20+ Different Types Of Hot Tubs, Features, and Shapes (Buying Guide)

Hot tubs are the gold standard of relaxation thanks to air and water jets as well as other upscale features that promote wellness and hydrotherapy.

A lot of people would associate hot tubs to luxury but with all the types of hot tubs out there, you would find why they are good investments year-round. 

If you are currently into the hype of looking for hot tubs, it would be best to know some essentials first. Hence, sift through this list to narrow down the best hot tub type for you and your needs. 

Related: 7 Worst Hot Tub Brands To Avoid

What is a hot tub?

A hot tub is not a modern innovation. It has been around since the ancient civilizations but they looked more of a large bathing vat or a public or indoor large bathtub. It is used for relaxation or socializing. It can be self-contained, above-ground, in-ground, or portable. 

The main function of hot tubs is for deep soaking, relaxation, and hydrotherapy. It comes with different configurations, can have different built-in features depending on your need and can come in different styles, finishes, shapes, and sizes. 

Hot tub vs spa

For the newbie, you would think that hot tubs are more informal and for chilling options only and not for hydrotherapy unlike spas. But to tell you the truth, hot tubs and spas are used interchangeably.

They function similarly and overall refer to in-ground, custom made or portable tubs that are used for wellness and relaxation. 

Compared to traditional bathtubs and jacuzzi, hot tubs and spas have higher capacity for water temperature retention. They also automatically warm up for instant deep soaking and relaxation. They are also often larger than bathtubs and jacuzzi. 

Types of hot tubs

Being indecisive when it comes to hot tubs is normal because well, there are a lot of choices out there. From color, shape, style, and features, here are the major types of hot tubs that you could choose from. 

1. Custom made

If all the other types do not fit well with you, you can never go wrong with custom made hot tubs.

Of course, the price range for this type of hot tub varies in terms of style, size, shape and added features.

The only good thing about this is that you can have the best experience because everything is a personal fit. 

2. Inflatable

This is perhaps the most popular type of hot tub because they are expensive, easy to maintain, and also easy to handle overall. It is lightweight, portable, but durable.

They are usually made of polyester or laminated PVC. They come in different colors, shapes, sizes, and added features.

The best thing about inflatable hot tubs is that they do not require elaborate electric setup. You just need 110V to power it. 

3. In-ground

Source: Houzz

At a standard, in-ground hot tubs are usually placed beside a swimming pool making it look like an extended, external pool.

When it comes to construction, in-ground hot tubs need construction permits. But on the upside, it is highly customizable in terms of style, look, shape, as well as added features. Be prepared for the installation cost and operation costs, however. 

4. Portable

When it comes to variety (specifically in configuration, shape, and size), this type of hot tub is the best choice. Not only are they the most popular type, they are also a prime choice because they are more inexpensive compared to others.

Portable hot tubs emerged as a response to wooden hot tubs. Aside from durability, they are also energy-efficient, can hold a lot of weight, moveable, and easy to store. 

5. Rotationally molded

If you are looking for a hydrotherapy hot tub that is within your budget, this one is the choice for you. Although not as lightweight as inflatable hot tubs, you can still depend on them for durability, form, and function.

They offer contoured seating and they are also easily moveable. Made from single plastic material and a molded shape, you can enjoy the features of this hot tub. 

6. Soft-sided

No, they are not inflatable hot tubs although they are usually mistaken for one. Their similarity is that both are connected to 110V outlets but that is it.

Soft-sided hot tubs are usually sold in fairs, booths, and online stores. They can be an affordable choice but they are not really that comfortable and are not also very durable. 

6. Swim or exercise spa

For a high-end choice which intersects hydrotherapy, deep soaking, and exercise sessions in one hot tub, this is a luxe choice for you to consider. It is large enough to allow swimming and exercise so they need a stable platform where they could be placed semi-permanently. 

Of course, there are downsides to this. One is that it is bulky. They also have greater operating cost because it needs lots of water and other smart features. 

7. Wood fired

If you love a relaxing time in a rustic feel, wood fired hot tubs are the best choice for you. Think about the Asian spa vibe or that wood fire tub in Bali, this moveable tub does not depend on electricity.

However, since the heating source is literally fired wood, the location is an extreme consideration. Other factors to consider are the length of preparation and the inconvenience of unregulated heat, mid-bath. 

8. Wooden

This is the oldest type of hot tub and has been the prototype of modern hot tub designs. They look like large vats, made of repurposed wood barrels. The heat source is the most imperative feature of wooden hot tubs. 

The available options would be gas heaters, electric heaters, or a mix of heating options. Because of their crude design, they are not built for comfort. But you would still find them in Asian inspired spas but often with concrete or tile inlays. 

Features

Of course, just knowing the types of hot tubs is not the end all and be all of choosing the best one for you.

The features of a hot tub sometimes are more essential than the style and overall look of hot tubs. Hence, here are some of the staple features that you should look for in hot tubs. 

1. Cooling capabilities

For a year-round hot tub experience, having a built-in cooler or warmer in the hot tub is a fine feature to pine for. This is a feature that most hot tubs do not have.

So, if this is a priority feature, start looking for hot tubs with this feature right away. However, note that it comes with a cost both upfront and in electric bill. 

2. Cover

At the vantage point of hygiene and maintenance, a hot tub cover is very essential. They prevent insects, leaves, debris and dirt from being thrown in the hot tub.

Aside from that, it also has an effect in maintaining the temperature of the hot tub, especially if the tub itself is not placed under a shady location. 

Through this, you also lessen the operating costs using the hot tub. Some hot tubs come with covers but most often than not they are sold separately. 

3. Drink holders

This feature screams relaxation and chill. The music around is one thing but having drink holders on the tub corners while you are soaked deep in the tub is a whole new hot tub experience.

There are built-in drink holders for permanent hot tubs but the detachable ones may prove to be a more convenient choice. 

4. Lights

There are hot tubs with built-in LED lights, and when they do, it is a different hot tub experience altogether.

Lights have a different therapeutic effect. It is also inviting for kids, giving a nod to more family time while enjoying hydrotherapy.

Having lighted hot tubs are also beneficial in giving ambient lighting in hot tub locations that do not receive lots of light. 

5. Massaging jets

For hydrotherapy and deep relaxation, massaging jets are features that you should not skip. These massaging jets are adjustable so you can experience the effect of warm water at your desired angle.

You can also adjust the speed and flow of the water from the massaging jets for optimum hot tub experience. 

6. Molded seats

Of course, molded seats give you a topnotch hot tub experience. It offers a contoured lounging for superior relaxation and therapeutic effects.

They not only give a comfortable seating but also features enough back support for extended hot tub use. Molded seats can come in pairs or more for a group hydrotherapy. 

7. Pop-up speakers

Nothing beats the experience of listening to your favorite song while soaking deep in the tub. External speakers installed around the hot tub area can be a risk because of the electricity and all. So, having a hot tub with built-in speakers would be a big plus. 

8. Salt water compatible

The health and sanitizing effect of salt water are unmatched compared to chlorine so it would be nice to have hot tubs that are salt water compatible.

On the wellness side, we all know the therapeutic effects of saltwater especially in easing body aches, joint pains and soreness. So, although saltwater compatibility comes with a price, it is always worth the shot. 

9. Water treatment system

When it comes to hydrotherapy, having a water treatment system for the hot tub helps in easing cramps, joint pains and body aches.

Hard water for extended periods could lead to skin problems and dehydrate the skin, paradoxically. Continuous hard water in the hot tub also lessens the longevity of the tub itself so it is best to have a built-in water treatment system in the hot tub. 

10. Waterfalls

If you have the budget to splurge, upgrading your ordinary hot tub into a complete hydro experience by installing waterfalls would be a good investment.

Compared to self-contained hot tubs, you can have a breathtaking view, a soothing water sound and the deep soaking experience of hot tubs. While this is a customized job and involves lots of money, it is definitely worth the expenses. 

Hot tub shapes

The shape of your hot tub is another important consideration before buying one because it is contingent on the space where the hot tub is placed, the number of people it could accommodate at a given time and the type of added features that you could incorporate. 

1. Circular

This one has been a good alternative to the traditional square tubs. Aside from offering cheaper installation, circular hot tubs are also space-saving because of its minimal footprint and are also more portable.

If you are thinking of a more intimate, 1-3-people hot tub, circular ones are the best choice. 

2. Triangular

This is the least common hot tub shape out there because of its asymmetrical fit. The angled look of triangular hot tubs makes it challenging to install one.

However, if you do not have a lot of space or if you want to have a small, corner hot tub, this could be a workable choice. 

3. Square

This one is the traditional shape for hot tubs and their relevance up to now are due to various reasons. For one, they are good in space delineation especially for larger hot tubs which can accommodate more people.

Another upside is their symmetrical fit is apt for any corners of the home. Most of all, they give an organic look to a hot tub area. 

4. Rectangular

If there is a need to stretch out the hot tub space for larger space and more people, a rectangular hot top should be considered.

This is also a beneficial choice for taller individuals who would want to have a deep soak hot tub experience. Self-contained hot tubs can feel cramped-up but rectangular ones would not make you feel that. 

Energy rating or voltage

When it comes to energy-saving, you should know that there are only two energy ratings for hot tubs and it would be the following:

110v

This one is the most uncomplicated voltage because most sockets are 110v and they do not need elaborate electrical work. Hot tubs on 110V are plug and use so it gives you a lot of convenience in terms of installation and instant soaking. 

240v

Opting for a higher voltage is understandable especially for hot tubs with installed special features. 240V hot tubs often require professional installation because there are more electric units to be setup.

The upside of 240V hot tubs is that they warm faster. But do not be consumed by the misnomer that they have more powerful jets because that is far from the truth. 

Occupancy

The number of people a hot tub can accommodate determines if it is for chilling, relaxation or for hydrotherapy. It also has a lot to say about what type to choose and the space where it will be placed. 

2-3 people

Having the lowest operational cost, 2-3-person hot tubs are the most economical choice. They are easy to maintain, easy to manage and easy to clean and would not hoard a lot of floor space. 

4-5 people

Believe it or not but 4-5-person hot tubs is the recommended occupancy for good family or group hot tubs. Of course, they take up more space and are not the most cost-efficient hot tub option. It also takes time for the water to warm up because it is larger. 

6-7 people

This one is already considered as a generous occupancy for jacuzzi parties and large households.

If you are eyeing for this hot tub occupancy, you need to dedicate ample space for the hot tub. However, you have to prepare for high operational costs especially in water requirements and power consumption. 

8+ people

As you might have noticed, the larger the hot tub, the more money is needed for upfront costs, installation, and maintenance. If you have a large household, this is a substantial choice. But if you are only eyeing for the added space, it is very impractical for 2-5-person households. 

Location

For the final consideration, where is the best place for you to install your hot tub? Here are some of the things that you should know first before going indoors or outdoors for your hot tub. 

Outside

As the term suggests, hot tubs that are installed outside can be in-ground, by the yard, decks, or porch, and are mostly portable. They are powered by outdoor electrical sources. 

Inside

Instead of a bathtub, indoor spa, or jacuzzi, having an indoor hot tub is also a perfect choice especially for hydrotherapy.

They are easier to set up because they have accessible electric sources. You can also have more freedom to customize indoor hot tubs. 

What are the benefits of hot tubs?

The clout surrounding hot tubs as good home investments are not baseless. Hot tubs offer a lot of significant benefits and in this section, we narrow down they are formidable relaxation add-ons for outdoor and indoor use. 

  • Overall stress relief: Easing muscle, joint, and body ache and tension would be the most upfront benefits of hot tubs. The warm water, complemented by well-chosen added features are soothing in relieving stress, promoting a well-rounded therapeutic effect and wellness effects. 
  • Hydrotherapy: For those with mobility issues as well as for those suffering from arthritis and joint pains, hot tubs are good choices for hydrotherapy. Hot tubs, along with saltwater treatment and massage jets ease muscle tensions and help in pain relief. 
  • Improves sleep: Relaxation is tantamount to good circadian rhythm and sleep-wake pattern. It has been well-established that warm water induces restful sleep, allowing you to feel energized and invigorated the next day. As a matter of fact, a 2012 research has associated hot tubs in helping treat fibromyalgia, especially for females between 30-70 years old. 
  • Promotes cardiovascular health: The impact of warm, relaxing water from the hot tub has been established to have a good effect in lowering blood pressure and in stabilizing heart rate. The reason for this is that warm water loosens the viscosity of the blood and opens better blood flow in the vessels and arteries. As such, hydrotherapy is added in the range of treatments for people with high blood pressure. 
  • Improves sensitivity to insulin: In simple terms, aside from stabilizing blood pressure and heart rate, hot tubs also stabilize sugar levels. Health and wellness experts say regular warm baths, deep soaking and saunas, have a dramatic effect in improving the body’s sensitivity to insulin, hence, managing the bad effects of diabetes. 
  • Good for burning calories: In the domain of health and wellness research, it was found out that an hour of stay in the hot tub burns the same calories when you walk for 30-minutes. This is not to say that you can now forgo exercise and just stick to the hot tub. The point is, hot tubs are beneficial in improving metabolism. 

Who should avoid hot tubs? 

Without a doubt, hot tubs are not made for everybody. While we presented it as a good investment that could be enjoyed by everybody, here are some of the situations when hot tubs must not be used: 

  • Chronic heart disease
  • Pregnancy
  • Suffering from skin injuries
  • Experiencing low blood pressure
  • Urinary tract infection (UTI)

How to benefit from using the hot tub

You are not only using the hot tub because you want to. And by now, you should already know that just like all else, knowing to use it sparingly can give you all the benefits that it is expected to give. As such, here are some basic tips to remember for you to get the most out of hot tubs: 

  • Do not soak in very hot water: The maximum temperature for hot tubs should only be 104F. Beyond that it is already scalding hot and it could result in skin injuries.
  • Keep hydrated: You might not know this but extended hours in pools and hot tubs could dehydrate you. Thus, it is essential to be hydrated while soaking up in the hot tub. 
  • Observe time limits in the hot tub: If you are not yet used to it, just limit your hot tub session to a maximum of 20 mins. You need to get out of the tub immediately if you feel lightheadedness, shortness of breath, redness of the skin, and nausea. 
  • Always wash after: Make sure that you wash yourself immediately after a hot tub session. Do so with soap and warm water. Also, never transfer in a cold pool or wash yourself with cold water because this leads to blood pressure spikes. 

Where to buy a hot tub online?

Given what we have just covered, it is now time to look at the list of online stores offering the most reputable selections of hot tubs in the market. If you are more into buying this stuff online, here are some online stores to check out first. 

Conclusion

When it comes to hot tubs, there are a lot of considerations to think of. It is not just about the type, the special features that you want to incorporate but also a clear budget and space allocation. The main trick in choosing the best hot tub choice for your home is answering the questions, “how will I use it”, “how many of us will use it”, and “how often will it be used.”

But with all things considered, hot tubs are good home investments. Aside from its overall functionality, it also offers an added resale value to your home if it is properly maintained.

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