Hot Tub, Spa, Whirlpool, Jacuzzi… What’s the Difference?

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A hot tub makes for a great addition to any house in Minnesota. It’s a nice, warm place to relax at the end of a long day and it’s sure to be a hit at parties. But finding the right hot tub can be a difficult process, especially because not everyone calls it a “hot tub.” Many people prefer the word “spa,” and you’ve likely heard “whirlpool” and “Jacuzzi” tossed around, too.

You may find yourself asking “is there a difference between a hot tub and a spa?” Yes, although these different terms are used interchangeably, there are a few distinctions which it would be good to learn about in order to narrow down your search. Read on to learn the difference between a hot tub, a spa, a whirlpool and a Jacuzzi.

Hot Tubs

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A hot tub is exactly what it sounds like: a big basin that holds heated water for you to sit in. One thing that separates a hot tub from a spa is that a hot tub usually sits above ground and is considered portable. Hot tubs also tend to be smaller than spas, and have built-in controls and plumbing. Depending on the model, a hot tub may not have any bubblers or jets, though many of them do. By contrast, a spa or a whirlpool will always have bubblers and jets.


Officially, the word “spa” is defined as “a mineral spring considered to have health-giving properties.” In contemporary terms, a spa usually refers to a large hot tub with powerful jets that are used to massage occupants. Unlike hot tubs, many spas are built in-ground, though some models are designed for above ground installation. If you want a hot tub that seats several people and provides healing relief with pressurized jets, you’re looking for a spa.


The term “whirlpool” refers to the ability of water jets to create a circular motion in the water. Because of this, any hot tub or spa with jets to produce this movement can be referred to as a whirlpool. However, when someone is talking about a whirlpool, they’re generally referring to a smaller hot tub that seats 1-2 occupants. In some cases, a bathtub may even be referred to as a whirlpool, provided it has the jets needed for the whirlpool effect.


You’ll often hear people universally refer to any hot tub, spa or whirlpool as a Jacuzzi because, well, it’s a really fun word to say! In truth, Jacuzzi is a particular brand of hot tubs that is responsible for the creation of the very first jet whirlpool tub in 1968. While Jacuzzi continues making hot tubs to this day, not every hot tub is a Jacuzzi.


Would You Like to Buy a Hot Tub or Spa in MN?

Now that you know the difference between a hot tub, a spa, a whirlpool and a Jacuzzi, it’s time to talk about buying. Contact Poolside today to purchase a spa for your home in the Twin Cities area!

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