Inflatable Spa Reviews
Chances are that I don't need to convince you that having a hot tub is great...you probably already know that and already want one. The unfortunate reality is that many people will either not be able to afford a hot tub, or they will not have the electrical availability in their main service panel for a new hot tub installation. Most of the higher end hot tubs on the market these days need 40A, 50A or 60A electrical services which many homes simply do not have to spare. Sure you could upgrade your main house service to 200 Amps but that upgrade could cost as much as the hot tub itself in some cases. Fortunately there may be a solution for people in this situation.
The entry level class of hot tubs has come a long way in the last decade or so. When you do not have $5000 to $10,000 for a fiberglass or acrylic spa, or you do not have the electrical service to support a more permanent spa, then you should consider trying out an inflatable hot tub instead. At only a few hundred dollars for the smallest models you can realize your dream of lounging in the spa in your backyard for a surprisingly reasonable budget. Inflatable spas do not require a heavy duty electrical service as they are intended to be as easy as possible to set up and run. This means that you simply plug the spa into any standard 120 volt outlet (being sure to follow the manufacturers instructions for using a GFI protected outlet).
Why do other more expensive hot tubs require such a heavy duty electrical service when inflatable hot tubs are able to get the job done just fine with a standard plug? The answer to this is in the bells and whistles. Larger hot tubs will have larger heating elements as well as usually having multiple jet pumps. Inflatable hot tubs do not have this electrical ability and so the heating element is much smaller, and there is often no jet pumps at all. Even if you have an inflatable spa with a jet pump massage jet system the minimal electrical supply will not be great enough to run the heater and the jets at the same time.
Are Inflatable Spas Any Good?
Hot tubs with larger electrical services can run multiple pumps and the heater all at the same time. Inflatable hot tubs can run one jet pump at most and the heater can not run at the same time. Even without an additional jet pump the heater on a 120 volt spa will be unable to sustain the water temperature when you open the lid and use it. The speed at which the heat drops when you use an inflatable spa will depend on ambient air temperatures as well as whether you are using the jets / air bubble systems. Both the jets, but especially the air bubbler system introduce cold air to the water which actually serves to cause the water temperature to drop even faster when in use.
- Easy to set up / install
- Does not require a special electrical service
- Heats water to 104 degrees
- Easy to operate and maintain
- Very low initial investment
- Economical monthly electricity costs
- Surprisingly roomy for 2 to 4 people
- Relatively low expected service life of 3 to 7 years
- Low quality pump and heating elements
- Minimal filtration system
- Not intended to operate in freezing winter conditions
- Minimal comfort or interior features
Inflatable Spa Sizes - There are a lot of makers and copycat manufacturers of inflatable and portable spas however most of them all seem to follow a similar format for models and sizing. Most manufacturers followed the lead from Intex and produce a smaller 77" diameter spa that holds 210 gallons (850L) as well as a larger model that is 85" in diameter with a volume of 280 gallons (1100L). While the manufacturers suggest that these are both meant for up to four people, I think you will find that the smaller 210 gallon model is great for two large adults but no more. If you want to accommodate four people then for sure you should be looking at the larger volume model.
Inflatable Spa Jets - The vast majority of inflatable hot tubs on the market do not have water jets like you might be familiar with in more expensive hot tubs. Inflatable spas almost all use an air blower system that runs around the perimeter floor of the spa. While the function of these is actually much better than I would have expected as far as massage quality goes, it is worth noting that water jets shooting into your back is something that is rare among spas in this class.
Intex Hot Tub Reviews
As a lifelong builder of swimming pools and hot tubs I had every reason to not like the entry level inflatable Intex spa that I tested. For a few hundred dollars I found it too hard to believe that these could deliver a truly enjoyable hot tub experience. After setting up and using one of these portable hot tubs for three months I could not be more enthusiastic about recommending them. Yes they are a little bare bones in terms of creature comforts like the lack of seats or any interior furnishings at all, however this ends up working well as it allows for the maximum amount of interior room which is critically important in an entry level spa where space is a premium.
Lounge seats, stereo systems and fancy jet packages are all lacking from inflatable spas. What you do get however is the most important part - hot water therapy. If you want a hot tub for hosting epic parties with your friends and family then a more expensive spa might be in order. If you are looking for something for yourself or yourself and your spouse then these tubs are perfect for a relaxing hot soak. Even the bubbler and jet systems delivered better than what I was initially expecting and definitely enhance the overall soak experience. Color change LED lighting is standard in inflatable spas and when you have the jets on, the lights running and the water at 104 degrees I guarantee you will forget how little you actually spent buying it. I wish that I had given one of these inflatable spas a try sooner and as a pool and spa industry professional I have no problem putting my stamp of endorsement on these.
How Much Does It Cost To Run An Intex Spa? - The cost to operate an inflatable spa is surprisingly affordable. The chemical costs for maintaining a hot tub like this are identical to what you pay to maintain any hot tub of any similar volume. The amount you spend on chemicals is a difficult question to answer since there are different chemical regimens as well as chemistry values being largely dependent on how often the spa gets used. To give you a working number perhaps $15 to $20 per month is reasonable for chemical costs, and these can be reduced further with bulk purchasing of the products you use most often.
How Much Does It Cost To Heat An Intex Spa? - Starting water temperature and ambient air temperature will determine exactly how much it costs to heat an Intex spa, but to give you some numbers to work with it takes about 24 hours of heating time to initially raise the spa water up to 104 degrees from your house supply which is typically very cold. The heater draws 1.5 kW of power per hour when the heater is running. This equals 36 kWh (kilo Watt hours) of power consumption. National averages for electricity rates are about $0.13 per kWh which means that it would cost around $4.68 to heat the spa initially. Maintenance costs for heat will depend on what temperature you leave your spa at around the clock. I leave mine around 98 degrees and turn it up to 104 a few hours ahead of when I plan to use it. Maintaining 98 takes on average five to seven kWh every 24 hours which is a cost of $0.65 per day, or $19.50 per month. Every time I turn the spa to 104 it requires the heater to run for about four hours, or about $0.52 every time I turn the heat from 98 to 104. In total my electricity costs tend to average about $40 CAD (about $30 USD) every month.
Intex 77in Bubble Massage Spa
Volume: 210 Gallons
Jetting system: Air Bubbler
Intex 85in Bubble Massage Spa
Volume: 290 Gallons
Jetting system: Air Bubbler
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