Soaking in hot water feels good and makes life more enjoyable. In addition, it is a great way to get people together for a good time. A hot tub is the ultimate interactive home entertainment system you can use all year round, for your own personal enjoyment and it is an awesome way to spend more time with family and friends. It can be ready for action on a moment’s notice. In fact, once you get a hot tub, you will be amazed at how many friends you have!

Sure, a jet ski or an ATV is nice, but how often are you going to use these. A hot tub is something you can use every day making your place “the” place to go for a good time. Whether it is hosting a big party, kicking back with a few friends or simply spending time reconnecting with your spouse or kids, there is no denying that slipping into that warm water and letting the jets massage your muscles just feels good. Did you know there is also evidence showing that it can be beneficial to your health? Not just social health, it can help relax muscles and increase circulation, perfect for unwinding after a stressful day at work. A hot tub is also good for your house because it can increase its resale value. Think of it as an investment that you get to use every day!

Now, it’s easy to see why you would want a hot tub, but then there’s the question – which hot tub should you choose? Below, we will review some of the top rated hot tubs available in the market, which will help you with your purchase. There are a few questions to think about before you decide – What is your budget? How big a space do you have, available? How many family & friends would you typically entertain at a time? What hydrotherapy benefits of the spa are you interested in?

Features and usage for best selling and top rated hot tubs

Intex 77in PureSpa Portable Bubble Massage Spa Set

If you do not want a permanent hot tub or spa in your yard and you do not want to spend thousands of dollars, this is a great solution, which is going to give you just as much enjoyment. It has an easy to use control panel, which activates 120 soothing air bubble jets for a refreshing massage. The heating system adjusts to fit your personal temperature preference up to 104 degree F. PureSpa is built with puncture resistant 3 ply laminated material which is enhanced with light weight high strength fibers for amazing durability and comfort. Its innovative-patented fiber tech construction is designed to offer superior structural stability, while maintaining a comfortable surface for a luxurious and refreshing spa experience, unlike conventional inflatable spas. It comes with advanced electronic hard water treatment system. Hard water causes buildups in the heater coils, pipes and filter pumps, which significantly reduces heating and filtration capabilities. By treating the hard water, you can increase the efficiency and life span of your PureSpa. Additionally, soft water is gentler on your skin and swimwear making your spa experience more enjoyable. PureSpa requires simple maintenance with easy to replace filter cartridges.

Tips and features

  • It comes with everything you need to set it up. All you need to do is hook the full power station (which is a pump, a filter, an inflator, bubbler and a heater) to the inflated tub. No extra pump required for inflation.
  • Affordable, do it yourself and no permissions required.
  • When it is time to put it away during winters, it’s easy to deflate and store.
  • Even though it is inflatable, it does not sink, topple or bend over because of its tough build quality.
  • Power consumption can reach 1300 watts (110v, 15 amps) as it uses a heater. Your monthly power consumption will depend more on the heater usage. Has in-built GFCI/RCD protection.
  • You can run both heater and bubbles simultaneously, but the bubbles are generated from outside air that will cool the heated water. The heater will initially take around 1 to 2 days to heat the water after which it maintains the temperature at the setting, you specify. If you set a lower temperature then the heater usage is less and hence, a decrease in your electricity charges.
  • Lockable cover is included, which traps the heat inside.
  • It is recommended to place this hot tub in a shaded area, as sun may damage the outer shell.
  • This hot tub contains air bubble jets and not powerful whirlpool jets found in other expensive hot tubs.
  • Compared to other permanent hot tubs, it comes at a fraction of their cost.
  • Seating is comfortable since the bottom is mildly padded and the bubbles provide additional buoyancy.
  • You can run the filters all day or you can turn them off manually.
  • The walls are very sturdy when fully inflated and can even support a person sitting on the round wall.
  • This hot tub should not be used if the surrounding air temperature drops below 35 deg F.
  • The water capacity is around 210 gallons, which means it will weigh more than 1800 pounds when full. So make sure that the installation spot can handle this weight when installing on higher floors.
  • A thermal ground cloth is included and needs to be placed under the tub to prevent heat loss.
  • Outer wall height is around 28 inches and one can easily step in even if the person is short. In case you use a stepladder make sure to remove it after use, since children and pets have a tendency to jump in!

LifeSmart Rock Solid Luna Spa

Turn your backyard into a family vacation retreat every day of the year! This hot tub features deluxe hydrotherapy jets, which along with the soothing warm water work together to remove the stress of the day and sooth sore muscles. It has adjustable comfort valve system that adds heated air to the jet stream to enhance your hydro massage. It also features an adjustable waterfall to add to your spa experience.

Tips and features

  • Simple Plug and play operation. The tub takes about an hour to fill. You may use RV pre filter to soften the water. The initial heating to around 101 deg F takes about a day.
  • Has no separate heater but uses the powerful water pump to generate heat (friction heater), which increases efficiency and reliability. The downside is that the motor is a little noisy.
  • Topside soft touch digital controls make spa operation quick and easy.
  • Easy to clean top load filters to help keep the water sparkling.
  • Full foam insulation and 4-inch thick locking insulated cover also included.
  • Most models come with factory installed ozone system to cut the use of chemicals and extend the life of your water. Other models are Luna ozinator ready, which means that an ozone system can be purchased separately and installed later. Make sure you check this feature with the seller.
  • It comes with a low energy LED light system that lets you choose from six different colors for a nighttime light show.
  • Built from durable plastic and carry a 5-year shell warranty.
  • It has a temperature limit of 104 degree F.
  • You will need a surface that can support around 2500 pounds of weight.
  • It has a sitting depth of about 24 inches and can fit three people comfortably.
  • Has an in-built drainage system.
  • It works well in winters even when it is snowing. The pump heater and the jets run automatically to maintain the required temperature all day. You can leave it on all year round.
  • Never run the hot tub without a filter as hair and muck can get in the motor and damage it.
  • Power usage – 110 volts, 15 amps. The length of the power cord is around 9 to 12 feet with built-in GFI circuit breaker in the plug. The heater shuts off after the required temperature is reached.
  • It has 12 built-in plastic whirlpool jets (The DLX model has 20 jets). It does not feature steel jets.
  • You can turn some or all the jets off.
  • No tarp required underneath and you must place it on a level surface. Do not worry about water seeping in, as it is well protected.
  • The external steps need to be purchased separately, if you need them. Check with the seller before purchasing about inclusion of various features like eco smart, waterfall, cover, filter, steps and ozonater.
  • It has a capacity of about 250 gallons of water.
  • It is always recommended to place the hot tub where there is a drain, to let the excess water escape since water may overflow or splash from the tub if more people sit inside.
  • If air is enabled in the jets, the water cools down, faster. Switch off the air for a quieter operation.

Bestway Lay-Z-Spa / SaluSpa Miami Inflatable Hot Tub

Enjoy water temperatures up to 104 degrees F in this premium inflatable hot tub which is easy to setup and ready in minutes. The spa pool is made with three layer, reinforced materials that are engineered to withstand 104 degree F water temperatures. The soft touch control panel regulates both the spa’s water filtration and heating systems. It also activates the lazy massage, powered by 60 soothing bubble jets. This rejuvenating hydro massage offers a similar massage experience to an in ground spa, but for a fraction of the price. The spa also comes with a heat lock cover.

Tips and features

  • Water can be filled with a garden hose or a bucket.
  • Very compact and affordable compared to other in ground/permanent hot tubs.
  • It is not recommended to be used below 45 degree F and it should not be placed in sub freezing temperatures. However, some users have used it successfully in freezing temperatures while the tub is heated and running. In addition, the bubbles function of the hot tub should be switched off, if the ambient air temperature is very low or below freezing. This is because the bubbles created with surrounding air, will cool the water faster.
  • Blower and inflation hose provided to inflate the tub.
  • Chemical floater provided where you can add small amount of water clarifier/sanitizer, chlorine or bromine tablets. Since it holds less than 200 gallons of water, it is very easy to clean and take care of.
  • Heater and bubbles cannot run simultaneously. Therefore, heat the water to max temperature before using the bubbles feature. The bubbles are created from the ambient air outside, hence will cool the water quickly at a rate of about 4 degrees every 20 minutes.
  • The hot tub takes around 1 to 2 days to heat up to 104 degree F. The heating shuts off automatically, after three days and needs to be restarted.
  • Initial set up takes less than half an hour without adding water.
  • Draining, drying and disassembling this hot tub for storage, is easy, but time consuming.
  • A garden hose adaptor provided to drain water from the tub.
  • Uses 12 A at 110 volts grounded with built-in GFCI protection. The power cord length is around 9 feet. Expect lower power bills in the long run compared to professional grade hot tubs.
  • There are 60 massage bubble jets located at the lower level of the tub. It does not contain whirlpool jets.
  • No heavy-duty ground pad provided but you can use a large tarp to protect flooring. It has a soft cushioned bottom.
  • There are no built-in seats but can accommodate up to four people.
  • Great for ground floor patios but make sure to check the weight bearing capacity before placing it on balconies or higher patios. It could weigh up to 1700 pounds without people in it, so make sure the floor is very sturdy.
  • Depth is around 26 inches when inflated.
  • If you want a lounger with powerful jets all over your body, this is not for you.
  • The lid locks up the heat as well as the humidity.
  • To prevent heat from escaping in winters, you may add an additional layer of Styrofoam insulation all over the hot tub. This will increase efficiency of the heater and will help water to remain hot for a longer duration.

Hot Tub accessories

Let us look at some of the best selling accessories for your hot tub:

Nature2 Spa Stick Mineral Sanitizer

This is a system where we use minerals instead of bromine or chlorine to sanitize spa water. This helps to reduce the usage of chlorine and helps to get rid of the chemical smell that hot tub owner’s do not like. It looks like a stick and goes right inside the cylindrical filter cartridge. You will still need to add a small quantity (around 0.5 ppm) of chlorine since minerals act slower than chemicals to kill bacteria. This small quantity of chlorine will not emit any odor and will not cause eye irritation that is usually associated with high levels of chlorine.  Before purchasing, make sure to check your spa filter measurements as this might not fit on certain filters. Some users suggest wedging it on the outside intake of the filter on any hot tub.

Blue Wave Deluxe Spa Seat Cushion

Ideal for bathtubs and spas this Blue Wave Cushions are mildew resistant, non-slippery and quick drying. The cushion is weighed so that it stays in position under water and is perfect for children and shorter people or for hot tubs that do not have built in seats.

Handi-Step Spa Step

Built to last longer outdoors, this Handi Step is made of durable plastic which is UV and weather resistant. Very sturdy, anti skid with minimal flexing and is ideal for use with rectangular or round hot tubs. You may need to apply great force to snap together the pieces while assembling. However, once you have succeeded in assembling it together they are rock solid.

Spa Frog Floating System

Get fresh mineral water with Spa Frog pre filled mineral and bromine cartridges that snap into a reusable floating holder. Compared to ordinary hot tub systems, fresh mineral water is cleaner, clearer and softer. Spa Frog makes the water cleaner as the system kills bacteria in two ways, with minerals and low level of bromine. It keeps the water clearer and sparkling, as it maintains the right pH value. The water also remains softer because minerals condition the water for softness. Spa Frog eliminates the hassle of spooning chemicals everyday or filling floaters. You do not have to touch any chemicals while using Spa Frog. You simply adjust the bromine cartridge to maintain a low 1.0 ppm level and replace it when empty. The bromine cartridge lasts 2 to 4 weeks and the mineral cartridge lasts 4 months. Unlike UV and ozone systems, you get complete and precise water care for each individual spa because its pre loaded and that means less monitoring and in turn, your water stays consistently clean and sparkling without hassles.

Natural Chemistry Spa Perfect

Spa perfect’s natural enzyme technology grabs hold of the organic contaminants (body oils, lotions, cosmetics, etc.), speeds up the bio-degradation process and dissolves them, keeping your tub liner/water filter clean and also keeps the water crystal clear. It helps prevent formation of scum lines and reduces the amount of particulate material in the water.

PureSpa Cup Holder

Designed for inflatable Intex PureSpa brand hot tubs, it needs to be attached to the spa wall to keep beverages and snacks nearby.  It is removable and holds on to the tub walls securely. This product can be used to hold disposable cups, beer cans, small bottles, etc.

Things to consider before purchasing a Hot Tub

Some of the other things you should look into, before you buy a hot tub:

  • Type (above ground, in-ground, wooden, inflatable, etc)
  • Size and shape
  • Location (Indoor or outdoor)
  • Portable or permanent
  • The number of jets
  • The seating positions
  • Ease of maintenance
  • Build quality and thickness
  • Heater energy efficiency and type of heat insulation
  • Extra features like speakers, transducers, LED lighted jets, etc
  • Mice proofing in the corners
  • Type of spa packs
  • Type of skirting (plastic, wood, foam, etc.)
  • Ease of installation
Health Benefits of Soaking in a Hot Tub

Portable Hot Tubs Buying Guide

If you are intent on keeping up with the Jonses and also keen to have fun floating around, a swimming pool in the backyard beautifully serves the purpose. But, if you want to relax and have some togetherness, then there is nothing to beat a hot tub, especially an inflatable one.

An inflatable hot tub is a fun way to enjoy warm waters. It also requires no digging for installation. It can be used all round the year. And, as far as the cost goes, it can be had for under $400.

What exactly is an inflatable hot tub?

An inflatable hot tub is not a pool in which you can swim or a conventional bathtub found in bathrooms. It is more like a spa that maintains a constant relaxing warm temperature. It comes with some nice features:

  • Capacity: Can accommodate up to six persons.
  • Control panel: Equipped with simple digital control panel that delivers basic functions.
  • Heaters: Equipped with efficient heaters that maintain an ideal temperature between 100°F and 102°F (37°C and 39°C).
  • Pump: It is the main component that circulates the water, inflates the tub by means of built-in air blower and powers the jets.
  • Air jets: Equipped with 100 to 200 air jets.

There are many other features depending upon the model.

Types of Hot Tubs

There are two main categories of hot tubs – portable hot tubs and in-ground hot tubs.

Portable hot tubs

A portable inflatable hot tub placed outdoors

The distinctive feature of a portable hot tub is it is self-contained, that is, fitted with everything that is needed to operate it. These tubs range from small inflatable ones that can be folded, packed up and stored, when not in use, to those made of solid material that can accommodate eight to 10 persons.

The materials usually used for fabricating inflatable hot tubs include acrylic, inflated latex or vinyl. However, acrylic remains the preferred material. The framework is usually made of metal, wood or ABS.

In-ground hot tubs

A family enjoying in an in ground hot tub

Also known as custom spa, a customized in-ground hot tub is fabricated from hard materials, such as concrete, copper, fiberglass, gunite, stainless steel and tile, as per specifications. These are set into the ground with their top edges at ground level, much like a dug out pool.

Hot tub variations

There are certain interesting variations in these two types of hot tubs, depending upon the purpose you want it for. You can have plug & play hot tubs, capacity-based hot tubs, salt water hot tubs, stock tank hot tubs, etc.

Comparison: Inflatable hot tub vs. Plug & Play hot tub

Inflatable hot tub – Pros

  • Mobility: Unlike in-ground and permanent hot tubs, this tub can be moved around at your convenience. It is easy to dismantle and assemble.
  • Comfort: The cushioning effect provided by the tub sides makes wallowing in it a pleasure. This is not there in permanent hot tubs made of rigid materials.
  • Add-on features: The tub lends itself to add-ons, such as drink holders, steps to get in and out of the tub, waterproof docking stations for playing music, etc.
  • Therapeutic: Extremely beneficial in relieving stress, as also in hydrotherapy and sleep therapy.
  • Cost: Since it is made of lighter materials, it costs much less than a permanent one.

Inflatable hot tub – Cons

  • Space: An inflatable hot tub is small and less accommodating as compared to a permanent one.  
  • Durability: Since this tub is designed to be portable, its material is lighter. This makes it less durable than a permanent hot tub.
  • Power of water jets: The jets of this tub are not very powerful, which effects the speed and efficiency of the water heating system. Installing a powerful system compromises its mobility.
  • Slow to heat and quick to cool: Since an inflatable hot tub works on a 15-amp power supply, it has limited heating efficiency. So, no spur of the moment decision to have a hot dip is possible. Although the air in the tub makes it a good conductor of heat, the air pumped in by the bubble jets brings down the heat considerably.
  • Puncture: There is always a risk of puncture, even though the material is tough.  

Plug & Play hot tub – Pros

  • Initial cost lower: Since the material cost of such tubs is low, they are comparatively cheaper, as compared to traditional hot tubs.  
  • Comes fitted with electrical system: You just need to plug it and heat the water. It requires no additional electrical installation.  
  • No digging required: This tub can be conveniently placed over ground on a solid level surface. Saves cost of digging.  
  • Is portable: This tub can be taken along, when you move. It also occupies less space.

Plug & Play hot tub – Cons

  • Size: Its size is small, since smaller heater and single pump does not allow it to be made bigger.
  • Pump power: The pump power of this tub is less. However, it is compensated by placing lesser number of jets in the tub.
  • Heating time: Although plug & play may give a wrong impression that the tub heats up in a jiffy, it does not.

Care and maintenance

The following steps will help:

  • Changing the water weekly and using a sanitizer. Also, keeping the pH level balanced.
  • Keeping the filter clean and in good shape. Soaking it in a cleanser for some time to loosen the debris and then rinsing. Not using a damaged filter.
  • Keeping the tub covered when not in use to keep the water clean, as also for preserving the heat.
  • Washing the empty tub with soap and water and then drying it out with a clean cloth. Abrasive cleansers not to be used.
  • Getting rid of moisture before folding and storing. Storing away from direct sunlight to preserve the tub’s material.

An inflatable hot tub is highly affordable and can give you hours of fun just sitting in its warm waters. It is ideal for those who want to let their hair down and relax, as also for those desiring water massage and hydrotherapy.