When considering which brand of hot tub or swim spas to buy it’s always important to consider long term costs of ownership as well as upfront costs. A hot tub is easily a 10-20 year investment depending on the quality and how well its maintained and most tubs require some repairs to be made over time. Those repairs can be very costly especially if the brands and parts they are using are proprietary. Most parts in the hot tub industry be it heaters, motors, jets, plumbing, fittings, and filters are industry standard and widely available online and offline thru traditional dealers and service centers. In fact, many hot tub retailers, dealers, and service centers will service other brands because parts are so widely available. The convenience and accessibility of parts makes them less expensive and competitive. However, there are some brands that use proprietary hot tub parts which means you are locked into purchasing those items directly from that particular manufacturer or dealer at a higher mark up because you are left with no other choice. In some situations, you can buy retrofit kits or find a service technician that’s experienced enough to do his own retrofit to make a generic part or piece of equipment work in an otherwise proprietary hot tub but that is rare. Furthermore, you would think that if something is proprietary it’s because of a unique, innovative, or unconventional technology that makes it better than what might be available in the general market but that is not the case as a manufacturer can tweak a part (jet or heater) to make it proprietary.
Some brands using proprietary components are Jacuzzi Hot Tubs and Hotspring Spas especially in their more premium models. Some of the proprietary components are things like pillows, jets, control panels, motherboards, salt generators, etc. These things would have to be purchased directly from an authorized Hotspring Spas or Jacuzzi Hot Tubs dealer or service center. Another example is Coast Spas who builds a line of hot tubs called the Cascade Series which features a negative edge on one side of the hot tub. The negative edge feature has a patented unique overflow tank inside the cabinet of the hot tub that can hold the displaced water when bathers are in the tub. If this tank where to get damaged or fail then it would have to be purchased directly from Coast Spas at whatever price they wanted to charge. Another example of or proprietary brand of hot tub is Bullfrog Spas. Bullfrog’s proprietary technology is more unique in nature as it features “jet packs” that slide in and out of the hot tub seats so that you can change the jet configuration (and jet type) in your seats thereby changing the massage. Very cool feature, however, these jets packs are quite expensive to replace and can only be bought from a Bullfrog Spas dealer or authorized service center. The last example we will give is in the swim spas category. One particular brand that is well known and features a patented, unique technology is Endless Pools. Endless Pools has swim spas with a swim current system that is driven by a propeller versus the traditional jetted system (swim jets) found in most swim spas. To begin with, Endless Pools are some of the most expensive swim spas on the market and if the swim system fails at some point down the road then you are faced with a costly repair because the replacement parts can only be purchased from an Endless Pools dealer, retailer, authorized service center, or manufacturer itself.
The aforementioned brands build a quality product and have a good reputation, however, failures and problems due occur with any hot tub regardless of brand and do require repairs over time. The question is do you want to pay a premium or know that you’ll get convenience, availability, and competitive pricing when you need it? It’s important to consider the pros and cons of every hot tub brand you are considering and one of the areas of consideration is proprietary parts. You may still choose to purchase a hot tub that is proprietary but hopefully this article will help you understand that this is something that should not be overlooked.