The Best Inflatable Hot Tubs of 2021
Summertime nights with inflatable spas at the backyard just got a lot more interesting.
By Allen Hayward
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The Guide to Shopping for Portable Inflatable Hot Tubs
Do you dream about owning a hot spa? You’re probably stopping yourself from getting one because you don’t want to spend the money on a permanent hot tub. If that’s the case, why not try going for an inflatable tub instead? If you have a flat space and an electrical outlet nearby, you can set one up anywhere. You can have an blow up hot tub at a campsite or even inside your garage! The choices are endless.
Don’t expect to see a lot of fancy features in an inflatable spa like you would with a regular spa. Inflatable hot tubs can give you the hot water and bubbles, but you won’t find too many which have water jets or anything else powerful like that. So, consider the features carefully before you settle on an inflatable spa.
Of course, the benefits of owning an inflatable spa speak for themselves. If you rent your home or you’re on a limited budget, and you still want to enjoy a relaxing spa experience, then an inflatable spa is the only way to go. You’ll have the same soothing experience as a regular spa. The big difference is that you won’t need a permanent installation done on the property. Many Inflatable hot tubs are priced under $1,000. Setting up the spa is also very simple too. You won’t even need to hire anyone to help you. If you’re strong enough to carry a deflated hot tub, then it should be an easy DIY task.
Considerations to Make Before Purchasing an Blow up Hot Tub
Don’t expect an portable hot tub to have the same functions as a jacuzzi. But it also doesn’t cost as much either and yet; you can still enjoy a heated bubbly experience in the water.
Okay, so how do you find the best Inflatable hot tubs available? It all depends on your preferences. You need to research certain factors of each hot tub to find the ideal one for you.
Choose the Best Size
Portability is a great thing to have for your hot tub because it allows you to move the hot tub somewhere else if you change your mind about its location. However, if you know where you want to put it, then you need to choose a hot tub size which can fit into that desired space.
Some hot tubs have a width of as little as 180 centimeters. The best place to put the tub is on a flat and leveled surface like a deck, patio, or lawn. Wherever you put the tub, make sure there is a plug outlet nearby. Try not to use an extension cable for something like this.
Do you plan to have a lot of people using the hot tub? How many do you think will use the tub at any one time? The standard blow up hot tub has a capacity for 2 to 4 people. Bigger tubs have an 8-person capacity.
It is important to have an advanced filtration system in your hot tub. It needs to have a hard water filtration system so that calcium does not build up in it. This will make maintaining your hot tub so much easier. Then all you’ll really need to worry about is sustaining the right chemistry in the water.
Choose the Best Shape
There are several shape options available for portable hot tubs now. The most common shape of an Inflatable hot tub is round, but there are some square-shaped models available too. If you want a 2-person hot tub, look for the “rowboat” style ones.
Custom design hot tubs like these provide users with additional legroom. That way, users can feel more comfortable and less cramped as they relax in the water together.
A cover is normally included with any blow up hot tub that you buy. There may even be 2 or 3 covers included with some spa models. Check out the different types of covers they come with too. Some covers are leather, a thermal blanket, insulated, inflatable, or a combination of these. If the interior of the cover is inflatable, it can help trap heat inside the water after you close the tub.
Since you’re using an inflatable spa, you probably won’t be keeping it up for a long term period. That means you won’t need to keep it covered for a long-term period either. As a result, your cover will stay strong for a long time. You won’t need to replace it anytime soon because you won’t be using it too much.
A cover comes with every tub. These covers may be an insulated cover, leather cover, or thermal blanket. Sometimes a cover will be a combination of them too.
Therefore, check which type of cover comes with your hot tub before you purchase it Otherwise, you’ll end up having to spend more money purchasing a hot tub cover separately to get the one you want.
The average number of air jets in an tub is anywhere from 100 to 200. The jets in a regular spa can shoot out powerful water streams. They may even have assistance from air jets too.
If you must have water jets in your tub, then you’ll find some brands which have them. Of course, they’ll have far fewer jets than a regular spa due to the power difference. But at least it won’t be only air jets providing the power.
Check which type of ground cloth comes with your tub. This is a sheet which you place on the surface of the ground prior to placing the hot tub on it. Some tubs come with better quality ground clothes than others. The best ground clothes can resist debris, dust, damage, and temperature fluctuation.
Additional Inflatable Hot Tub Features
Look for an I-beam construction in the sides of your tub. This will ensure its sides stay strong and won’t bend. A cushioned floor may be a good feature to look for too. And if there is a digital control panel with an automatic timer, that is even better.
Of course, the price of the Inflatable hot tub will weigh heavily on your mind. Obviously, a tub with a bigger capacity and more features will cost more than a tub with a lower capacity and fewer features. Just weigh your needs versus your budget and make the best choice.
LED lighting and digital control panels are commonly found in most inflatable tubs. These controls let you perform basic actions like adjusting the temperature, timer, or jet settings. If you can find a tub which lets you alter these settings from inside of it, then that’s even better.
You must have a heater to generate heat for your portable hot tub. The only question is, how hot do you want it to be? The hot tube temperature should not go over 104°F if you want to remain safe. The Consumer Product Safety Commission has set this recommendation too because it reduces the chance of heat stroke and drownings from excessively hot water.
Tips for Heating
The ideal spa temperature for most people is 100°F to 102°F. Any spa heater should be able to do this. However, make sure you know how your hot tub can sustain that temperature, especially after maintaining the tub.
When you’re not using your hot tub, cover the water with the included cover. If the hot tub is placed outside, things like shrubs and privacy screens can help stop the water from evaporating. They can also help keep the water hot too. That way, the heater has less stress put on it.
It should take anywhere from 12 to 24 hours for the water of the inflatable spa to completely heat up.
Portable hot tubs do come with some useful features, such as digital control panels, LED display lighting, and adjustable settings for things like heat timer, temperature, and jets.
It is important to find a portable spa which lets you access the control panel from inside the tub. You probably wouldn’t like getting out of the water and going to the pump to access the heat settings. Some models force you to do this, so you need to be aware of that.
No other component is as important to your portable tub as the water pump. The circulation of the water in your spa depends on the pump. It has an air blower built into it which energizes the jets and inflates the tub.
One container houses the heater and pump. They’re enclosed to protect its electrical components from being exposed to water. The control panel is usually located on the top of the enclosure where the pump is installed.
To prevent the chance of electric shock, a ground fault circuit interrupter is built into the unit which comes with a 120V power cord. Any standard electrical outlet inside or outside your house should be compatible with this. Just be sure the assigned breaker is not sharing the electricity with anything else, or it may flip as you’re in the spa.
Setbacks to Purchasing Portable Hot Tubs
Inflatable hot tubs are certainly beneficial in a lot of ways, but they also have some downsides too. Fortunately, there aren’t too many downsides. Below is a list of them just so you’re aware of what to expect.
When you inflate a portable spa, the air makes a lot of noise. In the enclosed heater and pump, there is a built-in air blower which is used with a hose to send air into the spa. After the inflation is completed, activating the bubbles creates a lot of noise too.
If you put your inflatable spa inside of a small space, like your garage or sun-room, then it will cause the sound to be amplified. That’s not to say that all inflatable spas are loud and noisy. You’ll probably be able to tolerate the noise, but you should at least know to expect it before setting up the spa.
Standard hot tubs have seats available. Unfortunately, blow up tubs do not. All you’ll have is a padded floor on the bottom that everyone sits on.
If a short person or child tries sitting on the floor, their face may end up underwater. They’ll have to resort to standing or kneeling in order to get comfortable. If there are I-beam reinforcements on the inflatable spa, then people have the option to sit down on the sides and not worry about leaks or damages being made.
Of course, you have the option to purchase extra seating or padding for the bottom if you want.
You may think that something big and pricey like a spa would have a 1-year warranty which covers defective parts. Unfortunately, that is not the case with most tub models. You may find some that come with partial warranties which last for 30 days. This means if you only use your spa one time, the warranty will run out before you likely use it again.
Filters Don’t Last Long
Blow up hot tub maintenance is not hard. Every couple of days, you just rinse the filters with a hose and remove the debris from them. But these filters will only last a few weeks before they need to be replaced. They don’t last for years like standard hot tub filters.
Also, the filter is not always located in a convenient place. If it is inside the pump and heater area, then you’ll be able to access it quickly. But if the filter is inside the bottom of the tub, then changing the filter becomes a bigger hassle. You’ll need to open the pump and replace the filter.
Our Best Choices for Inflatable Hot Tubs
Below is a list of the top-selling and highly acclaimed inflatable tubs:
Coleman SaluSpa Inflatable Hot Tub Spa
Why we chose it
Our best pool choice. The Intex Swimming Pool is very easy to install, and it’s even easier to maintain. It is a popular small pool which is affordable and suitable for up to 4 people. You can assemble and disassemble this pool quite easily too. This is great if you want to move your pool around to different places regularly. Just deflate the pool, dry it out, pack it up, and store it.
The pool has durable sidewalls made from heavy-duty vinyl. This durability allows the pool to last for a minimum of a couple of sessions. There is no pool cover, filter pump, or ground cloth included with this 8’ x 30” model.
Intex Inflatable hot tub 77in PureSpa Portable Bubble Massage Spa Set
Why we chose it
Our second best pool choice. The Intex Ultra Frame Pool Set is 14 feet, which is big enough to accommodate up to 4 people. It comes with all your essential pool items, including a debris cover, filtration pump, ground cloth, and removable ladder.
The pool set contains “ultra” frames made of durable steel that is resistant to rust. The frame has very wide legs which stabilize the pool, especially on soft ground. If a few people set up the pool together, they can do it very quickly. For those who’d rather keep the pool set up in one place for the entire year, you can do that too. Although, it is not recommended.
Hot Tubs: Portable Vs. Permanent
Hot tubs have several benefits. Lots of people continue to purchase the standard permanent hot tubs, though. Are they better? Let’s compare them to the portable ones.
Regular hot tubs are called “built-in tubs,” “fixed tubs,” and “traditional tubs.” They are not movable or portable, though, so you need to dedicate space on your property to the tub if you have one installed. Portable tubs are easier to set up and store away in any space that is available. That is why they are loved so much.
Remember that regular tubs cannot be moved once you install them somewhere. If you’re somebody who changes their mind regularly, then a portable tub is a better investment because you can keep switching spaces.
If you want to take a portable tub on a camping or fishing trip, you can just deflate it and put it in a carrying bag to take with you. Portable tubs may not have the most features, but they give you the most mobility. It all depends on what you care about more.
Portable hot tubs are constructed from PVC shells or acrylic material. This makes them feel very smooth when you sit inside the tub. Not only that but cleaning them is also simpler too.
The foam insulation of the hot tub keeps it lightweight enough to move while remaining durable too. The “I-beam” vertical construction of the hot tub makes it firmer too. It can resist your average scrapes and punctures, but it can still be punctured if impacted too severely.
Regular fixed hot tubs have concrete or cement at its bed to keep it in place. There are other materials available for these hot tubs too. But they will never be as smooth as PVC vinyl.
Portable tubs are much cheaper than regular tubs. And if you choose the Inflatable hot tub kind, they’re even less expensive. If you want to save even more money, choose a hot tub which holds four people instead of 6 people.
Portable hot tub maintenance is quite simple to achieve. In fact, it is no different to maintain whether you have a hard-shell or inflatable version of a portable tub. If there is a quick drain mechanism or an advanced filtration system, it is even easier to maintain the tub.
Regular hot tubs tend to cost more because more materials are used to make it. In addition, you need to spend money hiring a professional installer to install the hot tub. Sometimes this requires you to hire both plumbers and electricians too. And if there are ever any problems with these areas of the hot tub, you need to spend even more money to get these problems fixed. Portable hot tubs won’t have any of these expenses.
Tips before Purchasing a Inflatable Hot Tub
The heater and pump are not made to provide heat and bubbles to the tub water simultaneously. Because of this, you’ll quickly get cold in the winter as the temperature drops.
The way to solve this issue is to create a propane water heater of your own. This will be a separate unit from the water pump. But if you’re not a do-it-yourself type, then get someone else to set this up for you.
Pay attention to the temperature rating of your heater and pump. They’re generally safe to use when it is over 40°F outside.
Portable hot tubs are not much to look at in comparison to standard hot tubs. You won’t find integrated lighting, sound systems, or stylish wooden cabinets in them. However, you can still do a few things to enhance their attractiveness. All you need are a couple of aftermarket accessories, and you’ll turn your plain looking spa into a luxurious spa.
You may not want to sit on hard plastic seating in your portable spa. If you want something more comfortable to sit on, use seat cushions. Not only are they soft and comfortable, but they’ll increase your height in the water as well. This is very useful for a short person who wants to bathe in the spa with bigger people.
There are not too many headrests which come with an tub. If you require more support for your neck, then you can purchase some vinyl headrests to use. They get filled with water and air to create the necessary weight which secures them in place. Meanwhile, you can adjust them easily if you need to.
There aren’t too many cup holders built into a portable spa, but this doesn’t mean you can’t add your own. There are trays and cup holders which you can purchase separately and attach to the upper portion of the spa. Then you can reach them right from where you’re sitting.
If you want to bring more light and beauty to your portable hot tub, then purchase some LED lights which are totally submersible and battery-powered. You can find all sorts of colors, shapes, and sizes for these LED lights. Some of them can even be controlled remotely too. This control allows you to alter the light mode, color, and intensity.
Solar blankets can be used on any type of spa or pool. They are often trimmable, so you can adjust the size of the blanket to fit perfectly over your portable spa water. The blanket floats on the water and prevents the chemicals and heat in it from escaping. It also prevents debris and bugs from getting into the water too.
Your spa water must remain clean so that people stay safe as they bathe. This is the most important part of your maintenance duties. Just don’t expect it to be easy because there are hundreds of gallons of water which can easily be contaminated with bacteria.
First, you need to ensure the chemicals in your spa water are balanced. The chemicals and test strips that you would use in a permanent spa can also be used in an inflatable spa.
Read the instruction manual and see what it states about sanitizers. The manufacturer of your Inflatable hot tubs may forbid the use of chlorine tablets in the water. Although, some inflatable spas come with a floating chlorinator that you’re supposed to use alongside the tablets. Then you have tubs which come with salt water sanitizing systems.
If you don’t have the correct level of sanitizer in your spa water, then anyone who goes in the water runs the risk of obtaining a variety of health issues. They may develop folliculitis rashes or something much worse Legionnaires’ disease.
Don’t take the cheap way out by skipping the chemicals, even if you’re not using the spa for very long. The correct level of sanitizer ensures the health and safety of everyone in the water.
Where to Setup the Portable Inflatable Spa?
You may be eager to take a soak in your portable hot tub, but have you thought about where you’re going to set it up? Don’t just put it anywhere because the surface must be strong enough to handle the weight of the tub, whether it’s outdoors or indoors. For this reason, avoid placing the spa on a wooden deck. A concrete patio would work better or better yet, a flat area of your backyard.
An empty portable spa can weigh anywhere from 65 to 100 lbs. Some models come with handles to make it easier to carry them around. If you find heavier ones, they’re typically meant to use for a longer time. Regardless, an portable tub that is filled with water will weigh between 2,000 and 3,500 lbs. This also includes the weight of the people in the spa too. So, the surface where you place your spa would have to be strong enough to hold the equivalent of a car’s weight.
Another thing to consider is whether you’re setting up the portable spa during the wintertime. The temperature of your environment is important because most portable spas are suitable to use when the temperature is over 40°F. If the temperature ever falls under this number, then your heater and pump could suffer for it. For this reason, you need to shelter your spa during the colder months of the year that you want to use it. Some people like to put the spa in their garage and then install some additional insulation to keep it warm. The insulation can go around the spa or even under the spa for added protection.
Setting Up the Portable Spa
What type of portable spa do you have? Is it going inside or outside? Do you have a level surface to put it on? These things will determine how you set up the spa. Below are the steps for setting up a spa in any location.
Look for a location that is near an electrical outlet. Just make sure that splashed water won’t reach it. Also, there needs to be a drainage system in place to handle the splashed water. Ventilation must be present in the room if you install the spa indoors. That way, humidity won’t get trapped in there and cause mold to form.
Clean the location where you want the spa to go. Remove debris and sharp objects from the surface. This ensures nothing gets stuck beneath the spa as you’re soaking in it.
Take out all the contents from the container of the spa package. Find the ground blanket and place it on the surface of the location you’ve selected. This will give added protection to the spa.
The heater and pump can now be assembled on there first.
Place the portable spa on the cloth. Connect the pump and hose to the portable spa and start to inflate it.
The control panel can be installed if it comes separately.
Set up the air filters. Check the drain and make sure it is closed.
Start adding water to the tub.
After it is filled up, use sanitizer in the water to balance the chemistry in there.
Cover the hot tub with the cover which came with it. Activate the heater and wait up to 24 hours.
Check the water, and it should be at a good temperature for soaking. Get in and have fun.
Safety Tips for Blow Up Hot Tub
There may be safety laws set in your state which govern how an Inflatable hot tub can be used there. If you need to research these laws, ask the local code enforcement office in your city or town.
If there are no safety laws to worry about, then you should still abide by the recommendations of the CPSC. You should never take a chance when it comes to the health and safety of those using the tub.
If you want to use your portable spa quickly and wish to save time, there is an attachment you can purchase which lets you connect your home’s hot water to the fill hose of the spa. This means you’d be using the water heater of your home to fill the spa with hot water. Remember that house water heaters can get hotter than 120°F. Most manufacturers recommend you don’t let the water get this hot, so make sure you monitor this carefully.
An outdoor hose can be used to fill your spa in the beginning. After you fill it up about 66% of the way, you can use your home’s hot water to fill the rest. That way, it won’t require as much time to heat up the temperature of the spa water.
Cleaning and Maintenance
It is easy to maintain a portable spa, but you must keep maintaining it if you keep it up for a while.
Portable spas don’t have the most thorough filtration systems like standard spas do. That is why skimming the spa water regularly is recommended. Every couple of days, take out the filters from the spa and rinse them out with fresh water. You’ll need to replace the filters after a couple of weeks. You’ll know when it is time to replace the filters because they will appear discolored or hardened. Detergents or other cleaning products should not be used to clean away grime from the filter. If you use these cleaning agents, your spa water will get filled with foam. Plus, your filter will get cluttered with gunk and force the pump to work extra hard.
The water in your portable spa must be drained and refilled every 1 to 3 months. If the spa is used a lot, then you may need to change the water sooner. To know when it is the right time to do this, look for cloudiness in the water, imbalanced water chemistry, or foaming. If you see anything like this, then change the water immediately.
When you want to empty the Inflatable hot tub, connect a hose to the drain valve. The water will take some time to completely flow out of there. Make sure the water drains into someplace sanitary, like a sewer. Don’t use a natural body of water or a storm drain to dump this water into because the contaminants and chemicals in the water are toxic to fish, plants, and other wildlife that may drink it.
Once the water is out of the tub, use a sponge, mild soap and warm water to wash the interior of it. Don’t use abrasive cleaners like steel wool or powders. Ensure all the soap suds are rinsed out of the spa so that foaming doesn’t occur later. If the filters are installed in the floor area, then clean or replace them now before refilling the tub.
If the hot spa is damaged and has a leak, then you need to pat it dry. Use the patch kit which is included with your portable hot tub to fix the leak. If you don’t have one, you can order patches over the internet. Follow the instructions of the patch to apply it correctly.
Inflatable Hot Tub Storage
Your deflated hot tub needs to be completely dried off before folding it up and storing it away. Use a sealed container or its original box to store the tub in. Place the box or container in a dry environment with no sunlight or pests. Don’t store the tub in a carrying case or bag because they’re not designed to give it long-term protection. You need a tightly sealed container which can protect the vinyl material for a long time.
As you can see, setting up, maintaining and storing an inflatable spa is not that difficult at all. Inflatable spas are the most affordable and easiest ways to enjoy the benefits of a hot soak by yourself or with your friends and family.