What Is the Most Affordable Water Care System for My Hot Tub?

Money may not grow on trees, but you’ve carefully tended to your finances in a way that is much like a garden. You’ve made decisions to place your money so it will grow, and you’ve analyzed your spending to keep it low while ensuring that you continue to enjoy the good life. When it comes time to buy a hot tub, the same careful analysis of money, time, and effort against your enjoyment still applies.

You want the best-rated hot tub with the best benefits for the price. Much of the balance of cost, maintenance, and benefits comes down to the water care system. The most affordable hot tub water care system is one that saves you time and money in the long run—not just one with the lowest price tag from the start.

The truth is that prices for chlorine, bromine, salt water, and other water treatments can vary from system to system. Maintenance schedules and the amount of time, water used, and amounts of sanitizer needed can vary as well. Sanitizers that are less expensive may require more changes of hot tub water and be more expensive overall. Sophisticated water care systems may cost more upfront but can also save more money, time, and effort over the long term with fewer water care adjustments and water changes. With a low-maintenance system, you can spend more of your valuable time enjoying your investment.

Chlorine and Bromine Water Care Systems for Hot Tubs

In order for the water in hot tubs to remain fresh and clear, it must be treated with a sanitizing chemical that kills bacteria. Chlorine is the most commonly used sanitizer for hot tubs, and chlorine water care systems and chlorine granules to recharge them are inexpensive and widely available. Compared with other water care systems, a chlorine hot tub can be purchased for a relatively low upfront price. However, there are some operating costs that are not readily apparent at the outset that include:

  • The frequent addition of chlorine to the hot tub. The common practice for many spas is to refresh the hot tub with a dosage of chlorine regularly, and this requires large amounts of chlorine over the course of a year.
  • Frequent total water replacement. Chlorine needs to be replenished often. It bonds with other compounds—forming chloramines—and, eventually, loses its effectiveness. Removing these compounds means replacing the water every three months or so, and the costs of filling up a large hot tub with fresh water four times a year can be significant.
  • The energy costs of heating fresh water. It takes a significant amount of time and energy to warm new hot tub water, adding up to high utility costs.

Bromine is a chemical that works in a similar way to chlorine. Bromine isn’t quite as reactive as chlorine, though, and its pH is lower so the water is less acidic. A hot tub with a bromine-based water care system is a good alternative to chlorine for someone with chemical sensitivities as there won’t be as many compounds created, and the water may be gentler on the skin.

However, while bromine and bromine-treated water may last a bit longer than chlorine-treated water, it still needs regular water changes every three to four months. Similar operating costs apply to bromine hot tubs that apply to chlorine hot tubs. An alternative to both of these systems is a salt water hot tub that typically requires less time and costs for maintenance over the long term.

In the Long Term, Salt Water Hot Tub Systems May Be the Most Affordable

Salt water hot tubs use electrolysis to generate chlorine from salts to create sanitizer. It is a far more controlled system than the more traditional method of adding an amount of chlorine or bromine into the water to dissolve. With a system like the FreshWater™ Salt System*, much of the water care takes place whether you’re thinking about it or not. With a minimal need for treating the water directly, you have sparkling clean water always ready for you to climb in.

This offers many advantages over the traditional methods, including:

  • Constant water care requires less chlorine. Since chlorine is released constantly by salt, the chlorine levels remain steady—unlike the ups and downs of the chlorine level when you are adding it to a traditional system. This steady level means that less chlorine is needed overall.
  • A reduced level of chlorine means gentler water that stays fresh. Chlorine works by creating a weak acid, and when it bonds to other chemicals, it creates distinctive smelling compounds. Low levels of chlorine mean silky smooth-feeling water with less of a chemical smell. This lends itself to a more relaxing environment.
  • Hot tub water doesn’t need to be changed as often. Lower levels of chemical build-up mean that hot tub water stays fresh for longer, and it doesn’t need to be changed as often. This advantage presents direct savings in water and energy costs.

The benefits of salt water hot tubs may make them the most affordable hot tub water care system to operate overall—when you factor in all the related costs. The FreshWater™ Salt System, available on the Utopia® Series and Paradise® Series from Caldera® Spas, for instance, can keep your hot tub water fresh for up to a full year**.

The costs of adding chlorine regularly, changing your hot tub water every three to four months, and the energy cost of warming that water up just as often are no longer considerations if you own a spa with the FreshWater™ Salt System. When your hot tub water is easier to care for and to keep clean and ready, you’ll use it more often and see greater value in your investment.

Think of Your Hot Tub as a Long-Term Investment

You can expect the price to be higher upfront when you purchase a spa equipped with the FreshWater™ Salt System versus one with a traditional chlorine or bromine water care system. And the disposable cartridges the salt water system uses are more expensive than regular chlorine or bromine granules, but a three-pack of cartridges will last you up to an entire year. You can consult with your local Caldera Spas® dealer about pricing for the FreshWater™ Salt System.

It’s also important to consider the value of your own time. The more you’re engaged in cleaning and maintenance tasks, the less time you have to spend with other activities, including the ultimate goal of soaking in your spa. At least on some level, time is money. When you invest in a low-maintenance hot tub, you’re investing in more quality time—not to mention all of the relaxing and rejuvenating benefits of a daily soak.

The best salt water hot tub systems demand less time and energy for testing, cleaning, balancing, draining, refilling, and reheating. They use fewer chemicals, waste less water, and use less energy warming the spa. When considering the most affordable hot tub water care system, every cost and resource drain matter. While an innovative solution such as the FreshWater™ Salt System may cost more upfront versus traditional water care, over the course of a year, owners with this sophisticated water care system not only save money—they also gain valuable time and more opportunities to take advantage of their spa’s many benefits.

Caldera Spas® is dedicated to providing quality hot tubs with the latest innovations and best support from our global network of dealers. To learn more about affordable hot tub water care systems and to experience the difference for yourself, contact your local Caldera dealer.

*The FreshWater™ Salt System cannot be used on Caldera® Spas hot tubs manufactured prior to 2019.

**Factors such as bather load and water chemistry can impact water life. When the spa is properly maintained, a 3-pack of cartridges with the FreshWater™ Salt System will keep water clean and fresh for a full year. Not available in Canada.