What sort of hot tubs are there

Hot tub or spa?

Lots of people use the words ‘hot tub’ and ‘spa’ interchangeably but historically they really describe two different types of product.

A hot tub is a wooden soaking tub with simple bench seating and no jets or aeration. They became popular in California in the ‘60’s and were very often just an old wine barrel with a fire heating the water. It’s easy to bring to mind an image of such a tub on a deck looking out over the Napa valley as the sun sets on the horizon.

A spa, on the other hand, can be made from a range of synthetic materials and incorporates jets, blowers, perhaps lighting or other technologies. The spa is cast or moulded in such a way that there is a range of seating options and the water is generally heated electrically.

They both have their benefits; they are both wonderful places to relax, they will both soak away your aches and pains – with or without bubbles.

So what’s in a name?

The basic types of hot tub – or spa if you prefer – are; above ground acrylic spas, wooden hot tubs and in-ground spas.

The above ground, acrylic spa is by far the most popular and what most people have in mind when they think of a tub or spa. They vary in size from a small, two-person tub to one that might seat 10 people or more.These are the sort of spas that Sundance make.

They need a solid base to sit on, perhaps a concrete slab or some very strong decking. In theory, they are portable as they are a self-contained unit that just needs to be plumbed and electrically wired in but even when empty they are very heavy. Perhaps ‘portable’ in the sense that if you were moving home you could take your spa with you but you would almost certainly need lifting equipment or a rugby team.

Above ground spas have all spa components built into the unit, including the heater and filtration system, which are then surrounded by a wood or synthetic cabinet.

They might have massage seats, coloured lighting, massage or whirlpool jets or aeration. When you start to include pillows, audio systems, shell, cabinet and cover colours and finishes, the list of options begins to look almost endless

Wooden hut tubs are generally made of cedar, redwood or teak. Although they are in the same sort of price range as an above ground spa they do require more work to keep them in good condition; they have to be drained and dried on a regular basis so that the wood can be re-stained.

Wooden hot tubs are really just for soaking in so they don’t have the jets and bubbles that people associate with a spa. However they are often much deeper than a normal spa and their natural, simple style means that they might suit some environments better. They have a more eco-friendly and rustic appeal to them.

The water in a hot tub can be heated in a number of ways as the heater itself is outside the structure of the tub. You can even have the water heated by a wood fire.

At the top end of the price range, you can have an in-ground spa.

In the past, in-ground spas were made of concrete and often tiled but increasingly these days the process involves sinking an acrylic shell so that the water surface is at ground level. These spas can have all the features and options of an above ground acrylic spa and, of course, have one or two additional benefits.

The most common reason that someone would choose an in-ground spa is because it looks so opulent. They also have better insulation and are obviously rock-solid. As part of a pool and spa complex they are the height of luxury and as they are a permanent installation they will add to the value of a property.

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