Difference between Spa and Hot Tub
By Theydiffer - October 20, 2018

Dipping into a spa or hot tub after a hard day’s work can do wonders for your tired muscles. This form of relaxation helps release the tension and stress accumulated throughout the day. Installing a spa or hot tub can provide a wonderful experience at home. However, before diving into this luxury purchase, it would be good to know more about a spa and a hot tub and how they are different from each other.

Summary Table

Spa Hot Tub
Built in-groundPlaced above-ground
Commonly attached to a pool but at times is also a separate structureCompletely self-contained
Often connected to the plumbing and mechanical systems of a main poolHas its own plumbing and electrical control systems
Takes a long time to heat upHas instant temperature setting; there is no need to wait for it to heat up


Getty Images/OJO Images/Martin Barraud

A spa or spa pool is a small recreational structure designed to hold water, usually built in-ground. It is a small heated and jetted pool with bench seats, and is often linked to a full swimming pool. A spa can either be indoors or outdoors.

Getty Images/EyeEm/Attila Hajos / EyeEm

A hot tub is a self-contained vessel used to hold water, and is usually an above-ground structure. Hot tubs have built-in plumbing and electrical control systems. It can easily be relocated in any part of the house when needed.

Spa vs Hot Tub

The main difference between a spa and a hot tub is in the actual structure and components. A spa or spa pool is usually built in-ground while a hot tub is above-ground. Spas are often connected to a main swimming pool but at times they can also be a stand-alone structure. Hot tubs, on the other hand, are completely self-contained.

A spa typically has its plumbing and mechanical systems attached to a main swimming pool. However, there are also portable spas available. A spa that is connected to a main pool usually costs less than a stand-alone spa. The downside, though, of spas is that they take a long time to heat up and use a significant amount of energy to maintain the temperature. So it is best to get the spa running the moment you get home from work.

Conversely, a hot tub has its own plumbing and electrical control systems. Some advantages of the hot tub are its instant temperature setting and its ability to hold a certain temperature. You can have it hot and ready to use anytime with less energy. Apart from being more energy efficient, some say that hot tubs are more comfortable and provide better massages than spas.