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Help me decide between Jacuzzi, Hotpring, or Bullfrog


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Hi, I posted a few weeks back and got some good replies. At that time I couldn't really buy because I had to get rid of my old Hot Tub and tear down the small wood deck it was on. I have finally done that and now contacting people to pour a concrete patio. As soon as that is done I will be ready to buy. I am not in a big hurry though so if any of these brands tend to run sales in certain months please let me know. I have narrowed my search based on dealers in my area. Here are my choices

 

Jacuzzi J-315 runs at $9160 and that includes a cover, a chemical start up kit, delivery, & set up.

Bull frog A5L $10,149 R5L $8,353 X5L $6,285

Hotsprings Jetsetter LX runs around $9500 and the regular Jetsetter is around $8500. Has salt or freshwater options.

I need to learn more about the differences between the Bullfrog A5L and R5L, not sure how they differ.  I plan to do a wet test on all 3 before I buy but just thought I would ask you guys what you think about these 3 brands in terms of warranty, durability, quality of parts and construction, things I wouldn't know just by looking at specs and do a wet test. Those intangibles. Between those models listed which would you likely buy? Thanks in advance for your help. 

Edit: I can't do a wet test because all 3 dealers are sold out and also because of Covid. Hot Springs says 26 week lead time and Jacuzzi said around January if I order now. Not sure about Bullfrog. Also looks like all promotions or specials are cancelled due to backlog and high demand. I am wondering if it might not be smart to order now and lock in current prices and get in line rather than risk a price hike next year. 

 

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After waiting twenty years to buy my first tub, I opted to start with a Hotspring Jetsetter.  My dealer's prices were right around yours in 2019 so you're getting a great deal on that considering the surge in demand for tubs right now.  If you can run 220v to your location, I vote for the Jetsetter LX

Only thing I'd suggest is going with an Ozonator setup instead of the Saltwater system.   PM me if you'd like to see a copy of my dealer's recommended care routine using an ozonator and dichlor pellets to see how simple maintenance can be WITHOUT the salt system. 

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I have 220 box already installed from my last Hot Tub. The Hot Spring dealer though told me it comes with it's own box and would need to replace the one I have. So that might factor into the final cost because Jacuzzi dealer told me they can use the one I already have. Even though the new box is included I will need to have an electrician install it. But I am leaning towards the Jetsetter LX though I haven't seen the Jacuzzi in person since they are out of stock. 

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4 hours ago, gwmac said:

I have 220 box already installed from my last Hot Tub. The Hot Spring dealer though told me it comes with it's own box and would need to replace the one I have. So that might factor into the final cost because Jacuzzi dealer told me they can use the one I already have. Even though the new box is included I will need to have an electrician install it. But I am leaning towards the Jetsetter LX though I haven't seen the Jacuzzi in person since they are out of stock. 

Honestly I was torn between a J315 and the Jetsetter last year (originally thought I wanted a jacuzzi brand tub until I started researching the product offerings).  However when you look at the internal construction, the Highlife tubs from Hotspring are a step up from the J300-series tubs in my opinion.    Also keep in mind that Hotspring holds a proprietary patent on the Motomassager jet - you won't find this on any other hottubs (except the Hotspring Hotspot SX and TX tubs).   The motomassager in the lounger on my jetsetter is the favorite seat in the tub for both the wife and I.  The pressure is almost too much for my wife when I close off all other jets and send full pressure to the Motomassager for her, but I really enjoy it.    Honestly I'm quite impressed with the Jetsetter's pressure considering I'm running it on 110AC.  My only regret is not getting the LX because it does have a few extra jets on the lounger which would be awesome to have.    

 

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11 minutes ago, ratchett said:

Honestly I was torn between a J315 and the Jetsetter last year (originally thought I wanted a jacuzzi brand tub until I started researching the product offerings).  However when you look at the internal construction, the Highlife tubs from Hotspring are a step up from the J300-series tubs in my opinion.    Also keep in mind that Hotspring holds a proprietary patent on the Motomassager jet - you won't find this on any other hottubs (except the Hotspring Hotspot SX and TX tubs).   The motomassager in the lounger on my jetsetter is the favorite seat in the tub for both the wife and I.  The pressure is almost too much for my wife when I close off all other jets and send full pressure to the Motomassager for her, but I really enjoy it.    Honestly I'm quite impressed with the Jetsetter's pressure considering I'm running it on 110AC.  My only regret is not getting the LX because it does have a few extra jets on the lounger which would be awesome to have.    

 

Thanks. That helps a lot. I want the strongest jets possible which is a major factor in my decision. Going by specs alone the Jacuzzi seems to have less power. Unfortunately I will not be able to wet test any of the 3 brands which is why I need all the help I can get to decide. The one plus for the Jacuzzi is the parts after the warranty goes out. I have heard Hot Springs is more proprietary in their parts and therefore harder and more expensive to repair after the warranty runs out. 

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Those are good prices on both Jetsetters.  I have not personally sat in the Jetsetter LX but I have sat in the Jetsetter and I thought it had very good power for a 110v hot tub.  Given the LX is 220v with a larger pump it should have at least as much power if not a bit more.

I have very little hands on experience with Jacuzzi and none with Bullfrog.  I know a few Hot Spring dealers who used to carry Jacuzzi and Bullfrog and all have told me they believe both to be quality products but as dealers both lagged significantly in terms of dealer support compared to Hot Springs.  While I know how a manufacturer supports the dealer may not be important to the consumer, it is to the dealer because it affects how well they can take care of their customers.

At this point, I have not heard of any pending price increases though that could change.  My personal opinion is I would try to make a decision sooner than later.  If your dealer ordered your hot tub today it would be unlikely for you to see if before Christmas and with sales still in high demand these long lead times are going to be with us for a long while.

In my opinion, Jacuzzi parts are more expensive and as hard if not harder to get than Hot Spring.  In my previous life before selling Hot Spring I had a harder time getting Jacuzzi/Sundance parts than I did Hot Spring and what I could get was really expensive.  I personally never agree with any argument that says Hot Spring or Jacuzzi parts are proprietary compared to say a Bullfrog or Marquis.  Just because a brand uses Balboa or Gecko controls, Waterway or CMP jets, Aquaflo or Waterway pumps, etc, doesn't mean they are non-proprietary.  

 

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I just got my patio finished today. Hooray! So I am ready to buy. As I said earlier I chose those particular 3 brands because they have dealers near me. But I also learned that Marquis also has a dealer that serves my area and I have heard you guys say good things about that brand. 

I am starting to take another look at that Bullfrog X5L model which is the cheapest by far at $6,285. This jet packs don't really impress me on the R and A series models  and I don't really see much difference with the R5L which cost $2,100 more. 

By the way, any thoughts about Chris Wheatley at the Hot Tub U website? He doesn't think much of any of the brands I have to choose from.

His top choices are "Artesian, Twilight, Garden spas, getaway spas, elite, Master, Healthy Living, Clarity, PDC, Coast (pending factory inspection), and then a bunch of fringe guys like Bullfrog, Beachcomber, Nordic, Marquis (undergoing factory revamp and having issues right now)" None of those are options for me besides Bullfrog and Marquis because no other dealers near But he put both Hot Spring and Jacuzzi in the worst category. Just wondering if you guys think much of his opinion.

 

 

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9 hours ago, gwmac said:

By the way, any thoughts about Chris Wheatley at the Hot Tub U website? He doesn't think much of any of the brands I have to choose from.

His top choices are "Artesian, Twilight, Garden spas, getaway spas, elite, Master, Healthy Living, Clarity, PDC, Coast (pending factory inspection), and then a bunch of fringe guys like Bullfrog, Beachcomber, Nordic, Marquis (undergoing factory revamp and having issues right now)" None of those are options for me besides Bullfrog and Marquis because no other dealers near But he put both Hot Spring and Jacuzzi in the worst category. Just wondering if you guys think much of his opinion.

 

 

Bullfrog's jetpacks are quite innovative.  Due to the need to swap packs in/out, the seats tend to feel a bit "flatter" and wider than some other tubs.  Be sure to try and wet-test a bullfrog spa to see how you like the jetpacks before buying because they do feel a bit different than most other hottubs. 

 

Chris is an affiliate marketer who fails to indicate his paid affiliation with certain brands.  He's also a Master Spa dealer.  I'd be extremely leery of any dealer talking trash on other brands except their own.  I visited a dozen different dealers in my state when shopping for a tub a year ago.  I met the gambit from dealers who would trash talk other brands, to dealers who would refuse to comment on any other brand and instead focusing on the benefits of their spa. In my opinion brands which need to trash other brands to sell a tub should be a red flag.   

https://www.whatsthebest-hottub.com/forum/index.php/topic,24525.msg216066.html

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Thanks for that link. I figured he was tied to the makers he recommended in some form. But he did make one point that seems valid. Balboa has a very good reputation and I worry about being locked in to proprietary parts from Jacuzzi or Hot Springs that may be of lower quality than Balboa and also more expensive. Once you buy a brand with proprietary you are locked with parts for that brand for life.  Of course I am talking about after the warranty expires.  Do you think I should add the criteria of a well-built spa that includes easily available and replaceable OEM parts?

I took a look at all the brands he recommended at the only one I liked was the PDC Carmel.  It seems to be well built with a hand  rolled shells that support their own weight and use all balboa inside. Insulation isn't a big deal for me since I live in Georgia and we rarely get cold weather. It is not as flashy as my other top choices but it is at a much lower price point so it is very tempting. Stellar Spas seem to be selling this same tub under an off market brand. Exact same specs at a much lower cost.  Not being able to wet or even dry test any tub  because of no stock and Covid makes choosing a lot more difficult. But I am not going to impulse buy barring some big sale which doesn't look likely. The PDC is just curbside delivery but I could have that delivered to a local moving company and they quoted me $160 to deliver it to my patio. But then I would not have a local dealer support for any issues. 

 

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Spas that use Balboa packs and topsides can also be proprietary to that brand and might not be interchangeable with off the shelf. Looking at the photos of the 2 brands listed in the above post I see almost all small jets and the way that the filter housing is positioned I would absolutely sit in one before buying as you may find the way the filter housing sticks out into the bather area you might find it uncomfortable and awkward. 

On 7/31/2020 at 7:06 PM, gwmac said:

Going by specs alone the Jacuzzi seems to have less power

Only way to know is to wet test. Can't go by specs alone as HP ratings are usually BS and pumps need to provide balanced power based on the amount and size/style of jets used. I think you would be surprised at the Jacuzzi jets they are usually very comfortable but have good power allowing for longer soaks.

Is there a reason you are going with such a small spa? (limited space?)

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I will be the only one using it 98% of the time and the other 2% would only be 1 other person. I will never have more than 2 people in at a time. Also limited space even if I wanted a bigger tub due to where my patio sits.

 Unfortunately neither wet nor even dry testing is an option at the moment because of no stock at local dealers and also because of Covid they have stopped allowing that (At least temporarily) I am not in a huge rush and I will insist on at least a dry test before I buy locally at least. Powerful jets are a big factor for me though because I want deep tissue like massage not just a relaxing soak. I have never sat in a Hot tub by any brand where I thought the jets were too strong. 

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As others have said, Hot Tub University is a Master Spas retailer.  If he doesn't make that clear right away, then he is being misleading.  If a manufacturer representative cannot be trusted, then in my opinion nothing he says is worth listening too.

I've never seen a PDC Spa in 20 years.  Doesn't mean anything really, just that my market has never been saturated enough for anybody to go looking at some of the smaller brands. 

As CanadianSpaTech already said, Balboa and Gecko can be proprietary.  I personally, due to past experiences, don't particularly like Gecko.  Generally speaking, I like Balboa but have had a few issues with heaters since they changed how the heater connects to the circuit board.  Point is, don't let the component choice of proprietary or not be a decision maker.  I would also be surprised if the Jacuzzi didn't have sufficient jet power.

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OK thanks. Once all the local dealers actually get some in stock that I can go look at again I will be better able to make a choice. Hopefully I can at least do a dry test if not wet one. I don't think it matters what I choose because it looks like I will be waiting a long time to get anything and also without any manufacturer rebates or sales. I wish I had bought last year and not waited. But hindsight ...20/20 yada yada....

Final question, I've heard some people recommended putting a piece of polycarbonate panel or other types of mats under the base between the bottom of the tub and and cement patio for added protection. My patio is elevated above ground by 6 inches so most rain will just drain off but I do worry about small amounts that can lead to wood rot on the bottom. Any truth to that? Or just sit it directly on the concrete. My old tub rotted at the base so that is a concern. 

 

 

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