ATM Spa Hot Tub Supplier

Hot Tubs from ATM where quality counts

Hot Tubs and Things
South Wales Spa Hot Tub Supplier Since 2001


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Spa Hot Tub Buying Guide...

We hope the spa hot tub buying guide helps you with the buying of your tub.

Any questions at all feel free to ask.


Your Height
Generally there are three depths to a spa a) approx 720mm deep b) approx 850mm c) approx 900mm deep. If you are 6ft and over do not go for the 720mm deep spa, go for one of the deeper models. If you are under 6ft you can purchase either depth of spa, as seats are of various height. The general difference is the depth of the foot well in the centre of the spa, where you place your feet.

If you are taller than 6ft and purchased a shallow spa your knees/legs would be pointing upwards when relaxing with your feet in the foot well which would not be very comfortable after a period of time.

Generally, at this moment in time in the UK there are several heater sizes being used a) no heater b) 1.0kw c) 2.0kw and d) 3kw. The no heater spa may use the heat generated by the pumps to warm the water. The three heaters will heat the water to full temperature when the cover is on. However it is when the cover is off and you are using the spa that you want the water temperature maintained. So the bigger the tub the bigger the heater should be. ie a no heater or 1.0kw heater may not keep the water hot for very long during our cold winter months when the spa is in use, no matter how insulated a spa is.

Some spas also switch the heater off when a pump/s are running fast. If this is the case the water can go cold quickly.

Ozone Generator
These generators inject ozone bubbles into the water neutralizing contaminates on contact helping to keep the water clean and clear, in turn reducing the amount of sanitizer required. Some times called “Self Cleaning” which is a very misleading.

Spa Cover
Most of the reputable dealers in the UK sell their spas with a thermal rigid cover as standard. However there are dealers who supply their spas with a bubble style cover which only really stops leaves and debris from getting into the water when not in use or the cover is optional at a cost. Remember that the UK climate is cold in the winter, what would be the winter heating costs without a thermal rigid cover. A bubble cover is only really suitable for countries with a hot climate all year round or as use as a daytime summer cover.

Water Pumps “HP” and Jets
There are many ways to measure the performance of a water pump. The most common in use today with the spa manufacturers is horse power (HP) yet this is probably the most misleading to the untrained person.

Lets compare a 2.0hp pump to a 2 ltr car. 10 years ago a 2 ltr car may have had a top speed of 100 mph and use 4 ltrs of petrol per hour to maintain that speed. Today that same car would only need a 1.4 ltr engine to achieve a speed of 100 mph and will only use 2.5 ltrs of fuel per hour to maintain that speed. Things of got a lot more economical, so bigger in this case is not better.

Also there is two different ways to measure Horse Power (HP): “Continuous Operating HP” and “Brake BHP”. Continuous Operating is the amount of HP the motor is capable of producing while the spa is in operation. Brake HP is the momentary HP the motor produces at the start up, before dropping to Continuous HP. So if someone tells you the spa has 10 or more HP pump/s don’t be mislead, modern 2HP pumps on correctly designed spas are more than enough. Also the higher the HP the more inefficient / older standard the pump may be and as a result higher electricity usage.

Approx guide: 5.5 BHP = 2.0 HP, 4.8 BHP = 1.5 HP & 4.0 BHP = 1.0 HP.

The size of the plumbing, bends and many other factors also effect how many ltrs of water will flow through a pump per hour. The best way to see if the spa has the correct pump/s is to put you body in front of the jets and with all of the jets switched on feel the water pressure coming out.

24 hour circulation pumps are small pumps which are sometimes fitted. These pumps fully circulate and filter the water in the hottub over a 24 hr period.

Number of Jets
Yes it is nice to have a powerful pump or two and jets giving a white water rafting effect on the water surface when you have friends and family around, and you will enjoy this effect time and time again for the first 20-30 minutes or so of each bathing session, after this many people prefer to just relax with a glass of wine with slow water movement soothing those tired muscles.

Some manufacturers say they have eight jets outlets when in fact they have two jets rotating behind eight outlets.

Also to many large or high numbers of small jets can mean less water pressure coming out of the jets which results in lesser therapy action.

Electricity Supply
Most of today's spas use electricity to operate and run the spa. All spas should be protected by a 30mA RCD and an MCB of the correct rating. Spas generally come in several electricity sizes a) 13A (suitable for a domestic plug top), b) 16A, c) 20A, d) 2 x 16A, e) 32A, f) 40A etc.

All the pumps, heater and lights etc use electricity, hence if you are looking for a large powerful spa you should not expect this from a large spa which requires a 13A electrical supply, however you will find that even the smaller less powerful spas compare quite favourably to that found at a health club or leisure centre.

Wet Test Facilities
Many spas on the market look very nice from the outside and by changing the type of jets installed or location of the jets to just below the water line, can produce fast moving water on the surface with nothing below, however to feel the real benefit of spa hydrotherapy you need to feel what is happening underneath the water line, this is why we recommend that all customers should wet test the spas.

Spa, Hot Tub, Jacuzzi or Whirlpool - what is the Difference?
Today there is no real difference between a Spa, Hot Tub, Jacuzzi or Whirlpool. A spa hot tub is now the more common name.
The word ‘spa’ comes from a Latin acronym – sanitas per aqua which roughly translated to English means Health Through Water.

Who to Buy From
Many people have started a business selling hot tubs thinking it is a easy business to be in and have packed things in within 2 years, buy your spa hot tub from a business which has been around a while (ATM Spas and Things have been supplying spa hot tubs since 2001).

We've been told many stories about internet only dealers who have no showrooms and after paying for the spa it never turns up, your money has gone to an overseas bank account and you can do nothing about it. It looks nothing like you thought it would or has many leaks / faults. To see a BBC News report on non-existent hot tubs purchased via ebay click here and see paragraph 5 to see a BBC Watchdog article click here.

Spa Shell Construction
Generally there are 5 kinds of spa construction methods used for the construction of the spa 1) Blow Up – The cheapest way to build a spa and very easy to puncture. Expect this kind of build to last a few months if you are lucky 2) Liner – another cheap way to build is to place a plastic liner inside a frame. Expect this kind of construction to last a couple months to a couple of years max before needing replacement. 3) Thin acrylic (domestic appliance grade) surface backed with thick fibreglass shell  – medium cost way to build and very popular today. The shell will last two to five years before starting to blister and need repair. 4) Rota mould – a low cost method of construction, giving a plainer finish, which will last for years. 5) Acrylic shell backed with a little bit of fibreglass – the most expensive spa shell construction method, which will last also last for years to come.

Cabinet Construction
You will also notice that there are two kinds of shell installation into /onto the cabinet a) a shell which sits on the cabinet and b) a shell which overlaps the cabinet.

Firstly a shell which sits on the cabinet is a lower cost method of construction and is not really much good for the UK weather, rain, snow and hail etc all this water comes to rest on the wood at the top of the cabinet, which over a period of years can rot and need treating. The second, an overlap shell, more expensive to build but allows the water to fall away from the cabinet for years of worry free maintenance.

The cabinet can also be made from various materials. Real wood has now mostly disappeared from hottubs except very cheap models and been replaced with corrugated plastic or synthetic woods, with synthetic wood being the best for long lasting results.

To Fully Foam or Not Fully Foam
This along with the pump sizes this is my greates hate about manufacturers. Some will say fully foamed is better because it insulates the spa better, others will say we do not fully foam as it makes it easier to maintain the spa in years to come and some people say that others need to fully foam to support the spa structure

This again is a bit of marketing hype, all that is really needed is a 40mm think insulation on the spa shell, remember the hot water tank in the airing-cupboard, this only has approx 15mm of insulation and does a pretty good job. However some tub construction methods (generally cheap tubs) require the foam for strength.

Spa Warranty Periods
Spa ownership is a medium to large investment for most people and it is important that your spa comes from a quality supplier who offers a quality warranty and a dealer who has technical knowledge back up and will still be here next year (many have come, thinking this is an easy route to make a quick fortune and gone in the last 12 months).

Have a look at the warranty and the small print to see what it says. There are many warranties out there being offered, but when you read them they are not worth the paper they are written on, one example I've seen is after 6 months you pay 90% of the labour and material costs and you have to purchase the parts from the same supplier at inflated prices. The warranty details in the brochure said full 5 year warranty on all parts and labour. The brochure was correct, but it did not make it clear it was only for 10% of the cost after 6 months and the warranty started from the date of manufacture rather than the date of installation. This is the worst one I have seen.

A good warranty covers labour and materials 100% for at least 1 year.

Spa Hot Tub Prices
The subject of price can be a touchy subject with some of the spa retailers. It is important to ask what does the price include, some do not include for VAT in their price lists, others add a couple of thousand pounds to their prices and then start knocking money off every 10 mins or so. Is a thick rigid cover included? VAT etc, a lot do not.

Internet prices and auction site prices generally include everything bar the kitchen sink!!!!!!!!!!! You have been warned. Will you ever see a tub or your money again. To see a BBC News report on non-existent hot tubs purchased via eby click here and see paragraph 5.

Delivery, Installation, Commission & Demonstration
You are spending at least a couple of thousand pounds on your spa investment so it is important that your spa is correctly installed and set up. Some dealers only deliver your spa to your curbside you are then expected to take it off the lorry and move it into place, others if required will expect you to arrange a crane yourself – do you have this knowledge?

For you, your family and friends safety please ensure that you have your spa correctly delivered, installed, commissioned and you have a full demonstration on how to use the spa and the correct procedures with regards to water treatments.

Spa Shell Colour and Type
There are generally 3 finish types of spa shell a) marble, b) quarite and c) metallic. All three finishes look very nice and are all very popular throughout the UK.

I’ve noticed recently that some dealers are using brochures from Tim Buc Too. These specifications are very misleading, one such brochure stated 5,500 watt heater, air boost and 2no 5hp pumps with a 16A electrical supply, a 5,500 watt heater in the UK will require a 22A electrical supply alone.

Quick Questions

What Is The Running Cost Of A Spa?
A typical 5 to 6 person spa running all year round will cost in the region of 18 to 25 per month for electricity and 12 to 15 per month for water treatments depending on which method you use.

Is Maintaining The Water Treatments Difficult?
It can be more nerve racking than difficult for the first couple of weeks and then it is like riding a bike. Simply take a test strip, dip into the water and it will then tell you what needs adding, less than 1 minute per day.

We’ve Heard Some Spas Do Not Need Chemicals?
There is not a spa or swimming pool in the world that does not need some form of water treatment. A few new non chlorine or bromine treatments have come on the market recently but they are still a chemical.

Can We Have A Spa From Stock?
If the spa you want is in stock we can sometimes (depending on current workload) install it within 2-3 days, if your spa is not in stock it may be coming in within the next couple of weeks or worse case if it needs to be ordered it will be around 8 to 12 weeks generally.

Why Are Delivery, Installation, Commissioning and Demonstration Costs Separate?
Each customer’s requirements are different, some people are able to assist with installation and so only require one ATM person, others who are busy with work want us to supply 3 to 4 people, organise the crane etc so the costs are quite different and varied.

Can We Have Colour Changing Lights?
Yes most of spas we sell can be upgraded to have automatic colour changing and static lighting, which is sometimes referred to as Northern Lights. We either use LED or fibre optic lighting to achieve this.

Can We Use A Spa All Year Round Outdoors?
Yes most of the spas we sell can be used all year round outdoors. In the summer you turn the temperature down to help cool off then in the winter you turn the temperature up. We have a saying that a spa is nice in the summer but even better in the winter. There are many spas out there now where the cost to heat in the winter would be silly due to poor build standards.

Do You Have Ex-Display Models, Factory Seconds or Part Ex?
Yes, we operate a mailing / waiting list for people who are prepared to wait for an ex-demonstration, factory seconds or part exchange spa, this is operated on a first come first served basis. A great way to save a couple of quid if you are prepared to wait.





Home and Garden Hot Tub Spas from ATM in UK South Wales

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www. Hot Tubs and Things .co.uk