The Official Spa Challenge!
For years we have had this challenge out to the spa industry and no one has bothered to respond. I think that a side by side test in the same extreme environment is the most powerful educational tool there is for evaluating spas and causing improvements. Any spa company who wants to prove to the public, beyond any doubt the reliability and energy efficiency and user appreciation, therapy and etc. of their products, should participate in this challenge. This is the "stock car race" of the spa industry. I think that any spa company who advertises that they have energy efficiency or any of the standard sales presentations, that this challenge would help you to sell more products. The competitors of this challenge will know what they need to do to improve the products for the next generation of models they produce.
This is now an official challenge to any and all spa manufacturers or suppliers.
On *December 1, 2005 through March 1, 2006, we are offering a spa engineering challenge to all spa manufacturers who are willing to participate. This is a test of spas in severe cold conditions of the mountains of Colorado. We will be holding the "Spa Challenge" that will be conducted by an independent company. We will most likely use an independent service company in good standing with the Better Business Bureau. I will be researching this to find the best possible company. Each spa company will be notified of this challenge and an official reply will be published as well. Any spa company that does not answer this challenge will also be noted and listed as spa companies who refused the challenge. A copy of the official notification of the Spa Challenge will be published in Aqua Magazine as well as the responses from the spa companies. If you refuse this challenge, you will be losing out on a tremendous opportunity to put your product up against the competition and the world will know that you refused the challenge. There is a modest entry fee to pay for the testing. The deadline for entry into The Official Spa Challenge is Sept 1, 2005.
The rules of the challenge are as follows.
1. Each spa manufacturer is to deliver and set up one or more of your spas to a testing ground near Fraser, Colorado (or any other Colorado mountain town we choose). You may bring no more than three models to fit into three different categories and only one spa in each category. Each participating spa manufacturer will have it set up and running by December 1, 2005. Each spa company will pay an entry fee of $7,000 per spa and supply a spa for testing with each entry. The spa must be a standard model with the same equipment and set up as a production model. You can bring the spa up anytime in November, 2005 and get it going and have any bugs worked out over the month of November. This is to insure that any mechanical concerns are taken care of before the testing begins. (We are fair on this.)
2. Electric kilowatt meters will be placed on all spas, the same brand of meter from the same manufacturer on each spa. After the test the meters will be tested for calibration and any variances will be noted and used to determine the actual kilowatts used.
3. On December 1, 2005, and after the spa is up and running, with steps and cover lift in place the manufacturer's representative will not be allowed to touch the spa or be within 100 feet of their spas until the test is over. This is to simulate actual use by consumers. The instructions for use will be explained to the independent testing company employee in charge of maintaining your spa. You will furnish your standard covers for the spas as well. If the spa breaks down and becomes not fully functional, it will be eliminated from the challenge and forfeit any awards.
3. This test is for comparison of energy efficiency (usage), freeze protection, reliability, freeze down time, cost to repair freeze damage and for subjective opinions by a group of spa users, whom are independent of any spa company.
4. Each spa will be tested each day, all spas to have cover's removed at the same time, for 20 minutes of jets running and 20 minutes of soaking. The spas will be used by two to four people at each test. There will be clocks set by each spa to start and stop the spas and to tell the bathers when to get out and cover the spas, per manufacturer's instructions. The time of use will be at 8 PM each evening until 8:40 PM. This is to simulate an average use time and so all spas are used at the same time each day. If a tester participant is not available , then their alternate will take their place.
5. Each of the bathers will test different spas to a maximum of 20 spas, each night for the duration of the test. If there are twenty spas, then each night they will test a different spa brand and model giving three separate testing of each spa being evaluated. At the end of each bathing wet test, the bathers will be asked to answer questions about the test.
6. The testing company will be keeping data on each spa each day, including the temperature of the spa tested with an accurate thermometer, both before the bather's get in and immediately after the bathers get out of the individual spas. A daily log will be kept for each spa noting the times and temperatures. The weather conditions will be monitored and noted four times a day for accurate indications of humidity, wind and outside temperature. A weather station will be placed on the property with those measuring devices used for all spas. Any natural power outages will be logged and each spa will be checked and re-programmed as necessary to adjust the temperature and filter times if needed.
7. In the event of a severe weather storm (or power outage) that exceeds the limits of the bathers physical ability to use the spas, the spas will not be used that day until the next available 8 PM schedule. The covers will remain on and locked for the duration of any storm conditions. However the spas will be checked for normal maintenance, such as to see if the cover remained in place, and if it is still operating. This is to simulate actual use at someone's home.
8. Accurate records will be kept on each spa including the conditions of the water. If the water becomes cloudy or if the water needs special care to keep it clean will also be monitored. The spas will be cared for exactly as the manufacturer recommends. All of the two speed filtering spa will be set to filter 4 hours twice a day minimum. All of the spas with 24 hour filtering will be set to follow the manufacturer's recommendation on filtering with the jet pumps per day.
9. At the end of January, exactly midnight February 1 , the power will be turned off on each spa at the exact same moment. There will be a main disconnect on several spas and all spas will have power turned off at the same instant.
10. During the freeze down time test, the spa water temperature will be checked on every spa twice a day at 8 AM and 8 PM. The check will be a brief opening of the cover for a temperature check of the water with the same infrared thermometer used on all spas. The temperature will be logged.
11. The spas will be allowed to freeze and break. The duration of the time until freeze and break will be a major part of this test. The first ones to freeze vs the last ones to freeze. Each spa will be checked hourly until they are frozen and start leaking from broken fittings. The time of the breakdown of the spa will be logged.
12. As soon as the bathing testing is over after Feb. 1, each testing bather will give a subjective opinion of the spas. They will be asked a series of questions about the spas and will be given the opportunity to choose their favorite models and tell why.
13. The totals of the electric consumption will be tallied as well, and each spa in each category will be evaluated.
14. Each spa will be repaired back to fully functioning by an independent service company, who will issue invoices for the repairs. The spa repair company will not be allowed to get parts directly from the factory, but from a dealer or a spa parts supply store as is normal. The parts will be marked up to a normal margin that the independent service company uses. All records will be audited by a CPA for accuracy.
15. The maximum time allowed to get all the frozen spas repaired will be three months. Each of the spas will be allowed to be tented and repaired in a heated room if needed. The tenting will be a framed in enclosure with insulated walls on wheels, that can be placed over each freeze damaged spa and heated with a safe propane heater. Photographs of the repairs will be taken for records.
16. There will be awards issued to the winners in each category of spa. (See the Awards section on the next page.). There are to be three categories of spas, based upon size and watts of total horsepower. The awards will be for subjective observations by the users who will vote for their favorite spa and second favorite model these questions will be concerning comfort, quiet operation, and therapy, an award for the best energy efficiency in each category, and an award for the longest time before freezing the water in the spa and finally an award for the least expensive to repair in each category.
*If for any of the established causes, (see bylaw clauses) such a low participation, the test may be modified, postponed or cancelled, however all standards for objectiveness will be evaluated at that time.