An outdoor spa isn’t exactly a weekly purchase. If anything, it’ll likely be a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence. Because of this, many shoppers are caught like deer in the headlights when shopping for their perfect tub. What do you look for? How much should you pay? Do you ask for a test soak?
Let’s clear these muddied spa waters a little. Below are seven things you should be thinking about when shopping for the perfect outdoor spa.
How and Where Will You Install Your Spa?
Before you so much as glance at an outdoor spa catalogue, you should have a good idea of where you’d like to put your spa, and how difficult it might be to install. If you’re hoping to position it somewhere that may need the help of a crane – on a balcony, or in a pokey alcove of your backyard – your installation costs could skyrocket.
While many people might be concerned about the weight of their water-filled spa and the subsequent effect on their flooring, this is never really a concern. Due to its weight distribution, your spa will generally put less stress on your floor than a 200 litre fish tank!
Spa, Hot Tub, Jacuzzi or Whirlpool: What’s the Difference?
There are a range of names that people use to refer to spas. Essentially the word ‘spa’ is the over-arching term; a word for a jetted, heated tub of water. Hot tubs, popular in Scandinavia and North America, are the same thing made out of wood, usually with a basic plastic liner inside (non-contoured). A whirlpool does what is says on the packet, pushing the water around in a circular motion. And finally, Jacuzzi is simply a brand that is so recognised that it has became a by-word for spa, much like Hoover has for vacuum cleaners.
Portable, In-Ground or Self-Contained?
This question will simply boil down to how much work/time/money you’re willing to spend. A portable spa has minimal installation costs, and can be taken with you if you ever choose to move, but an in-ground or self-contained spa will add to the value of your home, and will cost less when it comes to upkeep.
A Choice of Jets
There may be a tendency to think ‘the more jets, the better the spa’, but the truth is that many of the highest end spas stick to a simple 8 to 12 jet setup; too many jets can be overwhelming.
When it comes to jet choice, variety is the spice of life. Some bathers will prefer an aggressive massage, others will rather a soft and bubbly experience. So long as you’ve got a good variety positioned around the tub, everyone will be happy. Adjustable jets are an excellent option.
The Ongoing Costs
Once installed, the maintenance costs will centre around spa power consumption. Depending on your choice of spa you may need to decide on whether you’d rather an electric or a gas heater. As a very general rule, electric heaters are cheaper to buy but more expensive to run than their gas counterparts.
A common answer to the question of how much a spa costs to run is ‘a dollar a day’. It must be remembered, however, that this figure can vary wildly depending on your spa choice.
Your Spa Shopping Checklist
So, what else should be on your checklist when shopping for your outdoor spa? Here are a few ideas:
● How loud are the pump and jets?
● How much maintenance will the water require?
● Which parts have a limited lifespan?
● What is the warranty?
● How reputable is the retailer?
● What is the cost for installation?
There’s really no such thing as a bad spa choice, but some will be better than others. But as long as you do your homework, and make a considered, informed decision, you’ll be enjoying the fruits of your spa shopping labour for years to come.