Brake Horsepower “BHP” Versus Continuous Horsepower Explained in Hot Tubs

When considering hot tub motors/pumps, “brake horsepower” (BHP) and “continuous horsepower” (HP) are terms that describe the power output of the electric motor(s) in a hot tub, but they refer to different performance characteristics and should be distinguished from each other. Here’s a breakdown of each one for a better understanding.

  1. Brake Horsepower (BHP):
    • Definition: Brake horsepower is the maximum power output of the motor without any load, measured at the motor’s shaft.
    • Peak Power: It represents the peak power the motor can achieve for short bursts. This is often used in marketing to highlight the maximum performance capability of the motor.
    • Short Duration: Motors running at their BHP rating are not intended to sustain this level of power output for long periods. Running at BHP continuously can lead to overheating and potential damage to the motor and therefore should not be relied upon a sustainable performance attribute.
  2. Continuous Horsepower (HP):
    • Definition: Continuous horsepower is the power output that the motor can sustain over an extended period without overheating or experiencing performance degradation.
    • Sustained Power: This is a more realistic measure of the motor’s performance during normal operation. It indicates the power the motor can continuously produce while maintaining reliability and efficiency.
    • Durability: Continuous horsepower ratings are crucial for understanding how the motor will perform under regular, prolonged use, which is typical in hot tub operation.

Ultimately, BHP is about maximum, short-term performance, while continuous HP is about consistent, sustainable performance. Continuous HP provides a more reliable measure of what to expect during regular use. BHP can be misleading if one assumes it represents sustainable power. Some hot tub manufacturers or spa brands might emphasize BHP in advertising because it sounds better, but continuous HP is more relevant for everyday usage and maintenance. If comparing hot tub brands and specifications then make sure to read the motor descriptions carefully or consult with the salesperson or dealer for clarification. For example, a 3 BHP motor is typically a 1.5 HP continuous motor or vice versa a 1.5 HP motor is 3 BHP.

For more information on how to shop and compare hot tubs before purchasing please visit our hot tub buyer’s guide pages. You can also click on the pink boxes at the top right of every page to get a free local quotes from dealers in your area. Or, click our “Spa Buyer’s Consult” link above to get one-on-one expert advice on how to shop around for the best hot tubs available in your area.

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