Thanks!

      • Hi – Thank you for the reply – I cannot find anything on Getaway Spas – all that comes up are places that have spas to vacation at! Is there another brand name I should look under for that?

        Thank you!!
        Barbara

  128. What a great site you have here, I’m sure it must be pretty time consuming so thanks for taking the time to educate the world on Hot Tubs. We have only 2 dealers in town (Duluth, MN) and one sells Sundance and the other is Nordic Hot Tubs. It seems that you would recommend Nordic as they don’t have proprietary parts and use Balboa and Waterway parts. Their pumps are Auqaflow, are they any good? Also the spa I’m looking at is an Encore LS, the local dealer upgrades the insulation package called Title 20 which they claim is T-20 and saves 40-50% energy. They also have lifetime warranties on the shell which is made from polyethylene and they say it is 10 times stronger then acrylic. The price I was quoted (5600 USD) is considerably cheaper then Sundance. What do you think of the Nordic brand or should I look out of the area? Thanks again for your time.

    • I like the Nordic spas, well built and reliable parts list but the insulation is substandard, and the skirts are brittle they damage very easily.

      Out of the area is ok if you have the right brand and are either a handyman or have access to one who does not mind swapping parts (need to know how to use volt meter and have basic tools)

      On the right spa, it can be very successful especially if the dealer is reachable and has knowledge, most common issues are solved over the phone and it’s easy for an experienced person to diagnose over the phone,

  129. My husband and I are in the market for a hot tub. Locally we have the options of Maxx, Clearwater spas, and Cal Spas. We went to our local home show and are now feeling overwhelmed with the options and reviews we have read. Can you give us you thoughts on these brands? We could also purchase Catalina spas from 2 hours away from us.

    • Hi Katie

      The Catalina is my choice of that group for sure.

      if you press Ctrl and f then the find menu comes up and type in maxx then try the other brands…

  130. Hello, we love your site and all the great information you you have shared. We are return spa buyers and have been overwhelmed by all of the different brands on the market today. Can you let us know what brands you reccomend . These are the brands we are looking at:

    Strong Spa
    Max 481
    Master Spa -clarity- twilight -Healthy living- Micheal Phelps
    Coast Spa from Canada – featuring infinity edge and Hydro cyclonic filtration

    We live in the Las Vegas area. Thanks so much, i advance, for your insight.

    • Hey Chris

      the strong is the brand that was featured in the viral video about the Costco tub, was not my highest rated spa 🙂

      Maxx and coast are a mixed bag, like 90% of the industry they do some of the stuff good and some of the stuff great and some of the stuff poorly… the reality is most of the brands are not nightmare spas they are a mix of the good the bad and the ugly. I want 5 things in my hot tub… Top name brand parts (Balboa, Waterways), Full foam insulation, Glued and clamped joints, Hand rolled self-supporting shells, and easy access removable sides… find all 5 and yer good to go.

      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.

  131. Can’t thank you enough for all this information. We’re in Victoria, BC and there are no local dealers for the Master, Marquis, or Artesian. So I can either go online/out of province or country to purchase one or I can go with a local dealer on a different make.

    I contacted Master Spas and they have a couple of shows a year they recommend me attending and a dealer in Vancouver that is going to contact me. I’ll ask about servicing and repairs, if they can set me up with someone local. I’m also checking out Cal Spas, Swim Ex, Integrity, H2O spas.

    From my research all our local dealers deal with tubs that don’t rate well (Jacuzzi, Sundance, Hydropool, Artic, Coast, Maax, Hot Spring, Beachcomber) and are all around $10-12k. Then there’s the big guys (Walmart, Costco) who deal with Canadian Spa Co. and Evolution for around $8-10k.

    So which is better, local dealer for with a lower end spa or out of town/province/country for a higher end spa? Any advice? Thanks again for all your help.

    • Hey Jamie

      It depends… If you are reasonably handy the good tubs are easy to diagnose over the phone and the parts can be put in by any decent handyman, So if you can do this or have a person that can use a volt meter and a screw gun and have a go to guy to call for troubleshooting that you can have a very successful out of area purchase.

      If on the other hand you are not or do not have availability of a reasonably tech minded handyman than stay local.

      The Canadian Spa stuff is made in China 100% – I started and was managing director fo that company for 10 years 🙂 the reality is you can get a better spa at the same price with better backup.

      The evolution is the spa featured in this viral video. lol it’s not what I would buy 🙂

      If you decide to stay local go Beachcomber out of that lot. Hate the non-removable sides and the stupid Hybrid systems with the equipment under the stairs, its old outdated tech rebranded as innovation, but at least it’s built well with a solid parts list, good shell and good plumbing.

  132. hey Chris, thanks for all the videos and insight. I have a local Vita dealer about a mile away from me. It looks like a solid unit, but I’m wary of the steel frame even though it does have a 10 year warranty on the shell. The dealer is solid and reputable though, & has been in business over 20-25 years.

    The closest MasterSpa dealer is about 90 minutes away in PA, so I’m a little hesitant to go that far. Any thoughts on the Vita? The specific model would be the Nuage.

    Thanks!!!

    • Hey Edmund. A good dealer is key but I can tell from the brand they carry that they are a pool company first and foremost 🙂 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/

      Dude for a good dealer 90 minutes is not the end of the world, especially if you have or are a handyman that can do basic repairs…

  133. Thanks for the information on this site and allowing for a more educated purchasing decision, for this first-time buyer. I live in MD and after reading your site I found a Master Spa dealer 1.5 hours away and they service the entire state. I went to their store and based on your recommendations was deciding between the Twilight 8.25 and the Clarity Precision 8. I have 4 teenage children and my wife doesn’t like high-pressure jetting, so it’s planned use is more for entertaining than massage therapy. I’m writing to understand the main differences between these lines. I believe the Twilight has 2 6hp pumps while the Clarity has 2 5hp pumps. The jets are obviously different in size and position. Is there anything else, performance-wise, I should be aware of? I’m thinking for our needs, the Clarity makes the most sense. Thoughts? Finally, should I plan to use them for service (considering distance) or look for a closer service company? Thanks, in advance.

    • Hi Dave

      There are really big differences between the two tubs, not from a build quality standpoint but from a performance standpoint.

      When you see the little jets they are Hi pressure, low flow. they are likely the ones your wife will not like as much, they feel really hard on your skin because they really assault the dermal layer where all the nerve endings are so it “feels” like it is doing a lot.

      When you see the big therapy jets in the Twilight these are the expensive therapy massage jets. They are Low-pressure Hi flow, they are not as Harsh and they don’t “feel” like they do as much but because they move so much more water they move the whole muscle mass, they are great for massage. not only does the TS have bigger pumps it also has twin diverters which means you can control the pressure to the various seats, so in theory, you can have twice the water flow into the therapy seats. or reduce it to a trickle or anything in between.

      Likely your wife will prefer the better jetting, it is not as harsh and is adjustable and although the massage therapy aspect is not your big concern as you get older it will be more and more of a want 🙂

      1.5 Hours is nothing for a good dealer, hell it can take and hour to get across 30 miles of city 🙂

  134. Like a few others who have posted, I am greatful to have seen your review of the evolution hot tub just before I was about to order it!! Since reading your advice I have spent a few hours with the local beachcomber dealer and even made a deposit on a 550 model, even though it’s a hybrid. I like their 5 year warranty and they seem honest and trustworthy, although unwilling to negotiate on price. Looking at $12,000 CAD all in with delivery, cover lift, extended warranty, GST, etc. I have spoken to the master dealer you mentioned and she is willing to sell me her floor model twilight 8.2 for the same price. No cover lift and only 3 yrs warranty but it seems to be a much better spa for the money. But, there are also many bad reviews about master spas out there. What’s that about? Can you help me make the right decision? $12,000 is a lot of money to spend. Thanks so much!!

    • Hey Juliana

      The reviews are a bit dodgy, here is the truth of reviews and what they are worth.

      1. loads of reviews are simply fake, I would not be surprised if 80% of the worst and 80% of the best reviews are dealers, salesmen, and paid bloggers. I know for a fact that companies use paid bloggers and hidden VPN’s to post reviews and discussion boards. Some companies make a really big push with their dealers to be present on the discussion forums, some don’t.

      2. The ones who get the most of the bad reviews and spam fake reviews are against the companies who stir the pot the most. Master does these big expo events all around the country, they pop into a city and sell 30-120 hot tubs in a single weekend, it really pisses off local retailers, and a lot fo them are posting the bad reviews because they are angry that these guys have come into their market where they have worked hard to grow a business and have just stolen a pile of deals… it hurts, and most of the bad reviews are this.

      3. Then there are some that are legit… If you really read what they are saying almost all of the bad reviews are about little things not being fixed right away… It is the downside of the expo events, there is no local guy to answer your little questions and the local dealers will not help you because you bought from away… they love to see you suffer, now if you have a good local service company which more and more you are finding then it’s not an issue, but loads of these reviews when I read them I know it’s nothing to do with the spa, just a customer not understanding the water chemistry, or having the spa in economy mode, or not cleaning their filters. The value of a good local guy is getting the little bits of information you need before the little issue becomes a big issue.

      The only reviews you can really trust are ones that you can prove are legit.

      So on the site master matches the serial number with the review so you know they are real.

      BBB ratings are vetted real issues

      Consumers Digest best buy awards are not purchasable like many other endorsements…

      The Beachcomber is a good tub, all the main parts are identical on both spas as are the manufacturing techniques but performance wise it is sorely lacking especially compared to Twilight, you would be better to compare it to the Healthy Living from a performance standpoint, The Twilight is in a totally different class, it is a therapy massage monster

      Jacqueline down at Empress hot tubs is awesome, she will be there for you for the little things and I’m sure when you need service they will get it sorted out with a local service guy, these things are plug and play and once they diagnose it over the phone any handyman can swap the part.

      • Thanks so much Chris. I love your site and took your advice. Working with Jacqui now and thanks to you, I feel like I made an informed decision about a big purchase!!

    • Hi Chris and everyone,
      Chris, like everyone, thanks for all the great information! I’ve read everything and now know more than I ever needed to know! Fantastic! So….with all the information, I looked into a Master Spa in the Denver, Colorado area. For some reason, Master only lists one guy who does a spa show at the Denver Stock Show complex one weekend. Even the rep from Indiana gave me the guy’s name in an email. So, I called Indiana and they gave me the name and contact information for the distributor and store for this region: Aqua Spas. Locations in Fort Collins, Greeley, Loveland (all north of Denver) and a new store in Castle Rock, Colorado (which is just south of Denver and 20 minutes from my house). Went there last night and (after my research of course) purchased a 2017 Twilight TS 7.25 with cover and cover lifter (forgot name of it), steps, delivery and installation, chemicals for $9150 USD cash (plus tax amounted to $9415.35 total). They have a year free financing if you want but they charge a little more for that or credit card. The salesman, Martin, was impressed with all the knowledge I had gained from your website! He follows you on his computer. The price seemed reasonable to us and we were blown away with the jets system. I got splashed on in the store when he turned on the foot massager jets and the corner shoulder massage jets!…….So, thanks again for all you do! We all appreciated it!
      Looking forward to hot tubbing! Best, Chris Williams

  135. Great website with a ton of useful information. Thank you so much for the time and effort, and for providing information I couldn’t find anywhere else.

    We are beginning to search for a quality hot tub in the Pittsburgh area are thankfully armed with many notes and a list of questions based on the great info you’ve provided, paying particular attention to the brands you’ve recommended.

    Wondering if you’ve ever heard of ThermoSpas? They’re a manufacturer located in Connecticut and a friend recommended them. Worth following up with them with the list of notes/questions you’ve so kindly armed us with?

    • Man I get so many requests from this area it’s insane, you guys don’t have any great brands down there just lots of the big marketing mid grade spas…
      http://www.hottubuniversity.com/wp-admin/edit-comments.php?comment_status=moderated#comments-form
      Normally I’m big on buying local but if you get a brand with the Waterways and balboa parts, they are plug and play and easy to diagnose over the phone as the system self-diagnoses. You can get away with buying outside your local market and you have two local guys that fix hot tubs but to be honest on the good ones, they are plug and play and anyone who can turn a wrench can swap the parts…

      Thermo

      • Chris, it looks like your reply may have been cut-off … looks like you were going to mention something about ThermoSpas, which was the information I was looking for. Any information about them would be greatly appreciated.

        Also, the email you previously sent was inadvertently deleted from our spam folder. If you could resend that I’ll take better care. We’re looking for a 4-5 person hot tub which will be placed on our paved patio which was prepared with a hot tub in mind. What should we be prepared to spend from a quality manufacturer such as Master for a really nice model?

        • Chris/John, curious if there was ever a follow-up here… Would like to know more about your thoughts/feedback on Thermospas.

          • Thermo spas is not a brand I would personally sell or recommend.

            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

  136. Thank you so much for this site!! Quick question – There is a master spa expo this weekend in my area (Baltimore). If I’m able to get a good deal on the Twilight 8.2, would you still deter me from buying. I think there is a dealer in the area. Would $10,000.00 be a fair price?

    • sorry for the late response, the 8.2 at $10k is a good price, the expos usually have a good local guy in most areas, there are lots of independent service people out there, the big thing is getting the little goofy learning curve questions answered and you can always come here for that 🙂

  137. Hello Chris,

    Thank you for all you do to keep us informed. I have learned so much to make a decision. I live in Crossville, TN and have narrowed our brands to a Marquis or Artesian (60 miles away). Would you place one of those brands over the other? Also how self serviceable are these tubs as i am mechanically inclined. I went to a dealer closer to me this weekend and they only sell Jacuzzi, Waters Edge, and Dynasty. I did notice they spent more time discussing the non Jacuzzi brands due to their margin. Thanks again.

  138. Looking and looking, in Northwest Arkansas. Looked at Hot Springs, Marquis and Caldera
    I am on information overload…
    I have upper back and neck issues, due to car accident and 30+ years at a computer. So I am looking for tubs with jets that will help in that are particularly…as well as just good overall body therapy.
    I have read some of your comments to know you like the Marquis and not the Hot Spring
    One thing I did not care for on the Marquis, at least what I looked at, was I could not run all jets for a seat at once…had to chose between upper or lower.
    Just looked at the Caldera, for the price seemed like a good option

    So far those are the brands I have found, there may be others I have not found yet.

    What are your thoughts, comparisons of these brands? Do you know of others in this area?

    • Hi Lisa.

      Out of that group the Marquis for sure, and it’s not a big deal… you crank all the pressure to your neck, then relax that area and do the lower back.

      Too bad there is not a Twilight dealer out there, for massage its the best tub on the market.

  139. We are currently in the market for a 4/5 person tub that will be placed on our deck in the mountains of NC. While it does get cold (below freezing) there’s not much fear of sub zero temps. Suggestions on brands with very good insulation near Boone/Blowing Rock or possibly Hickory? Your site is great-btw!

    • Well I have spent 20 mins looking and I can’t find anything really good… Lots of the big marketing mid grade spas, and lots of little regional manufacturers but no one who id doing all the good stuff…

      If I had to buy a brand for there it would be a D1 from http://southernpoolsandspas.com/dimension-one/4153943

      But there is a ray of hope, While normally I would advocate making sure you have a good dealer there is a pool company that does not sell spas, but fixes and sells chems and accessories. http://caymanpoolspa.com/hot-tubs-spas/

      This does open you up to buy a brand that uses the easy to source OEM parts and have them handle the install and service.

      Let me reach out and see what vibe i get from them and I’ll get back to you..

  140. Hi, we are in the market for our first hot tub and we are overwhelmed! Can you recommend something in the $5,000-$8,000 range that will be durable and reliable? We don’t need bells and whistles, just great jets that hit all the right spots. Also, if you can tell us, who are some reputable dealers in the Atlanta area? Thank you so much for creating this site. I learned more tonight in one sitting than in 3 days of being “oversold” by dealers. Thank you!

    • Hey Melinda!

      Thanks for the kind words… what started as a rage against the madness is turning into a full-time volunteer position 🙂

      Go see the guys at Atlanta Spa & Leisure
      4305 Ne Expressway , Doraville, GA, 30340
      Phone: 770-939-8000
      HOTTUB@BELLSOUTH.NET
      http://WWW.ATLANTASPA.COM

      They sell a pile of lines, stick to the Clarity, the healthy Living, or the Twilight series… the other lines they might pitch as better but it’s just because they will make more money on the cheaper stuff 🙂

      • Great Info. My wife and I reside in Metro Atlanta. Have have any thoughts on Alps Spas of Atlanta. Looking to do a backyard makeover with a swim spa.

        • Ok

          I don’t have time to check the reviews AND FRANKLY, I ONLY TAKE ONLINE REVIEWS WITH A GRAIN OF SALT.

          oops… Caps lock 🙂

          The Control system is Balboa, great system.

          They talk a lot about the shell having angle iron in it. Usually, when I hear this, it’s a sign of a thin sprayed shell that’s re-enforced with metal, You really want to spend the money on a Hand rolled Fiberglass shell especially on the big swimmers.

          The insulation looks to be almost non-existent from the picture on the site.

          Its shallow at 50″ this means just over 3′ of water depth go to a 50″ shell, it takes you to a full 4′ of water and is a massive difference to both the swim ability and especially the workouts against the jets for core and strength.

          .

  141. I am looking at buying a Bahama Spas Serenity Cove lounger. It looks like it’s made in America, but I am not sure. Do you have any info about this hot tub? The 5 years parts and labor is very attractive. Thanks!

    • Sorry there is just not enough info on them, I am assuming they are a small regional group which usually means they can’t really do all the things right because their volume is not high enough to be able to afford to do all the right stuff.

      Ask the golden questions….

      1. How do you support the shell? – if they say its self-supporting and hand rolled great, if they use supports and cradles or re-enforcement not so good.
      2. Who makes the electronic control and heating system? – Balboa is great it is the only one I would go to, Gecko is okish, the rest are not so good
      3. Who makes the jets and fittings? – Waterways is great
      3a. Are there clamps on all the plumbing lines to the jets and manifolds? – Yes is great No is crap
      4. What is the insulation? – full foam open celled with heat reclamation on the motors is great. Perimeter, reflective, wraps, and Mylar, is cheap

  142. Wife and I went to a “Spa Expo” which was really just sales ploy for a local dealer. The “expo” only carried Master Spa and the local company selling them was Spas and More here in St. Louis. There was a good deal of BS. “This here is a $23,000 but we can mark it down for you today” and “you must buy today in order to get this special pricing”. We did end up making a purchase but I’m having second thoughts. I’d like to know if this is a good deal or not. Here’s what we got

    Master Spas – Michael Phelps Legend Series – LSX 900
    – Standard grey cover
    – Deluxe Chemical Kit
    – Standard Steps
    – Deluxe LEDs
    – Wifi Module
    – Mast3rPur Water Management System w/ Quietflo
    – Ozonator
    – Fusion Touch Sound System
    – Cover lift
    – Delivery and install (no electrical work)

    Purchase Price: $13,842
    Tax(local rate is 8.363%): $1,159
    TOTAL: $15,000

    Please tell me what you think of this price. Good, Average, Terrible? We still have 3 days to cancel the sale if this is a bad deal and we would appreciate your input.

    Thank you.

    • Listen, I like the Master spas, they do all the right things, Hand rolled shells, Glued and clamped Plumbing, Top OEM parts and crazy performance. There are very few brands that are building to this standard.

      You are at the insane end of hot tubs, The Legends are crazy tubs with every bit of bling and you have ordered almost every upgrade. the price is good for what you are buying.

      The only issues with expos is sometimes the service levels can be substandard, It’s all Balboa and waterways so parts are easy to get. Even if they didn’t have a good guy doing service for them there a quick google search showed three or 4 independent service guys in the area so you shouldnt have any issues getting service. Hell they are all plug and play anyway its pretty easy to swap parts out 😉

  143. Considering a Jacuzzi 365 or a Michael Phelps 800. Husband had 3 back surgeries and we would like something to ease the pain. I have found equal number of articles claiming each is superior. Do you recommend one over the other? Also, I have not been able to find an unbiased site to compare pricing. All seem to require me to submit my name, address to request a quote. Any guidance you could offer would be greatly appreciated.

    • Hi Julie.

      Far and away the Phelps would be a better tub from every aspect.

      From a performance standpoint, the Jacuzzi 365 is closer to the next line down from Master which is the Twilight series. Both have twin pump (jacuzzi has two 4.8Hp Twilight has two 6hp) and the jacuzzi only has 7 of the Hi flow therapy massage jets and a pile of the low flow jets, whereas the Twilight has like 40 of the Therapy jets…

      The Phelps, on the other hand, had 4 pumps and is miles and miles better than the jacuzzi from a performance standpoint.

      The biggest issue I have with the Jacuzzi and reason I would never buy one or sell that brand is the parts list.

      The Phelps and the Twilight use all the top parts, the jacuzzi uses goofy parts that they had made just to fit their spa.

      There is a new video I just shot about this brand and others that are not using thew good parts and why they do it. I would never ever carry a brand that did not have the top reliable easy to source parts on it.

      check this video out… hot tub parts

  144. Hi! Thanks for the great information! I am about 90% on a Beachcomber “Copper Cove” LEEP series. All said and done, with steps, delivery, extended warranty out to 5 years, installation and top cover, I am at about $9,000. Is this a worthy brand and do you find that price point appropriate, give or take?

    Thank you for your time and response!

    Regards,
    Bryan

    • I like Beachcomber and I dislike beachcomber 🙂

      So the good:

      – They hand roll the shell and it is self-supporting!
      – They use the top parts list, Balboa control, and heating systems and waterways hi efficiency jets and plumbing
      – They use a full foam Icynene insulation system
      – They glue and clamp the plumbing!

      The bad:

      1 – The pumps are outside of the spa. I know they remarketed this as a new “Hybrid” technology but it is not. Back in the day, most companies had the pumps outside of the spa because it was easier to service. But there are 3 really good reasons why 98% of the industry has stopped doing this…

      — You loose the ability to reclaim the waste heat from the motors!
      — You are pumping all the hot water outside of the insulation envelope! Crazy… it’s like pumping your hot water into the nearest snowbank in the winter.
      — Huge risk of equipment freeze up and damage in power outages. If the equipment is under the spa its covered by the world’s biggest hot water bottle and is protected from freeze up for days and days instead of hours.

      All this so they can put a tiny amount of extra insulation in where the insulation is already thicker than 80% of the tub.

      The only reason they do it is to have a Unique Selling Point and its bad outdated technology.

      2 – The other big issue is the skirt is not removable, which is crazy. If you have any service issues like a burnt out LED or a leak you are screwed. You need to drain and remove the spa flip it and take the boot off and take the insulation out. It’s crazy…

      3 – Performance is mid grade, the jetting and pump power is in the middle of the road, you can get much more powerful better performing spas for that kind of Dough.

      4 – Circulator pumps, I am not a big fan of these low flow circulator 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.

      As for price $9k is high… Man there are some great spas you can get in texas for $9k

      • Hmmm…well this one is the “leep” series so the motors/pumps are all contained inside the traditional square footprint of the skirt, not outside of it under the steps. It is, however, not I side of the insulation envelope. But here in South East Texas freezing isn’t going to be an issue. That said, for 8-10 grand, what are your thoughts on a brand here in my neck of the woods?

        • Listen it’s not a bad spa, tbh its one of the ones that i don’t mind losing business to…

          if You have a master or, marquis, or Artesian dealer yer in better shape

          • Chris,
            I am following-up to thank you for the great web site and the information you provide. When I first commented on your site, I was ready to purchase one of those big-box warehouse club spas, with the skirt insolation and steel supports, because it was on sale $1,00 off.

            I looked for a Master Spa’s dealer and the closest one to me was over 200 miles away. I did find an Artesian dealer only 20 minutes away. They have been in business there for over 15 years and the tech I spoke with has been in the spa business for 25 years. I choose the Captiva spa with 52 jets and 2 – 6 BHP pumps rather than the ones with more smaller pumps.

            I paid quite a bit more up front ($2,500 more) and I hope it will pay-off in the long run.

            Thanks again!

          • Hey John

            It will. there is a massive difference between the big box junk and that spa.

            Happy Hot tubbing!

  145. Hi. I’m in Bradenton, FL. After reading your website I’m looking at a Marquis Spirit or an Artesian Santa Cruz. Could you give me your thoughts on these? Also, I don’t mind getting the special wiring if it’s really with it. As far as plug and play or 50/60 amp. I would love a Master Twilight TS240 but there is no dealer near me.

    • Yeah the TS 240 is a rocket, if you are looking for therapy massage that thing is a monster.

      Either of the two others are good buys and in Florida you can get away with a 120v system if you are not too concerned with the jet massage power.

  146. I contacted Master and was advised that a Legacy Whirlpool legend was a brilliant starter hot tub, with all the quality from Master… what are your thoughts on this sub-brand/model?
    Thanks

    • Hi Sarah

      They are a bit of a secret. Legacy spas is a Line Master does not build anymore, except as a limited edition from time to time.

      I know a few dealers that sell absolutely tons of them when they are available and literally buy in full containers of them, to take advantage of the crazy price Master sells them at.

      Im a big fan.

      The build quality is the same as all the rest of the Masters. The performance is good, the shell layout is a nice simple open space which is what you want in a water environment, and bang for the buck they are easily one of the best spas out there right now.

  147. I am looking to get a new hot tub. I had a marquis for 15 years and had very few issues with it. Now looking at marquis and Nordic. The Nordic model is the Encore LS. also looking at marquis reward.

  148. We are in the market for a hot tub. We plan to use it year round in Northern Minnesota so insulation will have to be good. Would like to stay under 5,000 but there is a Nordic dealer in town that has a Nordic Jubilee LX for about 7,200. As far as the components and other important features, is the Nordic Jubilee LX at 7,200 a good buy or should we do some more looking? I think they offer an insulation upgrade package for a couple hundred bucks. They have a five year warranty and I feel comfortable replacing parts when it’s out of warranty as long as the dealer helps me diagnose any issues. For what it’s worth it’s been a good experience from the dealer both times we’ve been there.

    Thanks for your website. It’s the most straightforward information I found anywhere on the internet.

    Mike

    • I like everything about Nordic except the Insulation.

      There is very little foam on the shell and then that flimsy fiber stuff that hangs on the inside of the skirt is just not going to have much r value.

      The shell the parts and the performance is good but the insulation is a deal breaker for me.

      And $7k is too much by a long shot. You can get into a full foam well-built acrylic for that kind of money.

  149. I looked at a Maax spa today. You said they build a decent spa. They glue but don’t clamp. Salesman thinks the jets are waterway. The touchpad says Maax but the salesman says it’s a balboa and the spa controller does say balboa. No spray foam but showed documentation claiming their insulation is tops. Frame support but no support under seat. Shell appears to be almost 1/4 inch think all around.
    So, is Maax using waterway jets? .And is the touch pad a balboa…

    • Hi

      It is a Balboa system which is great and Waterways jets.

      but everything else is pants, that insulation system is the worst I have ever seen, it might be R5 where you can get a R35 with a full foam. All perimeter systems are cheap but this one takes the cake, that together with the no clamps would take it right off my short list.

  150. Hi Chris,
    Great info on this site. We have only 2 dealers locally, one that sells only Bullfrog, and one that sells only Hot Spring. I see you’re not a fan of either. Do you have any recommendations for a 4-5 person hot tub for under 5K that we might be able to purchase online? Or, if we bought locally would you lean toward Bullfrog or Hot Spring?

    Thanks in advance for your assistance!

    • Hi Amy

      I honestly really don’t like either of them for entirely different reasons, although if I had to take one it would be the Bullfrog, at least you are not going to be held to ransom for goofy sub-standard parts down the road.

      Although you are in a unique situation. There is a very reputable service center down there that just does service so if you stuck to a name brand parts list you really could buy elsewhere and have him handle and service issues you have. Scott has been in the industry for ages and really knows his stuff.

  151. Hey I have a change to buy a master spa through their website. They said since there are no master dealers in the Portland Area that they would sell me one at “wholesale price”.

    Two questions: Have you heard of this before? Also is it worth it to get a Master Spa if there are no local dealers?

    Thanks!

    • Hey Connor

      Buying without a local dealer can be an issue.

      There are 2 things I would want first… The spa can’t have proprietary parts, so in other words don’t buy an Arctic, Sundance, HotSprings, jacuzzi without local dealer or you are doomed.

      But on some brands like Master, they are using the North American top parts so it’s easy to get parts.

      Then unless you are willing to do your own service you need to have a local company that does good service and in Portland, you have a company Called Hot Tub Oregon who is ASPS member and has been trading since 1989 so you are in a good position to do what I would normally not recommend.

      Keep in mind that the local service company may charge more than the manufacturer will cover for the service, although it should be fairly similar.

      When you go for service, tell the local guy you bought it used or you moved to the area with it then they won’t be pissed off that you did not buy local.

  152. We are shopping for our first hot tub and considering a few Marquis models – euphoria and Epic after looking at Sundance Optima and Jacuzzi J-385. Doing wet tests this week but feel I’m gonna get creamed on pricing! Always feel like I’m buying a car and never really get their good price. Quoted initial prices were: 2017 Marquis 12,200 (with stereo),
    2017 Jacuzzi J-385 11,100
    2017 Sundance 12,600 (with stereo)

    Please any advice on how to get better pricing or opinions on these listed from forum would be huge. Thanks

    • So all three of these spas are going to be similar from a performance standpoint, they all have 2 big pumps with diverter valves and similar jetting.

      That being said the Marquis is the only one I would consider putting on my floor for 2 very good reasons.

      The first is that the Marquis uses the top North American parts list. Not only is it going to be more reliable but it will also be a breeze to source parts and the parts will be competitively priced because there are loads of places you can buy them. The biggest problem I have with Jacuzzi and 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.

      The second thing is the foot domes… I can’t believe people are still putting these things in the floor of their spas most companies retooled and took these out fo their shells design a decade ago. They a huge tripping issue to start with but the main reason why most of the industry has abandoned these floor domes 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 and tripping on the foot domes and it causes the fittings to get loose and start to leak.

  153. Hi
    I’m trying to get information on Dreammaker spas. Any thoughts on those.

    • The good:

      -Good shell, rotomolded shells last forever
      -Good electronic control and heating system Balboa is the Best
      -Ok pump, they use Balboa which is a decent pump.
      -They glue and clamp the plumbing lines.

      The Bad:

      -Super Shallow! at 32″ deep half your body is out fo the water, or you have to slouch down to get into it deep enough to not freeze 🙂
      -Terrible insulation, 1″ of Roxul in a bag is about R-5 even Roxull recommends 6″ minimum in a house which is R30 and the Building code minimum is R15 and a hot tub because it is so much hotter than a house needs even more… This is a $30 insulation package where a full foam spa would have an average of R-30 and be a $400 insulation system. These things cost a fortune to run in a cold climate.
      -The jet bodies are just clicked onto the shell without silicone, they are prone to fail so much that they even have a video online telling you how to fix them when they break.
      All in all its a decent spa but the insulation is not made for cold climates.

      • Hi Chris
        I live in Ontario so cold Winters are given. I was also looking at Dream Maker spas until I read your comments. So would you have any suggestions for a brand for a 2 – 3 person Spa with good insulation and good parts and construction. thank you for reading this reply your website is awesome

        • Hi Diane

          Brrr…. I get cold just thinking of Ontario 🙂

          Nordic or Getaway spas are good bets, the Getaway has way best insulation by far but the Nordic is a close second…

  154. Thanks for all the information. I’m looking for a large spa more for entertaining than massage therapy. I’m in Southern California and the Cal Spas F1325 Swim Spa seems like it would be a good fit.

    The price posted on the unit was 12K at Secard Pools and they said they give a 5 year parts and labor warranty through them with no trip charge. I asked what the service response time is when at their busiest and was told a week. There is a lot of negative publicity online about Cal Spas honoring the factory warranty but I guess that wouldn’t be an issue if the dealer is providing the warranty.

    I’m guessing I could get a couple thousand off that sticker price if I brought my checkbook in with me. What’s your opinion on the quality of this line?

    • Cal Spas are a mid grade tub, I too have heard loads of bad stuff about the the factory end of the business, they have always had a reputation in the industry as cowboys, but I have never really dealt with them. I do know they had a couple dealers out east here and both companies dropped them, one guy told me it was quality issues and the were a pain to deal with but again that’s just second hand so who knows. My gut says where there is smoke there is fire and there have always been rumblings in the industry about them. Even a great tub with crap backup is a bad thing…

      I had a quick look and don’t see anything that really rings my bell but lets see what I can come up with.

      • Thanks. I really like the idea of 2 contoured seats and then the side benches to pack people in lol. Maybe you could recommend another brand that’s a similar layout on the higher quality end…Regards.

        • I actually found a TidalFit ActivePlus EP-12 by Artesian that is the same layout as the Cal-Spas model mentioned above…getting warmer I think.

  155. What are your thoughts on Jacuzzi? I live about an hour north of Baltimore, MD and my wife and I are considering a Jacuzzi J-375. Thanks!

  156. Hi thank you for all the education on hot tubs. I live in Vancouver, Washington across the river from Portland Oregon. Handful of hot tub retail shops in our area. I’ve read a lot on your website and have tried to use your key points to make the right investment. We are interested in a retail shop HotSprings and a Prodigy hot tub for $8,700. Before making the purchase please let me know if you think this shop is reputable and if this particular hot tub is a solid investment or if we should do more shopping and research at other retail shops. I appreciate any input and any other recommendations in our area. Thank you very much.

    • I’m not a big fan of Hot Springs at all.

      They spend a lot on marketing and the reality is we have a lot of issues with them. They are notorious for electronic control failures, the Invensys control systems we have seen have two recurring faults, 1 they blow heater relay boards and second they can’t seem to get a spa side aux controller to ever work.

      They come across well in the discussion forums because they spend a lot of time and money on there but look at the service help section, you will find tons of people looking for advice on how to fix them.

      We have a few in our marketplace from a dealer that went broke here and the other big issue we have come across is the nonremovable sides! If you ever have a leak you literally need to cut the sides open or drain elevate and refill to repair them, Insane there is almost no access to the sides of the spa.

      The other thing I don’t like is they are one of the small group of companies that have all the parts made special for them so that you can not source parts, it guarantees them your business for life because there is only one place you can get the parts and that is from them… Frankly, I would never sell or buy a brand that did not spend the money for the good proven North American parts list like Balboa and waterways, these proven reliable expensive parts work, in my opinion the only reason a manufacturer does this is to save money on a cheaper parts list and to guarantee your business for parts down the road.

      It is never a good scenario when you need a part and there is only one person who can sell it to you. If you stick to a good parts list you not only will it last longer, but if it does fail you can’t be held to ransom for the price because the top OEM parts are readily available and competitive.

  157. Anything you can tell me about Four winds spa? I am in the Atlanta area

    • Middle of the road.

      Now I can only speak from about 4 years ago but I doubt they have changed much.

      They used an ABS backed acrylic and a substitute for fiberglass that I can’t remember the name of, they had some big issues with shell failures a few years back and Although they settled with most of the faulty shells they were never a great shell, we had a lot of shell failures out here.

      They also did this thing where they used a particle board base with 2″x2″ runners under it that made handling it for the factory great but in the field tended to start to fail after a feew years, we actually went back to a pile of them and removed the sub-structure down the road as they would start to sag over time.

      The jetting was rising dragon and overall it was a mid grade spa.

      Again i have not seen one made in the past 3 or 4 years so Im going on experience from that time frame.

  158. You have already stated the mediocrity of Thermo spa. Unfortunately for me I already bought the swimspa about 8 yrs ago. It was placed on a level poured cement slab according to their spec recommendations. The problem is the information base is rotting away. The service technicians sees no signs of moisture or a leak. It is continually rotting away looking like rust away around the entire bottom circumference. Of course….absolutely no help or recommendactions on any repair from Thermospa….I posted pics onot their Facebook page. I would appreciate any help and/or advice. Located in Georgia.

    • Hi Yvonne

      It’s unfortunate but I don’t know if there is a lot you can do.

      check for yourself that there is no moisture inside the skirt, if there is dampness there then there is a leak, if not then it’s just not adequately sealed on the bottom, if that is the case than the only thing I could recommend would be to remove it and wrap the base in a heavy polycarbonate or other membrane and then drop it back down.

  159. I am from Kansas City, mo and am looking at buying an artesian south beach spa. What are your thoughts on a lounger vs a bench style? Do people usually end up using a lounger as much as you originally think?

    Also, I was wondering if you knew much about price. My local dealer has the 748 listed for $6,500 plus 250 delivery, which includes the cover and stairs. Is that a fair price? I have really appreciated your site as there are not many places to learn about which spas are good online.

    • It’s is said that about 80% of first time buyers buy loungers and that 80% of second-time buyers don’t.

      loungers in my mind are sold because we are dryland creatures and we apply dry land thinking to this water environment. A longer is good in dry land as it supports your weight and is comfortable but when you are in water you are floating and the lounger offers not as much value…

      That price seems decent but I’m not up to date on USD pricing…

  160. I was looking at the Canadian spa Toronto and was wondering your thoughts? I live in Alaska and my Clearwater spa froze up.

    • Canadian Spa is made in China and its a mass merchant so the support can be spotty, They handle calls well at the factory level and if you are lucky enough to live in an area with a good local service guy that just fixes tubs then you can be ok from a backup standpoint.

      But if you are going to rely on a local repair guy then you open the market to anything including Tent sales, State Fairs and Expo events or even dealers selling out of their area. These low overhead options can sometimes get you a great spa at the right money… Once you decide to go the route of not having a local dealer then you open up a lot of options that are better value for the money.

      The shell is a good hand rolled shell and they glue and clamp their joints. They also use Balboa controls so for a mass merchant product it is probably the best out there,

      But like most of the industry, it is a mix of good and bad.

      1. It is quite shallow… You can save $500 by using a smaller sheet of acrylic but you can only draw the small sheet so deep if you sit in it there is only the one seat that you are close to up to your neck in water The other seats you are lucky to warm your nipples and the reality s by the time you scrunch down to get into the water there is only room for 3 people in this “6 person spa”

      2. The insulation is not our recommended system, it is inexpensive and really not great at retaining heat. Reflective systems. were all the rage in the building industry 20 years ago and is pretty much banned in Home building now so they are making a resurgence in hot tubs, most of the test data out there shows it to be good at reflecting heat away from things but with little or no thermal mass it is not good at containing heat into a syatem.… I would expect the assembled R value to be right around R-5 to R-8 whereas a good expanded foam spa can top R-30!

      3. The Jets are a click in the system. You really want threaded jets, historically the click in jets can be an issue down the road that can cost you big.

      4. The stereo sounds like your I-phone speakers and the pop-ups speakers again have always had issues with going up and down.

      5. It’s dropped at your driveway you install it. (worth $300 easy to have it installed)

      6. It’s a hi chemical system.

      So when you take the $6995 and add $500 on for a deep shell, add $500 on for a good insulation system, add $400 on for a good jetting system and $300 for installation now yer at $8700… So is it a good deal on a good spa? Not really… You could find a good deep tub with the same features and better insulation and jets for less from a good local dealer and have a local support network.

      http://www.hottubuniversity.com/where-to-buy/mass-merchants/

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

      http://www.hottubuniversity.com/hot-tub-insulation-systems-numbers/

  161. Hello,
    We are looking into getting a swim spa for our home. We are looking at Four Winds, Hydropool and Endless Pool. Do you have any suggestions? This is a huge investment and we don’t want to get stuck with a spa that is just going to be a headache down the road. Thank you

    • Of those stay away from the Hydropool for sure… look at the comments page and hit the CTRL-F and then search Hydropool there is a great review I posted on why not to buy that spa.

      Endless poo; is the best of that lot but Master H2X or Phelps swim spas are what you want.

  162. I am replacing a 20 year old Sundance spa and have looked at both the new Sundance model and a spa from Bullfrog which is comparably priced. Any thoughts on which is better?

  163. My husband and I have been looking at hot tubs. Here are a few we are thinking about:
    Master Spa Clarity Balance 7
    Caldera Geneva
    Tropic Seas by Artisan Waikiki 864L Elite
    Marquis Epic
    Dr. Wellness Tranquility Series G-12 or G-14
    On the Dr. Wellness website they list these as the features of the G-14.

    » Full Foam Insulation » Mp3 Ready with built in Speakers & Sub-Woofer
    » Blue Tooth Enabled » Factory Installed Ozonator
    » Balboa Systems Spa Controller » Neck, Shoulder, Calf & Foot Jets
    » Comfort cushion headrest » User Friendly System Controls Topside
    » Deluxe Locking Hard Cover » Multi-Layered Fiberglass Reinforcement
    » Synthetic Cabinet comes in Mocha or Coastal Gray » Balboa Y-platform Controls
    » Black & Chrome Alpha Series Jet » Surround LED Lighting Included

    What are your thoughts on these models? Any help would be appreciated.

    • Not sure about Dr wellness unless its a lot cheaper than the master or the Marquis I would stick with one of those two…

      The new clarity shell designs are insane… The amount of foot room is awesome, I love that new line.

      Stick with the master or the Artesian the others would not make my list.

  164. Hello,
    Thank you for taking the time to run this site, provide honest feedback, and specifics. We are building a home and are strongly considering putting a hot tub on our flat roof. The engineer will tell us whether this is possible. I’m trying to gather info about the weight of a 3 person tub OR a 5 person tub with water and with the weight of the people, to see about whether the roof can be built (at a decent cost) to hold this weight. For folks living in Chattanooga, Tennessee, do you recommend any dealers? Based on your website info, I’m thinking of Nordic tubs and Master tubs, although there is a big price difference between the two brands. Any insight would be appreciated. Have a nice day!

    • Chatanooga Tennesee!!!

      I’m racing in the chatterjack next year!

      if it’s going on a roof get a silent flow circ pump, its the only time I would recommend one, but on an elevated structure, it severely reduces the chance of harmonic vibrations making crazy ghost noises.

      Dude th Master just put out a tub to compete with the Nordic… its the same shell and better insulation and about the same price as the retreat… its called the Ochos rios…

  165. Looking for spa in Fort Worth area. Thank goodness this site steered me away from a Cosco unit that a friend of mine bought (it leaked within a week). So in this area bahama spas are common, which I discovered at the dealer is a line from Dynasty (on the nameplate in the control area). Haven’t read great things about Dynasty, but the Bahama line seems to meet a lot of the requirements on this site. Waterways jets, Gecko controls, full foam as described, etc. The kid at the dealer didn’t know a lot of these details, so I’m having to research myself, like whether the shell is hand rolled. They don’t have their own service in house, but they are local and convenient. Question is, do you have any more opinion or info on this line? Or, do you recommend another line or dealer in this area? I can get a Serenity Cove model for $7K for comparison.

    • I just got my hands on a Dynasty and it’s my next video review… stay away, the one here is a thin shell, bad plumbing gecko controls, and crap insulation.

      Southern leisure sells Marquis

  166. I live in central Illinois I am looking to get a spa was looking at Belize spas made in St. Louis Missouri was wondering what your thought on them are.They say it has a ultraviolet filtering system which is better than ozone any thoughts.

    • For the life of me I can not find anything on them…

      I’ll be honest, I love to support local but on these big ticket items, small regional manufacturers are a mess. They simply do not do the volume to be able to afford the tech to make a great spa.

      Send me a site link or something and I’ll have a boo but again ask the golden questions…

      Do They have Hand rolled self-supporting shells?

      Believe it or Not, most Spa shells are built too thin to hold their own weight with water in them!!
      They, therefore, have to rely on props and supports under the shell to keep them from falling apart.
      If you apply enough layers of fiberglass and hand roll the shell you end up with a Self-supporting shell that literally lasts forever.

      Are they using the Top North American parts list? (Balboa, waterways)

      First, let’s clarify something… None of the Swim Spa Manufacturers you will see build any of the parts main parts for their spas… NONE…
      The influx of cheap Chinese made parts being used in the manufacture of Hot Tubs is causing a lot of trouble.
      First off these cheap parts have a high failure rate which means down time and money for you down the road.
      Worse still the availability of these parts is hit and miss and this means you might spend a lot of money to entirely replace whole systems on your hot tub because we can’t get a simple part.
      Only a very small handful of companies are building with the Top North American parts list, these parts are reliable and easy to source later.

      Are they using the Canadian Icynene foam insulation system?

      Read any information on insulation including insulating houses and everyone agrees that there is simply no better insulation than expanding foam.
      There is a great Canadian made product called Icynene that never hardens so you can fill the cavity of the hot tub without having access issues to the parts and plumbing
      These expanded foams will give you around R-20 and with good heat capturing of the waste heat from the motors will give you the best insulation.
      Most spas are using Cheap insulation systems like perimeter insulation using 3″ of foam at R-12
      Some are even using Mylar lined bubble packaging (like Hydropool, Canadian Spa Co, Walmart, Kent) with outrageous claims of High R-Values because it is $400 cheaper to insulate this way, thankfully the government is clamping down on these systems as they are not allowed to be used for primary insulation is houses

      Are the Joints Glued and Clamped? and is the plumbing supportted?

      The biggest service request with many brands is Leaks, they are expensive to fix and troublesome to find.
      Most manufacturers do not glue and clamp the plumbing lines to the jets because it is expensive!
      Having Glued and clamped Joints means you will likely never have leaky plumbing
      Plumbing support can only really be gotten with tubs using expanded foam there is almost $150 lbs of water in the suspended pipework, having it supported further reduces strains on the joints!!!
      Having No Clamps is Bad
      Having no foam to support the plumbing is Really bad
      Having Neither is a disaster… Yet most tubs use one or none of these important steps because it is expensive.

      Are the sides removable for easy access?

  167. We are first time spa buyers and have been overwhelmed by all of the different brands on the market. Can you let us know what brands would be the best. These are the models:
    Master Spa Clarity Balance 8 (Is there a difference between Clarity and Twilight?)
    Caldera Geneva
    Tropic Seas by Artisan Waikiki 864L
    Marquis Epic
    Dr. Wellness Tranquility series G-14
    The only company that has listed their components is Dr. Wellness. Here it is:

    » Full Foam Insulation » Mp3 Ready with built in Speakers & Sub-Woofer
    » Blue Tooth Enabled » Factory Installed Ozonator
    » Balboa Systems Spa Controller » Neck, Shoulder, Calf & Foot Jets
    » Comfort cushion headrest » User Friendly System Controls Topside
    » Deluxe Locking Hard Cover » Multi-Layered Fiberglass Reinforcement
    » Synthetic Cabinet comes in Mocha or Coastal Gray » Balboa Y-platform Controls
    » Black & Chrome Alpha Series Jet » Surround LED Lighting Included

    Any help you can give us would be great. Thanks

  168. We have been looking for our first hot tub. There are so many out there that it can get confusing. We were looking to spend around 6 to 9 thousand dollars. Can you give us some insight to some of the spas that we looked at? We have looked at the following Master Spa Clarity Balance 7, Caldera Geneva, Tropic Seas by Artisan Waikiki, Marquis Epic and Dr. Wellness Tranquility series G-12 or G-14. The Dr. Wellness series states that they use Balboa controls and Balboa spa systems. Any help would be appreciated.

    • As far as the brands all those tubs would suit you well except the Dr Wellness, I dont know that one…

      Really at that point, it comes down to features, I like the massive footwell in the clarity the mold was just done last year and is one of the nicest layouts I have seen.

  169. Thanks for the great information. We are in Denver, CO and are dealing with Wind River Spas. They seem to take a lot of pride in their product, use only high grade parts and build to order. Do you know much about this company? I don’t put a lot of weight into anonymous online reviews but 5.0 with almost 100 reviews is impressive. Thanks for any insight you might be able to provide.

    • Alot of misinformation on the videos. This guy makes non-issues into issues to scare you,

      They make a big deal about circ pumps which is a low flow filter system, I don’t like them but there is no big plus or minus. the modern 2 speed systems are quiet and efficient and give you the option of being able to filter 5x more water that these circ systems if you have a party or need to clean up the spa. all spas have an option for a circ pump.

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

      Again they talk alot of shit about full foam spas and the pitch is bullshit, read this article… http://www.hottubuniversity.com/hot-tub-insulation-systems-numbers/

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

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

  170. I wish I had discovered this site prior to my purchase. After what I thought was a lot of research and asking around (friends, relatives other customers) , we purchased the Jacuzzi 365 saltwater over the master spa twilight series 7.2. I ended up getting “higher” model end jacuzzi for $1000 less than twilight, but now you have me concerned about repairs and poor craftsmanship. Should I be concerned. Thank you for your time.

    • No don’t be overley concerned.

      It’s not that Jacuzzi is a nightmare, there are certainly worse spas out there.

      The biggest issue I have with them and their Ilk is the parts list.

      I always say that a great local dealer is the single most important factor, and a great dealer with a mid grade product is better than an awesome product with a mid grade dealer 🙂

      I guess what really bugs me is there is a best practice when building a spa, it’s not really a debatable point its just that its not economically viable for everyone to build the same way, everyone wants a Unique selling point and that is rarely a good thing for the end user.

      Enjoy you tub, It will do fine for you and its not in the nightmare range of spas by any account.

  171. I’m in the market for a new hot tub and came across your site. Thanks for the great videos and tips. I have an old LA Spa Quest 8000 (that just died). The feature I loved most are the 2 jets that shoot down on my shoulders. Do you know of a company that you’d recommend that has a similar feature? I live in Phoenix, AZ.
    Thanks again–

    • Twilight series has a 4 jet neck jet system with insane power, You can actually put a whole 6hp pump just to the main massage seat! It’s why I love that tub and its built right…

  172. I live in the San Francisco Bay Area and am finally going to replace my old Sundance Suntub that I have been nursing along for years. I’m looking for a similar set up – not interested in many bells, whistles. I’ve looked at Nordic, Jacuzzi, Beachcomber – their entry level round tubs — any guidance here? Or suggestions of other brands I can get? Thanks!

    • The beachcomber spa out of that lot is the best choice. and the Nordic is a good plug and play.

      beachcomber has great components, glued and clamped joints, Icynene foam and hand rolled shells, but stay away from the “Hybrid” with the motors outside… old tech branded as new, and a lot of downsides, also hate that the skirt is not removable!!! Insane if ya get a leak or a bad LED yer cutting the side open or draining and flipping the spa… nuts… Try the Master if you have them in yer area… same parts and shell construction and plumbing but removable skirt and integrated pump system with heat reclamation ont he motor waste heat.

      The Nordic has great parts but insulation is mid grade check out the Ochos rios… same spa better insulation and clamped plumbing…

  173. We are looking at purchasing a new tub. What are your feelings on the Bahama brand spas.

    • Sorry never heard of them…

      ask the golden questions….

      1. How do you support the shell? – if they say its self-supporting and hand rolled great, if they use supports and cradles or re-enforcement not so good.
      2. Who makes the electronic control and heating system? – Balboa is great it is the only one i would go to, Gecko is okish, the rest are not so good
      3. Who makles the jets and fittings? – Waterways is great
      3a. Are there clamps on all the plumbing lines to the jets and manifolds? – Yes is great No is crap
      4. What is the insualtion? – full foam open celled with heat reclamation on the motors is great. Perimiter, reflective, wraps, Mylar, is cheap
      4.

    • Sorry never heard of them…

      ask the golden questions….

      1. How do you support the shell? – if they say its self-supporting and hand rolled great, if they use supports and cradles or re-enforcement not so good.
      2. Who makes the electronic control and heating system? – Balboa is great it is the only one i would go to, Gecko is okish, the rest are not so good
      3. Who makes the jets and fittings? – Waterways is great
      3a. Are there clamps on all the plumbing lines to the jets and manifolds? – Yes is great No is crap
      4. What is the insualtion? – full foam open celled with heat reclamation on the motors is great. Perimiter, reflective, wraps, Mylar, is cheap
      4.

    • Hey man I like your site a customer said he was reading on here before coming in. We are the Beachcomber hot tub retailer in the okanagan. Everything you have said about service is a 100% true and I stand behind it fully. If you are ever in BC please stop by would love to talk tubs with you sometime!

  174. What are your thoughts on Arctic Spas? All the sales material makes sense and the dealer ‘seems’ to take the upfront-non-pushy-I-do-what’s-best-for-you-even-if-it-means-not-selling-you-a-spa approach. I think it meets those basic requirements you mention but, I’m no expert and this would be our first hot tub. Great site and very informative! Thank you for taking the time to help us out!

    • I wish I liked them because they are local boys but the truth is I’m not a fan at all…

      Arctic spas review
      Overall rating C+
      Component Quality D
      Energy rating C
      Build Quality A+
      While at one time we would have rated this spa in the upper B or even A rating their move from proven components to cheap Chinese made parts has driven this spa into the bottom of our ratings, while there are 5 manufacturers of jets and fittings out there they have gone to the cheapest end of the market and it is costing them market share, their flagship dealer in Toronto with 5 locations dumped them after almost a decade of selling Arctic. Similarly they have moved from our number 2 ranked electronic control and heating system (Gecko) to a no name system that they claim to build themselves… anytime a hot tub manufacturer claims to build their own systems or jets do a reality check…. there is simply no way that any hot tub company could afford to open their own electronic fabrication facility, or plastic moulding facility, the idea is ludicrous, this should always be a warning sign, hiding a cheap component list behind private branding is the oldest trick in the book.
      The Good:
      Well-built structurally,
      Nice base (but don’t think it is a substitute for a properly prepared ground work )
      The Bad:
      The over-sized plumbing is internally glued and passes through regular 2” fittings this pinch point no advantage at all
      The insulation is comprised of 2” of old school poly based foam.
      The Plumbing is unsupported and only glued, not clamped, this is again the bare minimum cost and quality.
      And the ugly:
      Component list is all cheap Chinese “Rising Dragon brand” gear. And no name Chinese made electronics. The problem here is not only are the parts cheaply made and prone to fail, they are also not easily sourced, once you buy this sp[a you are stuck with them for life for parts with no competitive pricing from other sources providing they can even get you the parts….
      The pitch:
      Not surprisingly the pitch is centered on classic side track issues, I can’t stress this enough people, this industry is all about component quality and if you don’t have that you better make up a good story and Arctic has done a fantastic job of spinning up a great marketing strategy.
      Shell: A+
      The pitch is they use a thicker shell for durability.
      They make the edge of the shell thick and talk about shell strength… the spa we looked at had a thicker shell edge but the fitting we removed from the sidewall showed the shell was about half as thick as the edge was.
      This is a solid hand rolled fiberglass hull and is self supporting, that means it needs no braces or other supports.
      Insulation: C
      The insulation system used by Arctic is the same as the costco Evolution spa roasted in this video https://youtu.be/vVpuTxjXq2o and puts them in the C group. One downside is they are using Polyurethane insulation which oxidises and gets hard and brittle; it loses R-value as it gets older. The second issue is there is inadequate air supply to the motors, this means the motors run very hot which causes overheating issues in the warmer months and reduces the longevity of the motors. The pitch about full foam tubs being hard to service is old school. The top end of the market has shifted to newer water based foams that do not get hard and do not oxidise so leak repair is as easy as it gets and full foam spas are not as prone to leaks as the plumbing is supported. This foam if fabricated in a factory maxes out at R5 per inch in the field like this is is lucky to get R4 so the whole tub has about an R8 value. A full foamed tub using open celled foam gets around r-#.5 per inch but uses 8 to 10” of foam for a total of R 24 to 40! And not surprisingly full foam coats 4x more to manufacture.
      Plumbing: B
      The pitch is that they use an oversized two and a half inch plumbing system for higher flow rates.

      First the plumbing system uses large 2 ½” pipe, but all the fittings are internally glued and run through 2” shut off valves and heater tube, this makes the over sized pipe a waste of time as the highest flow rate you get is limited by the smallest pinch point, so the best you get on this plumbing system is 2” regular flow rates.
      secondly the flow rate for 2” plumbing is way over the flow rate for the pump anyways so even if they had bothered to spend the money to truly plumb a real 2 ½” system the advantages would be negligible.
      Spa Base: B
      The pitch is that they use fiberglass bottom and that the spa can be put on any flat level surface without a proper foundation.

      First the base of your spa will never be a failing point, all you really want here is a membrane that will prevent water from getting into the foam.
      Secondly it is simply bad information to tell a customer that the spa can be put on the ground without preparing the ground, while it is true it will not hurt the spa (almost any spa can be put on any flat surface) the ground needs to be prepared for the load of the spa or it will not settle evenly, putting a spa on the grass or other existing surface will mean that the ground under the spa settles unevenly and then you spa is out of level, which it puts a lot of strain on the spa. It is immediately noticeable when a spa is out of level because of the water line, and doing this means a couple years down the road you need to lift the spa and prepare the surface properly like you should have done in the first place!

  175. Greetings, we live in San Diego and have had a gas K2 shell hot tube for 18 years. Time to get rid of it. Been through 2 pumps and a heater. So please can you recommend a dealer for us here in San Diego. We use our hot tube 5 to 6 days week. Would go with the Masters twilight but no dealer out our way. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

    • There is a company called Action spa repair out there.

      I spoke to them and they seem to be on the ball, they repair all brands so if you stick with something using industry standard parts you should be good buying out of area.

      What twilight are you looking at?

      Alternatively, carddine sells marquis which is good,

  176. Hi and thank you for the great web site. We live in Olathe, KS and are working with a dealer called Family Leisure who sells and services the hot tubs. Do you have any insight on them as far as service levels? We are looking at a $7,000 Artesian Rio 751L – 500 series. They say it is an Artesian made in Las Vegas but I don’t see that model on the Artesian web site. I see it on Tropic Seas however. Can you reconcile that for me and do you have an opinion on the Artesian RIO?

    Thank you!

    • Hi

      I rang them and they don’t fix other brands which always makes me wonder, typically the service department makes or breaks a retailer and if their service end is strong they are capturing the off brand business, I then asked a couple tech questions and they were unsure of the answers but did have the intelligence to go off and find the answer. They say they have a part supply in stock but other than that I can’t say a lot, the call left me luke warm… my gut says they are primarily a pool company that dabbles in hot tubs?

      In general, I like the Artesian’s but I need to brush up on the various lines.

      Some companies use the same build standard and parts list on all lines and just the performance and jetting changes which is great… other just build cheap sub-lines, its a crap shoot and I can’t advise you on their sub-lines, I have a call into the factory but typically that’s a long shot to get any good info 🙂

  177. I’m looking at Sundance and Tropic Seas hot tubs. The cost differential seems pretty significant with Sundance about 1/3 more then Tropic Seas. Is one brand significantly better than the other and is Sundance worth the extra $?

    • I’m not a big fan of the Sundance tubs. they use a lot of proprietary parts and that ties you to them for life with no options, and again none of the proprietary parts I have seen are better than the big OEM’s they are just cheaper and lock you into the manufacturers for all your replacements and repairs… never a good scenario.

      I really don’t know the changes from Topic seas to the main brand. sometimes they use the same manufacturing techniques and parts but just change the jetting which is a good scenario if the performance is not an issue but sometimes it is a whole shift to cheap parts and techniques to compete with the lower end of the market…

      A great deal on a second brand is good, a cheap substitute is not…

  178. Great Site, thank you for your time, expertise and ethical advice. Simply put, I’m a first time buyer moving to Reno, NV. It’s a cold winter climate and my budget is $10K for just my wife & I. Saw your post about “Catalina” brand. Do you know of and/or recommend a dealer there? Is Catalina your only suggestion for Reno/Carson City, NV. Thank you so much.

    • Hi there

      Thanks for the ping.

      In Reno The Marquis spa is far and away your best bet. The rest are either small regional guys with old tech or the nightmare big brands with great marketing and totally non-industry standard parts lists…

      • I didn’t see your post about the Catalina spas. Could you tell me what you think about them or direct me to the information, please.

        • Hi

          Catalin a decent brand, they do hand rolled shells, Balboa controls, and clamped pressure lines, the insulation is a buit under sprayed and the stay away from wood cabinets but certainly not a nightmare spa.

          I really do not know much about them other than what i got from the net.

  179. Posting for the third time.

    Hi Chris. Truly a massive thank you for all the info you provide for us spa shoppers—as we all have encountered that the spa business is a very opaque industry, by design.

    Just would like to make sure for all your readers and commenters that you’re not being compensated and/or paid in any way by any spa manufacturer/ spa brand/ spa affiliate (either by your recommendations of any spa brand and/or spa line, nor being paid by any spa manufacturer for hosting of this site, etc) .

    Please don’t consider this a personal attack or take it the wrong way, but I feel that integrity and neutrality is paramount to Hot Tub University, and that it remains a truly independent source for all things hot tub/ spa related information. Please confirm.

    Thank you again for all your work—happy holidays!
    kbulo

    • I do not make a cent from this site, nor do I receive and backing or payment in any way shape of form from any manufacturers.

      Funny enough one of my conundrums is how to monetise the site to pay me for the work without eroding the authenticity of the site.

      It all started out of anger and frustration at the industry and it’s now become a bit of a monster. we are getting 13,000 hits a month.

      We keep getting approached by manufacturers wanting to buy leads etc but so far we have not monetized the site in anyway.

      • We were considering Maax and Sundance until we started reading your website. It appears Artesian, Master and Marquis are the three brands which meet your standards for quality construction. We live in Spokane, WA, it has been -4 degrees the last few mornings. We are looking for a small to medium tub for the three of us with a good lounge seat with jets for hydrotherapy. It does not appear that we have an artesian dealer. Any dealers you would recommend in the Spokane area? Any other brands we should be considering?

        • Wow Spokane seems to have a dearth of good brands, I hunted around and can’t say I’m big fan of any of the brands.

          There are however a few service companies that do all brands and the guy at Gries Enterprises seemed to know his stuff… what specifications are you looking for size wise and feature wise?

        • Mike,
          With further research, we have found a Marquis dealer in Spokane. We ar looking at the e-series as being a good compromise for cost and quality. We don’t really need all the featur w of the signature series and the e series better suites our price range. Any thought or consideration on the e series?

          Thanks, Kim N

    • I came across your site and I appreciate all the good info. I’m sold on the Master Spa now, but can’t find a dealer who sales them. I live in Wilmington, NC. Is there one anywhere near me?

  180. Hello, Thanks for all of the great info. I am considering a spa purchase and have been told about a manufacturer from St Petersburg Florida (I am in St Augustine FL) called Premium Leisure. I am looking at the Leisure’s EDGE Model LE 850. What are your thoughts about their spas and customer service?

    • The only exposure I have had is here where a local guy dumped a pile of them and then ran off to another city.

      We have service quite a few and the biggest issue we have had is leaks and the fact that there is almost no insulation in them at all which might not be an issue in Florida!

  181. I have two dealers in near me that sell Artesian – one Sells them under the name “Tropic Seas”, the other dealer offers the other Artesian lines. Do you know if there is a difference in these regarding how they are built? The Tropic Seas Tahiti is less than the Isle Margarita. Tropic Seas dealer claims they are the same tub, but that he gets better pricing from buyer group he is in.

    Do you think the price difference is really just purchasing power, or is there a different quality level with the tubs.

  182. Thank you so much for dilligently sharing your information, it has been a great help. My husband and I are looking into our first spa. We are in Michigan and wanting something that will hold up well in the weather, energy efficient, 4-5people, and good for relaxing. We are in our 20s so we don’t feel the need for anything overly therapeutic. We have a ThermoSpas tech coming out to our house next week to meet with us and give their pitch. I would like to hear your opinion on their products. One thing I’m interested in is their 10 year warranty, the sales guy didn’t get into much detail over the phone but I’m intregued.

    • Thermo spas is not a brand I would personally sell or recommend.

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

  183. Couple of questions, but first some background information.We live in Chehalis Wa and are in the market for a hot tub.

    I’ve been doing a bunch of research online, but the problem i’m seeing is that all the “review” sites are essentially marketing sites for various companies. What I really want is information from people that dont have a finanical incentive to back one brand over the other.

    There is a lot of in depth information on this site, but from your own comments it sounds like you own a hot tub store, so you have some skin in the game when it comes to promoting one brand over another. The last thing I want to do is get advice from a salesman. The site says that you dont accept paid endorsements, but that doesn’t mean you wont personally benefit from advocating for brands that you sell. Would you mind disclosing your relationships with the varios hot tub manufacturers?

    Now that I have that out of the way I think my options for my location are fairly limited. There is a Jacuzzi / Sundance dealer, a Hot Springs dealer (which you have expressed contemp for numerous times) and a spadepot which based on their prices seem to be budget tubs.

    I have visited the Jacuzzi dealer and the Hot Springs dealer between the two I was leaning towards Hot Springs, but the information here has given me pause. I plan on spending 10k+, so I really dont want to get burned. The Hot Springs model that intrigued me most was the Envoy as it seemed to be the most focused on hyrdo / massage therapy.

    I appreciate any and all insight that you can give me in this endeavor.

    Matt Dowling

    • Hi Matt

      I do own a small shop out in the middle of rural nowhere but you have to understand that I sell the line of spas I do because of the information I have not the other way around 🙂

      I could carry any brand I wanted, I do almost two million in sales out fo my back yard…

      The performance of the Hot springs is not bad but for me the lack of access to the sides of the spa and the component list make it a no go… they have had epic issues with the pack, we only had about 20 spas in this area from a dealer that went bust and we literally did heater relay boards on all of them and the spa side controllers simply were not even worth replacing as they just failed again and again.

      We had a few with leaks and there was no way at all to get to the leaks, it was brutal… the leaks ended up costing so much to fix through labor time that one customer literally cut the tub in half and threw it out. I think they are the best marketing game in town but would never even consider them as a line I would carry.

      The reality is that most retailers are not hot tub experts they are brand experts… in other words, they have learned a pitch for a brand, trusted and believed it and are regurgitating the pitch to you often with 100% genuine belief that they are doing good. But this does not mean they are experts in the industry or really even know the intracies of the product they just know thge pitch for the brand they sell.

  184. I am looking at a Marquis Vector21 hot tub. The price of $7500 Can seems reasonable The problem is I cannot see or wet test this tub as it is wrapped in the warehouse. This will be the third tub I have bought and like the features but I am leary buying without seeing it ect. Any thoughts? Thanks in advance

  185. Hi I am looking to buy a Marquis Vector 21 Hot tub. The price seems OK$8500 CAN . The problem is there is none in the area except in the warehouse which is wrapped so I cannot see it or wet test it..This is my 3rd tub purchase so have an idea what I am looking for. Should I consider it or keep looking. Thanks in advance

    • Hi

      While i love the build and parts and manufacturing techniques of the line I have never been in one and can’t really comment on the performance aspects.

      I find that to really get great massage out of a tub i need a lot of the high flow large jets and the ability to put a whole pump into the main seat with a diverter valve.

  186. Hi, thanks again for your help! The dealer of Artesian in my area (I live in Saint Louis MO) is Prestige Pool and Spa.

    My only remaining concern now is value. We have not owned a hot tub, and the Artesian one we liked was $8,500, new.

    There are two used models on Craigslist. One is a 10 year, but appears to be very nice condition Sundance: http://stlouis.craigslist.org/for/5915176539.html

    The other just hit today, a free Hot Springs…http://stlouis.craigslist.org/zip/5918434343.html

    Thanks for everything!

    Carl

    • Used spas are always a risk, its like a used car.

      Frankly I would get a service tech out and pay him to give it a once over.

      I’m not a fan of either of those brands, big marketing companies with a second rate parts list you can only get through them… Loads of places won’t even service them as they are a nightmare to work on and to get parts for.

  187. Hi. Thanks so much for all of the information you provide. Choosing the right hot tub is not an easy decision. I read in your posts that you feel that Cal Spas is OK, nothing spectacular and I know that you prefer Masters, Marquis and Artesan to other brands. However, do you have any thoughts about Cove spas or Coleman hot tubs? Thank so much!

    • I’m not real familiar with this spa but I’m pretty sure it’s a Cal spa private labeled. or it used to be anyway.

      Good Balboa control system but the 2014 model I saw had virtually no insulation, It’s certainly not what I would call a high-end spa.

      TBH I really don’t know that much about it but if its a Cal spa then its mid at best

  188. What is a good price for the Artesian Island Grand Bahama Spa?
    What options should I do with and without?

  189. Can you provide your thoughts on Four Winds Caribbean III model?

    • I’m between on this one. the performance is good and the parts are good and the insulation is good.

      There have been a lot fo shell failures and although they do support it well the fact remains that the shell seems inadequate.

  190. Hi! Your site is really great, and much appreciated!!!! We are narrowing down to two lines of hot tubs. One is MAXX industries Vita. The other is Artesian Spas – Island or Island Elite. Do you have an opinion on these two?

    Thanks!

    Carl

  191. Thanks for the great info. Can you recommend a dealer in the Reno Nevada area?

    • The best brand in your area far and away is the Catalina, the rest are great marketing, mid and low-grade spas.

      Give me an idea of what you are looking for and let me see what I can do…

  192. I have just purchased a used LA Spa Model Madeira 2010. I think I received a good deal. I paid 5200$ I wish I would have found your site before I purchased it this gentleman was very informative and extremely nice. I see a lot of reviews on other companies it not on this one. Do you mind giving me your thoughts on this product? Thanks.

    • not sure about the shell and the plumbing but the insulation is mid grade at best, fine for LA but for colder climates it’s substandard, the control is an unknown… and again who knows in 2010 it might have been a whole different ball game.

  193. Thank you for your recommendation on repairing our Marquis spa. I was also interested in your opinion on the Clearwater hot tubs.

  194. while negotiating with my master spa dealer he mentioned that they have switched the foam they use to versi foam. Is this a downgrade? Also my dealer had been closed during the spa slow season and has been closed for a month delaying my purchase. I find this a “bad sign” to be closed during this cold season when having no service could mean a frozen tub. Considering a dimension one spa because their dealer services all brands of tubs and is the only guy I have seen in my area regularly. I have read ALL your posts and although you mention d1 spas you have not mentioned in what areas they are inferior to the master. I’m still leaning to the Master spa TS 7 after reading your posts. I am competent in board repair and plumbing And took care of my Master spa exeter 2 for 18 years so service isn’t the deciding factor.
    Oh and thanks for you brilliant and easy way to level my next tub you offered in my first post. I have learned much from you Thanks again spa MASTER.

  195. Thank you for your website, it has been very informative. We have an older Marquis spa, guessing 10 years +, it was here when we moved in. It needs a new circulation pump and a cover, estimated cost about $800. We are also looking at used 2007 Clearwater 9100 with 3 pumps and numerous jets from a reputable dealer for $3000. I did not see anything about Clearwater spas in the comments on your site. Do you have an opinion about them and do you think we would be better off repairing or replacing our current Marquis spa.

  196. About to purchase MasterSpa twilight 7.25 My house roof overhangs a large cement slab which is where we wish to place the tub. It was poured with a 3 inch in 84 inch slope to drain rainwater. Tried to have it professionally raised but 4×4’s which support the roof sit on this slab with a footing 6 feet deep and 3.5 feet wide. this was all poured as a single unit and can not be safely raised. What can be done to level the area? Thinking about pouring a slab on top of the existing slab to level the area. Would this work? Are there any easier or simplier way to eliminate this problem?

    • Cheap and cheerful would be to put crusher dust down level the area and set the spa in place. Then clean around the edges and fit dress pieces of wood along the bottom (like a baseboard) to keep the crusher in and hide the fact that it’s a false bottom… You could eithe use a construction adhesive or screw it to the base. done right it is invisible and will last forever.

      Certainly you could repour concrete but you need to go around 2″ (depending on the PSI of the concrete) to get a good adherence and tie it in by drilling into the existing base and epoxy small rebar spikes in.

  197. MasterSpa appears to be the top of line for the following reasons:
    1) Balboa and Waterway parts
    2) self supporting hand-rolled fiberglass shell with vinyl ester resin coating
    3) pressure line joints on jets are glued and hand clamped
    4) us motor
    5) UV Masterpure filtration system

    The problem for me is the dealer for this tub is a good drive away. There is an artesian and caldera dealer close by. Questions for you:
    1) You’re comments above seem to think Artesian is a good tub, but I’d like to know what features we’d be giving up when compared to the MasterSpa.
    2) Why do you seem to dislike the Caldera. When I sat in the Caldera, the seats seem much more comfortable and roomy than the Artesian. What feature would I be most worried about with this tub.

    I have had an LA Spa for years but it started leaking and we’ve never been able to successfully stop the leak so we are looking to buy a new tub. I don’t want to run into the same problem.

    • One more thing to add, my biggest features that I’m looking for in a tub is a massage features for use by me and my spouse and large enough to accommodate a family of 5 (three teenages) or the teenages with several friends. This is tub is mult-purpose: family gathering place, and entertainment center, and a relaxing get-away.

    • Hi.

      I like all brands for the same reasons.

      This is the critical first list, if you don’t pass this list then there is no point talking about the rest because this is the stuff that is critical for a good well-built spa. If they are building a good shell, gluing and clamping the pressure lines, using Icynene expanded foam 6 inches or more, and using top components then they pass the first tier.

      Then I like to see good access preferably fully removable sides, integrated pumps under the skirt not outside of the spa, and nice open area with a good sized foot well.

      Then for me personally I want a good load of the large hi flow therapy massge jets and the ability to divert a 5 or 6 hp pump into my massage chair, I also love the big 10 or 12″ foot jets but again they have to have the ability to divert a whole pump onto them, but this is only because for me it is all about the therapy massage…

      I like artesian and Marquis because they meet the first critical list, I love master because they meet both the critical list and the secondary list and the Twilight spas performance is insane and again this is where it changes from being a build quality to a personal requirement of the therapy massage aspect.

      I would never buy or sell or service Caldera for the same reason, they fail miserably on my critical list… So really after that nothing else matter because they can’t meet the basic requirements.

      And forget sitting in them empty, it’s a sales tactic. It creates an ownership bond with the customer once you take your shoes off and sit in it you feel attached to it. Psychologically it is a powerful sales tool… Plus sitting in an empty tubs a bit of a gimmick, the comfort and things you feel in a dry tub go away when we fill it up and you are floating :-)… If you are going to test it dry ignore the comfort and just pay attention to footwell size and neck jet alignment and general fit for your body type.

      • We just started our search for a hot tub. We are looking for one that eases our arthritic pain and back pain, is energy efficient and deep enough to accommodate a 6 foot man. We have been looking at Bullfrogs which have the removable jets and less hoses and unique features but they are pricy. We don’t want a party tub just therapy. What would you suggest? The information on hot tubs is overwhelming! Are we missing a comparable hot tub?

        • 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…

      • We looked at a Marquis Broadway today and really liked it especially the price it was a new 2015 model with msrp of $8284 on sale for $5190. We are looking for therapy for back problems and arthritic knees. We live in middle GA would this be a good tub for us?

        • Depends on what you want. when you say therapy it covers a wide reach.

          Hydrotherapy has a few sides to it the hot water part is a big part of it and provides most of the medical benefits.

          Massage therapy is another aspect that is important to people.

          This tub is a simply jetted spa so the Hydrotherapy is fine but it is an entry level massage therapy spa. That’s why the price is what it is… If you have a Master dealer in the area try and look for the legacy 730L or the which has it’s a little bigger and has slightly better jetting and should be in around the same price. You might even be able to get into a twin pump Legacy Inspire for not much more and it is a higher end therapy massage spa. … ,

  198. Let me just say thank you for this site! First off, you saved me from wasting six grand on a Sam’s club tub. Second, after reading everything on your site and watching all of your videos, I purchased a master twilight 8.2. OMG, I absolutely love this spa! I cannot imagine purchasing anything that I would have been any more happy with. Thanks again!

  199. Do you know anything about Sunrise Spas made in Grimsby, Ontario. Looking at the Essence.

    • Sunrise is a small regional manufacturer and while I would love to support a local guy these smaller outfits can’t really afford to compete and to innovate so you usually find some things that might not be the best.

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

    • Thank you for your reply. We are now looking at the Beachcomber 578 series and being told that the Hybrid makes up for more than 95% of sales. It is also more efficient than the LEEP models because of the hush pump which keeps the water circulating. You mentioned the Hybrid is “bad science, good marketing spin.” could you elaborate please?

      • Thank you for your advice. We were seriously looking at the Beachcomber 590 but finally got a chance to look at Master Spas. We settled on the Clarity Precision 7 based on space limitations on our deck and budget. Couldn’t believe the amount of room in the foot well and overall layout inside!! They also had the Legacy Series but didn’t have the same amount of room in the foot well due to the configuration of the seating. We weren’t interested in the lounge option.

  200. So glad I found this website. We are buying a hot tub for a rental property in small town in which there are 3 dealers. Was hoping to find a 5 person tub for under $7,500. The options are (1) a used Sundance Optima for about $6,500 from a dealer who says Sundance is the best company and he will give us a 2 year parts and labor warranty; (2) a new Dynasty Spa Passport series (L742) for $6,600 which carries a 5 year warrant (2.5 for parts and labor and the last 2.5 years for just parts) or (3) a new Hot Spring Rhythm spa for $5,995 that includes a 2 year parts and labor warranty. The Hot spring has 2 pumps but they are “1.5 HP Continuous Duty and 3.2 HP breakdown torque” – not really sure what that means. Curious to know what you would recommend out of those. Thanks so much

    • I’m not a big fan of any of these brands. Sundance and Hot Springs have a goofy parts list that they have made for them, it’s all non-compliant parts and they do it to trap you into buying everything from them. There are much more reliable better quaity parts available on the market. When a manufacturer does this it is not to have a better quality or a better part, they do it to cut costs and to ensure repeat sales at whatever price they decide… I would never put myself in the position of having only one source to buy parts…

      Dynasty has a perimeter insualtion system and the ones they dumped in this market at one of thier dump and run shows we have had a lot of service issues. Lots of leaks and a fair bit of trouble with the gecko control systems.

      where do you live?

  201. I am looking for a 2 person spa. Armrests are an important feature. I’m looking at the Sundance Capri, Tropic Seas Lanai, and Strong Monaco. Any thoughts?

    • Hi Jeff

      First off armrests might not be as important for you as you think and here is why… We are dry land creatures, and hence we use dryland experience and thinking when making our judgment on what is important. I have bad shoulders and knees, armrests are awesome except when I get in a hot tub you are floating, and your arms are too 🙂 Your arms weigh almost nothing in a hot tub, and you can’t even keep them on the armrests unless you apply energy to do so 🙂

      I am also not a big fan of the brands you mention see the youtube video on the strong hot tub they are sold at Costco. https://youtu.be/vVpuTxjXq2o

      The Sundance has good insulation and a good shell, but the parts list are all no name bespoke stuff. It is hard to source these off-brand parts and there are better control systems out there for sure. Also the jetting is pretty pedestrian there are about four hi flow therapy massage jets and the rest are the cheap $10 bullet jets.

      Tell me is the Massage a big issue? Are you looking for high-end therapy or just some decent jetting?

      • We live in rural area, northern WI, and only dealer w/in 50 miles is VitaSpa. They claim the new thinsulate with copper is much better than prior mylar, and is especially effective in cold climate. Thoughts? What about overall impression of VitaSpa? And we are interested in the Ozone add-on ($500). The prices seem high for brand but no competition so… (500 series which is mid-upper models around 6,000-9,000 but does have 3 year full warranty). The only other thing we were thinking may be an option are wood cedar tubs that will deliver to our area that come in around those same prices depending on size, options, etc… Appreciate your advice.

        • I am dubious.

          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/

      • Thank you for the response.
        Massage is not a big issue, just decent jetting will be ok. Often times I don’t run the jets at all, and I don’t use the tub during warm weather months. Subsequent research revealed that the Tropic Seas is actually manufactured by Artesian, similar to their Santa Cruz model. I have already ruled out the Strong and the Sundance seems pricey relatively speaking.
        I have owned a MasterSpa Legend 700 for a little over ten years and it is fine. But we are moving and I am the only one that uses the spa anymore, hence the downsizing. I do wish the Master had armrests, I guess this is just a personal preference.
        Does knowing that Tropic Seas is manufactured by Artesian have any impact on your opinion?
        Thank you again, this is the most helpful and informative site I’ve found and it seems like I’ve visited enough to last a lifetime.

  202. I have been looking at hot tubs and was wondering if you had any experience with signature spas? Thanks

    • Hi, I’m sorry, but I am not familiar with them. I see the use the Balboa control system, and that is a big plus, It is our number one rated system. Can’t find information on the plumbing or the insulation, watch the videos ask the questions.

  203. Your website is awesome and I appreciate that you answer fast. I agree with someone that mentioned you should charge for your services. I really appreciate your site, thank you! I am looking at a 3 year old Cal Spa, I live in a colder climate (Nebraska). Even though it is 3 years old, it was only used for 2 years. Is Cal spa a decent spa with the better insulation that doesn’t get hard like you mentioned? I guess it is called the Icynene. Also, I was told that the circulation doesn’t run all the time like the Hot Springs or the Caldera so I wasn’t sure. I was told it only needs to be on a 50amp instead of the 20 and 30 amp separate breakers which if you have a power outage in the winter, that could be a problem. Next question, what do you think of Waters Choice products? I understand they are also an enzyme as I dont do well with chlorine. Thanks for your time.

    • The Cal spa is a decent all round spa I don’t have any big issues with it. We service a pile of them out here and they perform well.

      The 50 amp system is fine, the 20-30 amp thing is a gimmick if the power is pout it is out and if you are running a generator just hang a 40-watt lightbulb in the equipment area making sure it is safe and not too close to anything and you are good to go.

      There are loads of different chemical systems available for your hot tub, and finding the one that suits you best is key to Hot Tub Happiness.

      1. High Chemical, Low cost.
      This system can be either Chlorine or Bromine and is marketed in a lot of confusing ways, Like Beachcombers Bromo blast, or Lithium. It simply uses high chlorine or Bromine levels (around 3-5 ppm) to kill anything in the water. It is reliable and relatively inexpensive, but it is harsh on skin, high Chemical smell, and requires quarterly draining of the water.

      2. Low Chemical, Low to Mid cost.
      Enzymes like Spa marvel, or Spa Perfect natural seaweed and many others fall into this class and having tried most of them the Spa Marvel is far and away the best of the enzyme group. It allows you to go to 1-2 ppm of chemicals and is mild on the skin, low odor and allows you to go 8 to 10 months between water changes.

      3. Super Low chemical, expensive.

      Mineral salt sanitizes like Aquafiness and Mineralux, and are simply amazing. and of them all Aquafinesse is far and away the leader, it is actually used in hospitals in Holland to treat eczema on new born babies! It allow you to go to drinking water levels (around 1ppm) of chlorine, it is mild and actively help your skin by replacing natural minerals into the epidural layer. It also can keep your water great for up to a year!

  204. I’m thinking of buying a hot tub and have narrowed it down to for that I like. The four are Beachcombers 578(not hybrid), hydropool 695, Coast Spa, and a Northwind Spa. What company would you recommmend? I like the beachcomber the most but they are pricey and I’m not sure why it is so much better. Any help on making the right choice would be great.

    I live in Ontario, Canada

  205. I’m In the market for buying a hot tub,and almost closed the deal on the Hydropool 695.
    The sales guy was saying it’s the most efficient spa on the market, as they left space between the insulation and structure to allow the residual heat from the motor to actually circulate around the spa.
    Is hydropool one of the best as the sales guy explained and is the concept hydropool is using actually work.

    Also was looking at a Northwind Spa (coast spa) what are your opinions on this brand

    • Do not like the Hydropool at all… loads of old tech re branded as new and reflective foil insulation??? forget it read this… http://www.hottubuniversity.com/reflective-mylar-insualtion-systems/

      a lot of times manufacturers will keep an outdated system because the cost to update is too high and 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” Hydropool has 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. Its 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…

      The next bit of misleading craziness is that they say that it is 100% filtration! This is just using a buzzword to fool you… How all filter systems really work is the water goes through a filter which cleans all the debris out of the water, then that water gets dumped back into the tub so right away it gets mixed into the unfiltered water… over time more and more water is filtered and after a few hours there is no debris left. The only way to really have 100% filtration is to pump the water through a filter into another container, then once it is all filtered you can put it back into the hot tub… This is simply dishonesty and they should not be claiming it is 100% filtration it is marketing Spin all of it… It is a cheap outdated filter system with a nice pretty bow on it…

      The next issue is a big one, the whole “self cleaning” pitch. Again when I was selling spas in the 90’s statewood and most of the industry had floor suctions that claimed to clean the debris out from the floor and “self clean”

      The two reasons they still use this tech are: First, you have to re tool each shell mould to accommodate the new filter technology and get rid of the old floor suctions and that’s $10,000 + per model! Second because it is so old and no one uses it you can re-market it as “new” and claim a benefit 🙂

      The reality is those “self cleaning” floor suctions real didn’t do much! The truth is any debris small enough to get sucked into the floor suction typically was floating around in the water and caught by the filter system and anything heavy enough to actually sit in the floor is too big to go through the floor suction! Modern system have so many jets and so much water movement and are using floor jets to stir the floor so that the debris never settles in the floor. The other reason why 95% of the industry has abandoned floor suctions 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 mens 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.

      The insulation system is the cheapest I have ever seen, all you have to do is a little bit of research on mylar and reflective installations and you’ll see that there’s just nothing good about these reflective insulation systems except that they are lightweight thin and flexible so if you need to wrap an astronaut in a suit obviously you can’t put spray foam on him so this stuff is the only option and even then they use thermal fiber barriers for insulation mass. On a hot tub where you have all kinds of space it makes zero sense to use this cheap low r-value product except it is cheap to put in. There was all kinds of crazy hype in the 90’s with these systems in the building industry. Since then most governments in the northern US states and in Canada have either banned it as a primary insulation or put out official warnings with the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Authority going so far as to state that it was the worst insulation they had tested! The reality is Mylar has an r-value of about 1 where an inch of expanded form is an R4 or 5.

      On the plus side they did however clamp the joints on the pressure lines which is good and the component list is Balboa and Waterways which is great!

      There is just too much wrong with the construction and insulation on this tub to take it seriously, despite a great marketing campaign the reality is it is poor, outdated technology re branded as new and it should not be given any serious consideration.

  206. What are your thoughts on a California Cooperage Spa? Here is what we know.
    This is a brand owned by MAXX. The model we are looking at is a 380. It has a good seating configuration for us.

    It has two pumps, Balboa, 45 jets
    Wood frame
    CopperLined BlueMAAX GREEN insulation

    The one on the floor has some upgrades:

    Stainless Steel Jets – this is good right?
    Blower with 10 air injectors
    Neck Relief station – which is apparently unique to MAXX branded spas.

    • Hi and thank you for the education, never knew what that brand was 🙂

      Stainless steel jets are a bit misleading… its the same plastic jet with a stainless steel face crimped on… more important is the brand… Waterways makes great jets, Rising Dragon makes cheap jets and there is a bunch in the middle.

      Bluemax looks like a combo reflective and insulation mass.. reflective insulation in this application is not very effective read this: http://www.hottubuniversity.com/reflective-mylar-insualtion-systems/ You really want a good icynene foam insulation system if you can find it.

      Air blowers are a joke, not seen them on spas in a long time and usually only on the cheap mass merchant spas… see the video on the Costco tub, basically this uses a similar insulation system and the video explains the air blower too.

  207. Brent Dorenbecker

    First, Thanks for all the great information! It is so important really understand the difference in the products and where potential issues might cause problems down the road or shortcuts in quality and performance. I tried to search your site regarding Dr Wellness Hot Tubs- TRANQUILITY SERIES — but I didn’t see any comments regarding that brand. One of the things I found was a website that is supposedly independent reviewing all brands (http://poolandsparatings.com). They seem to have good reviews but I don’t believe everything on a website. Do you have and experience or knowledge of this brand and if so what are your thoughts?

    • Hi I really don’t know about this brand, I have seen that site and it seems a bit basic for instance they judge the insulation value by the KW that the spa draws and likely they take this data from CEC energy data which is inherently flawed for a few good reasons including the fact that the tests were performed at 60 degrees F which means it really tells you more about the amperage of the filtration pump than it does about the heat loss 🙂

  208. Hello, thank you so much for this excellent site!!!! I contacted our local Master Spa dealer and the Twilight 8.2 is out of our budget. He suggested instead the Legacy Series by Whirlpool, which he says is built by Master Spa and is the exact same construction. Could this be true? Thank you for your help!

    • The Legacy is built by Master and from the standpoint of construction it is a great tub. Frankly the legacy limited editions are probably one of the best value for the money tubs out there right now, good open seating and good jetting.

      The big difference is the massage jetting that is where the Twilight really stands out but keep in mind there are very few spas in the world that can come even close to the performance and jetting of a twilight. the legacy is similar to most top of the line jet packages.

  209. My wife and I are just starting to look for a good quality hot tub. Our research brought us to your site. First and foremost thanks for some great insight. We live in PA near Philadelphia. Any recommendations on local dealers? We looked at one dealers inventory today and they were pushing both Viking and Cal Spas. They are a dealer for Artesian but didn’t have any models and the rep didn’t mention them either. Also, do you think buying a floor model is a bad idea? We thought we might be able to find a good cost savings on a top quality tub.