A Definitive Guide to Hot Tub Accessories, Features and Extras
Hydropool Hot Tubs and Swim Spas
“What else can the hot tub come with?” is a question that every hot tub retailer at Hydropool hears at some point when customers come in to shop. The range of features available for hot tubs is long, and it changes on a regular basis as companies that make hot tubs try out new options and ideas. Most hot tub buyers are first-time buyers, and as a result, it’s understandable that anyone buying a hot tub for the first time doesn’t know what they could have. We get first-timers at Hydropool and people looking to upgrade or buy replacement units, and they all want to know what they could have.
That’s what this article is for. We want to do a rundown of the major options, features and choices you have available to you. Now, there are bigger decisions you have to make before you get to this part, and we cover them in our Ultimate Buying Guide. That includes how many people are going to use the hot tub and must-have elements such as the power source.
This article isn’t about the must-haves, though. It’s the list of extras and accessories. It’s the list of things a salesperson might try to sell you, which you might want or might not want. It’s the list of things to consider if you find yourself with more budget than you thought or if you realized, “hey, it would be nice to walk up steps into my hot tub, as opposed to trying to hop over the side each time.”
Most features and options fall into two categories. For simplicity, we’re going to call them:
• Maintenance Accessories: This will include the variety of cleaning options available, covers, cold weather packages, as examples, all designed to make your life with your hot tub a little easier.
• Convenience, Wellness and Fun Accessories: Umbrellas, built-in ice buckets, stereos, apps, aromatherapy and furniture: There’s a lot to cover here.
Every company making hot tubs won’t have each of these accessories, but all of them are available to you. If we’re referencing something unique, we will be sure to flag it. We hope this guide gives you a good idea of what’s out there and lets you know of a few things you could have before a salesperson springs them on you! Let’s dive in.
Your Definitive Guide to Maintenance Accessories and Options for Hot Tubs
Hot tubs require some work to take care of once you buy them. Engineers at hot tub companies like Hydropool continually work at evolving their hot tubs so that you have to do less and less, and many options on maintenance are now available to customers as a result.
Why are they options instead of built-in? It’s mostly to keep hot tub prices low. After all, you can buy a basic hot tub and maintain it yourself. People have for years. Many people replacing a unit and know how to take care of one are comfortable buying a second one and keeping the same level of maintenance.
But others want a simplified version that allows them to do less and are okay with paying more for that convenience. However you want to approach your hot tub, here’s a look at the options for you to consider, that most manufacturers offer:
Microfilters: Sundance, for example, offers a microfilter that polishes the water. The effect is quite impressive as the water shines when it works. Hydropool abandoned microfilters because of the hassle – they are often clogged and require cleaning or replacing as a result.
Floating or Built-in Sanitizers: You know that floating stick that bobbles towards you every time in the hot tub, that the owner always says, “you’re supposed to leave it in when there’s people in the tub”? (which is true, by the way). You can buy models that build that element in so it doesn’t float.
Ozone: Ozonators help with sanitation – cleaning the water. Ozone helps destroy bacteria and viruses and reduces the amount of chlorine you have to use, as it is doing the same thing.
AOP: This stands for Advance Oxidation Process. It’s ozone and UV mixed together. Combined they are far more powerful than apart and work to eliminate bacteria before it can develop in the first place, also lessening your need for chlorine or bromine.
Salt Water: Salt water systems sound amazing: Natural water, right, like the ocean? How it works is that salt systems convert salt to chlorine through a process called electrolysis. The main benefit is that the water feels soft and smells better than chlorine. The main problem with it is that the electrolysis process produces a high amount of ph gas surrounding the cell where electrolysis takes place. That can cause it to clog, which means spending for more replacement cells and the high amount of ph means you have to spend more time balancing your water. The tradeoffs may be worth it for you though.
Advanced Filtration: Many hot tubs will offer grades of filtration, which removes matter from the water. This can be as simple as larger filters or as complex as unique systems. Hydropool does the latter, offering industry-standard cleaning on Serenity, and then a patented self-cleaning system on the Signature models, which includes a floor vacuum that removes all the particles that fall to the bottom of the tub.
Cold Weather Packages: Manufacturers who sell primarily to sunny states typically offer this as an option: An increased layer of insulation to keep your hot tub warm in the winter. Hydropool doesn’t do this, as all of its tubs are insulated enough to handle Canadian winters.
Heavier Covers: There are different types of hot tub covers. Around 4” is usually the thickest, but some offer even larger, although the amount of value from the insulation returns decreases the more you add.
Cover lifters: These can be hand cranks or electric and are quite popular, especially in cold weather locations. When you’re out of the tub and preparing to head in after a winter dip, who wants to struggle with a cover? Push a button, twist a handle and get inside!
Your Definitive Guide to Fun Accessories & Options for Hot Tubs
There are many options here for fun. Not every hot tub maker offers all of these accessories, but all are available somewhere. If a choice is entirely specific to the maker, we have highlighted them in each case.
Aromatherapy: Add a reservoir to hold essential oils, and with the touch of a button, let them out to tickle your olfactory senses and let you relax even further. Not everyone has this (Hydropool does and Marquis, as examples), but this hot tub accessory can be found.
Lights: There are lights for inside hot tubs and out. You can have corner accent lights that make your hot tub look like a heavenly oasis from inside your house that you can’t wait to get into or lighting options that light up the pad you control the hot tub with, so you can find it in the dark. You can have dazzling pinks and bright blues and funky greens lighting up your water to create the vibe you want or you can have it rotate between all of them. Most companies offer some sort of lighting package.
Holders: Ice buckets, iPad holders, trays that attach to the side of your hot tub so you can put your pitcher of margaritas somewhere, attachable bars with drawers … these hot tub accessories are available through retailers and after-market suppliers. Sometimes these are built-in, and sometimes you have to purchase them separately, but they can be had.
Waterfalls: There are two common types here: Some that pour water so it looks like a sheet and others that line up multiple valves that spray water like it comes from a hose, mimicking the Bellagio fountain hotels in Las Vegas. Others imitate your showerhead, with a wider spray. Kids love them, and the ones that pour water like a sheet can be used for shoulder massage on some hot tubs.
Jets: Every hot tub builder brags about its jets. Sundance has unique Fluidix jets with no moving parts, Bullfrog has moveable jets that allow you to change the jets from seat to seat, while Hot Springs counters with one of the single best jets in the business called the MotoMassage, which is designed to massage your back. Hydropool’s jet package is designed to offer full-body massage. The number of jets you can get with a hot tub can vary considerably, but be wary of anyone bragging about the high number of jets they have. How jets are employed is far more important than their number.
Massage Pillows: Jacuzzi is one who offers a massage pillow as standard. It’s almost like a waterfall: You like back on a pillow and water pours on your shoulders as a massage. Hydropool has it as an optional accessory on its Signature hot tubs as part of what it calls its “Tranquility Package.”
Massage: There are a range of approaches to hot tub massage. This is usually related to jets, but the odd manufacturer takes a different approach. For example, Jacuzzi has unique seats that each target different parts of your body. Hydropool has a wellness package, and in the highest-end version, lights come on in order, telling you how to move around the hot tub to ensure you get an ideal full-body massage. If massage is important to you, we encourage you to try the hot tub out before buying it all possible, it’s really the only way to feel the difference.
Foot Domes: Beachcomber and Bullfrog have this accessory, as examples. It’s a large dome in the middle of the hot tub so the bottom of the hot tub isn’t flat. It features jets that massage your feet as you sit (Hydropool doesn’t have a dome, but offers foot jets on many models, so you can get a foot massage and a flat floor at the same time).
Music: Built-in hot tub stereo? It can be done, many with Bluetooth hookups so you can pair your phone and crank the tunes how you see fit. Forget lugging a speaker with you each time. Most manufacturers have this as an option.
Furniture: Marquis is a leader in this sector, offering sets that match your hot tubs exterior colors and appear built-in as a result that the company calls “environments.” Most companies offer at least steps for a hot tub, which are handy if your hot tub is going entirely above ground. Umbrellas are another popular option if you can’t get your hot tub in the shade. Towel bars, side tables and handrails are other popular hot tub accessories.
Fitness Equipment: If you’re interested in hot tub workouts, we’d encourage you first to consider a swim spa, even a small one, which will give you much more space to properly work out in the water. But you can buy fitness equipment for hot tubs that helps you use the water’s resistance to get a workout. Aquatic dumbbells, stretch cords, ankle weights and fins are all options.
Digital Apps: Some cars let you monitor your car from an app, and hot tubs do this too. Monitor bromine/chlorine levels, and turn your jets on whether you’re ten feet away or 10,000 miles away.
Loungers: Ah, the hot tub lounger. Simply put, it’s a chair where you almost lie down in a hot tub. They often have the most jets and massage options and are designed as a luxury feature. Most manufacturers build hot tubs with and without loungers, giving you the choice of whether you want the most possible people in, or you want one way to sit in style.
Ducks and such: Who doesn’t like toys that float? They are fine for hot tubs, especially if you have young ones. We like ducks the most, but you’re free to choose from many options.
Which Hot Tub Features are Right for You?
When it comes to features, hot tubs are customizable purchases. Most companies offer comparable features, so you will want to shop around to see which ones make the most sense for you. But there are some unique features out there, and that may make your purchase decision easy. Hydropool, for example, is the only company offering self-cleaning capabilities. Sundance is the only one with jets without moveable parts. Bullfrog is the only one with moveable “jetpaks.”
Some companies offer a good hot tub, but provide most of what’s above as options, so you can choose exactly what you want and pay for only that. Hydropool would be in this category. Others include as many of the options as possible, removing choice but delivering you a “loaded” hot tub so you know you’re not missing anything. Others strip away options for a lower price point.
Which is best for you? That’s the fun part, as each person has their own priorities, preferences and choices. We know that from people coming into our stores asking for specific elements, and that’s also why we’ve written this article.
Looking for other elements to hot tub buying? Consider:
• our overall buyer’s guide, click here
• our guide to pricing, click here
If you’re ready to talk to a Hydropool retailer, click here to find the one closest to you.
Jon Filson is the senior content manager at Hydropool Swim Spas and Hot Tubs.