What is a hot tub and should I buy one? (Considerations, costs, features, and more)

Hot tubs are great for relaxing and de-stressing with family and friends. If you are thinking of purchasing a hot tub, this article will help you understand if it is worth buying.

what is a hot tub hero

What is a hot tub?

Hot tubs (or spa pools as they’re known in Australia and New Zealand) are large tubs filled with heated water for relaxation and hydrotherapy.

Traditional hot tubs have a circular or barrel shape. They are often made of panelled timber with metal bands and are usually heated using electricity, wood, natural gas, and sometimes solar power.

Traditional hot tubs

The concept of hydrotherapy spa pools started when Roy Jacuzzi’s great-uncle decided to put an aerating pump in a bathtub to provide hydrotherapy treatment for his son's rheumatoid arthritis in 1948.

Roy developed his great uncle’s idea and created the world's first integrated jet whirlpool bath. The first Jacuzzi® hot tub was sold to the public in 1968.

jetted hot tub

Many have found that hot tubs promote wellness and relaxation. Because of the popularity of hot tubs, manufacturers continue to develop unique features that enhance user experience.

These features include energy efficiency, automatic water care, ergonomic seating, massage options, personalised jets, aromatherapy, chromotherapy, speakers, wi-fi, and more.

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What are the different types of hot tubs?

As hot tubs continue to evolve, there are endless options within hot tubs today. If you’re thinking of buying a hot tub and wondering what type best fits your needs, you will find this list helpful.

Rotomoulded hot tubs

Rotomoulded plastic hot tubs are made of a single piece of polymer and manufactured using rotational moulding.

Most rotomoulded hot tubs are built with advanced features such as sculpted seats, hydrotherapy jets, LED lighting, energy efficiency, automatic water care, and more. This type of hot tub is lightweight and can be highly durable.

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Acrylic spa shell

Acrylic hot tubs

Acrylic hot tubs have cast acrylic shells. They are usually supported by timber with injection-moulded plastic or steel frames. Similar to rotomoulded plastic hot tubs, this type of hot tub is built with advanced features.

Acrylic is considered the far superior material for spa shells, but it’s important to understand that not all acrylic hot tubs are created equal. The acrylic sheets made in the United States are considered to be the best for use in spa shells.

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wooden hot tub

Wooden hot tubs

Wooden hot tubs are traditional hot tubs often made of redwood or cedar. As mentioned above, wooden hot tubs are typically heated using electricity, wood, natural gas, or solar power.

Although these types of hot tubs peaked in popularity in the 1970s, they are still a great choice if a simple and natural soak is what you’re after.

Please note that some hot tubs use wood-panelled exteriors but have plastic or stainless steel shells.

You can learn more about wooden hot tubs including the pros and cons in our detailed article.

Stainless hot tub

Stainless steel hot tubs

Similar to acrylic and rotomoulded hot tubs, stainless steel hot tubs can come with built-in advanced features. Stainless steel hot tubs can be very sturdy and have an elegant look.

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Concrete hot tub

Cement or concrete hot tubs

Cement or concrete hot tubs can either be in-ground or above-ground, just like the traditional swimming pools. These types of hot tubs are highly customisable and are usually built with air and water jets, sometimes lighting, and a heater.

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Fibreglass hot tub

Fibreglass hot tub

Fibreglass hot tub is made of glass-reinforced polyester with curved benches and may include the same advanced features as stainless steel, acrylic, and rotomoulded hot tubs.

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Inflatable spa

Inflatable hot tubs

Inflatable hot tubs can be made from several materials including polyester mesh, PVC (polyvinyl chloride which is a synthetic thermoplastic).

Inflatable hot tubs are air-filled pools and usually have a round, square, or octagonal shape. This type of hot tub is typically for temporary use.

Learn more about inflatable hot tubs in our detailed article.

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What is important when buying a hot tub?

When purchasing a hot tub, knowing what features to look for is vital. With all the hot tub or spa pool features today, first-time buyers may find this task challenging. We’ve listed the top 9 features you should look for in a spa to help you with your buying journey.

  1. An automated sanitising system - To keep the spa's water clear and clean, water care is necessary for all spas. An automatic sanitising system will help reduce water care, so you can sit back and relax.**

  2. Good levels of insulation - For the bathers to have a soothing hydromassage experience, spa water must be heated. That’s why most of the cost of running a spa pool is heating the spa’s water. To save on running costs, a spa with good levels of insulation that retains the majority of the heat in the spa is important. Did you know that some people run their spas cold in the summer? Again insulation is important to keep the ambient temperature from increasing the water temperatures.

  3. A heavy-duty cover with tapered sides - Apart from insulation, the spa cover is another big factor in maintaining the heat inside your spa. Heat escapes from spas by convection or evaporation, a heavy-duty, well-insulated lid prevents evaporation and lowers running costs.

  4. A jet set designed for hydrotherapy - For better massage and muscle relaxation, choosing a spa with strategically placed jets is essential. Jet placement and design are more important than the number of jets for a great hydrotherapy experience.

  5. A circulation pump - circulation pumps are low-flow pumps that continuously or during programmed times circulate the water. Some hot tubs are fitted with a 2-speed pump, which it can cost more to run. If you want a more energy-efficient, much quieter, and cheaper to run, a circulation pump would be the right choice.

  6. A treated timber or injection-moulded plastic frame - The material used in a spa frame has a big impact on how long the spa will last. Untreated and light timber frames can rot and attract mould and vermin. Heavy-duty treated timber is a great option for spa framing as it has none of the issues of untreated timber. Injection-moulded plastic, on the other hand, is what we consider the best system of framing available. It is impervious to rot, mildew, or vermin damage. Both treated timber and injection-moulded plastic frame can last the lifetime of your spa without any problems.

  7. US-made acrylic shell - Most parts of a spa can be replaced, but not its shell. So choosing the most robust shell material is vital. US-made acrylic shells are durable, energy-efficient, and aesthetic.

  8. A recognised brand of control system (with wireless technology)- Another important feature to look for in a spa is its control system. The most common control systems are SpaNet®, Balboa®, Gecko®, and HotSpring®. Replacement parts for control systems can be hard to find, choosing a well-known brand means it's often easier to find replacement parts if anything goes wrong.

  9. Decent warranties and after-sales service - This isn’t a feature but we know that decent warranties and after-sales service are critical areas to consider when buying a spa. Reliable retailers and manufacturers offer strong warranties and after-sales support.

As a minimum you should expect:

  • Jets: 2-5 years warranty
  • Plumbing and heater: 2-5 years warranty
  • Pump and equipment: 2-5 years warranty
  • Acrylic surface: 5-8 years warranty
  • Shell structure: 8-10 years warranty
  • Frame: 10+ years warranty
  • A 60-day money-back guarantee

Click the button below to learn more about these features and why they are important.

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Why buy a hot tub?

Hot tubs are popular for a reason, people love to have a little luxury at home, to spend time with loved ones, or simply enjoy winding down at the end of the day.

Hot tubs create a nice and relaxing ambience where your family will love to gather and create great memories

Although most people dream to have a hot tub of their own, it is important to know if it is beneficial to you and your family.

There are many reasons to invest in a hot tub, here are some to name a few:

  • It can be good for your health
  • It brings the family together
  • Spend quality time with your significant other
  • You can use them all year round
  • Hot tubs are portable and suit small spaces
  • It adds value to your home

Learn more about the pros and cons of owning a hot tub in our detailed article.

In Summary

Soaking in a hot tub is one of the most rewarding ways to wind down after a busy day. With all the great benefits hot tubs provide, many people see them as worthwhile or a good investment.

We hope this article helps you understand how a hot tub can benefit your overall wellness and if it’s worth buying one.

There are endless options within hot tubs today. If you need professional advice, we are always here to help!

You may also download our Ultimate Buyer’s Guide for free!

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The following registered trademarks are owned by companies not affiliated in any way with Spa World™ or Vortex Leisure Pty Ltd – the parent company of Spa World Ltd:

Hot Spring® Spas trademark is owned by Watkins Manufacturing Corporation (Watkins). Balboa trademark is owned by Balboa Water Group. Bullfrog® trademark is owned by Bullfrog International, LC. Gecko® trademark is owned by Gecko Alliance Group

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