Are Balboa Hot Tubs Good? Complete Balboa Spa Review

There are a ton of hot tub manufacturers, and some are definitely better and more reputable. But one you hear a lot about is Balboa. But are Balboa hot tubs good?

Here’s what I know from looking into it:

The Balboa Water Group makes high-quality hot tub parts such as heaters, sound systems, topside panels, and even hot tub shells. But Balboa doesn’t make or sell hot tubs directly. 

So don’t expect to go to Balboa’s website and order a hot tub.

Also don’t expect to find Balboa hot tubs at a dealer or Costco. But they can be a great resource if you need to repair or upgrade your hot tub.

If you’ve never owned a hot tub before, there are plenty of things you need to know before buying.

So you should take a look at a recent article on my site to pick up some tips. In it, I detail the 23 most crucial things you need to know and consider before making your purchase.

But to find out more about Balboa and how they help create some of the best hot tubs around, read on.

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Are Balboa hot tubs expensive?

Because Balboa only manufactures parts and not a completed hot tub, a finished product can be inexpensive or expensive depending on what components are selected. A Bluetooth sound system and controller that can be accessed on a mobile device will be more expensive than more basic models.

One of the top brands that use Balboa parts also makes some VERY inexpensive hot tubs.

That company is Essential Hot Tubs, and I love their Integrity model – view it here on Amazon – has a 1kW stainless steel Balboa heater.

It runs off a 110v supply, and you can pick up one of these for less than $4,000 at many outlets.

The Essential Hot Tubs Calypso (click to see on Amazon) model features 100 stainless steel jets, seating for up to 7 people, a 4kW stainless steel Balboa heater, and underwater LED lights, all for around $6,500.

Balboa pumps and control systems may be more expensive than some of those you will find on many high-end hot tubs.

But with those, you often find they have proprietary equipment that you can only get through their suppliers, so when they go wrong, you have to go back to them for replacement parts.

Balboa parts are readily available, and many dealers hold spares, so if your pump or your spa side overlay fails, you can get a replacement within days.

Where are Balboa hot tubs made?

Balboa hot tub parts and accessories are made in Tustin, California, but they do not sell directly to the public on their website

In the USA, Essential Hot Tubs are made in Central Pennsylvania, Clearwater tubs in Woodinville, Washington, and Artesian tubs are built in their new factory in Las Vegas, Nevada.

There are many more across the states.

Balboa Water Group has a worldwide distribution network through its international sales division, HydroAir. It is the largest manufacturer of hot tub panels globally and one of the great innovators in control features, with its renowned SpaTouch system topping the list.

There is now an app available for iOS and Android, which means you don’t even need to use the control panel. You simply use your smartphone to control the functions anywhere you have a Wi-Fi connection.

How many different hot tubs does Balboa have?

Balboa doesn’t sell hot tubs, but plenty of manufacturers use Balboa parts in their hot tubs. These manufacturers include Essential Hot Tubs, Cal Spa, Artesian, and many others. 

Balboa makes pretty much everything apart from the acrylic shell, including control systems and topside panels, massage jets, pumps, blowers, and tons of accessories.

Here is a list of some of the top US-built hot tubs that use Balboa parts:

  • Essential Hot Tubs
  • Clearwater 
  • Catalina  
  • VITA 
  • Cal Spa 
  • Tuff Spa 
  • Artesian
  • Quality Spas Paradise Series

These are amongst the top-sellers in the world, and they are built to a proven specification.

They not only incorporate Balboa pumps and jets, but they also use non-hardening foam, which is known for its superior insulation value making these a great choice if you’re looking for economical running costs.

The number of hot tubs built using some or all of the parts Balboa supplies is growing all the time. It has become a major selling point, particularly with the low to mid-range manufacturers such as Essential Hot Tubs.

How long does it take a Balboa hot tub to heat up?

It can take anything from 3 to 8 hours to heat an average hot tub, including the ones built through parts from Balboa. The biggest factors include ambient air temperature, keeping the lid closed and jets on, and the temperature of the garden hose water.

The water temperature will normally rise by 3 to 6°F per hour using a 4kW Balboa pump, more if you leave the cover on as this stops the heat from escaping.

The smaller plug ‘n’ play hot tubs with a 1kW heater will take longer – as much as 15 hours for a 250-gallon tub.

No matter how powerful your heater or how large your hot tub, there are things you can do to speed up the heating.

I covered this in a recent article. I get into each of the individual steps that can actually cut your heating time in half in many cases.

Just click the link to read it on my site.

One of the great things about the Balboa system is that you can set the timer to start the heating process 4 or 5 hours before using the hot tub, so it is at the right temperature when you need it.

The length of time it takes to warm up to around 100°F depends on several factors.

  • The temperature of the water at the start
  • The amount of water in the tub
  • The temperature of the water going in
  • The power of your heater

A 2kW heater will heat the water twice as quickly as a 1kW heater, so upgrading your heater would be more economical in the long-run.

In the summertime, the water in your garden hose may be as much as 80°. It will not take long to raise it by 20°, but it will take a lot longer in colder climates.

Don’t be tempted to heat the water going in by connecting to the hot water faucet in your kitchen, as this could have disastrous effects on your tub and pump.

Read more about this in the article I referred to above.

How long do Balboa hot tubs last?

Hot tub systems made from Balboa Water Group may last from 5 to 20 years depending on how well the hot tub water is maintained and how quickly leaks and maintenance issues are dealt with. Since Balboa does not sell fully-built hot tubs and only parts, the lifespan may also vary considerably from part to part.

Over the years, parts will fail, which is inevitable.

But it is always worth replacing those parts if the shell is in good condition. On the other hand, if the shell is starting to look shabby, becoming discolored and badly stained or even cracked, it might not be worth spending too much to keep it running—a bit like a car in that respect.

To keep your hot tub shell in good condition, protect it from direct sunlight by covering it when not in use and clean it regularly using non-abrasive materials.

Ordinary household products will do the job, such as Windex – but don’t use too much and make sure it is thoroughly rinsed off before refilling the tub.

The best way to improve the longevity of your pump, heater, jets, and pipework is regular maintenance of the water. These are the key elements to keep your water crystal clear:

  • Checking the pH and alkalinity and adjust the water accordingly
  • Cleaning and replacing filters regularly
  • Adding chemicals such as chlorine or bromine to kill off bacteria
  • Shocking the water regularly

Cloudy or smelly water isn’t just unpleasant to soak in. It can actually damage your hot tub equipment depending on what the underlying issue is.

In a recent article, I looked at this in detail, including the 1 sure-fire way to destroy your filters. Just click that link to read it on my site.

Did I cover all you wanted to know about whether Balboa spas are any good?

Well, now you know that Balboa is one of the leading manufacturers of control systems and topside panels, massage jets, pumps, blowers, and pipework, and their parts go into making some of the best hot tubs around.

But, if you want to buy a Balboa spa, you will have to search out dealers who use these parts in their hot tubs. There are lots of them around, and they are all built here in America!

I hope this covers everything, but if you have any questions, just drop me a line or add a comment. And don’t forget to check out the links to other related articles on my site.

Jeff Campbell

Jeff Campbell is a husband, father, martial artist, budget-master, Disney-addict, musician, hot tub lover, and recovering foodie having spent over 2 decades as a leader for Whole Foods Market.

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