A hot tub creates the ultimate retreat, a staycation if you will, on your own turf. They’re useful all year round — it doesn’t have to be snowing outside for you to enjoy it. Since you’re in control of the temperature, hot tubs can be cooler when the outside temperature is blazin’ saddles hot.
When you’re shopping online and buying an inflatable hot tub sight unseen, there are several factors to keep in mind. The first one is usually the price.
Greg Canfield, Leslie’s pool and spa expert, says when someone first looks into buying a hot tub, budget is almost always a main consideration. “Prices for portable hot tubs range anywhere from $2,000 to $7,500 or more. Hot tubs on the lower end of the price scale have smaller pumps, fewer jets, and few — if any — bells and whistles.”
On the higher end of the scale, Canfield says you’ll find full-featured spas with over 100 jets, super-sized pumps and heaters, 10 points of light, water features, sound systems and more. “If you’re new to hot tubs and just want to ‘test the water,’ so to speak, there are inflatable hot tubs for less than $1,000.”
Just think — for your next barbecue blow out, complete with an outdoor living aesthetic (fire pits and all), a hot tub may be just what you need for family and friends to relax in the comfort of your own home.
What to Know Before You Buy a Hot Tub
- Water Source. It’s critical to balance the water in the hot tub, since it affects the long-term life of the vessel and equipment along with the participants’ health. Canfield suggests testing the water in the hot tub at least once per week and ensuring that the water chemistry is balanced. This is important the first time you fill your hot tub.
- Size and Capacity. Hot tubs are categorized by the number of people they can fit: two people for smaller models, and four to six people for larger models. Consider dimensions of the tub when you shop by reading the inside dimensions to ensure it will fit your number of family and friends.
- Electricity. “Hot tubs and spas are more energy efficient than ever,” says Canfield. “New insulation materials and better methods of applying it, combined with ENERGY STAR certified pumps, blowers and heaters lead the charge. A well-insulated spa with a good spa cover should be able to operate for about $20 per month in electricity costs,” In addition, hot tubs need the proper power supply, and GFCI breakers and outlets need to be functioning properly to be safe. Portable spas and hot tubs in the U.S. run on either 120V or 240V, says Canfield.
- Voltage Tradeoffs. When dealing with 120V VS. 240V, keep three things in mind: the time to heat the hot tub, convenience and jets. “A 240V hot tub will heat up faster than a 120V hot tub and will have power to support more jets. A 120V system allows homeowners portability and convenience because no additional wiring is needed,” says Canfield. Roto-Molded Hot Tubs use a 120V system because they are lightweight and can be moved easily, while Acrylic Hot Tubs use 240V for better heating time and an increased number of jets.
- Safety. Do not put your spa near electrical outlets, outdoor lighting or other electrical appliances or supplies. Children should never be left unattended while using a hot tub or spa. And always put a cover in place when hot tubs aren’t in use — this can prevent accidental drownings.
6 Best Selling Inflatable Hot Tubs
Coleman 60-Jet Round Inflatable Hot Tub
Best for: Ultimate relaxation with the Lay Z Massage system.
Why We Like It: The Coleman 6-Person Inflatable Hot Tub allows you to relax at the touch of a button with the massage system, rapid heating system and integrated water filtration. Leatheroid pool cover with double safety lock clips and built-in air chamber for insulation. Digitally controlled pump with soft touch control panel.
Promising Review: “Good quality, does leak air a little and can be a pain to blow up. Little small for larger folk but very comfortable for the price.” – Luke
Intex 4 Jet Vinyl Round Inflatable Hot Tub
Best for: A soothing, refreshing retreat for four people.
Why We Like It: By pressing a simple button on the Intex Hot Tub, you activate up to 140 or more high-powered bubble jets that surround the interior of the spa. It’s made with durable fiber-tech construction. This hot tub comes with a vibrant multicolor LED light and a wireless touch button control panel that lasts up to 48 hours of operation and a built-in hard water treatment system.
Promising Review: “I love it! I assembled it myself with help from the instructions and YouTube. One thing is I cant get a verifications code to set up the intex purespa management app need to call customer service. Other than that am a happy hot tuber.” – Bernadette
Inflatable Coleman 90455 SaluSpa Hot Tub Spa
Best for: A warm, bubbling hot tub environment for four people.
Why We Like It: With the Inflatable Coleman SaluSpa, Bubbles are released from the bottom that help create a warm, bubbling experience. Inflatable walls are made of puncture resistant, UV resistant tritech material that prevents damage and retains its shape.
Promising Review: “This hot tub is a fantastic ‘pool’ for a small space and to combat the summer heat! This seller is AMAZING and worked very well with me on returns (my husband purchased one without my knowledge). Would highly recommend buying from him again!
Costway Goplus Inflatable Bubble Massage Spa Hot Tub
Best for: Six people.
Why We Like It: The Goplus Inflatable Hot Tub has a digitally controlled pump with a soft-touch control panel and a built-in hard water treatment system. It only needs simple maintenance with easy-to-replace filter cartridges
Promising Review: “Best Buy Ever!!! Received this 4 days ago! I set it up myself as my husband is deployed. Took me max of 30 minutes was easy peesy to do. Took an hour to fill and used it the very next day. Was already up to 104 degrees. Been in it everyday since at least 4-5 times a day. LOVE IT!!! Best bang for the buck! Very happy with my purchase.” – Christie
Coleman SaluSpa Hawaii Inflatable Hot Tub
Best for: Easy set up for up to four people.
Why We Like It: This hot tub inflates in minutes thanks to the spa pump, and with the rapid heating system, the water heats up quickly to 104 degrees.
Promising Review: “We received this hot tub for a Tryazon party, and I felt like we won the lottery! So easy to set up and perfect for two small families to enjoy time together! We loved the jets. The hot tub is far more sturdy than I was expecting!” – Karensastamper
Price: $769.99 at Home Depot
CO-Z Inflatable Adult Bath Tub
Best for: An escape after a long day by yourself.
Why We Like It: Besides the cheapest option, this spa-like tub uses an electric air pump to inflate in under three minutes. It has an inflatable pillow, an ergonomic backrest and armrest for getting your self-care after a long day.
Promising Review: “This was the best solution to our issue of not having a bathtub in our otherwise awesome apartment! My 6’1″, 250lb manchild fit perfectly in it! So, I knew it would work for me! We love it!” – C Conoly
Price: $60.99 at Amazon
10 Expert Inflatable Hot Tub Tips
Now that you know what your options are, Greg Canfield offers his tips for getting the best hot tub for you:
Tip #1: Buying online can save you up front, but be sure you purchase from a reputable site. Not only will you feel confident in what you’re getting, you’ll also have access to technical or customer support, if you need it.
Tip #2: Buy a trusted name brand and spa pack (that’s the pump/filter/heater/controls.) “You want equipment and components that are tried and true,” says Canfield. “Do your research on the spa make and model, as well as the spa pack. Make sure it’s made by a respected brand that has been around for some time.”
Tip #3: When you buy a portable hot tub, move it to a patio, gazebo, backyard or even inside to a place that’s flat, level like concrete foundation and is resistant to sinking, shifting or sagging.
Tip #4: If you’re putting your inflatable hot tub onto a wooden deck or balcony, install additional supports for reinforcement — wood may eventually warp and collapse. “If you plan to put it indoors, consider the splash-out and humidity factor,” says Canfield. “If outdoors, consider some protection from the sun and rain.”
Tip #5: Consider higher-end models with additional features like a salt water sanitation system. This produces chlorine from salt so you don’t have to add a sanitizer on a regular basis.
Tip #6: Some models include Bluetooth connectivity so you can operate the hot tub from a smartphone or tablet, if that’s something you’re interested in having.
Tip #7: Models with insulated covers keep debris out and the heat in, plus ones that have high-powered massage jets focus on massaging tense muscles.
Tip #8: “Improperly balanced hot tub or spa water can create a breeding ground for microorganisms, and it can cause long-term damage to your spa equipment and tub surfaces,” says Canfield. “Hot tubs and spas use chemicals faster than pools because of heat and aeration, so they require additional care and upkeep. Hot tubs and spas can use either chlorine or bromine for sanitation and should be drained and refilled every three to four months to keep the water clean and clear.”
Tip #9: Mineral sanitizers come in several sizes and configurations to sanitize your hot tub — they all contain minerals to kill contaminants in the water (algae and bacteria).
Tip #10: “A maintenance schedule should include regular skimming, brushing and vacuuming, along with water balance and sanitation. Regular manual cleaning will keep your water cleaner and healthier and allow your pump to do its job moving water through the filter,” says Canfield.
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