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Thread: Inflatable hot tub during cold Chicago winters?

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    RobbW's Avatar
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    Inflatable hot tub during cold Chicago winters?

    Hi! Brand new to the boards here, and I signed up specifically to research using an inflatable hot tub in the winter. My wife and I really hate the cold winters here in the Chicagoland area. So much so, that we were going to move to Florida. Significant logistical issues prevented the move. So, we are stuck dealing with Chicago winters for the foreseeable future. With this in mind, my wife and I have decided on a new tact: do whatever we can to change our outlook on winters and make an attempt to actually enjoy them rather than miserably tolerate them. We've been reading up on the Danish concept of "hygge" and are going to try implementing some elements of coziness into our winter routine to help keep our minds off the more unpleasant aspects of the season.

    One of the main things my wife really wants to do is get an inflatable hot tub to use outside for when the temps really start to plummet. We have grandiose visions of being able to enjoy the pretty, falling snow while soaking and relaxing in a nice, hot, steaming tub!

    The only problem is that I have no idea where to begin when it comes to owning and operating a hot tub; even a small, cheap (compared to full-sized installations), inflatable one. We have a decent size wooden deck off the back of our house, but I have no idea how to determine if it could support the weight of a hot tub and its occupants. I don't think I'd want to chance it. So, that means putting in our yard somewhere, hopefully as close to the house as possible so we don't have to walk too far in the frigid temps. That would mean clearing out an area, leveling the ground, installing a level insulated base, running a heavy-duty extension cord, and all sorts of other logistical considerations. Then there's everything you need to do to operate and maintain a hot tub through the winter. I know nothing of any of that!

    We have been looking at the Canadian Spa Company's "Grand Rapids" inflatable spa specifically because it is advertised as a four-season hot tub suitable for use during the winter. Does anyone have experience with one of these hot tubs? Do you use it throughout the winter? Especially in the dead cold of winter when the temps can drop into the single digits or negative (F) for stretches at a time? I'm trying to determine if this specific hot tub (or any other) really will be usable through the winter. Any tips, tricks, or advice for keeping the water warm/hot without the electric bill rocketing a couple hundred dollars? What about maintenance tasks for a hot tub in the winter; how do you handle those? What do you do to make it easier and more convenient to actually use the tub in the frigid winter? Do you just make a mad dash out to the tub in your swimsuits, then run back inside when your done, and wait to cover up with towels/robes once your back inside? Or do you have some way of having your towels/robes handy as soon as you get out of the tub (assuming the robes haven't frozen stiff in the meantime)?

    In addition to any comments, opinions, and advice on the inflatable hot tubs, themselves, would anyone also be willing to point me to resources about owning and maintaining a hot tub through the winter? I'm trying to determine how much it is going to cost to buy and set up a decent inflatable hot tub, but also how much it is going to cost to run and maintain it (electricity, chemicals, accessories, etc.). I want to make my wife happy as this is the one main thing she wants to help make winters more bearable. I want to make sure I go into this with realistic expectations of what everything will cost and what I will need to do to ensure years of steamy, winter hot tubbing! Thanks!

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    Mod Squad pooldv's Avatar
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    Re: Anyone use an inflatable spa in winter? (freezing temps)

    I have been maintaining my tub following this process for quite a few years and it works great.
    How do I use Chlorine in my Spa (or pool)?
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    RobbW's Avatar
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    Re: Inflatable hot tub during cold Chicago winters?

    My wife and I stopped in at a pool/spa dealer over this past weekend to see if they have any inflatable or portable spas in stock. After talking with a very helpful and knowledgeable salesperson, we are now trying to decide if we might be better off just purchasing a regular/permanent spa to be installed on our deck. I have a general contractor coming out to our house tonight to inspect our deck to see if it is structurally sound enough to support a deck, and what, if anything, would need to be done to reinforce the deck to support a spa. Also, we'll have him give us a quote on installing a 220/240V line specifically for the spa. Depending on the total cost to have everything installed, we'll then make the decision of which path we want to take.

    Some questions I now have about regular spas vs. inflatable ones:

    1. Are regular/permanent spa installations necessarily better for winter use than an inflatable one that is specifically advertised as an all-season spa?

    2. The spa salesperson told us that as long as our deck is built to code, it should be able to support the weight of a filled spa. We're looking at 4-6 person spas around the 300 gallon range. Is the salesperson correct? Or do most decks usually require additional supports for a spa even if they are built to code? I need to find out what deck code is around our parts. We're in the far-west suburbs of Chicago.

    3. A regular spa is obviously going to cost much more than an inflatable spa. However, there are a couple spa dealers close to us that are running 0% financing offers that we would take advantage of if we go with a regular spa. So, the financial impact is going to come down to spreading the cost of a regular spa ($4K-$6K) out over 5 years vs. paying the full cost of an inflatable spa ($700-$1.5K) immediately upfront. With as expensive as a regular spa is going to be, I'm tempted to just get an inflatable to "test" it out over this coming winter to see if we really will use it often enough to justify the costs. However, my worry is that an inflatable spa will provide a far inferior experience compared to a regular spa, and we will base our decisions on that experience. Even though an inflatable spa is significantly less expensive than a regular spa, shelling out upwards of $1.5K for an inflatable is still rather steep, especially if it is only going to provide a mediocre experience at best.

    I'm so torn which way I should go. My wife absolutely wants a spa, and I want to get her one since she has wanted one ever since we got married 19+ years ago. She's the one that suggested an inflatable spa in order to keep the initial costs down. However, I'm the type of person that always prefers to go "all in" and get quality products that will provide a quality experience. Would anyone like to offer suggestions on dropping a lesser amount of money on a "trial" product that will most likely provide a "meh" experience vs. dropping a poop-ton of money on a quality (more permanent) product when you don't know yet how much use you will get out of it?

    My wife and I have grandiose plans to spend several nights per week out in our hot tub over the winter. I'm just afraid of spending a ton of money to find out that we're not as willing to run out into the freezing cold temps as we thought we would be!

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    jeffchap's Avatar
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    Re: Inflatable hot tub during cold Chicago winters?

    I have very recent and relevant experience on this subject: Intex

    I plan to update the thread tonight with some new pictures, as the 2nd tub has failed (within one week!) more spectacularly than the first. Intex has once again approved my claim for a replacement, but I'm beginning to doubt that I will ever have a functional tub for any period of time. Incidentally, to purchase a replacement tub alone is $228 on top of the near $900 that I've already spent.

    It's a shame, because when it works, we find it nearly as enjoyable as a regular spa. Like you, we wanted to gauge whether we would use one enough to justify buying a real one. We've established that. But I still hoped to get a couple of years' use from this one first, and now that's looking doubtful.

    So my hard earned advice would be to apply whatever you would spend on an inflatable towards a regular tub. Decent used ones seem to be plentiful in my area for around $1000. I'm regretting now that I didn't choose that route.
    6000 gal Intex 16'x48" Ultra frame AG
    Splapool 4500 GPH 1 hp pump w/19" sand filter
    Intex Krystalclear SWG EC8110
    Hayward Dyna-skim
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