Best Inflatable Hot Tub and Above ground Hot Tub Review
Inflatable hot tub and the above ground hot tub provide warmth, relaxation and massage your muscles and joints. They are used for relaxation, hydrotherapy, warmth and socialization. The hot water and the message jets relieve pain, stress and anxiety. Having sleepless nights? Try the hot tub, you will be surprised. Read more about the health benefits of hot tub and spa here.
Which One to Buy – Inflatable Hot Tub and Above ground Hot Tub
Now, you are planning to buy the best inflatable hot tub. Or maybe you are looking for just a hot tub or a spa or a Jacuzzi or whirlpool. And you are not sure which one to buy, what are the differences or are you going to get your money’s worth? Well, they are not all the same and not so different either.
Let’s start out with Jacuzzi. Without going into too much detail about the change of ownership, it’s the name of a brand of an Italian company that makes hot tub or spa. Jacuzzi makes “Whirlpool Baths” but any tub or spa can provide you with the whirlpool action of the water. Now that we got Jacuzzi and Whirlpool Bath out of the way, let’s see if there is any difference between hot tubs and spas.
Spa or Hot Tub
According to Wikipedia, the definition of sap is:
A spa is a location where mineral-rich spring water (and sometimes seawater) is used to give medicinal baths. Spa towns or spa resorts(including hot springs resorts) typically offer various health treatments, which are also known as balneotherapy.
We are not talking about this kind of Spa. We are talking about:
Types of Spa: “Hot tub, an outdoor spa used for bathing and self cleansing”.
Difference Between Spa and Hot Tub
Hot tubs that were made out of acrylic used to be called spas; some spas are made out of eco thermal plastic. This was done to differentiate the hot tubs that were made of wood from the non-wooden spas. Except for the material they are made of, the functionality is the same – there is no other difference between the two. Nowadays the names are used interchangeably.
There are concrete spas. All spas are aimed at providing relaxation, comfort and hydrotherapy. There are a few drawbacks with the concrete spas. It is permanent, which can be both good and bad. Good in the sense that, beside the relaxation and comfort, it increases the real-estate value. If in the future you don’t want it, getting rid of it can be very expensive. It is much more expensive to build one.
Concrete Spa, Above-ground Hot Tub and Inflatable Hot Tub Comparison
|Concrete Spa||Above-ground Hot Tub||Inflatable hot tub|
|Installation cost||Very Expensive to install, only done by professionals||Above-ground Hot Tub cost much less to install, preferably installed by professionals||You can install the inflatable hot tub yourself|
|Cost||Usually starts from $5,000 to more than $30,000.||Ranges from $2,000 - $8,000 (excluding the installation charges)||Ranges from $400 - $1,000|
|Installation time||Takes a long time to install. A month or more||30-60 minutes (excluding decking). Requires 5-6 strong persons.||10-20 minutes (excluding decking). Requires 2-3 strong persons.|
|Mobility||Cannot be moved||Difficult to move once installed||Put it in the lawn in summer, bring it indoors during winter - it's mobile|
|Plumbing||Will require a lot of plumbing||Some plumbing required||No plumbing required|
|Longevity||Lasts a very long time||Lasts 5-15 years||Lasts 3-4 years|
|Seating||Carving seats, therapy, cool-down, lounges and benches in gunite, requires precise design and tremendous skill||Seats, therapy, cool-down, lounges and benches are all built-in||Does not come with seats, lounges or benches|
|Power||The concrete spa will require 220-240V electrical service||Some smaller Above-ground Hot Tub come with uses 110-120V electric line, 12-15 amps. Other larger ones will require 220-240V, 40-50 amp electrical service.||Mostly uses 110-120V electric line, 12-15 amps.|
|Heating||Heats up fast and water jet can be used simultaneously||The tubs with 220v electricity supply heats up fast.||Heats up slowly - about 2-3 degree every hour Heater and bubbles cannot be used simultaneously.|
|Jets||Lots of strategically placed water jets with control of each jet speed. Rotary jets, relaxation jets and pressure point jets||Lots of strategically placed water jets with control of each jet speed. Rotary jets, relaxation jets and pressure point jets. Not all models have them all.||Only air bubbles. No water jets for most models except the high end ones.|
|Recommended Products||Lifesmart Rock Solid Simplicity Plug and Play 4 Person Spa or American Spas AM-630LS 5-Person 30-Jet Lounger Spa or Home and Garden Spas LPI106X12 5 Person 106 Jet Spa||Coleman Lay-Z Spa Inflatable Hot Tub or Intex Portable 6-Person Inflatable PureSpa Plus Bubble Spa or SaluSpa Hawaii HydroJet Pro Inflatable Hot Tub|
What features matter most?
Cost – Low, medium and high
Water filtration system – Salt system, Ozone system and UV-C system
Seating options – Lounge, therapy and Cool-down
Jet options – Rotary jets, relaxation jets and pressure point jets
Ambiance options – Sound system, Decorative lighting and Hot tub color
Hot tub accessories – Remote monitoring, cover, spa pillow etc.
You have to choose the best option that suits you the most. My suggestion – go for either the Inflatable hot tub or the above-ground hot tub. Please read the reviews here in the links below to find out which one is suitable for you. I’m not going to discuss about concrete spas any more.
Which One to Buy – Soft Inflatable Hot Tub or the Above-ground Hot Tub?
Both the inflatable hot tub and the above-ground hot tub provide warmth, relaxation and a massage-effect on your muscles and joints. They are used for relaxation, hydrotherapy, warmth and socialization. As for which one to choose, the answer depends on where you want to put your spa and how much you are willing to have done to your home to accept a spa.
Difference between Inflatable Hot Tub and Above-ground Hot Tub
Most of the major differences are listed above in the comparison table above. Functionally, there are 3 very important differences between Inflatable Hot Tub and Above-ground Hot Tub or Spa:
- Not all Inflatable hot tub has water jets but Above-ground Hot Tub includes the water jet message system – all inflatable hot tubs have air bubbles.
- Above-ground hot tub has built-in seats, lounges and benches and Inflatable hot tub doesn’t have any.
- Inflatable hot tubs cannot operate at temperatures below 400 on the other hand above-ground hot tub can operate in colder temperatures
What do they mean for you?
Most above-ground hot tub have various types water jets for different parts of the body. The massage therapy jets have individual on/off flow control for precise pressure flow and directional control to target specific stress points in your body. Inflatable hot tubs have air bubbles. While it is very relaxing and soothing, air bubbles have no therapeutic value.
The water jets in the above-ground hot tub have therapeutic value. More powerful jet pump will exert more the pressure on your aching muscles. With most spas, you can control the force and thickness of the water jets.
The seats on a above-ground hot tub have jets in specific location to address messaging of different parts of the body. Inflatable hot tubs do not have any seats.
Best Inflatable Hot Tub Reviews
If you are looking forward to pamper yourself in relaxing, bubbling hot water in the colder months of the year without breaking the bank, get yourself an inflatable hot tub. The inflatable hot tubs are there to soothe tired muscles and banish worries without deflating your wallet.
Cost is not the only reason to buy an inflatable hot tub. These portable hot tubs are comfortable, easy to install and plugs into your standard power socket. If your place is rented it is a good idea to go for an inflatable hot tub – take it along with you. It does not require external plumbing, excavation or electrical work; just use the standard 110v household wall socket.
Most inflatable hot tubs can be carried by one person when deflated and packed, but will require 2 persons when inflated. In summer place it out in the open and during the winter, if you want, you can bring it indoors. It does not work in temperatures below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
The inflatable spas use only 110v of electricity, so the heating up is slow. Let the water heat up overnight and always use the spa cover to heat up the water faster.
- Portable hot tub
- Very comfortable
- Easy to Install – plug and play
- Costs less to own and maintain
- No external plumbing, excavation or electrical work
- Water heats up slowly
- Does not come with built-in seats
- Use either the bubbles or the heater at one time
- Cannot be used in temperature below 40 degrees
- Most inflatable hot tubs come with air bubble jets only
- Coleman Lay-Z Spa Inflatable Hot Tub
- Intex Portable 6-Person Inflatable Pure Spa Plus Bubble Spa
- SaluSpa Hawaii HydroJet Pro Inflatable Hot Tub
Best Above-ground Hot Tub Reviews
Above-ground hot tubs or acrylic spas have all the benefits of inflatable hot tubs plus the hot water massage therapy minus the cost. Being more expensive than the inflatable hot tub, it definitely offsets by the therapeutic hot water massage that it provides. You have the option to massage your whole body – neck, shoulder, calf and foot.
There is wide range of hard walled spas available: starting from a 2 person spa to 8 person spa, and the number of jets varying from 10 to 110 or more. More jets do not mean better spa (see FAQ section for details) but in most cases more is better with powerful water pumps. There are contoured seats and loungers molded into slip resistant acrylic. The seats are not soft as compared to the inflatable hot tub.
Most hard walled spas use 220v (40 amp) power. You will need a qualified electrician for the power connection.
If you can afford, go for the above-ground hot tub (hard walled hot tub).
- Built-in seats
- Quick setup
- Easy to Install – plug and play
- Water jets message system, water fall, lightings etc
- Can be used in cold temperature
- Very heavy, difficult move around
- The built-in seats are hard to sit on
- Lifesmart Rock Solid Simplicity Plug and Play 4 Person Spa
- American Spas AM-630LS 5-Person 30-Jet Lounger Spa
- Home and Garden Spas LPI106X12 5 Person 106 Jet Spa
If you are looking for an affordable, portable, comfortable, easy to use and maintain jet bubble hot water message system, go for the best inflatable hot tub. I would recommend the Coleman Lay-Z Spa Inflatable Hot Tub or more spacious Intex Portable 6-Person Inflatable Pure Spa Plus Bubble Spa or the only one with water jets SaluSpa Hawaii HydroJet Pro Inflatable Hot Tub.
If you want hot water jets that will message your back, leg and foot, go for the above-ground hot tubs like the plug-n-play Lifesmart Rock Solid Simplicity Plug and Play 4 Person Spa or American Spas AM-630LS 5-Person 30-Jet Lounger Spa or the ultimate above-ground hot tub in hydro therapy and user satisfaction the Home and Garden Spas LPI106X12 5 Person 106 Jet Spa. They give you the hydro therapy and will run even in colder temperature.
Hot tubs and spas are not for swimming. If you are looking above ground swimming pools please read our reviews here.
If you are interested in Saunas please read our reviews of the Best Infrared Saunas.
Hot Tub Hydrotherapy – Health and Wellness for You
Everybody knows hot water can relax you, but not many know its therapeutic side. For thousands of years people have used hydrotherapy to treat an array of conditions.
Hydrotherapy is a sort of physiotherapy that involves the use of water for pain relief and treatment. I’m going to discuss the benefits of hot tubs including hydrotherapy.
A Bit of History of Hydrotherapy
The Greeks and the Romans have used the combination of water, heat and air to invigorate and message the body. Native American tribes believed in the worm water had power and used the natural spas for healing. Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, Turks and the Japanese all used it not just for health reason but also as part of their social and spiritual culture.
Modern Day Hot Tub and Hydrotherapy
While the basic concept of the hot tub has not changed much, lots of functionalities have been added. The build material is not restricted to concrete only, wood, acrylic, fiberglass and thermal plastic are also used. They all have their advantages and drawbacks. The build materials have very little to do with the hydrotherapy and more to do with cost and convenience.
The invention of water pump has played a major role in the way hot tubs provide water therapy. Jet pumps and whirlpool have been added hydro message. There are above ground pools available with water heater and many therapy equipment, like aqua bikes, therapy walker, harness for resistance swimming etc.
Water Jets and Hydro Message
The knowledge of hydraulics and the ability to control water pressure has paved the way for various types of hydro jets that are used in modern-day hot tubs. Different types of jets deliver different force and volume of water. There are more than 15 different types of water jets, some are listed below:
- Rotary jets – rotating jets of powerful stream of water which provide deep message that relieves tension.
- Relaxation jets – the gentle water flow of these jets creates a relaxing bubbling motion to soothe you.
- Pressure point jets – powerful pressure jets that disperses strong, tight and intense stream of water is used to stimulate pressure points of the body.
- Message jets, swirl jets, twin rotational jets, single rotational jets etc.
Your back needs message which is very different from your neck message. Some days you may need a message for your back and leg but not your neck. So the functionality of turn off and on and the functionality to control the pressure of the water have been added to the hot tub.
All hot tubs come with a control panel where you set your desired temperature and forget about it. If the temperature falls the water heater automatically starts heating up the water. It’s the heat of the water that adds the therapeutic value to the tub.
What is the best or optimum temperature for hydro therapy? Temperature tolerance for Men and women are different. But the temperature should not exceed 1040F. Ideally the water temperature should be between 92 and 100 degrees. Any higher, you may be putting stress on your heart. You should never stay for more than 25-30 minutes at a time.
Health Benefit of Hot Tub
Submerging in hot water has an effect that extends beyond the period of immersion. Hot tubs are very relaxing but that’s not the only benefit. They have several other positive and prolonged effects on your body and health.
Relief of Muscle Pain and Tightness
Aquatic therapy comprises of four basic factors: heat and message is provided by the hot tub, buoyancy by water and you determine the time.
- Hot water rises the body temperature that dilates the blood vessels and increases the blood circulation.
- Within 5-10 minutes blood vessels dilate resulting in increased blood circulation making you feel warmer.
- By 10-15 minutes, warm water and buoyancy of water relaxes muscles, relieves pressure on the joints and tissues become more pliable encouraging release of lactic acid from your system.
- After 15 minutes, the messaging action of hot jets stimulates the release endorphins (natural pain-killer produced inside our body) reducing pain and aches temporarily.
Relieves Back Pain & Reduces Stress and Anxiety
Just as stated above, heat of the water relaxes your body muscles and the buoyancy reduces the force of gravity relieving some pressure on the joint, especially the backbone and back muscles. Endorphins released, during the hydro therapy in the hot tub, help block pain signal to travel to your brain.
Anxiety, stress and depression often cause back pain or make the pain worse and endorphins help alleviate these causes.
A study conducted by New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center found that a drop in body temperature can help your body to relax and get a sound sleep. Get hot bath for 15 minutes about 60-90 minutes before going to sleep, it will relax and loosen up body muscles and raise the body temperature. When you go to sleep the rapid drop in your body temperature will enable a better sleep naturally. And you will get deep REM sleep which has many positive effects. You will wake up fresh and invigorated.
First a word of caution – if your doctor advised you to avoid moderate exercise, avoid using hot tubs. Your heart will start pumping faster (happens with moderate exercise) in first 1-2 minutes of entering the hot tub to bring your body temperature up and blood pressure will drop. This sudden drop of blood pressure may trigger lightheartedness.
When you get in a hot tub your heart starts pumping faster, like what would happen during moderate exercise – a cardiovascular workout. The heart pumps faster to disperse the excess heat from the hot tub increasing the blood flow into the heart. The extra oxygen carried by blood, revitalize the heart cells improving your overall cardiovascular health.
Benefits for Athletes
Soaking in the hot water can help an athlete loosen up their muscles making it easier to exercise. This also helps improve the performance of some athlete as it increases the agility.
Because the warm water expands the blood vessels the blood flow is increased to the muscles, reducing stiffness.
Hot water therapy is often used in the rehabilitation process of an injured athlete. The higher temperature dilates the blood vessels increase the blood flow. The increase blood regenerates dead tissue and heals injured tissues. Most sports related injury should be treated with ice first then heat. You should consult a doctor before you start applying the heat treatment.
Hot tub does not solve all your problems, in most cases it helps you do things, like sleep better, reduces pain, reduces the chance of getting injured or helps improve your cardiovascular health. The close proximity in the hot tub brings everybody closer together – a great place to socialize. The hot tub improves your health and your way of life.
There are many different type of hot tubs out there, many are discussed here. Pick the one that best suits you.
Note: People with high blood pressure should consult their physician to make sure you can use a hot tub. Pregnant women should avoid hot tub.
1. Why Buy Hot Tub or Spa?
It improves your way of life. Here’s how:
Start your day with a warm bubble bath
Warm water is great for relaxing. The warm water will stimulate the immune cells to travel among your tissues and nurture tissue repair. It also gives emotional boost which is very important at the start of the day. It helps you relief stress.
Loosen up those joints and muscles
It helps you ease aches and pain. Our joints and muscles get tired and achy from repetitive motions and strains from activity. Stretching in warm water stimulates blood flow to stiff muscles and frozen joints. The heat will loosen up the joints and improve your range of movements throughout the day. Warm water increases blood circulation system. When you sit in 910F water, circulation is increased by 30%. (source: http://www.aquaticdoc.com/Aquaticdoc.com/Publications_files/Aquatic%20Therapy-%20Scientific%20Aspects.pdf).
Quality Family and Social Life
Spend quality time with your spouse, kids or friends. Turn off the smart phone and enjoy an actual conversation with them while you have a relaxing massage. The more conversation you have with your loved ones the closer you come. This is way much better and cheaper that therapy.
This is simple. Just spend 10-20 minutes in the hot tub before going to sleep, it will soothe your pain relax your stiff muscles and you will enjoy a deep night’s sleep. There is nothing better than a good night’s to start the day with.
2. How long is it safe to sit in a hot tub or Spa?
Hot tub water temperature should never exceed 1040F or 400C. It is not recommended to be in hot water for more than 10-15 minutes at one time. Staying in hot water for a long time can cause severe heat related illnesses such as dizziness, nausea or fainting. Read more on other health and safety issues regarding hot tubs here.
If you wish to stay in the hot water for longer time, 900F – 1000F is healthy range.
3. Are hot tubs safe for your skin?
Being submerged in hot water for a long time will cause your skin to dry out. Always use moisturizer after using your hot tub.
4. Are hot tubs safe for kids?
Kids and babies have less body weight so they gain and lose temperature faster. Just keep the temperature down so the water is just warm and comfortable for the baby or the kid. Also make sure that they are never left alone in the tub and they should not be in the tub for a long time.
5. Do more jets mean better spa?
More jets do not mean better spa. Hydrotherapy is one of the main reasons people invest in a spa. More jets do not mean that the hydrotherapy will be better or comparable to a spa with fewer jets. It is the water pressure or the force from the jet nozzle that provides the message. You do not want too many tiny, narrow jets which can irritate your skin and does not provide a great message.
Different parts of the body need different water pressure for the message. If you have sore back, you will want to go with spas with more jets in the back. For aching foot, go with spas with foot message jets. Of course, more jets mean more cost.