What Is the Difference Between a Hot Tub, Jacuzzi, and a Swim Spa?


You’re thinking of buying a hot tub. You will research, research, and research but the only thing happening is more confusion! Because words like Hot tub, Jacuzzi, and swim spas will be thrown at you, and you’ll wonder that isn’t all of these terms mean the same?

Well, the answer is no; they are similar and yet entirely different. How, you ask? Read on to know the differences between a hot tub, Jacuzzi, and a swim spa and what will be perfect for your lifestyle.

Hot Tubs

wood hot tub

The term ‘hot tub,’ originated in the late 1960s and early 1970s, were known as large tubs or small pools that were used by one or more people. These hot tubs are old winery equipment, wooden barrels, and hold hot water for relaxation and aid joint pain.

As the years passed by, this ‘wooden hot tub’ has modernized and is made especially for relaxation and a hydrotherapy session. The modern portable hot tub has a built-in filtration system, power jets, pumps, and a heater. Hot tubs are beneficial if you’re looking for relief from joint or muscle pain. It has jets built so that water is pumped onto areas of the body where stress tends to build up. If you are suffering from chronic pain, arthritis, stress, and headaches, hydrotherapy can be helpful in providing relaxation on a regular basis.

Apart from hydrotherapy, a hot tub is the best way to socialize with friends and family and have them come over for weekend fun. A Hot tub is also known as a ‘spa’ in many parts of America.

The modern-day Hot tub comprises of features like

  • Acrylic shells
  • PS skirts
  • Massaging jets
  • Led lighting systems
  • Waterfalls
  • Pop-up fountains
  • Multiple seating
  • Cushioned headrests
  • Audio systems
  • Bluetooth technology
  • Electronic controllers
  • UV disinfection systems
  • Ozone systems


Jacuzzi hot tub

Even though many of us say Jacuzzi to indicate a hot tub, this reference is actually not correct as Jacuzzi doesn’t mean a hot tub; instead, Jacuzzi is a trademarked brand that manufactures hot tubs.

Jacuzzi, founded in Italy in the year 1915, is one of the first and foremost manufacturers of various kinds of hot tubs. They manufactured the first portable spa in a bathtub which was later evolved into the modern-day spa.

Like people use the term ‘Kleenex’ to refer any type of tissue or ‘Hoover’ for vacuum cleaners, ‘Jacuzzi’ has become generic and a household name for a hot tub. So, confusion arises when people indicate any type of a hot tub as Jacuzzi, but what they might mean is a hot tub which is actually made from a different brand.

Talking about dissimilarity between a hot tub and a Jacuzzi, there isn’t much, but they may differ in the cost and features that every particular hot tub provides.

Swim Spas

Swim Spa

If you’re an athletic person or a person who likes to stay fit, doing workouts at home, then swim spas are the best choice for you.

Swim spas are also known as the fusion of a hot tub and a swimming pool- getting the best of both worlds. For those who don’t have enough backyard space for a swimming pool, but would definitely like to get in one, swim spas are what you’re looking for.

Swim spas are in the shape of traditional swimming pools, but they have jets like the hot tub. It creates a current for you to swim against to, in order to build up muscles and improve your stroke technique. You can even change the settings on the jets to change the speed of the current according to your strength.

Swim spas let you get the feeling of swimming in a swimming pool without you taking the trouble to have to drive up till a health center or a public swimming pool and swim with others.

What is the difference between a hot tub and a swim spa?

  • Size:

One of the major and noticeable differences between a hot tub and a swim spa is the size. Swim spas are usually double or triple the size of a hot tub. The large hot tubs can seat more people at a time, while swim spas can seat the same number of people and still have ample space left to move around freely. This is because swim spas are manufactured with a larger tank and are meant for exercises and get the feel of a swimming pool but with water jets.

If you have a modest backyard, then you should buy a hot tub.

  • Cost:

The cost difference of a hot tub and a swim spa is not much. Above ground swim spas usually starts from $10,000 and can go up to $40,000. Swim spas consume around $1 to $3 of electricity per day (depending on the season of the year). People go for swim spas when they do not want to be hassled by the installation process of a swimming pool.

When comparing a hot tub and swim spa offering the same features and seating, the swim spa might be more expensive in comparison as a swim spa would still have more space to move around comfortably.

  • Features:

The features of a hot tub and a swim spa really depend on the model, but they are more or less the same. The key differences are the ergonomic seating space and high powered jets that a swim spa has to offer. While the hot tub was water jets all around the tub, the swim spa has powerful jets at the end of the spa which creates a current for a person who wants to swim, jog or walk against.

  • Seating:

Both swim spas and hot tubs offer multiple seating, but swim spas can provide an ergonomic seating area, which is more comfortable compared to hot tubs.

  • Maintenance:

A swim spa can hold water up to 2000 gallons which is approximately five times what a hot tub can hold. Though the time spent cleaning and maintaining doesn’t take more than that of a hot tub, but you will have to spend twice for maintaining the swim spa.

swim spa Maintenance

Before you consider buying a hot tub or a swim spa, you need to decide if you have enough space for either of them in your backyard. Scout the land and measure where you’re going to place the hot tub or a swim spa. If you need help, call in a structural engineer or your local dealer to get better judgment and then make a decision based on it.

So, which should I buy? A Hot tub or a Swim Spa?

hot tub swim spa combo

Well, that question’s answer completely relies on your personal preference. What do you lean more on? A hydrotherapy session or a spa to exercise and stay fit?

If you’re looking for a tub to relax after a long dreading day and soak in some warm, bubbling water, then you should buy a hot tub.

But, if you have enough space and a large family with kids and friends, or you don’t want to put up the hassle of going to a public swimming pool than a swim spa is a perfect choice for you. You get ample space for you, your friends and family, kids in the family to have a relaxing time together.

You can’t swim in a hot tub but you can relax in a swim spa, meaning, there are hot tub manufacturers in the market who produce two-in-one products that have both a swim spa and hydrotherapy, and we call it a hot tub swim spa combo.

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