Most hot tubs come with a set of standard features, but if you are new to hot tubs you may not know what those features are or what they are for. Hot tub anatomy is pretty simple. Below, we've listed and described different parts of the hot tub. Once you are familiar with these, you can better understand what it is you are looking for when shopping for a tub, or you can make better use of your existing tub.
Jets are what set hot tubs apart from bathtubs and swimming pools. They truly make the hot tub a hot tub. Jets channel and propel water to soothe muscles, such as in the neck or lower back. Hot tubs come with their jets positioned in a variety of ways depending on the manufacturer and the model of the tub. With jets, more isn't necessarily better. Consider jet placement and your own preferences. There are also different types of jets. Some tubs, such as the Alpine Portable Inflatable, has air-only jets. Other tubs, such as this BellaGrande, has hydrotherapy jets. If you can, test drive a few different types of tubs until you get a feel for what you like.
A range of tub sizes exists on the market today, from two-person tubs like this Oval Airispa to 9-person tubs like the BellaMassimo SL. As you might have guessed, the bigger the tub the higher the cost. Maintenance costs, as well, will be higher on bigger tubs. Determine how many people will usually be using the hot tub to decide how big a tub to buy. Consider whether you host parties or have friends over to also use the tub. Remember, a larger size doesn't always mean it can accommodate more people: this Swim Spa is 16 feet long, but only designed for 3 people at a time.
Related to the size of the tub is the number and arrangement of seats within the tub. Some tubs come with a simple plastic bench to sit on, while others offer bucket or lounge-style seating like this Paradise tub. Tubs like the Spa2Go don't technically have any seating at all; the bottom is cushioned to provide what is called "open seating". Others, like this BellaGrande, have a dual-end lounger. The size of the tub will limit the amount and type of seats it has. Again, it is worth trying out different types of tubs to determine what you'll like and use most.
The cabinet is the exterior of the hot tub. Portable and inflatable tubs don't have a cabinet. Nor do in-ground, permanent tubs. Your typical hot tub does, however, and the cabinet can be made in a variety of materials, from a plastic veneer to a wood finish. Many models allow you to select a color and style of cabinet to suit your home. For example, this Utopia model has a synthetic cabinet available in Espresso or Coastal Grey. Other models may have more choices available.
The shell is the interior of the tub that holds the water. Just like the cabinet, the shell can be made from many materials from plastic to granite to marble. What you select is based on your budget and the model of the tub. Acrylic is by far the most common material for a shell, as it is affordable and can be offered in a variety of colors. The Free Spirit Lounger, for example, has an acrylic shell with six color choices.
All hot tubs come with a number of parts that allow them to operate properly. Some of these parts include the pump motor, heater, insulation, and filter. The portable and inflatable tubs tend to have fewer working parts, and the larger and more permanent tubs tend to have more. You will want to consider the warranty on your tub's working parts. Keep in mind that the higher the quality of the tub's water heater, and the more insulation used, the more likely your tub is to maintain a constant temperature. Additionally, consider how much energy the tub will use while in operation--some manufacturers offer especially energy-efficient parts or models. To get a good idea of the different parts and what they do, check out this super cool interactive spa simulator.
A cover is essential to keep the water in your hot tub clean and chemically balanced. Most distributors include a cover with the tub. However, there is sometimes an additional charge for one. If you have young children or pets who live in or visit your home, a hot tub cover should be considered as a required safety feature.
Bells and Whistles
The above features are all considered "standard" and, to varying degrees, essential. For the more adventurous buyer, however, there are additional features that can be included with any hot tub purchase.
Built-in stereo and speakers
With a built-in stereo and speakers, you do not have to worry about toting a stereo back and forth or wiring outdoor speakers. A built-in stereo is also designed for use with water, so it is much safer than providing your own stereo. Tubs like the Free Spirit Lounger come with optional stereos housed in the cabinet for safety and convenience.
Some tub models have a television that can retract into the tub's wall when not in use. These models usually also include a stereo and speakers and are often available with floating, waterproof remotes. As with the stereo, a built-in television is much safer than rigging up something on your own, as it is designed for use in the water. Tubs like the BellaGrande SLT come with a television, stereo, speakers, and dvd player. It can also access cable and satellite television.
This luxury feature provides tranquil sounds and lights as part of your hot tub experience. The BellaGrande SLT linked above is one such tub that offers this decadent feature.
Whether you prefer a minimalist tub experience or want all the bells and whistles, make sure you choose a tub that best suits your preferences and budget. We're always available via email or phone if you need any help selecting a hot tub model. Happy soaking!