Most of us have dreamed of owning an inflatable hot spa to plunge in after a busy day at work. Inflatable spas have changed an appointment at your local spa to a breeze in the comfort of your home. But, you have to get the best to enjoy using it for a long time.
In this article, you will find the best inflatable hot tub reviews. We discuss the features and drawbacks to bring you up to speed with the designs. We also outline how to sanitize one, where to put it, how to clean it as well as safety precautions when using one.
What is an Inflatable Hot Spa?
An inflatable hot spa, commonly known as a portable spa, is a tub that you have to pump in the air before use. It comes in PVC vinyl material both on the inside and outside. You need to fill it with hot water to set it up for use.
Inflatable hot tubs come in different designs, but the most common one is a large round tub. The design features waterways and jets to mimic the design of a regular Jacuzzi. These can connect to a unit that has a pump and a heater. On this note, you use a hose to fill up the tub since you cannot join it to the main plumbing line.
Basic designs come with a pump to circulate the water and a heater to heat the water. Some models have a filter to ensure the waterways and jets remain clear and unclogged.
Key Features of an Inflatable Hot Tub
This is one of the essential features of any inflatable spa. Without it, the purpose of the tub is not complete. The system heats the water to a pre-selected temperature level and maintains it at that. Most bathers prefer water temperature levels between 37°C and 48°C.
The heating system differs from one tub design to the other. Some heaters are efficient in keeping the water temperature constant for a long time, while others need to restart after a while to maintain the ideal temperature.
One of the ways to enhance the heating process is keeping the tub covered when not in use. This prevents evaporation and cooling, so the system does not have to heat as much the next time.
The pump in an inflatable hot tub circulates the water. It comes with a built-in blower that you use to inflate the tub and power the water jets. The pump, like the heater, is one of the essential components of your inflatable hot tub.
The pump and the heater come in one enclosed unit. The design of the unit ensures the electrical components of the two elements do not come into contact with water. The unit has a cord, typically 120-volt cord that you can plug into your standard outlet.
Additionally, it has built-in ground fault circuit interrupter that works to prevent electric shocks when in use. The design and efficiency of the pump vary from one model to the other. When choosing the best inflatable hot tub, be sure to check with the manufacturer for specifications. This will help you understand if the specific design works well for your needs.
Most inflatable hot tubs come in a round shape. But, you can find a few designs that are square or rectangular. Round models allow flexibility for bathers in the tub. While square ones are also ideal, they may not work well for multiple people in the tub.
The design limits flexibility inside the tub and leaves minimal legroom for you. However, the space you get depends on the overall design and size of the tub. Also, the number of bathers in the tub at a time determines the available space.
Capacity in inflatable hot tubs means the number of people each can hold. The most common designs can hold two people, four people, or six people. These are ideal for families; however, they provide a tight fit. If you would want a little more room, consider getting a size up.
For example, if you intend to use the tub for two people, consider the one for four people design for additional movement space. Also, consider the size of the users to ensure it is comfortable for every user.
Inflatable hot tubs feature a simple digital control panel. Usually, it is a basic LED screen and a few buttons. The control panel comes in handy to regulate the water temperature, switch the jets on and off, and set the timer for the heater.
The positioning of the control panel can affect how easy it is to use while inside the tub. When buying one, consider designs with the digital control panel around the rim of the tub. You want to make sure you can access it easily when you are inside the tub. Some designs will need you to get out of the tub to access the panel, and this can be annoying.
To mimic the regular Jacuzzi, inflatable hot tubs have air jets. Most models come with 100 to 200 air jets depending on the size. Standard designs have bubble jets that spring out water in high pressure with air jets.
Jets enhance the experience of soaking in the hot tub, so if this means a lot to you, consider this an important feature. On this note, confirm the number of air jets in a particular design. Some inflatable hot tubs have only four jets, and these may not be enough.
An Inflatable Jacuzzi comes with its cover. Some designs come with two or more types of covers. The most common types of covers are leather, inflatable, and thermal. You can find unique models with a combination cover. This design has an inflatable interior to retain the water heat and cover the tub at the same time.
The quality of the covers depends on the material and the specific model of the hot tub. How long the cover lasts depends on how much you use it and environmental conditions. The good thing is that you can buy a separate tub cover to replace yours if it wears out.
The ground cloth comes as a sheet that you lay on the surface when setting up the spa. The cloth prevents such as small rocks and pebbles from damaging the tub material. Also, the sheet protects the tub from damage with temperature changes.
If your tub comes with a lightweight ground cloth, you can buy a hot tub pad. It usually comes in hard plastic and provides a levelled platform to place your tub on any surface.
Hard Water System
Some inflatable hot tubs come with hard water systems in the primary filtration system. It works to minimize calcium deposits and build up in your tub. This feature is particularly essential if you use hard water at home. However, it is not 100 per cent effective in keeping your tub free from calcium build-up. On this note, you have to clean it regularly to remove the build-up.
While inflatable spas are a great idea to customize a spa-like experience in the comfort of your home, they have a few drawbacks. These, however, are not enough reasons for you not to buy one.
Unlike the regular Jacuzzi, an inflatable hot tub can be a little noisy when setting it up. Usually, the noise comes from the air blower in the pump and heater. This has a hose to inflate the spa, and as the bubbles turn on, a little noise is produced. The good thing is that the sound is tolerable and only lasts a few minutes when setting up.
Inflatable hot spas do not come with seating options inside the tub. However, they come with a padded floor, which is significantly comfortable for you not to notice the absence of seating. But, depending on the size of the tub, the water level might be too high to sit comfortably.
The good thing is that there are tub seats or extra padding available on the market. You can buy these to add to your pool and provide more comfortable seating for everyone.
The filters in inflatable hot tubs are not as long-lasting as those of regular spas. You need to clean them every few days and might need replacement after a few weeks. While these are reasonably-priced and available, they are quite a task to take care of.
Pump and Heater Unit
It is essential to note that the pump and heater cannot run at the same time. It means that the heater cannot heat water as the pump starts the bubbles. In the winter, you are likely to get cold fast, waiting for the two. But, you can build a propane water heater, so it runs separately from the pump. This flaw is not a significant concern as the unit only takes a few minutes to heat and pump.
Lack of Accessories
Some of the accessories that portable hot tubs do not have are LED lights, headrests, seat cushions, and drink holders. The designs are usually plain but, with a little creativity and a search on the market, you can spice up your inflatable spa. Most of these accessories are available to buy individually so you can choose what matters most to you.
Where to Set Up an Inflatable Hot Spa
The first step before installation is determining where you want to put your inflatable hot tub. Ideally, you should choose a stable surface that is strong enough to hold down the many gallons of water.
Whether you choose to install indoors or outside, ensure the surface is levelled and free from debris. A concrete slab, wooden patio, or a flat spot in your backyard can work well. Think of the ideal area as somewhere you could park your car. If not, then the area might not hold the weight of the tub with water and you in it.
How to Set Up an Inflatable Hot Tub
Inflatable hot tubs are easy to set up but it depends on the design and model you have. Also, setting it outdoors is slightly different from setting it indoors. The condition of the surface you intend to set up the tub also determines the process. But, with these simple steps, you can install your inflatable hot tub.
- Determine the place you want to install the inflatable tub. Make sure it is close to a power outlet but not too close to get into contact with splashing water. On this note, make sure there is enough space all around the tub to splash out and drainage.
- Clean the area off debris, small pebbles, or any objects that could damage the tub. Ensure it is well-levelled to ensure a flat base for your inflatable spa.
- First, lay out the protective groundsheet and spread it out to lay the tub. Assemble the pump and heater unit.
- Lay out the inflatable hot spa on the groundsheet. Use the pump included to inflate the tub to full size.
- Set up the control panel in its designated spot. If yours comes as part of the heating unit, you do not need to set it up separately.
- Close the drain and set up the air filters in place.
- Fill the tub with water. In this step, you can use a sanitizer to balance the water Ph.
- Cover the spa using the included cover and turn on the heater, The water will heat up gradually and get to an ideal temperature within a day. It is not set up and ready to use. You might need to turn on the heater on and off if you want to soak for many hours.
How to Sanitize Your Inflatable Hot Tub
The water in your tub should remain in the best condition for your health and safety. It can be challenging to keep bacteria and other contaminants away from the spa. But, with proper sanitizing strategies, you can ensure the water stays clean and balanced at all times.
The most important thing is to make sure the water chemistry is balanced. You can use test strips and chemicals for permanent tubs to test your water balance. While doing this, be sure to check the manufacturer’s recommendations for safety.
Inflatable hot spas come with different water treatment system designs. Some models come with floating chlorinators that you can use with tablets to sanitize. Others have salt water sanitizing systems. Keeping the right sanitizer levels in your hot spa ensures the safety and prevents health issues associated with excess chemicals in the water.
Even if you are the only user of the tub or you only use it for a short period, it is essential to have a treatment system in place. It not only ensures the water is clean but also maintains the balance.
Safety Precautions When Using an Inflatable Spa
There are laws that govern the use of portable, inflatable pools. Be sure to confirm from your local code enforcement office to ensure you follow the law. If your area does not have such regulations in place, consider following general rules governing above-ground pools.
Ensure you follow the installation manual. It will ensure you prevent any accidents or malfunctions with a faulty installation. Check for holes in the tub when inflating to ensure it does not result in leakage. Also, ensure the jets are in place and secure before you fill it up.
It is important to note that most portable hot tubs come with a preset temperature setting of 48°C or more. It is higher than what your regular spa tub temperature should be. On this note, first, check the settings to adjust to a favourable level.
When determining a spot for your inflatable hot tub, ensure it is safe and out of reach by kids and pets. If you set it up in the open, consider covering it when not in use to prevent unforeseen accidents.
How to Clean and Maintain Your Inflatable Hot Tub
You need to clean your hot tub regularly, especially if you use it often. A maintenance routine ensures all the systems run as they should and that ultimately prolongs the life of your tub. Here are some maintenance tips you can apply to keep your hot tub in the best condition.
The filtration system of a portable hot spa is not as sturdy and effective as the one in permanent hot tubs. Therefore, you need to service it much more regularly than usual. Remove the filters from time to time and rinse them using clean water.
Once clean, these can remain clean for a few weeks before the next cleaning. If you find that the filters have hardened or discoloured, then it is time to replace them with new ones. At this point, they are challenging to clean, and trying to do so with harsh cleaning products will only make them worse.
Draining the Water
It is essential to drain the water from your tub every one to three months. The draining frequency depends on the number of users and how often you use it. There are a few signs you can look for to know its time to drain the tub.
Check for the colour and clarity of the water. If it has turned cloudy or milky, then you need to drain it. Also, if you notice foam and deposits around the inside of the tub, then you need to drain the water.
The draining process is easy and does not take a long time. You only need to attach a hose to the drain valve and leave the water to drain. Ensure the water flows into a sewer as it contains chemicals and may be an environmental concern if drained elsewhere. Remember that the water has been still for quite some time, includes sanitizers, and may have built-up contaminants.
Cleaning the Tub
After draining, use a mild soap and warm water to wash the inside. You can use a soft sponge to scrub away any build-up without damaging the material. Stay away from harsh cleaning products such as bleach, powder cleanser, or steel wool.
Rinse the soap away using warm water. Ensure all the foam drains away as it can cause build-up once you refill the tub. At this point, you can take out the filters to clean or replace them with new ones.
Repairing a Leak
Leakage in inflatable hot tubs is not a common issue, but it can happen. If you notice a leak, use a soft dry cloth to pat the area dry. Use the patch kit that comes with your tub to repair the leak. If you do not have one, buy vinyl pool patches online or in your local store. Follow the instructions in the patch kit and leave it to cure before reusing the spa.
How to Store an Inflatable Hot Spa
You will probably want to store your inflatable tub, especially during the hotter months. In this case, you need to clean it properly before storage. Ensure you dry it thoroughly to prevent mildew build-up while in storage.
Use the original box or a sealed container to store the spa. Store the container in a dry area, away from sunlight and pests. Most inflatable tubs come with a case that you can use to carry and store the tub appropriately.
The Bottom Line
An inflatable spa is an excellent addition to your space. You can soak in it and relax after a hectic day in the comfort of your home. They are easy to set up and come in different designs to suit individual needs. This article can help you choose the best inflatable spa as well as give you some insights on using one.