Original by Annie Diamond at mostlovelythings.com
Are portable hot tubs worth buying? The answer is a resounding yes. And let us explain why we think so.
For us, vacation usually means a nice resort. Warm sunny days by the pool, waves crashing on the beach, and let’s not forget the highlight – a nice long hot tub soaking at the end of the day, and maybe another one at night. And maybe one to start the day. And maybe another one before or after lunch. Okay, you get the point. We love hot tubs and hot water.
So it’s a little ironic that as much as we love hot tubs, we’ve never brought the experience to our home. We’ve talked about it many times over the years, and likely never more than in 2020 when both kids were home for an extended period. But we always wondered, would the hot tub experience lose its magic if we had access to one on demand? And then there’s the expense and commitment of building an in-ground spa. And if we were going to go to the expense of building a traditional hot tub, why not add the pool as well? And that’s where the conversation dead-ended every time.
If you are seriously considering a spa or haven’t warmed up to the idea of a portable hot tub (inflatable or hard shell), stay with me here, and you’ll see where we landed.
Are Portable Hot Tubs Worth It?
This year we decided to seriously explore the concept in earnest. Early on in our research, we realized, once again, that we weren’t ready to commit to an inground or permanent solution for the same reasons mentioned earlier but a number of different reasons. So we began searching for more portable or temporary alternatives that still provide the experience we’re looking for. We did consider some inflatable options as a way to test the waters (no pun intended) but decided a hard-shell hot tub might be the perfect solution. Unlike blow-up hot tubs, hard shell hot tubs offer a more permanent feel that blends more naturally into the yard and landscaping while allowing for easy installation and relocation for those inevitable moments when we’re ready to change things up. But there are a lot of good inflatable hot tubs available, should that be the right choice for you.
Why We chose the portable hot tub by MSpa
After a prolonged search and many discussions, we settled on MSpa Global and their new Oslo model spa for several reasons.
Ease of Installation and Use
After watching a video we found online, the installation looked pretty easy, with no major construction or tools needed. Sometimes things look easier than they are, but that was not the case here. In just a couple of hours, the area was prepped, and the hot tub was assembled and filled with water.
Because it was very cold when we put it all together, it took about 72 hours to heat the hot tub to our preferred temperature of 104 degrees. I’m sure there is some heat loss because of the cold weather; however, the heater can maintain the maximum temperature setting for consistently hot water.
The Black frame blended in perfectly with our backyard setting
One of our concerns about a portable hot tub was creating an eyesore in an otherwise groomed backyard. We didn’t want it to be the focal point. So the black hard shell frame blended perfectly with the backdrop of the garage we had stained black a few years ago. Our first concern was put to rest.
MSpa had all the features we were looking for and then some.
It comfortably fits four people. There are led lights built into the spa liner. The bubble jets and hydro jets are no louder than the usual hot tub (and that sound we happen to find very soothing). The heater doesn’t seem to be using too much energy, but we haven’t seen the effect on our monthly statement. And it has an ozonator that runs a couple of hours a day and helps keep the water clean and purified. It also comes with a built-in power-saving timer.
A user-friendly digital control panel
The digital control panel is very intuitive and easy to use. While reading the owner’s manual is always a good idea (and we’ve done that several times), you could operate the control panel without it.
Was it Hard to Install and Set Up?
The design is intuitive and surprisingly easy to install. The hot tub does need to sit on a flat and firm surface, and we were lucky enough that the previous owners of our house had poured a concrete pad and had the electrical wiring for a hot tub they’d had at some point.
Prepping the area
Since we had a concrete pad already installed, we just needed to clear away the pea gravel and clean the surface. The hot tub comes with a bottom foam mat that lays down on top of the concrete pad.
Installing the frame
The frame comes together very easily. Although there are no heavy pieces, it does require two people for assembly. There are four corner posts that the four sidewalls slide easily into. That’s it for the structure.
Installing the Liner
Next, the liner goes in, and the four corners of the liner attach to the four corner posts. Next, four plastic rails slide on the frame and hold the liner in place. The rails give it a finished look, and the only tool we needed was a screwdriver for attaching one screw in each corner.
Connecting the Hoses
Four hoses easily attach to the heating unit. All you do is screw the hoses onto the attachments, and you’re done. So when we say it was easy, we really mean easy.
How Much Work is it to Maintain a Hot Tub?
The hassle of daily maintenance and water chemistry is what we were most concerned about, thinking it might just take the fun right out of it. The first house we ever bought had an inground pool. Trying to balance the chemicals was a never-ending job and one we never really figured out. It seemed like every time we came home from a trip; the pool had turned dark green. But it’s far easier today than it was back then. And with the Oslo model, we only talk about managing and heating 224 gallons of water at 104 degrees.
Aside from managing the chemicals, the only real maintenance is running the ozonator several times a day and cleaning the easy on/easy off filter cartridge (it comes with two filter cartridges) once per week.
How do you manage the chemicals?
We have a great pool store nearby, and they take the guesswork completely out of water chemistry and the maintenance process. We took five minutes out to set up an account with them, and now, once per week, we fill a small bottle with hot tub water, take it to the pool store, they run it through their analyzer, and it tells us exactly how much of what chemical we need. It’s as simple as that. You can check this one off the concerned list as well. So far, we have only had to add chlorine and alkaline and haven’t had a problem with hard water.
How much does it cost to heat a portable hot tub?
Energy costs were another concern. Our hot tub hasn’t been up and running for an entire month, so we haven’t seen our energy costs since it was installed and used. However, according to the many estimates we saw during our research, none of the estimates of the energy cost were more than $50 per month, and several were lower. The number of gallons of water you are heating, how warm you keep your hot tub water, and how cold the weather and outside air temperature all influence how much it will cost per month to heat your hot tub. And it comes with an inflatable liner and insulated cover that really make a difference.
Was it a good decision to get a spa?
As we began using the hot tub, a few things surprised us:
First, the square shape comfortably fits four people.
Second, we weren’t sure a small heater would be powerful enough to keep the water temperature at 104 degrees which is where we like it – especially during the winter. And since we never know when we might want a soak, we keep the water temperature at 104 degrees. No need to worry here. It does the job.
Third, we weren’t sure the bubbles and jets would be strong enough to provide a satisfying soak. The hydro jets provide a nice massage, and the bubble jets are soothing—no need to worry here, either.
Fourth, we were concerned that the hot tub might be an eyesore and distract from the rest of the yard. Again, no need to worry here. It blends right in.
And last, we didn’t know how durable the hot tub would be and were concerned it might be a one-season-and-done hot tub. But based on the quality and durability of the product, our last concern was put to rest as well.
Hardly a day goes by when we don’t take a few minutes out of our schedules for a relaxing soak that seems to alleviate much of the normal stress of the daily grind. And just for a minute or two, we slip into vacation mode.