PAT PILCHER desperately needed some warm water therapy to relax his throbbing gristle. Then, he found the perfect solution.
When my wife asked me what I’d like for my birthday, the usual happened, and my mind went completely blank. After muttering something like, “umm, I don’t know….” I ended up jumping online and doing some research. This turned out to be a good move as I stumbled upon Portable Spas, a Christchurch-based company specialising in inflatable spa pools.
At the time, we were heading into winter, and the thought of long hot soaks in a hot spa pool while gently massaged by bubbles seemed incredibly luxurious. Traditional spa pools command huge price tags, with even the most basic models costing an eye-watering $4000. So, asking for a spa pool as a birthday gift seemed a tad excessive to my inner cheap bastard.
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At least, that was until I found the Mono spa. It is priced at a wallet-pleasing $1799, which meant it was more affordable. It turned out that it was also easier to install and maintain. Finally, the whole shebang turned up in a large, heavy box that the delivery driver and his assistant carried down to our house.
Most of the inflatable spas I’d seen looked like fragile adult paddling pools that wouldn’t last 5 minutes. Not the Mono, though. Crafted from ultra-sturdy double-walled PVC with internal ribbing (for your enjoyment), it is less flimsy than other inflatable models I looked at. The Mono may be affordable, but it isn’t lacking.
It also has a few features not usually found in its more costly fibreglass counterparts. I’m no fan of heavily chlorinated pools, so the o3 ozone generator and UV light filtration appealed. They kill bacteria and microbes, reducing the amount of chlorine needed. Add to this variable bubble jet speeds and an inflatable insulation cover (which helps retain heat, reducing heating bills), and the Mono was a complete no-brainer.
Now I had the pool. The next step was working out where to put it. When filled with water, a typical spa pool exerts just under a metric tonne of weight. Setting the Spa up on the lawn wasn’t going to work, as it could settle and sink unevenly, causing a side to collapse and damaging it beyond repair. The middle of our back lawn isn’t particularly private or sheltered. Given the weight we were dealing with, setting it up on our wooden deck wasn’t going to work either. Ultimately, we found a spot under the balcony at the back of our house. It had a concrete pad on which reinforced and levelled decking was laid. It also offered good shelter from Wellington’s inclement weather and plenty of privacy.
With the location of the pool sorted, I wanted to make the space fun and relaxing using smart lighting and music.
To this end, I used Phillips Hue Amarant outdoor wall washer lights and mounted it on the underside of the balcony. Going with Hue was a no-brainer. As my home already has Hue bulbs, using weather-proof, low-voltage outdoor Hue lighting was the perfect solution. Installing the Amarant was a doddle. Multiple mounting options made fitting it to the underside of the balcony effortless. Plenty of supplied cable meant I could easily locate its power supply in the house and out of the way of the pool and weather. The Amarant can shine in over 16 million user-defined colours and brightness levels, adding a nice touch of Alexa-friendly customisable mood lighting.
For added bling, I sourced some twinkling warm white LED mesh lights via Dick Smith Electronics, mounting them to the underside of the balcony. Doing this helped define the pool area as a specific room. The twinkling effect added a neat casino-like kitsch factor too.
To keep everything Alexa-friendly, I connected the lights to a D-Link Smart Plug. Using Alexa routines, I can turn all the lighting on or off. Nice!
With the lighting sorted, I turned my attention to the music. I’ve long been a Sonos user. While I despise them forcing Sonos users into upgrading audio gear, I sourced an older Sonos Zp100 amp/player on eBay, so no upgrades were needed.
To get the sonic goodness from the Sonos and into my ears while soaking, I added some Yamaha NS-AW592 weather-proof outdoor speakers. These come with mounting brackets and are built to handle the weather. Most importantly of all, they also crank out surprisingly good audio. Mounting them on the balcony support poles on either side of the Spa, I ran their wiring to the house where the Sonos S1 was kept out of the weather.
As water and electricity are never a good combination, everything was connected to a residual current device (RCD). It’ll shut off the electricity in milliseconds should it detect excessive current draw.
So did this setup work? Hell yes!
Check it out for yourself here! We use it daily. The relaxation effects after a hard day’s work slaving over a hot keyboard are hard to beat.