Inflatable Hot Tubs: Questions to Consider
If you’re looking for a way to get the benefits of owning a hot tub but aren’t sure it’s in your budget or available space, you’re not alone. Maybe you’re hoping to find a plug-and-play model that can plug into a standard outlet so it has the potential to be moved from one area of a yard to another without the help of a licensed electrician. Maybe you’ve seen advertisements for inflatable hot tubs and wondered if one is right for you. Here are some questions to ask yourself to help you decide what type of hot tub is best for you.
How Do Inflatable Hot Tubs Work?
And for that matter, what is an inflatable hot tub? Remember those inflatable swimming pools from your childhood? The ones that were often thin and only lasted a few days before someone or something inevitably poked a hole in it, spilling water all over the yard? These are made from a similar concept, only much higher quality and not nearly as easy to damage.
Soft-sided, inflatable, portable hot tubs can be set up anywhere, at any time, as long as you have space, water, and the desire to do it. So, if you’re camping, traveling, or simply taking the party with you somewhere, this style of hot tub enables you to do that. An inflatable hot tub is made to be “portable,” but keep in mind that even uninflated, they can weigh upwards of 100 lbs., so they do require some muscle to haul around.
Most models come with pumps, filters, and heaters, and no matter what type of spa you have, they all require chemicals and maintenance to keep the water fresh and sanitary. They also require regular draining and refilling maintenance if left with standing water.
Do Inflatable Hot Tubs Have Seats?
Technically, most do not. One of the downsides of an inflatable hot tub is that it goes back to the design of those childhood swimming pools, only with hot water instead of cold, and made for grownups rather than children. This means your jetted massage options are slim to none since the jets in these tubs are really intended to create bubbles more than anything.
You can buy padded inflatable cushions to create seats, but the truth is that either way, to use this type of spa, you end up sitting on the bottom of the tub one way or another.
Are Inflatable Hot Tubs Comfortable?
Comfort is subjective, so here are some points to consider to find out if an inflatable hot tub will be comfortable for you specifically.
1. Sitting and standing. Most inflatable hot tubs stand around 28 inches off the ground. That means that the water line is probably somewhere around 22 inches off the ground. That makes these tubs easy to get in and out of, but once you sit, be prepared to have to get up again—off the low ground. This type of hot tub might not be ideal for you if you have difficulty with that.
2. Inflatable = natural cushion. Since the hot tub wall/shell is inflatable, it’s naturally cushioned against your back. This can make it exceptionally comfortable to lie back. You can even float in it if you want.
3. The size of your personal build. Inflatable hot tubs are made to accommodate the average size person, but what if you’re not “average size?” Traditional hot tubs are made with a variety of seating options to accommodate a variety of human body sizes, but inflatable tubs simply don’t have that flexibility.
4. Where to put your legs. Essentially, in an inflatable spa, no matter how you arrange yourself, you are sitting on the ground. This means that you’re sitting with your legs straight out, or some variation of that. More people in the tub means what could potentially become a multi-person game of footsie. Awkward.
5. No ability to recline. Unless you’re sitting in this spa alone and lying back to float, there’s not a lot of option for reclining in a tub that’s walls are straight up and down.
Are Inflatable Hot Tubs Worth It?
Again, this is a subjective point. If you’re purchasing it for the ability to take it to the lake or the woods, or create a mobile hot-tub party, then an inflatable spa is an excellent option. If you’re considering purchasing a hot tub for the therapy benefits, you might want to look at other options that might be slightly more accommodating.
It’s possible to get a smaller, hard-side spa that is also plug-and-play, so it’s movable (though probably, not as easily as an inflatable model) but that has multiple seating options, massaging jets, and other benefits that are simply not available in the inflatable models.
How Much is an Inflatable Hot Tub?
Obviously, prices are going to vary according to location, brand, features, and other factors, but inflatable model spas start around $1000 and go up from there. Then be sure to add on the chemicals, the energy cost, and whatever costs are associated with clearing a space to inflate it.
Most inflatable hot tubs are not made for energy efficiency, though they likely come with smaller pumps and heaters, so the energy costs are probably fairly similar.
Again, depending on your priorities, this could be a good option for affordability. But it’s a bit of a case of getting what you pay for, too. Once you get to the higher-quality models, be sure to compare them to non-inflatable plug-and-play options.
How Long do Inflatable Hot Tubs Last?
Obviously, an inflatable spa is not made to last for years and years the way conventional hot tubs are built. A standard limited warranty length for an inflatable spa is a year. Of course, this includes caveats on how the spa is stored and used, as well as maintained. It’s possible to get a spa that lasts a few years, but if you’re leaving it inflated and filled year-round, that’s unlikely.
Can Inflatable Hot Tubs Be Used in Winter?
The short answer is yes, you can use your inflatable spa in the winter. However, if you’re leaving it set up and running, inflatable models struggle to maintain their water temperature once the outside temp drops below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. They simply aren’t built with the insulation necessary to keep up.
Compare it to using an inflatable cooler in the summer. Your popsicles and ice cream will stay cool for a while, but eventually, if you don’t eat them fast, they’ll become a puddle of goop in the bottom of the cooler. Now reverse that. If you’re using the same cooler to keep your chili hot, it’s eventually going to get cold, no matter what you do to reheat it, because the air insulation can only do so much.
So the long answer is that winter is not ideal for using inflatable hot tubs.
Alternatives to Inflatable Hot Tubs
If you’re looking at inflatable hot tubs because of budget or ease of use, there are some great alternatives that are made to use year-round, don’t require that you sit on the ground, and don’t have to be inflated every time you want to use them.
Bullfrog Spas offers a few spas that can be specially ordered as plug-and-play models, making them a fantastic option for users who are unable to have an electrician run a 240V panel to run their spa.
The X5L is a small hot tub that is large on quality, comfort and therapy options. Its dimensions make it perfect for tight spaces and indoor use, while the comfortable lounge seat and leg jets provide relaxing therapy.
The X6R is a fun and value packed round hot tub for up to 5-6 people. The classic round spa design offers a perfect layout for conversation and fun with friends and family, and the X6R won’t break your budget.
The R5L is an economical 2–3-person spa that provides soothing therapy in tight spaces. This spa is ideal for singles, empty-nesters, and couples that need a smaller spa without sacrificing quality. The R5L fits through most doorways for indoor installation and is available in a 120v plug-in option.
The A5L is the most feature-rich compact 2–3-person hot tub on the market today. It’s small enough for indoor, patio, and balcony installation, yet it is as comfortable and therapeutic as spas nearly twice its size. The A5L is a perfect hot tub for couples, empty nesters, singles, or the person that would like personal spa therapy without using too much space. The A5L features a comfortable premium lounge seat that includes massaging wrist, hamstring, and calf jets as well as your choice of 3 JetPaks for ultimate personalized relaxation.
No matter which type of spa you choose, best of luck with finding the right spa for you.