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How does an Electric Hot Tub Work?

By Maggie J. Hall
Updated May 17, 2024
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An electric hot tub generally houses a heater and a spa pack, consisting of a pump and controller, between the hard acrylic shell and the wooden cabinet that together circulate, sanitize and warm the water. When users activate the pump from the control panel, the water travels through the filtering system and on through the hot tub's electric heater. The water warms to the desired thermostatically controlled temperature. A separate intake valve introduces air into the system. The pump forces warm air combined with large volumes of warmed water back into the tub through numerous small hydrojets.

Spas contain one or more hot tub electric motors or pumps that run on 120 or 240 volts of electricity. The pumps function at variable speeds but must run two to four hours a day to ensure adequate water circulation and filtration. Pumps operating at higher speeds create greater amounts of water turbulence. Older-model spas contain a separate blower system that forces air directly into the tub, causing a bubbling effect in the water. Besides a conventional electric hot tub, manufactures design solar panel-powered spas, wood stove hot tubs and gas hot tubs.

Companies construct electric hot tubs in different styles and configurations, so the filtering systems might be located before or after the heating process. Suction filters draw water into and toward the heater, and pressure filters force water through a cleansing canister after heating. Filters require rinsing every two weeks and washing with an approved cleaner every three to four months. A manufacturer might also construct an electric hot tub with a copper ionizer, ozonator or inline ultraviolet (UV) filter to aid in the sanitization process. These components reduce the amount of commonly added chemicals, which include bromine and chlorine.

Copper ionizers conduct electricity to copper electrodes, resulting in the gradual destruction of the metal and emitting copper ions into the water. This method works with chemicals to destroy harmful algae, bacteria and viruses that naturally thrive in a moist, warm environment. Ozonators use special lamps that add an extra oxygen molecule to oxygen. The hyper-oxygenated air naturally kills microorganisms without the assistance of chemicals. Inline electric hot tub UV filters kill bacteria, fungus and viruses on contact as water passes through an ultraviolet light.

The controller adjusts airflow, blowers, lights and water temperature according to the owner’s desires. Individuals regulate the spa’s functions by using a central control panel. Electric wiring connects the heater, spa pack and other devices to a digitalized control panel. Customized electric hot tubs might also include light-emitting diode (LED) lighting systems, refrigerators, stereo systems and pop-up television screens.

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