Inflatable Hot Tub Setup & Maintenance: Is it worth it?

For those of us passionate about glamping, enhancing the experience is a constant pursuit. In this article, I’ll delve into the inflatable hot tub world, focusing on the essential aspects of setting up, maintaining, and managing the power requirements for this potential addition to your glamping equipment.

Inflatable Hot Tub Overview

Inflatable hot tubs are versatile, portable spa units that offer all the relaxation of a traditional hot tub without the permanence. These tubs are crafted from durable materials and feature heating, filtration, and jet/bubble systems. They are an affordable and flexible way to introduce a touch of luxury to your glamping site or your back patio or yard. However, it is important to know exactly what the setup and maintenance involves. Once you understand that, you can decide for yourself whether you want to move forward with your own inflatable hot tub.

Setting Up Your Inflatable Hot Tub

The Coleman SaluSpa is a popular inflatable hot tub from a well-known brand. I will reference this product in this article, but the overall pointers in this article can be universally applied. This particular product does not require any additional tools, so check that if you go with something else.

Selecting the Right Location

Before you purchase an inflatable hot tub, make sure you have a good location. It should be flat, stable, and close to a water source and power outlet. It must also be able to support the combined weight of the tub, water, and users. Measure the area and check against the manufacturer’s dimensional data (diameter, power cord length, pump size, heater size).

Think about where the water will go; can it be safely drained without damaging anything nearby? A tub that is exposed to direct sunlight for many hours a day will sustain damage over time. Consider the privacy and ambiance of the spot as well.

Inflation and Assembly

Overall, setup for an inflatable hot tub is easy to understand, but some parts of it are trickier than others. There’s a bit of a learning curve involved. I suggest not doing it alone but having at least 1 other person to help you; it will be much easier as a 2-person job.

Follow the manufacturer’s step by step instructions for assembly and inflation. As is standard for any inflatable product, unbox the package carefully, ensuring you don’t cut or puncture the tub. The assembly steps will include some or all of the following before you fill it with water:

  1. Unfold and place the ground cover.
  2. Unroll and place the inflatable hot tub.
  3. Connect the pump to the air valve on the hot tub and inflate. Disconnect the pump then make sure the air valve is closed on the tub.
  4. Connect the pump to the air valve on the inflatable cover and inflate. Disconnect the pump then make sure the air valve is closed on the cover.
  5. Make sure the seals are in place for where the pump connect to the inflatable hot tub.
  6. Connect the pump to the tub. Tighten the connections.
  7. Remove the interior caps (to enable water flow) and keep them in a place you will remember (don’t lose them, you’ll need them later). Attach the chlorinator / chemical dispersion component.

After the inflatable hot tub is in use, you will periodically need to add additional air simply due to changes in ambient temperature that can cause deflation. When you do this, you will need to block the hoses by putting the caps back on (that you removed during assembly) to prevent water from escaping.

Water Source and Maintenance

Fill the tub with clean water between the maximum and minimum fill lines using a hose or buckets (I’m sure you know which will be easier). Most inflatable hot tubs come with easy-to-use water treatment systems. It’s crucial to maintain water quality by regularly checking and adjusting the chemical balance.

Invest in chemical test strips that can read the chlorine levels, pH, and alkalinity. You will need to check and clean the filter cartridge by removing it and rinsing it. Add chemical tablets to the chemical dispenser. Be careful with what type of chemicals you use, how much, and where; many can damage the tub material if the dose is too high or they settle on the bottom. Keep the pH between 7.4 and 7.6, the total alkalinity between 80 and 120 ppm, and the free chlorine between 2 and 4 ppm.

The amount of water maintenance required can be affected by the frequency of use and the number of users. You may want users to shower prior to entering the tub because added dirt, sweat, lotions, cosmetics, or other residues on the skin can quickly degrade water quality. If the water gets too dirty or it is the end of “hot tub season” you will need to drain the water, clean the tub with soap and water, then rinse it and let it dry.

Safety Measures

Safety should be a top priority. If you have children or guests with children, consider childproofing the area around the hot tub. Cover the tub when it’s not in use to prevent accidents. Take care when handling any pool chemicals, and follow their instructions for use. Make sure the GFCI (ground-fault circuit interrupter) in the plug is functioning properly before use.

Learn about the risks of hyperthermia; consider setting a timer for hot tub use. Stick to the recommended water temperature of 100 degrees Fahrenheit, and never try to heat the water to above 104 degrees. Avoid drinking alcohol before or during hot tub use. Consult a physician before hot tub use if you are pregnant. Exclude children less than 5 years old from using it. Seriously, don’t mess around with this; there have sadly been recorded deaths from inappropriate hot tub use. Review the CDC guidelines for hot tub use here.

Managing Power Requirements

Electricity Usage

Inflatable hot tubs require electricity to power the pump, filter, and heater. The exact power consumption varies by model, so it’s essential to check the specifications for your specific hot tub. Generally, they are designed to be energy-efficient, but it’s still a good idea to be mindful of your power usage, especially in remote glamping sites.

For the Coleman Inflatable Hot Tub, the heating element draws about 11.3A of current at 120V while the water pump draws 0.7A, so 12A total. Based on that the worst case if the heater and pump are running continuously is roughly 34.56 kWh per day (12A * 120V / 1000W/kW * 24 h/day). If your electricity rate from the power company is 15 cents/kWh that is about $5.18 per day to run this thing (remember this is worst case).

Users reported anywhere from 10-20kWh being used to filter and heat the water per day, depending on the ambient temperature. So assuming the same electricity cost as before, that would be between $1.50 and $3.00 a day to keep the water heated. It will likely be better to set the temperature to a few degrees below where you want it for use, then heat it up hours ahead of when you plan to use it.

Heating Time

The heating time for inflatable hot tubs varies based on the initial water temperature and the outdoor climate. The manufacturer states that with starting ambient and water temperatures of 50, 59, 68, 77, or 86 degrees, the heating duration will be 32, 26, 20, 14, or 9 hours with a set temperature of 104 degrees Fahrenheit.

In other words colder temperatures will require much more time and electricity to heat. I would not suggest trying to use an inflatable hot tub during winter months unless it doesn’t get very cold. Freezing temperatures can damage the components and it would likely get very expensive to keep the water heated.

Suitable for glamping?

Previously we noted that this inflatable hot tub may need between 10-20kWh per day to keep the water heated. If a solar generator is your only source of power, you’ll be disappointed. You would get less than two hours of runtime on the heater with a 3kWh solar generator. Solar panels will help extend that when the sun is out. But when the sun goes down, the batteries will soon deplete. Depending on how much the water cools off overnight, you may not have enough time to heat it up again for evening use the next day.

The solar generator option looks to be out, so what can you do? Utility power would be the best. If that is not available, then you may consider a traditional gas or propane portable generator. That’s the subject of a separate article. In short, you’ll want one that has an appropriate wattage and fuel capacity. You’ll want to run this ~1440W inflatable hot tub for hours to keep the water heated.

Maintaining Your Inflatable Hot Tub

Cleaning and Sanitizing

Regular cleaning and sanitizing are essential to keep your inflatable hot tub in top condition. Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for cleaning, and use mild, non-abrasive cleaners.

Water Quality and Filtration

Monitor the water quality consistently and adjust the chemical levels as needed. The built-in filtration system helps keep the water clean, but it’s essential to clean or replace filters regularly.

Winterizing for Cold Climates

If you operate your glamping site in a very cold climate, winterizing your hot tub is crucial. This involves draining the tub, cleaning it thoroughly, and storing it properly to prevent damage from freezing temperatures.

Troubleshooting Common Issues

Familiarize yourself with common issues that can arise with inflatable hot tubs, such as leaks, heating problems, or pump issues. Knowing how to troubleshoot can save time and money.


An inflatable hot tub can be a fantastic addition to your glamping setup. Beyond relaxation and stress relief, it can encourage socializing and bonding. I hope that by reading this article you now better understand how to set up and maintain these tubs effectively. Maybe you’re ready to take this on and try it out yourself! If you feel overwhelmed by what goes into it, feel free to forgo this idea; there are still plenty of other things to help you to relax and socialize while glamping. It is completely a personal preference whether it is worth it to you or not.

Tips from reviewers of the Coleman SaluSpa Inflatable Hot Tub

Check the reviews yourself for some helpful suggestions. Here are some that stood out to me:

  • When unpacking the tub, open the air valve to let some air in and make it easier to work with.
  • Set the temperature to your desired level hours before your intended use time to give it time to heat up.
  • The cover can help retain heat when the hot tub is not in use, reducing the amount that it needs to reheat. So inflate the cover and use it.
  • Regularly monitor the water temperature and water quality and adjust the heater and chemicals accordingly.
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Sterling Thornwood

I love the outdoors but not always roughing it; I like to have my luxuries and my anonymity. :-) I enjoy sharing the knowledge I've (l)earned about the various facets of glamping.

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