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One piece spas, also known as unibody spas, are formed as one piece with shapes that provide a variety of seating arrangements within the tub. Each integral seat is often equipped with one or more water jets that allows water to be directed at parts of the body. The water flow may be aerated for additional effect, and some or all of the jets may also automatically move or rotate, providing a massage-like effect. These kinds of tubs are also referred to as Jacuzzi or Whirlpool tubs, though both are brand names.
One piece spas are usually shallower than wooden tubs, usually being 1 meter in height to fit through doors and narrow hallways. Cranes are occasionally used to place one piece spas in a backyard or other location that does not have adequate clearance for carrying the tub.
Spas usually have between one and four water pumps, with one circulation pump serving the heating and filtration water loop and the other(s) driving the hydrotherapy jets. Sophisticated computer controls are now common and some tubs now are equipped with extensive lighting, sound systems, and even flat panel televisions with DVD players.
The spa shell is the exterior of the tub, and is composed of a surface and an understructure that are bonded together during the manufacturing process. The surface is the source of the color, look and feel of the spa, so it should resist deterioration due to the sun, spa chemicals, or normal wear and tear. Some high-end shells have special coatings to make them more stain resistant or have anti-bacterial ingredients molded into the shell material.
The understructure of the shell provides the strength needed to support hundreds of gallons of water and the weight of the bathers (the cabinet is not normally part of the weight-bearing structure). The substructure is generally made of fiberglass, though some companies use Thermoplastics or other plastics. Some manufacturers build a self-supporting shell, while others use secondary supports of wood or metal under the seats or in high-stress areas to reduce the amount of fiberglass required. Some companies use a perimeter frame of wood, metal or concrete to support the rim.
The plumbing of the spa consists of several distinct systems:
The spa cabinet is the skirting around the hot tub, and serves as both an enclosure for the plumbing and a decorative wrap. For many years, spa cabinetry was made of wood, most commonly redwood or cedar, and this is still a popular choice. Wood cabinets require regular maintenance, though, especially in climates where they are exposed to severe weathering. Synthetic materials are increasingly popular because they are seen as requiring relatively little maintenance to keep their appearance.