This question seems to arise more and more when we meet hot tub shoppers. This debate has emerged from the popularity of ‘plug and play‘ or 13 amp hot tubs, as consumers look to narrow down their options based on the power supply required for a specific hot tub. But what does it all mean? In this article we will explain the differences between 13 amp and 32 amp hot tubs, how running costs may or may not be affected and how you should approach this as a buyer, as well as some frequently asked questions.
What is a 13 amp Hot Tub?
A 13 amp hot tub (also known as a plug and play hot tub) is a hot tub that only requires power from a standard UK 3 pin plug. These hot tubs barely existed 15-20 years ago but with consumers looking for savings on electrical installations for hot tubs, they have become very popular. They also tend to be a popular upgrade from an inflatable hot tub, as they can use the same electrical supply and as explained further down tend to be a bit friendlier on the bank account!
What is a 32 amp hot tub?
A 32 amp hot tub is a hot tub that requires a 32 amp electrical supply and therefore CANNOT be powered using a standard UK 3 pin plug. We will explain why they require more power below.
Did you know?
A hot tub can also require a 16 amp or 20 amp supply, this all depends on the manufacturer specification. 13 and 32 amp is not the only power specifications found on hot tubs but tend to be the most common requirements so we have used these to compare.
What is The Difference Between 13 amp and 32 amp Hot Tubs?
Number of Pumps
A 13 amp hot tub is limited to having 1 jet pump, it may also have an additional circulation pump but due to the limited power supply, it will only ever have one large jet pump. A 32 amp hot tub can have up to 2 jet pumps and a circulation pump. More pumps does not always mean a better hot tub, especially as jet technology has improved and remembering that submerging in hot water is the main wellness benefit of a hot tub.
On a 13 amp hot tub, the heater CANNOT run concurrently with the jet pump. This means that when the jets are on the heater must be off, this is due to power restriction. On most 32 amp hot tubs you can run the pumps and heater concurrently. On a mild or warm day this won’t tend to have an impact but on a cold day if the heater does not run alongside the pumps, the hot tub could drop temperature quite quickly when in use. For a well insulated 13 amp hot tub this won’t be a huge issue but for hot tubbers who like a long soak, it is worth knowing and considering a 13 amp hot tub will also be capped at a 2kw heater, whereas some 32 amp hot tubs may go up to 3kw.
Due to the limited number of pumps, most 13 amp hot tubs will have fewer jets than a 32 amp hot tub. This is purely because the jet to pump ratio should have a sensible limit. Some manufacturers will add more jets than should be on the hot tub, which will weaken the level of massage and spread the power thin so while most 13 amp hot tubs will have fewer jets, some will not!
A 13 amp hot tub tends to be cheaper than a 32 amp hot tub for the reasons above. A 13 amp hot tub has a reduced number of pumps, less jets and a more basic control system so you should find savings when purchasing a 13 amp spa.
The Cost of Installing the Electrical Supply
The cost of adding an outdoor 13amp socket can be significantly less than installing a 32amp feed with an isolator. This has been part of the drive for 13 amp hot tubs as consumers do not need to add expensive electrics on top of their hot tub purchase. A rough estimate to install a 13 amp outdoor socket could be between £150-£450*, whereas a 32 amp supply could cost up to £750* depending on various factors. You must ensure that you consult a qualified electrician when looking to install
an electrical supply for a hot tub. Please also ensure you consult the hot tub retailer you are purchasing from for electrical specifications.
Here is a table showing the key differences between a 13 amp and 32 amp hot tub:
|13 Amp Hot Tub||32 Amp Hot Tub|
|Number of Pumps||1 (+ 1 Circ )||2+|
|Heater Running with Jets||No||Yes|
|Number of Jets||Less||More|
|Hot Tub Cost||££||££££|
|Electrical Supply Cost Estimate||£150-£450||Up to £750|
Hot Tub Running Costs (13 Amp vs. 32 Amp)
How much does a 13 amp hot tub cost to run?
Lots of factors come into play when looking at hot tub running costs,. It is not possible to simply say that all 13 amp hot tubs cost X to run per week or month as the quality of insulation and specification varies across the market. Hot Spring Spas are all tested for energy efficiency and running costs. An example running cost of a 13 amp hot tub from Hot Spring would be the Hotspring Propel which has an estimated daily average electricity cost of £1.00 per day.
How much does a 32 amp hot tub cost to run?
Same as the above, we cannot give a set running cost for all 32 amp hot tubs as these hot tubs vary so much in quality. An example 32 amp hot tub from Hot Spring is the Envoy which has an estimated running cost of £31.16 per month**. As you will see, the difference in running cost between a 13 amp and 32 amp models is minimal for a brand like HotSpring due to the unbeatable high quality level of insulation across their whole range of spas.
A KEY TAKEAWAY
There is so much more to a hot tub than the electrical configuration! Do not allow this to takeover the buying process. Yes it should be a factor and hopefully this guide helps make sense of it a bit better, but when you are shopping for a hot tub you should be focusing on how the product can help
you and your wellness. If you want to find out how a Hot Spring Spa can benefit you and your family then get in touch or visit one of our showrooms and speak to one of our wellness consultants today!
*Estimated cost based on our experience and discussion with our recommended electrical installer. This price cannot be guaranteed and may vary based on location, current electrical setup and many other factors.
**Based on a spa with an ambient temperature of 12°C set at 39°C used 6 times per week, 15 minutes with the jets on, 15 minutes with the jets off during each use. Testing conducted by an independent third party certified laboratory in a Controlled Environmental Chamber at multiple ambient temperatures using continuous Data Acquisition monitoring of watts, temperature and humidity, with all equipment rigorously calibrated to ensure data accuracy. Testing conducted on representative large, medium and small spa models, with energy values for other models extrapolated from original data. Individual energy consumption will vary depending on water set temperature, actual consumer usage patterns, and actual environmental ambient conditions.