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What's Better, a Hot Tub or a Sauna?

Hot tubs and saunas offer very different experiences, both in their use and their required maintenance. If you want to invest in one but you're not sure which is better, here are a few points to consider.

How hot tubs and saunas are similar

Hot tubs and saunas offer a similar function: They provide heat to the body for relaxation and therapeutic purposes. Both can offer a feeling of well-being; both can alleviate muscle soreness and body pains.

Hot tubs and saunas are both great places to relax, ease tension and spend quality family time. Either can be used as a quiet place to enjoy a peaceful moment or catch up with loved ones on the day's events.

How hot tubs and saunas are different

The experience of a hot tub is very different from the experience of a sauna.


Hot tubs are aesthetically more versatile than saunas. A well-designed hot tub can serve as the architectural focal point of your back yard or deck.

  • Cabinet options are available to match the owner's preferences and décor
  • Dramatic lighting effects set the mood inside and outside the spa
  • The soothing sound of bubbling water has long been associated with meditation and relaxation
  • Optional sensory accessories include music or a TV monitor for watching movies while relaxing in the spa

Saunas emit no relaxing white noise. An indoor sauna may not be viewable at all by a passersby; an outdoor sauna generally does not allow a view of the inside of the unit. Any lighting or special features are lost on anyone not engaging in the activity.


Hot tubs offer the added benefit of massage.

  • Depending on the hot tub model, spa jets can be selectively directed to trouble spots on the body
  • Sitting in a hot tub before you go to bed can help you fall asleep faster and improve the quality of your sleep
  • Hot water and jet massage can help reduce anxiety and pain, improve your circulation, and alleviate headaches and congestion
  • Heat therapy in a hot tub can ease rheumatoid arthritis pain

Together time

Hot tubs make the perfect romantic getaway or a relaxing retreat right in your own backyard. Your hot tub is a great place to spend quality time connecting with the people most important to you. You can incorporate your hot tub into parties and family get-togethers, play hot tub games in the water (particularly if the model allows the temperature to be adjusted down to swimming levels), laugh together and catch up on life. Or, for a quiet night at home with your spouse, grab a good book and some soothing music, disconnect from your daily demands, and unwind together in the spa. Hot tubs are not as hot as saunas, so may be appropriate for a wider age range.

Saunas are often enjoyed by couples but they are not generally associated with fun and games or social events. Saunas run at higher temperatures than hot tubs and may be uncomfortably hot for children or teens.

Hot Tub Installation compared to Sauna Installation

Installing a hot tub is not as complicated as it may seem, although many consumers opt to let a professional handle the job.

A hot tub does not require plumbing. You can simply fill it with your garden hose. The hot tub's filtration system circulates the water.

The hot tub does require electricity. A 110V model (also known as a “plug and play”) is the simplest option because you just need to plug the unit into a grounded household outlet. If you purchase a 220V model, you may need to hire a certified electrician to upgrade the wiring, just as you would for a dual fuel range or electric clothes dryer.

Saunas can be purchased prefabricated or built using moisture and mold-resistant materials. A sauna requires placement that allows proper escape of heat and moisture so that they do not become trapped in the walls to create an environment for mold growth. An indoor sauna usually requires an upgraded ventilation system.

Like hot tub owners, many sauna owners prefer to let a professional handle installation. Installation can double or triple the cost of the unit, depending on size, plumbing, electrical and other factors. A sauna can be heated electrically or with a wood burning stove. Depending on what kind of sauna you have, you may need to install a carbon monoxide detector or a chimney.


With proper care, the best hot tubs require very little ongoing maintenance. A spa generally requires weekly water tests to ensure the proper chemical balance:

  • To test, simply hold a test strip in the water for a moment
  • To balance the water, add the appropriate water sanitizing agents (depending on the test results)

Hot tub filters remove contaminants from the water. The filters should be cleaned once a month and replaced periodically. To clean, some filters can be placed in the dishwasher; others are sprayed with a garden hose.

Visit our hot tub maintenance tips page for more details.

To clean a sauna, experts recommend scrubbing the interior surfaces with a brush after each use. You will also need to periodically hose down the entire interior, and periodically sand the entire interior. Stains require additional scrubbing with a cleaning agent, and mildew requires scrubbing with bleach.

Wood swelling may necessitate periodic sanding of moving components. Outdoor saunas need occasional pressure washing and a coat of stain on the exterior.

What's the best choice?

Hot tubs and saunas both offer health benefits. Both require the owner's attention to regular maintenance tasks for optimum results. Your choice depends on your goals. To get more information, talk to an authorized dealer near you. There's never any obligation. Our dealers are happy to provide the information you need to help you determine what product is right for you.