If you are reading this article you are probably considering buying a Hot Spring Jetsetter LX with a Freshwater salt system. Well, keep reading and I will give you an honest review of my Jot SPring Jetsetter LX that I have been using since April along with a lot of FAQs.

I do not work or have any affiliation with Hot Spring or any other spa company. I wrote this article solely from the perspective of an owner.

My 4 Month Review

Hot Spring holds a proprietary patent on the Motomassager jet – you won’t find this on any other hot tubs.  The motomassager in the lounger on my Jetsetter is my favorite seat in the tub.  I was debating between the Jacuzzi J-315 and the Bullfrog A5L. They are all in a similar price range though the Hot Spring Jetsetter LX is a few thousand more. I decided to go with the Jetsetter LX primarily because I wanted a saltwater system, I wanted the motomassager, and the build quality of Hot Spring just seemed to be a bit higher in my opinion. I do not regret my decision though I think Jacuzzi and Bullfrog are also great choices.

 

Overall I am extremely pleased with my purchase. I have had to do very little to maintain the water purity. (More on that below)  I also love the feel of the water. It has no chlorine smell and the water is very soft. After I get out I rarely bother taking a shower because I do not feel itchy or have a smell like I used to have with my previous hot tub. I feel clean.

I also love the lighting. It includes a wide range of colors for the lights. It is a really attractive light show at night. I also like the removable remote control for controlling the jets and lights.

Does the Freshwater Salt System work?

In my experience with exactly 18 weeks of usage, I can unequivocally state that it does work. I had read tons of horror stories online and I admit I was worried. I went back and forth debating whether to get a traditional system with an Ozonator. Everyone I  asked online told me to go with a traditional system with an Ozonator and avid saltwater systems. I am glad I didn’t follow their advice and went with the Freshwater salt system instead.

The FreshWater Salt System removes the day-to-day hassle of keeping spa water clean, clear, and sanitized. My previous spa used Bromine and an Ozonator and I was constantly hassling with water chemistry to keep it balanced. I did not want to go through that hassle again.

I asked a ton of questions from the two main Hot Tub forums. You can see my posts here at What’s the Best Hot Tub and Pool and Spa Forum.  If you are planning to buy a Hot Tub regardless of the type or brand you choose I highly recommend you join both of these free forums. There is a ton of great advice and also experts there to answer almost any question imaginable. But let me warn you in advance most of the experts there are not in favor of saltwater systems. That is not their fault since this is a relatively new system and their experiences are based on the old ACE system. That system did not use replaceable cartridges and it was expensive to replace after a few years.

After a little over 4 months of usage, I got my first warning that it has been 4 months so it was time to replace the cartridge. However, I have decided not to replace it quite yet. Let me explain. My water chemistry is still perfect and my hot tub still reports the salt system as working normally. It offers you an option to install a replacement later and I chose that option. I will get a new warning every week but as long as it seems to be working normally I see no reason to replace it.

The 3 pack that I bought was expensive. I think my dealer overcharged me because the price sticker on the packaging said $229.88 which I only noticed when I got home. I was charged $299 which is $70 more than the sticker. I called them when I got home and they said the sticker was wrong and the pricing had gone up by $70.  Please let me know in the comments how much you guys are paying for the 3 pack. Have you found them cheaper online? How much are you paying? Please let me know in the comments.

Due to the cost of these cartridges, I want to use them as long as they are still working properly before I replace them. Assuming the ones I bought all last 4 months each that works out to $300 a year. But the flip side is you will spend less on other chemicals and the water only needs to be changed once every 12 months.

I wish Hot Spring would allow the cartridges to start being sold online and not hide the price which allows some unscrupulous dealers to charge whatever they want. I also hope the price will come down over time as this $300 yearly price may be a deterrent for some people. Keep in mind that Ozonators can also be very expensive to replace and can die every few years. WIth a saltwater system you will no longer need to replace an Ozonator which can be a very expensive hassle.

Cleaning and Maintenance of Freshwater Salt Cartridges

When the calcium hardness is maintained at 50 ppm or less, the salt system cartridge will not need cleaning before replacement. However, this is dependent upon spa usage and on the water being properly balanced and maintained. To determine if the cartridge needs to be cleaned, power down the spa, remove the cartridge and allow the cartridge to fully dry. If cartridge electrodes have a “white” calcium coating, then the cartridge should be cleaned with pH down or diluted vinegar.

  1. Turn off the power to the spa. Open the spa cover and remove the housing cap.
  2. Remove the Salt Cartridge from the housing.
  3. Inspect the cartridge for scale by looking between the electrodes (scale will be more visible when dry).
  4. Place the cartridge in pH down solution (3 tablespoons pH down in 12 ounces of water) or vinegar.  NOTE: A stronger cleaning solution of 1 part muriatic pool acid and 10 parts water, or a commercial cell cleaner, can be used if scale is excessive
  5. Soak the cartridge for 10 minutes or until bubbles stop coming from the cartridge. If bubbles are still releasing from the cartridge after 10 minutes, continue soaking until the cartridge is clean and all scale is removed. The cartridge can be soaked for up to an hour as added time
  6. Rinse cartridge and inspect for cleaning completion. Repeat as needed.
  7. Replace cartridge into the housing. Replace the housing cap and power up the spa

I should note that I inspected my cartridge and did not notice any scaling so I just inserted it back into the compartment.

Startup Kit and Water Chemistry with a Freshwater System

When you buy a Hot spring or really any brand of spa your dealer should give you a startup package.

Here is what the dealer gave me at delivery.

Stain and Scale Remover, Hot Spings Chlorine Granules, Alkalinity increaserPhosphate test kitSalt Test strips, Freshwater 5 way Test StripsFilter CleanerFreshwater Spa Salt, and a Freshwater vanishing Act pillow to remove calcium.

Now that is easily around $350 or more in chemicals. Make sure your dealer includes at least the same items I received in my package. I also negotiated free spa steps with mine which run about $150.

I had debated about doing a spa purge with Ahh-Some when my spa was delivered because I had read online that biofilm accumulates in the factories after they fill it with water and test the plumbing and jets at the factory. The spa is then drained but water remains in the plumbing which can breed all sorts of nasty biomatter. My dealer assured me this was not necessary and I trusted his advice.

When they delivered my spa they immediately filled it with water. I had my dealer test my water before delivery and my water quality was perfect, but some of you may need to get a pre-filter. These pre-filters remove scale, iron, lead & other metals, chloramines, hydrogen sulfide & other contaminants including odor-causing organics, and reduces hard mineral deposits & suspended solids. Take a sample of your water to the dealer before delivery to see if one is necessary. It really just depends where you live.

I was not at home during the setup so I am not sure what else was added besides the salt and a little chlorine to jumpstart the system. But I can talk about what I have done in the last 4 months. The answer is very little.

Freshwater Salt System Water Routine and FAQs

Here is my water chemistry routine. I test the water weekly and have occasionally made very minor adjustments based on the test strips. That’s it! Basically, that translates into (rarely) adding tiny amounts of salt, chlorine, or PH adjustments and nothing else. When I say rarely I mean just that. I think I have only added chemicals a few times in 4 months.

Here are some FAQs I had myself and a few others I have been asked by other people.

Are those silver cartridges that need replacing every 4 months worth it? Do they really add anything of value to water purity?

Yes and yes. This Freshwater AG+ Silver ion “mineral sanitizer” introduces silver ions into the spa water, inhibiting bacterial growth. It is designed to suspend inside of the filter standpipe. That is the filter with the grey cover on the far left. This continuous silver ionizer cartridge will charge the water one time and that “charged” water will last for four months. These seem to work very well and may be a reason my water chemistry has been so easy to maintain. I highly recommend these. You can also save money by buying an off-brand for half the price but I am not sure about the quality.

What is your weekly or monthly routine for adding chlorine, shock, or anything else?

I test water weekly. I run the freshwater salt system at level 4 but if you have a lot of bathers you might need to run it at a higher level. It goes from 0 to 10. Basically, I let the test strips tell me what to do. On a very few occasions to PH level was a bit high so I added half a capful of PH reducer. About every 2 weeks I add half a teaspoon of Chlorox bleach as a shock. I do not use a non-chlorinating shock treatment.  If I test the water and the chlorine or salt level is a little low I might add a tiny bit of chlorine or salt. I also occasionally add a capful of the stain remover. That’s it.

Since it is a brand new tub should I fill it and use a cleaner like the one from Spa Marvel to remove crud that might have gathered at the factory?  Or should I just fill it up and start using it?

I just trusted my dealer and did not do any purge at delivery and I was fine. I will be using Ahh-Some when it is time to refill, however. This is the best purge hands down!

I was also curious about using ionRX which is copper-based instead of the silver cartridge or Spa Marvel which uses enzymes. Do these work in a saltwater tub?

In theory, yes they would work but ionRX requires the chlorine level to be very low about 1ppm. I don’t have any experience using iONRX or Spa Marvel so I can not speak from experience. I am going strictly by what Hot Springs recommends I do in their manual. These are also added expenses and the main reason I went with saltwater is to reduce extra expenses of additional chemicals. I also have no idea if ionRX or Spa Marvel might have on the saltwater cartridges. Could they damage or shorten their lifespan? I don’t know and don’t want to find out. My advice is to stick with what Hot Spings and your dealer recommend and nothing more.

Will I need a non-chlorinating oxidizing shock?

I personally have not used one yet but I am thinking about adding it to my 2-week routine. It breaks down organic matter and is not supposed to affect water balance. This shock from spa depot has great reviews from other freshwater owners and it is also extremely safe. I will update this article later after I add this to my routine.

Why do some people report the salt cartridges going bad after just a month or two?

In almost every case that seems to be related to high calcium and/or high phosphate levels. You will need to make sure your calcium and phosphates are in the acceptable range. If your phosphates are high simply use a phosphate remover. To lower calcium, you should consider the Vanishing Act Calcium Remover. (This will come in your startup kit if you buy the Jetsetter LX)

Anything else I need to buy to help maintain water purity?

The only other thing I would recommend is the ZorbO scum absorber. The ZorbO absorbs up to 15 times its weight in inanimate oil scum and lotion residues out of the water, without soaking up the water itself. Yet it does so without the use of chemicals or hazardous ingredients and lasts for months. Since adding I have noticed my filters are so much cleaner.

The Jetsetter can be installed with 220 or 110 electric outlet. Which is better?

The Jetsetter includes a free 220 GFCI box. If at all possible I would definitely go with the 220. A 110 outlet can’t power the jets and the heater at the same time. A 220 box also provides safety features from electrical shock not available on 110. I paid an electrician $150 to install my 220 GFCI box and I am glad I did. Why pay this much money for a great spa and then not be able to use jets and heaters at the same time? Go with 220!

Will I need to add extra salt?

Jetsetter LXMy owner manual said I would not need to add extra beyond that initial start-up, but when I have checked the test strips and I notice the salt level seems a bit low I have added extra. I add only about 1/4 of the scooper that comes in the salt bag. I have probably done this about 3 times over the last 4 months. I keep my salt system set at level 4 and that seems to be perfect for my use. More bathers might need higher chlorine output levels of around 6.

How many extra chemicals do you use on a weekly or monthly basis?

Honestly very very little. I like to use a Chlorox shock twice a month. Chlorox is just liquid chlorine. Make sure and use unscented with no additives. I use about just a capful and then turn on the cleaning cycle.  I also will occasionally add a small amount of the chlorine granules. Again, a very small amount, maybe half of the cap of the container or even less. I have also used the scale remover even though I don’t have any scale issues and have made a small adjustment to the PH level twice. But compared to my last hot tub that used Bromine and an Ozonator, the number of chemicals added is negligible. Also, whenever I do the weekly test strip is almost always perfect. It is more about fine-tuning than constantly trying to adjust the levels like I used to have to do on a weekly basis.

Should I install it on a wood deck or cement slab?

jetsetter LXThis is my second hot tub. The first hot tub was on a wood deck. It was great at first but over time wood fades, cracks, and just generally start to fall apart. Do not put it on a wood deck. I tore that deck down and poured in a cement slab and couldn’t be happier. It was also very affordable. I paid a local company $1,000 for a 13X10 slab. Well worth it! Hot Tub pads are another option but don’t use a wood deck. You will regret it!

Do I need a roof over my Hot Tub?

Yes!  I did not have a roof over my last hot tub. After a while, all the rain and sun do a lot of damage to the tub and especially the cover. Now my $10,000 investment is protected from the sun and rain and I also have the advantage of being able to soak while it is raining.

I hired a local contractor to install a metal roof over the hot tub. As you can see in the photo they also added an area to protect me from rain as I enter the door, This is in the backyard on a new addition to the house. The metal roof also includes gutters. The whole thing with materials and labor was only $950. It is was definitely worth it as my expensive investment is now well-protected from the elements.

Final Thoughts

I have only owned my Hot Springs Jetsetter LX for a little over 4 months. My opinion may change in the future. But as of right now I can wholeheartedly recommend it as a great spa for those of you like me that only need a three-seater. If you need a larger tub I am sure their larger models are just as good. I heard a lot of people tell me not to get a saltwater system because it will cause rusting, or it is expensive, or it doesn’t work, or you will still need chemicals. I am glad I did not listen to them.

The freshwater system is the real deal though I wish Hot Springs would be a bit more reasonable with their replacement cartridge pricing. I also do not like the fact that the 3-pack of cartridges I purchased had a sticker price of $229 but then I was charged $299. Overall, the advantages of saltwater are worth the extra costs. The main advantages include only needing to change the water once every 12 months instead of 3 times a year like most spas. The water also just feels silky smooth. It is very soft and does not smell of chlorine. maintaining the water balance is also very easy. All you really need to do in my experience is to add a tiny bit of additional chlorine and salt occasionally.

Happy Hot Tubbing!

By Alan Wood

Musings of an unabashed and unapologetic liberal deep in the heart of a Red State. Crusader against obscurantism. Optimistic curmudgeon, snark jockey, lovably opinionated purveyor of wisdom and truth. Multi-lingual world traveler and part-time irreverent philosopher who dabbles in writing, political analysis, and social commentary. Attempting to provide some sanity and clarity to complex issues with a dash of sardonic wit and humor. Thanks for visiting!

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