Many years ago when I first started shopping for hot tubs, I was initially turned off by the portable spas. They seemed kind of cheap-looking to me compared the the in-ground built-in type usually connected to a swimming pool.
Style… On the Cheap?
However, I never considered the fact that I could surround it with wood or resin lattice to create a nice-looking privacy screen – or even add a cantilevered umbrella, curtained-gazebo, tall plants or other patio furniture around the spa so that it looks more sophisticated and stylish in the yard (while saving me thousands of dollars in the process!)
After I purchased and started using my first portable hot tub, I realized that they offer lots of benefits that you don’t get with built-in spas – benefits that I hadn’t even thought about before. Saving money was only one of the advantages – go figure!
Not having owned a hot tub before, I never know how sturdy, durable, easy and low-maintenance portable spas could be. I had to actually buy one myself to understand how much I really liked it and see how much I would truly use it (that’s always the question, right?).
Anyway, even though I like my hot tub, it doesn’t mean that they are right for everyone. I’ve put together a list of the pros and cons to you can decide for yourself whether an inflatable hot tub is a good fit for you – or not.
The Pros of Inflatable Spas:
- Huge Cost Savings
On average, most custom in-ground spas cost between $15,000 and $20,000, according to CostOwl.com. Pre-fabricated hot tubs cost less, but are still priced between $3,000 and $8,000 (for the smaller-sized models). Although you give up some features and styling with inflatable or “bubble” spas, you can get a good-quality inflatable hot tub starting at about $500. There is quite a difference in price here.
Of course, you’ve got to want to use your spa in different locations to appreciate this one. And don’t assume that you need to have a second home.
- Indoors or Out
For example, some people enjoy their hot tub outdoors on the patio in the summertime – and then bring it indoors in the winter season. This can be a nice convenience, but it can also help lower heating costs throughout the colder months.
- Shut it Down
Instead of moving the spa, some people choose to use it only seasonally, which not only takes the cost out of running it, but there is no maintenance either. For people who plan to use their spas only half of the year, inflatable hot tubs can be a good option.
- Extra Cushioning
Don’t get me wrong, a blow-up hot tub is not a soft flimsy pool toy. In fact, you may be surprised at how sturdy they are, even when you sit on them with your full weight. That said, these spas definitely have a “softer” feel than concrete or hard plastic. It can be pretty relaxing.
The Cons of Inflatable Hot Tubs:
- No “Structured” Seating
If you’ve ever sat in a pre-fabricated hot tub, you know that they usually have built-in bucket seats. These make it very easy to lean back and relax and feel like the seat almost conforms to your body. Inflatable spas don’t have these custom seats and some may not have any seats at all. Even the base of the inflatable spas typically have cushioning, some people prefer a raised seat. Where to Get Hot Tub Seats.
- They Heat Up Slowly
These spas have electric heaters (vs gas), so they take longer to heat. Expect it to take 1 hour for the water temperature to increase 2 degrees (or 3 degrees with speedier heating units). This factor may not matter to you if you plan on having your tub heated all the time or for long periods of time (such as weekends). You just want to schedule about 1 day to initially heat up your spa.
- They Can Cost More to Heat
Of course, this will depend on how often you use your spa. You also need to factor in weather conditions in your area (mild or cold climate), if your tub is indoors or out and the rate that your utility company charges for electricity. You can check out the cost breakdown in the right-hand column on this page to get a rough estimate. In any case, inflatables still come out ahead in cost when compared to pre-fabricated styles and in-ground spas.