As the spa industry undergoes transformative changes, there’s a new player in town that’s making waves — heat pumps. These energy-efficient devices are rapidly becoming a must-have accessory for hot tubs, offering not just warmth, but also savings and sustainability.
The Rise of Heat Pumps: A Response to Global Energy Challenges
The spa industry is in the midst of a notable shift when it comes to heating methods. Economic uncertainties and energy crises in Europe have prompted both spa manufacturers and retailers to reconsider their heating options. Josh Hoots, the heating product manager at Hayward, a renowned pool and spa equipment manufacturer, notes, “We are seeing a shift in the market toward heat pumps as a viable heating option across the board. The technology is catching up with the market need.”
The increasing cost of gas has led to the shutdown of public gyms, hotel pools and spas in some regions. In certain countries like Germany, the use of hot water in public buildings has even been banned. This energy crisis has given rise to the adoption of heat pumps, especially in European areas where electricity costs have soared. Greg McConnell, chief revenue officer at Gecko, a Canadian spa products and solutions company, explains that heat pumps are no longer optional; they’ve become a necessity to combat rising operational costs.
Heat Pumps: Transforming the Hot Tub Landscape
In the past, hot tubs primarily relied on gas-fired heaters for warmth. Later, electric spa packs entered the scene, offering efficient heating without high maintenance costs. Now, the spa industry is undergoing another transformation with the widespread adoption of heat pumps.
Nathan Coelho, VP of engineering at Master Spas, observes a significant surge in heat pump requests. “The most recent increase in activity is directly related to the energy crisis and Russia-Ukraine war,” Coelho says. “Some countries saw rates spike by five times or more in August 2022, which drove the desire for a more energy-efficient way to heat water.”
The United States is also witnessing a rise in electricity rates, potentially paving the way for heat pumps to become a common choice, especially in areas prone to rolling blackouts. Josh Hoots emphasizes that heat pumps shine in regions like California, where users can control heat variations to optimize electric bills.
While the benefits of heat pumps are clear, integrating them into existing spa setups isn’t always straightforward. Space limitations and airflow requirements pose challenges. Nevertheless, manufacturers are adapting and fine-tuning heat pumps, making them more accessible and convenient for consumers.
Innovative solutions are emerging in the market. Gecko’s in.temp is an air-sourced heat pump that integrates with control panels, reducing energy consumption by up to 75% compared to electric elements. Helios Technology’s Clim8zone uses a variable-speed compressor to heat or cool spa water. Master Spas is also redesigning its swim spa models to facilitate easy heat pump installations.
Embracing a Greener Future for Hot Tubs
As the spa industry aligns with energy-efficient practices, heat pumps are at the forefront of change. “Making spas ‘greener’ is a longer-term trend, but one that has a lot of potential,” says Jean-Pierre “JP” Parent of Balboa Water Group. “There are many new products — and not just from Balboa — aiming at this goal.”
McConnell agrees that the future is green, so innovation in that direction is vital. “We have to be more energy-efficient,” he says. “This is just something that the world has to address at some point.”
In the ever-evolving world of hot tubs, heat pumps are more than just a heating solution; they’re an embodiment of sustainability, savings and progress. Whether you’re in Europe facing energy crises or in the United States exploring energy-efficient alternatives, the heat pump revolution is here to redefine your hot tub experience and contribute to a brighter, greener future.