Tuff Spas is a hot tub brand that specializes in rotomolded spas. They make affordable and well-performing spas that come with some interesting features like their patented Tuff Top Cover.
However, while this hard-top cover is admittedly one of the better ones we've seen on a hot tub (though it could seal better, more on that later), they can't compete with acrylic spas when it comes to performance.
This in-depth review will take an honest look at the pros and cons of Tuff Spas so you can make an informed choice about this lesser-known spa brand.
How we researched Tuff Spas
When you're shopping for a hot tub, a quick online search often fails to provide answers to all the information you need in one place. I have a friend who owns the TT650 model, and he was kind enough to agree to answer my questions for the purposes of this article.
The Tuff Spas reviews online range from "this person could be a salesperson" to disgruntled customers, but I did take those into account as well so this wouldn't be based on just one customer's experience.
Are Tuff Spas any good?
If you're looking for a quick summary, here's my overall impression of the brand:
Tuff Spas are not the greatest spas in the world, but if you want a low-cost, durable tub that requires less maintenance than some of the alternatives, Tuff Spas is certainly a solid rotomolded option worth looking into.
- Overall good value for money
- The cover is nice and holds up well over time
- Lightweight construction makes installation a breeze
- Non-proprietary parts
- Made in the USA
- Problems getting the cover to seal completely
- Insulation could be better
- Lifetime Warranty is misleading
However, to really answer this question, you probably want a little more information. After all, some people qualify 'good' by price, longevity, or warranty coverage. Others may base it on how energy-efficient a spa is, or the quality of its hydrotherapy massage.
I'll dig into each of these factors regarding Tuff Spas to hopefully cover all bases.
What do Tuff Spas cost?
Tuff Spas lists MSRPs on their website but claims their "prices are so low they can't list them online".
I'll be the first to admit this sounds like total marketing spin, and it is usually just a tactic to charge wildly different amounts (read: anything the seller would like) under the listed MSRP. So you do have to shop around. But it's good to know that you can at least consider these prices an upper limit, and then negotiate the best deal you can from there.
The TT150 model is their base model that seats 2 people and has an MSRP of $6,495. The TT650 Platinum is their high end, which seats 5 people with an MSRP of $10,295. When you consider that you might be able to knock a couple of thousand off these prices in reality, this puts the Tuff pricing around the mid to high end of the rotomolded spa category. But for what you get, I do think this is a reasonable price point.
It's also worth noting that Tuff Spas offers a variety of financing options in-house, so even if your budget is tight, it may be possible to get one of these spas into your backyard by stretching out payments over time.
What are Tuff Spas like to use?
All Tuff Spas are plug-in ready, requiring only a standard outlet and a water source to fill the spa. That said, they can also be converted to 220V, which requires a local electrician (but will allow you to have the heater and the jets on full at the same time).
On 110V, the spa will not heat while the jets are on full. This is standard for any plug-n-play model, but definitely something to be aware of before you install one of these and end up disappointed.
Like any rotomolded spa, the jets are "just okay." They are on the smaller side and just don't have the power you would find in a well-made acrylic model. If you've owned an acrylic spa before, you'll likely find yourself wanting more.
That said, if you're mostly just looking for the hot water aspect of a spa (which is pretty therapeutic in itself) without breaking the bank, I think Tuff Spas can offer good bang-for-the-buck considering what they are.
Is the Tuff Top Cover as good as it sounds?
The Tuff Top Cover, in theory, is a great idea. It's super light and easy for one person to open and close, does not need a cover lifter, and even doubles as a handy surface to put drinks/phones/speakers on when it's open.
One of the problems with regular hot tub covers is that they eventually get waterlogged and start to sag, which means they need to be replaced every few years. This can cost a few hundred dollars each time, so it's not ideal.
The Tuff Top Cover is an integrated hard-top cover that cannot get waterlogged, and therefore it should last the entire lifetime of the spa.
However, my friend's main complaint with his spa was actually about the cover: it was that his Tuff Top Cover does not have a good seal. It lets out steam, and therefore is not as good at keeping the heat in as it should be. This also means higher monthly running costs than he initially expected.
That said, the open/close mechanism does operate flawlessly, and there have been no problems with it apart from this. It's held up well even in heavy rainfall. The cover exterior has a slight slope to it when closed, with drainage channels which let rain flow right off the spa. This means the water can never pool on the cover and weigh it down.
Is the Lifetime Warranty as good as it sounds?
The warranty is something I wanted to point out, because you see the word "lifetime" and it initially sounds great. Unfortunately, this is another place where spa brands often apply a lot of marketing spin.
If you read the warranty details, you'll see that the lifetime warranty only covers the spa shell and cover surface:
Tuff Spas™ warrants the entire Spa Shell and Hard Cover surface against water loss and structural integrity due to defects in the spa for Lifetime.
So if your spa cracks and leaks due to a manufacturing defect, it would probably be covered. But in reality, this type of failure is very unlikely to actually happen.
The parts where it is much more common to experience issues are only covered for a year:
The Original Manufacturers provide limited warranties on all Plumbing and Fittings, Wiring, Cords, GFCI, Jets, Hard Cover Arm Bars, Vinyl Spa Covers, Pillows, Hard Cover Gaskets & Straps, and other non-electrical mechanical parts for 1 year.
I'm not saying this warranty is bad; it's actually pretty standard and comparable to many other hot tub brands. But it's important not to be fooled by the marketing and think you're covered when you're actually not.
So, be sure to read the warranty carefully so you know exactly what is covered and for how long, as well as any restrictions or exceptions that may apply.
Are Tuff Spas energy efficient?
Tuff Spas uses "increases energy efficiency" as a selling point several times when talking about their spas' features.
For example, they claim the hard-top cover will increase the energy efficiency of a hot tub. Increased energy efficiency is technically a feature of any hot tub cover compared to, say, not having one at all, so what we really care about here is: compared to what?
There isn't, however, any actual proof that their cover would be an improvement over other covers on the market, and they make no mention of any comparisons.
I don't have a way to tell if my friend's experience is unique to his spa, or if it's a problem with the Tuff covers more generally, but it's enough to give me cause for concern.
There is also mention of the "one-piece, heat-retaining shell" and "Blue sTUFF" insulation both being touted as features that increase energy efficiency. But again, there's no information about where these claims come from or how they are measured. It would be nice to see some data to support such claims.
Alternatives to Tuff Spas
Strong Spas and Eco Spas are two similar alternatives to Tuff Spas.
Strong Spas is another US-made brand, with a similar integrated hard-top cover. Most of their spas are actually acrylic spas designed to be run on 220-240V power, although they do offer some plug-n-play models in the rotomolded DuraSport Series.
You can consider them a little more high-end than Tuff Spas, although they don't publish prices and are only available through their dealer network.
Although Eco Spas make very similar rotomolded spas, their cover is one of the main differences. Although both have a hard-top cover, Tuff utilizes an accordion-style while the Eco cover sits vertically up to the sides of the spa when open. This means you don't get the 360-degree visibility that Tuff Spas offer.
There are also reports of warranty issues with Eco Spas, and warping of the cover, particularly in cold climates.
Tuff is a brand that serves a specific market and demographic. They claim to provide durable, simple, and affordable spas in a pretty unique package—and it's fair to say they do achieve that.
If you're looking for an attractive rotomolded spa that comes in under $10,000 and has the Tuff Top Cover (which is their main selling point) then this could be a great spa for you. Unfortunately, they don't offer any solution to make up for its one major drawback: the lack of seal around the cover.
If you're looking for other rotomolded spas in a similar flavor, you can check out brands like Strong Spas or Eco Spas. If you want to branch out to different rotomolded brands in general, Dream Maker are another well-respected US-made brand to look into.
All in all, I think Tuff Spas can still be a solid choice if you're looking for an affordable rotomolded spa that will give you years of trouble-free use—and won't bankrupt you with expensive replacement parts.
How long have Tuff Spas been in business?
Tuff Spas got its start as a rotationally molded hot tub enterprise in 1999. LPI, another hot tub maker, later purchased Tuff Spas in 2020 to expand their brand and adopt the patented Tuff Spas hard-top cover into their line.
What are Tuff Spas made of?
Like all rotomolded hot tubs, Tuff Spas are made of a high-density polyethylene (HDPE) plastic. The hard-top cover is also plastic but has powder-coated aluminum arms.
One other nice thing—although not unique to Tuff Spas—is that they have a solid one-piece bottom which is handy for keeping pests out.
Tuff Spas use "Natural Fiber Spa Insulation" in the form of sustainable recycled materials they call "Blue sTUFF" (which is actually made from denim). The exact definition of sustainable recycled materials here is unclear, but it is a talking point on their Go Green bullet points if that's of interest to you.
How many gallons in a Tuff Spa?
The gallons of water a Tuff Spa can hold varies from model to model. They have four basic sizes of spa:
If you're wondering why the TT450 holds more water than the TT650, it's because the TT650 has a lounge seat, and loungers take up more space in a spa.
How do you drain a Tuff Spa?
Tuff Spas have a gravity drain which lets you dispose of the old spa water using a garden hose:
- The first step to draining any spa is disconnecting and turning off its source of power.
- You'll find a black circular area with a handle on the outside of your spa, which you can pull and twist to release the cap.
- Once it's off, attach a garden hose and carefully pull out the part where they connect (about 1/4") to open the valve.
- You may not see water coming out immediately as this method can be slow, but rest assured it is draining.