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DK117

Strong Csxi80 Evaluation

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I thought it would be interesting to have the experts provide the pluses and minuses of the Strong CSXi80 based upon a "visual" inspection." I'll post any pictures requested.

This is a 2 year old Evolution (Strong) CSXi80 purchased via Costco.com

Original cover was taking on water, Strong replaced cover (not the core) at 1 year.

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Jets in the right middle chair were swapped out for rotating massage jets, neck jets swapped out and turned off.

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Edge of Spa Shell

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Please post your impressions/comments. Maybe I'll learn a thing or two about my tub.

DK117

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Where is the insulation?

Are their foam panels or something you removed?

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Where is the insulation?

Are their foam panels or something you removed?

perimeter insulation. Evidently similar to Arctic or at least same in theory. The only insulation is some foam towards the bottom of the shell, almost looks structural as in holding things in place vs insulation. I've removed nothing but the panel

Panel removed.

6316856868_055375047f_z.jpg

DK117

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How many real jets and how many bullet jets? Looks to be about 60 or so bullets.

And I wonder what the therory is with the jets that you sit on? That has to be kind of uncomfortable hitting the underside of your legs like that with no way to shut them off. Do you have to move your legs so they fit inbetween the little bullets. Ouch, those make me itch right away.

And that has to be the ugliest cabinet I have ever seen! But I am a wood guy, or quality fake wood. To each his own I guess.

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How many real jets and how many bullet jets? Looks to be about 60 or so bullets.

And I wonder what the therory is with the jets that you sit on? That has to be kind of uncomfortable hitting the underside of your legs like that with no way to shut them off. Do you have to move your legs so they fit inbetween the little bullets. Ouch, those make me itch right away.

And that has to be the ugliest cabinet I have ever seen! But I am a wood guy, or quality fake wood. To each his own I guess.

I think they are all technically real jets, but yes, 60 of the 80 are bullets.

the ones you sit on, I have turned down to the lowest setting just short of closed/off. It can provide a good massage to the hamstrings if needed, but I'd agree with your assessment, not ideal placement.

Aesthetically, yes, each to their own on the cabinet. I'm a wood guy too, maple hardwoods throughout our home, custom alder cabinets. However, outdoors I ditched the wood deck for concrete pavers, and my pet peeve is warped, rotten, and discolored wood spa cabinets. Having seen pictures of Strong's new faux wood cabinets, I prefer that look. But the faux stack stone goes well with the surroundings at my place. Bottom line, lifetime guarantee on the cabinet. Not sure if that will sway your aesthetics, but in my opinion it's one of the bigger selling points for this spa.

DK117

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I'm going post hot_water's spec sheet. Please either respond here or PM me with updates, additions or corrections. I'll continue to edit this post until we have a complete sheet.

The CSXi80 has:

* Balboa VS series controller. Standard heater (not titanium)

* Waterway Executive 56 pumps (2) with the AO Smith 12A, 2 speed motors

* Continuous cast acrylic shell with acrylobond backing

* Polyethylene cabinet, rotomolded in several pieces and assembled with stainless steel screws. No frame - wood or metal - at all. Tool-less access, 8 total removable panels (2 per side).

*Full ABS plastic bottom

*50 sq ft filter (pleatco supplied w/ spa)

*80 waterway (marked MADE IN USA) jets. 60 "bullet jets"

DK117

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There are a number of things, and please take all of this as educational, not me just hatin' your spa, OK?

For starters, the cabinet thickness is minimal, apparently about 2" and provides very little insulation compared to the 6" Arctic uses, and Arctic's isn't on par with full foam spas. If you are in a very temperate climate, you probably won't see any poor effect.

usa_hardiness_zone.png

What you have is a tub that is marginal for zone 8, ok for zones 9 and 10, zone 2-7 will put you in a scenario where you will pay an ever increasing fortune to heat it.

The shell style you have (Acrylic + Acrylabond) is like Clearwater's, which historically suffers from a lot of flexing and sagging over time, Hot Springs uses this method also, but they support the spa shell with heavy foam to prevent this problem.

On the pipe where it exits the pump and the flex attaches, is that overtop the rigid, or does it go inside the rigid fitting?

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If the flex is overtop a piece of rigid, immediately go get yourself a hose clamp for each location you see that uses that method, or you are just asking for a catastrophic leak, Arctic ran into that probem and that is how they solved it.

When piping pressurizes, it swells, and in flex-over-rigid construction, you have only the glue preventing the leak, in flex-inside-rigid construction, you have the strength of the glue and the rigid fitting.

More later, I have a pump to rebuild :)

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Ok, question, what does the spa shell not including the cabinet measure across?

I just want to do a side by side feature comparison.

Also, what was the purchase price, including cover, steps, and what it cost to be delivered to your back yard?

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Ok, question, what does the spa shell not including the cabinet measure across?

I just want to do a side by side feature comparison.

Also, what was the purchase price, including cover, steps, and what it cost to be delivered to your back yard?

I seem to be in zone 8 or 9. Hard to tell from the picture but temps are rarely below the 30's and almost never in the teens, maybe a few days a year. I've been told it is irresponsible to make engergy usage comments without metering my tub, so I won't make specific claims. But I will say that in this mild weather zone, and with kWh being about $.07 two years ago, I just now learned we're now at $.0816. Regardless, I haven't noticed the electrical bill going crazy in the last two years.

If I understand you correctly, I'm ok with flex-inside-rigid construction.

I paid $4799 for this tub. Including cover, steps. I paid $300 to move to the back yard, judging from other owners experiences I was ripped off. They paid from zero to $150. Totally dependent on the driver/moving company, plus access to the tub's final location.

Your measurement question is a good one, I think others have commented that this 7 foot tub feels smaller than other 7 foot tubs. Measurement you requested is 84 inches. I've never had more than 4 people in the tub at one time.

Don't worry about hatin' my tub, I'm not. Good conversation thus far, thanks.

DK117

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cabiniet thickness. That's a tough one to answer as it is variable. Yes the panels (of which there are 8) are about 2 inches. The rest of the sides are about 3 inches, the sides close to the base and shell is 4 inches. I don't know if that helps clarify or not.

DK117

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DK117 - As I recall, you have been pretty happy with your tub so far, so that would seem to be the main criterion.

Although you asked for input from experts, which I am not, I will chime in anyway. There was a mini-discussion in another thread about the controller - budget vs high end. Personally I favor simplicity over advanced capabilities, and usually the simpler controls have an additional benefit of being less expensive to replace should it become necessary. I do not know if it holds true with tub controllers that simplicity results in better reliability, but it sure seems that way with many other products. Anyway, my point is that the controller appears to be a rather simple, intuitive controller to operate, certainly for the most common functions. Some of the more sophisticated controls I have seem on some tubs put me off a bit and the fetures that they provide do not, to me, seem to be worth the trade off.

If Strong called me and said "Spawn, we would love to make a tub for you, what is the one change we could make to make it more appealling for you?" I would say "Take out all of the bullet jets, eliminate one pump and lower the price accordingly - opps, sorry for mentioning more than one thing." I realize that others may not be interested in such a tub but...

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DK117 - As I recall, you have been pretty happy with your tub so far, so that would seem to be the main criterion.

Although you asked for input from experts, which I am not, I will chime in anyway. There was a mini-discussion in another thread about the controller - budget vs high end. Personally I favor simplicity over advanced capabilities, and usually the simpler controls have an additional benefit of being less expensive to replace should it become necessary. I do not know if it holds true with tub controllers that simplicity results in better reliability, but it sure seems that way with many other products. Anyway, my point is that the controller appears to be a rather simple, intuitive controller to operate, certainly for the most common functions. Some of the more sophisticated controls I have seem on some tubs put me off a bit and the fetures that they provide do not, to me, seem to be worth the trade off.

If Strong called me and said "Spawn, we would love to make a tub for you, what is the one change we could make to make it more appealling for you?" I would say "Take out all of the bullet jets, eliminate one pump and lower the price accordingly - opps, sorry for mentioning more than one thing." I realize that others may not be interested in such a tub but...

Spawn, thanks. I'm mostly avoiding the other thread, we'll see where it goes.

In response to your post here, I'll just add, that the "Option" button doesn't even do anything on this tub :blink:

Finally, anyone can post in this thread. Guru and I happened to PM about it, and I assumed some of the other pro's would want to chime in as well. If not we can go back to the other thread(s). I was/am hoping this one might be more enlightening, but if if feels self serving to some people, I'm ok I can move on.

DK117

PS there were a few one pump Strongs that were sub $4K. Costco doesn't seem to cary those any more, the one pump tubs are now up to $5K. Ultimately this thread might be moot as the Strong/Costco tubs are getting more features and higher prices, I saw one at $8500 the other day, but it's gone now. Not much use in a lot of this discussion if Strong/Costco isn't sub $5K.

edit: something odd on the Costco website tubs I can now find one of the $4k ones

Evolution Spas™ Mediterranean 50-jet, 6-person Lounger Spa

still mostly bullets though.

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I think that this thread is a good compliment to the other one which has covered a lot of ground. Many have not seen a Strong and the photos allow a look inside and, as you suggest, a discussion of the strengths and weaknesses, although largely based on a visual review.

I too have noticed that the Strong prices seem to have crept up at Costco. Perhaps they are testing for that price that hits the sweet spot of supply and demand. Your timing was good when you bought yours.

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I think that this thread is a good compliment to the other one which has covered a lot of ground. Many have not seen a Strong and the photos allow a look inside and, as you suggest, a discussion of the strengths and weaknesses, although largely based on a visual review.

I too have noticed that the Strong prices seem to have crept up at Costco. Perhaps they are testing for that price that hits the sweet spot of supply and demand. Your timing was good when you bought yours.

Their prices are going up because you made them replace your cover in a year!! I wonder how many they replaced and are they now using a different cover manufacturer? Perhaps there are other things they have changed to drive up the cost as they gained their experience in the box store market? Makes sence.

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looks like a common 4-6k warehouse/big box brand to me, not saying its a bad thing, as long as you and your family enjoy it then there is no worries...a little hot water and relaxation is always a good thing :-)

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My point of this post is to try to establish a near example to the Csxi80, and the corresponding price.

Sticking with the 84" two pump platform, I will compare it with the Marquis Economy series 545.

The most glaring difference between the two from a brochure reader's standpoint, it the imagined advantage of 80 jets vs 45.

I say imagined because if the jets have no pressure or need to be shut off in order for others to work, they exist only to inflate imaginary value.

Jets are cheap, the equipment to make them work is not, the simpler Balboa panel will not run three pumps.

Overhead view (robbed the photo from the Marquis website)

545overhead.jpg

Size, brand of jets used, LED lighting, control panel, poly base, heater and topside, the same.

Here are the differences;

Strong, 1 year warranty, Marquis, 2 year.

Strong spa, 75% bullet jets, Marquis, 0%

Strong pumps, two Waterway, (no Gallons Per Minute claimed) Marquis, two Aqua-Flo XP2 160 GPM with Viton seals.

Strong insulation, 2"-4" Marquis, 1/2 lb full foam, 4"-24"

Strong plumbing to jets, unreinforced clear vinyl pipes, Marquis, reiforced flex PVC

Strong plumbing support, zip ties, Marquis support, 1/2 lb full foam.

Strong shell, Acrylic-Acrylibond (will crack completely thru if it cracks), Marquis, Acrylic-fiberglass (stronger, won't crack thru).

Strong Cabinet, 8 removable panels, Marquis, entire cabinet is removable.

Strong filter, one Unicel C-4950, Marquis, Two Unicel C-4950s.

Strong filtering style, unfiltered and filtered water mixed, Marquis, all suctions plumbed to filter cannisters first.

Marquis 545 showroom price incl average delivery, steps, cover lift, chems, $5995.00

For this additional cost you get:

twice the filtration

Better filtration design

twice the warranty

more than twice the insulation

a more servicable design (100% access)

100% jets that actually provide more than just water squirting out

A shell that is much stronger and will never crack beyond the acrylic.

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I find it interesting that Strong does not warranty pump seals at all.

http://www.costco.com/images/content/misc/PDF/585173_Evolution_Owners%20Manual.pdf

Note also your light lens is not covered, that is due to that spa shell flexing issue I spoke of, I would wager those have a relatively short life span - they crack pretty easy when they are flexed.

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My point of this post is to try to establish a near example to the Csxi80, and the corresponding price.

Sticking with the 84" two pump platform, I will compare it with the Marquis Economy series 545.

The most glaring difference between the two from a brochure reader's standpoint, it the imagined advantage of 80 jets vs 45.

I say imagined because if the jets have no pressure or need to be shut off in order for others to work, they exist only to inflate imaginary value.

Jets are cheap, the equipment to make them work is not, the simpler Balboa panel will not run three pumps.

Overhead view (robbed the photo from the Marquis website)

545overhead.jpg

Size, brand of jets used, LED lighting, control panel, poly base, heater and topside, the same.

Here are the differences;

Strong, 1 year warranty, Marquis, 2 year.

Strong spa, 75% bullet jets, Marquis, 0%

Strong pumps, two Waterway, (no Gallons Per Minute claimed) Marquis, two Aqua-Flo XP2 160 GPM with Viton seals.

Strong insulation, 2"-4" Marquis, 1/2 lb full foam, 4"-24"

Strong plumbing to jets, unreinforced clear vinyl pipes, Marquis, reiforced flex PVC

Strong plumbing support, zip ties, Marquis support, 1/2 lb full foam.

Strong shell, Acrylic-Acrylibond (will crack completely thru if it cracks), Marquis, Acrylic-fiberglass (stronger, won't crack thru).

Strong Cabinet, 8 removable panels, Marquis, entire cabinet is removable.

Strong filter, one Unicel C-4950, Marquis, Two Unicel C-4950s.

Strong filtering style, unfiltered and filtered water mixed, Marquis, all suctions plumbed to filter cannisters first.

Marquis 545 showroom price incl average delivery, steps, cover lift, chems, $5995.00

For this additional cost you get:

twice the filtration

Better filtration design

twice the warranty

more than twice the insulation

a more servicable design (100% access)

100% jets that actually provide more than just water squirting out

A shell that is much stronger and will never crack beyond the acrylic.

Good comparison of the tubs. Of course you could also add that the non-costco tubs have the advantage of allowing wet testing so the buyer has a better idea of what he is getting - what the jetting will be like, if it fits the user and is comfortable, rather than finding out after the tub is sitting in the backyard. Also a simpler process for installation, setup and related preparation as well as trouble shooting and having problems addressed.

Again we are getting away a bit from the original point of the thread but it seems to have value. Many seem to think that they have little choice but to buy a costco tub for $5K or something else for twice that price and that is far from the truth.

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credibility is lost when you claim that ever element on one tub is better than the other, and present factually incorrect info

Warranty for the Marques taken from this :

http://www.marquisspas.com/pressroom/documents/2011/2011EDHTOM.pdf

And Strong taken from the link posted several posts above

Cabinet - Strong = Lifetime; M= 1 year

Spa Surface - Strong = 5 years; M= 2 years

Plumbing and Equipment : 2 years both

Strong excludes seals on pumps and motors;

M : "Warranty coverage does not include gaskets or seals."

You state more servicable design; yet I'm not clear what parts in this strong can't be easily accessed

2 filters is factually twice 1, but it hasn't been established that more is better, any more than 100 jets is better than 50. Do all the top end tubs use 2 filters?

Full foam v perimeter foam : seems like pros and cons with each, and it is certainly not universally accepted that either one is better than the other.

Being able to wet test is certainly a good thing, however we went into a few spa dealers, and they had about 3 on the floor to wet test, and brought out catalogues with 20 more tubs - and I don't mean just different colors...so unless you are buying one of that 15%, the wet test option has no value.

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Marquis 545 showroom price incl average delivery, steps, cover lift, chems, $5995.00

Guru, thanks for taking the time to put this together. I've never seen a Marquis, so I'll have to take your word for your line item assessment. I do feel there are several opinion statements vs like for like, but again until I learn more, I have to accept your assessment.

I do have a friend with an Arctic Cub that they got through the dealer, but during the County Fair at $6500. I know there are decent dealer tubs out there in that range, normally on "sale."

So I'll turn to a question that we don't talk much about. What is "showroom price?" Is this a sale price, a floor model? Costco.com has sales too, but I can guarantee everyone in the domestic US gets the exact same price on any given day for a Costco sold spa. No negotiations. I hope this isn't deemed as going too off topic, but I don't think you insiders here undertand how unpleasant the dealer experience is for a new tub buyer. It's really impossible to overstate that point. The ease of purchase is worth hundreds of dollars.

So before we get too far into the like for like (is that a lounger?) Is there any way to verify your $5995 claim?

thanks again.

DK117

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again, I don't think I'm really qualified to do the stare and compare but spec sheets should be comparable.

Strong

Dimensions: 91 x 91 x 36"

Gallons: 400

Seats: 6-7

Marquis

Exterior Dimensions: 84" x 84" x 34"

Water capacity: 350 gallons

Capacity/seating: 5/6

I'll be the first to admit that the Strong wouldn't be comfortable with 6 or 7 people, but the water capacity, is that a big deal, 14% more capacity?

I'm also going to have to go to Arf on this one, more servicable design Marquis wins?

I'm thinking we won't find the perfect like to like spec sheet.

DK117

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again, I don't think I'm really qualified to do the stare and compare but spec sheets should be comparable.

Strong

Dimensions: 91 x 91 x 36"

Gallons: 400

Seats: 6-7

Marquis

Exterior Dimensions: 84" x 84" x 34"

Water capacity: 350 gallons

Capacity/seating: 5/6

I'll be the first to admit that the Strong wouldn't be comfortable with 6 or 7 people, but the water capacity, is that a big deal, 14% more capacity?

I'm also going to have to go to Arf on this one, more servicable design Marquis wins?

I'm thinking we won't find the perfect like to like spec sheet.

DK117

The demension you gave me was for the shell, with the Marquis, that is also the overall size of the spa, the 91" you are talking about is cabinet and shell, so the size determination is comparable. With lounge/no lounge spas, the price is typically the same, the presence or absence of a lounge makes no difference in manufacturing cost.

A longe spa will always hold less water than a bucket seat model, and seat fewer people, but this is a non-issue.

As for capacity, well, everyone is guilty of overstating capacity, they count seats, but don't count legroom.

The servicability, to giver greater detail, is this;

The strong spa has no removable corners and that is an issue, as is the structural grade foam around the base that occludes access to plumbing, the Marquis has 100% removable sides, and the foam is easily removed by hand. If the Strong bottom is cast as a part of the sides/cabinet, it means access for repair from below is non-existant.

For every jet, there are at minimum 5 possible leak points;

The shell gasket.

Both ends of the water connection.

Both ends of the air connection.

When the shell design allows for flex of the shell AND no support of the plumbing, nusiance leaks are near impossible to avoid.

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credibility is lost when you claim that ever element on one tub is better than the other, and present factually incorrect info

Warranty for the Marques taken from this :

http://www.marquisspas.com/pressroom/documents/2011/2011EDHTOM.pdf

And Strong taken from the link posted several posts above

Cabinet - Strong = Lifetime; M= 1 year

Spa Surface - Strong = 5 years; M= 2 years

Plumbing and Equipment : 2 years both

Strong excludes seals on pumps and motors;

M : "Warranty coverage does not include gaskets or seals."

Your strateigic omission of Strong having only one year of labor warranty makes me wonder if you work for them ;)

I can tell you I do warranty work for Marquis, and they NEVER deny a claim for a pump or motor for any reason. Their pumps have Viton seals, which are 10X the cost to purchase, but can be replaced with the cheap seals if you prefer, Viton, incidentally, is extremely corrosion resistant.

You state more servicable design; yet I'm not clear what parts in this strong can't be easily accessed

I covered that pretty well in my last post.

2 filters is factually twice 1, but it hasn't been established that more is better, any more than 100 jets is better than 50. Do all the top end tubs use 2 filters?

Some high end spas use 5 filters, two is the most common, 2 filters = twice the time between cleaning and lower restriction of water flow to the jets. The Marquis also plumbs the suctions thru the filter cannisters, so you get 100% filtering, Strong does not.

As for whether more jets = better, that is reliant on the jets being good jets, more of something that doesn't work, or feel good does not equate more value. Simple, no?

Full foam v perimeter foam : seems like pros and cons with each, and it is certainly not universally accepted that either one is better than the other.

What is known is that more inches of insulation = greater R value, that is a fact.

Being able to wet test is certainly a good thing, however we went into a few spa dealers, and they had about 3 on the floor to wet test, and brought out catalogues with 20 more tubs - and I don't mean just different colors...so unless you are buying one of that 15%, the wet test option has no value.

Ever buy a car without driving it? A mattress without laying on it? Buying a spa without wet testing is spending $5000 on a blind date hoping she is the girl you will marry.

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This is a bit frustrating Spa_Guru, as I am getting the Strong warranty info from the link YOU posted. It clearly stated Strong spas with 80+ jets have a 2 year labor warranty. We are specifically comparing the Strong CSXi80 with a Marquis 545. This model Strong has a 2 year labor warranty! The lower end Strongs may not, but that is not what is being compared here.

Are you willing to acknowledge that among these 2 specific spas in question, the strong has a better warranty?

I admitted wet testing is a plus, in favor of a spa that can be wet tested. I have never, and would never buy a car without a test drive, but do know people who have. I assume you are in the spa selling business, so you can answer these questions that I cannot even guess on...was my observation that only a small % of your available spas are available to wet test? What % of customers wet test?

Though I haven't seen specific data on heat loss, I am willing to accept that full foam has higher R value than perimeter. That is a plus. The negative is access for repairs. Read other posts on this very forum about what a PITA repairs in full foam is. In Minnesota, or a high electric rate state, it may be worth it for the extra R...in Florida, maybe not.

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This is a bit frustrating Spa_Guru, as I am getting the Strong warranty info from the link YOU posted. It clearly stated Strong spas with 80+ jets have a 2 year labor warranty. We are specifically comparing the Strong CSXi80 with a Marquis 545. This model Strong has a 2 year labor warranty! The lower end Strongs may not, but that is not what is being compared here.

Are you willing to acknowledge that among these 2 specific spas in question, the strong has a better warranty?

I admitted wet testing is a plus, in favor of a spa that can be wet tested. I have never, and would never buy a car without a test drive, but do know people who have. I assume you are in the spa selling business, so you can answer these questions that I cannot even guess on...was my observation that only a small % of your available spas are available to wet test? What % of customers wet test?

Though I haven't seen specific data on heat loss, I am willing to accept that full foam has higher R value than perimeter. That is a plus. The negative is access for repairs. Read other posts on this very forum about what a PITA repairs in full foam is. In Minnesota, or a high electric rate state, it may be worth it for the extra R...in Florida, maybe not.

The warranty differs between Strong and Evo depending on where you read it, so we will agree there are differences, however, I think having no pump warranty is pretty glaring, and an example of the spa manufacture's lack of faith in same.

As for foam, not all foam is difficult, have a look;

I mentioned the difference between the structural heavy foam of the Strong spa vs the 1/2 lb foam of the Marquis for this reason.

As for what percentage wet test? I have no data, but it is hard to find a knowlegable spa owner who reccomends against it.

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