Are inflatable hot tubs worth it?
The answer to the question is: Yes. Portable hot tubs are worth it for people who intend to use their tub in ambient air temperatures above 40° F. Over the past 15 years, research and advancements in technology have enabled manufacturers to produce materials that are malleable enough to be used as the walls of an inflatable membrane. Additionally, they are strong enough to withstand years of exposure to outdoors without tearing or puncture. The engineering breakthrough has increased the durability and longevity of the top portable hot tubs. They are now viable long-term alternatives to traditional fixed spas.
The performance of many blow-up hot tubs is comparable to fixed tubs despite the cost being a fraction of the price. Because of this, inflatable jacuzzi is a financially smarter way to bring the lavish spa experience to your house.
Most of the mechanical hardware that blow-up spa is the same hardware as fixed tubs of similar size use.
For example, the heat pump that Intex uses, 1300W 460gallon/hr water pump, is the same size and specification that many fixed spas of similar size use. The testing confirmed similar performance in temperate climates.
The biggest advantage that fixed spas have over inflatable hot tubs is that their walls are insulated. This means the water heat does not escape through the floor or walls. A significant advantage in cold air temperatures. The heat pump is more effective if it doesn’t need to increase the temperature of the water. This is why portable hot tubs are usually rated for use in 40° F or higher air temperatures.
That being said, the best blow-up hot tubs can still be used in temperatures below freezing and maintain their max water temperature. We have seen portable jacuzzi that remains sealed overnight in 20° F air temperature maintain 104° F through the next morning. If you want to use your inflatable jacuzzi in the winter, there are some additional modifications to increase your tub’s performance.
The circumstances where blow-up spa performance falls short of fixed hot tub performance are when blow up jacuzzi needs to increase water temperatures in low air temperatures. The rating on an inflatable tub indicates the minimum air temperature to increase water temperature to max. A 40° F rating means that if the air temperature is 40° F or higher, the pump can increase the water temperature to 104° F.
There are ways to fill inflatable hot tubs with warm water in cold temperatures.
Many hardware stores sell attachments that you can attach a hose to your kitchen sink. In this way, you can fill your portable hot tub with hot sink water. This reduces the stress on the heat pump allowing you to fill the hot tub in air temperatures below its rating.
It is important to note that portable jacuzzi are not rated for use below freezing air temperatures because their internal pump hardware is susceptible to cracking. This is due to expanding frozen water in the pipes. This is actually the case with many fixed spas as well. This risk can be mitigated by insulating the pump hub.
Having all of the hardware located in the same area is an advantage that inflatable spas have over fixed hot tubs. The entire hub unit can be easily insulated. Fixed hot tubs usually have the components spread in different areas underneath the tub. For inflatable jacuzzi, insulation is as simple as wrapping insulation around the pump hub. When the heat pump is running, it will generate heat. With the proper insulation, this heat will be enough to keep the entire unit warm. Additionally, this reduce the risk of hardware becoming damaged.
Will the inflatable spa be able to last through years of use without damaging or losing its effectiveness?
Most of the hardware that blow up spas use is the same as those fixed hot tubs use. So the longevity of hardware are equivalent. Another benefit of blow up jacuzzi is that replacement parts are cheaper and do not require a technician for installation. If the water pump fails in a fixed spa, you will need to buy the replacement pump which costs $200. You will also need to pay a technician to install it unless you have the time and expertise yourself.
If the same heat pump fails on your inflatable tub you have two options. You can attempt to replace just the heat pump which is easy. Alternatively, you can switch out your old pump unit with a brand new hub under $300. For a relatively low extra cost, you can get completely new hardware with no technical installation.
How long will the tub last without tearing or losing shape?
The 3-ply material that inflatable hot tub manufacturers use is high quality and incredibly strong. That being said, if an accident does happen and the tub wall punctures, you have two options. Your first option is to patch the hole yourself with a patch kit that is often included. Your second option is to purchase an entirely new inflatable tub reservoir for under $300. When questioning durability it is important to remember that an portable hot tub often costs less than a fixed tub. So, if a component does wind up failing, the cost of replacement is still marginal.
The biggest perk that fixed hot tubs have over blow up hot tubs is jets.
Fixed tubs always have 20+ hydro jets which are holes in the wall that pump a stream of water back into the tub. These jet streams produce a massage-like experience. In order to have hydro jets, a hot tub needs an additional or upgraded water pump and the proper plumbing.
In a compromise to remain affordable, many portable jacuzzi uses a bubble jet system. A bubble jet is essentially a tube that runs around the bottom edge of the floor that has 120 pin holes in it. The air pump sends air through this tube and escapes through the pinholes, creating countless tiny bubbles. The bubbles reduce the transparency of the water, which makes the environment more private. The bubble jets are a wonderful affordable alternative to hydo jets. But if you want traditional hydro jets there are inflatable jacuzzi models that have them, like the Intex PureSpa Deluxe. The upgrade usually costs $300, but the benefit is worth it.
Overall, the blow up spas are worth the money. They are a wonderful way to relax, unwind, and enjoy the outdoors. Blow up jacuzzi costs a fraction of the cost of fixed tubs. Yet have comparable performance metrics, their mechanical components being essentially the same. Portable hot tubs actually make great gifts, too. Inflatable tubs are extremely durable and can be expected to last through many season. A great feature of inflatable spa is that replacement parts are cheap and don’t require a technician to be installed. The only situation that fixed tubs outperform inflamed ones is in an environment below 40° F. But, even in these situation, inflatable hot tubs can still be effective when insulated.