Spa vs Hot Tub vs Jacuzzi: Understand the Differences

There’s nothing quite like taking a soak in a spa after a long day of work. Because hydrotherapy offers incredible benefits to individuals, many people choose to install a spa in their backyard. If you’re considering installing a spa or hot tub in your yard, it’s important to understand the different types of hot tub therapy. Today, we’ll dive into the differences between spa vs. hot tub vs. Jacuzzi, and which form of hydrotherapy may work best for you.

Spa, hot tub, and Jacuzzi are often used interchangeably despite some differences. A spa is referring to all types of water treatment. A hot tub is typically a pool of water with therapeutic effects. A Jacuzzi is a specific brand of hot tubs and other products. 

So while these differences seem nuanced, there is a lot that goes into the differences between these 3 things. Here are the breakdowns, including history, benefits, and construction of each. 

What is a Spa?

Although the term “spa” is often used interchangeably with hot tubs, there is a major difference between hot tubs and spas. While spas may refer to the hydrotherapy of hot tubs, the term spa technically means any type of water treatment, also known as balneotherapy. From spring water to saunas to hot tubs, the term spa can be used to describe a variety of hydrotherapy treatments.

Spa History

The word “spa” was originally used to refer to a location of a natural hot spring. Here, individuals would benefit from the minerals by taking medicinal baths. Because these hot springs offered such powerful benefits, members of ancient civilizations would travel great distances to bathe in this health-giving water.

While the belief in the curative powers of mineral waters is popular worldwide, it is particularly practiced in Europe and Japan. To this day, spas offer a variety of personal care treatments to individuals around the world.

In addition to referring to mineral spring water, the word spa is also the American term for hot tubs. However, the term spa did not refer to this type of hydrotherapy until the late 1930s when health resorts were opening in the United States. In more recent years, the term spa may be used to refer to a variety of beauty treatments, including saunas, massages, skin treatments, and day spas.

Spa Construction

Most spas are built in the ground and thus cannot be relocated. They are often connected to swimming pools, although it’s possible for spas to stand alone. When connected to a swimming pool’s plumbing system, spas have lower running and maintenance costs.

In recent years, spa manufacturers have begun designing portable spas that can be relocated. Because these spas are similar to a hot tub’s construction, they are often confused with hot tubs and Jacuzzis. However, spas still operate slightly differently than traditional hot tubs.

Spa Benefits

Since prehistoric times, spas have been favored for their healing properties and life-changing benefits. Because spas offer countless health benefits to individuals, it is no wonder that homeowners desire to install them in their yards.

One of the most significant advantages of spas is their ability to clear your mind and body of any stress. In addition to helping you unwind, spas alleviate pain and relax tight muscles. For this reason, many individuals choose to soak in their spas multiple times a week.

Perhaps one of the greatest benefits of spas is their relaxing effect on the body. Soaking in a spa is known to improve sleep quality by calming the body and lowering blood pressure. Because spas promote undisturbed sleep, it is recommended to soak in a hot tub 90 minutes before bed.

What is a Hot Tub?

Hot tubs are one of the most popular forms of hydrotherapy, especially in the United States. In fact, statistics state that about 7.3 million hot tubs are in operation in the United States alone. In addition to countless spas and resorts across the country, homeowners also own and install hot tubs in their yards.

Although the terms “hot tub” and “spa” are often used interchangeably, there is a major difference between the two. While spas refer to various water treatments, hot tubs refer to a pool of water that has therapeutic features. These features include massage jets and blowers for promoting relaxation in the muscles.

Hot Tub History

Originally, the term “hot tub” referred to the wooden barrel tubs that became popular in the late 1960s. Similar to the spas crafted by ancient Roman and Asian civilizations, these hot tubs were built with redwood and cedar.

The first hot tubs designed were quite similar to wine barrels. To heat the water, people would use wood-fired heaters for raising the hot tub’s temperature. Because there was no way to filter the water, these hot tubs were not very sanitary. However, they became increasingly popular and were often used for entertaining purposes.

Since the late 1960s and early 1970s, hot tubs have been improved to now include filtration systems, pumps, heater elements, and therapeutic jets. Hot tubs are built from a range of materials, including acrylic, fiberglass, and even inflatable PVC tubes.

Hot Tub Construction

Unlike spas that are built in the ground, hot tubs are stand-alone structures that sit above the ground. They are typically made of acrylic, fiberglass, stainless steel, wood, or cement. In more recent years, hot tubs have been built with PVC to make them more portable and easier to install.

In addition to their strong shell, hot tubs are built with multiple components for their plumbing system. These features include the filtration system, suction systems, pressure systems, air blowers, and the ozone system. These systems are designed to keep the pool clean and functioning properly.

Hot tubs may be run either on electricity or on gas. Depending on the hot tub design, you may be able to heat the hot tub using solar power. How well a hot tub operates greatly depends on the insulation of the material. When a hot tub is well insulated, the tub will be able to keep water warm for longer periods. While hot tub insulation comes in a variety of forms, most are made of foam in the cabinets or under the shell.

Hot Tub Benefits

There are numerous benefits to soaking in a hot tub. Similar to spas, hot tubs have the ability to de-stress the body. As a result, those who soak in a hot tub are likely to sleep better at night.

Another benefit to hot tubs is their relaxation effect on sore, tired muscles. Because the water takes the pressure off of the joints, soaking in a hot tub can alleviate any pain or aches you may suffer from. The massaging action of hot tubs is also known to reduce the pain of arthritis.

Relaxing in a hot tub is known to relieve any physical, emotional, and mental stress. Even soaking in a hot tub for just 10 minutes can rejuvenate your entire body.

What is a Jacuzzi?

As the hot tub industry began to grow, the word “Jacuzzi” was often used synonymously with the word “hot tub”. However, there is a significant difference between hot tubs and Jacuzzis. While hot tubs are large tubs of water used for entertaining purposes, Jacuzzi is a trademarked brand of hot tubs and other spa products.

Jacuzzi History

The history of the brand Jacuzzi dates back as far as the early 1900s when the Jacuzzi family immigrated from Italy to California. The Jacuzzis made their living as inventors, often designing advancements in aviation and water pumps for agricultural use. It wasn’t until the mid-20th century that the Jacuzzis became famous for their invention of the submersible pump.

In 1956, a family member of the Jacuzzis developed rheumatoid arthritis. To alleviate the pain associated with it, the Jacuzzi brothers worked to create a hydrotherapy pump for their young brother. This pump, known as the J-300, was a portable pump crafted to pull water up from the ground.

This grand invention soon led to the first Jacuzzi® bathtub. In 1968, Roy Jacuzzi created the world’s very first integrated whirlpool bath. Known as the Roman, this bath featured integrated jets with a 50-50 air-to-water ratio. Over the years, this design was improved upon until the brand Jacuzzi® became known as it is today.

Jacuzzi® is now the world’s most recognized brand of jetted whirlpool baths, hot tubs, and spas. Besides the first whirlpool bath patent, Jacuzzi® boasts 250 worldwide patents for advancements in pump systems, jet technology, hot tub design.

Jacuzzi Construction

Jacuzzi products are constructed with some of the highest quality materials. Most Jacuzzi hot tubs and spas feature three layers of acrylic, a bonding layer, and a rigid layer. In addition to being fully insulated, Jacuzzis include heat-reflecting insulation to aid in heating water during cold temperatures.

Crafted with powerful jets, Jacuzzi hot tubs are beneficial for soothing the body’s joints and muscles. By utilizing the Venturi (fluid pressure) effect, a Jacuzzi’s jets create the perfect balance of air and water for a relaxing experience.

Besides designing and creating hot tubs, the brand Jacuzzi builds a variety of luxurious products. From bathtubs to spas to all-season swimming pools, Jacuzzi offers countless products for home improvement. Whether you’re shopping for spa accessories or you’re searching for pool ideas, Jacuzzi is your ultimate source for high-quality spa designs.

Jacuzzi Benefits

Using a Jacuzzi for water therapy combines all the benefits of a spa and hot tub. Featuring massage jets and therapeutic blowers, Jacuzzi hot tubs and baths create a calming experience of hydrotherapy. Jacuzzi® proudly designs its hot tubs to improve individuals’ overall wellbeing.

Soaking in a Jacuzzi offers long-term benefits, including natural stress relief and recovery from sore muscles. By targeting certain muscles through the therapeutic jets, a Jacuzzi can alleviate pain in the lower back, legs, arms, and feet. In addition to loosening tight muscles, a Jacuzzi hydromassage may alleviate pain associated with arthritis.

Those who suffer from restless leg syndrome often find it beneficial to soak in a Jacuzzi. The changes in temperature have been reported by doctors to improve the effects of restless leg syndrome. As a result, you may sleep more peacefully at night.

Spa vs Hot Tub vs Jacuzzi: Which One Should You Choose?

Now that you understand the differences between spa vs. hot tub vs. Jacuzzi, the next consideration is which one best fits your needs. While they may appear to be quite similar, each one of these hydrotherapy products has its own unique features and benefits.

While the word “spa” refers to any type of water treatment, most modern spas are designed inground and connected to a swimming pool. Spas typically feature a variety of jets and blowers to increase the hydromassage effect. Connecting a spa to a swimming pool can reduce plumbing costs while promoting easy maintenance.

Hot tubs are generally above the ground and feature excellent insulation. Because they include filtration systems, hot tubs do not need to be drained after every use. In addition to providing hydrotherapy, hot tubs feature powerful jets and blowers to make soaking in a hot tub a pleasurable experience.

If you’re looking for a high-quality brand of hot tubs/spas, Jacuzzi® may be the ideal option for you. Featuring various jets and blowers, Jacuzzis create a relaxing and calming environment. Installing a Jacuzzi is guaranteed to be a valuable investment, regardless of which design or model you select.

Jed Arnold

Jed spent every year from the ages of 15 - 22 as a Lifeguard (Red Cross) and ages of 17 - 22 as a Certified Pool Operator (CPO). Between working for over a dozen facilities and owning a pool, he carries over a decade of pool experience.

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