What is an inflatable spa and should I buy one?

Looking for a quick and easy spa pool solution? Considering buying an inflatable hot tub and want to know more about them?

What is an inflatable spa hero

Please note: Spa World doesn't currently sell inflatable spas, however with over 35 years experience in the spa industry we know a lot about spa pools, what to look for and how to choose the best option for you.

If you're in the market for a spa pool and weighing up the pros and cons of an inflatable spa vs traditional portable spa pool, this article is for you.

In this article, you will learn

After reading this article you will hopefully have a better understanding of blow-up hot tubs, what they can offer and if they are the right fit for you.

What is an inflatable spa?

An inflatable spa has walls that are filled with air so the spa can hold heated water. These types of spas usually have a round, square or octagonal shape and equipment such as the control box and spa pump are connected on the outside of the spa.

What’s an inflatable spa pool and are they worth it?

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What is an inflatable spa made of?

A blow-up spa or hot tub can be made from several materials, depending on the quality of the product, brand and model. You will find several brands use multiple layers of material for the spa walls. These include polyester mesh, PVC (polyvinyl chloride which is a synthetic thermoplastic), a UV protection layer, drop stitch fabric, laminated fabric and some brands market their fabrics as being frost and tear resistant.

The control box needs to be water resistant because it connects on the outside of the spa.

It’s important to keep in mind that inflatable spas don’t have a hard acrylic or fibreglass shell or hard base pan like better quality portable spas. This means they can be more vulnerable to sharp objects on the ground such as rocks, twigs, toys, sports equipment and loose nails in a deck which can puncture the soft shell.

How does an inflatable spa work?

When you buy a blow-up spa, one of the first things you’ll need to do is inflate the spa and its cover. Once that’s done, the next step is to attach the external pump to the spa. Then you will need to fill the hot tub with water and heat it to your desired temperature. The spa will need to be maintained to keep the spa water clear and healthy and the tub and components in great condition.

Like a portable spa, they can be used indoors. However, setting up one of these lightweight spas inside is considerably faster than a portable spa. They don’t need a lot of space for delivery and machinery, such as a crane (if required), to lift the spa into position.

Some inflatable spas will come with a pump that allows them to be used year-round, a massage system, LED lights, backrests and more. The number of features included with a blow-up spa will depend on the brand and if it’s considered to be an entry-level or top of the range model.

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Are inflatable spas expensive to run?

If you’re thinking of buying an inflatable spa, this could be one of the first questions that comes to mind. It’s hard to give a straight answer to this question because there are several things to think about such as -

  • What is the outside or inside temperature?
  • How often will the hot tub be used?
  • What is the quality of the spa?
  • What type of ground is the spa lying on?

However, if you choose a hot tub with quality insulation, your running costs will be reduced. If a spa can limit heat loss from the water, the less heating it will need to maintain the water temperature. Portable spas are likely to do a better job of insulating spa water and reducing running costs.

An soft shell, blow-up spa’s heating and control systems can also influence running costs. The more effective and efficient they are at heating and reducing power usage, the lower your electricity bill will be.

If you want to insulate it, you’ll find that some brands sell insulating accessories such as a heat preservation mat, inflatable bladder and spa cover. Using these could make a difference to your power bill.

To get a more certain answer on running costs for a blow-up spa, it’s best to contact the spa retailer, company or salesperson you have been speaking to.

What can I put under an inflatable spa?

Keeping an inflatable spa away from sharp objects on the ground or from above will help protect your hot tub from punctures.

According to photographs displayed on several inflatable hot tub brand sites, they are commonly placed on a level area of either grass, a wooden deck, tiles, concrete and more.

You will find some brands offer heat retention mats and floor protectors that can be placed under the spa. However, as mentioned above, these mats are not as strong, durable and sturdy as an upturn base pan that can be found on quality portable spas pools.

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Do inflatable spas have seats?

Inflatable hot tubs generally don’t come with individually molded seats that you would see on a hard shell portable spa. However, some come with a cushioned floor and blow-up backrests. Some brands offer accessories such as spa pillows and booster seats.

Where can I buy and how much does an inflatable spa cost in New Zealand?

The price for blow-up hot tubs can vary, according to brand, quality, size and where you buy it from. Generally prices range from around $599 to nearly $2,000.

Entry-level, cheap inflatable spas:

  • 1 - day® - $599 to $949 (offer Lay-Z-Spa®)
  • GrabOne® - $775 (offer Lay-Z-Spa®)
  • Mitre 10® - $899 (offer Lay-Z-Spa®)

Mid-market, higher priced inflatable spas:

  • Trade Tested® - $999 to $1,299 (offer Lay-Z-Spa®)
  • Container Door® - $999 (offer Lay-Z-Spa®)
  • FitnessWorld® - $995 (offer Lay-Z-Spa®)
  • TradeMe® - from $899 to $1579 (offer Lay-Z-Spa® and Intex®)
  • Portable Spas® - from $1,789 to $1990 (offer MSpa®)

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What is the best inflatable spa brand in New Zealand?

If you are looking for a quality blow-up hot tub, there are several options on the market that could satisfy your needs. However, Lay-Z-Spa® hot tubs appear to be a leading and popular inflatable spa brand that’s available in New Zealand. This is based on the number of retailers in New Zealand that sell Lay-Z-Spa® pools as well as reviews posted to retailer websites.

What is Lay-Z-Spa®?

Lay-Z-Spa® was established in 2007 and offers a range of portable spas. According to its website, Lay-Z-Spa® operates on behalf of Bestway Inflatables & Material Corp. The spas are available under two brand names, Lay-Z-Spa® (most common worldwide) and SaluSpa® in the US.

Do I need a fence or building consent for an inflatable spa?

Consent and fence requirements may vary, depending on where you live in New Zealand.

Several councils in New Zealand have similar requirements and according to building.govt.nz:

  • If an inflatable spa can hold water to a depth of 400mm or more, it must have a barrier that prevents access from young children when spa is filled or partly filled with water
  • If an inflatable pool has a lockable safety cover that meets the standards, it can be considered the barrier for spa pools. The pool would also not be required to undergo an inspection every three years.

Before purchasing an blow-up spa, it’s a good idea to contact your local council and find out what requirements you need to meet. Once you have this information, this will help you decide if this type of spa you’re considering is the best option for you.

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Inflatable spa vs portable spa vs hot tub. What’s the difference?

inflatable vs portable spa

A portable spa, also known as a hot tub, above ground, Jacuzzi® or freestanding spa, can be installed into a deck or pit in the ground. Key components such as pumps, heaters, and control systems are contained within the cabinet.

Although both inflatable spas and portable spas are essentially tubs full of heated water and can be moved around, one of the basic differences between the two is that a blow-up spa can be deflated, packed up and stored away. A portable spa has a hard shell and is typically fixed in place.

Are you still deciding if you should buy a portable or blow-up spa? Read this article to learn about their pros and cons.

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Should I buy an inflatable spa? Are inflatable hot tubs worth the money?

Inflatable spas are becoming a popular option for people looking for a cheap and simple spa pool. However, it’s important to bear in mind that they are not built to last and you may find yourself purchasing multiple blow-up spas over the same time you can expect to own a portable spa for.

An inflatable hot tub may be a good option if you want a spa pool that is:

  • Portable
  • Cheap
  • Can be stored away when you’re not using it to free up space
  • And comes with the basics you'd expect from a spa pool - warm water, bubbles, space, a place to relax or socialise

However an inflatable spa pool may not work for you if you want something that comes with:

  • individually molded seats for comfort and hydrotherapy
  • variety of jets designed to target different areas of the body
  • made with highly durable and insulating materials
  • will last more than a few years

If you were thinking of buying an inflatable spa and now think it may not be the option for you, perhaps you may want to consider a cheaper entry level spa pool or even look at finance options and buy a better quality spa pool that’s built to last.

Fisher Spas™ is an entry level spa brand that combines lower prices with quality and energy efficiency. By clicking this link, you can learn more about these products that are available at Spa World™.


We hope this article has given you a better understanding of inflatable spas, their key features, how much they cost in New Zealand and which stores or online sites they can be purchased from.

These low-cost spas have their perks. They’re affordable, they can be moved between indoor or outdoor locations and they’re pretty straightforward to set up. An inflatable spa could be a great choice if this is your first hot tub purchase, you need a short-term spa solution or you’re on a tight budget.

However, blow-up spas won’t last as long as a quality portable spa, they’re more vulnerable to punctures from sharp objects, unlikely to retain heat as well as a portable spa and they don’t come with loungers and back massage seats that take hydrotherapy to the next level.

If after reading, you decide a portable, hard shell hot tub is a better fit for you, there are lots of great options out there to choose from.

You can learn more about portable hard shell spa pools or swim spas, in this detailed article on what to look for in a spa pool. You can also take a look at the product pages on our website, visit us at your local Spa World™ showroom or download our Spa Buyers Guide.

Disclaimer: The following registered trademarks are owned by companies not affiliated in any way with Spa World™ or Vortex Leisure Pty Ltd: Lay-Z-Spa® trademark is owned by Bestway Inflatables & Material Corp. MSpa® trademark is owned by Oriental Recreational Products (Shanghai) Co., Ltd. Portable Spas®. Trade Me® trademark is owned by Trade Me Limited. Fitness World®. Container Door® trademark is owned by Container Door Limited. Trade Tested® trademark is owned by Trade Tested Limited. Mitre 10® trademark is owned by M10 IP Holding Company Limited. Grab One® trademark is owned by Grabone Limited. 1-day® trademark is owned by Torpedo7 Limited. Affiliations: Vortex® Spas, Fisher™ Spas and Spa World® are trademarks owned by Vortex Leisure Pty Ltd.

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