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Hot Tubs and Spas Name Brands vs. Big Box Brands…
Which Is the Best Value?

Why spend $500 dollars more for a name brand hot tub? The hot tubs sold by the big box stores, through “road shows” and internet are cheaper, so they must be a better value, right? The answer is: they are almost never better. How can that be? The reasons that they are not a better value may be a surprise to you and here they are.

Well, to begin with, name brand hot tubs provide better features, reliability, warranty and dealerships. Just who are these name brand hot tubs? Most industry experts would say Sundance Spas, Marquis Spas, Hot Spring Spas, Jacuzzi Spas and Dimension One Spas are name brands. Other brands like Caldera, Bullfrog, Artic, Beachcomber, Maxx and Cal Spas are also well enough established to be considered.

Big box, road show, and internet brands are usually “off-brands” and the off brands are constantly changing for good reason.

Pricing - Typically, the off-brand hot tubs are cheaper. Here’s a list of why:

Best Value 1. Delivery and set up on your deck is usually not included, just curbside delivery. $200 to $300

2. No local service people to provide the warranty coverage for labor and materials. $0 to $500

3.  Incomplete, incorrect, or no water maintenance items. $25 to $75

4. Their standard hot tub cover is cheap, and a poorer insulator. $200 to $300

5. Their hot tubs usually have inadequate or no insulation. $200 to $500

6. Their hot tub structure is typically thin, stapled together wood. $100 to $200

7. Their siding is usually the cheapest possible, poorest looking and not durable. $200 to $400.

Features - Off-brand hot tubs that sell mainly on price may look good, but they usually have the following issues :

Best Value 1. Jets: They usually have lots of little jets to look good. However, little jets do not provide good hydrotherapy. Lots of little jets create hot spots on your skin and poor deep tissue massage.

2. Plumbing: Their invisible plumbing systems are designed only to be easy to connect the jets and not maximize water flow.

3. Filtration & Sanitization: Their filtration and sanitization systems are usually “old technology” and are much less effective.

4. Comfort: Their molds used to form the acrylic are simple and good for quick production, not for user comfort.

5. Controls: Their digital controls are usually from off brand sources with questionable reliability.

Best Value Reliability -  All hot tub and spa manufacturers have occasional problems. However, there’s no question that name brand hot tub manufacturers have superior quality assurance programs and use the most effective quality control procedures possible. Why?

Well, the name brand manufacturers have their own names on their products and they did not get to be major manufacturers by building unreliable hot tubs. Another less obvious reason is that good hot tub dealers are very demanding about their hot tubs being reliable. Off brand hot tub manufacturers with unknown product reliability have little choice, but to sell through other outlets.

Name brand manufacturers use only the best components and materials. They constantly monitor the quality of purchased materials. Off brand manufacturers are much less likely to do this because it’s expensive and consumers can’t see it.

Best Value Warranty - There are many differences in hot tub manufacturer’s warranties. Consumers should literally run from alleged “lifetime” hot tub warranties, warranties that the retailer cannot explain to you and warranties with lots of fine print. Warranties are with the manufacturer and are only as good as the dealer is able to provide support to the customer. The “off brands” are now starting to even come from China. Just what kind of warranty support do you receive from big box stores, road shows, internet hot tub sellers selling “off brands”? “Call this number and they will take care of you”.

Dealerships - Most hot tub dealerships sell name brand hot tubs and are there to help customers have a very enjoyable hot tubing experience. The big box stores, road shows, internet hot tub sellers do not. Where will customers get help about hot tub installation and operation? What are the best water maintenance supplies to use? Why is the water cloudy? Who has the answers to dozens of other hot tub questions?

Best ValueWho will gladly do any warranty support work and be the customer’s advocate if there are real warranty problems? Who’s there with a complete selection of hot tub filters, parts and supplies for all the hot tub models that they sell? The big box stores, road shows, internet hot tub sellers? I’m afraid not! It’s your local hot tub dealership that will do all this when it’s needed.

So there it is. Which is the best hot tub value: big box brands, or name brands? I’ll let you decide.
Author Roger Sanders is the Owner of Bend Fireside. Connect with him on .