Should I Leave My Inflatable Hot Tub on All the Time?

Inflatable or not, hot tub owners always wonder about the efficiency and power usage of their hot tubs when not in use. But the question every owner of a blow-up tub asks at some point is, “should I leave my inflatable hot tub on all the time?”

I decided to look into it and here’s what I discovered:

Yes. You should leave an inflatable hot tub on all the time unless you plan to not use it 3 or more weeks & will drain it and pack it away. Leaving it off but full of water could lead to bacteria build-up. Besides, it takes more energy to reheat the water than it does to simply maintain it at a set temperature.

But you might still be curious how it affects your electricity bill in winter? Or can an inflatable hot tub even work in winter?

Read on to discover the best strategies for keeping your inflatable spa heated all the time, without breaking the bank.

Do you leave inflatable hot tubs on all the time?

Most people leave their hot tubs on all the time, to keep ticking over and allowing the chemicals—or whatever it is you use to keep your tub clean—to do their work. This also keeps the water at or close to the optimum temperature for use at around 100° to 104°F.

Inflatable hot tubs are no different in that respect. They may need a little more energy.

So the problem with inflatable hot tubs is that they don’t hold the heat very efficiently. This is not an issue in the spring, summer, and fall, but in the wintertime, it will cost more to maintain the chosen temperature.

It will not be a trouble if you are not keen on sitting in your hot tub on a cold winter’s night. So do you think about turning it down for the season?

How does an inflatable hot tub affect the electricity bill?

The two things that impact your electric bill are the time it takes to heat the water initially, and the amount of energy required to keep it at the optimum temperature of just over 100°. So if you leave the inflated hot tub on, it will not affect the electricity bill much.

Inflatable hot tubs take the air from outside and pump it around through a hundred or more jets to create the bubbles. Then it goes through a heater to warm the water.

Unfortunately, inflatable hot tubs and plug-n-play hot tubs can’t usually run the heater, jets, and filtration system at the same time. So this tends to make them less energy efficient. It can also result in higher electric bills and bigger swings in water temperatures.

But what’s the overall cost of this?

On average, an inflatable hot tub with regular occupancy of 4 to 6-persons should cost around $40 to $60 a month to run. This is about $1.50 a day, so not bad considering the fun you get.

However, inflatable hot tubs are not as efficient as regular tubs.

In a recent article, I get into all the pros and cons of inflatable hot tubs, so you should read this on my site if you are thinking of going down this route.

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.

This leaves the tub just ticking over nicely, circulating the water and passing it through the heater as it does. Some rely on the pump to keep the temperature at a decent level.

Will my inflatable hot tub freeze in the winter?

The insulation value of the walls in an inflatable hot tub is weak because there are only two layers of fabric and around 18″ of air between the water and the surface.

Although trapped air is an excellent insulator when the outside temperature drops significantly that air soon gets cold, and the heat from the water will transfer through it very quickly.

However, if you keep the pump running, it will keep the water at a steady temperature, and it will not freeze. However, if you live someplace like Minnesota don’t expect it to hold 104° F all winter long. Because of the inherent inefficiencies of inflatable hot tubs, you’ll be lucky if it stays consistently at 98° F even if you set it to 104°.

On the other hand, if you turn the unit off, there is the possibility of at least a layer of ice forming. The whole tub won’t freeze because of the volume of water. Although there could be some ice forming in the tubes, and that can lead to leaks when it defrosts.

If your hot tub is off the ground, on a deck, say, It will be less prone to ground frost.

Beware, before you put your inflatable hot tub on your deck, read this recent article on my site first. You have to make sure that the deck is strong enough.

In that article, I cover exactly how to check if your deck is strong enough. But I also cover how to reinforce it if it isn’t. Just click that link to see it on my site.

If you don’t intend using your tub much in winter, you would be better off draining it down entirely and deflating it until the warmer weather arrives. That way, you prevent damage to the vinyl fabric as well.

Should I lower the temperature on my inflatable hot tub in the winter?

You should leave the inflatable hot tub on all the time as the cost of running a hot tub varies throughout the year. In the summer, it is easier to maintain a temperature of around 100° and, therefore, will cost less.

Maintaining the temperature, whether that be 98° or 104°, is a lot more energy-efficient.

The effect of reducing the temperature will not reduce the running cost. In fact, it will usually cost you more money if you are constantly raising and lowering the temperature. And could result in an uncomfortable experience if it is too cold. 

Comfort is the keyword here. In the summertime, it may feel more bearable if you turn the temperature down during a scorching period. On the other hand, you may prefer it to be a degree or two higher in winter.

Remember, it’s not like turning the heating up or down in your home. The change will not be felt instantly. It could be a day or two before you feel the difference.

However, we are discussing inflatable hot tubs here, and they are prone to heat loss at a much higher rate than regular tubs.

So to answer the question, definitely no! Lowering the temperature won’t reduce your costs significantly, and you won’t enjoy it.

If I turn my inflatable hot tub off, how long will it take to heat back up?

Unfortunately, there’s not 1 exact answer. But somewhere in the range of 3-6 hours is about right. You should leave the inflatable hot tub on all the time, but if you turn it off, it might take time to heat up back.

The time it takes to heat up depends on three factors:

  • The temperature of the water going in.
  • The air temperature at present.
  • The volume of the tub, and therefore the amount of water available in it.

In hot weather, the temperature of the water going into the tub is likely to be higher. You can choose drawing it straight from the incoming water supply.

After all, garden hose water can range from about 60° F to 75° F. In the winter, it could even drop below 60 coming out of the hose.

If the air temperature is higher, the water in the tub will remain warm as it gets filled. In colder weather, even with a cover on, the tub will start to lose heat straight away. The difference in temperature inside the tub and the outside regulates the rate at which it occurs.

But no matter what the outside temperature, your hot tub will heat fastest with the lid on.

Getting down to specifics, the average time it takes to heat an inflatable hot tub is around four hours, but this can be as much as 12 in the winter.

Did I cover all you wanted to know about leaving your inflatable hot tub running all the time?

The evidence shows one should leave the inflatable hot tub all the time because being more economical; it is also better in terms of usage. It’s there ready to go whenever you need it.

If you already own an inflatable hot tub, you probably already know how good these are, but if you are planning to upgrade it or you haven’t bought your hot tub yet, you should read this recent article on my site before going any further.

In there I cover the top 23 things you must know before you buy your 1st hot tub, inflatable or not. Just click the link to read it on my site.

Jeff Campbell

Jeff Campbell is a husband, father, martial artist, budget-master, Disney-addict, musician, hot tub lover, and recovering foodie having spent over 2 decades as a leader for Whole Foods Market.

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