Whether you’re a new spa owner or just shopping around, its important to know what you’re getting into with a new hot tub. A good spa is really more than just a puddle of hot water. You’re probably familiar with popular selling points like the seat types and jet count, but what really makes up a quality spa is the mechanical components within it. American Whirlpool and Vita Spa uses the popular brands of Balboa and Gecko parts. Balboa and Gecko parts are well known for their consistent high performance and are easily replaceable if needed. Let’s explore what exactly is in your hot tub that makes it tick.
Control Pack: You could say the control pack is the brains of the hot tub. It controls the heaters, lights, jets, and more. The control pack is the motherboard of the spa. Within its settings you can control the internal clock that controls filtration cycles and vacation settings. Basically any function of the spa is controlled by the spa pack.
Topside: Technically this is on the outside of your spa, but it is an important component none the less. The control panel, or topside, allows you to control the spa. It talks to the control pack letting it know exactly what you want the spa to do, turn on or off the jets, adjust the temperature, control the lights, and more. These can be most commonly found in two different forms: the push button or the newer touch screen models. American Whirlpool and Vita Spas uses a both depending on the model you choose. The Smartouch3 and K1000 touch screens are the most innovative, top of the line topsides in the market today.
Heater: You can’t really have a hot tub without hot water. Most hot tubs use electrical resistant heaters. Water is pushed through the assemble housing where it comes into contact with a hot element coil that transfers the heat generated into the water. 4 kilowatt and 5.5 kilowatt heaters are used within American Whirlpool and Vita Spas. These are variable heaters, heaters that heat only to the power needed instead of traditional heaters that run on full blast constantly. These heaters are more efficient, saving you money over time and uses less electricity. A common hot tub error message, “dry heater code,” may mean that water is not flowing through the heater properly and it is currently running dry. To prevent more damage and to alleviate the code your first remedy to try should be to ensure the tub has sufficient water flow. Open all of the diverter valves and clean your filters for best flow.
Pumps: The pump in your spa is responsible for water circulation and powering the jets. Most spas may have one or two pumps with one or more speeds. Some spas will also have a circulation pump. The circulation pump only moves a fraction of the amount of water a typical pump would, but it runs quietly for 24 hours for constant circulation. You’ll often hear about the horse power within these pumps, but that’s not the only factor in determining the power of your pump. Pay attention to the frames each pump has. A 48 frame pump is the more cost efficient option, but it doesn’t have the longevity of a 56 frame pump. The 56 frame pump is more efficient, saving you money in the long run with less friction and more power.