People often use the terms “hot tub,” “spa,” and “Jacuzzi” interchangeably. But are they the same thing? While they’re all luxurious water features that provide relaxation and therapeutic benefits, some significant differences are worth exploring. 

Let’s examine the distinctions between hot tubs, spas, and Jacuzzis more closely so you can better decide which option best suits your home or rental property.

Are Hot Tubs, Spas, & Jacuzzis the Same Thing?

Hot tubs, spas, and Jacuzzis are different variations of the same thing, leading to confusion among buyers. A hot tub is a large tub of heated water where you typically soak and relax. At the same time, Jacuzzi is a brand name that’s become synonymous with hot tubs in much the same way people say “Kleenex” when referring to facial tissues.

When it comes to spas, things get a little trickier. This term is an umbrella term for various hydrotherapy treatments or a place that offers these treatments, such as a spa at a resort. In that case, a spa offers wellness treatments, like massages, facials, and water therapy. Other times, people use the term spa to refer to a hot tub with therapeutic enhancements, such as a luxury home spa with a massaging water jet system.

4 Differences Between Hot Tubs, Spas & Jacuzzis

These water features are similar, but they differ in the following areas.

1. Heating Systems

Hot tubs typically utilize electric heaters to warm the water to the desired temperature. These heaters are efficient and can maintain consistent heat levels. Some hot tubs may also use natural gas or propane heaters, which can be more cost-effective in certain regions.

By comparison, home spas often employ more advanced heating systems. These systems may include heat pumps, electric heaters, and additional features like insulation and intelligent controls. Jacuzzis, being a premium brand, often incorporates high-quality heating systems. They may combine powerful jets and heating elements to provide a refreshing experience.

2. Installation

Hot tubs are typically freestanding units that can be installed indoors or outdoors and are relatively easy to install. You can move or relocate them if necessary—for example, from one home to another or between Airbnb properties. Spas, on the other hand, often require professional installation. They are commonly built-in fixtures, such as on a deck or patio. This installation process may involve electrical and plumbing work and proper drainage and ventilation considerations.

Depending on your chosen model, jacuzzis can be freestanding or built-in. Freestanding Jacuzzis offer flexibility in their placement, similar to hot tubs. Built-in Jacuzzis also require professional installation and may involve construction work to create space for the unit.

3. Cost & Investments

The price of a hot tub can vary depending on its size, features, and brand, but hot tubs tend to be the most affordable option. In contrast, spas can be a more significant investment. Factors such as the installation process's size, features, materials, and complexity will all influence the total price tag.

Jacuzzis often have a higher price tag since they belong to a luxury brand. However, this premium price reflects the craftsmanship and engineering of creating a Jacuzzi product.

4. Health & Wellness Considerations

All three options offer health and wellness benefits. The warm water and hydrotherapy features can relieve stress and relaxation before sleep or muscle relaxation and recovery time between workouts. The water's buoyancy can also help alleviate joint pain and improve mobility. Models with powerful jets or targeted massage features can relieve deep tissue, ease muscle tension, and improve blood circulation.

Making the Right Choice for Your Home

Choosing between a hot tub, spa, or Jacuzzi for your home can be exciting but challenging. Consider the following factors to make the right choice for your lifestyle.

  • How much space do you have available? Consider the model's dimensions, the intended location, and whether or not you want a freestanding or built-in product. Also, consider factors such as accessibility, privacy, and any local regulations or restrictions that may apply.

  • What features do you want? Consider how vital things like adjustable jets, LED lighting, built-in sound systems, waterfalls, and the like are to you. Various models may emphasize hydrotherapy, relaxation, safety, functionality, and entertainment to differing degrees. 

  • How much are you willing to invest? Hot tubs are typically available at a wide range of price points. At the same time, home spas offer more advanced features in exchange for a higher price tag. Determine the quality level that aligns best with your needs, then balance that against your desired investment when weighing the models on your shortlist.

  • What maintenance routine can you commit to? Consider the upkeep requirements for each option. Models will vary in how often you need to clean them, treat the water, and maintain the filters. How you keep your hot tub might differ even further depending on your usage, water quality, and climate.
  • How important is energy efficiency? For many, energy efficiency is a vital topic for tub or home spa owners; the ability of energy to regulate its energy use efficiently can impact both environmental sustainability and cost savings. Look for well-insulated options, have efficient heating systems, and offer programmable controls to optimize energy usage.

  • How will your hot tub fit into your lifestyle? Consider how you plan to use the water feature and whether you’ll prioritize relaxation, hydrotherapy, or both. Consider whether you prefer a more private and intimate experience or if you enjoy hosting friends and family. The suitable model will complement your outdoor living space, enhance your indoor relaxation area, and check all the boxes on your wish list.

  • February 01, 2024 — andrei newman