Jacuzzis vs. Hot Tubs: What’s the Difference?

Updated: Apr. 17, 2023

Learn the history of the Jacuzzi, and the role of hydrotherapy jets in hot tub evolution.

My community has one of the best fitness clubs in our state, featuring pretty much any amenity the health-conscious individual needs to stay in shape. That includes a large heated outdoor pool and, right next to it, an eight-person hot tub. The latter frequently hosts more than eight people, collectively solving the problems of the day in the 104-degree water.

The hot tub features jets, but I leave them off when I’m alone because I like it quiet when I soak. Most users, however, prefer them on, so in a typical day the tub cycles between still water and hydro-therapeutic bubbles. That leads to this question: Does a hot tub become a Jacuzzi when the bubbles are on? The answer is yes, but it won’t ever be a real Jacuzzi.

What Is a Jacuzzi?

Like Kleenex and Xerox, Jacuzzi is a brand name so ubiquitous that people use the name generically for any hot tub or whirlpool spa.

The Jacuzzi brothers founded their company, which originally made parts for airplanes, in 1915. According to company archives, Candido Jacuzzi invented a hydrotherapy pump in 1940 to give his toddler son relief from rheumatoid arthritis. The company’s engineers eventually developed a hydro-therapeutic spa. The first model was introduced in the 1950s, and it didn’t take long for it to become wildly popular.

In copyright terms, only hot tubs manufactured by the Jacuzzi company can be called a Jacuzzi. But you’ll often see the small “j” term refer to any brand of hot tub with jets. These days, many people have one in their home, and bubbling tubs are popular in quality hotels and motels.

The first Jacuzzis were one- or two-person bathtubs modified to include underwater jets. But modern ones can be bigger, installed inside or outdoors. They all have two things in common: hot water, and mechanical pumps circulating water under pressure through jets below the surface.

What Is a Hot Tub?

A hot tub is basically a soaking tub. While it’s conceivable one-person tubs common in Japanese homes could qualify as hot tubs, the term — as it’s used in North America — usually refers to one large enough to hold several people. It’s a place to socialize as well as relax.

A Jacuzzi is a type of hot tub, but a hot tub isn’t necessarily a Jacuzzi. A hot tub may have a gas or electric heater, but it only qualifies as a Jacuzzi if it also has mechanical circulation jets.

If you go to a hot spring in North America, Asia or anywhere else in the world, you can usually soak in natural pools. But you may also find large tubs where you can relax and let the spring water flow around your body, sometimes under the pressure created by the force of gravity. These hot tubs aren’t Jacuzzis unless they also have mechanical jets.

Jacuzzi vs. Hot Tub

Luxury bathtub, for therapeutic massage and relaxation outside on the grass. Under the blue sky.Serhiy Stakhnyk/Getty Images

If you’re in the market for an outdoor hot tub for soaking, you’ll have a hard time finding one without mechanical jets. Hot tub manufacturers tend generally include hydrotherapy jets in their products. Even small foam or inflatable tubs usually feature jets.

If you want an outdoor tub without jets, you might have to make your own from wood, a stock tank or something similar.

When outfitting your bathroom, you have plenty of options for soaking tubs with or without jets. Indoor Jacuzzis are often deeper and sometimes wider than soaking tubs. Here are some of the pros and cons of indoor Jacuzzis:


  • Hydrotherapy: The water pressure loosens stiff muscles and is just generally relaxing. It also provides health benefits for certain ailments.
  • May increase home value: A Jacuzzi turns your bathroom into a luxury retreat, perhaps making your home more attractive to potential buyers.


  • Expensive: Installation costs more than a soaking tub, and the jets consume extra electricity.
  • More maintenance: Jacuzzis are harder to keep clean than soaking tubs, and have more parts that can break down.