An important first step.
I’m going to tell you something you may not hear anywhere else. Forget about the number of jets and the horsepower of the motors. Insulation? Always important, but for this essay, it’s down the list. The tub color: insignificant! Your first concern should be…drum roll, please: electric requirements. Now isn’t that exciting! Not really, but when budgeting for a new hot tub it’s highly significant. I’ll explain.
The evolution of hot tubs.
Times change, and so does hot tub technology. What was ‘fancy’ or ‘state-of-the-art’ fifteen or twenty-years ago is now, dare I say, outdated. Massive changes to pump technology, numbers of pumps, and electrical requirement have evolved, just like the industry in whole. Plus, changes to the National Electric Code (NEC) have affected electric requirements, too. In the process, most hot tub manufacturers have modified or outright changed their electrical supply line needs. Guess what? If they are operating within the NEC standards, they are free to do so. This is a good thing though, as it means that the supplied electric is proper for the hot tub it runs.
Where does this leave you when shopping for a new tub?
Simply stated, it leaves you with options. One: dive headfirst into finding your new hot tub with the realization that you may need to run new electric. If you go this route, make sure to add the upgrade to your budget. Two: find a great hot tub that can operate with your current electric set up. All things being equal, I’ll take number two.
When replacing a really, REALLY old hot tub, you may have no choice but to run new electric. Most pre-1996 units did not require an inline ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) as it was included in the control pack. This is no longer the case with new hot tubs.
Different strokes for different folks.
Make that ‘different wiring for different tubs’. Okay—weak analogy, but still true. Units sold by Eastgate Pools over the past thirty-years have evolved from 50-amp, three-wire, #8 THHN copper wire requirements. Now, they require either 50 or 60-amp, with four #6 THHN copper wiring. Fortunately, on older units, many electricians ran 4-wire lines and capped off the unneeded line. If you have an old 3-wire line you need to add the fourth wire. Not the end of the world, by any means.
Fortunately, for the past eighteen years, little has changed with most of the hot tubs sold by Eastgate Pools. Our PDC line requires a 50-amp disconnect, located between five and twenty-five feet from the unit. Two #6 black, one #6 white, and one #6 copper wires are required. For Saratoga Spas, everything is the same except they require a 60-amp service. If retiring an old Sundance, Saratoga is an excellent choice. However, make sure you have a fourth wire.
If you have a plug & play 110v unit and are replacing it with the same, you are probably good to go. The GFCI is built into the cord. However, you should verify that it will be plugged into a dedicated 20-amp breaker line, not a 15-amp.
If this sounds ominous…
I know…that last paragraph was boring, and likely a little confusing. Don’t get scared away. If your old hot tub was from Eastgate Pools & Spas, we will have it on record. This will tell us what your current electric set-up is and if it is adequate. Our sales professionals will help you find the unit that fits your needs AND your existing electric line. We also provide you with a schematic of exactly what you or your electrician need for your new hot tub. If adjustments are needed, this should make everything clear.
Some retailers do a simple drop off of your new hot tub when they deliver. Then it’s ‘adios amigo… call your electrician for hook up’. We’re different. Our technician connects to your supplied power line, fills the tub with your water source, and leaves with it running. We don’t want any surprises or you. That’s why we give you a complete electric needs diagram when you purchase your hot tub. If you pick up a schematic before buying, remember it is for one of our units, not a competitor’s. Theirs will be for a different manufacturer with different requirements.