Sauna buying guide

Sauna buying guide
Guide written by:
Sebastian, self-taught DIY-er, Exeter

Sebastian, self-taught DIY-er, Exeter

187 guides
Health, enjoyment, relaxation and leisure are all words envoked by a sauna. Using dry heat from an infrared sauna or moist heat from a traditional sauna, the effects have proven benefits on the body. Partially or completely enclosed, there's nothing like a good sauna steam session to cleanse one's self. 

Important features

  • Wood
  • Stove

What is a sauna?


Originating in the Nordic countries, the sauna is a wooden cabin where strong dry heat - or moist when using a steam sauna - is produced for the well-being of the user. The hot air forces the user to sweat which directly results in the elimination of fats and toxins .


Exposure to heat stimulates blood circulation, relaxes muscles and strengthens skin. Beyond the physical effects, a sauna soothes, relaxes and promotes peace of mind.

What are the different types of saunas?

The two different types of saunas have identical configurations, but are distinguished by their heat production: the traditional sauna, known as a steam room and the infrared sauna, which features dry heat.

Traditional Sauna

A traditional sauna usually generates a moist heat through a stove or heated volcanic stones that are splashed with water. The humidity level is maintained between 10 and 25%. The resulting hot steam combined with the heat of the stove increases the temperature of the sauna cabin, producing the desired effect. The traditional sauna's ambient air is heated mainly by the concept of convection and takes 30 minutes to an hour to heat up. The enhanced diffusion of heat hovers around 80/95 ° C, largely due to the emission of hot steam.
Without adding water, a temperature of 90 to 110 ° C can be attained, but with a very dry air. Steam saunas have been proven to have re-invigorating and re-energizing effects.

Infrared sauna

An infrared sauna produces a dry heat in part due to the technology of the infrared panels installed all around on the walls of the cabin. The ambient air in the infrared sauna is heated with infrared energy and the heat, which is milder than that of a traditional sauna, acts directly on the exposed skin, forcing the user to sweat even more, enhancing  the detoxification effect. The temperature climbs faster in an infrared sauna and should only take an estimated 20 minutes, however, it is generally lower than the traditional sauna, staying between 50 and 60 ° C.
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Infrared sauna

What features are important to consider?

Going above the references and guarantees that are often provided by reknowned sauna manufacturers, it is always wise to pay close attention to the quality of the wood, the infrared heaters and the power of the sauna's stove.

Cabin wood

The vast majority of sauna cabins are made of red cedar or hemlock. Both are extremely dense and have effective insulation but the red cedar has a longer life span and does not deteriorate over years of use.

Infrared ceramic or carbon

Of the two available technologies, ceramic or carbon, ceramic heating elements are your best bet. Be sure to check the length of the resulting infrared waves; a larger wave frequency directly correlates to increased healing effects. 


Since the heat is diffused through convection, it's always better to choose a sauna stove with a higher capacity for volcanic stones - usually 18 to 20 kg, some stoves even offer up to 25 kg. The stove's power is crucial because it will impact its consumption of electricity, ranging from 3 to 9 kW. A probe connected to the heater can continuously check the current temperature, reducing operating costs. The temperature is generally maintained between 40 ° C. and 110 ° C. Controlling these stoves is done internally for the most part, even though some stoves have a control unit installed outside the cabin.
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The sauna's stove

Traditional Sauna or Infrared Sauna?

If the infrared sauna and the traditional sauna are perfectly comparable in terms of well-being and benefit, the two technologies differ when listing pros and cons.


To be assured of making the right choice, consider the following elements:
  • A traditional sauna is energy-intensive compared to an infrared sauna, the most powerful of which are three-tiered;
  • The heating time of a traditional sauna is three times longer than that of an infrared sauna;
  • The temperature of an infrared sauna is around 60 ° C, while that of a traditional sauna easily exceeds 85 ° C;
  • Ceramic heating elementscommonly preferred for use in infrared saunas, have long warranties - a minimum of 5 years is recommended;
  • The moisture level is higher in a traditional sauna due to the generated steam;
  • The installation of an infrared sauna is simpler compared to a traditional sauna - largely due to the lack of any electrical installations or steam barriers;
  • Some saunas have advanced features; - chromotherapy, known as color light therapy - aromatherapy, commonly known as aroma diffusion - or music therapy;
  • The number of seats and the available surface are crucial factors if you plan on multiple people sharing it;
  • The saunas (more specifically steam rooms) can be designed for outdoor or indoor use ;
  • Due to it's intrinsic properties red cedar is perfectly suited for the construction of sauna cabins, and further supports forest conservation;
  • A long warranty, a minimum of 5 years, is a sign of quality and should always be favored;
  • Health-wise, the traditional sauna is not recommended for people with respiratory and cardiovascular problems. 
Finally, always review factors pertaining to your physiological needs, your budget, the installation process and the frequency of use. Included sauna accessories, the potential number of users and a dedicated time slot are also important factors to consider.
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Sauna accessories

More Information

For do-it-yourselfers passionate in full bathroom renovation or simply curious, follow the links below to find advice of our editors and discover their Guides:

Guide written by:

Sebastian, self-taught DIY-er, Exeter 187 guides écrits

Sebastian, self-taught DIY-er, Exeter
Redo a roof with wooden beams? Check.Advise Mister everybody in the DIY shop? Check.Redo the bathroom plumbing? Check.Fit together, build the walls, paint a partition, throw my hammer in a rage thinking that it will fix the problem? Check.

The DIY motto ? Learning is better than delegating… well, it's also a question about your wallet! The satisfaction? The beer at the end of the job! What do the best have in common? The influence of Gyro Gearloose, Mac Gyver and Carol Smiley depending on your generation, a good dose of curiosity, a average hand-eye coordination and a taste for risks… and if it doesn't work, try again! Advise you? I'll do my best!

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