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How Does An Inflatable Hot Tub Work?

You might not need a degree to operate one, but a surprising amount of tech is packed into your average portable spa. To ensure you’re looking after yours properly, it’s a good idea to ask, “how does an inflatable hot tub work?”.

We’ve been lucky enough to try and see which is the best portable spa over the last ten years, so it’s safe to say we’re experts on how these things operate. 

Inflatable hot tubs work by using an electric pump to inflate their shells, control their heating systems and power their jets. This pump must be plugged into a power supply and will have a digital control panel used to adjust the water temperature and engage the air or water jets. They also have water filtration units and rely on chemical sanitisers to keep their water clean.

How Do Inflatable Hot Tubs Heat up? 

Inflatable hot tubs use electrical resistance heaters to produce warm water. These systems feature an element coil which converts electrical energy into heat, the hot tub’s water is then moved past the coil by the pump and warmed before circulating back into the spa’s main body. 

Some brands use a positive temperature coefficient (PTC) heating element, in which the resistance of the system increases along with the temperature. These self-regulating heaters use less energy the hotter they get, so they’re particularly energy-efficient.

There are also a few hot tub manufacturers that use dual-operated pumps, allowing for their heaters and massage systems to be powered at the same time. This means you can have heated bubble jets, though not all portable hot tubs are equipped with this function! 

What Do You Need For An Inflatable Hot Tub?

underwater jets firing out bubbles


An inflatable hot tub needs to be connected to a mains electrical supply to power its pump and, in turn, its heater and jets. All modern models come with a power cable which must be plugged in away from any water, and an RCD unit which will cut the power in the event of an electrical fault. 

Spa manufacturers advise against using extension cables with their hot tubs, as they can increase the risk of electrical faults and fires, so you must have a covered plug socket within 5m from where you intend to install your hot tub.

A level surface

A portable spa will only work correctly on a level surface that isn’t raised off the ground, as the weight of a filled spa can be upwards of 1500kg, which can easily cause decking or raised pavers to collapse. 

The ground must be level as if the hot tub’s weight isn’t evenly distributed; cracks and tears can form in the shell. An uneven water line can also stop the jets from functioning correctly and make draining your hot tub unnecessarily difficult. 

Pool chemicals and filters 

The water in a portable spa must be constantly filtered and treated to prevent harmful bacteria and slimes from taking hold. 

Contaminants like: 

  • Body oils 
  • Lotions 
  • Algae spores
  • Dirt and debris

All will be introduced into the water as you bathe, which can cause serious damage to the pipes and pump (and even illness!) if left unchecked. To prevent this, you’ll need to regularly sanitise the water using pool chemicals (chlorine or bromine) and clean/replace your hot tub’s filter cartridges. 

Pool chemicals and replacement filters can be purchased from any reputable hot tub manufacturer, and you should always have a supply of each on hand! 

Where Can You Use It?

a women blowing bubbles off her hand in a hot tub

Commonly, inflatable hot tubs will be installed outdoors on a flat patio or concrete surface. Popping a shelter above is also a good idea to protect the pump from rainfall and prevent debris from entering the water.

People often want to know, how long can an inflatable hot tub last as this helps them decide where to place their tub. Inflatable hot tubs can be set up indoors, be that inside your home or in a summerhouse or garden room, though there are a few precautions, you’ll have to take to do this safely, such as: 

  • Installing ventilation 
  • Treating the room with a moisture-resistant seal 
  • Ensuring there are utility hookups

Last Word

So, that’s all you need to know about how an inflatable hot tub works. Some of their systems may sound a little complicated, but understanding the basics will allow you to operate yours safely and prevent any accidental damages in the future! 

You’ll need an electrical hookup, a suitable level surface and appropriate chemicals and filters to run your portable spa correctly. As long as you keep everything clean and covered, your spa should remain in working order for many years. If you want to know, where can I buy an inflatable hot tub? Take a look at this handy guide for options on where to purchase a spa.

John Devlin

Hello, Welcome to my website. I’m John, and I created the InflatableHotTubGuide while researching these spas nearly a decade ago. Since its creation, the site has become the leading UK resource for many models. As a passionate hot tub user, I love to test and explore all the latest machines this industry keeps creating. I hope you find our content helpful.