Choosing The Right Hot Tub

There are two types of hot tubs: 

1. A Factory Built Portable Self-Contained Hot Tub

A self-contained hot tub is as it denotes, a product that has been pre-built by the manufacturer, is self-contained meaning it includes all of the equipment required for operational use (pumps, heaters, filter, etc), and requires no plumbing on site when it is delivered to your home. The only attachment to the home is an electrical connection. More than 90 percent of the hot tubs sold today require a 220-volt hookup due to the amount of amperage draw by the spa’s equipment (pumps, heater, blower, etc). A Factory Built Portable Electric Hot Tub is typically installed above ground and requires a flat level surface that is solid and will not move over time. Installations into a deck or patio are not uncommon but it is recommended that these types of installations allow for easy access to repaire or replace hot tub components within the cabinet. It is strongly encourage to make certain which ever hot tub of this type that you purchase meets UL 1563 standards as a fully constructed product. Do not be fooled by those that claim that it is adequate if the individual components meet UL standards and not the fully constructed product.

2. Inground Spa

An inground spa is generally a pre-plumbed shell or a gunite formed structure that has external pump, heater and filter components. Whereas most Portable Factory Built Hot Tubs use an electric heater and a cartridge filter, an Inground Spa may use electric, gas, solar, heaters and variety of filtration systems. This type of a product requires an installation to be done on site and it is recommended to use an experienced contractor.

An in-depth look at the hot tub

Also known as a portable residential spa, a hot tub is a product intended for the immersion of persons in temperature-controlled water circulated in a closed system, and not intended to be drained and filled with each use. A spa usually includes a filter, a heater (electric, solar, or gas), a pump or pumps, and a control, and can also include other equipment such as lights, blowers and water sanitizing equipment. They can be "self-contained" or "non self-contained."

A "self-contained hot tub" (or spa) is a factory built spa in which all control, water heating and water circulating equipment is an integral part of the product. Self-contained spas can be permanently wired or cord connected.

A “non self contained hot tub” (or spa) is a factory built spa in which the water heating and circulating equipment is not an integral part of the product. Non-self-contained spas can employ separate components such as an individual filter, pump, heater and controls, or they can employ assembled combinations of various components.

Exercise Hot Tub or Spa aka Swim Spa 

Variants of a hot tub or spa in which the design and construction includes specific features and equipment to produce a water flow intended to allow recreational physical activity including, but not limited to, swimming in place. Exercise spas may include peripheral jetted seats intended for water therapy, heater, circulation and filtration system, or may be a separate distinct portion of a combination spa/exercise spa and may have separate controls. These aquatic vessels are of a design and size such that it has an unobstructed volume of water large enough to allow a full grown man to swim or exercise in place. Once again, they can be “self contained” or “non self contained.”

  • A "self contacted exercise hot tub" (or spa) is a factory built spa in which all control, water heating and water circulating equipment is an integral part of the product. Self-contained spas can be permanently wired or cord connected.
  • A "non self contained exercise hot tub" (or spa) is a factory built spa in which the water heating and circulating equipment is not an integral part of the product. Non-self-contained spas can employ separate components such as an individual filter, pump, heater and controls, or they can employ assembled combinations of various components.

Your local APSP member dealer can assist you in determining what your specific needs and uses are in selecting which type of hot tub you desire and should purchase.