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How Does A Hot Tub Work?

For most people, a hot tub is simply a great place to relax in warm water while being massaged by powerful jets. The inner workings of the hot tub are usually the furthest thing from their minds. However, there are always people who ask the question, “How does a hot tub work?” Understanding how a hot tub works provides them with peace of mind when it comes to buying and operating such a large investment. This article is for people in this latter category. We’ll describe the main components of a hot tub and what they do to create the experience that they’re so well known for.

What Are Hot Tubs Made From?

When home-based hot tubs first became popular in the 1970s, most of them were made of cedarwood. However, the industry has greatly evolved since then and you’ll find most hot tubs these days are made from acrylic or plastic backed with fibreglass. They’ll also have mechanical components and other parts made of metal. A lot of inground hot tubs are made using concrete whereas the newest generation of inflatable hot tubs are made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC.)

What Are The Major Components Of A Hot Tub?

There are only a small number of major components that make up the typical portable hot tub. A shell, a cabinet, a water pump, the piping, a water heater, water jets, water filters, the electrical system and a control panel are the main components that you’d find on your average portable hot tub. There may be slight variations depending on the brand or model, but these features are the main things necessary to create hot tub-like conditions. We’ll go over each of these components in more detail to give a better idea of how hot tubs work.


The shell is what holds the water and the bathers. Modern-day portable hot tub shells are typically made of acrylic or plastic to create a waterproof tank. The shell is typically reinforced with fibreglass to give it strength and polyurethane foam to provide it with insulation. Seating is generally molded into the shell and holes are cut out to provide spaces for the water jets, drain and other components.


The hot tub cabinet is built around the shell and is used to provide a framework and an aesthetically pleasing cover for the inner components of the hot tub. Many of today’s cabinets are made of plastic or some other type of synthetic polymer that’s resistant to the weather. The cabinet will usually have one or more removable panels to allow access to the mechanical components contained within.

Water Pumps

A hot tub will have one or more water pumps that are responsible for generating the force to move the water through the plumbing system. It’s the water pumps that make the difference between a hot tub and a bathtub. Water pumps can be run at different speeds depending on whether the hot tub is being used or if it’s in resting mode.

Water Jets

Water and air pushed by the pumps through the small openings of the water jets create the massaging effect that hot tubs are known for. The velocity of the water is increased as it’s forced through the opening of the water jet which results in a massaging sensation when directed toward the body.

Water Heater

The water pumps also force the water through a heater which increases the temperature of the water according to the setpoint of the thermostat. In most modern hot tubs, the heat is generated by electricity, but there are some that use fire or solar energy.

Water Filters

The hot tub water is pumped through filters that strain out large particles. Water filters work in conjunction with chemical additives to keep the water clean. Filters are generally made of fabric or ceramic and need to be cleaned out and replaced on a regular basis.

Control Panel

The control panel is typically composed of an LED screen with connections to the hot tub’s water pumps, heater and other mechanical components. The control panel allows the user to manage the various workings of the hot tub.

Now that you have a general idea of how a hot tub works, download a free buyer’s guide for extra information.

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