Please recommend a backyard hot tub

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Hi, I live in the north east and I am going to install a hot tub in my backyard. Please recommend a 3-4 person hot tub.
My primary concerns are: Durabaility: Alot of things can go wrong with a hot tub, I'd like to buy one that runs reliably with the least maintenance. Good insualtion: to keep monthly electrisity costs low.
Thanks!
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Little story:
"2nd happiest day of my life was the day I bought my boat. The happiest day of my life was the day I sold my boat."
"Boat" can be replaced with "Hot Tub" or "Pool Table".
I would buy an indoor Jacuzzi Bath Tub.
Hot tubs are a hassle to keep the water clean and balanced. Heating the water is another story.
I had a hot tub and sold it after 1 year. It had several problems but I learned that I don't want a stand alone hot tub. My "new" house (been here 6 years now) has a pool with a hot tub attached to the pool, and water maintenance is a breeze. It has to do with the volume of water. For some reason large volumes of water are much easier to keep clean and balanced. When the tub gets "dirty", for lack of a better word, I can dump the water into the pool and start fresh.
If you do get an electric HT make sure it's a 220 volt. A 110 volt will kill you with electric bills. If there is anyway you can get natural gas that is the way to go.
YMMV
od
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My experience has been exactly the opposite. I've had a hot tub/spa for 20+ years now and the experience has been excellent. The first 10 years, I had it inside. For the last 13, it's been located outside. In both cases, I found it very easy to maintain. I change the water about every 2-3 months. After the initial fill, I just keep the dissolving tabs in a floating dispenser and the water pretty much stays in the correct range.
I also have a jacuzzi tub in the house, which I never use. If I had a choice, I'd definitely go with the hot tub, as I think it's far more functional and you can share it.

While most spas are 240V and there are big advantages for going that way, saving on electric usage is not one of them. You are paying for power, and except for some tiny losses in the wiring delivering the power, the amount of power to run and heat the spa is going to be the same with either 240V or 120V. The biggest disadvantages to 120V is that they are built to use a 20 amp outlet, so:
1 - the heater cannot be on at the same time the pump is on high, meaning to use the jets, the spa won't be heating anymore while you're using it
2 - the heating capacity is 1/4 what it is at 240V, so it takes 4X as long to heat it up. That can be a major factor if you have it outside all year and want to keep the temp down, then cycle it up before using it.

I've yet to see a 3-4 person, small home hot tub/spa that uses natural gas.

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My experience has been exactly the opposite. I've had a hot tub/spa for 20+ years now and the experience has been excellent. The first 10 years, I had it inside. For the last 13, it's been located outside. In both cases, I found it very easy to maintain. I change the water about every 2-3 months. After the initial fill, I just keep the dissolving tabs in a floating dispenser and the water pretty much stays in the correct range.
I also have a jacuzzi tub in the house, which I never use. If I had a choice, I'd definitely go with the hot tub, as I think it's far more functional and you can share it.

While most spas are 240V and there are big advantages for going that way, saving on electric usage is not one of them. You are paying for power, and except for some tiny losses in the wiring delivering the power, the amount of power to run and heat the spa is going to be the same with either 240V or 120V. The biggest disadvantages to 120V is that they are built to use a 20 amp outlet, so:
1 - the heater cannot be on at the same time the pump is on high, meaning to use the jets, the spa won't be heating anymore while you're using it
2 - the heating capacity is 1/4 what it is at 240V, so it takes 4X as long to heat it up. That can be a major factor if you have it outside all year and want to keep the temp down, then cycle it up before using it.

I've yet to see a 3-4 person, small home hot tub/spa that uses natural gas.
+++++++++++++++++
Really....hummmm
look up YMMV
but thanks
od
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My experience has been exactly the opposite. I've had a hot tub/spa for 20+ years now and the experience has been excellent. The first 10 years, I had it inside. For the last 13, it's been located outside. In both cases, I found it very easy to maintain. I change the water about every 2-3 months. After the initial fill, I just keep the dissolving tabs in a floating dispenser and the water pretty much stays in the correct range.
I also have a jacuzzi tub in the house, which I never use. If I had a choice, I'd definitely go with the hot tub, as I think it's far more functional and you can share it.

While most spas are 240V and there are big advantages for going that way, saving on electric usage is not one of them. You are paying for power, and except for some tiny losses in the wiring delivering the power, the amount of power to run and heat the spa is going to be the same with either 240V or 120V. The biggest disadvantages to 120V is that they are built to use a 20 amp outlet, so:
1 - the heater cannot be on at the same time the pump is on high, meaning to use the jets, the spa won't be heating anymore while you're using it
2 - the heating capacity is 1/4 what it is at 240V, so it takes 4X as long to heat it up. That can be a major factor if you have it outside all year and want to keep the temp down, then cycle it up before using it.

I've yet to see a 3-4 person, small home hot tub/spa that uses natural gas.

A little more info:
http://snorkel.com/hot-tub-info/choosing-gas-or-electric.php
One reason my 120 volt ht cost more to run was because I had to keep it hot 24/7.
It took about 48 hours to heat it up after filling. With gas I can heat my ht up in about 2 or 3 hours on a warm day.
The only reason I'd use elec over gas would be if gas wasn't available. You maybe looking at a narrow range of ht. I'm not sure what you are talking about with jets and heater at the same time? My gas ht runs both and it's small.
YMMV
od
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Joining in late, but....
I bought a standalone 6-bod hot tub about five years ago, a Marquis brand floor model (no affiliation). I've been pretty happy with it.
It's an all-electric 240V 50A unit. The tub is installed outdoors here in northern Utah. Winter temps average 25-30 degrees, while we keep the tub at 102. Based on my excessively anal recordkeeping, my my average monthly electric bill has increased by $1.57 since we installed the tub -- but who's to say if that's all in the tub or something else in the house? It sure isn't enough to worry about.
One of my tub's two pump motors failed just before the 3yr warranty expired. I have been waiting for the other one to pop, but so far so good. AIUI, these pump motors are industry standard units, can generally be rebuilt and/or traded as a core, and anyone who's handy with a wrench should be able to replace one (including moving the pump unit itself to the new motor) without too much trouble.
A few months ago the tub developed a rather spectacular leak where the plumbing attaches to the heater tube. The seals are a sort of soft rubbery plastic, and had deteriorated to something that resembled plumber's putty. They were only a couple bucks each and not hard to install, but I wonder what caused them to rot like that.
Other than that, routine maintenance items, about $20 a month for chemicals, filters, and mineral cartridges. I hit it with a little chlorine every time we use it, shock it once a week or so, and change the water every three months. That's about as easy as it gets, but well worth the investment IMO.
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Well...if you really believe you can run a ht daily at 102 on $1.57/mth I've got a bridge to sell you. :-) Do you have solar panels or a wind turbine?

Could it be the chlorine?

If I remember correctly we had to use bromine because of the liner. We were assured that bromine was better too. Like I said, I may have gotten bad advice because now that I'm using chlorine I agree; it doesn't get much easier.
I'm sure there are lots of "success stories" with these new ht that are available. All I know is the experience I had with a stand alone elec ht turned into a nightmare. No doubt because it was a 120 volt and the chemicals I was using. Which was the gist of my OP
Don't get me wrong, I love my "gas" ht. I can run it nightly and my gas bill is always reasonable. Usually never over $30/mth. Sometimes as low as $12. Now heating the pool is a different story.
I think if you do an internet search on gas vs elec ht's the data will back me up.
od
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On Tue, 05 May 2009 03:23:33 GMT, in alt.home.repair, "olddog"

No, no home power, but you're correct, my spreadsheet formulas were wrong. But it doesn't tell the whole story anyway: my average power bill went up by $5.56 after installing the tub, but the kWh cost of power increased as well, and they recently added a $4/mo city surcharge to the bill that I haven't factored out. Then, my actual power consumption has gone *down* by 82 kWh/mo since we got the tub! So there's a lot of hidden factors in there, including learning how to manage our overall household power consumption. But it seems plain to me that the electrical cost of running a hot tub is easily lost in the noise.

The heat of being attached to the stainless steel heater tube? I think it odd that the manufacturer, who knows exactly what physical and chemical attacks to expect (they do recommend chlorine) would install seals that are prone to failure under those conditions.

I haven't used bromine myself. I understand that it's incompatible with the silver/copper mineral cartridges. Oh, I forgot to mention that my tub also has an UV ozone sterilizer, which failed once under warranty. Between the UV and the minerals, some say that chlorine is actually unnecessary, just an occasional non-chor shock. Frankly I *like* the chlorine, it smells like a proper hot tub to me. :)
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On Tue, 05 May 2009 14:31:57 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@asgard.slcc.edu wrote:

I'm a very long time Hot Tub and Japanese Bath owner. In New England, the electric for a modest sized 240 v tub is currently about $35-$40 a month when averaged over a full year. Less in summer, more in winter.
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You must get a pretty sweet deal on kWh. Our elec bills here are tied into our city bill which seems to include the cost of the air we breath.
It would be interesting to put your tub on a usage meter. Sounds like it's using less amps than a coffee maker, which can be pretty expensive.
If I remember correctly, when I bought my 120v ht, the spa store made claims of low energy consumption that didn't hold true. But you know how memory is. It's probably not quite as bad as I remember.

The smell of chlorine doesn't bother me. The effect of it on the environment can be pretty bad. I try to do my backwashes before shocks to minimize the damage.
I think you said you spend $20/mth on maintenance. I probably spend about $120/year on an expensive year, for the pool and the ht, but I have a sand filter so I don't have to buy filters.
When I bought my 1st ht the UV ozone things were available but I heard later they weren't that effective. Wouldn't they increase the elec bill too?
Glad you enjoy your tub. I use mine because of an old back injury. After a hard day there isn't anything more refreshing. But if anyone asks me I still say get a gas ht, and it's much better if it's attached to your pool.
od
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How can a coffee maker be pretty expensive? They only draw around 1000W when making coffee and that lasts 5 mins or so at most a couple times a day. After that, even if you leave it in warming mode for a couple hours, that's more like a 75 or 100 watt load. The large loads in a house are things like the AC, running the heating blower, cooking.
I do agree that $5.50 a month sounds low for running a hot tub. But I don't believe it's all that high either. I don't notice any major swings in my electric bill during periods when it's been offline for whatever reason, versus when it's in service. But then I also keep mine set way down in temp and just raise the temp in advance of using it.
BTW, thanks for pointing out the gas heated ones. You also raised a question in another post about my comment about 120V spas not being able to run the pump on high and the heater at the same time. That is due to the fact that they run off a 20 amp circuit, which will not support both at the same time. While heating, the pump runs on low, to just circulate the water. If you switch it to high to activate the jets, the heating gets turned off by the controller. With 240V you not only have more power due to the voltage, but typically the circuits run are 40 or 50 amps.

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How can a coffee maker be pretty expensive? They only draw around 1000W when making coffee and that lasts 5 mins or so at most a couple times a day. After that, even if you leave it in warming mode for a couple hours, that's more like a 75 or 100 watt load. The large loads in a house are things like the AC, running the heating blower, cooking.
I do agree that $5.50 a month sounds low for running a hot tub. But I don't believe it's all that high either. I don't notice any major swings in my electric bill during periods when it's been offline for whatever reason, versus when it's in service. But then I also keep mine set way down in temp and just raise the temp in advance of using it.
BTW, thanks for pointing out the gas heated ones. You also raised a question in another post about my comment about 120V spas not being able to run the pump on high and the heater at the same time. That is due to the fact that they run off a 20 amp circuit, which will not support both at the same time. While heating, the pump runs on low, to just circulate the water. If you switch it to high to activate the jets, the heating gets turned off by the controller. With 240V you not only have more power due to the voltage, but typically the circuits run are 40 or 50 amps.
++++++++++++++++++++++++
I was thinking about your post and I had come to the same conclusion and I realized I didn't understand exactly what you were talking about.
Expensive is a relative term. Coffee makers are one of the larger energy consumers in your house. So relative to say a TV or a light bulb it's expensive. If you leave it on after brewing it burns watts while it burns your coffee. Which is why I turn mine off after brewing and use a thermos.
Which is the point about 120 vs. 240. 120s have to left on constantly while the 240s can be put on a timer to heat up at some point so it will be ready.
If I bought a new tub I'd look into gas. They heat faster and they are cheaper to operate. You may not be able to pick one up at Costco or HD but that's because they are not as easy to install and gas isn't available everywhere. IMHO it's worth the extra effort and that is speaking from experience. But personally I wouldn't buy another stand alone ht. I'd go with the indoor Jacuzzi tub. YMMV
In my OP I said don't get a 110v (well 120v) and opt for the 240v if you have to go elec. I guess I don't see your point anymore. If you're arguing elec is cheaper than gas, common sense says your wrong.
od
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.
Total nonsense. My typical coffee maker is rated at 900 watts. That is when it's actually brewing coffee, which as I pointed out, takes about 5 mins. After that, if you leave it on warm, it's probably about 100 or 150WW. So, 5 mins while brewing at 900 watts for 5 mins is like leaving a 100 watt bulb on for 45 mins. Big deal. After that, if it's warming, it's like leaving a 100 watt, or at most a couple 100 watt lights on. A typical big screen TV, which are common today, can easily draw a couple hundred watts. And TVs, like lights, are on for a long time compared to a coffee maker. The big consumers of energy in a home are AC, furnace heater blower, cooking, water heater.... and I could go way down the list before ever getting to the little old coffee maker.
Here in NJ, I pay some of the highest rates for electric in the country, around 17c Kwh. Let's say I made coffee 2X a day, and left it on warming for an hour after that each time.
900W X 5 mins X60 = 4.5kwh, 75 cents
150W X 1hr X 60 = 9kwh, $1.5
$2.25 is maybe 1% of an electric bill. And that's assuming quite a bit of use.

This is still not as big a difference in energy as you believe. The difference is only in how much heat the spa loses over time at say 100F vs how much it will lose letting it go down to a lower temp, say 80F some of the time. If you use it everday, the difference will be so small, it won't matter. When you reset it back to 100 the next day, the heater will run for almost as long as it would had it just maintained it at 100 all along. Now, if you only use it once a week, then lowering the temp will make a larger difference and could be worthwhile. It's like setting your house thermostat down overnight, it can save maybe 5% or so on your heating bill, but in the grand scheme of things, it still isn't large.


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.
Total nonsense. My typical coffee maker is rated at 900 watts. That is when it's actually brewing coffee, which as I pointed out, takes about 5 mins. After that, if you leave it on warm, it's probably about 100 or 150WW. So, 5 mins while brewing at 900 watts for 5 mins is like leaving a 100 watt bulb on for 45 mins. Big deal. After that, if it's warming, it's like leaving a 100 watt, or at most a couple 100 watt lights on. A typical big screen TV, which are common today, can easily draw a couple hundred watts. And TVs, like lights, are on for a long time compared to a coffee maker. The big consumers of energy in a home are AC, furnace heater blower, cooking, water heater.... and I could go way down the list before ever getting to the little old coffee maker.
Here in NJ, I pay some of the highest rates for electric in the country, around 17c Kwh. Let's say I made coffee 2X a day, and left it on warming for an hour after that each time.
900W X 5 mins X60 = 4.5kwh, 75 cents
150W X 1hr X 60 = 9kwh, $1.5
$2.25 is maybe 1% of an electric bill. And that's assuming quite a bit of use.

This is still not as big a difference in energy as you believe. The difference is only in how much heat the spa loses over time at say 100F vs how much it will lose letting it go down to a lower temp, say 80F some of the time. If you use it everday, the difference will be so small, it won't matter. When you reset it back to 100 the next day, the heater will run for almost as long as it would had it just maintained it at 100 all along. Now, if you only use it once a week, then lowering the temp will make a larger difference and could be worthwhile. It's like setting your house thermostat down overnight, it can save maybe 5% or so on your heating bill, but in the grand scheme of things, it still isn't large.
======================= I disagree and you're missing the point but you're the type that thinks they're right regradless so use your ht and soak your head. :-)
od
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Disagree with what and missing what point? You claimed:
"Coffee makers are one of the larger energy

I showed you if you use a coffee maker twice a day, it's around $2 a month. Using it for 5 mins for making coffee is like running a 100Watt light bulb for 45 mins. How could that possibly be one of the larger energy users in a home or expensive relattive to a TV or a light bulb?
So, what exactly is your point?
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Disagree with what and missing what point? You claimed:
"Coffee makers are one of the larger energy

I showed you if you use a coffee maker twice a day, it's around $2 a month. Using it for 5 mins for making coffee is like running a 100Watt light bulb for 45 mins. How could that possibly be one of the larger energy users in a home or expensive relattive to a TV or a light bulb?
So, what exactly is your point?
+++++++++++++++++++++++\\
Your posts are borderline trolling. I'm going to block you.
Have a nice life!
od
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Disagree with what and missing what point? You claimed:
"Coffee makers are one of the larger energy

I showed you if you use a coffee maker twice a day, it's around $2 a month. Using it for 5 mins for making coffee is like running a 100Watt light bulb for 45 mins. How could that possibly be one of the larger energy users in a home or expensive relattive to a TV or a light bulb?
So, what exactly is your point?
+++++++++++++++++++++++\\
Your posts are borderline trolling. I'm going to block you.
Have a nice life!
od
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In other words, rather than simply admit you were wrong, you call those who are right trolls and block them. With that approach, no wonder you don't know what you are talking about. That goes a long way to explaining why you found it too difficult to maintain a spa and think somehow power at 240V is cheap compated to power at 120V.

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On Tue, 5 May 2009 12:42:12 -0700 (PDT), snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net wrote:

Simple fact: lower average temp = lower energy usage.
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On Tue, 5 May 2009 09:52:10 -0700 (PDT), snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net wrote:

Also note that 50 amps at 240 is roughly equal to 100 amps at 120 volts. It's a BIG load.
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