We’re often asked. "Which is better HotSpring® or Jacuzzi®?".
It’s fair to say, we know a lot about both brands. We sold and serviced HotSpring® spas at Spa World in Australia (up until July 2020) and currently sell Jacuzzi®.
Because we care about helping our customers make good decisions, we wrote this quick article on the topic.
HotSpring® vs Jacuzzi® which is best?
First up, if you’re looking at premium spas and have narrowed it down to Jacuzzi® or HotSpring® then you’ve already made a great decision!
These are both excellent brands that produce quality spas, with a large range to choose from.
Now comes the hard part. With two great choices – how do you decide which is the best fit for you?
Before we get into the technical details, it helps to know a bit about each brand and where they’ve come from.
Who is Jacuzzi®?
Jacuzzi® has been manufacturing hot tubs since the 1960s and are the inventors of spa pools as we know them. The name Jacuzzi® is now so famous that many people use the brand name generically, instead of “spa” or “hot tub”.
There is no question that Jacuzzi® has a great brand story. The company is named after the Jacuzzi® brothers who invented the first air-jetted spa pool. Before they got into spa pools (or hot tubs as they’re called in the US), the Jacuzzi® brothers were irrigation engineers.
When one of their sons was born with rheumatoid arthritis, they adapted a water pump to be used in bathtubs for hydrotherapy. As the story goes, the wee boy’s symptoms were reduced dramatically and the first air-jetted spa pool was born.
Jacuzzi® is now one of the largest distributors of spa pools worldwide, alongside HotSpring®.
They manufacture a range of mid-market to premium spas and swim spas ranging in price from $13,995 to $35,995. In New Zealand, Jacuzzi® is sold by Spa World™.
Jacuzzi® spas are made in Mexico and its swim spas are made in Canada.
Who is HotSpring®?
HotSpring® Spas is a subsidiary of US-based Watkins Wellness™, the world’s largest manufacturer of spa pools.
Hotspring® were early innovators in the spa industry. In 1978, the company introduced the first fully-insulated hot tub with underwater lighting and top-loading filters. Today, these features are industry standards. In 1984, they launched Moto-Massage®, the world’s first moving hydrotherapy jet.
According to its website, the company now has the largest network of hot tub dealerships in the world, with 50 authorised sales agencies and service locations worldwide - including in New Zealand.
HotSpring® spas are made by Watkins Wellness™ in the US and Mexico. HotSpring® New Zealand is based in Auckland, where it has a warehouse and distribution centre.
HotSpring® doesn’t show prices on its website so it’s difficult to know at a glance how much their spas cost. As mentioned, we used to sell HotSpring® so we have a fair idea how much they cost.
According to our 2019 price sheet, HotSpring® spa prices range from $5k for its entry-level Freeflow® spas to $30k+ for the Highlife® range. Learn more about HotSpring® prices, pros, cons and features in this detailed article.
What’s the difference between a hot tub and a spa?
In short, nothing. Today, the terms hot tub and spa are used interchangeably. They are one and the same.
As mentioned above, Jacuzzi® is called a hot tub in the US but in New Zealand and Australia, they’re generally called spa pools. Some people also use the word ‘Jacuzzi®’ as a generic, household name for hot tubs or spas.
Who owns Jacuzzi®?
Jacuzzi® is owned by Investindustrial™, an Italian private equity firm whose other brands have included Ducatti® and Aston Martin® – giving them some pretty impressive design credentials.
Who owns HotSpring®?
HotSpring® is owned by Watkins Wellness®, which is in turn owned by a private equity firm, MASCO® Corporation – which owns a number of building products’ firms worldwide.
Suffice to stay, both are solid companies with deep pockets for research and development. This is evidenced in the products that they produce.
You can be assured both are very unlikely to disappear leaving you in the lurch with after-sales support, not something that can be said for many smaller players on the market.
What products do HotSpring® and Jacuzzi® make?
Both brands feature a number of distinctly different ranges designed to meet most budgets.
HotSpring® sells around 30 spa models in a variety of sizes and with varying specifications.
Its spas are sold under four brands – the entry-level, rotomolded plastic Freeflow® range; mid-market Limelight® and Hot Spot® range; and premium
Highlife range. HotSpring® also sells swim spas under its Fastlane® brand.
Jacuzzi® matches these ranges with its J-500™, J-400™, J-300™ and J-200™ acrylic shelled line-ups and have just introduced the rotomolded plastic
Dream Maker Spas™ brand to its product range.
The underlying quality of both brands remains consistent across their entire product range.
Although, as you can expect, with both brands you do start to lose some of the features included in their premium models the further down the line you go. See more on ‘features’ below.
The top 7 differences between HotSpring® and Jacuzzi®
As mentioned above, in many ways these two brands are pretty close. But there are 7 important differences between the HotSpring® and Jacuzzi® that you should know about before making a decision on which one to buy.
The top 7 differences between HotSpring® and Jacuzzi®:
- Build quality (pumps, control systems, shell construction and more)
- Water quality and maintenance
- App control and music systems
Once you know more about these differences, you’ll be able to weigh up the pros and cons for yourself and make the best decision based on what’s right for you.
HotSpring® vs Jacuzzi®: Appearance and design
Both Jacuzzi® and HotSpring® are beautifully aesthetically pleasing. But they look quite different and each brand has its own style.
Jacuzzi® tend towards the robust and muscular whilst HotSpring® has become more linear and angular over recent years.
Jacuzzi® designs all its products in-house, drawing on more than 60 years of design pedigree. Their design is timeless. Jacuzzi®, with its attention to ergonomic design, just looks and feels like a high-quality item.
HotSpring®’s design style meanwhile is modern and sleek. It has tended towards outsourced design - including their recent collaboration with BMW® Design Works in California.
We can’t really say which brand makes the best-looking spas - in our opinion, they both make stunning products. It’s really up to you which look suits your style more.
When it comes to the interior design – we’d have to give Jacuzzi® the edge.
With their more curvy and organic internal lines, adjustable headrests, higher sides for leaning back - Jacuzzi® offer next-level comfort and personalisation. They just seem to mould to your body in a way that HotSpring®'s angular aesthetic can’t match.
In saying this – bear in mind that when you’re in the spa, you’ll be about 20 percent of your normal body weight so we recommend doing a ‘wet test’ with both brands before forming an opinion on comfort.
When it comes to lighting and water features, both brands are amongst the best in the market. However, while they both offer an array of LED lighting and water features, we think HotSpring® is slightly ahead in this area.
One area Jacuzzi® would be tough to beat though, are the waterfalls in its high-backed J-400™ J-500™ series. These are absolutely stunning when lit up at night and provide a great sensation when cascading over your shoulders.
Jacuzzi® vs HotSpring®: Jets and hydrotherapy
Without a doubt, the thing that sets premium spas apart from other lower-priced products is the quality of hydrotherapy. This alone, in our view, justifies the extra investment.
If massage, muscle relaxation and relief from aches and pains are a priority for you, then you are looking at the right spa brands. With decades of experience and large R&D budgets, both HotSpring® and Jacuzzi® offer excellent levels of hydrotherapy performance – with a few differences.
HotSpring® has the Moto-Massage® system – the world’s first moving hydrotherapy jet, which it launched in 1984. This unique, patented jet system sweeps a powerful jet of water up and down your back, giving the closest thing to a professional massage of any jet on the market.
HotSpring® now includes a ‘Moto-Massage® seat’ across much of their line up. Its premium Highlife® range has two Moto-Massage® seats, while the entry-level Hot Spot® range has one.
While it is an excellent hydrotherapy system, having only one or two ‘Moto-Massage® seats’ in a spa can be frustrating, especially if you’re the one missing out!
Jacuzzi®, on the other hand, has up to 11 different styles of jets in its spas. In our experience, the hydrotherapy performance of Jacuzzi® is exceptional – especially in the J-400™ and J-500™ series. Their J-300™, J-400™ and J-500™ series still feature the MX jet, inspired by the original 1960’s design.
Like HotSpring®, all Jacuzzi® jets are adjustable via the jet faces, pressure diverters and airflow controls, and its spinning jets are bearingless.
HotSpring® also features bearingless jets across the whole range. Bearingless jets ensure the spinning massage jets keep spinning for many years – unlike the jets with bearings that you'll find on many lower-priced spas. This is actually something to pay attention to when shopping for a spa as a spinning massage jet that doesn’t spin, is just plain annoying.
One hydrotherapy feature Jacuzzi® offers that we absolutely love is the hydrotherapy foot dome in its no recliner models. HotSpring® offer smaller foot domes in two models of their Limelight® series, but not in the top of the line HighLife® models.
Each brand features a wide variety of jets that are specially designed and positioned for the best effect on the respective part of the body. This is something that a lot of manufacturers with less experience struggle with, with many selecting and positioning jets for aesthetic appeal rather than hydrotherapy efficacy.
In summary, as we mentioned above, either brand will give you a high-quality hydrotherapy experience.
If we had to pick a winner, we think Jacuzzi® has the edge here. It doesn’t have the ‘Moto-Massage® seat’ but it has the best all-round jet set and better overall hydrotherapy. You get a better collective massage experience, with each seat optimised for hydrotherapy and every seat in the spa having access to the same range and quality of jets. It certainly helps with family harmony when every seat’s a winner!
To decide between the two, our best advice is, try before you buy and you may find you have a personal preference.
Jacuzzi® vs HotSpring®: Build quality
As discussed, both brands offer very high levels of quality backed by industry-leading warranties. Given the size of both companies, you can be assured that warranty support will be excellent if anything did go wrong.
When comparing the build quality of HotSpring® and Jacuzzi® – there are a number of things to consider. We have highlighted below what we think are the most important areas to focus on.
HotSpring® uses ABS backed acrylic in the shell construction of their Highlife® range. This is coloured acrylic, with tough ABS plastic bonded to the back of it.
It leads to a virtually zero chance of ‘delamination’ – something that can often occur in lower-priced spas on the market.
Jacuzzi® use a more conventional, fibreglass backed acrylic shell construction in all their spas, while HotSpring® use it in their Limelight® and Hotspot® range. Fibreglass is sprayed onto the back of the coloured acrylic shell to provide the strength required to contain over a tonne of water.
While, if not applied properly fibreglass backing has been known to delaminate – you can be confident that this is extremely unlikely with either of these premium products.
It’s worth noting that while HotSpring® claims the ABS backed acrylic system is superior to the fibreglass method, the shell warranty is slightly less than most other quality manufacturers.
When it comes to colours there is a lot of choice and you can be confident of finding a tone that suits your tastes.
HotSpring® and Jacuzzi® offer a wide range of shell and cabinet colours and each has a colour configurator on their website to help with decision-making.
HotSpring® use injection-moulded frame technology on the Highlife® range and we regard this system as the best system of framing available.
Other brands that use injection moulded plastic framing include Vortex®, Signature® and Bullfrog®.
Jacuzzi® use timber in all its ranges, while HotSpring® uses timber frames in their Limelight® and Hotspot® range. However, unlike some cheaper spas on the market, these frames are robust and the timber is well treated.
The base pan
The base pan is what your spa sits on, and it’s very important to get it right.
When it's done well, the base pan prevents water egress during stormy weather, which can damage the pumps and equipment.
Both HotSpring® and Jacuzzi® feature high-sided formed base pans at the premium end of the lineup, however, they revert to shallower base pans in the entry-level lines.
HotSpring® and Jacuzzi® use LX® jet pumps. LX® is the largest pump manufacturer in the world and make a good product.
HotSpring® use a Laing® 24-hour circulation pump whilst Jacuzzi® use a programmable, higher flow LX® circulation pump.
Both are good systems and similar pumps are found in most good quality spas on the market.
HotSpring® spas feature their proprietary ‘no-fault’ heater system, which after many ‘faults’ early in its history is now a very robust system.
Jacuzzi® uses a glass-lined heater chamber with a titanium element which is also extremely robust and reliable.
Both brands have high-quality control systems.
HotSpring® manufactures theirs in-house, while the Jacuzzi® control systems are made under license by Balboa® – the world’s largest manufacturer of spa control systems.
Both brands offer full colour, touch screen control pads in their higher-end products. HotSpring® has the edge on touchpad user-experience while the Jacuzzi® Smart Tub™ app control is superior. Learn more below.
Both brands offer high quality insulating covers as standard.
Jacuzzi® has recently introduced a very good Prolast™ cover which uses an acrylic canvas skin as opposed to the industry standard vinyl. It is also lighter than many options on the market.
When it comes to spa covers, our advice would be to always opt for a ‘cover lifter’ which makes taking the cover on and off your spa a one-handed exercise.
Moreover, they hold the cover-up of the ground preventing damage and extending the life of the cover. There are some great quality cover lifters at Spa Store.
Jacuzzi® vs HotSpring®: Running costs
The type and quality of insulation used in a spa is a big factor in the running costs.
Insulation is what keeps the water in your spa hot. The better the insulation, the lower the running costs. Learn more about spa pool running costs.
We recommend full-foam insulation as the best spa pool insulation for energy efficiency. Jacuzzi® has full foam insulation across its full range.
HotSpring® only features full foaming on their premium Highlife® range. Its Limelight® and Hot Spot® collections offer Fibercor™ insulation and, judging by the running costs quoted on their website, this seems to be a pretty good system.
In summary, either brand will have low running costs compared with other choices on the market, and as retailers of both brands, we've never had complaints in this area.
Jacuzzi® vs HotSpring®: Power supply
All Jacuzzi® spas require a dedicated power connection to the home (15amp for single pump spas, 20/32amp for double pump spas), while most HotSpring® single pump models can be plugged into a standard 10amp power outlet.
This may seem like a great feature but the way HotSpring® achieves this is by using a very small output heater.
Under most circumstances, due to HotSpring®’s superior insulation, this shouldn’t be a problem. However, we have seen examples of the smaller heater size not working effectively in cold weather conditions.
Our advice would be to invest in a dedicated power supply to your spa. Not only is this safer (as the dedicated power supply will have an isolation switch) but it means that your spa can be configured to run the heater as well as the jet pumps – something not possible with a plugin system. This will allow the spa to hold its heat better while in use.
Jacuzzi® vs HotSpring®: Water quality and maintenance
This is one area where the two brands are quite different.
HotSpring® has its ‘Freshwater®’ salt water chlorination system, and ‘no-bypass’ filtration.
Jacuzzi® has its ClearRay® water steriliser with UV-C technology, coupled with its 4-stage ProClarity® filtration system. Both are excellent systems, for different reasons – as we explain below.
HotSpring® Highlife spas feature ‘Freshwater’ automatic sanitising systems as standard. This is an advanced salt water chlorination system, similar to that found in many swimming pools. It is relatively autonomous and does a great job of sanitising the water.
However, there are two important factors you should know about the Freshwater® system.
The first is that it's not chlorine-free. It is a system that turns salt (NaCl) into chlorine (Cl). If you wish to own a chlorine-free spa, then there are other options available such as hydrogen peroxide-based sanitisers.
The second is that the Freshwater® system is not totally automatic. The titanium cathodes that turn the salt into Chlorine need to be replaced every four months and, at $130 to $150 each, they are not cheap.
You’ll also need to test the water regularly and adjust the system to avoid over chlorination, which can damage the spa.
HotSpring® also uses proprietary Tri-X™ filters which are long-lasting and machine washable. These filters are expensive though. A quick search online shows they are around $100 each and you’ll need to replace five of them.
HotSpring® claims its Highlife® range is ‘bypass-free’. This means that all of the water goes through the filters and none goes through the filter bypass vents in the footwell of the spa. HotSpring® claims that this gives cleaner water. In our experience, we've seen little evidence of this being the case.
HotSpring® uses a ‘24-hour’ low flow circulation pump which is both energy-efficient and silent.
In contrast, Jacuzzi® uses a UV water sterilization system with an optional Ozone water clarification system. This is coupled with a combination of pleated filters and a fine micron spun polyester ‘depth’ filter. This article goes into more detail about ozone and UV systems for spas.
While this set up gives excellent levels of automatic sterilization and filtration, you will still have to add some chemical sanitiser.
You can use a chlorine-based system or a chlorine-free hydrogen peroxide-based regime. Either way, you will have to add sanitiser a few times a week. In our experience, this takes three minutes.
Jacuzzi® also uses a higher flow circulation pump that can be programmed to run for different durations. While this gives you the ability to reduce the run time if the spa is not in use, we have found it to be noisier than HotSpring®’s pump system. That said, you’d have to be standing next to the spa to actually hear it.
Our view is that while both companies get very passionate about their respective water maintenance systems, both are excellent and for the most part, as good as each other.
Jacuzzi® vs HotSpring®: App control and music systems
Jacuzzi® and HotSpring® have app-based controls, enabling you to programme your spa from wherever you are. of your spa. Very useful if you're out of town or want the spa set to perfection as you walk in the door!
Both systems offer a wide range of control over the spa’s features, but Jacuzzi®’s SmartTub™ has one key (and exclusive) feature we think sets it apart.
Rather than working through your home's WiFi system, as all other spa apps do, the Smart Tub™ system works via the cellular network. This is particularly useful if your spa is going to be installed at a distance from the house where WiFi reception may not be great.
We have a lot of experience with setting up WiFi spa apps and we’ve found SmartTub™ to be the easiest by far. If you have cellular coverage your app will connect.
A second feature we like about the Jacuzzi® app is its electricity usage monitoring system, which lets you keep an eye on running costs straight from your smartphone.
Both brands offer stereo systems. We've never been a fan of stereo systems in spas. In our experience, they are problematic from a reliability perspective and also don’t offer great value for money.
Both systems cost in excess of $2000 and you'll get better sound from a good quality, all-weather Bluetooth® portable speaker system.
Conclusion: Is HotSpring® or Jacuzzi® the best premium spa to buy?
When it comes to which spa is better, there is no right or wrong answer. As you can see, each of them has its own unique features and weaknesses.
They are both high-quality brands. It really comes down to what you are looking for in a spa and ultimately, your personal preference in two main areas – appearance and comfort.
Firstly, appearance. Which looks best? Jacuzzi® or HotSpring®? It’s entirely up to you. Both are very attractive products but for different reasons.
Ask yourself, “If I have to stare at this in my backyard for the next 20 years, which do I prefer?”.
Second, which feels more comfortable to you and which hydrotherapy do you find most enjoyable and effective?
The only way to find out is to jump in and try them for yourself. Yes, that means getting wet! Most Spa World stores have dark rooms away from the main area where you can ‘wet test’ the spa you're interested in.
Whichever you choose, Jacuzzi® or HotSpring®, you're going to be getting a very high-quality spa pool that should give you many years of enjoyment.
We hope this article has helped you in your decision making, and of course, we invite you to try out a Jacuzzi in any of our showrooms as you seek to find the perfect spa for you.
In this article, we’ve used brand names not affiliated with Spa World™ or Vortex Leisure Pty Ltd, the parent company of Spa World™.
All information, including pricing and product details, was accurate at the time of writing (23 July 2020) and may change without notice.
The following registered trademarks are owned by companies not affiliated in any way with Spa World™ or Vortex Leisure Pty Ltd:
Bullfrog® trademark is owned by Bullfrog International, LC
Signature® Spas trademark is owned by Spa Industries Pty Ltd (SCS).
HotSpring® Spas trademark is owned by Watkins Manufacturing Corporation (Watkins).
BMW® Designworks trademark is owned by BMW Group
Vortex® Spas, Fisher™ Spas and Spa World® are trademarks owned by Vortex Leisure Pty Ltd.
The Jacuuzzi® brand is owned by Jacuzzi Inc. and exclusively licensed for use to Spa World™ in Australia and New Zealand.