How Does A Hot Tub Work?

For some people, a hot tub is more than simply a place to relax in warm, massaging water. They like to understand how things work. So, how does a hot tub work? In this post, we’ll go over the various components that make up a hot tub to try and explain how they work together to create the relaxing environment that hot tubs are so well known for.

What Are Hot Tubs Made Of?

Many of the original mass-produced hot tubs of the 1970s were composed of cedarwood. However, today most portable hot tubs are made of a combination of plastic, acrylic and fibreglass along with other metal and electrical components. Inground hot tubs may be made of concrete whereas most inflatable hot tubs are composed of polyvinyl chloride, also known as PVC.

What Are The Essential Components Of A Hot Tub?

Most portable hot tubs are composed of a handful of essential components. These include the shell, the cabinet, the water pump and plumbing, the water heater, the electrical system, water jets, water filters, and a control panel. The combination of these components allows the hot tub to hold and heat water, create a massaging sensation, keep the water clean, control all these functions, and more. While there may be some variation among different types of hot tubs, it’s these components that are responsible for how the average hot tub works.


The shell is what holds the water and what the bathers sit in when using the hot tub. Mounted in the shell are the water jets, the drain and very often, the control panel. Most of today’s hot tub shells are composed of acrylic or plastic and are backed with fiberglass resin for stability. Hot tub shells are also often insulated using polyurethane foam to inhibit heat loss, allow the hot tub to be used in colder weather and reduce the noise levels produced by the water pump and heater.


The hot tub cabinet provides a supportive frame for the shell and contains the inner components of the hot tub such as the water heater, pump, piping and electrical wiring. This creates an aesthetically pleasing container for the hot tub’s inner workings. The cabinet usually has one or more removable panels to allow access to these inner workings. The cabinet is often filled with insulation to allow for efficient cold weather operation.

Water Pump

The water pump is what makes the difference between a hot tub and a hot bath. The water pump circulates the water and moves it through the plumbing, heater, water jets and filters. The water pump can run at variable speeds to match whether the hot tub is being used or is at rest.

Water Jets

Water jets are responsible for creating the massaging action that hot tubs are known for. The water pump pushes water and air through the small openings of the water jets which increases the force and speed of the water and provides the massaging effect.

Water Heater

As the water passes through the water heater, it’s brought up to the appropriate temperature which is controlled by the thermostat. Heat is generated by heating coils which are powered by electricity. Some hot tubs may be heated using solar energy or fire, but electrical systems are currently the most popular.

Water Filters

Water filters work to remove particulate matter from the water as it passes through the plumbing system. Typically composed of fabric or ceramic, filters need to be cleaned regularly and replaced every year or two. Water filters work in conjunction with chemical additives to keep the water clean and safe.

Control Panel

The control panel allows the user to adjust the water temperature, water pump speed and more. Control panels are typically composed of an LED screen and control buttons to allow adjustment of the hot tub’s various functions. Some of the newer hot tubs on the market are starting to feature touchscreen controls.

Now that you have a better idea of how hot tubs work, download a free buyer’s guide for more information or view the hot tubs we have in stock.

HT Guide

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