Inflatable hot tubs are relatively new in the marketplace. They are easily the least expensive and most portable of any other type of hot tub on the market. The price range for an inflatable hot tub is between $300-$1200. They are typically made of polyester, laminated PVC material, or similar material. They are available in round, square, or octagonal shapes. The vast majority of them come with an air blower and 80-140 air jets (bubble jets) while there are some makes and models that feature water jets and a water pump for true hydrotherapy. Most units also feature a heater and control panel that will allow temperatures of up to 104 degrees like a traditional hot tub. Finally, all inflatable hot tubs operate on a simple and convenient 110v plug and play electrical connection.
Below is a simple pros and cons list for this type of hot tub when compared to a traditional hot tub.
- Inexpensive – much less than a traditional hot tub and can give some similar benefits
- Extremely Portable – the inflatable design allows a user to set it up or tear it down within an hour. The units are also extremely light weight. In most cases the hot tub, heater, and accessories are under 100 lbs. When completely deflated the units are about the size of a microwave which makes them very easy to store or transport.
- Convenient 110v Plug and Play – these units conveniently plug into a standard 110v outlet and draw well under 15 amps which means no special electrical work would be required.
- Less Durability – the inflatable design makes them susceptible to puncturing
- Lack of Performance – inflatables have many limitations starting with their lack of hydro-massage therapy. Most inflatable hot tubs feature air/bubble jets which are run by a blower motor. A blower motor provides little to no massage therapy and actually cools down the spa since it’s pulling cold air from the outside and pushing it into the spa through 80-140 pin sized air jets. The bubbles tend to be more of a gimmick than anything else. A few manufacturers offer inflatable models with a water pump and water jets which actually shoot water out of adjustable jets that provide some amount of hydro-massage therapy although they are usually limited to 4-10 small jets. Another performance limitation is the heating of the spa as it can take between 1-2 days to fully heat an inflatable (110v) hot tub. The small heater usually warms up the water between 1-2 degrees per hour and depending on the time of the year it can take 40 hours to get up to 104 degrees with the cover on. These units also have tendency to lose temperature quickly when the cover is off and the hot tub is in use.
- Less Comfortable – there is no proper seating in an inflatable spa and in most cases you are sitting on the ground. A traditional hot tub has raised, ergonomic seats that fit your body and put you in a relaxed position for maximum comfort.
- Less Efficient – Inflatable spas can cost more to heat than a traditional spa.
Given the information above, if you do decide to go the inflatable hot tub route then we would highly suggest finding one with the following features:
- Water jets and water pump for a true hydro-massage therapy experience (not just blower and air jets)
- Three layer material or higher for maximum durability and strength
- Cushioned floor for more comfortable seating and heat retention
- Grab handles for easy transportation
- Colored LED light for ambiance and mood lighting
- Inflatable cover that can be locked for safety