Inflatable hot tubs sound like a great idea, and perhaps given how cheap one is relative to a built-in hot tub, you might be too good to be true. What’s the catch?
The most noteworthy pros of inflatable hot tubs are affordable prices, easy installation, portability, and the flexibility of using one indoors and outdoors. The most common cons of inflatable hot tubs are limited durability and poor performance in freezing winters.
Inflatable hot tubs have several pros and cons compared to conventional hard shell variants, including jacuzzis and spas. Plus, different types of inflatable hot tubs have a few strengths and weaknesses.
Buying a hot tub—inflatable or standard—can be a perplexing process if you’re unfamiliar with the options available. But in this post, I’ll give you the basic pros and cons of inflatable hot tubs, and offer my favorite product picks.
Inflatable Hot Tubs Pros and Cons
Inflatable hot tubs are mostly made of PVC, albeit companies use different types of vinyl fabrics for distinct qualities. Apart from that and a few other differences, all inflatable versions use air to form the hot tub and retain its structural form, which becomes the basis for most pros and cons.
Inflatable Hot Tub Pros
Here are 10 pros of inflatable hot tubs.
1. Inflatable Hot Tubs Are Relatively Inexpensive
An above-ground hard shell hot tub can cost around $4,000 to more than $10,000, while a luxury hot tub’s upfront cost is usually over $15,000. I’m excluding in-ground hard shell hot tubs because they’re a different ballgame with complicated and costly installations. (source)
An entry-level inflatable hot tub can cost as little as $500 to $700.
If your budget is ~$1,000, you’ll have plenty of options available from different brands, and many of these models are likely to have a few extra features than the cheapest inflatable hot tubs. Therefore, you’re looking at an initial cost that’s almost $4,000 less, if not more, than a typical above-ground hard shell hot tub.
2. Inflatable Hot Tubs Don’t Require Much Space
Modern hot tubs with hard shells for 2 to 4 people aren’t exactly enormous, but they’re a bit larger than inflatable hot tubs. Suppose you opt for a square or squarish inflatable hot tub. Here are some typical inflatable hot tub sizes:
- 5’7” x 5’7″ (170 cm x 170 cm)
- 5’11” x 5’11” (180 cm x 180 cm)
- 7’1” x 7’1” (216 cm x 216 cm)
The depth might be 26” to 28” (66 cm to 71 cm), depending on the brand and model you choose. In contrast, a hard shell above-ground hot tub with the same capacity is likely to be in the following hot tub sizes:
|Small hot tub||2 – 4||5’4″- 7’ (1.6 -2.1m)||5’4″- 7’ (1.6 -2.1m)||29″- 35″ (73.6 – 88.9 cm)|
|Medium hot tub||5 – 6||6’4″- 7’9″ (1.9 – 2.4m)||6’4″ – 7’9″ (1.9 – 2.4m)||33”- 38.5” (83.8 – 97.8cm)|
|Large hot tub||7+||7’ – 9’ (2.1 – 2.7m)||7′- 9′ (2.1 – 2.7m)||36”- 38” (91.4 x 96.5cm|
|XL hot tub||8+||11′ (3.3m)||8′ (2.4m)||3′ (.9m)|
3. Inflatable Tubs Suit Indoor and Outdoor Settings
Theoretically, both hard shell and inflatable hot tubs can be installed indoors and outdoors, but a hard shell hot tub weighs substantially more, whether it is empty or filled with water. This is why you should factor in the indoor flooring and outdoor foundation or surface that you can use.
A medium-sized hard-shell hot tub for 4 to 6 people may weigh around 600 lbs (272 kg) without water. In contrast, an inflatable hot tub for up to 6 people, like those of Coleman or Intex, weighs around 100 lbs (45 kg).
The inflated weight is a bit more, but it’s nowhere near how heavy a hard shell hot tub is when it’s dry. Also, inflatable hot tubs usually have a smaller water capacity than hard-shell spas.
The weight of water is less, which makes the setup much easier than the installation of a hard shell hot tub.
For instance, Intex PureSpa inflatable spas for 6 people with a capacity of 290 gals (1,098 liters) weigh around 2,204 lbs (1,000 kg) when you fill one up to the marked level. A hard shell hot tub for 6 people may weigh around 5,000 lbs (2,268 kg) when it is optimally filled.
These weights exclude people, so you have to factor that in when you consider a hot tub on a floor or surface.
This weight difference becomes critical when you don’t have a solid concrete slab for a hot tub. If you have a deck or a different type of floor as the foundation, it may or may not endure a hard shell hot tub’s weight.
An inflatable hot tub is more likely to be suitable in such circumstances.
4. Most Inflatable Hot Tubs Are Easy to Install
Inflatable hot tubs don’t require professional installation, as the boxes are usually light enough for you to handle by yourself. At the most, you may need someone to just assist in unboxing and managing the different components.
No technical expertise is necessary.
Apart from the simple inflation process, most inflatable hot tubs are a plug-and-play setup, but you do need an available power source and water hose, of course. The easy installation process is also what makes an inflatable model a portable hot tub.
5. Lots of Options: Features, Materials, Sizes
Most inflatable hot tubs include all the essentials you need, including the following:
- Air blower
- Control unit
- Filter cartridges
- Filtration pump
- Jets (air bubbles)
All inflatable hot tubs have power cords of an optimal length. Plus, you’ll get energy-efficient covers, and many companies include a thermal ground cloth to provide an insulating barrier on the floor or foundation where you will place the inflatable hot tub.
You may also expect a few additional features with some inflatable hot tubs, such as:
- App for remote use
- FastFill inflation system
- LED lights
- Power saving timer
- Wireless control panels
While most inflatable hot tubs are PVC or a specially engineered vinyl fabric, insulating liners or other components may be of different materials. For instance, companies like Coleman use the EnergySense technology that combines aluminum coatings and processed foam.
Furthermore, you can choose the desired size and shape for your inflatable hot tub, such as the following:
- Capacity: 2, 4, 6, and 8 people.
- Shapes: octagon, round, or square.
6. Plug Into a Regular 110V/120V GFCI Receptacle
Most hot tubs with a hard shell, including jacuzzis, require a 220V/240V power outlet. Inflatable hot tubs typically need a regular 110V/120V outlet that is standard in American homes, but you should only use a GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) receptacle. If you are wondering, you can use a GFCI extension cord.
7. Softer Inflatable Materials May Feel Comfortable
Any inflatable material feels softer than a hard surface with little to no flexibility. So, you’ll probably find the gentle and softer feel of inflatable hot tubs considerably more comfortable than a hard shell variant. This comfort isn’t limited to the walls, as the tub’s floor is also softer.
8. Temporary and Permanent Installations Possible
Inflatable hot tubs can be installed indoors or outdoors.
If you’re placing your inflatable hot tub outside, you should keep it in a shaded place so that direct sunlight doesn’t damage the fabric or other components. These standard installations may be seasonal or temporary, or permanent, depending on your needs.
Plus, you can use an inflatable model as a portable hot tub. You can deflate and pack a hot tub to carry with you on a camping trip, or you might temporarily set up an inflatable hot tub if you plan a party in your backyard or garden.
9. Upkeep Is Straightforward For Inflatable Hot Tubs
Taking care of an inflatable hot tub isn’t very different from maintaining a hard shell variant. You must chlorinate the water and replace the hot tub filter as needed. Many inflatable hot tubs include a test strip in the kit for you to get started. These essentials are readily available.
10. You Can Conveniently Accessorize Most Models
Inflatable hot tubs have lots of fun add-ons, so even if a brand or manufacturer doesn’t have any accessories, you can get almost anything you might need, including the following:
- Bath pillows
- Cup holders
- Hot tub lights
Inflatable Hot Tub Cons
Here are some disadvantages of inflatable hot tubs:
1. Inflatable Hot Tubs Are Less Durable
Inflatable materials, like PVC or vinyl in this case, are vulnerable to damage, such as abrasions and punctures. Sharp objects pose a threat, even if an inflatable hot tub uses an engineered fabric with two or three layers and is stronger than usual.
Most inflatable hot tub manufacturers recommend installing their products on a flat surface with no unevenness or potentially abrasive and sharp materials, whether artificial or natural.
The components and materials used to make an inflatable hot tub won’t last as long as typical hard-shell hot tubs.
A reliable indicator of limited durability is the standard warranty offered by different brands. Intex offers a 1-year limited warranty for its PureSpa range and other inflatable hot tubs. The SaluSpa series is covered by 365 days of warranty for the pump, but the liner has only 180 days.
That said, if you take good care of your prized asset, it can last several years, even half a decade or longer.
2. Entry-Level Inflatable Hot Tubs Lack Seats
Most inflatable hot tubs with standard features don’t have seats, so you have to sit on the floor with your legs extended or folded in some manner. These postures may not be comfortable for every user.
However, you can buy seats or get an inflatable hot tub that includes a couple.
Like all products, including hard shell hot tubs, you get better features if you spend a little more, and that isn’t limited to seats. You may opt for an inflatable hot tub with a hard water or saltwater system. Similarly, entry-level models have fewer jets than slightly costlier variants.
3. Inflatable Hot Tubs Need Longer To Heat Up
Generally, inflatable hot tubs have a maximum water temperature of 104°F (40°C), which may take around 20 hours or longer to reach, depending on the ambient conditions and the size and type of your model. Also, inflatables don’t retain heat as long or well as hard-shell hot tubs.
4. Not All Models Can Endure Freezing Winters
Inflatable hot tubs perform well when ambient temperatures are higher than 40°F (~4°C). Thus, you may not be able to use one outdoors in freezing winters, as the materials aren’t engineered to endure water freezing inside an inflatable hot tub, including in its filtration system.
5. Some Tubs May Require a Dedicated Circuit
While inflatable hot tubs use a regular 110V/120V GFCI power outlet, you may need a dedicated circuit when the heater is running if other appliances share the same breaker. The pump isn’t a problem, as it is usually around 80W, but the heater might be an issue because it may be over 1,000W.
The heater alone can draw 10 to 15 amps, subject to its wattage. Add the amps drawn by other appliances sharing the circuit, and your 15-amp or 20-amp breaker may trip.
5. Some Tubs May Require a Dedicated Circuit
6. Many Inflatable Hot Tubs Don’t Come With Water Massage Jets
The jets in standard inflatable hot tubs don’t offer the vigorous, targeted massaging effect that jacuzzis and other spas have. Instead, they operate like air tubs, producing hundreds of streams of air bubbles which give an overall gentle body massage. So if you’re after a targeted massage, you’ll need to pick a model with water massage jets, like the Intex PureSpa Jet and Bubble Deluxe inflatable hot tub, which we’ll dive into in the next section.
Top 3 Inflatable Hot Tubs
Here are our picks for the three best inflatable hot tubs:
This inflatable hot tub from the highly reputable Coleman brand is easy to set up and operate. It comes with a power saving timer that you can use to set the water temperature up to 72 hours prior to using it. Deflates compactly for easy storage.
Looking for help with muscle recovery after working out? Try this mid-range model from Intex. Easy to set up and durable, it comes with 140 air jets, 2 head rests, and an insulated cover. Nice “wood” appearance and easy touch-screen display make it a pleasure to soak and enjoy.
This tub’s construction is extremely durable and it comes with a cover, but not with seats. The 170 soothing air bubble jets, two head rests, a color-changing LED light, and an easy-to-use control panel will help you take your relaxation to the next level. However, this inflatable hot tub can take a while to heat up and though it claims to fit six people it will be a cozy fit.
Here’s a head-to-head comparison of these 3 models:
|Product||Coleman SaluSpa||Intex GreyWood Deluxe||Intex PureSpa|
|D* or L x W||77” ( ext. diameter)||85″ (ext. diameter)||85” (ext. diameter)|
|Depth/Height||28” (71 cm)||25″ (63.5cm)||28” (71 cm)|
* External diameter. The internal diameter is less, such as 57” (145 cm) for the Coleman SaluSpa.
So Is An Inflatable Hot Tub Worth It?
Considering the pros and cons, inflatable hot tubs are a worthwhile investment and a treasure to own and use. You have to be gentler with the inflatable materials to extend their longevity. Other than that, the only worry is inclement weather, such as storms and freezing temperatures.Tags: hot tub, inflatable, pros and cons, Top 3 Inflatable Hot Tubs