Hot Tubs, Spas, and Jacuzzis

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Hot Tubs, Spas, and Jacuzzis
Article Excerpt

What's the difference between a hot tub, spa, and Jacuzzi? Let's clarify the confusing venn diagram of these three.

You have many options when it comes to fun home improvements. One popular choice is to add a hot tub, spa, or Jacuzzi. But wait, What’s the difference between the three? Aren’t they all basically tiny pools full of hot water? Well yes, but also no. Read on to learn how hot tubs, spas, and Jacuzzis are similar and different.

What Jacuzzis, hot tubs, and spas have in common.

Hot tubs, spas, and Jacuzzis share one main feature: hot water. There might be bubbles or water jets, or the water might be still. In any case, it’s going to be hot.

Which term you use may depend on several factors, including location, brand name, and features. The intended use, such as recreation, rehabilitation after an injury, or pain relief, may also be relevant. Chances are, though, that you can use any of the three terms in casual conversation and people will know what you mean.

How Jacuzzis, hot tubs, and spas can be different.

Now that hot water is out of the way, we can discuss how hot tubs, spas, and Jacuzzis can be different. “Hot tub” is probably the most generic of the three terms. “Jacuzzi” is definitely the least generic, considering that it’s a registered trademark of a private company known as Jacuzzi.

Hot Tubs

A hot tub is almost any artificial tub that contains hot water. We say “artificial” just to distinguish hot tubs from hot springs, which provide a similar experience through natural means. Hot tubs are usually large enough to accommodate multiple people at once.

The term “hot tub” can specifically refer to a standalone feature with an acrylic shell holding the water. A frame made of wood or brick holds the shell in place. It has its own plumbing, drainage, and control system. It could be affixed to the ground, or it could be portable. It might have water jets or bubblers, or it could simply provide a place to sit and relax in hot water.

Hot tubs can serve multiple purposes. People may have them in their homes for recreational use. They may also be useful in helping people recover from injuries and providing pain relief for people with chronic conditions like arthritis.

hot tub on a deck overlooking mountainous sunset


The term “spa” has many uses, ranging from a hot tub to an entire business model. A spa may also be used to loosely describe a sauna, which is a steamy room you sit in to relax your muscles and sweat toxins out. A spa can be similar to a hot tub in both form and function. Spas frequently have jets that create bubbles or churn the water. They may have molded seating to make them more comfortable. They can be for recreational or therapeutic use.

Spas can be freestanding structures, much like the above description of hot tubs. They can also be attached to a swimming pool. In that case, instead of an above-ground acrylic shell, the spa would be in-ground and made from the same material as the pool.

outdoor swimming pool and spa


“Jacuzzi” is the most specific term of the three, since it refers to a trademarked brand name. A family of Italian immigrants formed Jacuzzi Brothers Incorporated in 1915. The business started out making airplane propellors used during World War I. When one of the brothers died in a plane crash in the 1920s, though, the company switched its attention to the design and production of water pumps.

The modern Jacuzzi began to take shape in 1949 when a doctor diagnosed Candido Jacuzzi’s son with rheumatoid arthritis and recommended hydrotherapy. While this type of treatment was available at large hospitals, the visits were too infrequent to provide much relief. Candido set to developing a pump that could provide the same kind of relief in a tub at home. He received a patent for a submersible pump in 1952. With the help of his nephew, Roy Jacuzzi, he obtained a patent for a bathtub with water jets in 1968. This type of tub is now commonly known simply as a Jacuzzi.

Water jets, therefore, are a key feature of a Jacuzzi. The company makes bathtubs and hot tubs that use its patented pump and water jet systems. The term “Jacuzzi” has also come to mean more than just the products of that company, much like “Kleenex” and, in some parts of Texas, “Coke.” A product cannot bear the name Jacuzzi, though, unless it comes from the actual Jacuzzi company.

Jacuzzi Tub in a bathroom

Finance your home improvements!

There are simple loan options that can finance not only the addition of a hot tub, but a complete backyard overhaul. Renovation loans and refinancing are two ways to get started. The mortgage professionals at The Wood Group of Fairway are well versed in helping homeowners fund their dream homes. If you don’t yet own a home, we’d be elated to help you start on your purchase journey as well. We’re here to answer your questions and help find your best loan options!