The Basics: A hot tub is simply a big box of heated water. Inside are water pumps, massage jets, a filtration system and sanitation processes, that work together to ease physical pain and help you relax.
The shell holds the water and massage jets.
The cabinet encloses the parts and insulates the shell and the water.
Water pumps move the water from one place to another.
Massage jets focus the water and mix it with air.
The filtration system removes debris and other stuff.
The water treatment processes kill waterborne microbes.
The use of water for therapeutic benefit is called “hydrotherapy.” The combination of heated water and massage is called “hydromassage.” Hydrotherapy and hydromassage have many positive health benefits. The better the hot tub, the better your hydrotherapy and hydromassage experience will be. To achieve hydrotherapy, your hot tub will need a sufficient number of jets placed, to massage all of the important areas of your body, including your shoulders, neck, back, legs, and arms. Jet's alone won't do it though, you need to power behind those jets to actually move water and combine it with air, this is done by the blower and your hot tubs pumps. So ensure the tub you choose has enough pumps for the number of jets.
1. The Hot Tub Shell
The Shell is made up of layers. The top layer is the first to be manufactured, and quality tubs are almost all made of a vacuumed formed vinyl layer that you see and touch on the inside of the tub. This layer is light and weak, so it is then almost always rolled with fibreglass resin, in a process that is considered harmful to the environment. For this reason, many manufactures have relocated to Mexico where environmental laws are less stringent. Clearwater Spas chose to stay in Washington state and update their process, so learn more about this check out the Clearwater Spas - Built Better | Built Different article below.
2. The Hot Tub Cabinet
The Cabinet is generally attached to a wood or metal frame, that both supports the edges of the tub and provides something for the skirting material to attach to. Unfortunately this framing also creates thermal bridging, which is a bigger issue in cold climates like Canada. The thermal bridging essentially provides a path for the cold from the outside to find its way into the hot tub cabinet. Cabinet insulation is also part of the cabinet construction, but I've dedicated a separate article to this topic.
3. The Pumps
Water Pumps are what make a hot tub more than simply a bath of water. They are expensive and often set basic spas apart from premium hot tubs. First, you have your main pumps that are responsible for pushing the water through the jets when you're using the tub. The power and number of these pumps will determine whether your hot tub is capable of delivering therapeutic hydromassage. Generally these pumps will be between 3 and 7 horsepower, though some claiming 7 horsepower are actually overstating that number. In the best tubs, you'll also find a separate circulating pump that often runs constantly, using minimal electricity and achieving maximum water filtration and treatment.
4. Massage Jets
Massage Jets are wear the rubber hits the road. And often an area that manufacturers will try to differentiate with things like jets that move up and down or jet cassettes that can be changed out (no one actually changes our their jet packs). What's important in jets is a solid name brand, because at some point you'll need to replace a jet because it stops working properly.
5. The Filtration System
The Filtration System is generally marked by the idea that more is better. Bigger filters, more filter surface area and a circulation pump to constantly move the water are what you want in filtration.
6. The Water Treatment System
The Water Treatment Process is what will make your hot tub easier to maintain and more enjoyable to soak in. Some hot tubs come with no additional treatment and as a result, more chlorine or bromine will be required to treat your tub, though exactly how much is a point of great debate. It's worth noting that no system is able to eliminate manually added chemicals, though some will claim too. The major technologies in the market are Ozone, UVC, and Advanced Oxidation Processes. I'll devote an entire article to these different technologies in the future. Clearwater spas offers perhaps the most advanced water treatment system on the market called CLEAR, and it includes Ozone, UVC, and a Silver / Copper diode that all sanitize the water, plus a magnetic field that polarizes it, making it feel soft and smooth.
While there are many varieties of hot tubs on the market, high quality tubs share a great deal of commonality. They're built with to work for years to come, with quality components, and when something does fail, they are designed to be easily serviced. A hot tub is an investment, that will bring you and your family joy, relaxation and connection for years to come. Particularly in climates like Calgary and Edmonton, where hot tubs make your yard accessible even on the coldest days. So buy a quality hot tub, and get outside.