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Inflatable Hot Tub vs Regular Hot Tub: What’s Better?

inflatable hot tub vs regular hot tub
Written by Kai Michel
Last Update: August 10, 2023

Hot tubs not only serve recreational purposes, but they also provide a bunch of health benefits. As the demand increased, a variety of hot tub types entered the market. The most prominent types of them include the inflatable options and the regular ones.

Today we set out to find out the difference between inflatable hot tubs and the regular ones. We’ll also talk about the similarities between them and try to help you make an informed decision.

Inflatable Hot Tub vs Regular Hot Tub : Quick Comparison

Comparing Factors  Inflatable Hot Tub  Regular Hot Tub 
Weight  Light Heavy
Portability  Highly portable  Hard to carry
Size  Smaller  Generally larger 
Depth  Shallower  Deeper 
Required space  Less  More 
Installation  Easy to install Hard to install 
Installation cost  Cheaper  Expensive ($1000-$5000)
Maintenance  Low   High  
Lifespan  Shorter (2-4 years on average, 5-7 years max) Much longer (15-20 years)
Build quality  Poor  High 
Time to heat water  Takes more time  Takes less time 
Energy efficiency Low  High 
Features  Only basic features Advanced features
Mode of use  Easy to use  Complicated 
Electrical Connection  Plug-and-play  Requires pro help
Cost  Cheaper (around $400-$1200) Expensive ( $3,000-$15,000 or more)

1. Installation

Inflatable tub

The inflatable hot tubs beat their traditional counterparts here as well. Being lightweight, compact, and simple; the inflatable tubs are easy to install and maintain. Just make sure that the tub is on a rigid, level ground and there are water and power supplies nearby.

The whole installation process will probably take less than an hour. You can even save a few bucks if you go DIY.

Regular tub

Being complicated in design, a regular hot tub requires much more effort and planning than the inflatable ones. There is no DIYing your way out of this. You’ll need to plan ahead and some professional help to install your regular tub efficiently.

The installation process of your regular in-ground hot tub will cost you anywhere from $1000-5000 and the process is much more complicated.

2. Cost

Inflatable tub

Cost is the biggest impacting factor that sets inflatable hot tubs apart from the regular ones. Inflatable tubs are far cheaper than the regular ones. The build quality and material are the biggest reason why inflatable tubs are so cheap.

You can get your hands on one for around $400-800. Even the most expensive ones will cost below $1200.

Regular tub

Regular hot tubs are pretty expensive. Depending on the quality, they can cost you more than $1000. There are three categories available depending on the price, the entry-level hot tubs will cost you $3,000-$5,000 and the mid-tier hot tubs cost around $4,500-$9,000.

If you want to go for the luxury hot tubs, they may cost you a whopping $7,000-$15,000 or even more.

3. Portability

Inflatable tub

One other biggest advantage of the inflatable hot tubs is they are insanely portable. You won’t need a bunch of heavyweight professionals to move your tub around. Just drain the water and deflate the tub. You can do the rest yourself.

The lightweight material and compact design help you to carry your hot tub anywhere you go.

Regular tub

Regular hot tubs are bigger and a lot heavier. It usually takes multiple people to move a regular tub around. They lack portability and some of them can’t even be moved at all. This will require intense planning and a set of people and tools to move your regular tub, which is hard.

4. Space required

Inflatable tub

These are much smaller in size. Most of them are round-shaped. They are also shallower than the traditional ones. The space-saving design allows inflatables to be used in almost any type of flat surface and to be fit in narrow spaces, usually within 100 sq inches.

Regular tub

Not only are regular hot tubs bigger, but they are also deeper. If you have enough room, a hard-shell hot tub AKA regular hot tub is the best option for you.

However, we recommend you not to install your regular tub in a confined and compact indoor since that can create a bunch of issues.

5. Build quality

Inflatable tub

This might be true that modern-day inflatables are being made from high-quality materials, but they can’t quite beat the superior build quality of a regular tub. Inflatable ones are designed to resist punctures and provide you with a basic level of comfort.

The material quality degrades over time, making the tub prone to damage.

Regular tub

Regular tubs are usually made from acrylic materials and are made to last. The heavier and more durable material protects the tub from external damage. The advanced build quality of regular tubs also offers better heat retention, comfort, and hydrotherapeutic experience.

6. Energy efficiency

Inflatable tub

This might be true that inflatables are cheaper than the regular ones, but that is only applicable for the initial cost. Poor energy efficiency can raise your maintenance cost significantly. They take much more energy to heat the water and can’t maintain the heat like the regular ones.

You can use tub covers to keep the water warm for longer and increase energy efficiency.

Regular tub

In contrast, regular hot tubs will cost you a lot of money to buy but will compensate for that with better energy efficiency. They use less energy to heat the water and maintain the temperature.

The better quality insulation helps regular tubs to achieve better heat retention, saving your money down the road. They also take much less time to heat the water.

7. Lifespan

Inflatable tub

Inflatable tubs are prone to puncture mainly. With lower initial cost, the build quality is also inferior to the regular tubs. They usually last 2-4 years on average. If you maintain your inflatable tub properly, they can serve you up to 5-7 years at max.

Regular tub

As mentioned earlier, regular hot tubs are built to last. Better quality materials and advanced design help regular tubs resist wear and tear much better than their inflatable counterparts.

You can expect a life expectancy of 15-20 years for your regular hot tub, 20+ years if you are careful with it.

8. Features

Inflatable tub

This is the biggest difference between the two types of tubs we’re talking about, after the pricing. Inflatable tubs only provide the basic features that you expect from a hot tub. Even if they provide a decent soaking experience with soft cushioning on your back, that’s about it.

Regular tub

Here regular hot tubs really shine the brightest. With a bunch of advanced features, a regular tub can offer you a memorable spa experience. Some of their most amazing features are:

  • Pressurized water jet
  • Steps and headrests
  • Better relaxation
  • Hydrophytic therapy
  • Dedicated lounge and seats
  • Drink holders
  • Connectivity
  • Lighting

However, remember that the more features you want to incorporate within your regular tub, the more expensive it will become.

9. Ease of use

Inflatable tub

Inflatable hot tubs are much easier to use because of their high portability and plug-and-play feature. Just take your tub with you, inflate it, plug it to the nearest power and water supplies and you are all set.

Regular tub

Regular tubs usually take a much more delicate approach. You need to hire professionals to explicitly connect the tub to your power and water supplies. Additionally, the mode of use is a bit more complicated compared to the inflatable ones.

Differences Between a Spa and a Hot Tub

Hot tubs and spas are almost similar in terms of their use. Both types serve the same purpose, recreation.  However, the design and construction are the major differences between them.

You can install hot tubs both indoors and outdoors anytime, draining the water from them.

In contrast, spas are usually built in-ground, and these are larger compared to tubs. Draining the water from spas isn’t easy at all.

Regular vs Inflatable Hot Tub: Which One is Best for You?

Inflatable tubs are best for those who are looking for the most affordable option and look for better portability.

If you are one of them and are ready to sacrifice the advanced features a regular tub offers, an inflatable hot tub will be the best choice for you.

On the other hand, the regular tubs are perfect for those who are ready to invest big.

If you have enough savings and portability is not of your concern, it’s better to go for the standard one. That way, you’ll be able to enjoy a wide range of advanced features a regular tub has to offer.


1. How long does it take to heat a hot tub for the first time?

Ans: Just after the installation, it will take around 24 to 48 hours to reach an optimal temperature for the first time. Both inflatable and regular options usually need the same amount of time to heat up.

2. Do I need to use chemicals in my hot tub?

Ans: No matter what type of tub you own, you’ll have to use appropriate chemicals to clean the water and prevent the growth of harmful microbes.

3. Are inflatable hot tubs good in winter?

Ans: Yes. It is okay to use inflatable hot tubs during winter. However, you should not use it at a temperature below 40° F.

4. Does a hot tub heat faster with jets on?

Ans: Yes. When the jets are turned on, the water circulates in a way to put out heat and surpasses the cold water from the tub pipes. The heating process will be much faster with the jets turned on.

5. Who should avoid hot tubs?

Ans: This might be true that hot tubs offer many benefits. However, people with heart disease, low blood pressure, skin injuries, and UTIs (Urinary tract infections) should not use them. The chemicals in the water may cause them more harm than good. Additionally, it’s better not to use hot tubs during pregnancy.

About the author

Kai Michel

Hello, this is Kai, addressing homeowners in need of some help with their home renovation projects. I’ve worked on numerous toilet repair projects over the years that incorporated a wide variety of tasks, from repair to renovation and maintenance. Besides acquiring a degree on the legal codes and procedures, I gathered vast insights into bathroom settings, toilets, showers, fittings, and other household appliances, fixtures, and components. This helps me guide my clients through their home improvement and interior development plans. Since maintenance is my area of expertise, I can assist people in all phases of the actual ‘improvement’ process. To get my messages even further, I contribute to this site through my blog posts. Check my content here for expert suggestions!

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