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This Affordable Inflatable Hot Tub Is 100% Worth It
It's also $100 for Prime Day.
Anything I should know?: Yes: You need chemicals. You need to be serious about them. It’s not as hard as it seems (I promise) but you do need to use them and use them correctly. Another thing you should know: If you live in a climate that gets below 45 degrees regularly, you will need to deflate and store your hot tub until that season passes. Based on the reviews I have read, people in freezing climates run into issues with their tubs when they try to run them during the winter.
The short of it is this: When we moved from Brooklyn to LA in Feb 2020 (pre-pandemic, amazing timing, yes that’s sarcasm), one of the contingencies of me being down for this massive life change was getting a house that had a pool in the backyard. Turns out this is more expensive than our budget, and we gave up pretty quickly.
Then I started searching for pool alternatives that could work in a backyard and came across this inflatable hot tub. At the time it was priced at $499, which felt reasonable to me after seeing how much I would have been spending for a rental house with a pool. I really just wanted water to relax in and read my book in, so a 4-person tub felt like a good bet on my happiness. I was correct.
Obviously we didn’t know when we ordered it that we would be spending the next year and change fully at home. This is where we made up for the bad moving timing. Once the pandemic hit, the prices of backyard entertainment: above ground pools, hot tubs, hammocks, lawn furniture, fire pits, etc. hit alarmingly high prices. In April 2020, this same tub that I had purchased for $499 was going for as high as $1799! I love the tub, yes, but I don’t think I love it two thousand dollars worth, even though I spent 4-5 hours a day in the hot tub during the summer (more on this in a bit). It takes about 24 hours to set up and fully heat to 104.
Now in June 2021, the price of the tub has finally fallen back to where it was in January 2020 when we purchased it. Going for $519 at the time of this post (6/22/2021), it’s also 22% off for Prime Day, bringing the price down to just above $400. Absolutely worth it.
Let’s get to the nitty gritty FAQs:
Does a 4-person tub really fit 4 people?: Yes, but it’s a tight fit with leg grazing if you’re putting 4 adults in there. I suggest a 4-person for two people at a time for comfort purposes. They do make bigger tubs, but I own the 4-person so I can’t speak for anything bigger. I have been tempted to upgrade to a bigger size, though.
Does it need chemicals?: Yes. It needs chemicals. I suggest brominating tabs, chlorine, and most importantly: SHOCK. You can also buy little strips to make sure it’s balanced. I am someone who basically failed middle school science so I was very intimidated by this in the beginning. Breathe. It’s not that hard, and once you get the hang of it, you’ll be fine. I am my own pool boy in my house, and if I can do it, you can do it. Do not f*ck around and find out what happens if you get lazy with chemicals. Chemicals will run you about $100/year.
How hot does it get?: The hot tub can get to 104 degrees which is, IMO, too hot to sit in for more than 10 minutes. For leisurely soaks, I usually set it to about 102 and let it fall to 99ish. Unlike a traditional hot tub that will run you somewhere between $4-7k, the hot tub’s heater does have to work overtime when you are sitting in it outside in cool or cold weather. It has a hard time maintaining its heat if it is competing with temperatures under 80 degrees outside. I suggest starting at 102 when you go in, knowing that it will probably go down to about 98 over the course of an hour or so.
Does it have jets?: Yes! It has jets!
How often do you have to change the filter?: Depending on use. I change the filter once every three weeks. There are filter cleaners that will help you get a little more life out of your filters (and are a little more eco-friendly). You can probably use the same filter twice if you clean it well. Filters will cost about $60/year at most.
Can I use it as a pool in the summer?: Yes, and I do. You can set it to any temperature you want, but understand that if you set it for 85 during the day, it will take awhile to get back to 104 so you have to time it out. In my experience it takes about an hour to heat 2 degrees. Keep the top on (included with the hot tub!) when you are heating it. It will go faster.
Is it comfortable to sit in or should I buy a seat?: The floor is padded and I find it comfy. I use one of these floats, too, which is perfect if you are one person wanting to lounge.
Can I put it in my garage?: Yes! I don’t, but I have heard of people doing this. Ideally, your tub will be on a flat surface and in a place that will allow drainage. If you are putting your hot tub indoors, even if it’s just in your garage, make sure you can drain without flooding.
How often do you have to change the water?: The chemical shock will help keep your water fresher longer, but I change the water once every 2-3 months depending. If I turn the entire tub off for more than 7 days, I usually change the water out when I return to it. Even if I am not actively heating the tub, leaving the filter running helps keep the water fresh.
What’s the electricity requirement?: Definitely budget for an increase on your energy bill though the exact amount will vary by state, use and whatever else you have running in your house. You will need to plug the tub into a heavy duty outlet and heavy duty extension cord. It’s like running an extra appliance.
The goods: Cheaper than a pool, just as good as a hot tub 100x the price.
The caveat emptor: It requires a normal amount of care and attention to keep it working at peak performance.