difference between hot tub and spa

The Key Differences Between a Hot Tub and a Spa

Just like a spa, your hot tub comes with jets built into the design that provide relaxation, warmth, and a massage-like effect on your sore, tired muscles.

Both have heavy usage for socialization and therapeutic reasons, but there are some critical differences between the two that you have to know to ensure you know which one you want at your home.

The construction is one big difference between a hot tub and spa, and spas tend to share their plumbing system with the pool, while the hot tub comes with a standalone plumbing system.

So, while vacations are wonderful, investing in a spa or hot tub gives you the chance to go out, sit down in the warm water, and relax any time you want.

They allow you to have your own relaxing space right in the comfort of your own home, and they make excellent areas to entertain. If you’re wondering what other differences are between the two, read on.

Comparing Hot Tubs and Spas

The spa is an American term many people use to describe a hot tub because they mistakenly think that they’re interchangeable.

A spa can be a standalone structure or attached directly to a pool, and it has a nice water filtration system in it to keep it clean and clear. Finally, a spa will share the plumbing fixtures with the attached swimming pool, so this makes it not possible to pick up and move it at will.

On the other hand, a hot tub is a term used to describe a pool of water at the root of the words, and this is almost always a standalone structure.

Hot tubs also come equipped with water filtration systems to keep it clean and safe to sit in, and it comes with its own plumbing fixtures. In turn, it’s possible to move a hot tub around your yard as your needs change.

Taking a Closer Look at the Two Items

Both hot tubs and spas are popular for recreational purposes, and they both seem to be very similar to one another when you compare them side by side.

Both units work to heat up water, they can easily accommodate between two and six people, and you can find them situated inside or outside.

However, if you’re digging for semantics, a spa comes with a very different definition attached to it than a hot tub, and we’ll go over this below.

Definition of a Spa

While many people use the word spa as a synonym for a hot tub, a spa comes with a broad definition. If I asked you to envision a spa, you’d either think of a space where someone would go to have a medicinal bath, or you’d think of a larger, fancy place where you can go and relax.

However, traditional spas are usually locations that have a rich amount of healing minerals and spring water.

To make it more confusing, the term spa is also an American term that people use for a hot tub when they’re describing a big container of heated water with jets.

If you take the broader view, the term spa can encompass anything from a beauty salon or a foot spa to a mud bath or a spa resort for medicinal travels.

Spas actually eclipsed hot tubs in popularity in the 1970s due to the introduction of portable acrylic spas, and they’re very close in popularity today.

Spa Construction

Generally speaking, a spa can’t be relocated once you pick out a place for it because it gets sunk straight into the ground.

You can either connect your spa to a swimming pool or have it as a standalone structure, and it usually shares a pump system with the swimming pool if you have one.

Manufacturers have started to focus on creating portable spas a few decades ago, and this contributed to the ongoing confusion about hot tubs and spas.

Spa Features

Ideally, when you think of a perfect spa, you’ll envision a separate body of water that gets connected right to your swimming pool.

If this is the case, your spa’s plumbing system will hook to the existing plumbing system the pool uses, and this allows you to lower your overall costs when you compare it to a standalone model.

However, spas do tend to take a relatively long time to heat up, and this means you’ll have higher energy consumption for bigger utility bills.

Definition of a Hot Tub

Even though a hot tub and a spa may look similar on the surface, the main differences lie in each one’s structure and components.

If you look at a definition for a hot tub, it is a pool of water that has massage jets. You primarily use it for therapeutic or relaxation purposes for sore muscles or pain management.

When companies started producing hot tubs in the 1960s and 1970s, they featured teak, cypress, redwood, cedar, or composite material for the design.

You can still find wooden hot tubs today, but more durable acrylic material is more popular due to how easy it is to maintain.

Hot Tub Construction

You can place your hot tub in the ground or above the ground as long as it’s a standalone structure.

You’ll have several components to this system for the plumbing, including a filtration system that helps keep your water clear and clean, pressure systems that fuel the water and jets, suction systems that push the water back to the pumps, ozone systems for water maintenance, and air blowers to give a massage effect to the jets.

As far as the actual materials companies use to make their hot tubs, they can use acrylic, cement, wood, fiberglass, or an inflatable PVC material that you can deflate and store in the cooler months.

Hot Tub Features

A hot tub has a heating system that is electrical for the majority of the time or gas, but there are also a few features that need wood to heat the water or solar power for a slower heating process.

Hot tubs usually have very good insulation because this is one large factor that determines how efficient they are.

The insulation systems on hot tubs come in several different forms, including units where their cabinets come stuffed with foam and units where the underside of the shell has a heavy layer of insulation.

The better your hot tub’s insulation is, the more heat it’ll retain when you heat the water up. In turn, it can be much more energy-efficient.

You also don’t drain your hot tub after each time you use it, so sanitization is an extremely important aspect of routine hot tub maintenance.

Hot tub water also has to strike a balance between alkalinity and acidity, and there shouldn’t be any microorganisms in the water.

There are many products that can help you keep your hot tub’s water clean and safe, and you could also invest in non-chemical products like ozonators to help with the sanitation process.

Bottom Line

The components are the biggest aspect that sets hot tubs and spas apart because a hot tub has many more than a traditional spa does.

Now you can weigh the pros and cons of each unit and see which one will work best for your needs, as some people may prefer a spa while others like the standalone design of a hot tub.

Either way, you’ll get a wonderful place to sit back and relax in the comfort of your own backyard.

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