Modern hot tubs come equipped with automated control systems to allow you more time relaxing, and less time fiddling around getting it to work.
But as we all know, technology can be a finicky thing, and sometimes the hot tub control panel might not work properly.
We’ll go over potential issues that can arise and how you can troubleshoot them for a quick fix.
Know Your Hot Tub Control Panel
The hot tub control panel is a functional display system that operates all your tub’s features. It handles everything from the main power, to the spa jets, and even things like the lights and music.
A standalone hot tub has the control panel built into the top of the tub. This is known as a topside control panel.
It consists of a small screen outfitted with LEDs or LCDs, with various buttons and indicators covered in an overlay. The buttons control the functions and the screen communicates to the user what current function is being carried out.
Both digital and analog panels exist, and they’re designed to work only with specific control boards.
If you have a tub that was built from the ground up, the controls will be housed with the rest of the spa equipment. This is known as a spa side control panel.
Many spa side controls will be linked up with a remote, so you can still access the control system while in the tub. In most cases, the remote will be installed at the tub, and hardwired back to the control panel through tubing.
With recent advances in technology, wireless remotes are also available, although they are usually only compatible with certain controllers.
How To Fix A Hot Tub Control Panel (Troubleshooting)
Issues with topside and spa side control panels are varied, so we’ve compiled a list of the most common problems and what you can do to rectify the issues.
If The Display Won’t Turn On
If the display isn’t showing anything, you’ve got a problem.
Follow these steps to get it operational again”
- Start by resetting the spa controller. Sometimes this universal “trick” can fix any electronics issue. Turn off the power, wait for 20 seconds, and turn it back on.
- Check the controller for any condensation that may be present between the overlay and the display.
- Inspect the cables that run to the controller. They may have come loose, or been damaged in some way (rodents like to gnaw wires). Ensure all cables are connected cleanly as well. You may have a situation where the termination point has failed for one reason or another and needs a new end on it.
- Check the circuit board transformer to make sure there is power.
- Ensure power is present at the fuse and that it isn’t blown.
- Double check that the topside controller is compatible with the circuit board model.
- Look over the circuit board for any damage on it. Any compromised areas could cause the display to fail.
- If none of these work, you may have to fully replace the topside controller, as they do have a shelf life of around 10 years.
If The Display Shows An Error
If the display shows an error message, you should consult the hot tub’s owner’s manual to cross reference the message you’re seeing.
A display error that’s blinking or flashing may only need something as simple as a system reset, whereas any kind of truncated display can indicate there is moisture or dirty contacts inside the controller.
Most error messages can be fixed, but you might need to get a new one depending on the age of the controller.
If The Display Is Wrong
Sometimes, a display will begin showing the wrong information.
This borders on error messages (see above), however, it also may be presenting the right information, but with compromised LEDs that make it look incorrect.
An issue like this could be the result of a cracked panel, or one that has been exposed to moisture. In this case, a full panel replacement is usually the best solution.
A wrong display can also be a sign that the control panel has run its course, and again, will require replacement.
If The Display Flickers On And Off
A flickering display is a sign that the voltage from the transformer is too low.
You can test it using a multimeter, but if voltage isn’t your specialty you may want to call a professional to fix it.
Additionally, you may have an issue with the cable from the control panel being too close to another cable in the filtration system.
These lines can “cross” if they’re too close to each other, causing the display to act erratically.
If The Spaside Buttons Won’t Work
Unresponsive buttons are an issue you may encounter with your controls.
This could be the result of a damaged panel, insufficient voltage, or a faulty connection between the control panel and the circuit board.
To fix it, try the following:
- Start by verifying the DIP switches on the board are in the factory default positions. If they need to be repositioned, turn off the power to the tub before resetting them.
- Inspect the connection between the board and the control panel. The connection could be compromised in some way (loose, bent, damaged) and needs to be fixed/replaced.
- Ensure the voltages between the control panel and the system pack terminal block are compatible.
- Enter “Priming Mode” on your control panel and test the buttons.
Don’t Lose Control!
No one likes a hot tub control panel that’s not working properly.
Not only is it inconvenient and a nuisance to troubleshoot, repairing it can be an unexpected expense and replacing it can be even more costly.
The silver lining is there are remedies for a malfunctioning control panel, you just have to decide if you want to fix it yourself or hire a professional to do the job.