How to Choose the Best Inflatable Hot Tub
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Not too long ago, the only way you could enjoy a hot tub or spa was by visiting luxury hotels, and often paying for the service. Today, you can enjoy your very own spa experience right in your own backyard. Thanks to the rapid growth in the inflatable hot tub market, you do not have to spend a lot of money buying a traditional above-ground hot tub or installing an in ground spa. Portable inflatable spas provide a ready, practical, and effective solution to this.
If you do not own your home then an inflatable hot tub is great because you can take it with you and continue enjoying it when you move. The best part of a portable, inflatable hot tub is you put it where you want to use it, inflate it, fill it with water, and allow the water to heat.
This guide will help you understand what to look for before buying an inflatable hot tub and help you make the right decision.
The first thing you need to consider when choosing an inflatable hot tub is size. This determines the maximum number of people that can use the hot tub at any given time and whether the hot tub is right for the space available in your house or patio. Some inflatable spas are small, and built for two users max. If you suspect that your hot tub will often be used by three or more people at the same time, consider buying one of the bigger hot tubs. There are larger models on the market that say they can hold six to ten people but this is usually a tight squeeze.
Ensure that there is enough room indoors or outdoors, where you intend to put the spa, buy measuring the area. One of the best things about using inflatable hot tubs is that you can fold it and store it away when you’re done using it, minimizing demand on the selected space. As long as you have sufficient room to put your hot tub during use, you can enjoy it. Remember, the hot tub can be placed anywhere indoors or outdoors, provided there is an outlet, and the surface is flat and sturdy enough to support the weight of the water-filled hot tub.
An inflatable hot tub is far more affordable than an above ground and in ground spa. Budget models are selling for as little as $500, which is a good price for any hot tub. Granted, the inflatable spa may not be as permanent as a built-in spa, but it offers many benefits for the price.
High-end inflatable models cost more, but they are still far cheaper than built-in spas. If your budget is tight, an inflatable hot tub is the best alternative to an above ground hot tub.
Inflatable spa manufacturers offer a variety of models packed with accessories. Pick a hot tub based on what your expectations are but remember this is a portable spa. Popular features you may want in your hot tub could be raised seats, cup/ bottle holders, molded seats, headrests, steps to aid in climbing in and out, waterfalls, and lighting. Some models, particularly those with water bubble jets, offer excellent hydrotherapy, massage and relaxation.
Quality and quantity of accessories are usually found in high-priced inflatable hot tubs. These features will allow you the opportunity to indulge in a few luxuries and tailor your hot tub to your own preferences. Remember that if your chosen hot tub doesn’t offer all the features you want, you maybe able to add on later.
Portable, inflatable hot tubs are mostly made from vinyl and vinyl blend materials, faux leather and a range of other synthetic materials. Although not as hardy and tough as the wood, fiberglass or porcelain used to make permanent hot tubs, this material is hardy enough to support the weight of a limited number of people, plus water. With proper maintenance, your vinyl hot tub will stay in good shape. Always be careful to keep sharp objects and pointed surfaces away from the tub as these can easily prick and puncture it.
Most inflatable hot tubs require an electric source of power, while others can be powered using gas. An electric hot tub heater will warm the water more slowly than the gas version. However, a well-insulated spa can be kept heated (efficiently) all the time, making the heating time a null point. You will need to determine what type of power hook ups you have near the area you want to put the hot tub and choose which will work best.
Inflating and Deflating
Different spas inflate at different rates. When picking a portable hot tub, you want to choose one that will inflate quickly so that you don’t have to wait too long to get it up and running. The same goes for deflating it.
Manufacturers usually indicate the approximate length of time it takes for the spa to inflate on average, so this should give you a rough idea of how long the whole process will take. You can also look at what reviewers who have used the hot tub are saying about it.
Heating and Heat Retention
While the heating mechanism behind inflatable hot tubs is similar in principal, each manufacturer varies with the components of their brands. However, a good hot tub should have an efficient and reliable heating system which kicks in as soon as you power it and turn it on. Additionally, the spa should be able to retain heat for a reasonable period of time so that there is controlled and efficient use of power. For enhanced heat retention, choose an inflatable hot spa with a thermal ground cloth or lining and top cover.
Every inflatable hot tub will be easy to carry (empty), even though the weight may differ from one model to the next. Check the weight of the hot tub you’re interested in buying, especially if you plan to take the spa with you when you travel or just store it for summer. Some models include a carry bag which is an added advantage and makes transporting the hot tub much easier. Otherwise, most inflatable spas fold easily and can be deflated and stored folded up.
If you will have children using your hot tub, you may want a model with raised seats to accommodate them comfortably. In some models, this option is standard but in others, you’ll need to buy the seats separately. Again, hot tubs with raised seats often cost more but this is a price you may be willing to pay, especially if your children will use the tub a lot.
Depending on the age of the child, the suggested times are 5-20 minutes. Most hot tubs are set for 104 degrees, and for children 102 degrees is recommended. Another safety tip is to always cover your hot tub when it’s not in use. Let all children know that the #1 house rule of hot tub use is “No Children without Adults”.
Inflatable hot tubs don’t take much to maintain. However, check that the material you pick is easy to clean and hard to stain. Many portable hot tub models come with a repair kit or patch and the necessary instructions of what to do in case of a leak.
There are basic steps to keeping your hot tub clean and maintained, but first you will need to sanitize the water, usually with chemicals like chlorine, so that your hot tub doesn’t turn into a green pool of algae.
Next, test the PH levels using a water testing kit for this step. Most spas will include a test kit when you first purchase your tub. There are granules that you can add to your spa to boost or lower the alkaline level, and you can get these at your local pool supply store.
Some inflatable hot tubs will have one filter while others have 2 to clean. Check these regularly to wash away any debris that has accumulated in them.
When you empty your hot tub or are draining it and refilling it, this is a good time to actually clean it with a mild soap and water. Never use harsh cleaners.
You can always add water softeners and saline solution to eliminate the need for chlorine but that is up to you.
With an inflatable hot tub, your family and friends can relax and bond. An inflatable hot tub allows you to wind down or entertain anytime, in the privacy of your own backyard. Consider whether you are likely to use it all year and with who? Also, think about how much this will add to your energy bills as some hot tubs can be expensive to run through winter, depending on temperatures where you live.
Installing a permanent spa takes time, a lot of money, and help from professionals. An inflatable hot tub doesn’t require any of this. Simply buy your hot tub, get it home, place it in the desired spot and inflate it. You don’t need extra help to set it up, lots of time or a special set of tools to set up.
Best Inflatable Hot Tub Brands
The number of inflatable hot tubs on the market is impressive, offering so many shapes, sizes, features and colors to choose from. Best of all, there is one for every budget. these hot tubs can loosely be categorized into budget, mid-range, and premium price range.
Some of the best inflatable hot tub brands you can invest in are Coleman, Intex and Bestway.
Extras to Consider when Buying an Inflatable Hot Tub
• A long power cord – Pick the cord length that works for you and the distance to your outlet. Some hot tubs come with longer power cords than others. You may want to measure the distance from the location to the power source before making a purchase.
• A top cover – Many manufacturers ensure that their spa covers are insulated to boost heat retention. Hot tubs with no covers may be sold for less, but they have a lower heat retention rate than tubs with covers this will no doubt have a negative effect on your electric bill. Best to avoid the extra expense altogether by choosing a hot tub with a decent cover. Besides helping with heat preservation, a hot tub cover is a safety amenity too. It does a good job in keeping little ones and pets out of the hot tub.
• Heat preservation mat or cloth – This goes on the bottom surface of the tub and helps conserve heat so that the water stays warm for longer. Other than helping you enjoy a lengthier spa session, this also means you do not have to heat the water as often, and minimizes power consumption. The quality of the ground cloth or mat varies from one manufacturer to another, so check the kind of insulation used for the material, as this may impact the efficacy of the mat.
• Automatic water filtration – The best inflatable hot tubs have an in-built water filtration system that is designed to operate automatically, as long as the hot tub is powered. Other aspects to consider is whether the spa has a replaceable chlorine/chemical dispenser and filter.
• Massage system – Pick a hot tub with a bubble jet massage system to soothe and rejuvenate the body. Most hot tubs have between 80 and 120 bubble jet streams. The more jet streams the inflatable hot tub has, the more soothing and relaxing it can be. This is crucial for individuals hoping to use the spa specifically for therapy, as this massage action is what provides relief from aches, pain, and tension.
• Digital controls – The digital controls allow you to easily regulate the temperature of the water and may be equipped with a number of other features. The inflating pump in most models is also digitally controlled, and this allows for quick, even inflation. Most manufacturers offer an LCD panel controller to make operating the system easy. This is often also replaceable, in case of malfunction.
• Foam filled bottom and air filled, inflated cushions – These ensure extra comfort when sitting in the hot tub. Often these can be purchased separately if your hot tub does not come equipped with.
• Manufacturer’s warranty – This varies from brand to brand. Some manufacturers give a warranty period that is as long as two or three years. Others offer only a three or six month warranty. The most important thing to consider when choosing an inflatable hot tub is to check that there is a level of commitment from the manufacturer, no matter how small. It’s a sign that they stand by their product, which is a great indicator of quality.
• Brand – Some brands are renowned leaders in the pool and spa industry. Even though you may pay slightly more for these brands the tub should serve you well for long. Some brands may not necessarily be considered the cream in the industry, but they still manage to make very good quality inflatable hot tub. Always read user reviews to find out what others have to say about the spa. Approach each hot tub individually, checking whether it has all the features that matter and that it is well designed with good ratings.
An inflatable hot tub maybe a stepping stone to an above ground hot tub for you. Once you determine the features you want and a budget, you can start relaxing in your own backyard. Even if you don’t get everything you want up front, there are many add on accessories you can purchase later on down the line.