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I am really wanting an inflatable hot tub, but am reading a lot of terrifying things. Most reviews are great,  but I’m seeing a lot of reviews saying different ones fall apart after a year. I do not want to pay the extra money right now for a fiberglass hot tub. So is there any brand of portable spa that will last me a few years without problem? Or are they all garbage, that will die after one year?  Thank you!

regards, 

Ash

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I looked at inflatables just to test the water and see if we would even use the tub because it seemed like a cheap way of testing things out.  A LOT easier to write off $300-$400 compared to $3k-$30k for a fiberglass/non-inflatable tub.  Up front during the first week I researched I found the same as you...I found what I WANTED to find.  That these inflatable tubs are amazing and gives you a cheaper option that lets you have a hot tub.  

But once I started trying to find the cracks in the system and the downsides, those seemed to be far more prevalent compared to the "I've owned it for a year with zero issues" reviews.  Notice how you've NEVER seen a review that talked about satisfaction long term like 2+ years??  These are largely disposable.  Plus, because I am not starting to educate myself on real hot tubs (quality, construction, parts, companies, etc.) I can say these aren't even remotely in the same league in any capacity other than being containers that hold water.

Intex used to make a tub with jets AND bubble ring...now it's just bubbles.  So essentially what you have is a blower that pushes air into a ring and then that air floats to the surface of the water.  Compare that to a hot tub with actual pump(s) and jets that uses a lot more force to get water moving (instead of air) and it's enough to massage muscle/skin tissue.  That's just one example.  

 

As for brands... there's different levels of inflatable.  Some are more kicked up and supported than others as far as construction and those higher end ones can go to $600-$700-ish.  But for the spa-in-a-box plain inflatables, I found the best customer support, quality, and support info/videos for the Intex.  Coleman seems to be decent to.  Beyond that I'm convinced there's a parent company that is just using different coloring in their tub and pump housing and they are making all the off-brands.  

I'm in a similar boat that you are, and despite how different these are to real hot tubs, I still might buy one just for kicks.  But I have zero expectation that it'll still be functioning 2 years from now or that I'll be as satisfied compared to a real hot tub.  But I'm about a month in to my hot tub education.  And once you get in to the different pumps, heaters, jets, insulation, cabinets, companies, connections, customer service, etc....it's a LOT to learn and understand.  I actually came one click away from ordering this hot tub.  And again, still might....but it's definitely on the lowest tier of the hot tub hierarchy.  So just like with an inflatable you have to 100% know exactly what you are getting and what you are sacrificing for the price.  I'm fine with no waterfalls, speakers, etc.  I just want a cheap tub to massage my back.  We'll see what I end up with.  

At this point, although I don't own one I learned pretty much everything I could learn about inflatables so feel free to ask follow ups.  I'm not in the "go be poor somewhere else" camp.  😉

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It looks like some can last. A video reviewer says one has lasted for a couple years now. Others I've seen pointing out that they can sit on the side of an inflatable, and would think those are the same people that later say their pipes mysteriously cracked. Another option is something that turns a bathtub into a spa, there are spa bath mats you can plug in and lay on... here's some more action from Switzerland, lol.

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As a guy who is on his 3rd season with his Lay-Z-Spa Miami inflatable tub, I can say that a lot of the issues are all in how you use your tub.  I admit I don't use mine daily, but I do run the pump/filtration pretty much every day on this tub.  First and Foremost are that people don't understand that both extreme heat and cold severely affect the life of these things.  They really weren't designed to be used in freezing temperatures (they actually say they are not designed to be run below about 40 degrees F) and putting one out in 90 plus degree temps in the direct blazing sun for weeks on end will affect the life of anything inflatable.  A tub that is kept under some form of roof or shelter (ie covered patio, screen room, etc.) will greatly prolong the life of the tub, even in triple digit heat.  Second is regular maintenance (ie changing filters after every use, draining and refilling the tub every 4-6 weeks).  Many people also don't understand that these are not like regular hot tubs, where you can just crank up the heat and it will be ready to go in an hour or two.  From the standard low 60 degree temps of tap water to fully heated (104 degrees for 110-115 tubs) it takes 20-24 hours to fully warm up.  Keep in mind that you are essentially pumping water through a 1300-1500 watt space heater and it warms up by about 2 degrees per hour.  The heat will not run at the same time as the bubbles (you need a 220 tub for that) but if you crank it up to 104 and spend some time sitting in the still hot tub before turning on the bubbles most can still get what they want out of it.  It certainly doesn't cool off as fast as those cheezy bathtub bubble mats (go from boiling hot to cold in about 15-20 minutes).

I actually did a 2 part review of my tub on youtube this season:

  

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We just purchased the Coleman Saluspa and have used it about a week.  So far no problems and they are quite enjoyable. We plan to enclose ours to help hopefully with its longevity.  

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