The Intex inflatable hot tub is one of the most popular inflatable spas around at the moment. But does that mean it’s the best?
We’re going to take a closer look at the Intex Pure Spa and check out all its features to see what it’s got to offer. Then we will compare this to one of the other market leaders, the Coleman Lay-Z-Spa to find out how it measures up.
In a hurry?
One of the best ways to do this in these modern times is to research all the online reviews for a product and find out what people really think.
That’s exactly what we’re going to do to get the low down on the Intex hot tub so that you don’t have to!
First off, let’s take a look at what you get with this inflatable spa.
Main Features Of The Intex Inflatable Hot Tub
The Intex spa is an inflatable, soft-sided, 4-person hot tub that inflates easily and quickly using the electric air pump unit that comes with it. The soft feel sides are actually quite sturdy and firm enough to sit on without the tub collapsing.
The spa can be used both indoors and out, so is ideal if you want to use it outdoors during the summer and bring it into a heated room for the winter.
Controlling all the features is done through a simple digital control panel on the control unit. This is within easy reach, even when sitting in the tub. A plastic flip up cover helps protect it from any splashing caused by over enthusiastic tub users.
Soothing bubble sprays will help you to get nice and relaxed thanks to the integrated Bubble Jet system. This uses an air channel around the bottom of the hot tub with 120 spray points to provide a gentle massage rather than a vigorous pounding.
There are no seats in the inflatable hot tub so users sit on the bottom, but this is padded and many find it very comfortable.
The control unit houses the air pump, water pump, heater and new for 2016, an integrated hard water treatment function all in one rather neat device.
Water filtration and treatment is handled by a built-in filter system plus a floating chemical dispenser. Very simple but it works! A set of filters and a water testing kit is included in the box.
You also get a good quality insulated cover with the Intex Pure Spa that has self-locking buckles. There is a thermal ground cloth included and it all comes in a very handy storage bag.
So far so good. Let’s now take a closer look at the model and all the components that make up this inflatable hot tub system.
How Big Is It Really?
Although billed as a 4-person hot tub, if you all use it at the same time, then you will be touching each other as there is not a lot of personal space.
We think it’s best thought of as a 3-person hot tub or maybe one for 2 adults and 2 children. If you use it with that view in mind then you will not be disappointed.
It has an internal diameter of 57 inches and an external one of 77 inches with a depth of 28 inches. It can hold 210 gallons of water so will be pretty heavy when full.
The manufacturer advises that when filled and seating 4 adults, then the maximum load will be around 2500 lbs.
Where Can I Put The Inflatable Hot Tub?
With all that weight, planning on where the Pure Spa will go is quite important, to say the least. Any surface you want to put it on should be flat, free of any sharp objects and strong enough to support the spa. Grass or dirt surfaces are not recommended as debris could find its way into the spa and damage the floor.
Surfaces that would be fine include a patio, deck, garage floor or a custom paved area made specially for it. If using indoors make sure there is somewhere to drain any water away nearby and some form of waterproof flooring.
It’s important to check and comply with any local regulations as well, as some states and communities have laws about fencing and safety requirements.
One last thing to think about when siting up your hot tub is that it will need to be near a power socket. The control unit comes with an 8-foot long power cord and has a GFCI/RCD at the end of it that plugs into a standard grounded electrical socket.
The manufacturer’s instruction manual has more details on all of this.
How Easy Is The Intex Inflatable Hot Tub To Set Up?
Once you have decided where the hot tub is going to go, it’s quite straightforward to get set up.
We recommend you watch the setup videos on the Intex website and read the instructions first, even before unpacking the rest of the box. That way your set up should go nice and smoothly. Here’s a quick rundown of the steps you will need to follow.
- Unpack the box and check you have all the bits
- Put down the groundsheet (bubble side down)
- Lay out the tub on the groundsheet
- Inflate the tub sides
- Inflate the air bladder in the cover
- Install hot tub Control Unit
- Install the filter cartridges
- Fill up the tub
- Put the cover on the tub and make sure it’s fastened properly
- Heat up the water
If you’re expecting the water to heat up quickly, you might be disappointed. The water heater will heat the water by around 2 deg Fahrenheit every hour so depending on the starting temperature, it could take 24 hours or more!
Obviously, there are more detailed steps in the manual but as a bird’s eye view of the setup process, that’s it!
Biggest Problems With The Intex Inflatable Hot Tub? – Customer Reviews
The biggest problem I’ve read in most of the negative reviews is like the old adage says, “you get what you pay for”.
If you’re looking for a inflatable portable hot tub that will give you and your family a relaxing experience and last a long time, this is probably not the right hot tub for you.
22% of customer reviewers on Amazon gave this Intex hot tub only 1 star out of five. They also talked about why this is not a good portable spa because of leaking and problems with the control unit in these reviews here. I wouldn’t be very unhappy too if these dramas happened to me!
So what is the alternative, if you are looking for the portable inflatable hot tub that customers give far better ratings and average 4.5 stars. Read our review of the Coleman Lay Z Spa here.
What Is The Intex Pure Spa Made Out Of?
Being inflatable, the Intex hot tub has sides that feel soft and padded. However, Intex has used a tough material from Fiber-Tech that adds durability and strength to the construction.
They’ve achieved this by taking industry standard materials and adding lightweight, high-strength fibers. The result is comfortable sides that you can lean against and sit on without any fear of it collapsing. It’s also very easy to clean.
The hot tub is a pleasant sand color on the exterior of the walls and white on the top and inside. The control unit is a matching sand color and the cover is as well to complete the set.
What’s In The Control Unit?
The control unit has everything in it to keep your hot tub up and running.
- Water heater
- Water filter pump (including an integrated hard water treatment function)
- Air pump for the Bubble Jet system and initial wall inflation
On the top is a simple control panel with a flip-up plastic cover that sits above the height of the side walls. This means you can see and reach it whilst sitting in the tub.
From the control panel, you can:
- Control the temperature of the water
- Turn the water heater on and off
- Turn the Bubble Jet system on and off
- Turn the water filter system on and off
How Do You Keep The Water Clean?
The first weapon in the battle to keep your water safe is the water filter system, which is controlled from the control panel as we know.
This runs a pump which cycles the water through water filter cartridges that are located near the bottom of the pool where the control unit connects.
The built-in hard water treatment supplies an electromagnetic field that the water passes through, much like similar water softeners you can buy for your home.
This field agitates the calcium and minerals in the water, resulting in them forming suspended crystals. The filter cartridge then captures the crystals to leave lovely, soft water in the hot tub.
The cartridges will need regular cleaning and eventually replacing, once they will not clean up anymore. See the manual for details.
Like any pool or hot tub system, the rest is down to chemicals. This model includes some water test strips but you will need to buy some more plus the chemicals to keep the water clean.
There is a chemical float provided to place any tablets in so they can dissolve. Again, refer to the instruction manual for full details on keeping the chemistry balance maintained.
How Do I Use The Inflatable Cover & Groundsheet?
The Intex portable hot tub comes with both a thermal insulating cover and an insulating groundsheet.
These are both important as not only do they protect your spa but they help it to stay warm as well.
The groundsheet is fairly straightforward; place it bubble side down on the ground underneath the spa when setting up.
The cover has an inflatable bladder that needs to be kept topped up with air to provide better insulation. Keep the cover on whenever the spa is not in use and also whilst heating it. This will both help the water to retain heat and warm up quicker when the heater is on.
The cover has self-locking buckles as a safety feature so that young children are not able to get into the spa without adult supervision. Note this is not a substitute for taking all the necessary safety precautions and following local regulations regarding fencing etc.
Warranty And What’s In The Box?
The warranty on the Intex Pure Spa is for 1 year and covers the product from any failure due to a manufacturing defect.
In the box, you will find:
- Hot tub
- Control panel unit
- Thermal cover and inflatable bladder
- Thermal groundsheet
- All connecting hoses and caps
- 2 x filter cartridges
- Chemical float
- Water test strips
- Repair kit
- 2 x cover buckle keys
- Wrench and pressure gauge
- Storage bag
- Quick start guide and instruction manual
How Much Does It Cost To Run?
The running costs are difficult to estimate as it will depend on how the hot tub is used, where it’s located and the area you live in.
Electricity – As a rough guide the hot tub will cost between $15 and $50 per month.
Water – Assuming the water is completely changed every 2-3 months the cost averages out around $10 per month.
Chemicals – an average cost of around $15 per month will probably cover this. You will also need a water testing kit eventually which will be around $50 for one that lasts several years.
Cartridges – a pack of 12 will cost around $30 and should last you 6 months.
Any Tips To Reduce Running Costs?
The biggest cost is going to be your electricity bill for heating up the water. Here are a few tips to help reduce this.
- Make sure the cover is fitted securely
- Keep the water at a temperature of 100 deg Fahrenheit when not using it rather than trying to keep it at 104 deg F
- Running the Bubble Jet will gradually reduce the temperature of the water so limit it to 30 minutes at a time.
- This inflatable hot tub is not designed to use outdoors if the temperature is going to drop below 39 deg F, due to the water possibly freezing inside the circulation system. If you are expecting this sort of temperature, then drain the system, and move it inside or store for the winter.
The Intex portable hot tub certainly has all the features you need and looks like a really good buy if you are after an inflatable spa.
But there’s a problem!
Intex Inflatable Hot Tub Problems
Checking through all the Intex Pure Spa reviews it seems as though it does suffer more than its fair share of problems.
We’ve uncovered several weak spots in the Intex hot tub design and quality control that make us question if it really is the best option.
Performance wise it’s as good as any other inflatable hot tub available today. It also has some nice features like the integrated hard water treatment system.
But all this doesn’t count for much if the spa lets you down in some way.
Why Is The Intex Inflatable Hot Tub Not The Best Option?
As with any product, it’s fair to say that you will always get some isolated problems with a portable hot tub, no matter who makes it.
What we can tell though from doing product research across different brands, some seem to suffer from problems more than others.
5 Important Reasons Not To Buy An Intex Hot Tub
Here are the 5 main issues we found reported with the Intex Pure Spa:
- Air leaks, usually around the seams that mean the walls start deflating
- The water pump in the control unit fails
- The control panel stops working
- Walls lose their rigidity resulting in unsightly bulges
- Inlet and outlet hoses deteriorate over time resulting in the water draining out
What makes this even worse is that using the Intex customer support is a frustrating experience at best and a total waste of time at worst.
What Inflatable Hot Tub Delivers The Ultimate Experience?
Our current recommendation as the best portable spa is the Coleman Lay-Z-Spa which we mentioned earlier.
There are a couple of minor differences between the two but most importantly, it seems far more reliable. We have also found that if you do get a problem, the warranty and support provided for the Coleman spa is a much better experience.
Intex Pure Spa Compared To The Coleman Lay-Z-Spa
Both the Intex and the Coleman inflatable hot tubs work in the same way so we will just cover the main differences you will find with the Coleman model.
- The Coleman hot tub comes in their traditional green color
- The sides are made with a special I-beam construction that makes them very strong
- The walls are made from a triple layer reinforced material called TriTech which makes them soft to touch, but puncture and tear resistant
- The thermal cover has an aluminum foil backing for better thermal insulation
- The Buckles do not lock
- The control unit is smaller than the Intex version and so the control panel is just below the top of the hot tub wall
- There is no hard water treatment function in the Coleman control unit
- The Coleman Lay-Z-Spa is the same size but strangely seems to hold more water, 254 gallons to be exact. The manufacturer sells this unit as seating 4-6 people but is best thought of as a comfortable tub for 3 adults, as with the Intex
- There is no storage bag with the Coleman
As you can see, most of the differences are positive although it would have been great to see a hard water treatment function on the Coleman. The locking cover buckles that the Intex has would have been useful as well.
But these are just small things when compared to the better quality and reliability of the Coleman spa. The better service and support is another reason to go for the Coleman as well.