The Common Differences Between Hot Tubs and Spas

A heated pool of bubbling water is a perfect addition to your yard for a relaxing dip at the end of the day. When you shop for one of these marvels, you may browse tubs and spas thinking they’re the same thing. Not so! While Americans also use the word “spa” to refer to a hot tub, there are a few key components that set them apart. Look out for these common differences between hot tubs and spas as you shop. One could fit your lifestyle much better than the other. Whether you’re using hydrotherapy to soothe aching muscles or hosting a neighborhood party, Haven Spa Pool & Hearth can help you on your journey to relaxation.


One of the most common distinctions between swim spas and hot tubs is their intended use. A hot tub can serve a similar function as a swim spa, but spas are specifically designed to provide hydrotherapy and relief from aches and pains. Hot tubs also offer that bubbling relief with their powerful jets, but they’re more for recreational use. They’ll still have jets, but they may not be as strong as those in a spa.

If you’re looking for a gentler hot soak after a long day, maybe a hot tub is right up your alley. But if your muscles are extra sore or if you need relief from arthritis, a spa can give you more powerful relief. For high-powered hydrotherapy at a tempting price, check out our used swim spas for sale; they’re carefully refurbished and rigorously inspected for quality.


The classic hot tub from the ‘60s and ‘70s sits above the ground and features wood paneling around the side. Groovy, right? It may be a classic look, but the hot tubs today often forgo the retro panels and opt for sleeker models in silver or blue. Hot tubs can be built entirely into the ground, but the above-ground model is as popular today as it was back then.

Swim spas are often built into the ground, so there’s less space for that paneling. Spas are also sleek and smooth, often matching or coordinating with the nearby pool.


Swim spas are often (though not always) built into the ground, generally attached to a pool. You’re more likely to see a spa at a gym or health club, right next to the swimming pool. It’s wonderful for relaxing your body after swimming a few laps, and the idea of buying your own may be very tempting! The experts at Haven Spa Pool & Hearth can guide you towards the best new and used swim spas for sale on the market.

Many swim spas do stand alone and are portable, though they’re popularly attached to pools. The confusion between spas and hot tubs may have originated when manufacturers started making portable spas.

A spa’s water supply is connected to the same supply as the swimming pool (if there is one); they go hand in hand. Meanwhile, a hot tub is a standalone heated pool with its own water supply. It can sit above the ground or be built-in like a spa. Hot tubs also have their own filtration systems, while a spa uses the same system as the nearby pool.


When a swim spa uses the same plumbing system as the nearby swimming pool, you’ve only got to pay for the single system. Sounds like a pinch, right? On the other hand, a swim spa takes a long time to heat up compared to a hot tub. While your water bill may thank you, your energy bill may have something else to say. It takes a lot not only to heat up the spa, but to keep it hot while you use it.

Hot tubs, while they do have their own separate plumbing system, heat up very quickly. The heating system is often electrical, though some do go old-school and use a wood fire to heat up. A hot tub is also quite well-insulated compared to a spa.

A swim spa is fitted with more jets, filters, and high-speed pumps than a hot tub. This translates to more work for your energy source and a little more noise than a hot tub.


The maintenance process for spas and hot tubs is remarkably similar. You’ve got to have the right chemicals on hand for sanitizing, shocking, and balancing your water—and you’ve got to check it once a week.

Swim spas generally have more filters than hot tubs do, which translates to a little extra work when cleaning. You’ll have to hose down and/or replace more filters every month with a spa. They’ve also got those additional high-powered pumps and jets that’ll need regular cleaning to keep them going strong.

That isn’t to say you shouldn’t be cleaning hot tub filters every month. You’ll need to do that just as often as you would with a spa, but you’ve got fewer filters to maintain.

Did you know that some spas are filled with purified mineral water—or, in some cases, seawater? If your spa uses a unique type of water, ask the experts at Haven Spa Pool & Hearth what extra maintenance steps you’ll need to take. Chlorine and bromine might not be your best sanitizing options in that case. Meanwhile, if you aren’t filling your spa with special water, a garden hose does the trick for both spas and hot tubs.

Both hot tubs and swim spas can provide superb relaxation and a getaway in your own backyard. The choice is up to you! Have you got a swimming pool that needs something extra? Add a swim spa to relax you after your aquatic workout. If you’re looking for a gentler hot soak that’s more popular at parties, a hot tub could be right up your alley. Both options come in multiple sizes and styles, each with features like powerful jets and bench seating. The most common differences between hot tubs and spas boil down to location, use, and associated costs. Why not check out our selections of both? Although they’re not quite the same thing, both will offer you superior relaxation and a perfect end to your long, busy day.

The Common Differences Between Hot Tubs and Spas