Top positive review
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My Detailed Review & Recommendations
on November 19, 2015
I’ve owned the hot tub for about a month now and can make some comments and recommendations others might find useful.
1. Setup is fairly easily and straightforward. Another reviewer commented that the directions are terrible, but I don’t think they are. It took about 30 minutes to get everything setup and ready to inflate, then another 10 to inflate it. I don't think the manual mentions it, but place the "insulation blanket" (which is essentially a sheet of heavy duty bubble wrap) with the bubble side face down under the hot tub (and obviously before you put water in it). This will prevent rain, snow & crud from building up in the little voids between the bubbles.
2. As another reviewer pointed out, you can buy a connection for an indoor faucet that connects to a garden house (I got one at Home Depot for $7) and allows you to fill it with warm water. This is a big time saver in that you don’t have to wait for the cold water taken from an outdoor spigot to warm up, especially if you’re chomping at the bit to use your new hot tub. According to the specs, the tub holds 254 gallons at 80% filled. There are two lines drawn on the interior wall – “min” and “max”. I believe the 80% line is the “min” line. I filled mine from my kitchen sink in approximately 4 hours. The flow rate from my sink (measured using a 5 gallon bucket and a stopwatch) was about 1 gallon/minute. I have fairly weak water pressure so others may be able to fill up faster.
3. If you don’t fill the tub using warm water, you will have to wait until the tub reaches the temperature you want. The tub can heat the water approximately 2 deg per hour. So, if you used 50 deg water from your outdoor faucet, and you want the tub at 100 deg, you have to wait 25 hours.
4. WEIGHT: Do NOT put this on your outdoor deck unless it was designed for it. It might not look like it, but a filled hot tub is incredibly heavy. Water weighs about 8.3 lb per gallon, so at 80% fill height this hot tub will weigh about 2110 lb not including the people that get in it. The specs say the “filled weight” is 2701 lb but this probably incorporates four average people and is a useful design number. Most outdoor decks are built to about 50 lb/ft^2. You probably need a deck built to 100 lb/ft^2 to hold this or any other hot tub.
5. The tub can hold four average size people.
6. ENERGY: As an engineer, I’m obsessed with how things are built and use energy. I measured the current draw when it’s operating. There are essentially four modes of operation: (1) circulating pump ON with heater ON (2) circulating pump ON with heater OFF (3) air pump ON (produced bubbles) (4) everything OFF. When I say “circulating pump” I’m referring to the pump that circulates water through the filters and through the heater. The bubbles are created by an air pump that pulls in outside air (which can be cold!) and out the little holes in the bottom of the tub. Note you can’t run the heater with the bubbles on as it shuts off automatically. When the pump and heater are ON, it pulls about 1250 watts (1.25 kW). When just the air pump is on producing bubbles, it pulls about 650 watts. Therefore, if you have the temperature set at its max of 104 deg, you may find it running all the time with the heater on. As a conservative example of cost, at 15 cents per kilowatt-hour, you’re looking at it costing $4.50 per day (24 hours x 1.25 kW x 15 cents), or $135 per month. The temperature setting is everything and I would suggest keeping it at 100 deg all the time (particularly if you live in a cold climate like I do) and if you know you’re going to use it later, crank it up to 104. It will take a couple of hours to reach that. When you’re done, set it back to 100 deg. Another reviewed mentioned it only cost them about $20 month. I’m not sure how that was possible, but maybe. I’m expecting mine to cost about $100 per month in electricity.
7. ENERGY TIP: Putting some kind of blanket over it during the day will vastly reduce the amount of heat loss. I stitched together two moving blankets and have been laying them over the hot tub inflatable cover when I’m not using it. I need to figure out how to put the blankets in some sort of waterproof wrapping so they can be out there in the rain and snow. Another suggestion is to find some sort of insulation (preferably waterproof) below the hot tub. The supplied “bubble wrap” liner they give you to put under it probably isn’t sufficient. Mine sits on my deck (yes, I designed my deck to support a hot tub weight) and the cold air from below is obviously sucking out some heat. This is similar to the effect on bridges where they freeze before the roads do since their underbelly is exposed and cool off faster.
8. Bubbles cool the water off fairly quickly. As mentioned it pulls in cold outside air and pumps it up through the nice warm water. It’s not ridiculously fast however, just something to keep in mind. I would estimate it cooled off from 104 deg to 100 deg in 15 minutes or so where the outside air temp was about 45 deg.
9. SOUND: It's very quiet when just the circulator pump and heater are running, like a low frequency hum. When the air pump is running it's about as loud an average vacuum cleaner. It's really not bad at all and you can have normal conversations sitting in the tub.
10. Educate yourself on the chemicals by reading about them online or going to a pool/hot tub store and speaking with someone who knows what they are talking about. After reading about them online, I went with Bromine tabs (over Chlorine). I bought some pH increaser, pH decreaser and some "Shock". And don't forget the pH testers (that also test for a number of other things). The chemicals will set you back $60-$100. Having the right pH, Bromine level, Alkalinity, etc. is imperative to keeping the water useable.
11. The filters clog up pretty quickly, so I would order a bunch of them just to have. Some people have said they wash theirs in the dishwasher. I have only rinsed my in the sink so far, but make sure you rinse them often. I’m not a chemist, so correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe the chemicals that are added to the water work to (among other things) bind up oils. Remember, you’re essentially sitting in reusable bath water. The filters look like they get filled with a light brown sludge that must be the stuff its binded up. Keeping the filters clean is essential to keeping the tub clean and having the heat pump work effectively.
12. TIP: make sure you take a shower, and ask your guests to take a shower if possible before they get in your tub. Also, rinse your bathing suit with fresh water before you get in as detergent is usually still in the fabric and will go right in the hot tub. Eventually, you’ll see lots of detergent bubbles on the surface.
13. You don’t need a chair or cushion for the inside. When I was contemplating purchasing it, I wondered how people sat in it since there obviously weren’t built-in chairs like a real hot tub would have. The floor is cushioned enough that it is very comfortable. You CAN buy a cushion to sit on or even for your head, but you don’t NEED it. The water height is about 3’, so a normal size person (I’m 5’ 10”) can sit in it and put their rest their arms over the side.
14. ANNOYING FEATURE: This is the single complaint I have about the hot tub. The heater & pump shut off automatically after 72 hours. I assume this is a “safety” feature, although I don’t know how it makes it safer. Bottomline, you have to always check on it to make sure it’s still running. Otherwise you come home from work wanting to get in your nice warm hot tub and you find its 70 deg because you forgot to reset everything that morning and it shut off while you were at work. Super annoying! If anyone knows a hack for this, please let me know.
In summary, the tub works GREAT considering its inflatable and relatively inexpensive. I’d rate the tub 9.5/10 for value and only misses a perfect score because of the annoying feature described above.
Hope this helps!