spa pool
Buying guide
Updated 1 July 2021

Spa pool buying guide

What to consider before buying a spa.

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Phil G.
17 Mar 2022
Chemicals for Spas

Don't get sucked in by the salesman selling you a range of chemicals. We were given a box of various chemicals when the spa was purchased and carefully followed all instructions. Included "silver tablets" "balance liquid" anti foam and spa cleaner. We spent about $800 replacing these in the first year . The company probably makes more from selling chemicals than selling spas. Then had a chat with a friend who sells spas for another company who suggested this was all overkill.

Now I use a shock powder & bromine from local hardware store at half the price and maintain good alkalinity, hardness & pH by regular use of Sodium bicarbonate and rarely Sodium carbonate - bought cheaply from local stores. Also wash the filters regularly . Water is changed at 3 - 4 months. Spa is going well at 1/5 of our first year cost.

Most useful extra purchase was a good scientific quality pH meter !

The one thing I can't do much about is the increase in our power bill - between $30 to $40 a month

Chris A.
29 Jul 2021
Just don't get one

Please people, spa pools are noisy, expensive bathtubs that you share with others.
Just don't get one, take a bath.
If you are really inclined to get one of these awful things, check the continuous noise of it. Some are hugely noisy just from the circulation pump.

Pip W.
25 Jul 2021
Wooden hot tubs

Would love any tips advice please.

Richard B.
25 Jul 2021
Consider these before purchasing

Having been in the spa industry I have heard stories of people buying what they think are bargains but end up being a lemon.

# watch out for ones made in China, the build quality, plumbing and electrics tend to be of low quality (hence low cost), insulation also tends to be low grade so a large power supply and heater get added to keep water warm (big power bills).

# a good quality insulated 5 person spa should only need a 10amp power supply (same as household appliances), this would cost $40 to $60 a month in power (even in colder parts of South Island), if it has 20 or 32amp supply you could be paying well over $100 a month if its not properly insulated.

You will also need to pay hundreds more to get specialized power sockets, cables and fuse installed, whereas a 10amp one can plug into a standard house socket.

# ask if the underside of the cover is rot resistant, majority of low priced ones won't be, so the heat and fumes will destroy these in 18 months or so, your cover will then be water logged and need replacement (about $1000 a time). This can make your bargain spa be an expensive one over time.

# check if pricing includes delivery and set up at your house. Most only drop off at the nearest depot at a major city or town for you to collect, delivery and set up at your house could be at least another $1500 or more depending on where you live.

#also check on warranties many may look good at first glance but can have lots of exclusions (usually for the things most likely to go wrong). Some will ask you to send the actual spa back for repair (normally Christchurch or Auckland), some even back to the factory overseas! Those with very long warranties in parts tend to have short time for the labour (this can cost more than the part, especially if you don't live in a major city).

Lastly, just like test driving a car, if possible look to be able to see your spa in person, hop in them and try them out, I find some people completely change their minds on a model once they have sat in them (i.e. not all recliner seats are the same design).

James C.
24 Jul 2021
Suggestion to Consumer

Run a well structured member feedback and results report covering Spa pools.
When shopping for spa pools it seems the industry lacks professionalism. The sales tactics in the spa pool industry make car salesmen and politicians look like amateurs. Hence all the frustration from potential buyers who can't filter fact from pure lies.

Steve S.
24 Jul 2021
Happy with Trueform, but some things to think about

I bought a 5-person Trueform spa a bit over a year ago, and am very happy with it. But there have been some learnings along the way:
- your power bill will go up, significantly!
- even though it's well insulated there's still quite a bit of heat loss (implicit in having a large body of hot water outside). Counter this by having rubber/plywood under the spa, and packing insulation around the shell
- consider getting a heat pump heater, but the additional capital cost may not make it economic
- my family is allergic to chlorine so I've gone with a Simple Silver solution. A fraction more expensive than chlorine, but no fuss and no testing. Just follow the water flow rate instructions, wash/sanitise the filter weekly, and change the silver annually. Works a treat.

But most importantly, don't buy a spa pool on a whim or as a novelty. They're expensive to purchase, install and maintain, so make sure you're really going to use it frequently to get value from it. Otherwise just have a bath!

Bruce L.
24 Jul 2021
Non mains water supply - beware

We had a rural property with roof collection water, and found this didn’t work well with spa use. Despite following a rigorous water treatment regime the spa water became ‘toxic’ and gave users pseudamonus….itchy skin, welts on the body etc. We fitted a uv unit to the house, with usual low micron filters & problem fixed!

Other general comments
- power usage double what retailer advised
- ozone didn’t work
- testing water a pain, soon learnt to add a spoon full of chlorine each time used…and bit more if lots of users. Still check and adjust alkalinity & pH periodically
- replaced cover twice during 10 year life, and should have thrown away when heater/pump element died at 9.5 years old!

We loved it, tho like a dog be prepared for the hassles

Miles R.
10 Jul 2021
Recently brought one

I did a lot of research, reading reviews on forums and looked at a heap of models and websites. We purchased a hot springs one, was meant to be a ex show room unit but by the time we were ready to install they had put a fork lift through it so we got a brand new one. Cost us 38k but was one of the best models and have to say it works wonderfully. Supplier has been great to work with, based in chch. They installed for us over in the west coast. Good after sales support. Salt cleaner system is less maintenance that full chlorine, and you don’t smell like you’ve been to a swimming pool after you’ve been in. The hot spring models are made in the USA others will say they designed in USA but are actually made in China. Yet to see how first full power bill so will know next month that impact.

Rosemary R.
28 Jun 2021
Choices in Spas

So many choices, and lots of Australian companies now in the Spa game. Does anyone have a recommendation of a swimming spa for under $20,000, and how much approx a heat pump would cost to reduce the cost of power?

Richard B.
25 Jul 2021
Hot Spring Spa a good choice

I would go for a Hot Spring Spa, they are all made in the U.S.A to the highest build, plumbing and electrics standards, and are the most energy efficient for all N.Z. climates

Go for one with a 10amp power supply and a 2kw heater which will cost around $40 to $60 a month in power if used 5 times a week.

A heatpump will reduce your costs but usually takes around 5 to 6 years to break even on cost of the heat pump (all depends how much you use the spa), the heat pump also gets attached to the spa so make sure you have space for it.

Theirs are also independent checked for power use (not just whatever the sales person thought of at the time). Other brands tend to use 3kw heaters and 20 or 32amp supply for same size spa, this is due to lower grade insulation being used, your power bill will end up well over $100 a month, plus you will have to pay hundreds for an electrician to install special power sockets and a new fuse on your power board to cope with the large power supply

Joan G.
05 Jun 2021
Members feedback and advice

If Consumer cannot (?) undertake testing of Spa pools what’s preventing them from asking current members for their learnings and recommendations ? There are a few comments from Consumer saying they will do this but have no idea what’s stopping them ?

Fiona D.
20 Nov 2020
Spa pools

Don't understand your hesitation , Consumer,if you can review trampolines over time plus the obvious, strength, durability,and machine performance ,why can't you do it for spa pools ,?

Frank - Consumer staff
23 Nov 2020
Re: Spa pools

Hi Fiona,

Unfortunately, we're unable to review spa pools due to the extremely high cost to purchase and test them, and the time involved in testing for durability. We'd suggest asking for recommendations from friends or family, or check out some online reviews of spa pool manufacturers.

Kind regards,

Belinda R.
24 Sep 2019
Me too

Very disappointed that there are no reviews of spa pools. Consumer - I challenge you to go out and talk to salesmen from the main spa suppliers about why they think their product is the best - and then try to make a decision based on the (heavy duty) sales pitches. It is a nightmare, very difficult to compare products and to decide which of the marketing claims is true. We need your help, please.

Consumer staff
26 Sep 2019
Re: Me too

Hi Belinda,

Thanks for your feedback. Unfortunately we're unable to test or review spa pools due to the costs and the time involved in testing for durability. We'd suggest asking for recommendations from friends or family, or checkout some online reviews of spa pool manufacturers.

Kind regards,

Natalie - Consumer NZ staff

Antony F.
09 Sep 2019
Circulation pump durability

We had a new circulation pump put in just under three years ago after the previous one failed. It failed a month ago ie after 33 months. It cost over $700. The retailer says the warranty is for 24 months.

I wouldn’t spend $700 on a pump that lasted two years. Does Consumer have any suggestions on expected life span for a spa circulation pump so we can remind the retailer about the CGA?

Staff C.
12 Sep 2019
Re: Circulation pump durability

Hi Anthony,

We've got no data about how long a typical spa pool pump lasts, but I agree that less than three years seems too short, assuming the pump has been used as intended. I also wouldn't spend $700 on a pump that lasted just two years.

Kind regards,
Consumer NZ

Julie L.
12 Mar 2019
No product tests or reviews

I joined to read reports and reviews on spas too. I suggest finding a way to let people know on which products reports & reviews are/are not available before joining up. Thanks

Consumer staff
12 Mar 2019
Re: No product tests or reviews

Hi Julie,

Thanks for your feedback. This report provides buying advice only and is currently accessible to all. We haven't claimed to have tested or reviewed any spa pools – unfortunately we're unable to due to costs and time involved in testing for durability.

Fonda - Consumer NZ staff

Marita V.
07 Apr 2019
Spa pool

I bought a Hot Springs spa - two person one, Dec 2017. It has been fantastic and problem-free. My friend had bought a cheap second hand one previously then got a Hot Spring one too. We both paid top dollar - but both got top quality. Worth it! Use it far more than I thought I would.

Lynda M.
22 Feb 2019
Spa reviews - lack of

Mmmm as per previous comment. Joined today also to access spa reviews, but there are none. Pretty disappointing

Catherine C.
21 Feb 2019
No reviews??

I have read through all the comments and it appears I too am another subscriber who has just joined today to get the reviews on spa pools ... but there are none.
I have never purchased a spa before. If any members could please at least tell me which ones they have had positive experiences with, or negative, I would really appreciate it.

bruce h.
24 Jul 2021
hot spring ''prodigy''

I bought one of the above and the pump failed after 11 years . Pretty good when one considers it ran 24/7. Pump replacement approx $1000. Wonderful pool, wouldn't buy another brand . One of the best things we have ever bought.

Scott W.
17 Dec 2018
Spa pools

Hi there, have Consumer done a report comparing electric hot tubs with wood burning ones or gas operated ones?

Consumer staff
18 Dec 2018
Re: Spa pools

Hi Scott,

Due to the costs involved and difficulty in measuring the durability over time, spa pools are not something we can test.

We have noted requests for spa pool reviews from our members, and are considering asking them about their experiences in future appliance reliability surveys.


Natalie - Consumer NZ staff

Previous member
15 Nov 2018
Spa pools please

We need guidance please. Even members feedback would suffice, at a pinch.

Elizabeth S.
13 Jun 2018
A review of Spa Pools please!

Come on, this needs to be done - seems everyone has the same complaint. Are you listening Consumer?

Consumer staff
14 Jun 2018
Re: A review of Spa Pools please!

Hi Elizabeth - unfortunately we are not able to test spa pools due to the costs involved and difficulty in testing durability over time. We have noted the desire for further coverage and will consider asking members about their experiences with brands in future appliance reliability surveys.

Frank - Consumer NZ staff

Consumer staff
30 Apr 2018
Spa pool testing

Hi everyone,

Thanks for your comments. Unfortunately spa pools are not something we can test, due to the costs involved and difficulty in testing durability over time. We'll keep your suggestions in mind - we may consider asking members about their experiences with brands in future appliance reliability surveys.

Fonda - Consumer NZ staff

Angela D.
26 Apr 2018
Please review spas!!

Hi Consumer,

Please do a product review on spa pools!

Previous member
25 Apr 2018
Still no reviews

What are we paying for when this site has very few useful product reviews?

Previous member
03 May 2020
Disappointed also

$20 to join up for something not here.. Guess they have to make money somehow.

I challenge that this isn't something that could be pulled together, even off consumer member experiences and feedback.

Anyway, thanks for nothing

Previous member
28 Dec 2017
Spa Pools

Your article is good but very general. Please review some common brands Cheers Sue

Kim F.
02 Dec 2017
Spa pool recommendation

Can Consumer please do a spa pool review? There are so many options and the prices vary so much!!

Previous member
09 Nov 2017
Need for spa pool review

I too joined consumer to see what review/tests had been done on spa pools. We are doing home renovations and want to look at purchasing a spa pool. Having now read some comments i am reluctant to buy just now. When is it likely consumer may look into reviewing or testing spa pools?

Previous member
18 Sep 2017

I would also appreciate consumer actually investigating and making comments and recommendations. I find it pretty difficult to assess the quality, differences in sanitation systems, and realistic running costs.

John H.
19 Aug 2017
The Need for a Spa Pool Review

Hi- It would be great if consumer investigated Spa pools in more detail. Our personal experience as first time spa owners has been to have 3 spa pools replaced in the last 18 months due to leaks and delamination issues. In addition there have been a string of minor faults. As a electrician I was not that impressed with the way the units are put together and now have some concerns about the SDoC supplied . I would be happy to share my correspondence and photos / videos with Consumer as it would catalouge a good range of issues encountered purchasing from a national supplier. Regards John

Tony G.
17 Jun 2017
Confused by articla

"vinyl cover made that fits over the top of your spa and goes underneath the insulating lid. This cover stops any water vapour from getting to the lid. The sealing effect also helps reduce heat loss through the lid of the spa. You need to be careful of rain water pooling on top of this cover, but for most people dealing with pooled rain wate"

If the vinyl cover is inder the insulating lid, how does raineater get to it? Is this a misprint? I'd like to know as or hot spring cover needs replacement, after only 3 years and i'd like to oritect the new one better.

Previous member
29 Jan 2017
Is it worth spending more on an spa pool?

There are so many cheap options but we have been warned off some brands. Can anyone recommend a good brand we can purchase in NZ?

Vicki R.
28 Apr 2017
Update please?

Hi David, did you manage to find a good spa pool brand that you can recommend? Which brands were you warned off? Any tips would be appreciated - thanks

Christopher H.
17 Aug 2017
spa pool review

I joined Consumer specifically to read reviews spa pools but there doesnt appear to be any !

Previous member
18 Aug 2017
Re: spa pool review

Hi Christopher,

Sorry you haven't found what you're after. This report is a buying guide on purchasing a spa pool. We haven't reviewed any models, but will pass your suggestion to our team.

Kind regards,
Fonda - Consumer NZ staff

Previous member
20 Aug 2017
Yes update please

Yes David T and Vicki R which brand do you recommend and any tips as I am interested aswell-Thankyou very much

10 Jul 2021
Alpine Spas, Good Choice

I see lots of requests for feedback on spas, so thought I would share our experiences. We have had two spas. Our first was a cheaper model. Don't recall the brand, but was low spec. Water was chlorine treated and it had little insulation. Having said that, we got a lot of pleasure out of it. Some ten years later we got a new model from Alpine Spas after doing a lot of online research. It has triple insulation, a bigger pump and heater, and a UV-ozone treatment system. This means much less chlorine, and our skin never smells. Costs for running hard to estimate, because we fire the pool up at the same time we start winter heating using our heatpump (Not used much about 30min morning and again in evening - see below). Total additional cost for both ca. $50/month, so probably 20 to 30 of that due to pool, not bad. We use it every night and are so warm we hardly heed to heat the house when we get out! We paid about 7k the pool and same for a gazebo, about 1500 to have all delivered and installed. Gazebo or some form of shelter helps a lot.