Spa World ratings
Choosing the right spa can be confusing. Especially when faced with over 60 options to choose from.
To simplify this process, we have used our years of spa experience to create a simple rating system that compares our huge range of spas across a number of important attributes.
Whilst these comparisons are subjective, our Spa World team share a huge range of experience in choosing the right spa for your needs.
The overall rating we have given each spa are simply a summary of our ratings in the various areas of the spas design. Some spas have great hydrotherapy, but because of increased performance whilst in use, may cost a little more to run.
Others may be extremely easy to maintain, but as a result, have slightly higher maintenance costs.
When choosing a spa, be sure to focus on those factors that are most important to you.
In spa experience
With today’s vast array of technical advancements on spa design, there are many features that spa manufacturers can add to make your spa more than just a big pool of hot water. We have rated our selection of spas based on additional features that are either standard, or can be added to make your in spa experience as fulfilling as possible.
For many, a spa is all about hydrotherapy and with jet counts ranging from 6, to more than 90, there is a huge variance in the type and quality of hydrotherapy performance a spa can offer you.
For the most part, more jets, driven by more pumps, with variation across more seating layouts, the better the hydrotherapy experience. But that’s not the whole picture. A 30 jet, 1 pump spa with intelligent design, can often out perform a poorly designed, 80 jet, 3 pump spa. So we have combined some simple math, with our personal spa experiences to give each of our spas a comparative hydrotherapy rating.
The basic equation we have used is:
Jet count / Seat count + Design factor
But if it is all about jet count for you, we have included a jet count rating as well.
There are many test results that can be found on line relating to running costs. Unfortunately, all of these tests are done in laboratories under a variety of conditions that never mimic what the spa will perform like in real life installations. As such, when rating the energy efficiency of our various spas, we have looked at the energy efficiency technologies that the manufacturers have included, and rating them on how effective we know they are in real back yards.
There are a number of ways to insulate a spa:
- Foam on shell: The cheapest and most common method is to spray the shell with foam. Whilst this method insulates the water whilst is it in the spa, it does nothing to insulate the water in the pipes while it circulates. As such, we give this method a 2 out of 5.
- Perimeter Insulation: This method uses insulation on the spa cabinet and so insulates both the shell and the plumbing. However, as it relies on trapping air between the shell and cabinet and keeping in from escaping, to work best, the gap between the cabinet and the shell must also be insulated. If a manufacturer does this, we give their spas a 4 out of 5. If they don’t, they get a 3 out of 5.
- Full foam: Lastly, there is full foam insulation, which essentially fills the gap between the spa’s shell and the cabinet with foam. This gives best heat retention and therefore we give spa’s insulated in this fashion a 5 out of 5.
Consumption at rest
The amount of energy a spa consumes when not in use depends on the type of pump that is used for filtration, the method of insulation and the quality of cover used.
Under this assessment, a spa using full foam insulation, a 24 hours circulation pump and a high density spa cover would rate highest. A spa using a 2 speed pump, foam on shell insulation and a low density spa cover would score lowest.
Consumption in use
The amount of energy a spa consumes whilst in use depends entirely on how many pumps and air blowers the spa features. This is just like a V8 car using far more fuel when accelerating than a small 4 cylinder.
We have scored the spas by giving starting with 5 and removing 1 point for each additional pump the spa has.
Please note however, that this increased consumption is only when the spa is in use with every pump in operation. As such, when calculating the overall energy efficiency rating, this particular rating caries less overall weight than energy consumption at rest.
Heat rises and so the quality of the spas cover is a very important factor in the energy efficiency of the spa. When rating the spa’s cover, we have considered the density of the foam, the sealing of any joins and the length of time we expect the cover to remain water tight.
Water maintenance has been a very difficult area for us to rate, given that so much depends on the individual usage and care of the spa.
In order to provide consistency therefore, we have rated each spa based on the automatic sanitizing features that the spas offer.
Please note that we have included optional features in our rating criteria.
Ease of use
To rate the ease in which a spa’s water can be maintained, we have considered the automated nature of the spa’s water treatment technologies. Some treatment systems require no maintenance at all, whereas others may require regular replacement of disposable components.
Water cleaning technologies
There are a wide range of water treatment technologies included with spas nowadays. We have given 1 point for each water treatment technology available on the spa which is beyond the standard paper cartridge filer. The exception is the Hot Springs A.C.E system which we have scored a 3 as it is really, really effective!
Below are some of the technologies we have given points for:
Ozone clarifier – All brands
Ozone mixing chamber – All brands UV sanitizer – Vortex
Purezone filters – Vortex
Tri-X filters – Hot Springs
A.C.E system – Hot Springs
Zero bypass filtration – Hot Springs
Overall maintenance cost
Overall maintenance cost considers both chemical use and the replacement of components within the various water treatment technologies. As an example, a UV sterilizer reduces overall chemical use, but the bulb needs replacing every 18 months. Once again, we have been careful to use a comparison against the various models rather than a fixed dollar cost, as the amount f spa is used with influence the overall maintenance cost.
The build quality determines the life time of a spa and therefore, it is a large contributor to the value for money that a spa represents. There are a number of factors that determine the overall build quality of a spa. We have rated them individually and then averaged them to arrive at our overall rating.
Shell construction is very easy to score as a spa must score a perfect 5 to be included within the Spa World product line up. We give 1 mark each for the following manufacturing techniques, if they have been utilized:
- American made acrylics – America leads the world in acrylic shell manufacture
- Zone controlled vac forming – This ensure maximum average shell thickness
- Vinyl ester resins – Vinyl ester is high quality resin known for it’s water proofing characteristics
- ABS based acrylic – Used by Hotspring, the ABS backing gives the acrylic sheet excellent torsional strength
- Over cured shells – This is vital for ensuring complete adhesion of acrylic and fiberglass.
- Polyceramic resin layer – This is a special resin which ensure maximum shell rigidity
The structure of the spa is the framework which supports the shell. The stronger the frame, the longer a spa can be expected to last. Points are given for the materials used, the manufacturing techniques and the standard of workmanship used.
In rating the various plumbing systems used, we have considered the type of piping used, the design of the plumbing looms (a major contributed to hydraulic performance) and the ease of maintenance. As an example, the full foam Hot Springs lose 1 point as leaks are very difficult to locate in full foam spas.
A spa’s equipment (pumps, blower, control system), bear the brunt of usage within a spa and therefore, it is important that they are off the best quality. Our Spa World service team has helped us rate the equipment on our spas as they know from experience, what spas are our most reliable.
We have also scored the spa equipment based on it’s features and overall performance, including noise levels.
The manufacturers warranty is normally the best indication of how long you can expect a spa to last. After all, if the manufacturer is unwilling to stand behind their product, why should you have confidence in it? Most spa warranties are broken down into the various components. We have taken each into account when coming up with our warranty ratings.