Inflatable hot tubs and winter seem like a perfect match!
Stepping out into the cold without any clothes brings a rush to the senses. The tub is filled with warm water, and the steam looks so inviting. You slip in and immediately feel relaxing warmth as the water caresses your very soul. It literally melts away the stress and soothes your aching muscles.
But wait. Did you know that most inflatable hot tub manufacturers such as Intex, Coleman and SaluSpa aren’t designed for outdoor winter use? If you look closely at the instruction manual and warnings, it clearly states that their hot tubs should not be used at temperatures 40 degrees F and below.
If you think about it, 40 degrees F isn’t even that cold. People who have invested in an inflatable hot tub and live in colder climates should have every reason to use it when temperatures are plummeting. After all, isn’t this one of the joys and luxuries of a hot tub?
So, the question remains – can you use an inflatable hot tub in winter?
The answer is a resounding Yes!
All you need is to follow a simple hack. Keep in mind that none of the hot tub manufacturers recommend this, so it goes without saying that you do this at your own risk. Basic electrical and plumbing skills are also needed to make this happen. If you’re not that knowledgeable with a bit of DIY plumbing and wiring, we suggest you call a professional.
When you get everything right though, you’ll have your own inflatable hot tub that you can use during the coldest times of the year.
You’d be surprised to know that the main concern in using a hot tub in winter isn’t the insulation or that the materials aren’t durable enough- it’s the motor mechanism that you should look out for. These types of motors aren’t suited for running in extreme cold, and as a result could break down prematurely.
Water inside the tub should stay relatively warm at 104 degrees if you put the cover on, but manufacturers suggest that you pack up and disassemble your tub when the winter comes.
Most inflatable hot tub manufacturers today have all-in-one control panels that are handled by the motor unit. While this may be convenient, the only issue is that it’s not suited for multi-tasking. The blowermechanism that inflates the hot tub is the same one that heats up the water, circulates it and generates the bubbles. You won’t be able to do several things at once, i.e., turn on the bubbles while heating the water to your preferred temperature.
When faced with a colder environment, this becomes a problem. Taking the cover off will turn the water cold pretty quickly. Turning on both the bubble jet and the heater is out of the question (remember the all-in-one mechanism?). Sure, you can get things going with the bubble jet first and the heater later, but then it will start to feel like you’re just bathing than relaxing in a hot tub.
Is there a solution to this multi-tasking problem? You bet there is. Our inflatable hot tub hack will allow you to use your tub even during the coldest days. After a few tweaks you’ll be able to heat your tub much faster for less.
Here’s what you’ll need to use your inflatable hot tub in winter…
First up, we have the 1″ EPS foam board insulation. It typically looks like this and it comes in several size options. This material can be easily obtained at the nearest home improvement or general goods store.
You will need several sheets depending on your hot tub size. Take a measurement of your inflatable hot tub at the widest point. Divide the result by two and you’ll have the size. Or, you can look up the tub’s manual to get it. From there, you’ll have an idea of just how many foam boards you’ll need. Get the 4 x 4s or the 4 x 8 ones and ensure you have enough to make a sufficient base for your hot tub.
When you need a good heating source for your hot tub, then it’s best to get the EcoTemp L5 Portable Tankless Water Heater. A second heating unit will come in handy for when you need to generate heat and turn on the bubble jet mechanism at the same time.
The tankless water heater can also save you money as it’s relatively cheaper than your pump’s regular heating unit. Moreover, you can save more as you can switch to either electricity or propane, whichever is cheaper and more accessible.
The EcoTemp does an excellent job of heating up your inflatable hot tub as compared to the stock unit. You can look at other options, but we recommend EcoTemp because it’s affordable, works great with a hot tub setup and has a low profile.
The Flojet Automatic Water System 2.9 GPM 12v has worked very well with our setup in circulating cold water out while introducing hot water in. You can choose other water pumps but remember to get the one that has the same pumping power.
We recommend you using the Kastar LCD AC Adapter 12v 6A with a 3-Prong Power Supply, the same one that we used in our inflatable hot tub setup. Other converters of the same calibre should provide the same function. The AC adapter allows you to plug the pump in any electrical socket nearby.
The JVR Timer Switch can be used to automate the whole process and allow you to connect your pumps straight to the AC Adapter.
Remember the wiring skills earlier? You’ll need that here. Take heed and seek the help of a professional if you don’t know what you’re doing.
The hoses are for connecting to the pump. You’ll need a half-inch diameter hose measuring approximately 20 feet in length. A regular garden hose can work in a pinch, but then you’d need to secure the hose to the pump via an adapter.
The DIY approach is to take a half-inch diameter hose and cut the hose in two. Then, tie one end of the hose to the pump.
Using a clear hose adds to the aesthetic appeal but it’s not totally required. Any garden hose should work fine in this setup. Just make sure that it fits snugly to the pump via the right adapter.
You will need a 20 Gallon Propane Tank for this inflatable hot tub hack to work.
This component is readily available at most local groceries, home improvement and hardware stores around you. The standard 20 gal propane tank is the same one that’s used in propane-powered gas grills.
Also, get an extra propane hose if you don’t already have one.
We used the Garden Treasures Steel Propane Tank Table Hideaway Cover, but as always you can choose one that’s to your liking.
The cover serves an aesthetic addition for cleaning up your system’s look. The box trims up the mess and makes for an extra surface, to boot.
Most manufacturers have built-in insulation barriers that come between the inflatable hot tub and the ground. The only problem is that these mats, or disks get overwhelmed when they’re subjected to colder temperatures.
So to start things off you’ll need to reinforce this particular element in your hot tub.
Your foam insulating base should cover the whole size of your tub; a little bit of extra allowance is perfectly acceptable. Here’s an easy way on how you can create a circle- gently put a nail into the foam board and tie a string around it. Tie a pen or a marker at the other and make a circle. Using an X-acto or a razor knife, cut out the right-sized foam insulation for your hot tub. You’ll probably need a few sheets depending on your hot tub’s size; apply duct tape to secure them together.
You’ll have an easier time slipping the foam boards under your tub if it’s empty, so time this project for when you need to replace the water. Place the ground mat, then install an insulation layer on top. Then, put your inflatable hot tub on top. You should have a stronger barrier for keeping the cold out when winter comes.
Fit the Ecotank L5 Propane Tank in the housing and run your tub’s hose to the tankless water heater. You can choose to install the Ecotank L5 to the propane tank’s housing.
Connect the pump to your Ecotank, then put the two lengths together using hose clamps if needed. Both hose lengths go into the inflatable hot tub. When you turn on the pump, water passes through the tankless water heater, which then gets heated as it fills your tub.
The 12v Switch wiring connection will be a bit difficult, but here’s a video that should make sense of it all. The video recommends other wiring procedure videos if you haven’t grasped the concept in full, here. Basically, you’ll need to wire the switch property through the use case.
No idea on how to do the wiring? Don’t panic. Seek the help of a professional electrician for this step.
Thread the 12v Kastar to your AC adapter so the pump gets the juice from the plug-in unit.
That’s it! You’re done and ready to enjoy a hot, relaxing session in the middle of winter!
The new setup has some similarities to the default heating system. Turn the tub off outside and the water inside the pump and hose could freeze and cause damage to the internal mechanism.
Here are a few precautions you can take to prevent this. First, simply empty out the water inside the system after using and before storing. When the cold season has passed then you’ll still be able to use your inflatable hot tub.
Or, you can continue running the pump and using the internal heating system instead of the tankless water heater. This ensures that the water stays warm and the innards will be left undamaged.
Once you’ve completed this hot tub setup you’ll be able to turn on the Ecotank to get hot water flowing even if the outside temperature falls under 40 degrees. What’s more, you can enjoy the heating while the bubble jets are turned on for the ultimate experience!
Always remember to empty out all the water or turn on the default heating system to keep the water from freezing and damaging the internal mechanism of your hot tub. You can monitor current weather conditions and temperature with the help of a wireless weather station, i.e., the AcuRite Weather Station.
Our hack has proven to be much more efficient in heating hot tubs than most inflatable spas! In just 2 to 3 minutes you can dive right in and enjoy the water. Moreover, heating costs are significantly lowered because you’ll be using propane as compared to electricity.
Last but not the least, heed the expertise of a professional electrician or plumber if you have no clue how to do the wiring. Watch the videos to get a thorough understanding before attempting the wiring process.
Like the idea of having an inflatable hot tub to use in the colder months? We have the best inflatable hot tub reviews right here.
Good luck and enjoy your winter hot tub experience!