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Best inflatable hot tubs 2020: Portable spas at every budget

Best Inflatable Hot Tubs 2020
(Image credit: Intex)

If you’ve missed your tropical getaway or lazy spa days this year, the best inflatable hot tubs are here to help you recapture some of that luxury, in a socially-distanced fashion. Many invest in inflatable hot tubs when the best hot tubs are out of reach. These cheaper hot tubs still offer powerful jets for hydrotherapy and seating for up to six or seven people, but their portability makes them a winner for renters or those who are only interested in seasonal use. Inflatable hot tubs are durable, too. These are more than just blow up hot tubs. The inflatable hot tub PVC exterior prevents them from losing shape with use, and many have cushioned floors and even LED lighting to add some extra fun. 

Along with gas grills and bread makers, inflatable hot tubs have been sold out pretty much across the board this summer. However, we’ve been able to track down some in-stock models from the best inflatable hot tub brands like Lay Z Spa, Intex, Coleman, and Bestway, for your consideration. If the one you want isn’t in stock right now, check back frequently - we’ll be the first to know when it’s back in stock again. 

You can find inflatable hot tubs for under $500, but the best inflatable tubs could cost up to $1,500. At any price, you can get dozens of bubble jets and capacity from two to seven people. Before buying, consider the space you’re dealing with. For starters, it should be flat enough to keep your waterline level and prevent major spills or instability. For smaller spaces, you can find some smaller inflatable hot tubs which will fit two at a time. If space is no trouble, six or seven person options are great for large households, or those who are thinking ahead to when we’re allowed visitors once more. 


1. Coleman Lay-Z-Spa 54131E: Best inflatable hot tub overall

Best inflatable hot tub

Coleman Lay-Z-Spa 54131E

The best inflatable hot tub overall

Capacity: 6 people | Maximum temperature: 104 degrees | Jets: 114

Can hold up to six adults.
Included pressure gauge helps you get the right amount of air.
The cover fastens on and helps retain heat.
The warranty period is shorter than average.

The Coleman Lay-Z-Spa 54131E Inflatable Hot Tub is one of the most popular inflatable hot tubs out there because of its affordability, quality construction and Coleman’s well-earned reputation for customer service. This is a big hot tub that holds up to 242 gallons of water and is big enough to hold four to six adults at a time.

The exterior comes with a vertical beam construction, so the tub shouldn’t lose its shape over time. A cushioned ground cover adds to the comfort of what is already a very relaxing tub. The ground mat, of course, also protects the tub from debris on the ground underneath as well as retaining the heat of the water.

You’ll have to think ahead to start heating the water a day before you want to use it, unless you keep it at a relatively warm temperature all the time, because it takes a while to heat. An included pressure gauge helps you avoid overinflating, and an included tightening wrench is specially designed to tighten the valve setting to prevent leaking over time.


2. Coleman SaluSpa Hawaii: Best square inflatable hot tub

(Image credit: Target)

Coleman SaluSpa Hawaii Square Inflatable Hot Tub

This is the best inflatable hot tub for families

Capacity: 4 people | Maximum temperature: 104 degrees | Jets: 114

Unique square shape
Space-efficient
Digital controls
Four person capacity - not the largest

While the Coleman SaluSpa Hawaii Square Inflatable Hot Tub is smaller in size than other inflatable hot tubs we looked at, its unique square shape offers extra seating space. It can comfortably seat a family of four. This tub comes with an impressive 114 bubble jets, and a cushioned floor. It has vertical interior vinyl panels to give it support and prevent sagging over time. It only weighs 73 pounds, making it quite portable before you inflate it compared to larger tubs.

When you buy this tub online, it comes with one pool liner, a pool cover, spa pump, chemical floater, and two filter cartridges. The digital control panel is within easy reach and the heater raises the temperature up to 104 degrees Fahrenheit. With a cord which is only 12 foot long, you may need to consider carefully the location you have in mind. However, its powerful jets and sturdy construction make the Coleman SaluSpa Hawaii a worthwhile investment. 


3. Bestway 54190E SaluSpa: Most luxury inflatable hot tub

(Image credit: Amazon)

Bestway 54190E SaluSpa Inflatable Hot Tub

This is the most luxurious inflatable hot tub

Capacity: 7 people | Maximum temperature: 104 degrees | Jets: 84

Massaging air jet system
Integrated water filtration
Can seat up to 7 people
One of the most expensive inflatable hot tubs 

The Bestway 54190E SaluSpa Inflatable Hot Tub comfortably holds seven people while offering a high-end massaging air jet system, rapid heating system, and integrated water filtration. It has a stylish external wood pattern and an aluminum foil coating to keep water extra warm. 

The inflatable hot tub can heat up to 104 degrees Fahrenheit, and you can adjust settings via the attached LCD touchscreen. The inflatable hot tub is easy to set up and doesn’t take long to inflate. It also features a cushioned floor with convenient drain valve.


4. Intex 77 PureSpa Bubble 28403E: Best value inflatable hot tub

(Image credit: Amazon)

Intex 77 PureSpa Bubble 28403E

This is the best value inflatable hot tub

Capacity: 4 people | Maximum temperature: 104 degrees | Jets: 120

The water is circulated through a water softener system
The cover has child-protected locks
It’s backed by a 12-month warranty
Chemicals like chlorine are not included

The Intex 77 PureSpa Bubble 28403E has heavy-duty construction and a good selection of accessories at a very reasonable price. The Fiber-Tech construction combines reinforced laminated PVC with a layer of fibrous material. The tub holds 210 gallons of water and can support four adults at a time.

The thermal ground cloth this inflatable spa comes with protects the bottom of the tub while adding a layer of insulation. The fitted cover has child-protected safety locks and a foil lining to help retain heat. It has a combination pump and heater that circulates water first through a built-in water softener then a water filter. This is an uncommon feature for an inflatable hot tub.

Using the digital controls on the heater, you can set the temperature to anywhere between 68 and 104 degrees Fahrenheit. You also activate the 120 jets using the digital readout. The jets are powered by the same air pump you use to inflate the tub. An included air pressure gauge helps you inflate the tub to just the right level, and a specialized wrench is included to tighten the valve when needed.


5. Aleko 2-Person 130-Jet: Best two person inflatable hot tub

(Image credit: Home Depot)

Aleko 2-Person 130-Jet Inflatable Hot Tub

This is the best compact inflatable hot tub

Capacity: 2 people | Maximum temperature: 108 degrees | Jets: 130

Heats up to a maximum temperature of 108°
Great for limited spaces
Inflates in minutes and deflates for easy storage
A less stylish finish

The Aleko 2-Person 130-Jet Inflatable Hot Tub is an affordable inflatable hot tub. It’s designed to be easy to set up, and it comes with an inbuilt drink tray and cover. The cushioned floor creates a comfortable experience meaning you can sit back and relax while enjoying the 130 high-powered bubble jets. The underside of the cover has foil coating to keep water extra warm and to lock in heat. 

The Aleko heats up to a maximum temperature of 108° and the digital panel controls temperature, bubble jets and filter options. It only seats up to two people, but that's the trade-off you get when you go for a smaller inflatable hot tub. 


How much do inflatable hot tubs cost to run?

The cost of running an inflatable hot tub depends on a few major factors: electricity, water, filters, cleaning and chemicals. To a lesser degree, other factors will contribute to hot tub maintenance costs, like its size, where you set it up, how often you use it and how strict you are about cleaning it. Electricity costs vary by state, so running a hot tub may be less expensive in Louisiana residents than in Alaska or Hawaii.

In our research, we found that the average cost of running an inflatable hot tub is $600 per year. If you purchase a larger hot tub and use it more often than three times a week, you’ll see a higher electricity bill among other costs.

The cost of buying an inflatable hot tub is another consideration. Out list has great inflatable hot tubs that cost between $300-$700, depending on size and features. 

What makes a good inflatable hot tub?

The design of an inflatable hot tub is simple. It consists of an inflatable tub made of PVC or vinyl, as well as an external combination pump and heater unit that controls both water temperature and jets. Inflatable hot tubs can generally be set up in 15 or 20 minutes and filled from a garden hose. Most of them can heat water up to comfortably hot temperatures overnight. Even though the basics are the same across the models listed here, there are some key factors to consider in your buying decision.

Construction
Layered vinyl or PVC is standard for inflatable hot tubs, but many models reinforce the walls of the tub with fabrics like polyester or nylon. This is usually indicated with a proprietary name; Intex calls its unique blend of materials Fiber-Tech, while Coleman uses the name Tri Tech 3 Layer Material for its mix of polyester mesh and layered PVC.

The design and structure of the tub is just as important as the materials used to make it. Many manufacturers use a segmented inflatable design, reinforced with a vertical I-beam structure inside. These internal vinyl panels make for a sturdier tub, one that can support users leaning against it or even sitting directly on the outer wall of the spa. Premium portable hot tubs add another level of stability and protection with interlocking panels that surround the inflatable tub. Made of waterproof composite materials, these panels provide a rigid wall that protects and insulates the hot tub.

Covers

All inflatable spas include a locking top cover for safety reasons. Some, however, also use the cover to insulate the tub and speed up the heating process. Some models include inflatable covers that fit into the top of the tub like a stopper in a bottle, while others use insulating materials like foam or foil lining to keep the heat inside. Regardless of insulation style, you’ll want a cover that’s more than a fitted piece of fabric.

Accessories

There are all sorts of accessories available for maintaining your portable spa and enhancing the experience, from chemical dispensers to inflatable seat cushions. Any hot tub you consider should include the basic filter cartridges necessary for use, if not an extra filter or two. If you plan to leave the tub filled for days or weeks at a time, you’ll also want one that includes chemicals like chlorine or bromine, along with the necessary dispenser and test strips to monitor the pH levels of the water. Other accessory manufacturers offer a ground mat to protect the bottom of the tub, built-in water softening, and built-in or attachable seat cushions and cup holders.

Inflatable hot tub maintenance tips

With regular maintenance, you can keep your inflatable hot tub running optimally all year round and use it whenever you want. Inflatable hot tubs also require a cadre of accessories, tools and cleaning equipment to maintain. But if you invest in quality equipment and regularly clean your hot tub, it will last longer and develop fewer problems during its lifetime.

Empty & Clean It

Cleaning instructions vary slightly from hot tub to hot tub. However, most need to be drained and physically cleaned on a fairly regular basis. This process isn’t too difficult, luckily – a sponge and some mild dish soap does the trick in most cases. Let the tub fully air dry after rinsing before filling it back up.

Test pH Levels

It’s critical that you regularly test the alkalinity of the water in your hot tub. The pH may change very little when you’re not using the tub and more sharply during times of frequent use, especially if more than one or two people use it. If the pH levels drop too low, the hot tub’s interior materials, or even the entire tub, could deteriorate.

Keep It Covered

When there’s water in your hot tub and you’re not using it, keep it covered. This serves two purposes. First, it keeps out leaves, debris and animals so your inflatable hot tub stays clean. Second, the lid helps hold in heat. Although a cover won’t maintain the water at a temperature comfortable for soaking, keeping it as warm as possible shortens the time it takes to heat it up when you want to use it.

Change Filters

Just as you would with a standard pool, you should change your inflatable hot tub’s filter once a week or so to keep it clean and debris-free. Most models have a filter you can clean and reuse, though you may want to replace it if it’s old. Consult the user manual that came with your hot tub for filter replacement recommendations.

Add a Sanitizing Solution

This should seem obvious, but it bears emphasis. In addition to regularly draining and cleaning your hot tub and changing its filters, you should also sanitize it. You can add in a sanitizer before each use or on a less frequent yet regular basis if you don’t use it often.