I origionally had a California Spa, "party style", good name at the time some many years ago, we moved and although we tried to take it with us, it had to be taken apart. Initially we were going to try to put it in the ground, that did not happen (I did not want to dig) and I gave it to a friend for the price of "get it the heck out of my yard".
I got the Keys tub from walmart (.com), where america shops. I did a huge search went to several store vendors and looked at many "name brand" tubs, the more I searched the better the Keys tub looked (by the way they are also under several other names, Icon and Wesco).
The selected and purchased tub has 2 waterfalls, and some many other serious jets; 7 person but no lounger, stereo with pop-up speakers, and other nice features I did not know about like the some 12 color LED lighting as I thought it was lens covers. Our favorite areas are the from front, the front left corner and the rear left corner.
Ordered it before Christmas 2005 as the family Christmas present.
The tub arrived a little late but just in time, the day before Christmas eve 2005 (perfect timing). Took 4 men and a small boy to get it into positon, I had already run the electrical (did it myself). leveled the tub on a Sand/rock base (worked real well till I had to re-level a few months later after it settled, which is still working well), hooked the electrical myself and filled with the chemical corrections I needed and it was running that night. The next day the electrician-friend came by and certified the install, all well to code, and we were in the tub Christmas eve night, a nice night.
One of the Hardest parts of the install leveling the ground and the assembly of the cover lifter, that being said, you see how easy it was.
Problems that arose:
The cover had a minor small rip in it, figured they would pay some local upolster a few bucks to fix; but no, Keys sent me a whole new cover, no cost.
Several Jets were stuck with the blue glue, and 2 broke when the tech advised to try anyway I can to get them loose which I did. Keys sent me new Jets no cost (took 2 times on one jet because they sent me the wrong one) and all was good with the jets. Also one needs to excercise the jets often to keep them hand adjustable, this probably is a need for all tubs.
Also one can make a jet adjuster tool using a thin wall socket that will fit over the outlet but in the space in between and put a small ridge using a welder on the outside of the socket to fit the slot (when you see it you will know what I am talking about). I ended up using a piece of CPVC pipe of the correct size and using my plastic welder to make the keyway to fit the slot, works great for the occasional sticking jet. This is a problem for all tubs.
One day last year the tub kicked the GFI breaker, could not get it to reset without kicking when I started the tub again. Did a little checking and found the Heater element was bad, called Keys and they had a problem sending a tech to replace the element, however sent me a whole new spa pack and heater as they would not replace just the heater element in 2 days. The Tech then told me I would have to pay the mileage (some 360 miles total round trip at $0.25 per mile) for him to replace the unit. Well being the way I am, I called Keys and told them of the problem, advised them I could do the swap myself, Keys did not object nor wanted the old spa pack back. So now I have an extra spa pack as the heater element is only $80 and I already replaced it and now I have a spa pack in reserve.
So a real problem in a rural areas is the avaiable techs for Keys, take this in consideration but anyone with minor techinical skill in electrical/electronics and plumbing can deal with the minor/moderate problems that may arise.
The Serius Stereo topside control died, I replaced it with a $60 Kenwood (superior product) at my cost, did not even contact Keys about it since I think there was kid involvement in the malfunction. Pluged right in and had not had problems since.
The Stereo was mounted very low, found we got some water on it and it died, cleaned the boards and works again, CD worked initially but probably got dust in it and does not work now; so keep the cover down, will fix later. But I don't care as I use the Satillite radio which rocks. Unknown if this is a defect or my children just splashing around, nor will never be determined. However I found the Stereo too low to reach the face from the tub, so I turned the panel and radio 180 degrees mounting it much higher, works great now for accessiability and protection. I also added some external wiring for outside speakers for further enjoyment while outside on the patio, I use the fader to adjust the output, this addition "rocks".
Advice, when the panel for the radio is off for the installation (the 2 "front" panels muct be taken off), place some plastic sheeting (a heavy freezer bag cut on seam) taped to the panel to cover the stereo top, use the metal duct tape stuff to seal it to the panel, it really works.
Filters are not readily available locally using the code 4205RS and I have had to buy the filters from them directly at +$50 each including shipping. I am sure there is cheaper avenues but I stocked up, will look soon. Stock up on TSP cleaner, you can get 2 cleanings per filter but have a spare filter in reserve so that the tub is not in need of a filter while one is being cleaned.
Pumps are a bit noisy, as is the air blower. To ease this I got some aluminum backed foam, took each panel off and fit the insulation. This cheap solution not only drastically decreased the noise but increased effenciy of the unit and bills dropped noticably in the winter of 06. Also place the Alum face inward and use liquid nails to bond.
There is no Weir door on the skimmer, the tech told me that it limits the waterflow. I think this engineering is flawed and there should be a weir door despite, and I am trying to get one so that junk (bugs and leaves) do not reenter the tub and trapped in the skimmer basket.
For the money, the tub rocks and I strongly recommend, it took us almost a month to find out all the features and suprises, which the kids found before us.
I did some improvements that are cheap and easily done to increase the function of my tub, I did have some initial serious problems that a Tech was unavailable for due to my rural setting, but was able to resolve myself with little effort. If you are unable to care for your spa both technically or seasonally, then get something twice, or more the price and take a service contract out. However if you can care for the spa and do some handy work, this one is for you.
Keys sent me everything I can attribute to them; the stereo is a mystery as was the topside control, I really think the kids caused the problems with those items. As for the mounting of the Stereo and cabinet insulation, Keys could have done much better. Also some exterior speaker connections would be nice.
Again the additional insulation of the Alum backed foam is something that Keys needs to look at, minimal cost and huge benefit.