If you have been caught up in the recent popular craze of having your own hot tub in your backyard or home, then no doubt you have asked yourself this important question. Which is; Should I buy a soft inflatable hot tub or a hard hot tub?
We had the very same question and below you will see the results of our research. Before we made the decision, we wanted to know the real differences between a soft and hard hot tub, other than the obvious. The more personal question, what would work best in our home?
What Are The Differences?
True Portability- We will talk about this further in a little bit. But a truly portable hot tub may be a good fit for your needs, or it may not.
- Setup – The setup with an inflatable hot tub will be very different than with a hard acrylic hot tub.
- Cost of Use – Another decision is to first understand how much your inflatable hot tub will cost to maintain per month. Also, how much will a hard hot tub cost? We felt both of these subjects were big deciding points with our purchase.
- Safety – Whether you have kids, dogs, grand kids or just the occasional uncoordinated party guest, safety is, or should be another paramount concern.
- Comfort – Of course, this is important because after all, you are making this purchase to add to your comfort and relaxation. Picture yourself coming home after a long day and relaxing in your hot tub, melting all your cares and stresses away. Yep, comfort is a biggie here!
Why Can Portable Be Something I Need?
So having a portable hot tub can come in handy for a few reasons. If you ever want to move it to a new location, whether that be to a different spot in your backyard or if you want to move it inside. Yep, I said inside! We never thought of that either until our research. This works great if you live in a part of the country that gets the kind of weather that makes you not want to venture outside to use your hot tub.
Part of our patio is enclosed so we thought that would be a very cool idea for the winter months. That is something you cannot do with a hard hot tub. So having our hot tub out under the stars in the summer months then, bringing it inside during the harsh weather not only protected and kept it cleaner longer, but we felt a bit like we were staying at a resort.
A word of caution though, while the inflatable tub empty, weighs only between 40-80 lbs. (18-30 kg.), filled with water it can weigh anywhere from, holding 180 to over 300 gallons of water, 1,500-2,500 lbs. (680-1134 kg.) So this should not be a consideration for an upstairs balcony or any place that cannot hold that much weight.
A hard acrylic would not even be a consideration for a movable indoor hot tub. It would have to be built-in with an extra concrete pad and permanent plumbing concerns. This would, of course, apply to an outdoor installation as well.
What’s Involved With The Setup And Installation?
As we just mentioned above, all the preparation you need for an inflatable hot tub is a level surface that can hold the weight. No extra expense for concrete or plumbing is needed. So that entered into our consideration in determining our final purchase.
One person can set up an inflatable hot tub, whereas as a construction crew of plumbers, electricians and possibly even a crane operator is needed for a hard hot tub. Also, a hard acrylic hot tub will weigh between 400-900 lbs. (181-408 kg.) so moving it around is not an option. On the other hand, an inflatable hot tub can be drained and rolled to another location.
How Much Can I Expect To Spend A Month?
Keeping your inflatable hot tub at 102°, if your weather is 65° should only use about 4 kWh per day if it is used every day. So a scenario of $0.08 per kWh for 4 hours a day should be under $10 a month. A stationary hard hot tub costs much more to run and maintain which can cost anywhere between $38 to $80 per month depending on use, weather and insulation.
An inflatable hot tub actually has superior insulation because air surrounds the water and most come with an inflatable thermal cover. We found most hard hot tubs do not come with a cover and will require an additional purchase in most cases. From experience, we know how those ‘additional purchases’ turn into putting off the purchase and never getting one.
But having a cover, especially a thermal lid cover, is not only useful for keeping out dirt and keeping in the heat but from a safety standpoint. We just couldn’t understand why that would ever be an ‘optional’ buy. Especially if you have little ones and or pets around.
What Are The Safety Features?
So like we touched on already, the main safety feature is a cover. This cover provides more than just a source of keeping the heat in and the dirt out, but it is for safety. With an inflatable hot tub, most will come with an inflatable locking top. The top will be sturdy and will be strong enough to stand on when properly in place and locked, although we don’t recommend dancing on top of it.
We felt this was a significant feature, one that is not available for even in-ground hot tubs or spas. With this extra feature of the easy to latch side clips or buckles, this function for us made it worry free for any of our future expected or unexpected guests.
Is It Comfortable?
Our only concern was that we found no inflatable hot tubs with built-in seats. Now, there is a good reason for this, mainly because you don’t need them. It is very comfortable to sit in, but a little strange at first if you are used to having seats in your hot tubs or spa. The others reason being an inflating issue. If seats were part of the tub, they might be a weak spot and susceptible to stress tears. Also, less water is needed, which is more cost effective in maintenance costs.
But we found that it is very comfortable even without seats, and leaning against the wall of the tub is very comfortable as well. We did find that purchasing aftermarket seats are possible, but we felt that we didn’t need them at all.
We hope that we have given you some information that will help you in your decision to purchase an inflatable or hard hot tub. Part of our research was in reading actual reviews of verified owners, and we encourage you to do this too. Also, make sure you know the return policies and the manufacturer’s warranties too. Have fun in your hot tub, we sure are!