Are you struggling to replace your hot tub’s expensive and hard-to-find circuit board or topside controller? Instead of hauling your old spa off to the dump, consider installing an entirely new control system!
Installation is simple for someone with average mechanical skills. You could save thousands of dollars over buying new parts for aging equipment.
Let’s take a closer look at identifying and selecting a new spa control kit for your hot tub.
What Even is a Control System?
The control system, or spa pack, is the brain of the hot tub. This nerve center controls the functions and equipment in the spa, like the jet pumps, filtration time, and heater.
There are two types of control systems used in hot tubs. For simplicity, we’ll focus on solid-state digital systems.
Digital controls are computer-controlled systems. The circuit board inside can run sophisticated filtration cycles and onboard diagnostics.
The control keypad on top of the spa allows communication with the control pack. When any issues arise, error codes will display.
Older spas (before 2000 or so) used electro-mechanical air control systems. In most cases when considering a new control system, you’re better off to join this century and get a digital pack.
How Do I Choose the Right Control System?
When replacing the entire brain of a hot tub, ensure the heater, topside, and physical dimensions of the system fit.
The style of heater that your spa already has, plays a critical role when choosing a replacement control system. There are two basic heater types: High Flow and Low Flow.
- High Flow heaters have 1.5” to 2” plumbing and are fed by a pump with a flow rate of 25 gallons per minute minimum. The pump must be at least 1.5”, and be either a dedicated, single-speed circulation or a dual-speed jet pump.
- Low Flow heaters have ¾” to 1” plumbing with a dedicated 24-hour circulation pump that flows 10-20 gallons per minute. These pumps have a plumbing size of ¾” to 1”.
The new control system you choose will include a new heater. The plumbing and existing pumps must match up to the new pack to avoid damage to your new system.
Great! You‘ve decided on digital or air controls and selected the correct heater type. The next step is to determine the number of pumps and other circuits your tub needs.
Determine what components your tub has by following each cord attached to the control system to its respective component. Once you’ve located each component, note the voltage, which will be listed on its data label.
Once you know how many pumps/blowers your tub has and what kind of heater, you can select a control system.
We’ll use your voltage selections to pre-configure the system for an easy installation.
Setup and Installation
All control system installations are a little different, but here’s a general overview of the steps involved.
Caution: Make certain you’ve disconnected the power before proceeding. On 240V spas, shut off the breaker at the main panel servicing the house, and the GFCI Sub-Panel servicing the spa. On 120V spas, unplug spa from the receptacle.
- Open spa equipment access panel
- Disconnect incoming power cord from equipment system
- Drain the hot tub
- Disconnect the electric and component cords from the control system (pump, blower, etc.)
- Disconnect and remove the topside controller
Note: Most manufacturers attach topsides using silicone sealant or double-stick tape. Oftentimes, using a fishing line or dental floss to get in between the shell of the tub and the topside helps.
- Disconnect the plumbing from the heater
- Remove the control system
- Take an assessment of the pumps and other components. Determine whether they can be reused or replaced
- If replacing your pump(s), install them now. Note: Connect EasyPak systems to the discharge end of the pump. If plumbing cannot be manipulated to achieve this configuration, a flow switch kit is required.
- If the tub has an air blower, connect it to the plumbing. Note: Always install a new blower check valve
- Install the new topside controller using the supplied adapter plate if necessary
- Install the control system and heater
- Connect the topside controller and component power cords to the control system
- Make necessary PVC cement connections and reconnect all plumbed components
- Refill the spa through the filter opening. Note: If your source water is from a well, or has other impurities, use a Prefresh hose-end spa pre-filter
- Bleed any air from the plumbing by loosening the intake pump union slightly until water begins to leak out. Allow water to leak for 5-10 seconds, and then retighten the union. This will prime the pump and prevent airlocks or heater dry-fire
- Double check all electrical and plumbing connections
- Power up the control system
- Run the tub and inspect for leaks
- Set heat to the desired temperature
Wiring: A qualified electrician must perform the electrical hookup following local codes. Connect all EasyPak 240 Volt control systems to an approved >GFCI protected, 4 wire electrical service.
Service 120 Volt systems with a grounded, GFCI protected circuit. Alternatively, the use of an optional inline GFCI cord, properly grounded, will work well.
With 120 Volt service, the heater and all other circuits must be configured for 120V. It’s worth noting, 120 Volt systems will not run the jets and the heater at the same time.
Plumbing: EasyPak spa control systems must connect to the discharge end of the pump. If plumbing cannot be manipulated to achieve this configuration, a flow switch kit is required.
Other controls, like Balboa systems with M7 technology, can be plumbed to either the intake or discharge of the pump.
If you have any questions, the happy experts at SpaDepot.com are just an email or phone call away.