Inflatable hot tubs FAQ.
What We Looked For When Picking The Best Inflatable Hot Tub
You won’t find the same bells and whistles on inflatable hot tubs that you will with premium spas. But a few things are worth comparing before you buy. And these are the features we thought were the most important.
Capacity: The Number of People That Can Fit
Inflatable hot tubs are available in two-, four-, or six-person capacities. However, they’re typically a tight fit. If you want more wiggle room (and have room in your budget), consider sizing up.
Control Panel: The Ease of Use
Most inflatable hot tubs have a simple digital control panel to adjust the water temperature and jets. When shopping around, check whether the control panel is accessible from within your hot tub. Nobody wants to get out and walk over the pump just to turn the heat back on, but some inflatable spas require you to do just that.
Built-In Hard Water Treatment System
This is an additional feature of the filtration system only found in some inflatable spas. It can help prevent calcium deposits and buildup in your hot tub. This is nice to have but it’s not a replacement for maintaining proper water chemistry.
Heating System: How Fast Can You Heat The Water?
How hot should a hot tube be? The maximum safe temperature is 104°F (40°C). This is based on a recommendation from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) about accidental drownings and heat stroke in too-hot spa water. Most bathers prefer to keep the temperature between 100°F and 102°F (37°C – 39°C).
And you can also expect your inflatable hot tub to take between 12 and 24 hours (at a rate of one to three degrees per hour) to heat water fully before your first use.
Pump: How Long Will It Last?
The pump is what circulates the water, and it has a built-in air blower to inflate your hot tub and power the jets. The pump and heater are typically housed in one container, which is enclosed to avoid exposing electrical components to water. And most inflatable hot tubs place the control panel on top of the pump enclosure.
Typically, they have a 120-volt cord with a built-in ground fault circuit interrupter (RCD) to prevent electric shocks. This allows you to plug into any indoor or outdoor outlet. Because of the power draw, you’ll probably want to be sure it’s the only thing on the assigned breaker so the breaker doesn’t flip while you’re enjoying your spa.
Shape: Will It Fit Anywhere?
Nearly all inflatable hot tubs are round. But you’ll also find a few square models on the market. While it may not be a deal-breaking feature, you may find that square models and the two-person rowboat style hot tubs have a little more legroom for bathers. Of course, the space also depends on how many bathers you have in the spa at one time.
Cover: Safety and Less Energy Consumption
When you buy an inflatable hot tub, it will come with its own cover. Some even come with two or three types of covers. Depending on the spa model you choose, the cover may be leather, inflatable and insulated, a thermal blanket, or a combination cover that has an inflatable interior so you have just one cover to retain heat and close your hot tub.
Jets: What’s the Perfect Amount?
If water jets are an absolute must-have for you, pay careful attention to this feature. One brand of inflatable hot tub boasts four water jets. This is far fewer than a standard hot tub because of the difference in power, but they do provide a different experience than air-only jets.
A Few Inflatable Hot Tub Drawbacks
Consider a few downsides to buying, setting up, and maintaining your inflatable hot tub. You’ll be happy to know, though, there really aren’t that many.
They Can Be Noisy During Setup and Operation
The loudest sound you’ll hear is the air when setting up your inflatable hot tub. The air blower built into the pump and heater enclosure is used with a special, accompanying hose to inflate the whole spa. Once you’re up and running, you’ll notice pretty quickly that turning on the bubbles is pretty noisy as well.
Lack of Seating
If this is your first time buying an inflatable hot tub, you might be surprised to learn that there are no seats. In fact, they’re designed with a padded floor, so bathers will sit on the bottom.
For a child or short adult, the water level may be too high to sit comfortably. Some inflatable hot tubs feature I-beams to reinforce the structure, allowing you and your guests to sit on the sides of the tub without causing damage or leaks.
Short Filter Cartridge Life
All you need to do to keep the filter cartridges in good shape is to remove and rinse them thoroughly with your hose every few days. However, unlike standard spa filters, which can last a couple of years, the filters for inflatable spas must be replaced every two weeks or so depending on how much you’re using your hot tub.
Another drawback to certain models of inflatable hot tubs is the location of the filter or filters. While many models place the filter right inside the heater/pump unit for quick access, some models place the filters along the bottom inner portion of the spa, so changing them becomes a much more involved process than just opening the pump unit and popping in a new filter.
A Lack of Headrests
Depending on how tall you are, you may not notice the lack of headrests on your inflatable hot tub. However, if you need a little extra neck support, you can buy vinyl headrests. You fill them with a mix of air and water, and the weight helps hold them in place on the top edge of your hot tub. You can easily lift them and rearrange them as needed.
A Lack of Drink holders
Despite a lack of built-in cup holders in your inflatable hot tub, you can still add a convenient place for some drinks or a snack. You’ll find a few types of cup holders and trays that attach to the top of your hot tub, keeping your cold ones at arms reach.
No LED Lights Included
Instead, you can buy battery-operated, fully submersible LED lights to add some light and color to your inflatable spa. Lights come in variety of shapes, sizes, and colors. Some are even remote operated, allowing you to choose color, intensity, and mode.
Can Inflatable Hot Tubs Be Used in Winter?
One more consideration in choosing where your inflatable hot tub should be set up is whether you intend to use it during winter and how cold that season is where you live. Most inflatable spas are rated to work properly above 40°F (4°C), but water temperatures below that can cause problems for your pump and water heater.
If you want to use your spa during winter, consider sheltering it from the weather. You could set it up in your garage, add an enclosure around it, or add some extra insulation around it. You can even add a layer of insulation on the ground, under the protective blanket before you set up the spa.
Where to Install an Inflatable Hot Tub
First step, choose where to place your spa. You must be sure that wherever you intend to put your inflatable hot tub, indoors or outside, is strong enough to support its weight. This means you probably shouldn’t set it up on your wooden deck, but a flat spot in your yard or a concrete patio would work well.
The carry weights of empty inflatable spas are typically between 65 and 100 pounds. Some have handles to make carrying easier. The heavy models are usually styles intended for longer-term use and more bathers.
The filled weight can be as high as 2,000 to 3,500 pounds when you account for water and bathers. If it’s not somewhere you would park your car, you probably shouldn’t set up your inflatable hot tub there.
How to Set Up an Inflatable Hot Tub
The steps for setting up your inflatable hot tub may vary a little depending on the model you choose to buy, whether you’re setting it up indoors or outside, and whether you’re starting with a level surface. But the same basic steps will apply.
Be sure your location is close enough to an outlet to plug in the spa without being so close that it could get splashed. Also ensure there is room around the spa for splashout and drainage. Ensure any closed area has ventilation so humidity can escape without causing damage.
Clean the area where you’re setting up your hot tub. Be sure there are no sharp objects or debris that could get stuck under it and make for an uncomfortable soak.
Open the container, remove all the contents, locate the protective ground blanket, and spread it out on the location you’ve chosen.
Assemble the pump and heater unit.
Spread out the hot tub on top of the ground cloth, then use the included hose and pump to inflate your spa.
Install the control panel, if it’s separate from the pump unit.
Put all the air filters in place, then ensure your drain is closed.
Fill the hot tub with water.
Add sanitizer and balance the water chemistry.
Put the cover on your spa, then turn on the heater. Your water should be up to ideal temperature in 12 to 24 hours.
Set-Up Tip: If you’re in a big hurry to use your hot tub, you can purchase an attachment to hook your fill hose up to the hot water in your house. Keep in mind that most household water heaters are set to 120°F (49°C) or more, which is 16 degrees hotter than the maximum water temperature your spa water should be.
Start filling your spa with your hose outdoors, then finish off about the final third with hot water from your house. This will shorten the amount of time your heater will require to get the spa up to temp without putting yourself or your spa materials in danger from too-hot water.
Inflatable Hot Tub Safety
Look into your state’s safety laws and guidelines that may apply to using an inflatable hot tub. Your local code enforcement office can tell you where to find laws that apply to your situation.
Even if you don’t have any local safety laws to abide by, consider following the CPSC’s recommendations for keeping everyone safe around your inflatable hot tub. Their suggestions, such as notifying your neighbors that you bought an inflatable spa, could save a life.
Inflatable Hot Tub Sanitising
Properly maintaining your inflatable spa also means making sure your hot tub chemistry is always balanced. Fortunately, you can use the same test strips and chemicals in your inflatable spa that you use in a permanent hot tub.
It is vital to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations regarding sanitizers. Some inflatable hot tub manuals warn against using chlorine tablets, while some spas actually include a floating chlorinator for use with tablets. Still, other inflatable spas offer saltwater sanitizing systems.
It may be tempting to forgo chemicals, especially if you only intend to use your portable spa for a few days, such as during a camping trip, but we highly recommend against this. Even if you’ll only be using your spa for a short time, be sure to add the appropriate amount of sanitizer to keep everyone safe and healthy.
Inflatable Hot Tub Maintenance and Cleaning
Maintaining your inflatable hot tub is actually pretty simple, as long as you don’t let it go a long while without care.
Filtration System: Cleaning Your Filter Cartridges
You’ll want to skim the water frequently because the filtration system on a portable spa isn’t as robust as the one on a permanent hot tub, so, especially if you haven’t been using a hot tub cover.
Remember to remove your filters and rinse with clean water every two or three days. Even then, they’ll only last a few weeks with regular use.
When they become hardened or discolored, and cannot be cleaned well with fresh water, they must be replaced. Don’t be tempted to use cleaning products or detergents to clean your filter. This can cause foam in your spa, as well as gunk up the filter media making your pump work harder.
Draining and Refilling
Every one to three months, you’ll need to drain and clean your hot tub. The more bathers and use it has, the more frequently you’ll need to change the water.
Not sure when it’s time to change the water? Out-of-control water chemistry, cloudiness that doesn’t resolve when chemicals are balanced and the filter is clean, and foaming are all signs that you need to drain and refill your inflatable hot tub.
Here’s more PRODUCT for draining and cleaning a hot tub.
NOTE: If you’ve sprung a leak, pat dry the damaged area. Get out the patch kit that came with your inflatable spa. If you lost it, you can get vinyl pool and hot tub patches online or from your pool supply store. Apply the patch per the accompanying instructions.
If you’re draining and cleaning your spa to pack it up for storage, be sure to dry it completely before folding it up. When it’s completely dry, store it in its original box or another sealed container.
Be sure to store it somewhere dry, out of direct sunlight, and away from pests. Some portable spas come with a carry bag or case. These are great for helping you get your hot tub from Point A to Point B, but they’re not the best protection for long-term storage. If you intend to put your spa away for a while, it’s best to place it in a sealed container to maintain the integrity of the vinyl while it’s in storage.
When you buy something like a hot tub, you sometimes find out that setup or maintenance is way more than you bargained for. Now you can rest assured that setting up and maintaining an inflatable hot tub really isn’t all that complicated.
But if you’re still looking for a way to time travel, we have some good news—just soak in your inflatable hot tub for a while, and when you get out, you’ll be in the future.