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Hot Tub Buying Guide

American Spas 6 Person Lounger Waterfall Spa

A hot tub is a luxurious home addition that offers the ideal place to unwind, spend time with friends or even loosen up sore muscles.

Hot tubs go by a lot of names, and whether you call it a spa, Jacuzzi or whirlpool, this relaxing amenity lets you enjoy the benefits of hydrotherapy year-round. But, when it comes to actually purchasing a hot tub, sometimes the options and features can make the process anything but relaxing.

Picking out the perfect hot tub doesn’t have to be confusing or overwhelming. Check out the info below to learn the straightforward basics about hot tubs and get started finding the best model for your home.


Types of Hot Tubs

A standard hot tub is the most commonly used spa variation, and are what most people consider purchasing for permanent home use. Although standard hot tubs can be moved, their significant weight makes it impractical unless it’s absolutely necessary.

An inflatable hot tub is a more flexible and portable option that can be inflated and set up at different locations, or used seasonally; however, their portability means they won’t include contoured seating or jets like those found in a standard hot tub. These will also require an electrical outlet to power the jets and heating.

A wood-fired hot tub is an unconventional option that offers a lot of flexibly in terms of placement because it doesn’t require any electrical connections. You will need a space where you can safely light a small fire, since these models use open flames to heat water as it circulates through metal pipes around the heat source. These are great for the backyard, long camping trips, music festivals or anywhere else where you might want a hot tub but wouldn’t have electricity.

Standard Style Hot Tub Inflatable Style Hot Tub Wood-Fired Style Hot Tub









When buying a hot tub, it’s important to make sure you have (or can create) an appropriate space to place the spa.

An indoor hot tub needs to be placed in an area that can handle moisture. The space should have water-resistant flooring like tile or concrete, as well as proper ventilation and humidity control to prevent mold and mildew. To ensure good ventilation, consider adding fans, a venting system or a dehumidifier.

There are also a variety of ways you can prepare the perfect outdoor space for your spa. The easiest and most budget friendly is a level gravel pad, though many prefer the appearance and functionality of pavers or concrete. If you’re installing a concrete pad for your hot tub, be sure it’s made of reinforced concrete at least four inches thick so it can support the hot tub. Alternately, a deck can be a classy and convenient spot to place your Jacuzzi.

Regardless of whether you place the hot tub indoors or out, it is important that your base can support a sufficient weight load. Spas can weigh up to 1,000 pounds - throw in water at about eight pounds a gallon and people to boot, and the weight adds up fast. A general guideline is to make sure the space you choose can support at least 100 pounds per square foot. If you place your hot tub in an area that isn’t properly prepared you may end up with a cracked hot tub, damaged deck or broken patio foundation.


Electrical Requirements

Electrical requirements will vary by hot tub, so check the model you are considering. There are some you can plug in to a standard outlet, but others may require different voltages or capacities. Standard U.S. outlets provide 120 volts at 60 hertz. If your hot tub exceeds this voltage or requires different hertz you should consult a professional electrician about a suitable connection for your spa.


Hot Tub Sizes & Shapes

There are a few different ways to measure hot tub sizes and shapes: by dimensions, by volume or by the number of people that the hot tub can accommodate. For example, you might think a two person hot tub would be a compact choice, but some designs allow more room to spread out or recline. So, even if a hot tub seats two or four people, be sure to refer to other measurements as well.

When it comes to hot tub shapes, designs include triangular corner hot tubs, round tubs, square tubs and oval-shaped spas. The shape you select will be a matter of preference, but it is worth noting that corner hot tubs are a great option for maximizing space.

Triangular Corner Shaped Hot Tub Circular Shaped Hot Tub Square Shaped Hot Tub Oval Shaped Hot Tub


Types of Jets

Hot tub jets are a crucial feature that improves every spa experience with a water massage that can soothe sore muscles and improve circulation. Assess the number and placement of jets in a hot tub, as well as the specific types you like, because they will greatly impact performance.

The specific names for jets may vary between brands, and many brands even have their own specialized jets, but keep an eye out for the following basic types:

  • Pressure jets provide a steady stream of water at a relatively high pressure to give a relaxing deep-tissue massage.
  • Adjustable jets (also called directional or therapy jets) can be moved to target different muscle groups. These usually offer a medium pressure stream, but some feature a twisting nozzle that lets you adjust the water flow as desired.
  • Pulsating jets are a gentler alternative to pressure jets which offer a more varied massage option by pulsating the jet stream.
  • Swirl jets (also called vortex or rotational jets) are another, gentler option that creates a wider area of massage by forming a swirled vortex of water.
  • Pillow Jets are special jets that target your neck muscles as you recline, gently soothing with a steady and relaxing flow.
  • Whirlpool jets are relatively strong jets arranged at an angle around the edge of a hot tub to create a whirlpool motion.

Remember that more jets don’t always mean better performance. Type and placement varies widely and these factors are just a matter of preference, so choose what you would enjoy most.

American Spas 5 Person Rotomold Lounger Spa


The hot tub’s exterior, which is called a cabinet, is an important feature both for general appearance and because it protects the hot tub from the elements. Hot tub cabinets come in a range of designs from wood or faux wood panels to plastic and polyethylene. All are designed to be durable options for outdoor use, so select the one that fits best with your space.

The interior of a spa is typically made of acrylic, which comes in a range of different colors. Popular options include grey, blue, or black, pearlescent hues, imitation marble patterns, and speckled designs. Inflatable hot tub options use more flexible materials and may feature interiors made of PVC fabric, vinyl or rubber instead.



Extras & Accessories

Aside from the core features of your spa, you may also want a few extra built-in perks. Many hot tubs come with features such as color changing lights, integrated stereos, or waterfalls and fountains to aid in water recirculation. All of these can add further relaxing elements to help you get the most out of your hot tub.

Additionally, you will also need a few accessories to keep your hot tub clean, safe and running smoothly. Be sure to purchase a hot tub cover to keep the water free of debris such as leaves or bugs and, if there are any children in your home, consider a child safety lock. It is also helpful to stock up on supplies such as chlorine, bromine or other water purifying additives to keep the water in good shape and ready for use.


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