Turn a key, open a cover
By Seraine Page
With the turn of a key, hot tub owners can now lift a hardcover automatically. This August, Strong Spas — the manufacturer known for its hardcover — will release its Fully-Automated DURA-SHIELD HardCover for the Elements series.
“We say it’s as easy to open as a car door,” says Sony Banga, vice president of business development at Strong Spas. “It’s great for people who don’t want to wrestle with covers.”
The automated hardcover is fully integrated into the Elements line of hot tubs, and pricing varies per model. Customers can choose from a variety of finishes, including carbon fiber, blackwood or Bristol wood. By turning a key, the hydraulic system lifts and folds back the cover with no extra assistance from the user.
Since the cover tends to be the most often-replaced part of a spa, having an automatic hardcover top can be a game changer for retailers, Banga says.
“It’s the most expensive part of hot tubbing after your initial purchase,” says Banga of covers. “We are the only spa manufacturer to do automatic covers and hardcovers. It’s our proprietary technology, and it’s really just for our products.”
There is a waiting list for the new automatic hardcover, and Strong Spas will begin with a limited production release. A full product release is expected during late August to early September, says Ryan Force, Strong Spas’ project manager.
While an automatic hardcover might seem like a big investment for customers, retailers can remind customers during the sales presentation that vinyl covers often need replacing every two to four years.
On the environmental front, traditional covers regularly head toward landfills, Banga says, but a hardcover lasts much longer.
“It’s a tremendous waste item,” Banga says. “It’s a tremendous opportunity for the industry to do better. Foam covers will fail. Plus, vinyl and foam absorb water, [adding weight].”
There’s no concern about cracking vinyl or foam spilling out into the hot tub as all the materials are automotive-grade synthetics. Additionally,
cleaning the cover doesn’t require any harsh chemicals to get its shine back.
“These covers require minimal maintenance as all the working components are safely enclosed within the spa cabinet,” Force says. “When cleaning the cover, soap or a mild detergent along with water will work best.”
While the initial rollout had some complications, this time Banga expects all to go smoothly for the Fully-Automated DURA-SHIELD HardCover release.
The product showcased at trade shows in both Las Vegas and New Orleans, much to the delight of retailers.
“It was just a huge hit and people loved the idea of a fully automated cover,” Banga says.
As for safety features, no one can accidentally get locked into the tub. Part of the early rollout difficulties included figuring out the ideal safety factors.
The company veered away from a remote-control option, which left too much risk for someone to become entrapped. With the current key-in model, a person could easily stand up inside the tub — with a closed cover — and the clutch system would dislocate. Upon reopening it with the key, the clutch would pop back into place, Banga says.
Retailers whose customers might consider owning a hot tub burdensome can change their minds if the right accessories are presented to them. A fully automated hardcover is just one way to get the new customers in the door and the old ones returning.
“When you look at hot tubs, every hot tub has to have a cover,” Banga says. “We’re super excited about it. We’re excited to get these in dealer showrooms and customers’ backyards.”