We will start with the obvious. Take a look at your Spa and ask yourself if a conventional cover is appropriate? If your spa is backed into a corner too tightly, a traditional cover may not work. If you have a large in-ground spa or one with unusual coping or a raised wall, a standard cover will not work. In these cases, it is best to have a custom cover made to fit your specific spa rather than trying to force a conventional cover.
2. Safety features
Not all spa covers are technically “safety” spa covers, meaning they may not conform to A.S.T.M. standards (The American Society for Testing Materials). A.S.T.M. is an international organization that sets product safety standards to promote product quality and build consumer confidence worldwide. The pool and spa industry conforms to these standards in identifying any safety product as such. This might be important if you have small children or have a Spa that is not in a gated area of your backyard. Floating spa covers are not considered “safety” spa covers. Depending on the type of foam inside, some traditional spa covers may not meet safety standards either. Decide if your situation requires a “safety” spa cover prior to starting your search.
Also note that there are other products that can provide additional safety features to your hot tub such as a Hold-Down Kit (pictured below), which is comprised of easily removable, yet locking straps with which you can anchor your spa cover down when not in use.
Now we will get into more technical details of a spa cover that you may not be familiar with, but that absolutely affect the functionality of your cover. The R-Value of a spa cover has to do with the energy efficiency and ultimate cost-savings of using your spa. Technically, an R-Value is a measure of Thermal Resistance, or the ability of a material to resist the conduction of heat flow through a solid. When a cover has an R-Value attached, it is referring to the foam on the inside of the cover and its ability to insulate the heat inside your spa. Most manufacturers offer varying grades of spa covers, which are made with different thicknesses and densities of foam. The higher the R-Value, the better energy efficiency and cost-savings the cover provides. If you live in a colder climate or your spa is outdoors, the R-Value of the cover you choose will be more important than if you live in Florida for example or have an indoor spa. Below are standard R-Values for different tapers and densities of foam:
The taper of a spa cover refers to the decrease in thickness of the inside foam. For instance, a spa cover can have a 3” to 2” inch taper which for a two-piece spa cover means the inside foam will be 3 inches in center and taper down to 2” at the ends. This is important because the more tapered a cover is, the better rainwater will run off the cover which prevents pooling in the center. Other tapers include 4” to 2” taper, which would provide excellent water runoff, and 5” to 4” taper. It is important to notice that with less thick foam at the end of any taper, you are also decreasing the R-Value and insulation capabilities of the cover. You should pay attention to taper if your spa is not covered by a porch or roof and subjected to the elements. If you live in a climate subjected to heavy snowfall, you may want to choose a thicker foam taper that will more easily support weight.
5. Internet vs. brick and mortar
Once you decide on the type of cover that fits your needs, the final question is where to purchase. With the internet, you aren’t required to leave the couch and you may find cheaper pricing. However, it is important to note the fallbacks with ordering a spa cover online. As I said before, not all spa covers are created equal… and neither are all spas. Precise measurements are critical to obtaining a cover that is an exact fit for YOUR spa. Pool and spa professionals are trained to measure radius corners and irregular coping and skirt lengths. You can be assured accurate measurements, and they can confidently tell you if a certain cover type will better fit your needs.
It is also important to note the warranty on any cover you buy online. Many internet spa covers do not have great warranties, and you run the risk of an internet company hiding behind anonymity if you do have a problem.
A spa cover is no off the shelf item. It is a purchase that should last you a while. Make sure you are educated about the facts and what is right for YOU prior to decision-making time.
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