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James Arjuna, President
The Spa Spaspecialist inc.

 1997,1998, 1999, 2000,2001, 2002,
The Spa Specialist Inc.

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Spa Tips

Filtering Economically 

The Spa Specialist Inc.

"Promoting ethics in the spa industry."

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The Spa Specialist, 12910 N. Zuni St, Westminster, CO 80234,  (303)-920-1495  Toll Free: 888-478-2224

How Haven Spas Filter Extremely 

Well and Still Run So Economically Compared to Full Foam

Copyright The Spa Specialist Inc.2003

Spas are really nice things to have, but if they are not designed properly, they can cost you a lot to own.  There are many  aspects to these costs and some are hidden by the spa manufacturers by they way the spas are designed.  In the last article on filtering myths, I went over in detail the myth of 100% filtering and the advertising used to sell it as if it was a good design.  If you have a poorly designed spa with a tiny circulation pump on it, it will cost more in chemicals to keep the water clear and sanitary.  That is fact.  It either costs in chemicals and supplies, in water changes, or in wasted time.

If a spa uses less chemicals to keep the water clean, then it costs less in both chemicals and in water changes.  If your water is using more shock, chlorine and has to be drained and filled more often because of the total dissolved solids.  This is from too many chemicals.  Then it becomes more expensive just because of the cost to heat up the water and the cost of the water and the cost of chemicals.  In a spa that filters correctly you use a lot less chemicals, a lot less time and a lot less water.   If your spa is constantly clouding up and all the chemical tests are correct, then you need to filter more or filter better.  A spa that filters well uses less products.  It can go longer between drain and refill and the extra costs of heating cold water up to temperature.  Also a spa that runs correctly to the ANSI standard with correct filtering per day has water that is safe!  You will not be soaking in dead skin tissue, mucus, feculence, sweat, and hair, like the cheaply made spas that barely filter.

It is important to note that the human eye cannot resolve (see) smaller than about 1/1000 of an inch with perfect vision.  Most folks resolve about 3 to 4/1000 of an inch maximum.  20 microns is 20/1000 of a millimeter.  The filters remove most of the debris from 10 microns on up if you use them properly.  More on filters later.
The point of this is the water can look clear to the naked eye and still have many things floating in it that you cannot see.  When people talk about "crystal clear" water, you need to take a gallon jug and put some filtered tap water in one and a gallon of spa water in the other and compare the clarity that way.   That crystal clear spa water may have a gray look side by side with pure water.  

The secret to getting large volumes of water filtered and qualty of water, is to conserve the energy from the filtering pump and transfer the heat into the spa water.  At the same time while the pump is running it creates a 100% thermal heat barrier on all the pipes, and the vessel of the spa.  There is literally zero heat loss from the spa water, except out the top where the cover is.  (Use a thermal blanket with a spa cover is the smartest thing a person can do in winter to supplement the hard cover.)

Normally during the entire filter cycle the heater never comes on, because the spa is heated and fully insulated by the kinetic and thermal energy of the pump.

If you  run our largest pump on low speed, it can run for 7 hours to equal the same kilowatt hours as one hour of electric heat.  In most spas the heater and the pump is used to heat the water.  The 5.5 KW or 4 KW heaters are the most wasteful part of spa operation.

When it is extremely cold, I advise my customers to run the filtering 24 hours per day and they can save up to 20% of the energy and have extremely well filtered and ozonated water.  This brings the thermally closed DAIT spa with a full size 5 HP  pump to about  2/3 the cost of a normal full foam spa with two 2.5 HP pumps and in the coldest winter months.  If a full foam spa costs $100 then the DAIT will cost $66.  

In the Highest Quality Super Custom models we use a very special pump for filtering and heating.  It is a modern engineering "marvel"  It moves a tremendous amount of water with an extremely low amperage.  It is designed with large cutting impeller so that it has a high volume and very low pressure.  In filtering the pressure is not needed but the total gallons is very important.  In the SCF model we are getting reports of extremely low energy costs because this pump creates a 100% thermal warm air barrier for a lot less than the large pump does and it does it 24 hours a day.  It filters from 35,000 to 50,000 gallons of water per day and the ozone system on this spa is so effective that the use of chemicals is absolutely minimized.  The reports from customers on this spa are simply a reflection of the hard work in the design and production of this masterpiece of spa engineering.  While I set back and listen to the competition tell me that "it can't work".  The customers testify that it does work, extremely well.  The SC spa owners are totally spoiled.  If a standard full foam spa costs $100 then the DAIT SCF will cost $50 and still filter 10 times the water of the tiny circ pump spas that tout 24 hour filtering at 3 to 7 gallons per minute.  

In a full foam spa, the problem is they are relying on normally a softer foam that has an R value of 1 or 2 per inch.  and saying that it is the "BEST".  Take a look at this picture below.  I want you to look where the manifold is in relation to the outer wall of the spa.  The other side of the manifold is directly opposite this one pointing in the other direction.  The water comes up directly from the jet pump and is pump through this area while the spa is used and during the set filter cycles on pump one.  In this photo you can see that this is similar to a radiator with a lot of exposed pipes very close to the outside of the cabinet. You can see that this spa has a huge volume of water passing about 2 inches from the outside world, and is covered in about R-4 worth of foam.

Full Foam Leaks

copyright 2003 The Spa Specialist Inc.
This may not be used by any commercial company selling spas or building spas.  It can only be downloaded by individual consumers for reference only.

When you have a full foam spa the foam stops any possible warm air from encircling the water pipes and tubing.  In a DAIT equipped spa the outer wall is insulated and inside the spa cabinet is warm air.  As long as the air is warmer than the water, no matter how far or how near the pipes are to the outside cold, they are kept warmer than the water and 100% insulated.  This stops all heat loss out of all the pipes as well as all the heat loss out of the spa vessel, except on the bottom and that we simply foam in.  Even  if a pipe is 1/4 inch from the outside wall, as long as the air is warmer than the water, their is no heat loss from the plumbing pipes.  If the temperature drops to say 85 degrees, then it is still better insulated than in this spa shown here, because that is only a 19 degree temperature differential,  If you have R-4 and a 84 degree temperature differential, the heat loss is four times the KWH losses at this part of the cabinet.  When the full foam salesman says that their spas have R-45 insulation, that is in the thickest part of the spa near the bottom measured at a 45 degree angle to the vessel.  It is a joke, only the joke is on the spa buyers who have to pay for the extra heat losses.

This photo also show you how difficult it is to fix a full foam spa.  You have to dig out all the foam to expose the leaks, a very labor consuming job.

Here is a very important point to all of this.  Water is 1341 times more expensive to heat than air, so any direct water heat loss is very expensive compared to losing heat from air.  It takes much less energy to produce enough heat to warm the inside of a spa cabinet, which is normally less than 20 CU feet of open space. Since we must filter to have good water, and while we filter we have a 100% zero heat loss out the water vessel and out the pipes, this is the most energy efficient way to use the pump for both filtering and for insulation.

If we are using a 2 speed pump with 860 watts of low speed heat, this will warm up the spa water while it filters.  If you warm up 400 gallons of water two degrees, that is the equivalent to 2.3 Kilowatt hours of electric heat or 6.67 hours of pump heat.  That means that in 8 hours of running the spa gains 2.3 kilowatt hours of energy minimum (it is actually much more, but I am using a conservative model)  stored in the vessel.  This is a "heat battery effect".  Now when the pump is not running, between filter cycles, we keep the inside of the cabinet warm with the heat radiating and conducting out  from the spa vessel if the water has gained 2.3 KWH then we have a battery of heat to use, before the electric heater will ever come on.  This gives another 6.67 hours of 100 % insulation.  8 hours plus 6.67 hours = 14.6 hours total per day.  If you increase the filtering to 12 hours, you gain another 3.34 hours of "heat battery effect" in the spa water and that gives 12 plus 10 hours or 22 hours of 100% insulation energy.  Keep in mind that the air will be slightly cooler in between the filter cycles so the effective R value will drop to about R-40.  In the latest versions we restrict the heat loss tremendously out side the cabinet by using a total of 7 layers of air barrier insulation.  Foam, air, foil bubble, air, foil faced foam board, air, plastic, air, wood.  That is the insulation "sandwich" we now use on the DAIT spas.  If it is warmer outside we have found that the spas are used less in summer so they need less filtering.  We drop down to 12,000 gallons of filtering and 4 hours total time in a standard DAIT spa with two speed pumps, using low speed for filtering.  

The DAIT spas are so thermally efficient that we put in cooling for the times when the air is too hot for the pumps and in summer we change the mode to cool more.  We retain more heat in winter and let off heat in summer.  That is why it is called the Dynamic Automatic Insulation Technology; DAIT.  With this system we keep from overheating the spa water in summer as well as keeping the spa water fully insulated in winter.  It is the most advanced thermodynamics used in spas today.

In a full foam spa there is another problem.  This is a problem that causes the pumps to burn out more quickly and a tremendous amount of heat loss from the area where the equipment is kept.  In a standard full foam spa all of the pipes are buried in foam, eliminating any heat barrier insulation, and in the front of the spa is a non-insulated box, called the equipment compartment.  The equipment compartment is like the screened porch or a built in cooler.  When I was young, and I am not any more, my family lived in a house that had a "cooler cabinet" in the kitchen.  In those days people used ice boxes.  Real ice boxes with ice inside the "fridge".  In winter they put vegetables in the cooler cabinet.  The cooler cabinet was a cabinet that had screened louvered openings to the outside, just like the equipment compartment on a full foam spa.   When the equipment is placed in an non-insulted box in the winter with vents in the box, while the heater is heating the equipment is in the "cooler".  This is similar to taking your house furnace and placing it on the front porch and bringing all the duct work to it to and from the house.  So while the heater is heating the forced air, the outside frigid air is cooling the ducts from the outside.  This is something that could only come from Southern California, because they never have to deal with cold.  I still can't believe that after 25 years and more these spas are still being sold in Vermont and Canada.  I can't believe the level of poor thermodynamic engineering is in a standard full foam spa.

I sincerely hope this article has helped you  to understand the difference in full foam vs the most effective insulation for spas called the DAIT.  The cost for putting in the DAIT system is totally made up for ten times over in the life of a Haven Spa.  


Jim Arjuna

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