Choosing the Best Hot Tub Cover

Your hot tub cover will protect your water from debris, animals, and some airborne bacteria, while also trapping the heat inside and saving you money. Naturally you want to get the most cover for your money. You want a cover that will do the job and last a long time. The following are a few tips for picking out your hot tub cover.

The Fit

Make sure it fits. Your hot tub cover should fit snugly over all sides of the hot tub, and should rest very close to or on the surface of the water. If the sides are loose, then animals could crawl in to get to the warmth or the hot water will evaporate and escape.

If it is too high off the surface of the water, hot water will evaporate, cling to the underside of the cover, then cool and drop back down into the water, lowering its overall temperature. Not to mention that the evaporation and condensation cycle would tend to release or use up the spa chemicals.

Ideally, the bottom of the cover would be on the water surface since that is what we want to keep warm.

Because we have been in this hot tub cover business a while, we have seen every manner of ill fitting, broken, taped, tarp covered, and otherwise “beyond it’s normal life span” attempt to put off getting a replacement cover.

Heavy Hot Tub Covers keep people out of the spa
If your cover looks like this you’re probably not using the hot tub today

This not only looks terrible but it costs you money because all of these efforts don’t really help. If you’re going to drain your spa and get rid of it, fine. But if you intend to keep using it, investing in the right cover is going to help.

The Insulation

Make sure it traps heat efficiently. As we stated before, a hot tub cover that sits up on the edge of the spa, several inches off the water surface, will trap evaporating water and cause it to condense and cool, then fall back into the spa lowering the temperature of the water.

What also occurs is the foam inside a traditional cover absorbs steam because it is a small molecule than water, then the water vapor condenses and becomes trapped in the foam material over time. Once the spaces in the foam have been filled with moisture whatever insulation value it did have is gone. A water logged cover has the same insulation value as a sheet of plywood.

Hot ub Cover held down with sand bags
If this is how you keep your hot tub cover in place you need a new cover!

The moisture also causes the cover to slowly become heavy until it either can’t be lifted or breaks under its own weight.

It gets worse. One of the other adverse effects of the saturated cover sitting way off the water surface, the cover will freeze when the outdoor temperature is below freezing. Because the outside of the cover is actually in contact with the freezing temperature outside and not in contact with the spa water it becomes a solid block of ice.

From the outside it may appear to be doing a great job insulating because snow will pile up on top of the cover. That’s because snow doesn’t mind sitting on ice. Unfortunately, your spa is working harder than ever trying to keep the spa water heated underneath that frozen cover.

To avoid the spa cover from becoming a solid block of ice over your hot tub in winter, you need to get one that does not sit up on the top of the edge of the spa, several inches off the water surface. You need a cover that won’t soak up moisture and freeze. A cover that will insulate the water at the water surface, like the SpaCap.

SpaCap hot tub cover in winter conditions
SpaCap on duty in winter

Weather Proof

Make sure it’s weather proof. If your hot tub is stored outside and not under shelter, then the cover must be durable enough to withstand rain, wind, snow, and potentially hail or winter precipitation. The cover must also prevent rainwater and wind from getting into the hot tub and cooling down the water.

So you need to have a cover that can keep the rain and debris running off, with a taper or better yet a dome shape

The tapered cover, is usually sold with the idea that it will keep the rain running off and because of that it won’t get heavy. If that were true, no tapered foam filled hot tub cover would ever get heavy. But it isn’t true because the do get heavy.

Every tapered, foam filled cover ever sold will get heavy because the moisture doesn’t come from outside the hot tub. In fact the only way to insure that a foam filled hot tub cover won’t get heavy is to never use it. If you never put it over hot water where steam can infiltrate into the foam it will never get heavy.

So if no foam filled hot tub cover ever made can keep from soaking up moisture once it’s in place over warm water, the solution is NOT to buy another foam filled spa cover, but to get one that does not use foam panels. The SpaCap are the only hot tub covers that won’t saturate.

Let’s talk for a minute about spa cover lifters because a lot of hot tub owners have fallen for the idea that a lifter will be the solution to a heavy cover. But it is not, because every lifter ever made is designed to work with a light weight cover.

Think about it. You still have to flop half the cover over the bar before the lifter is used. In most cases, that first lift is the one that is beyond hot tub owners. But if you did manage to open it halfway and then push the lifter hard enough to move a heavy cover, something has to give.

Either the spa cover will rip itself apart because it can’t hold it’s own weight or the lifter will rip itself off the hot tub cabinet. So a “lifter” is NOT the answer to a cover you can’t lift.

The only hot tub cover that won’t become saturated is the one with no foam. You need a spa cover that uses air chambers to do the insulating instead. The SpaCap.

If your spa cover is trying to make a bridge over the spa, then a heavy wet snow load will crush it. If the bottom of your spa cover rests on the water, it can transfer the weight of the snow and handle almost any snow load. In thirty years of building the SpaCap hot tub covers, and selling them in mountain retreats all over the world, not one has ever been crushed by snow.

If your spa cover has a rigid surface, the wind can eventually lift it off the spa and take it to parts unknown.

The physics of this are fairly simple, wind hits the side of the spa and then goes up and over. As the wind sweeps over the top of the spa it creates a vacuum above the rigid foam cover until it lifts it off the hot tub. Once it does the following wind pushes into the space below the cover and the water surface. As the air rushes in it compresses in the space until it pops the rigid cover up. At that point, lift off has occurred and the hot tub cover has become a wing.

Depending on the strength of the wind the cover can fly for miles.

The reason is that the rigid cover presents a surface that the wind can lift making it a wing.

This is where the natural dome shape of the SpaCap makes all the difference. There is no rigid surface for the wind to create lift. The natural dome shape just redirects the winds harmlessly away. Even Hurricane force winds won’t budge it.

In the past thirty years, hundreds of SpaCap hot tub covers have been sold in Tornado Alley and in areas that get hurricanes. Not ONE SpaCap has EVER flown away. They are the only truly Wind Proof Hot Tub Covers.

Pet Safe

Make sure it’s animal proof. Pets and wild animals are sometimes drawn to hot tubs by their heat, and some very small animals will even try to make their homes inside of a thick hot tub cover. Other animals crawl underneath the cover seeking warmth and end up falling in the water and drowning. Make sure the cover doesn’t allow any space for animals to go underneath it, and make sure it is made of material that animals can’t chew through to make their home.

Let’s face it, no cover is perfectly animal proof. But the SpaCap can handle more animal problems than any foam cover ever could. We used to say that no animal has ever damaged one. But in the last thirty years there have been some persistent creatures. There was a bear in Whistler BC that decided he wanted to take a dip in the spa. There was a raccoon in Bellevue WA that tore one up so he could wash his food. In both cases no traditional foam filled cover would have been able to do better.

All total, far more animals have damaged foam filled spa covers than the SpaCap.

More information about hot tub covers is available at SpaCap.

Can a Hot Tub Cover Be “Green”?

All this talk about going green, saving energy and saving the planet. As it relates to Hot Tub Covers, the most important thing we can do is to not create more waste that will just end up clogging our land fills. Consider this for a minute… There are 10 million spa owners in the USA, and each one of them uses a typical rigid foam hot tub cover on their hot tub. For the sake of this demonstration each foam cover is only two inches thick and every spa is eight feet by eight feet. That would mean each spa cover contained about 10.666 cubic feet of foam per spa cover. For the rest of this example we will use 10.5 cubic feet per cover.

If each hot tub cover on every spa becomes saturated within two years and needs to be replaced that would mean that we would be adding 52.5 million cubic feet of waste to our landfills in just hot tub covers every year.
If it takes two and a half covers worth of foam to make up one cubic yard that translates to 4 million cubic yards of waste added to our land fills every two years just in spa covers.
hot tub cover waste accumulates enough foam to build the Giza Pyramid every six years
There are 11 million Cubic yards of stone in the Great Pyramid at Giza, we are adding enough foam to build a duplicate in our landfills just from used hot tub covers every six years conservatively. There are four and a half million cubic yards of concrete in Hoover Dam. So we could clog a river with our discarded foam filled spa covers every two years. Or we could build a two lane highway of discarded foam filled spa covers from Seattle Washington to Miami Florida every two years.

Remember, for this example we were using a two inch thick foam spa cover. Most foam filled spa covers are not two inches thick anymore. If all those old foam covers were four inches thick all these calculations would be double. If they were tapered spa covers, say from six inches down to two, it still doubles the amount, so the highway or dam could be built every year instead of every two years.
But we are just being conservative so we want to stick with two inches thick. If we ripped the covers in half and laid those pieces end to end we could circle the earth at the equator on used spa covers every two years.

Heck with parking lots, in a few years we could pave the entire planet with foam just from saturated foam spa covers from the USA alone.

So what is the solution? Well, how about a better spa cover?. What if there were a spa cover that did a better job insulating, did not get saturated, heavy, break or blow away in the wind? Good news, you do not have to quit using your spa to save the earth. You just need to get a SpaCap Hot Tub Cover that does not use foam to insulate. There would be two major advantages to doing so. First the spa cover that did not use rigid foam to insulate would last longer. Since what always fails in the typical spa cover is the foam, either breaking or getting so saturated that you cannot lift it, a spa cover that did not use foam would tend to last longer.

Second, if the new type of spa cover does not use rigid foam it will also be a lot more friendly to the environment when it does come time to discard it. Less trash, less waste, less land fill, not that is what going green is all about.

SpaCap uses a patented design to solve all of the following:

  • As easy to use
  • Light Weight
  • Sheds Moisture
  • Won’t fly away
  • Won’t break under a snowload
  • Won’t be damaged by hail
  • Insulates Better
  • Sunbrella fabric rated by years not hours

Hot Tub Covers and When To Replace Them

Hot tub covers are imperative, if you want to keep that water warm inside the hot tub. Unfortunately, they don’t last forever. Despite what your spa dealer could possibly have promised, there shall come a season that you are going to be in need of a replacement hot tub cover.

What are the indications when hot tub covers have given up the ghost? There may be obvious signs, as well as some that are not so obvious indicators. Here are 5 signs of hot tub cover distress to take into consideration.

Saggy Hot Tub Covers

Hot Tub Covers that look like a bowl need to be replaced

When foam filled hot tub covers collect water on the surface, it’s time for a new spa cover. This signifies that whatever was provided in terms of the reinforcement of the foam boards is now bent or broken. Typically a C-channel that runs along both halves of the spa cover, where they meet at the hinge. Some cover manufacturers will use materials like aluminum or thin steel at this point, which will bend under weight (dogs, kids, snow), or (more typically) due to the weight of the cover itself.

If this is the case, attempting to milk a longer time from the cover is just going to end up costing more going forward since whatever insulation value it might possibly have possessed is gone at this stage. Delaying the inevitable will simply cost more in energy bills. But more importantly considering a usage point of view, the spa owner is unlikely to wish to mess with the cover when it has water on top of it. Ultimately, they’re using the hot tub less, which is certainly a sin. Don’t be a sinner.

Something to think about here. No matter what a hot tub dealer has to say about it, if he only sells foam filled hot tub covers, it is 100% absolutely certain that every one of them will turn out the same way either too heavy to lift, or broken.

It won’t matter whether it is shrink wrapped in Kevlar and reinforced with titanium, if it has foam inside, it is doomed to fail.

Puddle Cover

Hot Tub Covers that allow water to pool up on them

Water is heavy, at 8 lbs. per gallon, it can add up quickly. Another case of broken reinforcement channel. Probably started out with a small crimp in the channel, which commenced to puddle some water, and a lot more water – and now it appears like a new hot tub cover is in order.

Just like Saggy Cover, this is due to using foam panels above a hot tub. Foam panels will saturate from the steam coming off the spa water. Not one thing will prevent it other than not using foam within your cover!

The spa dealer may suggest you to attempt to flip the panels over inside the cover to add to its useful life. Except the zippers as well as the vinyl material weren’t made to be opened and shut beyond the initial stuffing of the foam.

Once a cover begins a gradual puddle, it may never be reversed. It’s time to order a replacement hot tub cover. As we said above, putting it off means you’ll be making use of the hot tub less (a sin) and wasting money on the heating bill.

Water Logged Hot Tub Cover

This may be a hot tub cover that weighs about 3x what it did when it was new. They often get so heavy that they become next to impossible to use short of the aid of a Seal Team. They can also damage spa cover lifters once they get too heavy. That’s because the cover lifter is not made to handle a heavy cover. Bet the dealer didn’t mention that when he sold it to you.

When the foam core is taking on water – and, is not draining. This does not signify that rain water has somehow gotten into your cover, or snow or another outside source. It happens when steam rises from the warm spa water then since it’s a very small molecule, gets right into the foam. Once it gets inside of the foam it cools and turns back into water, and becomes trapped because of the fact that the water molecule is too big to drop out.

The best way to prevent it would be to never use a foam filled cover on the hot tub. Despite what the manufacturer claims to wrap it in or the way they package it, the foam will eventually become saturated. Period.

It is time for a new replacement hot tub cover. Again, putting it off at this point is just going to cost you more in your energy consumption and unless you have a Seal Team living with you, you aren’t going to be using your spa very often. (Still a sin)

If you want to be clever, you can take the cover from your spa and store it in your garage for several months. As soon as the cover is away from the moisture and being stored inside a dry place, eventually the moisture within the cover will evaporate (back to a smaller molecule) and of course the foam will become light again. It takes months for it to dry completely in which case you must have another replacement cover for your spa while you wait. Note: The cover may still warp wildly out of shape while it dries.

If you choose to rotate your covers every three months, you may be capable of making them last until the materials begin to come apart. See Below.

Torn Hot Tub Covers

torn-spa-cover

Whenever the fabric (marine grade vinyl on the standard foam filled hot tub covers) is exposed to its limit of sun and weather, it becomes brittle and begins to deteriorate. Eventually, holes and tears happen that will.

Because ALL Vinyl, even the most costly Marine Grade, are rated by HOURS outdoors.

Using a spa cover protectant is just another way for cover dealers to take your money. If you would like to spend on weekly basis rubbing down your hot tub cover with conditioner, be our guest but the smart thing to do would be to buy the cover that does not have VINYL on the outside. Like say the SpaCap hot tub covers that use Sunbrella Marine fabric, which is rated by YEARS outdoors.

Still, if the cover isn’t heavy yet, you might to postpone acquiring another right away providing you don’t mind the look of Duct Tape. If you would like a few suggestions, check out some episodes of the “Red Green Show.” Red covers the finer points of Duct Tape.

Smelly Hot Tub Covers

Musty, mildew, old wet dog – whatever your hot tub cover smells like, if it’s a bad odor, that probably implies that you now have bacteria forming inside the hot tub cover. It probably also means the cover is water logging (see above).

Now we have crossed over from inconvenient to unhealthy.

What are you inhaling when this is what you smell?

Completely dismantling of the cover, and spraying it down with Lysol won’t help! Since the source of the smell, AKA the mold and mildew are stuck inside the foam! The best you might be able to accomplish would be to kill what’s on the outside of the vinyl or foam even so you are not going to touch what’s inside the foam. Plus now your cover smells like Lysol, nothing kills the mood faster than inhaling something that reminds you of how the school janitor cleaned up vomit.

The origin of the problem? That high quality foam employed in traditional hot tub covers. Despite how much a dealer may attempt to sell how it is extremely resistant to water absorption and bacteria formation, it will still happen and they understand it.

When you happen to be ready for a brand new spa cover, make sure that it’s not made using a foam core.

If you were curious about your hot tub cover making it another year, don’t wait. It’s your basic instinct telling you something important – hot tub season is coming! Get ready now!

UglyHotTubCover

Hot Tub Covers and Sun Damage

Hot Tub Covers vs SunIf you own a hot tub in Texas, Arizona or at altitude in the Rockies you know what sun exposure can do to vinyl hot tub covers.

The reason is all vinyls are rated by hours outdoors. Normally 1500 hrs outdoors is pretty standard which amounts to about 100 days if you only count daylight hours. Makes it seem kind of silly to put vinyl on anything that’s going to be outdoors.

Vinyl will always crack and fall apart eventually if it is exposed to temperature extremes and or UV. That’s why Sunbrella™ was invented. It has been the gold standard in outdoor fabric for more than forty five years.

Sunbrella™ is manufactured by Glen Raven Mills here in the USA. Made from acrylic fiber woven into a canvas like fabric it offers the breathability of canvas without the shrinkage, rotting or fading. One of the great advantages of breathable fabric is that it does not trap moisture in like vinyl where it can grow mildew. If rigid foam hot tub covers smell like mildew, the vinyl on the outside is one of the reasons why. Since acrylic is the same stuff most spas are made of Sunbrella™ is incredibly durable.

Sunbrella™ doesn’t crack in cold like vinyl, or fade like canvas. If you live near a marina every boat top you see out there in a bright color is Sunbrella™. Anything else would fade out quickly, even the paint on the boat will fade before the Sunbrella™ will.Hot Tub Covers Sun Damaged

Years ago a neighbor came to me and wanted me to repair his sail cover. His sail cover had been on his sail boat for twelve years, through all the weather the northwest pacific coast could through at it. For those of you who don’t know sailing, the typical sail material needs to be protected from exposure when not in use so it is bundled and covered with a sail cover. The sail cover is the shield that covers the expensive sail from damage.

My neighbors sail cover was made from Sea Grass Green Sunbrella™ which is a bold, fairly bright green. I explained to him that if I patched the cover with new material it would look terrible because new bright material would stick out like a sore thumb on the faded older material. I laid a piece of new material on his old cover to prove my point.

To my astonishment the only difference between the two was his was a little dirty. Once it was cleaned and patched, there was no difference between the new fabric and the old even after constant exposure for twelve years. If your spa is outdoors and your tired of replacing spa covers due to sun damage you really need to get the only spa cover that is offered in Sunbrella™ fabric the SpaCap.

Hot Tub Covers and Hail Damage

We get a lot of inquiries from spa owners that are replacing their Hot Tub Covers due to hail damage. Traditional rigid foam covers get hammered by hail because they don’t absorb impact very well. As people who live in areas of heavy hail storms know, anything rigid is going to take a pounding.

The solution to this would be something that is able to give or absorb impacts. In Hollywood when a stunt man falls from a great height, he wants to land on something that will absorb his impact like an air bag. The air bags the stunt man lands on are designed made from the same materials as the SpaCap.

Now the stunt air bag is designed to open and release air when it “catches” the stunt person so please don’t use your SpaCap this way. However if your house is on fire and you have to jump out of the window to save your life aiming for the SpaCap would probably save your life.

However you are a little bigger than the typical hail stone and the damage from you jumping on Hot Tub Covers would not be covered by the warranty. But no matter how fierce the storm or the hail stone the SpaCap will give or catch it without damage. We have tested it by driving golf balls into it, dropping bowling balls on them and just having them in use around the country in areas that get severe hail storms.

We do a brisk business replacing foam filled covers crushed after a storm but so far not even one of the SpaCap hot tub covers have ever been damaged by hail.