How to Choose the Right Hot Tub Cover
Some products provide critical functions that are just not glamorous. Spa covers are an example of that. They conserve heat, thus saving energy and operating costs. Cleanliness and safety are also important reasons for keeping a hot tub covered when not in use.
At first glance, many people think all spa covers are alike. It’s easy to fall into that assumption because most covers are made from a type of vinyl, are often the same rust color, have straps and handles and are filled with foam encased in plastic. Yet there can be critical differences between the performance of spa covers. Spa covers are handcrafted, and each vinyl covering is individually sewn. The craftsmanship is critical to the life of your cover and what lends added beauty to your spa when it’s not in use.
Nature can be brutal to a spa cover – since most spas are subjected to the outside elements, it’s important that your spa cover is built to withstand everything that nature offers. A well built cover, such as one designed specifically for your spa by Hot Spring, will last longer and cost less over time than a generic cover you may be tempted to purchase over the internet.
So, what constitutes a well built spa cover? Let’s look at the main components,
and then what holds it all together, as well as warranty and dealer support.
FOAM CORES are the heart of the cover.
- The heart of the spa cover are the Foam Cores. The foam cores provide strength, rigidity and insulation. Their longevity is directly related to their strength and how the plastic that surrounds it is sealed. An effective vapor lock seal around the foam core will inhibit moisture penetration that can cause weight gain and breakage.Adding a taper allows for efficient water runoff which is helpful in wet climates.
- Not all foam is alike, so it’s important that a spa cover be built with pure foam, not regrind.
- Most covers are built with a standard EPS foam core of 1.5 pound density, tapered 3.5” to 2.5”, delivering excellent strength and insulation. A 2.0 pound density provides extra durability and insulation, especially for larger spas.
- The foam cores are only as strong as they are reinforced. Support is necessary at the midpoint (hinge) of the cover, for added strength along the spine of the foam cores. A minimum of 16 gauge non-corrosive, reinforcing channel will ensure long life even through repeated use.
VINYL COVERING Top to Bottom
Nature delivers some tough challenges to the vinyl – from exposure to sun, rain, snow, ice, dirt, chemicals and more.
- Better covers are encased with at least a durable 25-ounce marine-grade top vinyl that is treated to resist the impact of UV rays and extreme temperatures. Make sure it passes an accelerated UV test for 1500 hours of UV resistance, and is treated for mildew resistance, chlorine resistance, and a -40 degree cold crack.
- The bottom vinyl of the spa cover is subjected to the stress of chemical and sanitizer exposure day in and day out. The cover’s bottom vinyl needs to be formulated to withstand normal exposure to these harsh conditions. Better covers are constructed with at least 16.5-ounce, scuff-resistant double-ply poly laminate “weft” material that has been treated with mildew and UV inhibitors and passes a -40 degree cold crack test. The weft structure is an interlocking of fibers that protects the foam core and its plastic seal.
- To help control water accumulation between the core and bottom vinyl, spa covers should have at least one or more bottom drain holes. A better cover manufacturer will dress the holds with a scratch resistant, color coordinating grommet, since when the spa is in use, the bottom vinyl is visible.
Hinge Heat Seal for energy efficiency.
When it comes to preserving energy efficiency of your spa, the hinge heat seal is one of the most critical points of a spa cover.
- A better spa cover will be designed to prevent precious heat loss at the hinge, where the two halves of the cover come together. Without a seal at the outer edge of each side of the cover hinge, heat will escape. With a well built cover and an effective heat seal at the hinge, you can expect an R value of 12 to 13.
Fit and Finish
You want a cover that is built to last and will provide extra strength and long-term durability. Reinforcing the cover from inside out is critical to that assurance.
- Better spa covers are reinforced throughout the cover, in as many as 24 different areas with special attention to those areas that experience extra wear ’n tear. Stress points include the hinge, handles, zipper, zipper pocket, skirt and tie-down straps and each can fail if not properly reinforced.
- As with any custom-crafted product, the sewing thread and finish is important, not only to how the cover looks but to its strength and durability. Better covers are sewn with polyester thread that is treated with UV and mildew inhibitors, assuring years of withstanding harsh weather, chemicals and intense sunlight. The strength and integrity of your spa cover is very much dependent on the materials used, and the craftsmanship.
- The best fitting spa cover is designed to the specifications engineered and provided by your spa manufacturer. You can actually hear a “pop” when a fine fitting spa cover is removed from the hot tub. That assures you that the spa cover is cut to exact specifications, and combined with the hinge heat seal, is providing the absolute best heat seal for energy efficiency.
Safety and Layers of Protection
While no single device can keep children safe, there are several layers of protection you can employ when you own a spa.
- Make sure your spa cover is labeled as a safety cover, and meets the ASTM Safety Cover Standard F1346-91. In accordance with this standard, a spa cover must have a minimum of four reinforced tie-down straps and locking hardware with keys to help keep unsupervised children out.
- Snug fitting tie-down straps are important for a good fitting cover, assuring a tight seal, and a secure, safe spa when not in use. Some manufacturers make adjustable tie-down straps which allow modification to the length to accommodate shrinkage over the life of the cover.
Cover Lifter Support
- A cover that includes steel plates on each side of the cover for attaching the lifter to the cover extends the life of both the cover and the lifter. Otherwise, the screws used to attach the two items together will only be secured by foam, placing wear on them with repeated use.
After Sale Protection and Support
A better cover will give you 3-5 years of life, and sometimes more, depending on the environment in which it is placed and how it is cared for.
- Warranties run from 2 years or more, prorated and non-prorated. A better warranty will be non-prorated and assure you the cover will be free from defects in materials and workmanship, both on the vinyl encasement, and the foam core, for the period stated.
The three keys to your making a successful cover purchase are:
- is the cover built well
- will it last
- if there are problems, who will be there to help you.
That’s where Great Atlantic comes in. We are knowledgeable about your spa and the cover, and will send a technician to your home to
- deliver and install your cover and lifter
- dispose of your old cover
- provide warranty support
- order an original factory replacement, which means it will be built to exacting specifications.
With Great Atlantic, you’ll know exactly what spa cover you are getting and you can be assured that we will take care of you after the sale.