13amp hot tubs are also called ‘plug and play’ hot tubs. They have their advantages but are often seen as the younger sibling of the 32amp hot tub. Both have their advantages and disadvantages. In this article, I will try and help you decide which is best for you. I have experience of both 13amp and 32amp hot tubs, so I will be able to give you my honest experience.
13amp hot tubs are generally budget hot tubs, and they are also called ‘plug and play’ hot tubs. 32-40amp hot tubs can use more power so that they can run multiple pumps for a powerful hydrotherapy experience. That’s the simple answer – now for the detail!!
Let’s first look at cost as this is important to many people.
Cost of the hot tub
13amp, ‘plug and play’ hot tubs are towards the cheaper end of the market. All inflatable hot tubs I have seen are 13amp, and this is so they can be installed easily in the garden. (click here to see if an inflatable hot tub is right for you). Even a few regular solid hot tubs are 13amp, and they are often significantly cheaper than their 32amp cousins. This is because they are running less powerful pumps and water heaters which are more inexpensive to purchase.
Are 13amp hot tubs cheaper to run?
The cost of running a 13amp hot tub may be cheaper than a 32amp hot tub as the 32amp hot tub will draw more electrical power to run the multiple, more powerful jets and pumps. However, the actual cost will vary depending on how the hot tub is used. I like relaxing in my hot tub watching the evening nature and enjoying a little bit of ‘me-time.’ In these instances, I do not use jets so the cost would be the same in normal weather conditions. If it was colder, then the heater may have to work harder (draw more power) to maintain the water temperature. In this case, the 13amp would cost more. Other factors like hot tub insulation will have a more significant effect than the amps of the hot tub you use.
Cost to install 13amp vs 32amp hot tubs
If you already have an outdoor plug socket fitted with an RCD, then the cost of installing the hot tub is zero! Many households have such plugs for the lawnmower or leaf blower. If you do not have an outdoor socket, then one can be installed by an electrician for around $150 depending on the amount of cable needed. You can even install the cables yourself and then get a qualified electrician to check your work.
32amp plugs are connected directly to the ring main and mine is connected to an RCD in the fuse box. The installation needs to be done by a qualified electrician and will cost between $500 -$1000 depending again on the amount of armoured cable required and how long it will take the electrician.
What are the advantages of 32amp over 13amp?
The 32amp installation allows the hot tub to draw more power from the mains to run multiple pumps and heaters at the same time. This means the hydrotherapy jets are stronger, and the water temperature is always constant. Hydrotherapy has been shown to help with many health problems including arthritis. With the less powerful jets or just bubbles, you get the same benefit as a warm bath!
Most 13amp hot tubs turn off the water heater when the jets are turned on which means the water may get colder while you are in the hot tub. My first hot tub was an inflatable 13amp, plug and play hot tub. It was a great hot tub, and I do not regret buying it for one minute. It did not have water jets, but instead used bubbles to give a gentle sensation on your skin. However, like most 13amp hot tubs, turning on the bubbles meant the heater turned off. In cold weather, this would mean the water would go from 100 Fahrenheit to 95 degrees Fahrenheit in less than five minutes of bubbles. To compensate, I would keep the water temperature at 104 knowing it would drop to 100. Very energy inefficient!!!!
Do all 13amp hot tubs have weak jets?
No, some manufacturers have fitted diverters which means all of the power of the pump can be focused on half the hot tub or just on one seat. They may also have air valves which will intensify the jets. If you are using the hot tub in cold weather be aware that adding air will cool the water down faster and you will be spending more money overall keeping your hot tub warm.
More power = more jets!
This is partly true. Having more power means you can have multiple pumps for many hydrotherapy jets. I’d question whether you need so many jets? The positioning of the jets, in my opinion, is more important than the number. The only way you are going to know what is best for you is if you try out the hot tub – this may mean that you will get the hard sell from the dealership afterwards but remember they are only trying to make a living. The brand Jacuzzi is master of hydrotherapy and has the price tag to match. However, if you are new to hot tubbing look at the position of the jets in a Jacuzzi hot tub and see if it compares to the cheaper version you are looking at – if it does, then you are on the right track!
Some hot tubs require more power than a 32amp socket!
Before you ask an electrician to install a 32 amp power supply, choose your hot tub or swim spa. Some of the larger hot tubs or swim spas require more power, so they may need 40amp or even 50amp! 32 amp is the standard across most ranges, but always check before you start spending money with the electrician!
So, are 13amp hot tubs any good?
YES! Many people buy a 13amp ‘plug and play’ hot tub to see if they will get enough use out of it. When they determine (and they will!!) that a hot tub is an excellent investment for the family, they can look at what they may wish to upgrade to. It may be that the first hot tub was an inflatable tub and that the upgrade will be a solid 13amp hot tub. There are some great plug and play hot tubs on the market, get out there, start looking and talk to some dealerships!!
As always, comment or contact me directly for more information on anything hot tub!
Happy Hot Tubbing!!