Hot Spots! Exceptional Values in Portable Spas (cont.)

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Gary Fernstrom, who is an independent energy-efficiency engineering consultant who helps California Energy Commission to establish efficiency standards for spas, says some of the new motors that are sold to spa manufacturers are 12 percent to 15 percent more efficient than previous motors were, but he believes the motors likely will reduce a spa’s overall energy use only by a tiny percentage.

Meanwhile, the number of models that plug into a 120-volt, or standard, outlet has increased by 39 percent over the past 4 years. Models that plug into a 120-volt outlet draw half as much energy as do conventional models that require a 240-volt outlet. However, models that plug into a 120-volt outlet have fewer motors and smaller motors than do models that plug into a 240-volt outlet, which means that they have about half as many hydrotherapy jets. In addition, models that plug into a 120-volt outlet can’t run heaters and jets simultaneously, as models that plug into 240-volt outlets can.

Nonetheless, 120-volt spas deliver additional savings for consumers beyond their lower power consumption. The least expensive model that plugs into a 120-volt outlet that we found starts at $2,199. The least expensive model of similar size and capacity that requires a 240-volt outlet costs $3,295, or a difference of $1,096. Furthermore, you have to pay an electrician to add a 240-volt electrical outlet, which typically costs about $700. We believe that you might want to let that cost difference soak in for a while before you make a decision.

Drew Vass is a regular contributor to Consumers Digest. He has written about a wide range of home-improvement topics, including home-heating systems, power tools, and bathroom and kitchen remodeling.

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