Install a Home Spa in Your Backyard for Total Relaxation

The home spa is a secret we discovered many years ago as a method to relieve the stress and strain of everyday life.

There is nothing more invigorating than coming home from work and unwinding in the home spa. Then again throw in a margarita or two and POOF, the total experience is there.

Now we will move on to the things to do and questions to ask:

    • How large do you need it to be?
    • What features do you need?
    • What are the requirements, both electrical and mechanical?
    • How much do they cost? – and more importantly;
    • How much do they cost to run every month?

How large of a spa do you need? This depends on your size and how many people are going to be in the home spa at any given time. Home spas today range in size from a two-adult model to an eight-adult model.

There is a two-person model with blowup or soft sides. This model can be set up and torn down very quickly, There are versions of the hard sided two-person model also available.

The water capacity for a two-person model ranges from 175 gallons to 225 gallons and is available in 110 volts or 220 volts. This can be a problem as there are usually no 220 volt outlets in your house. The 110 volt model will take longer to heat the water.

The water capacity of a larger home spa can be up to 500 gallons of water. They are 220 volt and must be installed by a licensed electrician in accordance with local electrical codes.

My wife bought our first home spa and had it installed by the local dealer. After a few years, we discovered the installer had piggyback wired it to the 220 volt air conditioning unit’s outside electrical panel and had not installed a GFI circuit breaker. Not only was it not on its own branch circuit, there was no ground fault protection. Also, there was no disconnect within 10 feet of the spa. All were code violations not to mention hazards to humans.

Go to your local spa dealer and sit in the unit you are considering. I’m 6’2″ tall and I like the water over my shoulders. I have found some real “reasonable” units that were only 24 inches tall. Way too short for me! So, we kept shopping and found a 38″ tall unit. It was much better!

As to the features, these range from the number of jets, size of the pumps, ozone systems, number of filters, recliners, sound/entertainment systems, water falls and fountains. The list is almost endless, as is the price tag.

The bottom line is, what do you really need and can afford? Our spa is 8′ x 8′ and holds 450 gallons. It has 2 five-horsepower circulation pumps to feed the 36 jets and 1 one HP filtration pump. It does a wonderful job of getting rid of the days aches and pains.

What are the requirements to install a spa?

  • The first requirement is that it should be close to a water source, as it will need to be filled and maintained regularly. If we keep the cover off ours, we must add water every other day to keep it full. This works out to 61 gallons added every other day during the summer months.
  • Next, and also of major importance, is availability of electricity. Ours has a 50 amp, 220 volt wiring connection with a GFI breaker in the main panel and a disconnect within 10 feet of the spa. This is disconnected if any service work is being performed.

All electrical work should be performed by a licensed electrician who will pull all necessary permits.

A note about permits: Sure some cities want to add some money to their coffers, but the real issue happens if something goes wrong or someone gets hurt.

Your insurance carrier is not obligated to pay if the work was not completed according to codes. That is a big risk to take to save a few bucks. Is it worth it? Your spa dealer can advise you of the requirements for your home spa. Please follow them.

Now that you have picked out the unit, all that remains is to determine where to place your home spa. A flat level hard surface is recommended. There will be moisture from a spa, so placing it outside is better.

Remember the access to water and electricity. We placed ours in a sunken extension of the deck under a roof. The spa deck is below the standard deck. It is sitting on four concrete piers running four feet into the ground with a separate deck on them. The spa sits on this deck.

This deck is in contact with nothing except the ground. That way, any noise or vibration is not transmitted to the existing deck. This deck is 29″ below the regular deck surface and the top of the spa is only 10″ above the regular deck. This makes access easy, as you do not have to climb up and over to get in.

The roof really protects the spa from the sun and the elements, not to mention it’s really cool to be in the spa when it’s snowing.

How much to buy a spa and how much to maintain it? My mom had a spa given to her years ago for the grand total of zero dollars.

She knew someone that did not like the one they had and she just happened to mention she was in the market and they said take it My sons got together, threw it on the back of a pick up truck and hauled it to her house. The electrical was run and she was all set.

Free spas are not the norm unless you know someone. The cost can run from a few thousand dollars to well, how much do you want to spend? I saw one at a trade show several years ago for almost twenty thousand dollars.

It had a big screen plasma TV that raised from the end as needed, automatic filtration that monitored chemical levels and adjusted levels accordingly, remote controls, automatic cover removal, well, the list was endless.

If you have money to blow and want to impress everyone, this is the model for you. For everyone else, shop around. I’m sure you will find one that you can afford.

Remember the warranty is important.

How much to maintain a spa? As I mentioned above, we have an 8’ x 8’ spa. It holds 450 gallons. Over the years, we have tried most of the “new” chemical systems and have always gone back to Bromine-based chemicals.

    • Our chemicals cost is around $8 a month;
    • Electricity, to keep the filters and heaters running, averages $20 a month; and
    • Water averages $20 a month.

So, for $48 a month, we enjoy the relaxation for about the cost of one evening eating out.

We hope this article has given you a good basic idea of what to look for and what to expect out of a home spa.

Enjoy the relaxation time you spend in it. After all, aren’t you worth it?

Dave Altman

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