Most people who spend time in a hot tub don’t think much beyond soaking in the warm massaging waters in quiet solitude or while hanging out with their family and friends. Things like water chemistry, water pump capacity, and voltage ratings rarely come to mind. On the other hand, there are those who can’t stop thinking about how things work and how they could or should work better. For those in the first group, it’s very likely they don’t really care about the differences between a 110 volt and 220-volt hot tub. For those in the second group, they’re probably asking themselves, “Are 110-volt hot tubs any good or would I be better off with a 220-volt model?” We’ve put together this article for those who identify as part of the second group. This will help them figure out the differences between 110 and 220-volt hot tubs.
Electrical Outlet Differences
One of the most apparent differences between 110 and 220-volt hot tubs is how they are powered. A 110-volt hot tub is commonly known as a plug and play model. This is because it can be plugged into a GFCI outlet and it will be ready to go. The 220-volt models, on the other hand, require hardwiring into a GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupter) protected 220-volt, 50-amp dedicated circuit. They also require a disconnect box to be installed 5 feet away from the hot tub while still being accessible to the hot tub users. Installation of these items needs to be done by a certified electrician in accordance with National Electrical Code guidelines. For those who want something simple and ready to use directly out of the box, a 110-volt model makes more sense. To find out why you might want a 220-volt model, keep reading.
The higher voltage rating of a 220-volt hot tub means that it’s able to run a more powerful water heater. A 220-volt model will heat water up to four times faster than a 110-volt model. And if you consider it can take up to 36 hours for a 110-volt hot tub to reach peak temperature, the more powerful water heater can appear attractive.
Higher voltage also means that the hot tub is able to power a water pump with a higher horsepower rating. This means a stronger current and the possibility for more jets in the hot tub. A 220-volt hot tub will give you a stronger massage and a larger number of water jet combinations. If powerful and focused massage is important to your hot tub experience, a 220-volt model will be your best bet.
One of the drawbacks of a 110-volt hot tub is its inability to run all the equipment at the same time, mainly the hydrotherapy jets and the water heater. What this means is that if your jets are running at full power, your water heater shuts down. The jets must be on low power for the heater to function. And while this may not be a problem if you’re simply looking for a soak rather than a massage, you could have a hard time keeping your water properly heated if you want your jets maxed out while the weather is very cold or if you’re running your jets at full power for long periods of time.
All else being the same, the initial cost of a 110-volt hot tub is typically lower than that of its 220-volt counterpart. This isn’t saying that expensive 110-volt hot tubs don’t exist because, just like 220-volt models, their prices range from low to high. But if the initial price point is your main concern, you’ll be able to pay less for a 110-volt model.
To learn more about becoming a hot tub owner, download a hot tub buyer’s guide.