Alternative Spa Covers
Spa covers keep leaves and other debris out of hot tubs. Besides providing a measure of insulation, these covers also can prevent children and pets from falling in the water. Most conventional spa covers are constructed out of foam and other materials such as wood or aluminum with a vinyl outer layer.
But these covers tend to wear out over time, which has prompted some spa owners to explore other less expensive, longer lasting or more environmentally friendly options.
A cover is an integral part of a spa. Covers provide safety by limiting access. They also safeguard filters in outside spas by preventing debris and dirt from getting in the water. Finally, covers result in energy savings by dramatically curbing the loss of heat.
The most commonly used spa covers are rigid devices consisting of vinyl-covered foam. They can weigh 30 pounds or more and tend to get even heavier over time as the insulating foam becomes saturated with steam rising off the warm water. Many of these covers have a tapered design to help them shed rain and snow. Rigid covers made of aluminum tend to be quite sturdy and long-lasting. Flexible covers, also known as Tonneau covers, are an alternative to rigid foam covers. Spreading over the spa like a tarp, they are far lighter than conventional covers but provide less safety for children and pets. Inflatable covers are yet another option for spa owners to consider. These long-lasting covers feature stable, air-filled bladders.
Depending on their thickness and other features, the commonly used rigid spa covers cost from $300 to $600. But they also need to be replaced every few years, adding significantly to the overall price tag. Flexible spa covers are less expensive with some models selling for less than $200 but they are not recommended for owners with children or pets unless their hot tub is protected by a security fence. Inflatable spa covers are a viable alternative that are typically priced under $500.
The makers of inflatable SpaCap hot tub and spa covers claim that their products provide superior insulation when compared to conventional rigid foam spa covers. Unlike conventional covers that rest several inches above the water line, the SpaCap's closed air chambers rest directly on the water's surface. As a result, the related energy savings will help pay for purchasing a new SpaCap cover. By using air chambers instead of foam, SpaCap covers also avoid problems associated with saturation. Therefore this type of inflatable cover maintains its original weight and usually will last several years longer than a conventional rigid cover.
Because rigid spa covers need to be replaced every two or three years, they represent a significant contribution to landfills across the nation. Based on a figure of 10 million spas and hot tubs in America, it is estimated that there are enough discarded foam covers to build a four-lane highway stretching from Seattle to Miami every two years. Given the costly need to frequently replace conventional rigid spa covers, it is not surprising that a growing number of hot tub owners are opting for alternatives such as durable, energy-efficient inflatable covers.
Kirk Brown is an award-winning freelance writer with two decades of diverse media experience. A former newspaper reporter and editor, he also was managing editor of an acclaimed scuba diving magazine. Brown has written scripts for more than 50 half-hour TV programs focusing on technology and health topics.