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Should you buy an inflatable hot tub?

Fill your backyard with spa-like luxury

Inflatable hot tub pool with headrests and cup holders. Credit: Reviewed / Getty Images / sucharn

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Whether or not you have an above-ground or in-ground pool, you may be looking for a way to add another popular water feature to your backyard: an inflatable hot tub. Yes, hot tubs don’t have to be big clunky machinery, instead, you can blow them up right alongside your kiddie pool to create a relaxing backyard oasis.

Inflatable hot tubs are much more affordable and easier to install than traditional hot tubs, making them an appealing choice for renters and homeowners alike. But are inflatable hot tubs worth it? Todd Carson, senior manager at The Home Depot, shares what you should know if you're considering buying an inflatable hot tub.

How do inflatable hot tubs work?

Hunter green inflatable hot tub pool filled with water.
Credit: Reviewed / Coleman

Unlike other flimsy kiddie pools, Coleman and Intex construct their inflatable hot tubs with durable materials that are sure to last the summer season.

Inflatable hot tubs are constructed from durable, UV-resistant materials such as latex or vinyl, and are inflated using the included spa pump which blows up the tub as well as provides the jet power. For example, Coleman inflatable hot tubs are made of three-ply fabric that can’t be easily ripped or torn.

You don’t need any fancy equipment to fill it up beyond your standard garden hose and easy access to an outlet. Once the water is in and you’re ready to get started, most hot tubs have easy-to-use digital control settings.

“Inflatable hot tubs come with a digital panel on the spa pumps that control the temperature, air jets, heating, and filtration all in one place,” says Carson.

Inflatable hot tubs don’t include seats inside, however, you can purchase seats designed for these tubs. The seats will sit on the floor of the tub but won’t puncture the bottom.

How to care for an inflatable hot tub

Even if you’re willing to invest in the price of a standard tub, an inflatable hot tub may be worth it to you if you’re looking for something that you can take down or move if need by.

“​​Unlike a standard hot tub, if you’d like to shut it down for the season, or if you simply need more space in your backyard, you are able to do so with an inflatable hot tub,” says Carson

Being able to drain and pack up your hot tub at the end of the season is a huge plus if you’re in a cold climate that gets snow. You can consolidate your hot tub and store it inside rather than having it outdoors year-round. It can stay out year-round as long as where you live stays about 39°F or above. Most come with a removable cover to protect the tub when not in use.

As long as you’re using spa chemicals for your tub, you’ll only need to drain and refill it every 3 months. The drain sits on the side of the tub and can be unplugged when you’re ready to deflate. However, this will flood whatever area of your yard or deck the tub is located in. A solution is attaching a garden hose to redirect the water away from your property.

How much does an inflatable hot tub cost?

One of the main reasons to choose an inflatable hot tub over a standard one is the price. A standard hot tub starts at around $3,000 and can cost as much as $10,000 or more. Inflatable hot tubs typically cost less than $1,000.

Some of the best inflatable hot tubs, like the Coleman and Intex inflatable models, range in price from $500 to $800, which is about average for a high-quality hot tub you can order online and blow up at home.

Carson also notes that inflatable hot tubs are gentle on your wallet long-term: “​​On average, an inflatable version is a more cost-effective option, and will result in a lower water bill in comparison to a standard version.”

Where can you put an inflatable hot tub?

Inflatable hot tub pool next to in-ground pool outdoors.
Credit: Reviewed / Intex

No need to scout out backyard locations for installations–an inflatable pool can be placed just about anywhere while on level ground.

Important environmental factors to consider are temperature and level ground. Carson says certain hot tubs, like the Coleman inflatable hot tub, cannot be used in weather below 39-degrees Fahrenheit. Make sure to check the specifications of your inflatable hot tub to make sure it’s compatible with the temperature in your area.

Just like setting up an above ground pool in your backyard, you want to ensure that the ground you’re setting up on is remarkably even. Uneven ground could result in dangerous conditions and tipping over.

You’ll also want to set up in a spot outside that is located close to a hose for easy filling of the hot tub because you don’t want to be hauling buckets of water across the yard. When filled with water alone, inflatable hot tubs can weight up to 2,000 pounds. A sturdy surface like the flat ground covered in grass or concrete. You can also place inflatable hot tubs on deck areas, but make sure to check the weight load first to ensure the structure can support the full weight.

Being easy on the wallet and a portable option, we think they’re a fantastic way to bring the luxury of a hot tub to your backyard.

Are inflatable hot tubs energy efficient?

The amount of energy your inflatable hot tub uses will likely be less than a traditional hot tub, but the amount will vary by usage and location. Inflatable hot tubs tend to lose heat quicker than traditional hot tubs, as they lack the thick insulating qualities of non-portable models. To help reduce energy costs, some inflatable hot tubs come with power saving modes and timers that keep the water at a certain temperature. That way, when you're ready to get in, the hot tub will heat to temperature quicker and more efficiently than if it was starting from cold water.

How long do inflatable hot tubs last?

Gray inflatable hot tub pool filled with water.
Credit: Reviewed / Intex

These inflatable hot tubs are here for the long haul with up to 7 years of use.

Here’s the one true downside: their lifespan. Inflatable hot tubs last between five to seven years, while a standard hot tub will last 20 plus years.

Major brands like Coleman and Intex offer limited warranties on their product lasting up to one year.

So, are inflatable hot tubs worth it despite their lifespan? Yes!

“​​[They’re] versatile, entirely portable, easy to install, and ideal for those looking for a budget-friendly option,” Carson says.

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Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.

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