Inflatable Hot Tubs: the Good, the Bad & the Ugly
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The Inflatable Hot Tub is a relatively new product on the market, and it has a surprising amount of internet activity or "buzz" happening.
They've not only caught on in the U.S., but are also quite popular in the U.K. and Australia, according to my little keyword tool.
Why so popular? Also known as portable spas, inflatable hot tubs can set-up nearly anywhere, which is a huge part of it's appeal, and it's low cost makes it a perfect entry level spa - to get your feet wet, so to speak.
But there is also a dark side, some less appealing traits to inflatable spas. If you're considering a small investment in one of these - here's a few Good, Bad and Ugly considerations to make before you buy an inflatable hot tub.
GOOD - GOOD - GOOD - GOOD - GOOD
- Entirely portable, comes in a box not much bigger than a microwave oven. Comes with a carry bag to pack it off to sporting events, camping or fishing trips or to the beach.
- Quick set-up. The spa has an air blower of course, and this is used to quickly inflate the chambers. After inflation, drop a hose in the tub and it fills in under an hour. Plug into any grounded outlet. Put on the cover and turn up the heater.
- Sturdy and durable. Vertical 'I-beam' construction gives the walls rigidity. Reinforced vinyl material ranges in thickness from 30-50 mil; which is not puncture-proof, but is resistant to scrapes and punctures.
- Easy to operate. Self contained pump, filter, heater and blower unit has digital controls to operate equipment and display temperature and status lights. Lock out feature prevents tampering.
- Locking spa cover is included to keep the spa clean and warm, and ready to use. Also comes with test strips and floating chlorinator.
- Make sure it's completely dry before packing for storage or transport.
- Don't overfill an inflatable tub, and don't sit on the sidewalls.
BAD - BAD - BAD - BAD - BAD
- Not as deep as you might imagine. Only 22-24" maximum water depth for most models.
- Not as large as the picture seems. Look at these happy campers in this "4-person" inflatable hot tub - where are their legs? I suppose it's fine for the young and beautiful, to commingle legs with their young and beautiful friends, but for me - I prefer personal leg space.
- MUST be installed on a level surface, at ground level. Not suitable for balconies, rooftops or elevated floors. Full of water and people, inflatable hot tubs can weigh up to 2500 lbs.
- Slow to heat. The heater on these units is small, and although the water is only 200 gallons, it can take awhile to heat up. If you keep it covered, and outdoor temperature is 70-90° F, expect 2-3° increase per hour.
- If you can fill your inflatable tub from a utility sink with hot water, you can save a lot of time in heating.
- 2 persons is plenty-o-people for the "4-person" inflatable hot tubs.
UGLY - UGLY - UGLY - UGLY - UGLY
- Funky water. If you do put 4 persons into a 200 gallon hot tub, let's see - that's 50 gallons per person, which will overwhelm the undersized spa filters. In other words, the water can get funky and germy fast, even if everyone showers first.
- Not safe for children. At only 28" tall, a toddler may be able to climb into an open hot tub and possibly drown. The latching cover should prevent most entry, but only until about age 5, which is when my daughter learned how to operate the spa cover strap clips.
- Not energy efficient. You'll find out fast that it's costly to keep this type of spa hot, and nearly impossible in very cold outdoor temps. In fact, in temperatures of below 50°, a 1 kw heater may not get past lukewarm.
- Disposable. Unfortunately, many inflatable hot tubs will be neglected, abused and set out to the curb for the trash after a few years of service. They won't all end up that way, but in general, portable spas have a short lifespan.
- Add a capful of MPS (non-chlorine shock) before and after each use, and keep the floater filled with bromine tablets. Run the filter daily, and change the water monthly.
- A heavy plywood sheet, carefully placed over top the spa cover may discourage some toddlers, and may improve heat retention somewhat. At least on top.
- You can recycle a vinyl inflatable hot tub, call your local trash service for information.
So, that's my rant about inflatable hot tubs - we had to join the conversation, it's become such a popular topic online, and a story line that we needed to cover here on the hottubworks blog.
If I haven't scared you away from inflatable hot tubs, and you're looking for an easy way to join the 5.9 million Americans who own spas or hot tubs, take a look at our portable inflatable hot tubs - we carry the Intex PureSpa and the AiriSpa - 2 great entry level spas!
Happy Hot Tubbin'
Hot Tub Works