Hot Tub Heater Review
The heating system for your hot tub is, without a doubt, the most important part. After all, you can’t really call it a ‘hot’ tub if it is bubbling away with cold water. Unfortunately, however, it’s also the part that often needs replacing the most. As with all spa pool and hot tub parts, there is an enormous range of options to choose from, and in today’s guide, we’re going to break down the facts of hot tub/spa heaters and take a closer look at what you can expect. Let’s get started right away.
About The Product
Before we get started, let’s have a think about what a hot tub or spa heater actually is. As we mentioned in the intro, it’s a vital component of your tub as it is the only thing that gets the water warm - without your heating system working properly you might as well have a cold bath. When you buy your first hot tub or pool, you will, most likely, find that everything works perfectly, and although it can take a while for the tub to heat up, you should be sitting back in the hot, bubbling water pretty soon.
But just like any other heating unit, many different problems can arise with the heating component of your hot tub.
The standard heating components tend to be a little on the delicate side when you buy a standard spa, and that means that eventually they will break down or start going faulty.
And if that falls outside of your warranty, you will want to get it fixed asap.
But what, exactly, are those problems? Delicacy aside, much can go wrong. Your heating elements could trip, causing a short circuit, and water can find its way into the electrics, causing failure. Terminals can burn, the heater housing can suffer from dry fire. The temperature gauge could be faulty, too, meaning that you can’t use your tub due to the scalding heat.
Leaks can occur, too, which can eventually cause damage to the union sleeve and gasket. There are plenty of ways to test for damage, and in certain cases, you might be able to repair the unit. But in the vast majority of instances, the chances are you will have to start looking for a replacement heater for your tub or spa.
Whether you return to the original manufacturer to find your replacement or go for a different brand is up to you. But there are a few things you need to consider. Firstly, does your spa have an analog or digital controller? If it’s the former, then you might want to upgrade to a digital heating unit, as they tend to be more reliable and last a lot longer.
Digital heating units have a more accurate temperature gauge, too, as well as modern additions and features like LED temperature displays and adjustable temperature controls. And, most importantly, there are no moving parts in digital units, unlike their analog counterparts.
Another important point to remember is that branded heating units usually come with an excessive price tag. While manufacturers will often give you better guarantees than those you might find an alternative, there isn’t necessarily that much difference in quality if you know where to look. But you have to bear in mind that using a heater that isn’t made by your spa or hot tub manufacturer may void any kind of warranty you have.
So, let’s take a look at some of the key features that you can expect when upgrading to a new, digital heater for your hot tub, spa, or pool:
- Modernizes your tub - analog parts are breakable and tend to suffer more than digital heaters, which have fewer parts to worry about
- More accurate control - you can heat your tub or spa with pinpoint accuracy when using a digital temperature controller
- Cost effective - buying a new, digital controller could make running your spa or tub cheaper than it was with an analog controller
- Costs little more than a repair - it can cost you anything up to $400 to fix a broken hot tub or spa heater. But a brand new one can be bought and installed for as little as $500
- Plenty of options - As we mentioned above, you don’t have to stick with the manufacturer's choice of a heater. There are far better, far cheaper options than that on the market, so take a look around and see what you can find - you can choose between gas and electric heaters
- Modern technology - Many of the modern spa heaters out there right now are thermostatically regulated, meaning they control the temperature automatically. This saves you a lot of money on heating and energy bills.
You don’t have to wait to upgrade your analog eater to a digital alternative. Yes, it’s a but if an investment, but ultimately you will benefit, and when you consider the money it will save you in utility bills, repair work, and maintenance, it soon pays for itself. This point is particularly the case if you like to use your spa or hot tub regularly, as there are significant savings every time you use it.
Another advantage of using digital controllers is that it uses less energy when you leave it on at a steady temperature all the time than it does to turn it off every time you use it. On average, if you are using your tub three times a week, you are financially better off just leaving it on and then nudging the temperature up slightly when you want to use it.
Of course, you will be better off turning the heater off when you go away for extended periods, but if the tub is a permanent fixture you will be able to use it pretty much any time you want to at no extra cost.
You should also check out online reviews of hot tub heater sellers, and find out which companies have excellent customer service. You’ll find that if something goes wrong, the customer service adviser will be able to talk you through most problems, which you can fix yourself at no cost.
Don’t forget, because digital units have less movable parts on them than analog heaters, it means there are fewer issues that can go wrong, meaning you should never be more than an hour or so away from getting things working again. With analog controllers, you may have to wait weeks for a new part to be ordered and delivered, and you still might need a specialist to fit it for you.
Finally, consider getting a hot tub or spa installed as an investment. And with a working, brand new heater, it could be a huge selling point when you decide to buy a new home and put your current house on the real estate market. Especially if your garden or spa room has incredible views - it could add some value to your home!
What Others Are Saying
When you take a look at the online hot tub and spa heater reviews, there are a few common points to remember. Many people say that making the upgrade to digital was a godsend, and the many issues with analog systems are well documented.
Another common point in praise of the new, digital heaters is that they are incredibly easy to set up and maintain. In general, the best models - such as the Hayward CSPAXI11 - are lightweight but durable, and simple enough for the layman to fit themselves.
Digital controllers are a lot easier to use and operate, too, according to happy digital heater buyers. However, you need to be careful about buying from a reputable company with easy access to customer service advice.
As we mentioned above, when things go wrong, you want to be able to talk with a human to sort out your problem, not send off an email and wait for a fortnight or two to get a response. There are plenty of nightmare customer service stories out there, so make sure you do your research before making a purchase.
According to many buyers, it is sometimes better to spend little extra in order to have the assurance and a helping hand when you need it - something you won’t get from a cheap product you order in from somewhere like China.
Not every tub or pool heater is the same, of course, so make sure you are looking at plenty of online reviews to ensure you get the best possible component for your particular model. Just like anything else in life, there are cheap options, but you will find that it is worth investing in a good quality heater that is renowned for lasting many years without failure.
Be aware of size and specifications - it’s one area where many new buyers slip up. You have to bear in mind that not all tub heaters are compatible with every spa, so it’s important to ensure you have checked the specs and that the heater will fit into your tub.
Also, look for a heater that comes equipped with a safety sensor. This little sensor is such an important component of the heater, and it will alert you if there is a major problem - it’s vital for your safety and health, and that of your family and guests who you invite over for a quick dip in your tub.
A Final Verdict
So, in summary, you can probably tell that we recommend buying a new heater when your old analog one starts to show signs of disrepair or failure. Ultimately, it’s down to you, of course, but at the end of the day you will find that sourcing parts and finding an engineer to fix and repair an analog heater will cost you a lot of time and money.
There are many excellent choices of a hot tub and spa heaters out there, including the Hayward H150FDN and the Raypak 11kw Electric Spa Heater - so feel free to take a look around this blog for more accurate information or head into your local spa seller for more details on the hottest heater units of the day.
Pros and Cons
As with everything in life, there are two sides to every story. With this in mind, let’s weigh up the advantages and disadvantages of getting a new digital heater for your spa, pool, or hot tub.
● Durable design, built for modern lifestyles
● Can leave on if used more than 2-3 times a week, as it is more cost efficient than heating up for every use
● Most digital heaters have safety sensors - vital for your protection against scalding
● Different sizes of units can fit into the vast majority of spa and hot tubs
● Compact options for smaller spas/hot tubs
● Easy to use and maintain - you can pretty much DIY your way out of trouble with a simple phone call to customer service
● Easy to install - because digital heaters have fewer parts than analog alternatives, you don’t need a Bachelor's degree in engineering to install them
● Many affordable options - with so many companies offering new takes on the spa and hot tub heating systems, they are pretty cheap when you consider the costs of repairing an old analog system
● Can burn out - make sure that you ever try heating your system when there is not a lot of water in the tub
● Can be expensive - not all digital units are cheap, of course. Some new all-singing and all-dancing units can set you back almost as much as the hot tub itself
● Too much choice - there are many units available n the market these days, which can make your decision a little overwhelming
Common Questions And Answers
Finally, let's take a look at some FAQs that many people have about the hot tub and spa heaters:
- Are they easy to install?
Yes, most definitely. The newest, digital hot tub and spa heaters are made for the average user to fit and install, and it’s much easier than the older analog systems that have many different parts.
- Can I buy any digital heater?
No, some units don't fit into your tub, and it’s essential that you research and check for compatibility.
- Are they more efficient?
In general, yes. As with all modern technology, efficiency is a key selling point for manufacturers, so you shouldn’t be surprised to see your electricity bills falling just by buying a new, digital unit.
If you're looking for a simple set of hot tub steps with storage for extra convenience, the Confer Plastics Spa Step with Storage is a good choice. Order your step to use with your spa or perhaps for another purpose if you're looking for flexibility. With the dual-function of this product, it can save space and offer convenience.