Sauna Buying Guide

Key Tips for Buying a Home Sauna

Unwind, relax, and rejuvenate in your own home sauna. But before you embark on this path to wellness, here are some essential pointers to help you choose the perfect sauna for your needs:

  • Infrared vs Traditional Sauna: Traditional saunas raise the air temperature using wood-burning stoves or heated rocks, creating a low-humidity atmosphere at temperatures between 150–180 degrees Fahrenheit. Infrared saunas, on the other hand, employ light to directly warm the body at a more manageable temperature range of 120–140 degrees Fahrenheit. This is particularly beneficial for those who find higher heat levels uncomfortable, as well as being more cost-effective.
  • Heater Types in Infrared Saunas: For infrared saunas, you have a choice between ceramic heaters, which are more affordable but less long-lasting, and carbon heaters. Carbon heaters offer greater durability, deeper skin penetration, and lessen heat-related health risks.
  • Budget Considerations: Typically, traditional saunas are more costly, with prices ranging from $3,000 to over $11,000 due to installation expenses. Infrared saunas are relatively less expensive, costing between $4,000 to $8,500, and can accommodate 2–4 people.
  • Space Requirements: Traditional saunas need specialized plumbing, drainage, ventilation, and electrical work by professionals. Conversely, infrared saunas are more versatile, allowing installation in many indoor or outdoor spaces without extensive requirements.
  • Selecting the Appropriate Wood: Opt for high-quality woods like cedar and hemlock for their durability and resistance to moisture and heat. More economical options like pine and plywood might warp or split with time. Consider factors like aroma, allergy compatibility, and environmental sustainability when choosing wood.
  • Safety Features: Choose saunas constructed with non-toxic materials and equipped with safety elements such as tempered glass, a timer with automatic shut-off, and certifications for electrical safety. For infrared models, verify that they have low levels of EMF and ELF.
  • Operating Expenses: Infrared saunas are typically more energy-efficient, with an estimated operating cost of around $10 per month, in contrast to traditional saunas which may cost between $20 and $30 per month.
  • Warranty Coverage: Search for comprehensive warranties that cover the heating system, power supply, control panel, wood, glass, and electrical parts. Ensure a minimum of two years coverage for electrical components and a lifetime warranty for the sauna cabin and heaters.
  • Selecting a Dealer: Choose a dealer renowned for supplying top-quality brands and providing exceptional customer service, which is crucial for a gratifying and enduring sauna experience.

Sauna History 101

The history of saunas traces back to the early human discovery of fire, with the first saunas in Africa aiming to eliminate infectious diseases. These early structures were rudimentary but effective in using heat for health benefits.

  • Finnish Saunas: Integral to Finnish culture, saunas have been prevalent in Finland since approximately 7000 BC. Almost every Finnish household owns a sauna, underscoring their importance in daily life. The "savusauna," a traditional Finnish sauna, heats stones over a fire to create steam and warmth. Over time, these saunas have transformed, now using wood stoves, glowing embers, and electricity.
  • Roman and Greek Bathhouses: In ancient Rome and Greece, bathhouses were not just places for intense sweating and detoxification but also hubs for social and political interaction. They had a profound impact on the societal structures of these notable civilizations.
  • Sweat Lodges: Native Americans and various indigenous groups have utilized sweat lodges for thousands of years. These dark domes, where water is poured over heated rocks to generate steam, serve as sites for both physical and spiritual cleansing, combining heat, prayer, and music for a deeper connection with spiritual realms.
  • Turkish Hammams: Stemming from the Ottoman Empire, Turkish Hammams were elaborate bathhouses that served as venues for spiritual and social bonding. Gaining popularity throughout the Islamic world and Europe, they offered a range of treatments aimed at relaxation and cleansing.
  • History of Infrared Saunas: The origins of infrared saunas trace back to the late 19th century with John Harvey Kellogg's invention, which used incandescent light bulbs for intensive sweating and detoxification. This sparked the evolution of infrared saunas, which now integrate features like chromotherapy and halotherapy. The progression of infrared sauna technology saw influences from various milestones, including Kellogg's light baths, NASA's research into infrared wavelengths, and the introduction of ceramic infrared saunas by a Japanese doctor.

How Saunas Work: The Basics

Saunas are wood-lined, heated rooms designed for detoxification and relaxation. They work by creating intense heat, which induces sweating and offers various health benefits. The key elements of a sauna include:

  • Wooden Construction: Saunas are constructed with wood for their walls and benches, as wood remains cool to the touch even at elevated temperatures, providing comfort and safety. Popular woods include Abachi, Cedar, Nordic White Spruce, and Hemlock.
  • Seating Arrangement: A well-planned sauna maximizes bench space while keeping floor space to a minimum. Typically, saunas have both lower and upper benches, allocating about 2 feet of space per individual.
  • Heating Elements: The heating mechanism is a critical component of any sauna. Traditional saunas use heaters filled with high-quality stones, while infrared saunas employ infrared technology for heating purposes.
  • Door Design: Contemporary saunas often feature all-glass doors, which combine aesthetic appeal with durability and resistance to the varying heat and steam levels.
  • Ventilation (for traditional saunas): Proper air flow is crucial for maintaining an even temperature and air quality, contributing to a more pleasant sauna experience.
  • Energy Consumption: Operating a sauna is relatively economical. Traditional saunas have an average cost of about $4 to $6 per month, whereas infrared saunas tend to cost around $3 to $5 per month.

Differences between Traditional and Infrared Saunas:

Traditional Saunas:

  • Heat Source: Warms the air, which then heats the body.
  • Temperature: Generally between 185-190°F.
  • Ambience: Very dry, humidity adjustable by adding water to hot stones.
  • Warm-Up Time: Takes 30-40 minutes to preheat.
  • Recommended Duration: Best used for 10-15 minutes.
  • Suitable For: Those who appreciate steam, higher temperatures, and communal experiences.

Infrared Saunas:

  • Heat Source: Directly warms the body using infrared waves.
  • Temperature: Lower, optimal temperatures around 125-130°F.
  • Ambience: Mostly dry with temperature control.
  • Warm-Up Time: No preheating required.
  • Recommended Duration: Typically 10-15 minutes, extendable to 25-30 minutes due to cooler temperatures.
  • Suitable For: Individuals who prefer lower temperatures and deep, penetrating warmth.

Why Choose a Sauna?

Saunas offer a unique wellness experience, blending relaxation, detoxification, and a touch of luxury in your home. Whether you prefer the intense heat of a traditional sauna or the gentle warmth of an infrared one, a sauna can become an invaluable part of your daily health routine. With energy-efficient operation and easy maintenance, a sauna is more than just a luxury—it's a smart investment in your health and well-being.

    Benefits of Saunas

    • Overall Health and Wellness: Frequent sauna usage is associated with decreased stress and enhanced heart health, as evidenced by a 25-year research at the University of Eastern Finland.

    • Heart Health: The practice of sauna bathing escalates heart rate and augments circulation, contributing to a lower likelihood of general mortality, cardiac events, strokes, and high blood pressure.
    • Post-Exercise Recovery: Saunas are beneficial in easing muscle tension, alleviating pain, and hastening recovery through enhanced blood flow and endorphin release.
    • Toxin Reduction: Intense sweating in saunas assists in diminishing levels of heavy metals and chemicals absorbed from daily environments.
    • Brain Health: Consistent sauna usage, at certain temperatures and for specific durations, is linked to a decreased risk of Alzheimer’s and Dementia.
    • Stress Reduction: Sauna sessions help in balancing cortisol levels and boosting serotonin production, thereby improving mood and reducing stress.
    • Enhanced Sleep: Utilizing a sauna can result in deeper, more restful sleep due to a reduction in endorphins at bedtime.
    • Illness Combat: Regular sauna use may bolster the production of white blood cells, aiding in illness combat and alleviating sinus congestion.
    • Calorie Consumption: Saunas play a role in burning calories, driven by sweating processes and increased cardiac activity.
    • Skin Purification: Profound sweating purges the skin, removes dead skin cells, and betters capillary circulation, leading to healthier-looking skin.
    • Recreational and Social Advantages: Saunas serve as venues for relaxation and social interaction, fostering open and intimate dialogue.
    • Overall Well-being: Engaging in sauna bathing acts as a sanctuary for relaxation and rejuvenation, thus elevating overall well-being and life quality.

      Types of Saunas

      Saunas are increasingly recognized for their health benefits, including relief from joint pain and skin conditions, and are a relaxing way to end a day. They're seen not just as a luxury but as a therapeutic investment.

      Historical Background: Saunas have ancient origins in Northern Europe, particularly in Finland, Russia, Estonia, and Latvia. The earliest saunas were simple caves with a fire, evolving to today's traditional and modern saunas.

      Traditional Finnish Sauna/Wood-burning Sauna:

      • Characteristics: These are the oldest type, using wood to heat stones and the room. They reach up to 195 degrees Fahrenheit and are typically dry saunas.
      • Placement: Best suited for outdoor setups due to smoke emission.
      • Pros: Eco-friendly with authentic ambiance, potent health benefits.
      • Cons: No precise temperature control, longer heating time, requires wood access and regular maintenance.

      Smoke Saunas:

      • Unique Feature: They operate on stored heat without a chimney, releasing smoke out of the door before use.
      • Experience: Offers a distinctive experience with the scent of smoke, popular in Northern Europe.

      Electric Sauna:

      • Upgrade from Wood-burning: Uses electricity to heat stones, suitable for both indoor and outdoor installation.
      • Pros: Easy installation and maintenance, quick heating, accurate temperature control.
      • Cons: Higher power bills, not ideal for off-grid locations, lacks rustic ambiance.

      Infrared Sauna:

      • Modern Design: Utilizes infrared light rays to directly heat the body, with temperatures ranging between 80 to 130 degrees Fahrenheit.
      • Types of Light: Far-infrared for light therapy and near-infrared for heat and light therapy, with benefits like tissue healing and collagen formation.
      • Pros: Easy to use, direct body heating.
      • Cons: Smaller in size, lacks traditional sauna ambiance, potentially costly with upgrades.

      Infrared sauna benefits (Weight loss, muscle recovery, stress-relief and more…)

      Infrared saunas offer many of the same benefits as traditional saunas, but with some additional perks:

      • Faster heating: Enjoy a warm sauna experience in just minutes.
      • Lower energy consumption: Save money on your electricity bill.
      • Targeted heat: Feel the warmth penetrate deeper into your muscles and joints.

      Outdoor Saunas Versus Indoor Saunas

      Indoor Saunas:

      • Pros: Conveniently located within the home, simpler upkeep, and more private.
      • Cons: Installation can be challenging due to space constraints and ventilation needs, size restricted by house dimensions.

      Outdoor Saunas:

      • Pros: Offers a connection with nature and more room flexibility, simpler to set up.
      • Cons: More upkeep needed due to weather exposure, reduced privacy as they may be visible to others.

      Factors to Weigh:

      • Location: Indoor saunas are better for limited spaces, while outdoor ones suit larger outdoor areas.
      • Size: Depends on space availability and the number of people using the sauna.
      • Cost: Indoor saunas generally cost less, but outdoor saunas can be a good long-term investment for frequent users.
      • Weather: Indoor saunas are ideal in colder climates, whereas outdoor saunas fit better in milder conditions.
      • Maintenance: Indoor saunas need less maintenance compared to their outdoor counterparts.

      Design and Setup:

      • Design Choices: Options range from barrel-shaped to raindrop-shaped and cabin-shaped saunas, each with unique aesthetic and functional features like type of wood and door style.
      • Setup Factors: Essential considerations include adequate ventilation, the quality of sauna kits, and building materials like cedar, hemlock, or pine, which influence both the sauna's longevity and appearance.

      In summary, when selecting a sauna, it's crucial to consider the space at your disposal, budget, local climate, maintenance effort, design preferences, and installation aspects. These considerations will aid you in determining the most suitable choice between an indoor and outdoor sauna.

      Key Takeaways for Buying a Home Sauna

      1. Choose your sauna type: Traditional or infrared? Consider your desired heat experience and budget.
      2. Find the perfect size: Saunas come in various sizes to accommodate different needs.
      3. Pick the right wood: Opt for high-quality, durable wood like cedar or hemlock for lasting enjoyment.
      4. Prioritize safety: Make sure your sauna is made with non-toxic materials and has safety features like tempered glass doors and automatic shut-off.
      5. Consider the cost of operation: Infrared saunas are generally more energy-efficient.
      6. Choose a reputable dealer: Find a dealer who offers high-quality saunas, expert advice, and excellent customer service.

      Home Sauna Installation Guide: Essential Tips and Considerations

      Choosing the Right Room

      • Versatility: Almost any room in your home can be transformed into a sauna, be it narrow, square, in the basement, or the attic.
      • Custom Solutions: Tailor-made options allow for the perfect fit in your chosen space.

      Structural Conditions to Consider

      • Essential Planning: Consider electricity, ventilation, and flooring requirements.
      • Professional Consultation: It's recommended to discuss these aspects with a professional during an on-site visit.

      Ideal Layout for Comfort and Space

      • Space Requirements: A 2x2m floor area is needed for a four-person sauna.
      • Layout Flexibility: Bench arrangements vary, with corner connections being a social and space-efficient design.
      • Space-Saving Heating: The BONATHERM underseat heating system saves space by placing the heater under the benches.

      Effective Insulation for Energy Efficiency

      • Heat Preservation: Most heat loss occurs through the ceiling; compliance with RAL standards is crucial for walls and ceilings to minimize energy loss.

      Choosing the Right Wood

      • Quality Material: Canadian hemlock and Scandinavian spruce are optimal for retaining warmth and humidity.
      • Eco-Friendly Certification: Look for the “Blue Angel” seal for low-emission and sustainable wood, in line with RAL guidelines.

      Sauna Control Panels and Heaters

      • User-Friendly Controls: Top-quality panels display key data like temperature and humidity.
      • Safe and Efficient Heating: The heater should have an exterior temperature not exceeding 100°C and be sized appropriately for the sauna.

      Ventilation System

      • Air Quality: A draught-free system is necessary for replacing stale air with fresh air.
      • Energy Efficiency: Adjustable air throughput according to sauna size and user number can save energy.

      Sauna Door Specifications

      • Safety First: Doors should open outwards, preferably made of shatterproof glass.
      • Burn Protection: A wooden door handle on the inside prevents burns.

      Comfort and Material in the Sauna

      • Ergonomic Design: Backrests and benches should be ergonomically shaped for maximum comfort.
      • Durable Wood: Poplar and obeche woods are ideal for withstanding humidity and temperature changes.

        Frequently Asked Questions About Saunas

        How much should I spend on a sauna?

        Sauna prices vary depending on size, type, features, and quality. Expect to spend anywhere from $2,000 to over $10,000.

        What size sauna should I buy?

        Consider the number of people you want to use the sauna comfortably. Saunas typically come in 1-person, 2-person, and 3-person options.

        Ceramic or carbon infrared heater? Which is best?

        Both have their pros and cons. Ceramic heaters are more durable but take longer to heat up. Carbon heaters heat up faster but may not be as durable.

        What is the best wood for a sauna?

        Cedar and hemlock are popular choices due to their durability, moisture resistance, and pleasant aroma.