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Are Inflatable Hot Tubs Expensive to Run?

Inflatable hot tubs are a great way to own a hot tub without having to spend thousands of dollars. But many first-time inflatable hot tub owners wonder, are inflatable hot tubs expensive to run?

As a general rule, inflatable hot tubs cost approximately $50/month in warmer months and can add as much as $100/month in colder weather. Generally, they are 150% more expensive to run than regular hot tubs.

The increase is due both to the lack of insulation, and inefficiency of the equipment compared to more permanent hot tubs.

However, there’s more to know about inflatable hot tubs. For example, how much electricity do they consume, how much it costs to run them, and if they need insulation? But no worries. I will answer all of your questions.

Keep reading.

Do inflatable hot tubs use a lot of electricity?

Inflatable hot tubs do use a lot of electricity despite only having a 1.5kWh heater. While that is less powerful than 220v hot tubs, the lack of insulation creates a much greater need for the heater to run more often, creating a higher electric bill.

Depending on the set water temperature, the cost can vary between $1.75/day up to $4.50/day.

And remember, inflatable hot tubs can’t run the jets and the heater at the same time. So don’t turn those on thinking it will speed up the heating process.

It is all really relative. Compared to a regular hot tub, they do use a little more electricity, but there a lot of factors affecting this.

  • The time it takes to heat up the water to around 100°F
  • The time of year. This affects how much it takes to keep the temperature constant.
  • The climate where you are
  • The amount of usage

When you fill your tub with a garden hose, the temperature of that water can be as high as 75° in peak summertime, or as low as 40° in winter. As you can imagine, to heat water by 60° will take a lot longer than heating up by 25°.

Keeping the water at a constant temperature uses only a small amount of electricity during the summer months. But in wintertime, an inflatable tub will use a lot more than a solid body type.

This is because the thermal insulation on an inflatable hot tub is nowhere near as good.

Obviously, the climate where you are will affect the amount of electricity needed to maintain a constant temperature, which is between 98° and 104°. From southern California to northern Vermont, the air temperature will regulate the rate at which heat is lost when the tub is in use.

With many inflatable tubs, it is not possible to run the heater and the pump at the same time due to the limit imposed by the 13amp supply. This means that, while in use, the water will cool quicker than it would in a regular tub.

Older tubs may be more expensive to run as the pump won’t be as efficient, and newer tubs have features that can save energy, such as sleep-mode or economy.

If you are thinking of buying a hot tub for the first time, check out the recent article on my site. It has some great tips on what to look for.

Just click on the link to read it on my website.

How much do inflatable hot tubs cost to run?

Inflatable hot tubs cost about $1.20 per day on average. This compares to about $1.00 per day for an in-ground or portable hot tub. However, when using an inflatable hot tub in winter, the cost per day can go as high as $4.50 depending on the water and air temperature.

But the cost of running any hot tub also depends on:

  • The cost of electricity in your area
  • The rating of the pump in kW
  • The size of the hot tub, and therefore the volume of water
  • The number of times you use it per week (using it and removing the lid and bladder lets out more heat)
  • The time of year (and the weather where you live)

The cost of electricity per kWh can be found on your electric bill, and that will be the same irrespective of the type of hot tub you have, but the rating of your pump will be limited by the power supply.

Most, if not all, inflatables run off a 110v 13amp supply.

You just set it up, plugin, and go. That’s the beauty of these things. So long as you have some solid ground and an outlet within 15 feet of where you want your tub, that’s all you need.

However, the big drawback is that, with this power supply, the heater and pump are limited to 1 to 1.2kW maximum. Regular tubs running off 220 – 240v have more powerful pumps, some up to 7kW, and you can run both simultaneously.

Do you leave inflatable hot tubs on all the time?

As a general rule, leave an inflatable hot tub on all the time, unless intending to pack it away for winter. Constantly turning it on and off, or lowering and then raising the temperature will increase the electric bill as it is more efficient to maintain water temperature than it is to reheat it.

I wrote a recent article on whether inflatable hot tubs should be left on all the time. You can read it on my site by clicking on the link.

Although the trapped air in the walls of the tub is a good insulator, when the outside temperature drops significantly, the trapped air soon gets cold. And the heat from the water will transfer through it very quickly.

This is why inflatable hot tubs do tend to lose heat quicker than regular tubs.

But with the heater running all the time when it’s not in use, it doesn’t take much electricity to keep it at or around the optimum temperature of 100°. This is far more economical than switching off and letting it cool.

If you do intend using an inflatable hot tub in the winter, one thing you don’t want is the water freezing.

This may damage the pipes and pump, and also the walls of the tub. So running the hot tub constantly, even if in economy mode, will prevent this from happening.

Does an insulated ground mat help an inflatable hot tub be more energy efficient?

Generally, while thin, insulated ground mats do make an inflatable hot tub more energy-efficient, limiting heat loss into the ground. But placing the ground mat on a solid surface such as a hot tub pad or concrete patio will be more efficient than a deck or on the bare ground.

They also help prevent tears if you have your tub on a timber deck, where there might be splinters and nails popping up.

You must never place an inflatable hot tub directly on the grass or gravel. Always place a mat underneath to protect it.

The insulated ground mat will stop a high percentage of the heat passing downward, adding to your comfort in the colder months and reducing your heating bill.

There are several types of ground mat – some are solid, segmental mats that slot together, while others come in rolls.

Most come with the tub at the time you buy, but it is always best to order from the manufacturer to make sure you get the correct size and shape.

Insulated ground mats will help to protect the heater and pump in the case of a power outage, so when choosing a mat, make sure it covers this area as well.

What is the highest quality inflatable hot tub?

There are some great inflatable hot tubs around that will give many a solid body portable tub a run for its money for less than a quarter of the price, like this Intex PureSpa Plus on Amazon.

This is a four-person inflatable hot tub with a built-in heater pump and 140 jets to provide a great spa experience for less than $900.

Just click that link to see the current price on Amazon.

If you live in a hard-water area, this model, with its built-in water treatment system, will provide you with clear, soft water, which is better for your skin and the pump.

Hard water leads to a build-up of calcium, which will affect the performance of the pump.

It takes about 20 minutes to set up. Once filled with water, it is ready to use in just a few hours, depending on the temperature of the water going in.

All you need is a regular 13amp outlet to plug into.

It comes complete with two headrests, a multi-colored LED lighting system, and two filter cartridges, so you always have a clean one available for use.

The insulated cover and thermal ground cloth help keep the heat in, making it cheaper to run than most models.

Its fiber-reinforced PVC walls are built for durability and comfort, resisting tears and yet soft to the touch.

Durability is a top concern for people considering inflatable hot tubs.

After all, can dog nails or cat claws puncture them? If they do tear can you fix one? Luckily, I wrote an article recently on this topic of durability.

You can read it here on my website by clicking on the link.

Final thoughts

Inflatable hot tubs are expensive to run than regular tubs, by around 20%. But over the course of a year, the overall increase in your electric bill will be negligible.

Inflatable hot tubs are a great entry into the world of outdoor spa living, and with the low initial cost, it is easy to see why they are growing in popularity year on year.

If you’re thinking of buying an inflatable hot tub and wondered if they can be dangerous, check out the recent article on my website by clicking the link.

As an Amazon Associate, I may earn a small commission from qualifying purchases if you click on Amazon from my site and choose to make a purchase. You can read my complete affiliate disclosure for more details.

Jeff Campbell