Cal Spas vs Hydropool: Which Hot Tub Brand is Right for You?
Cal Spas deserves credit for opening the hot tub market in North America and doing a lot of early education on hot tubs, convincing people they were affordable and accessible products anyone could own.
But which is the right hot tub brand for you? It’s a fair question. Comparing Hydropool to other brands is common for our retailers, who often are asked questions like, “how are Hydropool different from Cal Spas?” That’s why we wanted to write this article, to give you the best sense we could about what hot tubs we’re selling and what Cal Spas is selling, in the most unbiased way possible. We have always understood we will have competition, and while we hope that everyone would find a hot tub in our lineup to purchase, we do understand people will consider other products.
With that in mind, we are here to compare the two. We will take a look at:
- A model-by-model comparison of hot tubs
- Hot Tub Looks
- Hot Tub Maintenance
- Hot Tub Massage
- Hot Tub Pricing
Hopefully, we’ll figure out which one is the right one for you!
Cal Spas versus Hydropool Hot Tubs: Your Guide to Comparing Model to Model
Cal Spas features the following five collections, which is more than most hot tub companies, which tend to follow a good/better/best approach:
- Patio Spas – with this is the Patio and Patio Plus line
- Escape Spas
- Escape X Spas
- Platinum Spas
- Deck Spas
So the comparison isn’t perfect. For example, Cal Spas’ opening line is the Patio series of hot tubs, which is across the board less expensive than anything Hydropool offers. However, the Patio Plus series eventually moves into a number of larger hot tubs, for up to six people. At that point, the line crosses over into Hydropool’s Serenity series of hot tubs, although the Cal Spas models consist of single pumps, while the Serenity features two. The Escape and Escape X series also would compare with Serenity, in terms of price point and available options, with the Escapes and Serenity all featuring double pumps and several of the Escape X’s featuring three. Essentially, you’re paying for more pumps as you move through the hot tub lineup.
The Platinum series is most comparable to Hydropool’s Signature series, while the Deck spas are two larger spas from Cal Spas that would compare best with Hydropool’s Titanium lineup.
Cal Spas hot tubs have good features and come well-optioned. All Cal Spas hot tubs feature a waterfall, while this feature is optional for Hydropool, and on the Cal Spas company website, you’ll see a significant number of jets highlighted on each product they offer and included lighting packages.
It’s a quirk of the hot tub industry that there are agreed-upon measurements or standards, and the Cal Spas/Hydropool comparison is a good spot to illustrate this, because it can cause confusion for customers when comparing models.
- You might also note that Cal Spas features six horsepower pumps, but Cal Spas is relatively unique in the industry in that it uses brake horsepower as its measurement, which is also noted on the company website.
- Many others in the industry, including Hydropool, use what’s called continuous-duty horsepower.The difference is brake horsepower is the motor’s ultimate output, or the most power possible delivered by the engine, while continuous duty horsepower is the output over an extended period of time as the engine runs. We use continuous horsepower as our measure because it more accurately reflects how people use their pumps, even though the number of hp it creates is smaller.
- Hydropool uses both a three-horsepower pump and a four-horsepower pump on its hot tubs, which are both strong enough to circulate water and power the jets, all while balancing the need for energy efficiency. More power for more jets is an impressive feature, but Hydropool’s hot tubs are designed specifically to deliver effective massage, with the appropriate amount of jets required to massage your whole body and the right amount of power to do so. Any more power increases your monthly costs, so we have strived for effective balances in power, jets and energy consumption.
So already you’re seeing the difference between how the hot tub brands are built and developed.
- Hydropool offers two collections, aimed at the two price points where most people choose to purchase hot tubs, and with a range of options so you can customize the hot tub as you like, while putting an overall emphasis on overall hot tub design and engineering.
- Cal Spas offers a wider range of hot tubs with major popular elements like lights and many jets baked in from every you model you buy, while offering lower pricing on some models.
Cal Spas versus Hydropool: Which Hot Tub Looks Better?
Looks are always in the eye of the beholder and we always encourage people to see hot tubs in person to really judge what they are getting before they order. Some hot tubs may look similar on websites, but only in person can you really tell the difference in how they are made and judge if they are well-built or not. A good retailer of any hot tub brand will be able to show you a model comparable to what you’re looking for so you can judge the quality for yourself.
Some points that stood out for us:
- We really like Escape X’s cabinet at Cal Spas, which is a look carried through the models higher up.
- Cal Spas offers many models with white alone as acrylic options (its 15-tub line of Patio Plus hot tubs are all white, according to the company website), but other models offer up to 14 different colors for interiors, with a red and multiple greys mixing in with multiple neutrals, both marbles and solids.
- Two to three colors, grey and brown, with some adding a taupe as a third choice are typical cabinet options, which is done in a woodgrain finish.
Hydropool takes a different approach with both its Signature and Serenity hot tub collections. Hydropool’s hot tubs are designed classically, meant to fit into any backyard.
- They come with two to three neutral shades on the synthetic woodgrain-style cabinet outside, all greys and browns and blacks, with a selection of the most popular interiors in solids and marbles, which all whites and greys and browns and taupes.
- The odd hot tub will come with slightly fewer options, such as the 970, which features three acrylics than the usual six.
- The overall design idea is for the hot tub to blend into its surroundings without calling undue attention to itself.
Which is the best-looking hot tub? Cal Spas offers either a wide range or a tight selection, while Hydropool offers a selection of choice in most cases.
Cal Spas versus Hydropool: Which Hot Tub is Better for Maintenance?
There are a few key points worth highlighting here, as we consider filtration, sanitization and insulation:
- The Patio and Escape series has one filter while the Serenity has two.
- Both companies offer optional ozone and ozone and UV combos to help clean your water more effectively.
- Cal Spas offers salt water hot tubs as a sanitization option, which Hydropool used to feature but no longer does. Hydropool stopped offering this, even though we recognize that salt water is effective and does clean water well. But we found the level of effort on the part of the customer is higher than with our self-clean model, and Hydropool puts a priority on ease of maintenance in its hot tubs.
- Hydropool’s patented self-cleaning system is available on the Signature collection, which is built to clean your hot tub to the level of a public or commercial pool. It comes with both a top skimmer and a floor drain, which captures anything that floats to the top or falls to the bottom of your tub. That’s different than most companies, which try to clean from the side of their hot tubs and on top, but not directly on the bottom.
- The insulation methods are different, with Cal Spas using a perimeter panel system, with optional full foam. Hydropool used to offer full foam, but switched to a thermal blanket system which provides sufficient heat to insulate your hot tub through Canadian winters, as it makes best use of the residual heat from the pump’s motors, trapping it in the cabinet and warming your water. The blankets also allow you to access your hot tub’s components easily should they ever need repair.
Which is better for you? Salt water or self-clean hot tubs? That’s likely the biggest contrast between the two approaches. But any of the details above may guide your decision here.
Cal Spas vs Hydropool: Which hot tub has the best massage?
The contrast is clear. Cal Spas feature many jets: Every page on its current website highlights how many jets each has in big type. And we agree that jets are awesome, so we understand.
Hydropool doesn’t offer as many jets per hot tub. We have designed our hot tubs to offer a full body massage and have a system where you can move from seat to seat to ensure each part of your body receives a massage, with a focus on wellness. The jets are put in specific places for specific reasons. We don’t have too many because ultimately that requires larger motors and pumps, which all cost you more to maintain over time. Hydropool is trying to provide everything you need and nothing you don’t.
But sometimes, you just want to have more jets! We get it, we get it.
Cal Spas vs Hydropool: Which Hot Tub is Better on Pricing?
These two hot tub manufacturers are aiming for different customers who are looking at hot tubs. Cal Spas doesn’t put its prices on its website that we could see, but we believe it is generally about 10 to 15 per cent less expensive when comparing models with similar options. Cal Spas hot tubs come with many features already included, like lighting and waterfalls, which Hydropool has as options. Having options allows you to customize your spa the way you like it, but some people want them baked in.
Why the discrepancy? Hydropool’s prices are a result of its engineering, which includes its massage wellness program and patented self-cleaning. We encourage you to seek out the hot tubs in each case and see for yourselves where the best value is.
Cal Spas vs Hydropool: Which is the right hot tub for you?
Each hot tub builder has its own priorities when they make hot tubs and each will emphasize different elements.
- If you’re looking for a hot tub with a lot of jets, pump power or want to choose an individual hot tub with a specific seating pattern, Cal Spas excels in these areas.
- If you’re looking for a hot tub with quality massage and low ease of maintenance and good ongoing operating costs, then Hydropool may be where you want to start.
Both Cal Spas and Hydropool have been in the world of hot tubs for around the same length of time, going back to the late 1970s and early ‘80s and both began as commercial or public pool companies. But even though they started at the same time, they have evolved as companies very differently. Hydropool has focused its efforts on two quality lines, while Cal Spas has expanded its number of collections and hot tubs within its collection with a wide array of choice.
That presents you as a customer a choice as well! We hope this article has helped you figure out what works best for you. If you’re interested in learning more about buying hot tubs, we’d suggest our complete guide to buying a hot tub next.
Or if you’d like to talk to a Hydropool retailer, click here to find the one nearest you.
Jon Filson is the senior content manager at Hydropool Swim Spas and Hot Tubs.