Should You Buy an Inflatable Hot Tub?

After a few years in the wilderness, inflatable hot tubs are back with a bang this summer. With COVID putting foreign holidays off the table, we need to find new ways of fitting some R&R into our lives – and what better way to do it than by turning our yards into spas? Forget about the cheap-looking tubs of yesterday, today’s models are as good looking as can be – not to mention affordable, convenient, and oh so relaxing. Here, we look at why you should consider making your next major purchase a hot tub… plus a few things to think about before you do.

The Pros

  • Affordability – Inflatable hot tubs are cheap as chips and twice as delicious. As Cost Owl notes, most custom in-ground spas will cost you anything between $15,000 and $20,000, while a prefabricated hot tub will lose you between $3,000 and $8,000. A no-frills inflatable spa, on the other hand, is likely to cost you no more than around $500. Sure, you might lose out on some of the more luxurious features of an in-ground option, but if it means you save up to $19500, are you really going to quibble over a few bubbles?
  • Convenience – If you want convenience, convenience is what you get with an inflatable hot tub. As rightly notes, going the inflatable route will let you pack up your hot tub and store it in the garage or shed whenever you need to use the yard for something else. Assembly is just as easy as disassembly – if you have a jot of common sense or the ability to read a basic instruction manual, you’ll have it up and running in no time.
  • Portability – Buying an inflatable hot tub means you’re not restricted to taking spas at home. Wherever you go, the hot tub can come along for the ride. If you want to spread the hot tub love with family or friends, or have a second home without its own tub, the portability of the inflatable hot tub will suit you a treat.
  • Comfort – As notes, inflatable tubs may lack some of the bells and whistles of other, more expensive options, but they more than makeup for it in comfort. Despite being sturdy, inflatable tubs are gorgeously plush (and definitely more so than the hard plastic or concrete that goes into other types of tubs), allowing you to sit back in comfort and luxuriate.
  • Indoor and Outdoo – Remember when we mentioned how portable an inflatable hot tub is? Turns out, it’s even more so than you probably imagined. As well as being able to travel between houses, inflatable tubs are also designed to travel between outside and inside. Granted, you’ll need a pretty sizable house to be able to stick a hot tub in your living room, but if you do, a world of opportunity awaits.
  • Low Maintenance – If you opt for an in-ground hot tub, you’re basically signing up for year-round maintenance. Not so with an inflatable hot tub. If you choose to run the tub for only a few months of the year, you can simply pack it up at the end of the season and forget about it until you’re ready to bring it out again next year. And when you do need to do a little maintenance work, it’s made all the simpler by the replaceable filters and floating chlorine dispenser that take care of the water cleaning and treatment for you.

The Cons

  • Cost to Heat – As inflatable spas lose heat faster than other types, running costs can soon add up. How much you actually spend will depend on the climate and whether you use the tub inside or out, but expect to spend more on heating than you would on a fabricated spa with better insulation. That said, the savings you make on initial outlay are still going to make an inflatable tub the more cost-effective solution.
  • Back to Basics – If you want waterfalls, twinkling lights, massage nodes, and jet streams, then you’re going to be disappointed with an inflatable hot tub. Inflatable tubs do the job they’re paid to, but they’re not going to sing and dance as they do it. Sure, you can buy accessories to jazz up the experience, but a basic inflatable hot tub is exactly that – basic. If you want a super relaxing, super soothing experience, an inflatable tub will give you exactly that. If you want to recreate a luxury spa experience at home, you might want to consider something else.
  • Slow Heating – If you’re looking for a hot tub that’ll heat water faster than you can say it, you might need to think twice about whether an inflatable tub is the right choice for you. The tubs are heated by electric, which, compared to gas, takes far longer to ramp up the temperature. To heat the water by around 2-3 degrees, it’s going to take around an hour. If you keep the tub running around the clock, it’s unlikely to matter. If, on the other hand, you’ll only be running it intermittently, the slow heating time is certainly something to think about.
  • Seating – If you were expecting to find the same comfortable seating arrangements in an inflatable tub as you’d find in a prefab tub, forget it. Although some inflatable tubs do come with seats of a sort (although others just come with a padded base), don’t expect anything like the same level of comfort as you’ll find with the built-in bucket seats of prefabs.

Should You Buy an Inflatable Hot Tub?

Now we’ve considered the pros and discussed the cons, we reach that all-important question – should you buy an inflatable hot tub? Really, there’s no right or wrong answer. Some people will always prefer the comfort and advanced functionality of a prefab or in-ground option. On the other hand, anyone looking for much the same experience (minus the bells and whistles) with huge cost savings and superb convenience would do well to add an inflatable hot tub to their wish list.

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