The Best Jets for Hot Tubs & Spas
By Toby Brown
Our experts give you the lowdown on popular types of hot tub jets, how they work and which types of jets to choose for your hot tub.
David Ludlow, Bullfrog Spas: One can best answer this question by first assessing the size of the bather and his or her hydrotherapeutic needs. For most users, however, more jets are typically better, provided each jet delivers the correct gallons per minute and at the correct pressure.
Caleb Salazar, Diamond Spas: More is not necessarily better. A lot of high-end applications prefer a simple eight to 12-jet package. I think that when the total jet count exceeds 50 or so, the customer becomes overwhelmed.
Andy Tournas, ThermoSpas®: More is definitely better. I have yet to find a customer who wishes he had fewer jets; usually it is the other way around. Most important, however, is jet variety and the ability to control the massage intensity of each seat so that each bather can receive a different level of massage action at the same time.
Bob Lauter, Master Spas®: The number of jets is important to a degree. By filling up a spa with dozens of small euro-type jets you can give a false impression of how well that spa will perform. Euro jets are known for giving a very small, tight water flow. A few larger jets can provide a comfortable, relaxing and more therapeutic massage for spa users. The bottom line is that jet counts can be misleading-you need to see what types of hot tub jets are part of the jet count.
Vic Walker, Dimension One Spas®: More is definitely not always better. When designing hot tubs, several important areas need to be addressed in order to create the proper levels of hydrotherapy, i.e., correct body posture, jet selection and hydraulic design. The penultimate goal is the perfect combination of those three factors.
Does the number of jets depend on the number of pumps in a spa?
Lauter: Pump size is very important and vital to the performance of the spa's jets. First, different size jets require different amounts of water flow. For example, a small jet may only be able to have five gallons of water flow through it per minute, while a large jet may be able to have 15 gallons of water flow through it per minute. Some of the large foot massager jets can actually do much more than that. The spa has to have a pump with enough power to generate the water flow needed in relation to the number and types of jets on the spa. Without that, the spa will underperform.
Walker: A strong hydrotherapy hot tub will have a slightly larger than necessary pump driving a moderate number of jets. These designs will provide powerful hydrotherapy levels often needed for deep tissue therapy applications. A design that is primarily focused on jet count can often lead to a 'soft feeling' hot tub, depending on the size of the jets used. The ideal hot tub design identifies the purpose of each seat and uses only the jets needed for the target style of hydrotherapy.
Does the pump size have an impact on jet performance?
Ludlow: Pump size is not at all important- bigger or smaller is not always the answer. What is important is that you match the number and size of jets to the pump properly. In other words, you must size the pump to your jetting needs. Installing a larger pump when not needed will provide too much pressure, resulting in customer dissatisfaction. Likewise, installing more jets than a pump can handle will provide insufficient pressure, resulting in the same customer dissatisfaction.
Salazar: Proper pump size is critical. The jet count and pump performance must be matched up to provide the best possible experience.
What are the current trends in jet design?
Ludlow: Variety! Providing the customer with a unique jetting experience in each seat of his or her spa enhances the spa experience and results in the spa being used more often.
Salazar: Interchangeable jets. They allow the user to place the appropriate therapy nozzle where it is needed to maximize healing.
Tournas: Jets are jets; it is where they are positioned and how they can be controlled that is important. Having jet clusters strategically positioned and with the ability to control and vary the pressure is important to maximize your spa experience.
Lauter: One thing that we have seen over the past few years is that customers love to have a large foot massager jet that delivers more than 100 gallons of water per minute. People also like to have a therapy seat with many jets that hit them in every spot imaginable. One important aspect of this is to offer flow adjustability, as well as interchangeability. With this type of functionality, jet face design is very important to provide adequate ergonomic and bio-mechanic forms that promote ease of use. Excellent jet face design occurs when the designer understands the mechanics of leverage underwater and how users interface with the jet face itself.
How can owners ensure optimum jets performance?
Lauter: It is important for spa owners to make sure that they are not bringing a lot of debris into the spa from their feet. Not only can this cause a gritty feel for the spa users, but it may also cause certain styles of jets not to perform at their optimum levels. For example, we use jets that can be individually turned on/off by adjusting the face of the jet. Grit may cause these jets to become harder to turn.
Ludlow: Accurately and consistently maintain the spa water chemistry. A periodic analysis of one's spa water by an authorized spa dealer could be worth its weight in gold. Lastly, poor jet performance can usually be corrected by simply cleaning the spa's filters.
Tournas: For an easy way to be sure your filter is always clean, look for spas equipped with filter monitors that will take the guesswork out of filter maintenance.
Walker: Using the spa often and changing the water at least twice a year is also very important. When the hot tub is used frequently, the jets are moved around and repositioned, which keeps them loose and functional. It is also helpful to remove all of the jets once a year and soak them in a mild vinegar solution to help with hard mineral build-up.
If you were buying a four-person hot tub with only 20 jets, what types would you recommend?
Salazar: I would place the jets in varied heights and locations around the tub, with stations having multiple jets.
Tournas: I would load one seat up with jets, say 10 jets, and distribute the remaining jets to the other seats. This way you have at least one seat to provide a powerful, full-body massage.
Lauter: I would like a combination of jets, both directional (which produces the greatest water flow) and spinning. I would position the spinning jets for my neck, shoulders and upper back. I would also want two high-flow foot jets.
Ludlow: It is difficult to provide the best jet configuration in every spa because every customer is different. Some are tall, some are short, some are thin and some are wide. Some like an aggressive massage, while others like a soft massage. Letting the customer choose the type, size and number of jets in the exact seat that best fits his or her body is a surefire way to maximize the spa experience.
Walker: If you want deep-tissue hydrotherapy, you would have a few larger style jets that use high volume water flows. If you want more of an acupressure-style massage, then you would have a larger number of smaller jets. Of course, most jet placements are on the back (ideally close to specific muscle trigger areas), but many users like leg and feet placements as well. Since all of our nerve endings are located in our hands and feet, these are ideal locations for hydrotherapy jets.
About the Experts
Dave Ludlow – Founder, President and CEO, Bullfrog Spas
An inventor by nature, David J. Ludlow has 32 years of experience designing, servicing and selling pools and spas. Prior to starting Bullfrog International 11 years ago, Mr. Ludlow spent 21 years with Dolphin Pools, his family's business, and he developed and managed AquaLogics™. Mr. Ludlow earned a bachelor of science in marketing from the University of Utah.
Caleb Salazar – Vice President, Spa Sales, Diamond Spas, Inc.
Caleb Salazar spent 19 years as a technician for a variety of hot tub and spa manufacturers. He also held positions in retail sales and wholesale distribution for a number of other hot tub and spa companies. He attended Heritage College in Denver.
Andy Tournas – President, ThermoSpas®
Before founding ThermoSpas, Inc., 24 years ago, Andy Tournas was president and CEO of an advertising production company. A former board member of APSP's Hot Tub Council, Mr. Tournas has been cited as an industry leader by Forbes, Entrepreneur Magazine and on CNBC, and has been named Business Person of the Year by Business New Haven Magazine.
Bob Lauter – President, Master Spas®
Bob Lauter has received numerous awards for his contributions to the industry, including APSP's INSPIRE Award, Ernst & Young's Entrepreneur of the Year Award and The Blue Chip Community Business Award. He is a member of APSP's Hot Tub Council and earned a bachelor's degree in political science from Ursinus College.
Victor L. Walker – Senior Industrial Designer, Dimension One Spas®
Vic Walker grew up working for his father, who was an engineer. He went on to receive his bachelor of science degree in industrial design from IIT Technical Institute. Mr. Walker has over 10 patents related to the pool and spa industry, with six more pending. He has been with Dimension One Spas for eight years.