Owning a hot tub comes with certain responsibilities that include keeping water in the tub sanitary for users. Traditionally, a hot tub's water is disinfected in much the same way as a swimming pool's, meaning some sort of chlorine is employed. However, there are other methods for assuring that a hot tub's water is sanitary, including use of an ozonator. Simply, hot tub ozonators are machines that sanitize hot tub water while also reducing tub maintenance costs, among other benefits.
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An installed hot tub ozonator system is a hot tub's primary method of disinfecting the water in that tub. All hot tub ozonators work in much the same way, by converting oxygen from the air into ozone. Once a hot tub's ozonator creates ozone from air delivered to it via an air line, that ozone is then drawn into the tub's water, where it dissolves. Ozone itself is an oxidizer and destroys water contaminants as effectively as chlorine or other disinfectants will.
Most hot tub ozonators are installed as a do-it-yourself project. Typically, a hot tub ozonator kit includes a hot tub ozonator unit, which actually creates the ozone used as a disinfecting agent in the hot tub's water. Additionally, standard hot tub ozonators also include an ozone injection manifold, which is where ozone is sent into the hot tub's water so it can dissolve. Hot tub ozonator units also require their own separate power source and don't piggyback off the hot tub's power.
Ozone makes for a good hot tub water sanitizer because it isn't chemically based. Hot tub water is hot, and chlorine and other chemical disinfectants can be affected by high water temperatures. Additionally, ozone in a hot tub's water won't create a chemical odor like chlorine or bromine disinfectants can. And since ozone in a hot tub's water isn't really a chemical, it won't work to corrode hot tub surfaces and equipment.
Different sizes of hot tub ozonators are designed to handle different sizes of hot tubs. Some hot tub ozonators are designed for hot tubs up to 500 gallons while others can handle hot tubs up to 1,000 gallons and so on. As of June 2011, you could purchase a hot tub ozonator kit online starting at $80.00 up to nearly $179 for high output kits. You can buy hybrid ozone-mineral hot tub disinfection kits at additional cost.
While hot tub ozonators work effectively at disinfection, they can't do anything to regulate a hot tub's pH. A hot tub's pH level, if it's off, can negatively affect hot tub user comfort, so always work to keep it in balance. The pH in a hot tub should be between 7.2 and 7.8. Also, you only need to add a very small amount, such as a capful or a few ounces of pH increaser or decreaser to affect a hot tub's pH.