Spa vs Hot Tub – What’s the Difference?

There are a lot of differences between a hot tub and a spa, even though today, the terms are used interchangeably. A spa is ideally a hot tub with a number of jets and seating facility and it is built in-ground or above-ground, close to a traditional pool. Spas are larger than hot tubs, and these have more seating capacity than hot tubs.

If you want to install an in-ground spa, you will need to work on the installation of the hot tub by digging up and installing the water and electricity fixtures. An in-ground spa is usually built while a pool is getting constructed, but you can also get these designed and made on order. An above-ground spa is easier to install as you do not need to make space in the ground for it. You can place the spa in the location you prefer and hook it up to the water and electricity supply.

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Hot tubs, on the other hand, can be made from acrylic, fiberglass, or vinyl and these are available in portable as well as fixed designs. Setting up a hot tub does not take any specialized skills, and if you are buying an inflatable hot tub, then you can set it up by filling it with water and plugging it in the regular electricity supply in your house. For hot tubs that accept 220v power, you will need to get an electrician to wire your home’s electricity to be compatible with 220v wiring.

Essential Hot Tubs

Pros Associated with Spas

Spas are popular with users who do not move houses often and want to use a spa for relaxing, entertaining guests and enjoying the benefits of hot water therapy. While most spas are constructed with a pool, you can also get a spa custom built to your specifications (1). Let’s take a look at some of the best features of spas.

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    Ample Space - In-ground or above-ground spas are built for relaxation and socializing. These spas offer ample seating space and leg room so that you can completely relax in the spa. Most spas have a complete level of seating where everyone in the spa can sit with ease.(2)
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    Advanced Features - Whether you are looking for bubble jets, hydrotherapy massage jets, or underwater lights; you can find all these features and more in a spa. As these are designed as comfort stations, these can be heavily customized to include the features that you like. 
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    Adds to the Decor - An in-ground spa can be designed as a part of your existing pool, and it looks simply incredible. You can jump into the pool and then relax in the hot waters of spa as needed. It also adds to the decor of your pool and your property, too.
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    A Versatile Design - If you are going to build a spa, you can choose the design that best appeals to you. A custom-made spa can be built on the side of a pool, within a pool or on an elevated platform a little distance from the pool. The choices are endless and only limited by your imagination. 

Cons Of Spas

While spas are great when you want to hold a party, there are certain cons associated with spas, too. Let’s take a look at some of the disadvantages of spas.

  • Difficult to Repair - In-ground spas can be especially difficult to repair as the electric wiring and water fixtures are located under the ground and digging up and re-installing the spa can be expensive and cumbersome. 
  • Less Efficient - Spas can take a long to heat up if they are joined to the pool. Once heated up, it takes a lot of power to keep the spa’s water at a constant temperature. 
  • Expensive - Installing an in-ground spa can cost a lot of money if you have not built it already with your pool. Keeping the spa functional also costs a lot in terms of power bills as the spa pool has to be heated up before every use. 

Best Features of Portable Hot Tubs

portable hot tub

Portable hot tubs are great when you move a lot, and you want to take your hot tub with you. The inflatable hot tubs are perfect for frequent movers as these can be deflated and inflated again at a new location. Here are some of the best features of portable hot tubs.

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    Economical - Portable hot tubs don’t cost as much as their fixed counterparts. You can buy a top quality portable hot tub without burning a hole in your pocket. 
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    Easy to Maintain - Spa maintenance can be a chore, but with portable hot tubs you just have to add the cleaning chemicals and keep an eye on the pH level of the water with chemical testing strips. The hot tubs also come with easy-to-replace filters and pool cleaning accessories that keep the water clean. 
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    Easy to Store - When not in use, the portable hot tubs can be stored away with ease. The inflatable hot tubs can be deflated and the acrylic ones can be covered, and stored until it’s time to use them again. 
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    High Heat Efficiency - The best part of hot tubs is that these are highly efficient keeping the water warm. You can set up a timer that will switch off the power supply once the water reaches a pre-set temperature. The hot tub can be covered up to minimize heat loss to the atmosphere.

Cons of Portable Hot Tubs

Hot tubs have a lot of useful features, but let’s take a look at some of the disadvantages of using hot tubs. 

  • Low Durability - A portable hot tub made from vinyl is strong, but regular use can cause wear and tear that can decrease the life of the hot tub. Even when repaired, you can’t expect an inflatable hot tub to last for a long time. 
  • Takes Time to Heat Up - If you are using a hot tub with a 120v electrical outlet, it till take a long time for the water to get hot. For regular electricity powered hot tub, 2-3 degree of temperature rise takes about 1 hour. 
  • Consumes More Electricity - Less heating power means a portable hot tub will consume more electricity for a longer period of time. If you are using a hot tub in the open and in a colder environment, you can expect your power bill to rise the more regularly you use the hot tub.
  • Difficult Seating - Sitting in an inflatable hot tub might not be too comfortable as there is no rigid support and you have to either sit on the floor of the hot tub or an inflated projection. This can make it difficult to be comfortable in the tub.

Hot Tub or Spa - Which is the Ideal Choice?

The choice between a hot tub or a spa comes to your personal preference, your budget and the space you have in your house. If you want to install a spa inside your house, you might have to make significant changes to the architecture of your house. But you can place an outdoor spa in your garden or patio. The same goes for an inflatable or acrylic hot tub, as it can be placed in the location of your choice. Inflatable hot tubs are easier to transport as these can be deflated and packed up.

If your primary aim is to get hot water therapy and relax on your own or with a special someone, then a hot tub is the best choice for you. But if you want to invite friends over or host a spa party, then getting an above ground spa would be the best choice for you. 

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