Should I buy an inflatable hot tub? (Review, costs, features and more)
Are you dreaming of an affordable solution to hot tub luxury? Perhaps you’ve heard people talk about inflatable hot tubs and asking yourself “should I buy an inflatable hot tub” or, “are inflatable hot tubs any good?”
In this article you will learn
-What is an inflatable hot tub
-How do inflatable hot tubs work
-Inflatable vs portable hot tub - What’s the difference
-How much do inflatable hot tubs cost and where can I buy in the UK
-Are inflatable hot tubs in the UK expensive to run
-Can I use an inflatable hot tub in Winter
This article should help you gain a clear understanding of what inflatable hot tubs are and what they can offer you. From here you'll be able to work out if this tub type fits your wants and needs or if you’re best to explore other options.
In this article, we’ve used brand names not affiliated with Jacuzzi Group. You can see the list of the brand owners at the bottom of this article. All information, including pricing and product details, was accurate at the time of writing (March 28, 2023) and may change without notice.
What is an inflatable hot tub?
Inflatable hot tubs vary between brand and model but they’re generally a hot tub made with soft materials so they can be inflated and filled with air. They are usually circular, square or octagonal, sit above ground and being light weight, can be placed wherever is practical.
To live up to the name ‘tub’, they also heat water, create bubble effects and provide a massage to the body. This takes place through hydro or air jets which are powered through a control box and pump that sits outside and adjacent to the tub.
If you decide to stop using your inflatable hot tub for a while, you can drain it, deflate it and store it away until your next use.
What are inflatable hot tubs made of?
Inflatable hot tubs are made from UV-resistant materials such as vinyl and latex. However, a lot of established inflatable brands have their own material combinations.
For example, Lay-Z-Spa™ uses a combination of PVC layers and polyester mesh for one material type, the other uses drop-stitch fabric.
Are Inflatable hot tubs easy to set up?
In a nutshell, setting up an inflatable hot tub is pretty straightforward and may involve:
-Inflating the tub walls
-Inflating the cover
-Connecting the control box and fittings
-Filling the tub with water
-Connecting the power unit (Following the instructions for your specific tub)
-Turning the heating on
There should be instructions in your pack that refer to chemical usage and setup. This is likely to vary between brand and model. As an example, Lay-Z-Spa™ recommends waiting 24 hours after shock dosing the tub with chlorine before using.
How do inflatable hot tubs work?
Once inflated, filled and heated, the control system will allow you to heat, filter and activate the jets.
Depending on the brand and model, some hot tubs will allow you to set the heating in advance, activate Wi-Fi, connect to a remote-controlled app, and more.
What is the difference between an inflatable and portable hardshell hot tub?
One of the key points of difference is the simple fact that an inflatable hot tub is inflatable and a hardshell hot tub will always hold the same shape.
An inflatable hot tub does not have the same features that a portable hardshell option has such as an acrylic shell, hydrotherapy jets, seating and equipment such as heaters and pumps stored within the cabinet. It also has limited durability to sharp objects and strong weather such as wind and hail.
We recommend you read this article to delve deeper into the differences between a hardshell and inflatable hot tub.
How much do inflatable hot tubs cost and where can I buy in the UK?
£1000 and more. Here’s an example of brands and retailers you can buy inflatable hot tubs in the UK. These include:
- MSpa™- from £200 £990 (MSpa™ website)
- Lay-Z-Spa™ - from £329 to £1,699.99 (Lay-Z-Spa™ website)
- Wave™ Spas - from £269 to £499 (Wave™ Spa website)
- Amazon™ - from £189 (offer Lay-Z-Spa™, Wave™ Spa, MSpa™, Cosy Spa™, Clever Spa®)
- Aldi™ - from £299 (offer Intex® Hot Tub)
- Tradepoint™ - from £246 (offer Lay-Z-Spa™)
What are the best inflatable hot tub brands in the UK?
There are several inflatable hot tubs that may tick the boxes if you’re looking for a quality option. Lay-Z-Spa™, MSpa™ and Wave™ Spa appear to be popular brands in the UK. This is based on review ratings on TrustPilot.
We consider the following as the best inflatable hot tub brands in the UK as they offer a good level of affordability, as well as quality, durability and design, within the inflatable tub market.
Inflatable hot tub running costs UK 2023
There are several factors that play into the running costs of inflatable hot tubs that you will learn later in the next section of this article.
Wave™ Spas states on its website that the average cost to power the heater unit on their inflatable hot tubs the UK is £0.23 per hour (based on the average UK cost of cents per hour and will vary depending on your electricity supplier).
The website also states that an approximate 40 hours to heat the water to a maximum 40-degree temperature will cost a total of £9.20 Activating the bubbles will also have an average cost of £0.35 per hour.
Are inflatable hot tubs in the UK expensive to run?
Putting a figure to the running costs of an inflatable hot tub is challenging because there are several key factors that play into this. They include:
-Temperature - What temperature are you heating the water to and what is the temperature outside?
-Use - Do you use the tub as part of a daily routine or just occasionally?
-Quality of components - Are the spa walls, control system, cover (to name a few) at the good, better or best level of quality on the market?
-Foundation - What surface is the hot tub placed on?
It’s fair to say that a tub equipped with quality insulation and an efficient control system will help reduce running costs.
Limiting heat loss and carrying out the heating, filtration and jet activation in an energy saving way will always play a key part in keeping your hot tub power bill down. Accessories such as an inflatable bladder and heat preservation mat may also make a difference.
It’s worth keeping in mind that a portable hardshell option, although more expensive to purchase, may be more effective at minimising running costs long term.
For the clearest answer on inflatable running costs, we recommend that you speak to an inflatable spa company or salesperson, if there’s a model you have already been considering.
How can I make the running costs of my inflatable hot tub cheaper?
The most efficient way to keep inflatable running costs to a minimum is to reduce heat loss from the water and keep the water clean. Some actions to take can include
- Placing the tub in a sheltered environment where it will be less exposed to cold winds and breezes
-Investing in energy efficient accessories e.g., insulated cover or insulated pad to help reduce heat loss from the top and bottom of the tub
-Removing debris from water and keeping filters clean will help extend the life of the filters and help maintain chlorine levels
Are inflatable hot tubs waterproof?
Although pumps (not contained inside the inflatable tub) can be labelled as being waterproof, some brands recommend that in events of heavy rain or poor weather to bring both the tub and pump under shelter. Equipment not contained inside an inflatable hot tub, as you will find with hardshell options.
If you are considering a specific brand and model, it’s a good idea to ask the salesperson what the water resistance capabilities are of the tub.
Can I use an inflatable hot tub in winter?
Inflatable hot tubs can be used in the winter but the level of weather resistance and temperature the tub can handle will vary between brands.
As an example, Lay-Z-Spa™ states on their website that it’s more recent models are fitted with Freeze Shield™ technology to further heat the water during cool temperatures.
It also recommends placing the hot tub on a raised platform, utilising insulation options, stay on top of water maintenance, keep the tub walls clean and checking the pump. These are similar recommendations to what can be provided with a hard-shell hot tub.
However, inflatable hot tubs can be more vulnerable to damage during very cool temperatures when the tub isn’t in use. The consequence of this, according to Lay-Z-Spa™ is water freezing inside the pump and the creation of mould from poorer water quality.
Keep in mind that running costs for an inflatable hot will be higher during the cooler months and regular care is required to ensure the controls, equipment and water aren’t damaged from cold weather and infrequent use.
Pros and cons - Is an inflatable hot tub right for me?
Inflatable hot tubs are a great option for people in search of a simple and affordable hot tub solution. It’s worth keeping the following pros and cons in mind as you consider exploring this tub type further or looking at other products on the market.
Pros of inflatable hot tubs
- Cheap to buy
- Range of price points and quality options to suit different budgets
- Easy to set up and use
- Quick to inflate and deflate
- Pack away when not in use
- Equipped with the hot tub basics – adjustable water temperature, jets, bubbly water, a place to splash around or relax
Cons of inflatable hot tubs
- Harder to keep insulated
- Limited hydrotherapy options
- Most are only equipped with open seating
- Limited longevity
- Limited durability during winter
Hopefully, this article has provided you with some valuable insight into the functions, differences, pros and cons of owning an inflatable hot tub.
If you are looking for a cheap to buy, simple to use, easy to move around, temporary use of a warm relaxing space to soak in, perhaps an inflatable hot tub could be an ideal choice that fits into your lifestyle.
It may also be worth considering if you’re on the fence about buying a hard-shell portable option and looking for a solution to help bridge the gap before making a larger investment.
On the other hand, if you’re wanting your future tub to be with you for many years, provide you with effective hydrotherapy, moulded seating and be a robust solid fixture that also has the potential of adding value to your home, then a portable hardshell hot tub is likely to be a better fit.
If you are keen to learn more about hard shell hot tubs, there are many options to explore. You may want to take a look at the Jacuzzi J-200™ Classic Collection – a quality range that provides a great introduction to hydrotherapy as well as value for money. Click this link to learn more about the J-200™ Collection.
You can gain a better understanding on hard shell hot tubs in this article on the Top 5 features every hot tub should have.
Disclaimer: The following registered trademarks are owned by companies not affiliated in any way with Jacuzzi Group.
MSpa™ is a trademark owned by Oriental Recreational Products (Shanghai) Wave Spas™. LAY-Z-SPA™, Freeze Shield™, ChemConnect™ are trademarks owned by Bestway Inflatables & Material Corp No. 3065 CaoAn Road, Shanghai. Intex® is a trademark of HENGLY ASSOCIATES INC CORPORATION CALIFORNIA. CleverSpa® is a trademark owned by Clever Company, Oldgate, St.Michaels Industrial Estate, Widnes, Cheshire, WA8 8TL, United Kingdom. Amazon and all related Marks are Trademarks of Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates. ALDI is a trademark of Aldi Inc. Intex® is a trademark owned by Intex Marketing Ltd.Tradepointis a trademark owned by B & Q House, Chestnut Avenue, Eastleigh, Hampshire, SO53 3LE, United Kingdom. Cost Spa is a trademark owned by Net World Sports Ltd private limited company UNITED KINGDOM Bryn Lane, Wrexham Industrial Estate Wrexham. Clever Spa® is a trademark owned by Clever-Company Limited PRIVATE LIMITED COMPANY UNITED KINGDOM. Trustpilot is a trademark owned by Pilestræde 58, 5., København K, 1112, Denmark
Affiliations: Jacuzzi® is a registered trademark of Jacuzzi Group. All rights reserved.