Inflatable hot tubs have never been cheaper or easier to purchase, and many first time hot tub owners are jumping on the bandwagon. With prices starting at around $350, the question should be, are they really worth it?
Hot tub sizes are based on outside diameter of the tub. While a 6 person, 85” tub might sound deluxe, when you factor in a wall thickness of around 10”, you’re really looking at an inside diameter of around 65”. Hardly enough room for 6 adults!
Tip: grab some sidewalk chalk and draw a 65” circle on the ground and sit in it. Have anyone you think will use the spa sit in the circle with you and the circle gets small very quickly!
Where’s the jets?
Very often inflatables are advertised as having up to 150 bubble jets. These aren’t the massaging jets found in a regular tub, but orifices for air exhausted by the blower to escape, creating bubbles. You won’t be getting much of a massage with air bubbles, not to mention, you might want to consider some noise cancelling headphones once you start the air blower.
It takes how long to heat up?
Don’t buy an inflatable tub in the morning with the expectation of luxuriating in warm water by the evening. Expect a 1° rise in temperature per hour, which means if you fill the tub with 55° water, it’s going to take about 2 days (49 hours) to heat up to 104° degrees.
I can’t use it in the snow?
Not so much. Most inflatable tub manufacturers recommend when the temperature drops below 45°, draining the tub and waiting for warmer weather. That’s OK though, since running those bubble “jets” introduces cold air into the water, exacerbating the slow heat condition.
“Do you carry any parts for an inflatable tub?”
Pose that question to your local dealer, or the store where you purchased the tub and the answer will be laughter (worse case), or head scratching (best case). Either way, it’s extremely difficult to find replacement parts for these tubs, and when you do, they’re very expensive.
The Zapping cost of electricity!
With no real insulation other than air, you should expect to budget around $450 per year in electricity, just to keep the tub heated*. This is typically about double what a quality acrylic or resin portable hot tub would cost.
The filter struggle is real!
Inflatable tub manufacturers recommend replacing the filter every 2 weeks or so, depending on how often you use the tub. Unlike standard, serviceable hot tub filters that can last a year or more, inflatable tub filters are very small, and just plain wear out in a very short period of time. There’s a reason most outlets selling this type of filter offer them in 6, 12 and 24 packs.
So, there you have it! The most salient points that you should know going into the inflatable hot tub world!
*Electricity costs based on volume of 220 gallons, tub usage of 3 times per week for 12 months a year, and an average rate of $.12 per KW hour.