Common Q and As on Spas


1.  What is the difference between a hot tub and a spa?
Hot tub
is the name originally given to the earliest tubs that were round, made of wood, and located outdoors.  Today it is often used interchangeably with the terms "spa".

A spa is generally made of a plastic shell with a surrounding cabinet made of wood or synthetic materials. It can be installed above ground or at ground-level, indoor or outdoor.

A portable hot tub or spa describes a unit that is pre-assembled and sits above ground. Its actual size and features may vary widely - from small portable units that weigh only a few hundred pounds and plug into a household outlet - to large tubs that weigh several thousand pounds and require specific installation methods and electrical wiring.

Although wooden hot tubs were the most common type of unit in the 1970s, one-piece plastic spas are now the most popular type since they are less expensive to manufacture, easier to install and maintain, and much more energy efficient.

2.  What does a spa consist of?  How does it work?

One-piece spas are formed as a single unit with shapes that provide a variety of seating arrangements within the tub. Each integral seat is often equipped with one or more water jets that allows water to be directed at parts of the body. The water flow may be aerated for additional effect.  And some or all of the jets may automatically move or rotate, providing a massage-like experience.

3.  What kind of plumbing system does a spa require?

The plumbing of a spa consists of several distinct systems:

  • A pressure system delivering water to the jets
  • A suction system to return water to the pumps
  • A filtration system to clean the water
  • Induced or forced air system to provide a "bubbly"
            massage effect
  • An ozone system to sanitize and purify water

4.  How do I keep the spa clean and sanitary?

Water sanitization is very important in spas, as many organisms thrive in a warm, wet environment. In addition to the use of a pump and filtration system, bromine, chlorine or mineral sanitizers are almost always used as a primary sanitizer. Many spas are often supplemented with an ozone generator, UV sterilization, or silver and copper ion generator for further protection.

Also, we highly recommend buying a copy of "Spaaaaaahhh!" - the best source for spa maintenance that we have ever found. The clear and concise section on terminology alone is worth its weight in gold.


5.  What about heat loss or energy efficiency?

Effective insulation greatly improves the energy efficiency of a spa. Some manufacturers fill the entire cabinet with foam, while others insulate the underside of the shell, the inside of the cabinet, or both. Moreover, use of a spa cover with even a small insulating value can achieve as much as a 75% reduction in heating costs as opposed to leaving the water surface exposed.

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