Despite the fact that most inflatable hot tubs are not rated for use in air temperatures below 40° F, it is common for people to use their portable hot tubs in the winter time. If you are searching for an inflatable spa to use in cold weather, there are some characteristics that you should look for and some precautions you should take. Testing has proven to us that inflatable hot tubs can maintain their max water temperature in air temperatures well below freezing and can be enjoyed all winter. If you are searching for the best inflatable hot tub for the winter, or are interested in using the inflatable spa you already own in cold weather, consider the following information on performance characteristics.
Before I start talking about hardware, I want to clarify what a portable hot tub air temperature rating actually means. An air temperature rating is the manufacturers guarantee that if you fill up your spa with cold water, it will be able to increase the water to max temperature and maintain that max temperature as long as the ambient air temperature is equal to or above the tub’s rating. So, if the inflatable spa is rated at 40° F, and you take it out on a 40° fall day, fill it with hose water, and turn on the pump, the manufacturer guarantees that the spa will eventually be able to raise that water temperature to 104° F. It is important to understand the definition of this rating because it brings light to the theory that a heat pump that has the ability to raise 250+ gallons of water 64° (from 40 to 104°) in 40° weather surely has the ability to maintain max temperature in water that is already hot in much lower air temperatures.
Editor’s Recommendation: Top 5 Inflatable Hot Tub for Winter
5 Winter Hot Tub Reviews
1. “PureSpa Portable” bubble massage spa set by Intex
If you see a question like this and are suddenly getting excited about all the places that you could enjoy a hot tub at, then you’ll get a lot out of the PureSpa Portable by Intex.
The PureSpa Portable is not your father’s inflatable kiddie pool. Sure, it is inflatable, but it is many degrees more inflatable than the average inflatable pool and even other inflatable hot tubs. It’s Fiber-Tech construction and insulated cover are responsible for this, and you will not worry about any kind of damage to the PureSpa Portable’s surface at all because of it.
Replacing the filter in an inflatable hot tub such as this can be very taxing. To make the process easier, the PureSpa Portable comes with two filters that are much easier to replace than filters that are built into other portable hot tubs.
There are a few things that you need to be aware of with the PureSpa Portable, however. First, the temperature of the water can only reach 104 degrees fahrenheit. While this can satisfy most, those who desire hotter temperatures will be disappointed.
Outside temperatures need to also be at least 50 degrees fahrenheit in order for the PureSpa Portable to reach its highest temperatures. This can be very troublesome if you plan to set it up in colder climates.
2. 4-6 person portable outdoor spa and inflatable hot tub by Goplus
While many inflatable hot tubs do not have handles that make it easy to carry around, Goplus’s inflatable hot tub does, and this makes it very convenient to carry around wherever you need to.
Most portable hot tubs do not contain bubble jets, and if they do, these bubble jets are underwhelming in their power. Goplus’s inflatable hot tub contains 130 jets which promise a very strong massage when operated, being comparable to hot tubs that are built in homes.
It is also very easy to control the temperature in Goplus’s inflatable hot tub. Controlling how hot it can get and how strong you want the jets to be is much easier than it is with most other portable hot tubs. This is a very nice thing if you and those you are bathing with want to make temperature changes on the fly.
Being over 60 inches in diameter, it is possible for up to 4 people to fit in Goplus’s inflatable hot tub. However, when everything is considered, this number is more like 3. It can fit 4 people, but it will not be comfortable for 4 people since it is not as big as most other inflatable hot tubs that are designed for 4 people.
3. Hawaii air jet inflatable outdoor spa by Bestway
Setting up any given inflatable hot tub outside can be risky without proper coverings. This is especially true if you live in an area that is surrounded by trees and other environments where leaves, rain, dirt, and other objects can fall onto your inflatable hot tub.
And unfortunately, very few inflatable hot tubs contain proper covers that are necessary to protect it from such things. You’ll either need to take your chance with covers that you own yourself or waste a lot of time and energy cleaning your inflatable hot tub out.
Bestway’s inflatable hot tub solves this problem decisively. Containing a leatheroid cover, it will be protected from anything and everything that comes in contact with it. You’ll be able to leave Bestway’s inflatable hot tub outside with confidence because of this.
Most inflatable hot tubs can take a very, very long time to inflate to where they are ready for use. This is because their water capacities are well over 100 gallons. Fortunately, Bestway’s inflatable hot tub comes with a pump and can that will inflate it in seconds, as opposed to other inflatable hot tubs that typically take a lot longer to inflate.
The pump and can also hold Bestway’s inflatable hot tub back. You will not be able to carry it around and unlike other inflatable hot tubs, it is designed for home use and nothing else. If you do want to take it somewhere, you will also need to find a way to transport the pump and can. This is very inconvenient, since other inflatable hot tubs do not require you to carry a pump and can alongside it.
4. “PureSpa Plus” bubble massage set by Intex
The PureSpa Plus, by Intex, is one of very few inflatable hot tubs to contain tangible accessories that you can attach to the side of the tub. It contains a headrest which provides much needed neck support.
As insignificant as this might seem, this is a very useful accessory that you will likely take advantage of again and again.
Carrying the PureSpa Plus around is also very easy. It contains a carry bag, making it incredibly convenient to take it wherever you go. If you want an inflatable hot tub for camping trips or anything related, you will want to seriously consider the PureSpa plus.
Because it is so easy to carry, the PureSpa Plus leaves a bit to be desired in a couple of categories.
The first of these is jet capacity. The PureSpa Plus does contain jets, but they are not nearly as strong as the jets of other inflatable hot tubs. Do not expect a powerful hot tub jet experience with the PureSpa Plus.
The PureSpa Plus is also a little smaller than other inflatable hot tubs, measuring at a little under 60 inches in diameter. Four people can be inside of it at one time, but it will get crowded.
5. “SaluSpa Paris AirJet” inflatable hot tub with LED light show by Bestway
One of those things is making the experience a little more festive than it already is. The SaluSpa Paris AirJet contains an LED light show when turned on, which cycles through 7 different colors. The lights come from the bottom and make the tub flash with a different color every few seconds, which looks very impressive at night.
The SaluSpa Paris AirJet is also much bigger than most other inflatable hot tubs, measuring in at 77 inches in diameter. This will ensure that at least 4 to 6 people can fit in it without any issues at all.
Inflating the SaluSpa Paris AirJet is also effortless, as it contains a pump and can that will inflate to its 250 gallon capacity in a very short time. This is perfect if you need to set it up right away.
The pump and can that the SaluSpa Paris AirJet contains also means that it is difficult to carry around. It is certainly designed to stay in one place. Carrying it around is possible, but it will take a lot of work.
Buying Guide of Winter Hot Tub
Our testing has confirmed this theory. We left a few of our spas out through the winter and found that they are able to maintain max temperature in cold weather. Our testing facility is in Pennsylvania, and evening temperatures often get into the low 20s. We found that as long as the water is hot going into the cold months, the best inflatable spas can maintain hot water temperatures through the whole winter, which make an inflatable hot tub worth it in the long run. We also tested filling a tub with hose water and attempting to heat the cold weather in temperatures below its rating, and found that the rating is accurate. The pumps struggled and were not able to increase the water temperature. During the day time the temperature increased to the high 60s, but as soon as night came the temperature drop back into the low 40s and 50s. The pumps were never able to reach max temperature. If need to fill your tub during the winter months, you have options though. There are adapters that connect to your sink spigot that enable you to fill your tub with hot sink water. This will allow you to harness the power of your home hot-water heater and minimize the effort that you portable hot tub pump will need to exert. Most residential hot water heaters are in the 50 gallon range, so the best way to fill your spa in cold weather is to fill the spa with 50 gallons and run the heat pump to keep those 50 gallons hot. In an hour or so, once your home hot water heater has heat up the next 50 gallons, add that water. Keep following these steps until your inflatable spa is full.
It is important to note that there is another reason that inflatable spas are usually only rated for 40° F air temperatures. Their mechanical hardware is not insulated and the plastic plumbing is susceptible to cracking if water is allowed to freeze and expand inside the pumps. Many fixed hot tubs are not rated for use in sub-freezing temperatures, either, which is a fact that most owners don’t even know. This isn’t a game-changer by any means, though. All this means is that you should take a few precautions if you intend to use your inflatable hot tub in the winter. The first measure you should take is to insulate your portable hot tub’s heating unit. All you need to do is purchase insulation, completely wrap your pump hub in this insulation, and run your pump. When the heat pump is running, it generates a small amount of heat which is sufficient to keep the internal mechanical parts thawed if the hub is properly insulated. This heat pump is only generating heat when it is running, though. So, the second precaution you should take is to make sure you are always running the heater. If the air temperatures are below freezing, your heat pump will be running constantly. The only thing you need to worry about is your tub shutting down. If it hub shuts down, then the pump will shut off and not heat the internal mechanics. If water freezes in the pumps, they can crack. The final point we need to make in regards to this topic is that if you intend to store your hot tub in sub-freezing temperatures, make sure that all water is drained from the pumps and pipes.
What you should look for when purchasing an inflatable hot tub to use in the winter?
We have established that it is possible, and actually pretty common, to use your inflatable hot tub in the winter as long as you take a few precautions. Next we will explore what features you should look for when shopping for the best portable hot tub for winter. When you are shopping for an inflatable spa to use in the cold weather, the most important characteristic that you want to evaluate is the tub’s ability to heat the water. This performance metric is directly affected by the quality of the spa’s heat pump, which means that it is possible to evaluate how effective the sportable spa will be in the winter time by researching a single part. All inflatable hot tubs should have quantifiable performance metrics listed and you should look at these when shopping. If you can’t find this information, then we advised that you don’t even consider the spa because the best inflatable spas make these statistics readily available.
You should first look for information on the heat pump’s flow rate, which is a measurement of how much water the pump can process in a given time. You should look for a pump that is rated at or above 320 gallons/hr. The reason that we use this as our benchmark is because the Coleman Lay-Z-Spa uses a heat pump with this flow rate, and it is one of the portable hot tubs that we have witnessed maintain max water temperature in winter months. The Intex PureSpa has a heat pump that is able to process 460 gallons/hr and is also a great inflatable hot tub for the winter. Flow rate is a good indicator on how powerful your pump is, but it doesn’t tell the whole story.
The next metric that you should consider is power rate which is a measurement of the potential heat that the pump can put into the water. This is actually a more important rating than flow rate. Using a car heating system as a metaphor, think of flow rate as how hard you can blow air through the vents and power rate as how hot you can get the air. Both of these rates need to be high in order to have a strong pump. Power rate can be measured in various ways because measuring power can get complicated. Maybe I will get into measuring power in another blog post, but for now I am just going to give you benchmarks to look for. If the pump’s power is measured in Watts, you should look for a pump that is 1300W or greater. If Watts are not listed, but Volts and Ampheres are, you can multiply (Amps x Volts) to get Watts. Once you multiply these together, you can check to see if this value is greater than the 1300W benchmark. Keeping consistent with using Coleman and Intex as examples, because they are two brands that we recommend for the winter, here are each of their pump power ratings. The Intex PureSpa has a 1300W heat pump, and the Coleman Lay-Z-Spa has a pump that is rated at 12A and 110-120v. Using our multiplication trick we can calculate the Lay-Z-Spa’s power rate as (12A x 110V) 1320W. The increase in the Watts is why Coleman performs similarly to Intex in cold air temperatures despite having a lower flow rate.
The heat pump is the most important mechanical part to consider because it is the sole provider of heat for the spa’s water. Other than the pump, the only other characteristic you should look for is the tub’s insulation. This is more difficult because inflatable spas hardly have any insulation, but a few small features can make a big difference. First, you want to make sure that a ground mat is included with the tub. A small barrier between the floor of the tub and the ground can go a long way. If you have a sturdy deck and have the ability to set up your tub on the deck, this is an advantage over setting it up on the ground. Next you should examine the tub cover. Most likely it is inflatable and you want to make sure that it can seal tightly. We recommend purchasing an additional insulation blanket that floats on the surface of the water underneath the cover. This small investment will pay itself off very quickly in the amount of money you will save on energy bills. The biggest insulation that the tub has is its inflated tub walls. Make sure that the walls are thick 3-ply material and always keep your tub inflated with sturdy walls. Sturdy walls provide more insulation than saggy ones.
Testing has proven to us that it is possible to use an inflatable hot tub in the cold weather, or in the winter. This is great because many people rely on inflatable hot tubs for health benefits. The best portable hot tub pumps are strong enough to maintain max water temperature in ambient air temperatures that are below freezing. Freezing temperatures can be potentially dangerous for mechanical parts in the pump because water can freeze and expand, which can cause pipes to crack. But, insulating your pump unit can mitigate this risk. With a few additional modifications, it is possible to safely use your inflatable hot tub in the winter.