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Spa Tech feelings on Gecko Systems Serviceability

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Hey Guys,

I was wanting to get some other spa maintenance Tech input and or corrections if I am wrong about anything I have experienced below:

I think I have had my last straw with Gecko and not being able to service anything besides replacing major sub assemblies of control systems.

We have 50+ hot tubs in our program most of which are Balboa or Gecko. All of the topsides of our Gecko systems look trashed because as far as I am aware, you cannot buy an overlay like you can with a Balboa unit. Our Balboa controlled tubs look great because we are able to replace the overlays.

We just had a large tub go down running a Gecko in.xe type system with a "HR" fault code. According to my counterpart in the area, he has replaced this pack 2 times before this most recent fault. He advised me that this is an unrecoverable message, that the pack must be replaced and costs close to $1000 to do so. I decided that because of this trend I have noticed with Gecko that I am not going to return to service any Gecko system that has a failure anymore.  I am in the process of pulling out the Gecko System and upgrading it to a Balboa system. It is a 2 pump with blower system,o-zone, led lighting system, and audio system so it will be a big job, but the whole conversion still costs less than the lone control box. I still would have the lousy looking topside with all of the text missing from the control buttons. And no one sees the control boxes.

The Gecko in.xe system that is being replaced is a very nice looking unit. color coded plugs, molded connectors on the leads to the pumps.  O-ring seals around the case covers. It is very professional looking and 'instagrammable' at glance, but this inability to service anything in the control or purchase overlays is a deal breaker in my eye.

I also believe they have a higher power consumption than a comparable Balboa unit. For instance our single pump 5.5kw heater tubs average 12-14ish amps while circulating and warming water. The Gecko tub we have is a steady 19 amps when running. The home owner is not happy with his electrical bill and I am tempted to recommend retrofitting the pack with a balboa system. Has anyone else made this observation as well?

Thoughts?

(I promise I have no vested interest to Balboa or any Manufacturer. My background is airplanes before this so I have no history with anyone. My allegiance lies with whoever has enough faith in us techs to build systems to be maintainable. This throw away culture is hurting us.

 

 

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We service both Gecko and Balboa systems.

True, the in.xm and in.xe don't have serviceable circuit boards, but there's not really much on a Balboa circuit board you can fix either.  On the in.xe or in.xm the only option for a circuit board failure is to replace the entire pack.  On the other hand, if you have a bad circuit board in a Balboa, it's generally cheaper to replace just the circuit board.

I prefer the Balboa because the heaters and sensors are field replaceable, where in the in.xe & xm you have to replace the entire heater assembly.    Also, the Balboa seems a little "tighter."  The Gecko pack has a rubber seal around the cover which always seems to be falling out when we try to put it together in the field, and the cable strain relief clamps don't fit very well over heavy pump harnesses.

For retrofitting a new pack with a gecko system, I prefer the in.ye, which is highly versatile and uses the same AMP connectors as the Balboa pack.  If you have a 3 pump or a 2 pump and blower system, the in.ye is less expensive than the Balboa.  You have to software program the in.ye, but it's not difficult to follow the directions.  The Balboa is programmed by dip switches.

Quality wise, I think the packs are similar.  I've had one DOA on each of them over the past 5 years.

The gecko uses a 4 kW heater element, while the Balboa uses either a 4.0 or a 5.5kW heater.  You can try to count the pennies on the electrical usage. The 4kW needs to run longer but uses less energy.  The 5.5kW heats faster, but uses more energy. I've never had a customer note the difference.   If you're really worried about saving a few dollars a year, maybe a hot tub isn't the greatest investment.

The HR error message typically is accompanied by a second code.  SP-HR means pack failure.  RN-HR means heater failure, which is a much less expensive repair.

Dave

 

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Hey Dave,

Thanks so much for the reply. Very informative and confirms many of my thoughts. My main reasons from shying away from Gecko is because of the availability of PC cards, Heating elements, Heater assemblies and overlays. The Gecko system just does not seem service friendly which is critical for my line of work.

Hot Tubs are a necessary amenity in the line of work I do. Not too many people want to rent a vacation house that does not have a hot tub as I have discovered. I do not mind spending money on hot tubs, but prefer to do due diligence and go with a brand who does allow repair and maintenance without spending huge sums of money on higher assemblies.

Secondly, the Balboa system seems much more stable and less finicky than the Gecko systems. Balboa's temperature sensing system seems really stout. The temp probes are the same part for both ends of the heating system and when a failure occurs the fault code often brings you to the part that needs to be replaced, and then you can buy that part.

You mentioned another point that I favor Balboa over Gecko, the initial setup. Gecko has good manuals, but the Balboa dip switches make it impossible for guests to find their way into the programming sequence from the topside.

The tub that brought me here is being converted to a Balboa system so the Gecko system is going away in this case.

Thanks for the pointer on the detailed fault code, I will check that out for sure.

My thought about the high energy use is how the filtration cycle, sensing systems, control programming, and parasitic drain between the systems might be different. To me, it seems the Balboa's use less energy overall when all other factors are equal.

As for the heating elements, I have been advised to change elements with 5.5kw at every opportunity because yes the 4.0 heaters use less energy, but the longer time the heater has to run is also a longer time that the pump has to run as well.

Thanks for the thoughtful and informative reply as always.

Dan

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