We have found so many companies trying to come up with the magical gimmick to make their spas stand out so they can sell more spas. Here is how I determine if the device is something worth considering: 1/ Does it increase or enhance the spas therapy or comfort? 2/ Does it have sound engineering behind it? 3/ Does it make the spa safer? 4/ Does is make the overall operating or repair cost less? 4/ Did they test it before putting it on the spas?
I believe that is a very concise way to
evaluate spas, spa engineering and manufacturing.
We have found that gimmicks, like pillows with jets on pipes, dry massage pillows, ice buckets, clicking and clacking jets, diverter valves splitting the spa in half or thirds, silly jet patterns, large spas with tiny foot wells, hoses that go up and down, huge jet faces on small jets, tiny 24 hour circulation pumps, large humps in the middle of the foot well, loose filter lids, diverter valves that shut off half of the spa or more, silly techno jargon words to describe simple devices, fully foamed in cabinets, using techno jargon words to describe really poor engineering, using an ozonator with a tiny circ pump, using words to imply "only our spas are safe" (when I have looked a thousands of spas and have not seen any reputable brand that isn't somewhat safe )
I have seen ill thought out designed spas described as the end all to spa manufacturing. Because the spa buyer is extremely vulnerable to spa sales people, I keep writing articles like this and I keep asking: "How much do you know about spas?".
I am not against innovation, just ignorance
and or greed combined. There is nothing wrong with making a good
living and enjoying the fruits of your work, but, not while misleading
Ice Buckets: When I first saw
spas with a built in ice buckets, I thought it was a good idea. I
even worked at a store that sold spas with them. Although a minor
defect in spa design, they turn out to be a nuisance for the spa owner,
and they take up valuable space. Every owner has told me that
become dirty and get full of spa water, and they are hard to
The owners have told me how they wish they had bought a spa with out
It winds up becoming a dirty bucket in the spa. If you like an
bucket, get a spa with a large flat area to sit a portable ice
This is much a much more reasonable design. In general, our spas
large flat areas, that work like serving tables. I saw one spa
place an air injector in the bottom of the ice bucket with a hose and
it drained into
the spa cabinet. I guess they think it is ok to constantly put
dirty water inside the spa cabinet.
Loose filter lids: This sort of goes along with the ice bucket concept. Having a loose filter housing lid that comes off the top of the filter causes two problems. 1/ Spa owners often wind up using it for a seat or support and break it. 2/ People often get hurt by them. When it breaks; it cuts. The loose fitting lid without a strong backing is the worst. This design is sort of a traditional concept that came from swimming pools (spas are not swimming pools!)
I learned this when I worked in a store
sold a spa with a trapezoidal filter lid. One time an older lady
was wet testing one of the spas. She leaned over to reach for her
towel, put her knee on the edge of the filter lid and BANG! It
out and her knee hit the base of the filter weir door. She
out of the store and I later found out that she broke a bone in her
knee. The next time I saw her, she was on crutches and had
a cast on her knee. To this day I do not know why she bought the
spa or why she didn't sue the manufacturer or the store. I
believe, she was from the old school
and took responsibility for "not looking what she was doing" as she
when she hobbled out of the store. I learned a lesson that day
told me a loose filter lid is not good. The last brand of
spas we had did have a loose filter lid on one model, but it had pretty
to the best design I could find at that time. Now that we have
opportunity to choose our own designs, we have spas without
filter lids. Most of our spas have a strong upper shell
instead of a filter lid, or a safer flexible lid.
While I worked behind the counter selling
for these spas, it became apparent that we were selling way too many
lids. I had filter lids stocked in every color and was
ordering more. One day a fellow came in with a broken lid.
took a look at it and discovered that it had a crack in the center
out in all directions and there was hair and blood in the crack.
asked the fellow what happened. He told me (his exact words):
had to pull it off my ass.". He told me that when he stood up
hearing the cracking noise, he was wearing it on his rear.
He was nude and apparently the crack opened up and caught his skin. That had to hurt!
The spa company finally placed a warning on
filter lid that read: "Do not sit or use for support of any kind!"
Click clack jets: This modern innovation is so annoying. The sound of these jets is something I only wish on obnoxious people. It is sort of like finger nails on a chalkboard. These jets are usually mounted in the wall and have a slit the water comes out of in a back and forth fashion. The therapy is just OK, not much to write home about. When they get stuck, they become a silent "clack" stuck spraying water in one direction.
Rotational jets are not only better therapy, they run silent. We use lots of rotating jets. The fully adjustable large rotating jets are the best massage I have felt. Most spa companies with any common sense, are using the rotating jets.
The "hose in the wall": This
innovation is now about 20+ years old, and it hasn't gotten any better
with age. Originally the company designed this and has an
"exclusive" and wanted something that others didn't have. There
hasn't been another company anywhere that has tried to copy it, because
it isn't worth it. When people copy things they are doing it for
a reason. There have been many rotating and adjusting jets that
have evolved from several jet companies. The hose in the wall is
troublesome and expensive to repair. The therapy is funny because
the hose sort of slices up and down your spine, instead
of on the muscles. I often ask owners of these spas about
that. "Don't you have to move over from side to side to get any
massage?" I have not received a no answer to that question.
After about five to seven years, the hose stretches out and gets stuck in the wall and no longer goes up and down. I wrote about this in my book "How Spas Are Made". It really is sort of funny when our customers, who read my book, tell me stories about friends of theirs who have one of those hoses stuck in one position inside the wall. It is not funny when they receive the bill for repairing one of those.
The tiny, 24 hour, 3 to 7 gallon per
circulation pump: This is the worst engineering piece of
I have ever come across in a spa. I talk about it in detail in my
"How Spas Are Made" and in the "Spa Buyers Questions and
Answers". If any device approaches
consumer fraud, this is
it, because it does not follow UL and ANSI standards for portable
spas. It leads to dirty water, heater (over heat) problems, and
complicated water maintenance,
of scum on the water line. Lots of extra chemicals and scum
with this thing. It breaks down very easily and causes other
of the spa to burn out. I don't think this thing is going to be
much longer as I educate buyers one at a time. I get letters from
repair people from far away that praise my efforts to rid the spa world
this really stupid device. Any time you hear the salesman tout a
hour circulation pump, it better be moving water at a minimmum of 18
per minute, otherwise it does not follow the ANSI standard for
article on filtering.
and Article on How to filter
Full foamed in spa cabinets: Read my book "How Spas Are Made" or go to The "Spa Buyers Questions and Answers"
I have found that retailers who have been selling and making their living from selling these old fashioned foam filled spas are sort of displeased with me. Their defense of this design keeps getting more and more silly each and every year. This design is now antique. It was originally used on flimsy tubs made from Rovel starting in 1977 and was totally and completely used for making a foam structure under the flimsy tub shell. They are actually telling customers that the foam is primarily for insulation and it is the best for cold climates. Funny thing! The spa was developed in Southern Coastal California, near Mexico, where it never gets cold.
Huge jet faces on small jets: This is
a sort of illusion. It looks like the jet is big, but it really is a
normal size or small jet. When the jet is taken out of the
looks the same as the old smaller faced jet, and it is. We
noticed spa companies using large faces on small jets and the number of
jets going down, but the illusion is that there are more jets.
is plain marketing "smoke and mirrors".
Dry massage pillows in a water spa!:
o ) Is there anything more goofy than that? We
have enough trouble with normal head cushions. Why would any one
want to think about such a waste of money? Why would you want to
have a "hydo massage" directly on your neck? If I wanted a massage
I can get one at Target for $29 bucks. I want water sprayed on my
neck because it feels so wonderful! That is my opinion.
The jets under the pillow, that are
adjustable up and down: If this is a good idea,
then I got some swamp land in Florida I want to sell you. These
things have no therapy value when compared to our spas. The
intelligence behind this idea, shows a creative desperation for sales.
If you want some real neck therapy, come sit in the neck jet seat in our spas. We have powerful penetrating focused neck jets that take all the tension out of your neck! I really would like for someone to explain how these pillow jets got started. Can you imagine how much it costs to get parts for them when some of the regular pillows cost about $200 for a set. The pillows usually last about three years.
I prefer to have something a bit more practical, with better therapy. You have to come and try our jets. The Springville, Fallsburg (and SCF) as well as the Lakeshore and SC and SE models are some of the most therapeutic spas anywhere. Every one who has tried the Haven neck jets, has just raved about it!
Large spas with tiny foot wells:
OK. Where are the feet going to go? How
friendly are you with your friends? The spa says it seats
six, but only two or three can use the foot well. Think about it.
Silly Jet Patterns: There are really only a
few very important ideas in jet placement that are primary to jet
The neck muscles are small. Unless you are a competition body builder,
jets to medium work best for the neck. 2/ The muscles are on the sides
the spine. Jet patterns that spread the massage around to the muscles
not just the spine make more sense. Rotator jets work well for moving
water from side to side. 3/ Putting heavy pressure on the kidney area
not good. 4/ Too much pressure from small jets is not good. (like
being poked with a Bic pen) 5/ The sacrum
area at the base of the spine seems to love a large jet. 5/ There are
only two pressure points along the sides of the sacruum that a couple
of small jets would be OK.
Lots of water jets spraying upward in a lounge seat: Having a couple of upward leg jets is OK, or several small jets, but more than that forces the occupant to fly out of the seat. Air jets work very well in the leg area of a lounge and in the back area. I saw a spa once that claimed to be the "best spa made". I noticed that it had a really funny louge seat with a water jet in what appeared to be the rectum jet area. I know of some prople who might like that jet, but it seemed sort of funny to me. The spa was fully foamed, had a tiny circ pump, three filters, and a vented cabinet. All terribly poor design features. The "butt jet" was the finishing touch.
Techno jargon words used on ridiculous engineering: a mock example "Massage Control Intelihandles with Pure Water Technology" (put a TM after it and it somehow becomes important). That phrase means absolutely nothing, just like most of those phrases. Whenever I hear or read the word "Purification" used in conjunction with tiny circ pumps is get a chuckle. The two cannot be used in the same sentence much less in the same phrase. If you hear the words something like "Puro-Clean" system use in conjunction with a tiny circ pump, please don't fall victim to this hype.
Using an ozonator with a tiny 24 hour circ
pump: If the water molecules are not contacted with the ozone, there is
no "purification". The tiny pumps do not agitate, stir, move the
water enough to make having an ozonator a
worth while expenditure. In other words if you want good ozonation use
a 20, 30, 40 to 50 gallons per minute pump and move the ozone quickly
with the water. That is what our spas do (40 or 50). Next time
you are in a
Spring store, take a peice of dirt and sit it on top of the water.
how long it takes to move to the filter. Bring a cot, because
will have a long wait. Everytime I did that test, the dirt slowly
AWAY from the filter. Boy, that is really how to move the waste
the filter housing!! If there is little or no agitation of the
water, a stirring action, then how does debris get into the skimmer?
I saw a recent brochure that dedicated and
entire page to describing an ozone system used with a tiny circ pump.
To a non
spa educated person it might sound like it works, but it is pure
use made up techno jargon words that sound like they have a real
but are pure fantasy words. The company that sells this system has had
several problems with each generation of their so called ozone system.
The first system had severe leak problems when the plumbing literally
burned and fell apart. They keep coming back with more and more
nonsense. Their spas are so cheaply made that they are an
embarrassment to the spa industry, but the brochures are sure pretty!
Diverter valves: New article go to "The Spa Buyer's Questions and Answers" Read my book "How Spas are Made" These water flow control valves are a nuisance when plumbed incorrectly.
Some spa companies are using an unrelated
event to make it sound like their brand is safer that the rest. This is
They put some sort of device that supposedly turns of the power if someone gets sucked into a water inlet. First of all, it is absolutely impossible to get caught on a modern portable spa made to NSPI/UL standards. Secondly, the death they are referring to happened in a badly made commercial concrete spa and has nothing to do with a modern acrylic spa made to NSPI standards. It's a desperate marketing tactic. If your suction fitting is broken, and a long hair child were to be near it, the water will spin the hair into a "rope" and draw it into the suction, before the vacuum changes enough to shut off the pump. The best device is a pump that will not run if the suction face plate is gone. That is the only device that will work. I am working on it.
However, some things I require on our spas
to make them as safe as possible: 1. a stouter cover, more difficult
for children to get into; 2. no slippery weak filter lid that can break
or slip out if someone tries to use it for support 3. hand rails to
hold on to while moving about or in or out of the spa and 4. good
illumination in the spa at night. 5/ Follow the ANSI
standards for sefety, We make the strongest heavy duty
steps so people are safe getting into or exiting the spa.
Large humps in the middle of the foot well:
The first time is ever tried a spa with a foot jet mound in the middle of the foot well, I fell down. I noticed that the water hides the mound very well when the jets are on. I noticed that every person who tried the spa either stumbled on it or almost fell and had to grab the wall. When a person stands up, the area to walk in is really awkward. If you are good at walking "like a duck" with your feet in a wide "V" as you go around the mound, you may be just fine with this "innovation". If you really like the mound, and are OK with it, don't forget to warn anyone coming in the spa to watch out for it. When you are sitting in the seat, and have your feet on it, it works just fine, but there are other ways to get leg and foot therapy without the dangerous mound. If you by a spa with the foot mound, make sure you can walk around it. I have seen some where you could not ever get your foot between the mound and the wall of the foot well.
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