Can You Add Insulation to a Hot Tub? (In Detail)
A hot tub can be a great addition to your backyard if you live in a cold climate. Whether to pass your leisure time with friends or in solitude with a cup of coffee, the experience is surreal. Hot tubs are designed to retain heat since they are supposed to be used in cold weather. For better energy efficiency, you might wonder can you add insulation to a hot tub or not.
You can add insulation to your hot tub. It is not rocket science. The procedure is fairly easy and the cost is reasonable. There are numerous techniques available for this purpose. The most notable ones are the spray-in foam method, FiberCor®, and barrier insulation. FiberCor® is the best regardless of budget. Foam insulation is in the sweet spot and everyone's go-to insulation method.
Besides these techniques, there are ways to strengthen the insulation properties. The combination of the two results in effective heat-retaining, if applied correctly. There's a lot to know about all the techniques, especially the spray-in method. Some of them have some drawbacks as well. For a better understanding of the whole feat, don't leave without finishing this article.
Can You Insulate Your Hot Tub?
Yes, you can insulate your hot tub all by yourself. It’s a simple project that doesn’t take much. There are several methods, you can use any based on your preference.
Hot tub is great for relaxation during the winters. It is a cheaper alternative to a swimming pool. As the weather is cold, there is a built-in water heater to keep the water warm. However, the water loses heat from the pipes and water evaporation. This may not cause problems in terms of water temperature as the heater can work round the clock.
But, as the heater works more, your electricity bill will surge. Many modern hot tubs have top-quality insulation from the factory, but older models sometimes lack this feature. If yours don’t, you can easily add insulation using some simple techniques. A well-insulated hot tub reduces heat loss significantly and delivers 2 to 4 degrees warmer than uninsulated ones.
3 Popular Methods of Hot Tub Insulation
There are quite a few methods to add insulation to a hot tub. All of the methods differ variably in terms of efficiency, cost, and technique. Let's take a look at them one by one:
1. Spray-in Foam Insulation
Spray-in foam insulation is the most common method of hot tub insulation. The manufacturers make the foam from urethane which has impressive insulation properties. There are three types of spray-in foam insulation. Another name for this method is foam insulation because not always spray-in foam is used.
The cabinet of the tub is filled with foam. Sometimes, only the tub shell is covered with a foam layer. There are three types of foam insulation: Partial foam insulation, full foam insulation, and multi-density full foam insulation.
Partial Foam Insulation: Partial foam is the most affordable foam insulation. As you can understand from the name, the foam covers some part of the hot tub cabinet. You can use rigid foam boards or spray-in foam for partial insulation.
The workman sprays the foam in layers over the outer shell of the tub and fills the space inside the cabinet partially with urethane foam. This has been the standard method of hot tub insulation. While it is the cheapest form, partial foam insulation is not always the best. It provides sufficient insulation in warmer climates, but not so in cold regions.
Full Foam Insulation: Advancing from partial foam insulation, full foam insulation is now the industry standard. Almost all modern hot tubs use this method. The foam is sprayed inside the cabinet and it fully fills the interior, from the shell to the inner wall of the cabinet.
This provides superior insulation than the partial foam method. Both the material and application costs are also high since the amount of foam usage is much more. However, this method is economically efficient in the long run since a full foam hot tub requires half the energy to run compared to partial foam insulation.
As the foam completely fills the interior, it surrounds the pipes, motor, and other equipment. This prevents the parts from vibrating. Thus, adding structural support and prolonging the lifespan of the tub.
There is a misconception that leaks or damage in full foam insulated hot tubs are difficult to find and repair. While this is partially true, you won't have to worry about it. First of all, damage in full insulation is extremely rare due to added structural support. Secondly, technicians are well trained to find and repair the damage.
Multi-Density Full Foam Insulation: Multi-density full foam is an advanced iteration of full foam insulation. The technique is the same. Foam is sprayed in the entire cabinet, covering the shell completely and surrounding every structure.
The difference is that this technique uses foams of different densities. Technicians apply them in layers in a more disciplined manner. Usually, two different density foams suffice to cover the tub shell, and foams of four different densities work great to fill the cabinet. A bit denser foam is suitable for insulating the bottom.
The different densities and precise applications provide more efficient insulation and sturdy structural integrity. It also minimizes expansion and contraction. Needless to say, the price is the highest of the three.
FiberCor® is a trademark of Watkins Wellness™. It is similar to full foam insulation but with a different material. FiberCor® uses a wool-like fiber. This fiber has four times the density of polyurethane foam used in foam insulations. FiberCor® provides flawless insulation in hot tubs, far more efficiently than foam insulations.
Due to the increased density, the fiber disperses evenly inside the cabinet. It covers the shell properly and surrounds every structure leaving no void or thermal gaps. FiberCor® is an organic material so it has no negative impact on the environment. It is also resistant to mildew and molds.
This wonderous innovation has many benefits. It is reusable, non-toxic, and environmentally friendly. It is also recyclable. In case of any damage in the tub, it is easily removable and replaceable, unlike the full-foam insulation.
3. Barrier Insulation
Barrier insulation is also a fairly popular method. In this method, only the inner walls of the cabinet are insulated and sometimes the floors. The space inside the cabinet remains hollow. This traps the hot air inside the cabinet and does not allow the air to leave. But the dissipated heat can travel back and forth from the pump, plumbing, and other equipment.
In foam insulation, you have to install an exhaust fan or vent to expel the hot air from the cabinet to prevent the pump from burning. In barrier insulation, you don't need anything like this. Spray foam, rigid foam, or fiberglass are the most common material for barrier insulation. Sometimes, a thermal wrap is also used in this technique.
How to Enhance Hot Tub Insulation?
After applying insulation to your hot tub, you can undertake these procedures for a better result as I have already mentioned. But remember, these are not standalone methods of insulation, only ways to further strengthen the process. Let’s talk about some of those methods:
Thermal Wrap: Thermal is pretty good to enhance the insulation. It is great when used together with other types. It is a reflective substance. You have to wrap it around the entire perimeter of the tub. It reflects the heat and prevents heat loss through the cabinet.
This is nowhere near an efficient method of insulation. The thermal properties of this material are not enough to sustain the water temperature. The most effective use of thermal wrap is using it in combination with partial foam insulation.
Floating Thermal Blanket: Floating thermal blankets are an easy and cheap way to keep the heat in the water. They float on the surface of the water preventing heat dissipation. Evaporation is a major cause of heat loss in hot tubs. The thermal blankets resolve this issue. They are cheap, widely available and you can cut them to the required size.
Foam Sleeve Insulation: Foam sleeve is a substandard version of foam insulation. This does not provide insulation up to the mark, so you can use it as an enhancing method with thermal wrap. Rigid foam sleeves are available in many shops. You just have to open the cabinet and apply the sleeves around the hot pipes of the plumbing system.
Pump Shroud: A pump shroud covers the heat pump and prevents heat loss from the pump. As the pump loses less thermal energy, the water gets enough heat, thus minimizing energy consumption.
Hot Tub Cover: Always cover the hot tub when not using it. This will not only keep the water and tub clean but also lower water evaporation and heat loss. Use high-quality cover with better insulation properties for an optimized result.
Reduce Ground Contact: You can use a non-conducting platform to place your tub. Although the loss of heat through the bottom is negligible, using an insulating ground shall retain some extra heat.
Most of the hot tubs these days have top-notch built-in insulation. For the ones that don’t, there are lots of options to add insulation. After reading this far, you already know whether or not can you add insulation to a hot tub. On top of that, you are well aware of the different methods by now. I believe this article will be all the help you need concerning this regard. Thanks for tuning in and best of luck with insulating your hot tub.