Sundance vs Hydropool Hot Tubs: Which is best for you?
Comparing hot tubs is part of the buying process for most customers. After sorting out what brands are good purchases, narrowing the choice between a couple of brands is a common approach and one we see often at Hydropool. The problem then is sorting out what the differences between two brands actually entail, so you can be assured your final choice is a good one. “What is the difference between a model from Sundance and one from Hydropool?” is a question that often gets asked at our Hydropool retail outlets. We have grown to expect this, as both brands are popular lines with long histories selling hot tubs in North America and around the world.
We want hot tub consumers to understand what they are buying when they consider Hydropool, and we know they will comparison shop. That’s why we wrote this piece, so people could understand the difference between the models and ultimately decide which was the right fit for their needs.
We will consider:
- What’s the lineup of each brand?
- Which hot tub looks best?
- Which hot tub is easier to maintain?
- Which hot tub is less expensive?
- Which hot tub’s massage is best?
- Which hot tub is more efficient?
We hope by the time you reach the end you’ll have a better sense of which is the right one for you.
Hydropool Versus Sundance: The Lineups
Comparing the two brands requires a little bit of work as a result.
- Sundance’s 880 and 980 collection is comparable to Hydropool’s Signature Platinum line. A closer look will make clear that Sundance offers more standard features with the 880 and 980, while Hydropool has more options for customization.
- The Sundance 680 and 780 lines blend together to make up Hydropool’s Serenity Collection and the Signature Gold Series. The 680 is entry-level, without some of the features the base model that Serenity has.
Hydropool versus Sundance: Which Looks Better?
What makes this a tough choice here for buyers is that both Sundance and Hydropool take a classic approach to hot tub appearances. As a result, models look very similar across the lineups.
From a distance, for example, the only noticeable difference between the 780 by Sundance and the Signature by Hydropool is that the lines on the Sundance are vertical and the Hydropool’s are horizontal. The 880 and 980 switch to horizontal lines, which Hydropool uses in all of the Signature cabinets.
Why are they so similar? While brands such as Hot Springs, Jacuzzi and Bullfrog have increasingly pushed the limits on hot tub aesthetics, both Sundance and Hydropool have kept an approach that features classic woodgrain-style paneling (even if it’s not made of wood anymore, but a more durable synthetic) and a range of neutral-focused acrylics.
What we have found is that most customers prefer the classic look of woodgrain, which allows the hot tub to blend into most backyards rather than stand out. However, we understand visuals are subjective, and some may be looking for something different.
So most differences on visual choices are minimal. For example,
- Sundance typically offers five acrylics to Hydropool’s six. A black/grey finish called Black Opal is unique to Hydropool, while they share silver, white, cream, brown and black marble options.
- On higher-end models, though Sundance offers three cabinets to Hydropool’s two. Sundance offers a light grey along with a rich brown and a charcoal, while Hydropool has a black and a brown/grey it calls Driftwood. Most models across both lineups though offer two choices.
The Sundance 980 has a large built-in ledge on one side that can act as a bar that is unique in the industry. The internal seating design also stands out from the competition as where the company has put its design effort.
Hydropool has had a similar approach of emphasizing the internal acrylic shells as opposed to the outside cabinetry. Its approach has been to create a hot tub that blends into your backyard rather than stands out. It has added additional features to both lines such as the Tranquility package, which offers more lights, to freshen up the appearance.
One curious design quirk: Sundance is also a lower-profile hot tub, with a higher floor. That makes is look a little sleeker. But while the seating for each is similar, the floor is higher than the Sundance, making the seating position a little different inside the hot tub.
Which brand looks the best?
The approach by both is the same: Both are classic brands, which have been around a long time. No obvious best here, this one will come down to personal preference.
Which Hot Tub is Easier to Maintain: Hydropool or Sundance?
When it comes to maintenance, these two heavy hitters take unique approaches. Hydropool’s self-clean system, available on the Signature line of hot tubs, is unique and patented in the industry and is based on commercial pools. Sundance’s approach puts a bigger emphasis on filters.
Hydropool’s self-clean functions like a commercial pool or public pool, which are held to a much higher standard than what other hot tubs are. That means it is built to pick up debris that either floats or sinks. Its patented system is the only one of its kind with a floor vacuum.
Its pump placement is also different than everyone else in the industry. Hydropool puts the filter behind the pump, which ensures 100 per cent of the water is pushed into the filter, with 100 per cent of what’s floating off the top or sinking to the bottom filtered out.
Sundance pulls water with a suction from 8” to 10” off the bottom in multiple spots on their hot tubs. The hot tubs also feature skimmers at the top. Where the company has put its effort is the filter, which is 120 square feet, as opposed to Hydropool’s, which maxes out at 75 square feet.
Sundance is also creative in its use of the filter, turning it so it sits horizontally, and creating suction through both sides of the filter. Most hot tubs only have suction on one side, which is less efficient. Sundance is making the most of its filter, no question. On non-self-clean models, for example, Hydropool uses a vertical filter.
In higher-end models, Sundance features two-stage filtration, which includes a microclean filter, which Hydropool does not offer. Water almost looks “polished” when it goes through a microfilter.
Hydropool used to offer a similar filter that it called a dual-core filter. It abandoned it because the micro filter often clogs – a predictable issue in a filter with such small holes -- which ultimately causes the pumps to shut down as a precaution. (As the water supply dwindles due to the clog, a switch is triggered to shut down the pumps, so they don’t damage themselves working without sufficient water).
- Both companies offer UV and ozone cleaning systems, which act as preventative measures against bacteria.
- Both companies also do away with any floating cleaning system, as Hydropool has a built-in brominator while Sundance has a similar attachment to its filter.
- When it comes to pumps, at the higher end both lineups are similar, but at the lower end Hydropool features a low-amperage pump.
Which is easier to maintain?
What you’re deciding between: Hydropool’s self-cleaning system is unique in the industry. So is Sundance’s approach to filters and how the company uses them. Sundance might make its water glisten with its microfilter, while Hydropool’s is less taxing on owners as it requires less effort. It all depends on what you’re looking for.
Which Hot Tub is More Energy Efficient: Hydropool or Sundance?
Hydropool uses a thermal blanket to keep its hot tubs warm, working off the same principles as a triple-paned window. Sundance uses what’s known as full foam when it comes to insulation, which means the hot tub cabinet is entirely filled with foam. It offers a blanket as an option for colder climates.
Both models are certified by the California Energy Commission, which has the strictest standards in the world. So both work, no question.
Hydropool used to use full foam but abandoned the practice after it realized it could replicate the result with a thermal blanket that also allowed access to all the hot tub’s parts during service. The primary issue with a full-foam insulation system is that when it comes to servicing, you end up having to cut out a great deal of insulation to find any issue. It’s a bit of a mess and adds to the cost of any service call as all that insulation has to find its way back somehow.
Full foam support plumbing is a good system and insulates very well. But Hydropool found it’s also a little less efficient than the thermal blanket method, which traps heat created from the motor within the hot tub cabinet. There’s no wasted heat in the winter with a thermal blanket – all of it is used to keep your water warm.
Which is more energy efficient?
Hydropool’s blanket system is easy to service and makes efficient use of your pump’s residual heat while being warm enough for the coldest parts of Canada, while Sundance’s full foam insulation provides support and insulation but is harder to service. The choice is yours!
Which Hot Tub is Better at Massage: Hydropool or Sundance?
Just as Hydropool is known in the industry for its patented self-clean system, Sundance is known for its patented jets. Known as “Fluidix Jets,” Sundance has a well-deserved reputation for quality massage because of their legendary jets.
The jets were developed by Bowles Fluidics Corp, and have no moving parts, working off the principles of fluid dynamics, oscillating without using a bearing. It’s a marvelous and unique feat of engineering.
What does that mean for you, as a customer? It means the jets very rarely break while providing industry-leading massage capabilities.
Hydropool might not be able to match the patented jets, but it has put a tremendous effort into its massage program as well. It has created a circuit system called “Zone Therapy” in which you move from seat to seat to get a whole-body massage for everyone who needs one. Hydropool has focused less on the jets themselves and more on the benefits of massage, developing programs for the most common reasons why people want massage in a hot tub.
Which is better at massage?
The best jets with Sundance or the best hydrotherapy program with Hydropool? You’re in good hands, so to speak, here either way as both companies put a premium on their massage capabilities.
Which Hot Tub has the Better Price: Hydropool or Sundance?
Pricing is basically similar across the lines. For the price of any model on each side, you’ll be able to come up with a comparable model from the other manufacturer. What’s different is how you get there: Sundance comes with few options, as packages are built in, while at Hydropool you can customize your approach with various option packages, so you can choose what you’d like to pay for.
- At the time of this writing, Hydropool’s lowest-cost model is published at $12,995 Canadian, and at the top end is $14,895 Canadian, plus available option packages.
- Sundance provides ranges on its website, with published pricing beginning at $8,000 U.S. (about $11,000 Cdn) and topping out at $15,999 (around $22,000 Cdn).
One relevant pricing element worth being aware of heading into 2023 is shipping costs, which vary widely depending on where you are in the world:
- If you live in Canada, Sundance is sold in U.S. dollars and shipped from Mexico, which can make it cost more. Hydropool ship from its Mississauga, Ontario, manufacturing location in Canada, with its products made and sold with Canadian dollars.
- Conversely, if you’re looking to purchase a hot tub in the U.S., Sundance is likely less expensive when it comes to shipping, because west of the Mississippi, it’s likely going to be cheaper and there are no exchange rate issues.
- In Europe, the situation is currently reversed. The exchange rate with Europe is more favorable to buying from Canada than the United States, which favors Hydropool.
Which is better on price?
Shipping is an aspect you will want to talk to a retailer about, to find out the costs in your area, but these two brands generally match up.
Which is the Better Overall Hot Tub Buy, Hydropool or Sundance?
Shopping for a hot tub often involves comparison shopping and it is little wonder that Sundance and Hydropool end up being on many shoppers’ comparison lists. Sundance and Hydropool have both been around for decades in the hot tub business. They are both quality companies making good hot tubs, with Hydropool based out of Canada, and Sundance out of California.
Which is the right one for you? It depends on what you value and what you’re looking for in a hot tub.
- What’s similar: Pricing will be very similar between the two builders, and both take a classic approach to overall design and looks.
- What’s different: Each company takes its own approach to energy efficiency and insulation, with Hydropool using a thermal blanket and Sundance using full foam.
- What’s unique: Sundance has its patented FluidIx jets for their massage, while Hydropool has its own unique patented self-cleaning maintenance system, available on its Signature line.
We wrote this article so anyone could understand what the differences are between two leading hot tub manufacturers. We wanted to do our best to write an unbiased article that spelled it all out. We hope we have, so you can make an educated choice on which is the best hot tub you can buy.