When many consumers begin shopping for a spa, the idea of plug-and-play almost always comes up for consideration. There are some immediate advantages that attract many perspective buyers, not the least of which is the basic ability to plug in your new hot tub to a standard wall outlet, without the need for expensive and often logistically difficult wiring upgrades, along with the tedious certifications and permits associated with home electrical enhancements. Being able to purchase a spa and power it directly off the same style of outlet that easily runs your vacuum, laptop, or coffee maker—that makes the entry point to adorning your home with a hot, bubbly place to soak seem much easier and immediately attainable, and since relaxation and pain relief are two of the central desires in buying a spa, simplification of the process is almost invariably regarded as a good thing.
Softub has earned many distinctions in its almost four decades of American-made spa production. To begin with, they were the very first company to introduce the idea of a plug-in hot tub to the global market in 1986. The company engineers that prototyped and patented Softub’s Hydromate heaterless pumping system took the entire industry aback, as they had invented a way to heat spa water off of the waste energy of the same pump that ran their spa’s powerful, therapeutic jets. This not only established Softub as the most energy-efficient hot tub ever created, but it also gave the product its own niche space in a sea of unwieldy and exponentially more costly hard-wired, cabinet-style tubs. When they combined their green-heating patents with a beautiful, light-weight memory-foam soaking space that provided a forgiving and versatile place to unwind and recharge without the cumbersome and costly trappings of traditional spa installation, Softub quickly rose to become one of the most desirable and instantly popular spas in the world.
As decades passed, the hot tub industry at large couldn’t deny both the appeal and market segment Softub had innovated, and as competition is often the most sincere form of flattery, companies from all corners of the spa spectrum began to try their hand at creating a plug-and-play spa to attempt to bring interest back to their brand offerings. Now in the 21st century, consumers looking for plug-in spa options are met with a deluge of potential possibilities that all claim to offer the same quality, accessibility and overall product performance that Softub has become synonymous with. This is the point at which the discussion is met with some pretty definitive forks in the road, and if the customer is not discerning and careful in their spa choice in this ever-growing spa market segment, their enjoyment of the new hot tub they just bought may be greatly dampened by their choice of a product that turns out to be not only disappointing, but often a far cry from their initial desires and expectations, as well as a waste of both their time and money. The following is a helpful reference on what to avoid when shopping plug-and-play spas:
The 110V/220V Hot Tub Conundrum
- The Problem
Every major player, as well as a host of minor ones in the hot tub industry has recognized both the need for and attraction to a 110V spa model; thus, consumers find both top brands and knock-offs presenting plug-in options that, at a glance, look almost exactly like their more elaborate and expensive siblings. These entry-level, hard-shell spas and random, round or pseudo-geometrically styled hot tubs universally tout an illusion of versatility: the ability to plug in or hard-wire at the customer’s choosing. This, to the uneducated buyer seems to present the best of both worlds. If the spa buyer does not wish or is simply unable to upgrade their home’s electrical system, they can just plug right in, and if their desires or capabilities change later, they are still able to convert that same spa to a higher output and more energy-efficient power protocol at some point in the future. Sounds great, right? Well, it absolutely does…until the reality of how these spa styles boast 110V/220V is made imperially clear. In short, if a spa has a heater providing warmth for the water and a pump motor powering the jets—two separate devices both calling for electrical juice—on a 110 outlet, you cannot run both at the same time as there simply is not enough available power for simultaneous operation. Basically, then, when your jets power on, your heater must power off. This breeds a dramatic dive in temperature and disappointment in functionality. And if the customer then decides to commit to the expense of upgrading their power source, the problem still is not eliminated as the heater in these deceptive tub types was made to run on 110V current, and thus, it is definitively small, so even if the wiring upgrade allows for synchronous function, the tiny heater will drive energy costs up exponentially, making the adage serve: darned if you do, darned if you don’t.
- The Solution
This is where Softub’s heater-less patent knows no equal. The Hydromate Pumping System tops the crop with the ability to run both jets and heat at the same time off the same device plugged into a single, standard outlet. And as waste-heat from the pump’s operation is continually funneled through the jets, customers can enjoy long, luxurious soaks with far greater heat and an average electrical cost for 24-hour-a-day temperature control of under $15 a month. This is why Softub has no 220V option because we have no need of it in order to provide jet power, thermostatic control and energy efficiency. Our plug-in, to this day, is still the best plug-in.