Sheer descent or blade-style waterfalls
This style of waterfall is the most popular and most common in both pool and hot tub designs. It can be created very easily in a pool design by having a formed ledge projected above a larger body of water. Running water over this ledge creates a water feature that looks and sounds natural. Additionally, there are plastic component designs that can be mounted in walls or other elements to create laminar flumes.
In hot tub design, this style of flume is sometimes called a ‘blade’ waterfall. They can vary in length and typically comprise a thin sheet of water that is projected from a slit-style orifice. The orifice or body of the fountain is raised above the main body of water to create a dramatic sheet of falling water. This style of water feature creates interesting audio that will vary depending on its size and the amount of water coming out of the orifice.
These water features typically do not have the same laminar qualities as those found on large swimming pool designs due to the nature of the plumbing schematics. However, new designs currently on the market have made great improvements in this area.
Laminar streams are another popular flume design. These water features are more challenging to execute correctly in the hot tub environment due to the turbulence present in many hydraulic systems. Therefore, suppliers and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) have developed custom designs to help remove any turbulence whereby creating a smooth, solid rod or stream of water. Removing turbulence also allows light to travel more effectively inside the stream.
To help reduce turbulence, some hot tub manufacturers will use smaller magnetic-drive pumps, rather than jet pumps, to power the water feature. When configured in this manner, the flume has less entrained air and is more laminar in nature. These designs look more appealing and work better with LED lighting.
Laminar stream water features can be created using a fixed design or a ‘pop-up’ configuration. They are often used in groups to create a balanced look as well as to add more audio effects to the hot tub.
This flume style is also sometimes difficult to execute in a typical hot tub design. One reason for this is because hot tubs usually do not provide enough run length to create this type of water feature.
As the name would suggest, the goal is to create a water feature that is slow moving, but with enough water volume to produce a natural, relaxing sound—similar to a natural brook or creek. Many manufacturers use small spill-overs to create rivers of water that run down the hot tub walls. Although many of these designs are esthetically pleasing to the eye, in most cases, the audio cannot be heard above the noise created by the pump.
One design on the market uses a long, curved runway for the water that can also be filled with natural stone. This water feature is fed using a silent, magnetic-drive circulation pump, which allows the natural sound of the water to prevail. Another design uses a ‘pop-up’ feature that produces an umbrella of water that creates a natural aquatic sound as the water descends into the hot tub.