Hot tubs can be an amazing diversion from the stress and hectic pace of the workday grind. Change into that bathing suit, slip into that hot water, and you can actually feel those cares wash away amidst all the bubbles and jets.
When my wife suggested we buy a hot tub for our backyard, I was skeptical of what I figured would be a significant expense and maintenance nightmare. Was I ever wrong! The enjoyment the tub provides our family is completely worth the time and trouble it requires to maintain it (especially when I’m the one giving up the time and putting up with the trouble). Your own mileage may vary, of course.
Hot tubs are an investment and it will pay off for you to understand what type of hot tub is best for your particular lifestyle. Purchasing a new hot tub will require some homework on your part: price, size, features, power, and more all need to be considered before making a decision.
We’ve crafted this list of 7 best backyard hot tubs with one central theme in mind: set the tub up quickly, enjoy it, then take it down if necessary, all with a minimum of hassle and expense. There are definitely pros and cons to this type of approach but we’ll walk you through it all in the reviews below.
If you’re looking for a hot tub you can have delivered and ready to use sooner rather than later, this is the list for you.
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1. Coleman SaluSpa Inflatable Hot Tub SpaPros:
- Excellent entry-level value
- Easy setup
- Provides everything you need in a hot tub without breaking the bank
- Water cools off quickly during use
- Cover should be more insulated
- Takes a long time to heat water
The Coleman Saluspa Inflatable Hot Tub Spa is an excellent entry-level unit that will create a warm, bubbling hot tub experience. The build is straightforward, taking around 40 minutes to set and inflate. The tub holds 250 gallons; filling it will take anywhere between three to four hours then another day for the equipment to heat the water. (You could connect a hose from an indoor faucet to use hot water, greatly reducing the time you’ll have to wait before hopping in.) The hot tub runs on 110 V power so a standard electrical outlet anywhere on your house will work to run it.
The inflatable walls are made of puncture-resistant, UV-resistant material to prevent damage and retain its shape no matter how many times it is inflated and deflated. The Coleman spa comes with a reinforced cover with safety clips for extra insulation. You may want to think about obtaining an additional cover for exterior use to provide additional insulation. This spa set also comes with a pump that inflates it, heats the water, runs filtration, and controls the jet system, along with a chemical dispenser. The dispenser maintains clean, healthy water by providing a stable level of chlorine evenly dispersed throughout the spa. The tub runs very quiet when the circulator pump and heater are running; when the jets are active, it’s obviously louder.
There are no chairs or benches to sit on however four average-sized people can sit comfortably on the inflated floor. The tub is sized so that arms may be draped over the side when sitting down. Air bubbles are released by jets from the bottom of the spa to create a warm, bubbling hot tub environment. The air pump draws in air from the outside to make this happen. What this means is that the air isn’t re-circulated and because of that, the water will cool off over time, especially in a colder climate. Since the heater and the jets can’t be used at the same time, some planning will be necessary to get maximum enjoyment out of the Coleman Saluspa Inflatable Hot Tub.
Note: The heater and pump have an automatic shut-off feature after 72 hours of operation. You’ll want to check on your hot tub once every day or so to make sure everything is running smoothly. Finding your tub not working and the water at 65 degrees will really dampen your spirits after a rough day!
2. Intex Simple Spa Inflatable Hot TubPros:
- Inflatable walls and floor are very comfortable
- Insulated cover traps in heat well
- Durable, puncture-resistant materials
- The filtration cartridge can get dirty quickly; will show E-90 code on control panel
- Outdoor temperature must be 50 degrees for this to reach its highest temperature
- Despite its high quality, this tub is expensive
Pamper yourself with the Intex Simple Spa Inflatable Hot Tub and let your worries dissolve away! 100 high-powered jets located around the circumference of the tub will give you the spa experience you’re looking for in water that can be heated up to 104 degrees Fahrenheit. The strong exterior mesh hull inflates in about 20 minutes while the included ground cloth gives the bottom protection and minimizes heat loss. If filling with cold water, the tub will take around one to two days to heat past 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Here’s an idea: take the opportunity to maintain your hot water heater and drain it into the tub.
The filter cartridge is simple to change out and the control panel is user-intuitive and tilt-adjustable. Some issues to be aware of are that that water temperature will drop a couple of degrees while the jets are activated and you’ll lose one to two inches of water after 30 minutes of use from evaporation and bubbling water. Advertised as large enough for four people, you may find that two average-sized folks are more than enough to fill the tub. Someone 6-feet tall will have the water up to their neck; if you’re shorter, you may think about picking up some spa seats. Inflatable tub walls aren’t really made for sitting on but feel free to pull up some chair to soak those tired dogs.
The tub package includes an insulated cover, a heater/filter/blower system, two filter cartridges, thermal ground cloth, inflation hose, carry bag, floating chlorine dispenser, and pH test strips.
3. Intex 28429E PureSpa Inflatable Hot TubPros:
- Includes insulated cover, heating and blower system, LED light, and more
- Incredibly easy setup
- Fun and cozy hot tub fits well on a deck, patio, and other small areas
- Operating jets cools off water
- Important to insulate floor for winter use
- Included filters won't last long
You will be pleasantly surprised by how durable the Intex 28429E PureSpa Inflatable Hot Tub is after you set it up easily on your patio or deck. Once you unpack the tub, you’ll only have some minimal work to do. Simply attach the pump and use it to inflate the walls and floor in about three to four minutes. Fill the tub with water and your tub will be ready to use in about a day.
The included filter is quiet and the jets operate at an appropriate volume level. You’ll need to have your waterproof speaker close by to hear it over the bubbles moving throughout the water. Two inflatable headrests are included which are appropriate for taller people. Your kids may not find them comfortable because of the height level. Luckily the cushy walls are comfortable to lean up against no matter what.
The Intex 28429E PureSpa Inflatable Hot Tub includes everything that you need to successfully operate it: the main plant consisting of heater, filter, blower, and hard water system, an LED light, two filter cartridges, two inflatable headrests, a thermal ground cloth, inflation hose, a storage bag, a floating chlorine dispenser, and a water quality test strip. It also includes an insulated cover that fits tight and is simple for just one person to set and strike. Note: you’ll want to consider insulating the area between the tub floor and the ground to assist with keeping the water warm, especially in the winter.
4. Bestway Miami Hot TubPros:
- 120 bubble jets to soothe and relax
- Easy to access control panel while in the tub
- Puncture-resistant tri-tech vinyl and I-beam construction
- This tub isn't meant for years of use
- Poor customer service
- You'll need to change filters more often than other tub systems
The Bestway Miami Inflatable Hot Tub is an inexpensive path to get into the spa game. Like other inflatable tubs, it’s made of a puncture-resistant tri-tech vinyl material with an I-beam construction to help with shape and stability. Photos of these sorts of tubs show people sitting on the side walls but they’re really not meant for that. You won’t need any tools to set up the tub; the pump that heats and powers the 120 jets around the tub also will inflate the tub off of 110 V power. Temperature can be set as high as 104 degrees Fahrenheit however you’ll find 101 degrees or lower is more than hot enough for a soak.
The digital control panel to change the water temperature and jet flow is within reach while sitting in the tub. A timer feature allows for automation of the spa temperature up to 72 hours in advance. Lift handles allow the spa to be moved around (without water of course). This spa deflates into a compact package for storage and transportation. The included cover insulates and maintains the hot water temperature, and keeps the water clear of debris. Definitely large enough for two people and maybe four depending on size, the Bestway Miami Inflatable Hot Tub is a decent price for an economy spa that doesn’t have any qualms about being labeled as such.
5. Intex PureSpa Portable Bubble Massage Hot TubPros:
- Easy setup and operation
- Great hot tub for anyone on a budget
- Floating chlorine dispensary works well
- Filters plug easily; you'll need to replace often
- Water cools quickly however deluxe cover insulates well
- Heater should be stronger but it's only 110 V
The Intex PureSpa Portable Bubble Massage Hot Tub will allow you to get cozy and indulge yourself for an affordable price. This hot tub package includes the inflatable spa, cup holder accessory (!), and a matching deluxe cover that facilitates faster heating of the water and increases the efficiency of the hot tub by 50%. The control panel is easy to understand and simple to operate. The tub is roomy enough for four people. The tub is made of something called “Fiber-Tech” which users have reviewed as durable. 48 beams can support someone sitting on the side of the hot tub but don’t get crazy. The Intex PureSpa holds 210 gallons of water, has a temperature range between 68 to 104 degrees, and requires a minimum of maintenance with two easy to replace filter cartridges.
One unique feature of the Intex PureSpa is an electronic hard water treatment system to make the water gentler and to protect your pump equipment. It prevents hard water build-up which may limit water flow and reduce the life of the spa. The system generates an electromagnetic field that takes calcium and other minerals out of the water to retain them in the filter cartridge.
You can set the hot tub by yourself within an hour. Turn on the heater and in about a day your tub will be hot and ready to use. Because of its construction and equipment, the water temperature will drop three to five degrees in the winter after approximately 30 minutes of use. The bubble jets are luxuriating but not as strong as the jets in a permanent tub. The Intex PureSpa Portable Bubble Massage Hot Tub is a good spa, especially for people on a budget. As long as you’re willing to adjust your use and plan ahead, you’ll find that this hot tub will provide many hours of relaxation.
6. Intex PureSpa 6-Person 290-Gallon Hot TubPros:
- Comes with seat, pillow, cup holder, and drink tray
- Built-in hard water treatment system
- Cover included
- Temperature tends to drop when the bubble jets are on
- Definitely roomy for four people, six is a stretch
- Inflatable tub is fine but not as rigid as fiberglass; be careful with sharp objects
After a long day of work, relax and indulge yourself in this Intex PureSpa 6-Person 290-Gallon Hot Tub. Hit the button on the control panel and activate the 170 soothing bubble jets that surround the interior of the spa. Adjust the temperature that best suits your comfort level then tilt your head back and relax on the inflated headrests. The tub package comes with everything you need including the control system and pump with a hard water treatment system.
This portable hot tub is easy to maintain with two replaceable filter cartridges for clean refreshing spa water. The built-in hard water treatment system ensures the water is gentler on your skin. Made with durable “Fiber-Tech” construction including 48 internal beams, the PureSpa is strong enough to take a seat on the side when all you need is to dip your feet.
The inflatable spa takes around 20 minutes to set up so you can begin filling the tub quickly. This package includes an inflatable headrest that adds additional support for your neck as you soak in the spa as well as an attachable cup holder and a tray for your snacks. Get ready to fully relax with a beverage in hand and munchies on the tray while you luxuriate in the hot water.
7. Galvanox 4-Person Inflatable Hot TubPros:
- Includes cover, filter, air patch repair kit, two headrests, and a dual cup holder
- Easy to set up
- Plug and play into a standard 110V outlet
- Fits two people comfortably but four people is going to be real crowded
- Lightweight tub walls
- Bubble jets will bring down temperature
This Galvanox inflatable spa claims to fit up to four people but you’re going to be much happier if you keep it to the two of you. You’ll have an enjoyable bubble massage courtesy of the 100 air jet vents. The temperature of the spa can be brought up to 104 degrees Fahrenheit for a hot time on the back porch.
This spa is fully equipped with a removable cover, water filter, air patch kit, two headrests, and a dual cup holder along with the pump and heater system. Constructed of a durable PVC material, this spa may be used all year long. The hot tub measures 4.75 feet in diameter and a little over two feet high with capacity for 211 gallons of water.
Why Should I Buy a Backyard Hot Tub?
Uh...because they're awesome. Seriously, though: hot tubs can alleviate stress and anxiety, relieve pain, massage sore muscles, and force you to get away from your screens for at least a few minutes. They can be part of a vital health regimen and promote good sleep habits. Depending on the model (and unlike swimming pools), you can use hot tubs all year round in all types of weather. Some models that are more permanent in structure can enhance the attractiveness of your landscaping and even raise the value of your home.
Plus, the best hot tubs promote family bonding especially with your significant other. There’s nothing like treating the two of you to some time alone surrounded with just the sound of bubbling water. You don’t have to wait until you go on vacation or spend a dime on travel to enjoy the benefits a hot tub can bring. All of this can be in your own backyard!
What Do I Need To Plan For When Looking At A Backyard Hot Tub?
There is much to consider so let’s get to it. First, think about the placement of the hot tub. Where would you like it to go? The size of your new tub will be the biggest factor in where it can be setup. You’ll need to make sure the site is structurally sound and features a level surface. Suitable sites should feature a material such as concrete, pavers, brick, or crushed rock.
On top of the weight of the hot tub itself, water is approximately eight pounds per gallon. Multiply that by hundreds of gallons in your tub and you have the weight of a small truck parked on your hot tub site. Decks can be a reasonable location however they need to be reinforced with strong footings to avoid damage.
Ask yourself how much privacy do you have where the tub is going and should you purchase an umbrella, build something like a pergola or plant some arborvitaes to shield your new oasis. Maybe you crave attention and you don’t need anything like that? Moving on!
Hot tubs vary wildly in features, size, power, and maintenance. They truly are one of the most personal enhancements to your home that you can make. What will you use your hot tub for? Fun and relaxation? Exercise? Hydrotherapy and massage?
That decision will have a great impact on what you eventually purchase. The quality of a hot tub will dictate its price and its durability. Consider that a hot tub can be active all year long and may endure sweltering heat and frigid temperatures. Your new hot tub will need to be made of materials that can withstand that cycle and that, of course, will be more expensive.
Tubs that inflate like Coleman hot tubs should not be expected to last through an inordinate amount of punishment. Inflatable tubs are much cheaper than commercial models. But consider the work and expense of setting, filling up, and striking a hot tub over and over again.
Keeping water hot over time in a tub that isn’t insulated will raise your utility bill...maybe a lot. Such practices will impact the enjoyment and may even become more expensive over time than the permanent tub.
What Sort of Features Should I Look For In A Backyard Hot Tub?
Pumps and jets run the gamut of mass-produced cheap knock-offs to premium engineered systems. This should be a mitigating factor in your decision. Your pump is the beating heart of your hot tub setup. Without your pump, there won’t be much soaking and relaxation going on. Some tubs have more than one pump for efficiency and power. Jets can be used for subtle, calm operation or high-functioning massage units suitable for hydrotherapy. These also must be of decent quality or else your tub will be useless.
Your hot tub needs power to heat the water and run the pumps as well as all the other systems present. Larger, more powerful tubs typically use 240 V power. Because it’s twice as much as normal household current, it’s more efficient to operate a hot tub with, and a homeowner will spend less money overall to heat the tub and keep things flowing if it's used a lot.
The challenge here is that an electrician will be needed to wire up a 240 volt / 50 amp breaker in your electrical box before the tub is set up then again to wire it up when it's ready. Electricians aren’t cheap but this is really nothing to screw around with. Hire a good professional electrician to do this!
There are tubs out there that use 110 V household power and that’s great for a few reasons: you most likely already have an electrical outlet on the outside of your home within reach of your tub and there probably won’t be a need for special electrical work before you start enjoying your new oasis.
The problem is that 110 V tubs aren’t known for their durability or performance. You may see that it takes twice as long to keep your tub heated which is going to hit you in your wallet. They also can't keep up with keeping water hot consistently over a long soak.
Whether that’s worth it to you to save money (and to avoid calling an electrician) is really your call. The flip side is that tubs that function on 110 V power typically can be taken down easily ahead of winter (or even stick around to use in the cold) if you need to with little effort.
Hot tubs of any kind require maintenance. You’ll need to check the pH level at least once a week as well as rinse out the filters and balance chemicals. This will impact your cost estimate of your hot tub purchase overall.
You will quickly be educated about shock, chlorine, pH test strips, clarifying solution, and a myriad of other products you may need. Alternative products such as saltwater generators and ozone care systems are something to consider to cut down on chlorine use however some tubs may not be compatible with them.
But, hey, hot tubs are supposed to be fun! There are so many cool features to consider for your new tub. They come in a veritable rainbow of colors and finishes and materials to match whatever you want it to in your backyard. There are waterproof audio systems and speakers that can play, stream, or broadcast music, podcasts, audiobooks, and more.
Waterfalls, volcano floor jets, and LED lighting displays can turn your hot tub into a serious carnival attraction, too. There are even mobile apps available for the remote operation and monitoring of your hot tub. Be aware, however, that shiny new gadgets will add to your bottom line. And don't forget about some steps (maybe with storage!) to get into it!
How Much Will A New Backyard Hot Tub Cost Overall?
There are so many factors that go into the initial purchase price of your hot tub and the ongoing costs to keep it running. Quality tubs that should last a few years will be more expensive however consider the efficiencies that an insulated, permanent hot tub will provide.
Although above ground hot tubs are considered “portable”, they’re really technically movable if you have to (as long as you have a few people and a large truck). Inflatable hot tubs or “plug and play” units bring with them a lot of benefits including low cost, simple setup and strike, less of an impact on your overall landscaping, and the use of standard household electrical power.
Hot tubs will make a dent in your electrical bill; how large that dent is has a lot to do with how much the tub is used, what temperature the water is set to, the type of power used in doing so, and how well the unit is being taken care of overall (dirty filters and no regular maintenance leads to pumps working harder over time and eventually failing).
As a point of reference: My own tub is a unit with around 800 gallons of water and 240 V power that is well-insulated. The energy I use combined with the chemicals required to keep the water fresh along with the cost of water to fill the tub three times a year brings my operating costs to around $50 to $100 per month.
That’s on top of the original purchase price and keep in mind that I run my hot tub all year long in a climate with four distinct seasons. It's a lot to deal with but I have to tell you that when my family and I use it, owning a hot tub is one of the best decisions we've made for our home.
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