What’s The Difference Between a Hot Tub and a Spa?

By Krista Payne
Posted . Filed under News Faucet.

Originally published in Pool & Spa Outdoor magazine – Hot Tub or Spa – What’s the Difference?
You may be wondering, What is the difference between a hot tub and a spa?

The short answer is nothing, as it is a common practice for us to use custom hot tub and custom spa synonymously. The more in-depth answer, however, is that hot tubs and portable spas are manufactured tubs that can be installed aboveground or inground and do not necessarily have to remain in the same location.

Permanent spas, on the other hand, are typically built inground, sometimes accompanying or connected to a residential swimming pool; they become an integral part of a property’s hardscape. Our non-portable spas are made of stainless steel or copper, while hot tubs and portable spas are composed of a stainless steel or copper interior shell and an exterior shell, which is sometimes flagstone, decking or other types of hardscaping materials.

Both a hot tub and a spa can be distinguished from a whirlpool tub, also known as a jetted tub which is found in a bathroom and is filled and drained after each use. Our hot tubs and/or spas use sanitized, filtered and circulated water and is only drained several times a year for maintenance.

More importantly, our hot tubs or spas offer a number of benefits that will not only increase the value of your home, but will also improve your health, your well-being and your relationships with those you love. With advantages like these, the thought of unwinding in warm, swirling waters after a long day is almost too hard to resist. But among the vast number of hot tub models, which vary in everything from size to number of jets to entertaining add-ons, how do you decide which one will fit your lifestyle?

6 Responses to “What’s The Difference Between a Hot Tub and a Spa?”

  1. Clint Combs

    Hot tubs first gained popularity in California in the 1960’s. People would re-purpose old wine barrels and fit them with heaters and a small circulation pump. These were simple wooden tubs with no significant jets and no seats.

    Spa manufacturers were inspired by the hot tub movement, and they built more fancy versions of these little hot water tubs adding bigger pumps to deliver jet action, filters, and insulated covers. New moldable materials like acrylic and Rovel allowed ergonomic seating in place of a simple cylinder. Insulation was added to the outside of the shell to retain heat. The redwood ceased being the material that held the water and morphed into simply being the cabinet. Those spas that placed all their equipment within the cabinet became known as portable spas. Those that used remotely installed equipment became known as inground or built in spas.

    Inground spas sometimes use shells that are identical to portable spas, other times they are constructed out of gunite much like an inground swimming pool. More exotic materials like copper and stainless steel have also been used.

    The other term that people often use is Jacuzzi. Jacuzzi started out as a brand name–taken from the last name of some Italian immigrants who developed a type of jet that used a venturi to draw air into the stream of water and make if feel stronger. Much like the Crescent wrench, the name Jacuzzi has transferred into common usage as a generic term that is used interchangeably with the term “spa.”

    • kpayne

      Thanks for your informative post Clint-interesting history of the hot tub. Glad we don’t have to relax in a wine barrel anymore!


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