The two most important first steps are making a decision as to which manufactured brand to own and which company to purchase from. It is strongly recommended to choose a brand and a retailer that is a trusted member of the International Hot Tub Association due to the stringent membership requirements that must be adhered to.
Choosing the Manufactured Brand:
- SAFETY STANDARDS: Make certain that the hot tub you are choosing meets the UL 1563 required safety standard as a completed factory built hot tub. Most Asian manufactured hot tubs and many domestic models do not meet this critical standard. Don’t be fooled by those that claim it is adequate to simply have individual components UL listed; it will not protect you if a problem arises.
- COMPONENTS: Research the quality of the most critical components which will determine the longevity of your spa along with the efficiency and ease of maintenance. Components to research are; Spa Shell, Internal Frame, Exterior Cabinet Material, Heater, Pumps, Blower (if desired), Type of Filtration System, Insulation, and Cover. The Spa Shell is the most critical component since all other components can be easily replaced if they should fail.
- COST OF OPERATION: Make certain the model you choose has met the industry energy standards. Most Asian manufactured hot tubs and many domestic models do not meet these requirements. The method and type of insulation, the quality of the cover, and type of energy saving components will assist in making your hot tubs energy efficient.
- EASE OF MAINTENANCE: A hot tub designed for easy maintenance will save you time and money. Today many manufacturers make available automatic purification systems that lessen the frequency and amount of chemicals required and minimize the frequency of draining and refilling your hot tub. Make certain where you install your hot tub that there is easy access to servicing the internal components, this will save you money in the future when and if your hot tub needs to be repaired.
- WARRANTY: The length of the warranty is not as important as the company that builds the hot tub and/or the company you are buying from. A good rule of thumb is to question whether these companies have been in business for at least the number of years they are providing for in the warranty.
Choosing the Best Company to Purchase From:
- LOCAL RETAILER: The benefit of buying from a local retailer is that you often can see the hot tub you are buying on display. Some retailers even make it available for you to test the hot tub before making a decision to purchase. The primary benefit of buying from a local dealer that specializes in hot tubs is they usually are knowledgeable in answering your questions and providing guidance on installation, usage, maintenance, and service. Important questions to ask:
- How long have they been in business and how long have they sold the brand you are interested in owning. Stay away from dealers that consistently change the brands they sell.
- Do they provide service throughout the entire year? Winter months could pose problems that need to be resolved without having to delay.
- Are they willing to come to your home to provide a site inspection?
- Did they answer your questions adequately?
- DIRECT FROM MANUFACTURER: The benefit of buying from the manufacturer is the assurance that they will be able to thoroughly answer questions about the product. And sometimes provide a more attractive price point. Important questions to ask:
- How long have they been in business?
- Is service and delivery available in your area?
- Are they a trusted member in good standing with the IHTA?
- MASS MERCHANT: A number of mass merchants have ventured into the hot tub industry encouraging some domestic manufacturers to develop less expensive products making pricing more attractive or to reach out to foreign manufacturer who currently build cheap products, making available less expensive price points for you. These products may not carry the same level of construction and could cause higher operating costs and more frequent service calls. Many mass merchants have a history of changing hot tub suppliers frequently making access to parts and service not as easy as working directly with the manufacturer or via an approved local dealer.
- INTERNET: Beware buying from the internet, especially if it is a company that has does not have a solid reputation and a member in good standing with the IHTA. Any company that does not provide you with a phone number that you can easily call or an address that can be visited should not be considered for buying a product like a hot tub that may require service and customer support. There have been many unfortunate stories of people providing deposits to these types (shadow) companies where there deposits were lost and the product was never received or the product arrived different than intended.