Hot Tubs 101 Part One 110v Plug-In Tubs
What is a Plug-in Hot Tub
Plug-in tubs have the advantage of price and portability. Most plug-in tubs are affordable, come in a wide variety, and can be a great value. They have disadvantages, mainly the pump’s horsepower, heater wattage, and jet count. Because this type of tub plugs into a standard 15 amp wall outlet, this will limit how big the pump is, typically no larger than 2hp, with 1hp and 1.5hp being the most common.
The second is the heater. When plugged into an outlet, the heater, if it has one, works at a very low wattage taking 48 hours or more to heat up. Most hot tubs push water through the heater when the pump runs at that low speed. The problem is when you want your jets on high speed, the heater will be off as you can not run both at high speed and heat the water simultaneously.
The exception to the first two problems is that some 110v spas run on 20 amps instead of 15; therefore, the tub may have more power. This might mean hiring an electrician to run a dedicated 20-amp line.
The third disadvantage is the jets. Generally, these tubs have smaller jets as larger ones require more water pushed by the pump, which it can’t do. They also tend to have fewer jets; the more you have, the less flow (pressure) you will have.
Plug-In Hot Tubs come in three types. Inflatable, roto mold, and standard shell with a subframe
Inflatable Hot Tubs
Inflatables are commonly box store specials or soft tub brands in Pool and Hot Tub stores. Inflatables you blow up with air, fill with water, and plug into any household outlet. The most significant advantage of this type of hot tub is you can drain it, move it and set up again quickly, or store it away until you need it again.
The disadvantage is power consumption, as some tubs lack a physical heater. In many cases, these tubs use the friction of the water passing through the pump as their heat source, which is not very efficient but is cheaper than including an actual heater.
Unlike traditional hot tubs that house the equipment inside the frame, inflatables are kept in simple exterior housings that are more exposed, making them more likely to fail. Because the hot tub is inflated with air, there is no insulation to prevent heat loss. Lastly, you sit on the floor, which is not relaxing, but also your legs take up a lot of space, not leaving room for many people.
Roto Mold Hot Tubs
The second type is roto mold. These hot tubs start with a kind of plastic called high-density polyethylene. These beads are poured into a large rotating mold that heats and melts the polyethylene into a complete hot tub as it rotates around the mold. Both the inside shell and the subframe are all one piece. The main advantage here is cost.
Unlike inflatable tubs, these are more durable, cost less to make than the following type, and are lighter than the average hot tub. Just like inflatables, they lack horsepower and heater strength, but they can also be challenging to service or put a cover lifter on, depending on the style.
Traditional Plugin Hot Tubs
The third type is the Shell with Sub Frame. This is the most common on the market, comprising a separate shell set into a frame. As this is still a 110v spa, it has some of the same deficiencies as the first two. What you gain is a more traditional-looking and seated hot tub.
The drawback with any 110v spa is its smaller size. Due to the pump’s limit, 110v spas are not offered in larger sizes, as the pump is not big enough to move the water through the necessary amount of plumbing.
The Most Common Hot Tubs Are 220 Volts
Most of the hot tub industry comprises tubs that run on 220 volts and require special wirings like electric stoves, dryers, and other large appliances in your home. This segment of the hot tub market is very competitive, with many manufacturers to choose from
A hot tub wired to 220v does not have any of the limits of its 110v cousins. They can be as big as you have room for, have as many jets and horsepower power as you want, and run the heater at any speed, depending on how it is wired. You also have plenty of features and add-ons to choose from. You can even get one you can swim in.