Configuring a Spa Pack is perhaps the last thing on your mind. I know from my own experience building a tub, getting things done as quick as possible is quite often a priority. You just want to fill it up, heat and get in it. This is the end goal.
Before you get to that point, there are a number of steps to take along the way. I detail a lot of these on the website and on my YouTube Channel (go and subscribe if you haven’t already! Plug plug) but in this article, I want to focus specifically on the Spa Pack. Getting the configuration wrong can be a disaster and will delay that getting into the tub!
What is the Spa Pack
The Spa Pack is usually the square box like piece of equipment that is the brains of the hot tub. It controls the pumps, the blower, the temperature. It controls the filter cycles and the purchase cycles. It really is the epicentre of your hot tub.
Without the spa pack, you would have to configure a bunch of processes to make your hot tub work and keep the water filtered and up to temperature.
Therefore, you even need a spa pack (technically, you could do without one but I really don’t recommend it) when you are using an Air Source Heat Pump or a Propane Heater.
What is the Role of the Spa Pack?
There role of the Spa Pack is as follows
- Jet Control
- Blower Control
- Heating (if using electric)
- Filtration Cycles
- Purge Cycles
What needs to be configured in a Spa Pack?
I dont need to configure a spa pack – wrong! The common misconception is that out of the box, you can just plug all your kit into your Spa Pack and it will “just work” – 9 times out of 10 this is not the case and you are going to need to configure some parts of the kit.
Firstly, a lot of Spa Pack models are able to function on both 115V and 230V 60HZ in the USA. In Europe, this is less of a problem as the packs all run on 240V. If you are in the USA, the chances are you need to configure the voltage setting.
Getting this wrong can case your pumps to overheat. Think about it. If your pump wants to run on 230V and 15A of current, if you are only supplying it 115V it will want to draw 30A of current – wow! What does that mean, a pump that is going to overheat VERY quickly.
If you get the pumps by chance correct, if the right voltage is not set then the heater will only work on a fraction of the power. Most packs that are dual voltage can output either 1.4KW on a 115V supply or 5.5KW on a 230V supply – that is a big difference so again, worth getting right and you need to configure that spa pack correctly.
Configuring the Voltage Settings
Configuring the spa pack voltage normally takes one of two forms. There is either a jumper that needs to be moved or a wire, or there is a DIP switch to change. This is something that you will of course find out in the manual of the Spa Pack. It is a must read!
Configuring the Equipment
The second thing that you are going to have to configure on your Spa Pack is going to be the equipment. By equipment, I mean the pumps and the blower. You need to TELL the spa pack exactly what you are plugging into it – in most cases, it can’t tell.
For example, if you have a dual speed pump on its own, then you will not have a circulation pump. If, the Spa Pack is configured for a circulation pump, then your hot tub will not be filtering correctly as it will be trying to turn on a piece of equipment that is not there.
In the same way, if you have 3 jet pumps plugged in and you are only configured for 1, then you are not going to be able to turn them on.
Or what you might find is that what is displayed on the buttons on the top side control pad, doesn’t correspond to what is being turned on when you press the button. This is because it is not configured correctly.
To setup a spa pack, usually, there are some internal software settings that need to be changed so that you can tell the pack exactly what you have connected. There will be a configuration table that you will need to look at and see what configuration number you need to set on the pack itself. It is quite a straight forward process, but a vital one for sure.
Careful What You Plug Into a Spa Pack
I learnt this one the hard way. If you haven’t already read my story on how I built a hot tub and the mistakes that I made, then it is worth a read.
Just because it says 12V doesn’t mean you can plug “just anything” into it. Understanding the limits of the Spa Pack and what they can output in terms of current is important. I learnt this the hard way.
I plugged in a swimming pool grade light as the voltage matched. What I didn’t realise was that the light actually drew 3x more current than the Spa Pack could deliver on that voltage. What was the result? Blown circuit boards.
Circuit boards that could not be repaired and circuit boards that cost $300 each. I went through 3 of them – ouch. I did get some help with my friendly suppler to put them through as RMA but don’t tell Balboa!
So how you do you learn this – from the manual, which, of course, I didn’t read.
What is my advice on the Spa Pack?
In conclusion, my advice on this one is not going to be popular – especially with the male population. Why? Because my advice is read the manual. Configuring a Spa Pack is essential. You have to do it right!
I know we don’t like to do it – it is not in our DNA to wade through manuals. However, in the case of the Spa Pack, I think it is definitely worth while?
Every pack is different, granted some from the same supplier will be similar, but it is worth checking.
Do this, you will be in the tub quicker than you think without having damaged anything or incurring additional “expenses” through mistakes.
Happy Hot Tubbin’