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Best Home Saunas

Profile picture of Kate Williams, Ph.D.
by Kate Williams, Ph.D.

ConsumerAffairs Research Team

Updated on 03/15/2018

A home sauna gives you a spa experience without leaving your home. Regular sauna treatments can help reduce stress and increase your energy level. A sauna can also keep your skin healthy, improve circulation, relieve sore muscles and alleviate sinus pressure.

When you’re thinking of buying a sauna, you’ll likely have questions about size, cost, assembly and health benefits. Use this guide to find answers to all your home sauna questions.

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    Compare Top Home Sauna Reviews

    Almost Heaven Read Expert Review

    Almost Heaven sells several different types of indoor and outdoor saunas. From barrel-shaped and cabin-style outdoor saunas to standard and infrared indoor units, each sauna is handcrafted.

    Amerec Read Expert Review

    Amerec cuts and designs saunas for homes and commercial spaces. They also sell sauna accessories and sauna heaters. Find your local dealer on their website to inquire about pricing.

    Finlandia Sauna Read Expert Review

    Finlandia manufactures traditional indoor and outdoor Finnish saunas. Finlandia sells both custom pre-cut and standard pre-fab sauna kits built from locally-sourced lumber.

    Finnleo Read Expert Review

    Finnleo sells indoor and outdoor Finnish and infrared saunas. You can also customize your own sauna to fit your space. Contact your nearest dealer for information on Finnleo sauna prices.

    Harvia Read Expert Review

    Harvia’s cedar sauna rooms can come in prefabricated or pre-cut packages to meet your specifications. All Harvia saunas are manufactured in Finland. Call Harvia for specific pricing info.

    Northern Lights Read Expert Review

    Northern Lights designs and manufactures cedar outdoor saunas and hot tubs. Their barrel-shaped saunas ensure quick heating and even vapor distribution, while the durable cedar construction remains weatherproof.

    Sunlighten Read Expert Review

    Sunlighten designs saunas that can hold 1-6 people. Sunlighten’s infrared saunas use far, mid and near infrared heating technologies. Sunlighten also sells a portable lay-down sauna.

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    What to know when buying a sauna for the home

    How much does a sauna cost?

    With the exception of portable saunas, which cost around $100-$250, you’ll pay over $1,000 for an in-home sauna. The specific answer to the question how much is a home sauna depends on the type of sauna you want and whether or not you need professional installation. Other cost considerations include:

    • Interior sauna unit: You can buy a small interior prefabricated sauna for about $1,000-$4,000, depending on size and what additional features you want to include.
    • Traditional sauna kits: Sauna kits come with everything you need to put a sauna together without calling for professional installation. These generally range from $2,000-$6,000.
    • Interior and exterior custom saunas: If you want a custom sauna, you’ll pay more than you will for a prefabricated sauna. Expect to spend $2,500-$6,000 for a custom sauna unit.
    • Sauna room cost: Converting a room into a sauna is the most expensive project, costing upwards of $5,000-$8,000. If you’re adding a room onto your house, expect to pay more.

    Home sauna sizes

    Sauna dimensions are configured based on how many people can comfortably fit in it at a time. If you’re getting a customized sauna or building a sauna room, your dimensions might be different based on your situation. In general, though, these are the dimensions of 1-4 person saunas:

    • 1 person sauna: 35.75 inches long, 35.2 inches wide and 75 inches high
    • 2 person sauna: 47.3 inches long, 47.3 inches wide and 75 inches high
    • 3 person sauna: 59.1 inches long, 39.4 inches wide and 75 inches high
    • 4 person sauna: 59.1 inches long, 59.1 inches wide and 75 inches high

    Who installs the sauna?

    Buying the sauna is only part of the process—you’ll also need to install it. Saunas ship in pieces called “kits” that are pre-cut or prefabricated. Whether you should put a sauna together yourself or not depends on your own carpentry skills, but some kits are easier to assemble than others. If you’re converting a space in your home to a sauna room, you’ll want to work with a contractor who can make sure the wiring is installed correctly.

    • Pre-cut sauna kits: Pre-cut kits are saunas cut to your specifications. These ship with all their components in separate pieces, and you have to put it all together. These kits take some time to build. If you don’t have any carpentry or electrical experience, you may want to hire a professional.
    • Pre-fab sauna kits: Prefabricated, or pre-fab, kits are built for quick assembly, with doors and insulated walls that are already put together. You can assemble most pre-fab kits in just a few hours.

    How to use a sauna

    A sauna session should be relaxing and recharging. Here are the steps to take to get the most out of your sauna experience:

    • Heat up your sauna: How long does it take to heat up a sauna? In general, expect it to take around 35-45 minutes. If you’re using a wood-burning sauna, that doesn’t include the time it takes to build a fire. The best sauna temperature is between 160 and 190 degrees for a dry sauna or up to 130 degrees for an infrared sauna. If you’re new to using a sauna, you might want to start with a lower temperature and build your way up.
    • Drink water while you wait: Saunas are meant for you to sweat, which means you could quickly get dehydrated if you use one. Make sure to drink at least one glass of water before going into a sauna. Adding this step as part of your pre-sauna routine will make sure you don’t experience lightheadedness, nausea or dizziness as a result of not being hydrated enough when you go into a sauna.
    • Disrobe: A lot of people wonder what to wear in a sauna. The great thing about having a personal sauna is that you can wear whatever you want, even if that’s nothing. Getting naked in a sauna can be a great way to relax and unwind without feeling restricted. Bring a clean towel to sit on to keep the sauna clean and prevent sweat-induced stains. If you don’t feel comfortable getting fully naked, wear a bathing suit or a cotton t-shirt and shorts. Avoid wearing shoes and street clothes in your sauna. Take off any jewelry, and leave your cell phone outside of the sauna.
    • Get in your sauna and relax: The best part of the sauna experience is getting in and relaxing. Ideally, you’ll lay down in the sauna. If that’s not an option or is uncomfortable for you, sit with your legs slightly drawn up. How long to stay in your sauna depends on your personal preferences. If you’re new to using a sauna, you might only stay in for a few minutes at a time to start, eventually building up to 10-15 minutes in a Finnish or dry sauna. Never stay in a sauna if you start feeling dizzy, lightheaded or nauseous. After 10-15 minutes, step outside to cool off. Have a glass of water during this time. Go back in when you feel ready and, if you’re using a sauna that’s heated with sauna rocks, add a couple of ladles of water to your hot stones. Sit in the steamy sauna for another 5-10 minutes before getting back out to cool off.
    • Get out of the sauna: You might get in and out of the sauna several times before you officially end your sauna session. A calming after-sauna ritual can keep you relaxed and help your body temperature come down slowly. Many people like to shower after the sauna. Shower with warm water, and avoid using harsh soaps. Apply lotion after your shower to keep your skin moisturized.
    • Clean your sauna: The easiest way to clean your sauna is to leave a bucket with a cloth or sponge near the door of your sauna as a reminder to clean up after you leave. For daily cleaning, you can just use water and a cloth to wash away dead skin and dirt. Every few days, use sauna cleaner and water to more thoroughly clean the sauna. Vacuum every few weeks or whenever you notice that you’ve tracked in dirt or debris.

    Types of saunas

    Infrared Sauna

    Infrared saunas heat the body directly, much like the sun, instead of warming the air around you like a traditional sauna. Infrared saunas don’t get as hot as Finnish saunas, usually maxing out around 130 degrees. They reach the desired temperature of 110-130 degrees in about 30-45 minutes.

    Infrared sauna benefits include detoxifying the body, reducing joint and muscle pain and alleviating stress. Some experts believe infrared saunas can help people with chronic conditions, like fatigue, high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, arthritis, depression, anger and muscle and joint pain. Talk to your doctor before going into an infrared sauna to make sure you don’t have any health risks.

    Companies that make infrared saunas include Finnleo, Almost Heaven and Sunlighten.

    Dry sauna

    A dry sauna has low humidity and therefore can be heated as high as 190 degrees. The low humidity and dryness make this extreme temperature tolerable for a healthy adult. Dry saunas can be heated by wood or by an electric heater.

    Electric saunas are also dry saunas, and they use an electric sauna heater that’s likely powered by a 220V power line. These heaters are easy to set and manipulate. They heat the room evenly while it is in use. Electric heaters need a lot of energy to run, so expect to see an increase in your energy bill.

    Benefits of a dry sauna include joint relief, muscle relief, detoxification, lower blood pressure, better circulation and an enhanced immune system.

    Companies that make dry saunas include Harvia, Finnleo, Northern Lights, Finlandia, Amerec and Almost Heaven.

    Steam sauna

    Some people confuse the terms “steam sauna” and “steam room.” A steam sauna, or wet sauna, is created when you add water to the sauna rocks that are heating your dry sauna. This adds humidity to the air, sort of like a steam room. Steam rooms and saunas are heated differently, so the humidity in a wet sauna is low, around 5-30 percent. Steam rooms reach 100 percent humidity, which prevents your sweat from evaporating. This is why you’ll feel hotter in a steam room than in a sauna.

    Steam sauna benefits include opening your pores, providing relief to sore muscles and joints and helping you calm down and relax. Wet saunas can also help your sinuses, although they can trigger asthma attacks, so avoid a wet sauna if you have asthma.

    Companies that make wet saunas include Harvia, Finnleo, Northern Lights, Finlandia, Amerec and Almost Heaven.

    Dry sauna vs wet sauna

    Essentially, any sauna that uses sauna rocks as a heat source can be either a dry sauna or a wet sauna, depending on whether or not you add water. Saunas are heated with sauna stones. If you drip water on the stones, you’ll create steam and turn your sauna into a wet sauna.

    Portable saunas

    Portable saunas are an affordable option for people who are more interested in the health benefits of a sauna than the full experience of sitting in a sauna room. Portable sauna benefits include the fact that they are easy to pack up and transport. A portable infrared sauna can be handy for athletes and frequent travelers who want to be able to enjoy the health benefits of a sauna while they’re on the road.

    Sunlighten sells portable saunas.

    Finnish sauna

    The sauna originated in Finland, so Finnish saunas are often referred to as traditional saunas. A wood-burning sauna is the most common form of a Finnish sauna. It uses wood instead of sauna rocks as its heat source. Watching the wood burn can provide an extra level of relaxation for the sauna user, and they can be great for people who live in remote areas since you don’t need to rely on electricity for them. You can also buy a Finnish sauna with an electric heat source.

    Buy a Finnish sauna from companies like Harvia, Finnleo and Finlandia.

    Indoor vs. outdoor sauna

    Indoor saunas tend to have faster installation than outdoor saunas, and they can be more convenient, depending on how your property is set up. Outdoor saunas, though, can offer a pleasant escape, particularly if you have a scenic view from your property. Outdoor saunas are easier to customize since they don’t have the same size limitations as an indoor sauna. Work with a professional to install your outdoor sauna, particularly if you’re using an infrared sauna, to make sure the wiring is installed correctly.

    Companies that sell outdoor saunas include Northern Lights, Finlandia and Almost Heaven.

    Sauna health benefits

    Sauna weight loss benefits

    Your body uses energy to sweat, and increasing your core body temperature causes your heart to pump more efficiently. This process burns calories and keeps your cardiovascular system healthy. Though it doesn’t cause weight loss by itself (aside from water weight, which you’ll gain back once you rehydrate), a sauna can be a helpful supplement to your workout regimen to help your muscles recover faster and ease joint pain.

    How many calories do you burn in a sauna?

    The average person burns 60-90 calories an hour passively sitting. In general, you’ll burn anywhere from 300-500 calories in a half hour sauna session since you’re sweating with a slightly elevated heart rate. This means you’ll likely burn more calories in a sauna than you would sitting on your couch. However, the weight you’re losing is mostly water weight, which you’ll gain back once you drink water. Regular sauna use can lead to more burnt calories overall, but it shouldn’t be considered a substitute for a regular exercise routine.

    Should you use a sauna after working out?

    There are mixed opinions about whether a sauna is more beneficial before a workout or after a workout. Getting in a sauna for a few minutes before a workout can warm your body up and slowly raise your heart rate, which can lead to a better workout. If you want to use a sauna after a workout, make sure your heart rate comes down before you get in. Because saunas improve circulation and ease muscle soreness, they can be an effective way to warm down your body after a workout to prevent injuries and help you relax.

    Are saunas good for you?

    For the average healthy person, yes, saunas are good for you. The most common reason people use saunas is to relieve stress. The heat relieves aches and pains from sore muscles, and its space gives you a place to sit quietly without distractions.

    Sauna safety

    Saunas are fine for healthy adults, but some people should stay away from them. Sauna health risks include increased blood pressure and dangers of becoming dehydrated or overheated. People who suffer from chronic illnesses should talk to a doctor before using a sauna. Never drink alcohol before or during sauna use, as this can increase your chances of becoming dehydrated (since it makes you sweat more) while limiting your ability to determine when your body is overheated.

    Sauna and pregnancy

    Pregnant women should never use a sauna, not even for a few minutes. Saunas increase your body’s core temperature, which can be extremely harmful for your baby.

    Is a sauna good for acne?

    A sauna opens your pores, and if you wash your face soon after your sauna session, this can help you get rid of acne. The heat and moisture from wet saunas help produce sweat which flushes out toxins and dead skin cells. This process helps keep your skin healthy and clean.

    Wash off your makeup and lotion before getting in a sauna, as having makeup on while you intensely sweat can cause acne breakouts.

    Sauna for anxiety

    As the sauna’s heat raises your body temperature, your body releases endorphins. This release of endorphins can naturally ease anxiety and lead to deeper, more relaxing sleep.

    Illness prevention

    A body exposed to a sauna’s heat can produce white blood cells more quickly. These cells fight viruses and boost your immune system. Wet sauna treatments can also clear your sinuses to help get rid of congestion and allergy symptoms.

    Expert reviews about home saunas

    Harvia

    Harvia Sauna began building saunas in 1964. Headquartered in Finland, Harvia Sauna focuses on providing quality, handcrafted cedar saunas and sauna products. Harvia exports products like sauna rooms, sauna heaters, accessories and more.

    • Pre-cut sauna rooms: Harvia’s pre-cut sauna rooms can be cut to your specifications, or you can choose from several different premade floor plans. Each package comes with a DVD with building instructions, though you may prefer to ask for professional help to ensure a quality installation.
    • Pre-fab sauna rooms: For fast, easy installation, buy a prefabricated sauna room. These rooms are built to be assembled quickly. Most components are prebuilt, and all you need to do is put them together.
    • Harvia sauna heaters: Harvia’s sauna heaters are engineered with the latest heating technology in mind. You can choose heaters with built-in controls on the unit, or you can purchase controls that mount on the wall.
    • Harvia sauna accessories: From wooden buckets and dippers to thermostats and humidifiers, Harvia sells accessories to help make your sauna unique. Harvia also sells oils for aromatherapy.
    • Sauna doors: Harvia sauna doors are made of tempered wood and glass. Choose from several glass options, including clear, frosted and different etching designs.
    • Best for: people who want pre-cut or prefabricated sauna rooms.
    Finnleo

    Finnleo manufactures and sells Finnish and infrared saunas and sauna accessories. Finnleo is part of the TyloHeo World Group, a company with a history stretching back to its founding in 1919 in Wyborg, Finland.

    • Designer series: From standalone units, to built-in sauna rooms, Finnleo’s Designer series offers several options for indoor saunas. Each sauna comes with different bench and door options, like the face to face benches in the Solace model and the complete glass front of the Serenity.
    • Hallmark series: The Hallmark pre-built saunas come in various sizes to fit your home. The Hallmark 44 is a smaller model for one to two people, while the larger Hallmark 57 and 66C models can accommodate more people. You can assemble a Hallmark sauna in about an hour.
    • Finnleo infrared sauna: Finnleo also sells infrared saunas. The B-series and S-series are built to be energy-efficient. Each is built with Pure Infra technology, a lighting method that keeps exposure to radiation well below market standards.
    • Custom sauna rooms: If the pre-built series doesn’t fit your home, Finnleo sells custom-cut traditional and infrared sauna rooms for your home. You meet with a local dealer to help you design your sauna, and Finnleo will cut the sauna to your specifications.
    • Finnleo outdoor saunas: Finnleo can build an outdoor sauna for you as well. Whether you want a small sauna for your patio or a small building that includes a changing room, Finnleo has you covered.
    • Best for: people looking for indoor or outdoor saunas.
    Northern Lights

    Northern Lights is a family-owned company that has been making wooden hot tubs and saunas since the 1980s. Known for their unique barrel shapes, these saunas and hot tubs are made from Canadian red cedar, and professionals inspect each product to ensure quality work and a water-tight seal.

    • Western red cedar: Saunas from Northern Lights are made of western red cedar harvested from Canada. This wood is naturally resistant to rot, insects and weather, making it well-suited for any climate.
    • Barrel shape: Each sauna from Northern Lights has a round, barrel shape. This shape allows the sauna to heat up faster than other models. Its shape also creates optimal heat-vapor distribution to maintain that temperature.
    • Easy assembly: Each kit from Northern Lights comes with easy-to-follow instructions. Anyone can set up a Northern Lights sauna in a matter of hours.
    • Heater options: Northern Lights offers several different heater options for your sauna. Choose from several different wood-burning heaters or electric heaters to find the right one for you.
    • Accessories: Customize your saunas with different accessories from Northern Light, like fixed backrests and thermostats or removable cedar water buckets and body scrubbers.
    • Best for: people who want a wooden outdoor traditional sauna.
    Finlandia Sauna

    Since 1964, Finlandia has been designing and manufacturing authentic Finnish saunas. Located in Portland, Oregon, Finlandia uses locally-sourced lumber to build standard and custom saunas.

    • Pre-cut custom saunas: All of Finlandia’s pre-cut sauna packages are made to order. You give them your specifications, and they ship you the kit to put together yourself.
    • Pre-fab sauna rooms: Finlandia sells pre-fab sauna rooms. These standalone units ship ready to install. All you need to supply is the space and a waterproof floor.
    • Finlandia outdoor sauna: Finlanda sells a prefabricated outdoor sauna for your deck or patio. As long as you have a waterproof vinyl, tile or concrete pad, you can set up your Finlandia outdoor sauna with ease.
    • Wood options: Choose the type of wood you want for your Finlandia sauna. Options include western red cedar, Alaskan yellow cedar, pine, hemlock and redwood.
    • Heater options: Finlandia sells its own manufactured heaters as well as Harvia heaters imported from Finland. There are several different models available, including wall-mounted heaters.
    • Best for: people who want a custom interior traditional sauna.
    Amerec

    Amerec makes custom-cut sauna rooms for home bathrooms and gyms as well as commercial fitness centers, hotels and day spas.

    • Amerec sauna rooms: Amerec can cut a custom cut or modular sauna room for your home. Each sauna is made of western red cedar, and you can choose from several different heaters.
    • Amerec sauna heater: All of Amerec’s sauna heaters are made from rust-resistant materials and have a large rock capacity. Rocks are placed in direct contact with the heating elements to create a balanced heat.
    • Smart sauna control panels: Amerec’s smart control panels give you options like automatic programming, delayed start and the ability to regulate lighting and temperature settings.
    • Sauna accessories: Find sauna accessories like buckets, ladles, thermometers, brushes and scents on Amerec’s website. Buy Amerec’s sauna accessories from your local dealer, which you’ll be able to locate on Amerec’s website.
    • Residential steam rooms: Amerec can help you convert your current shower and bathroom into a steam room. Amerec’s staff will guide you through the process of finding the right steam generator and connect you with a local dealer for installation.
    • Environmentally conscious: Amerec steam baths use approximately one gallon of water for every 30 minutes of use. This amount is less than most other steam baths in the industry.
    • Best for: people looking for custom cut sauna rooms.
    Almost Heaven

    Almost Heaven sells handcrafted saunas for indoor and outdoor use. Almost Heaven’s outdoor saunas are barrel-shaped and made of western red cedar. Almost Heaven also sells cabin saunas and indoor units. These have a more standard, box-like design.

    • Barrel saunas: Almost Heaven’s outdoor barrel-shaped saunas are built to trap and circulate heat efficiently. The barrel shape ensures that the sauna heats evenly and more quickly than other designs.
    • Cabin saunas: If you prefer a more conventional design, Almost Heaven sells cabin saunas. These saunas are made of high-grade spruce and come with pre-assembled backrests and benches.
    • Indoor saunas: From the compact Madison model to the multi-level Bluestone, Almost Heaven has several different indoor options for your home sauna. All of them have the same handcrafted attention to detail as their outdoor barrel models.
    • Infrared sauna: The Radiant series of infrared saunas give you a dry sauna experience that’s easy to use and assemble. Its carbon fiber heating panels distribute heat quickly, and the hemlock construction stands sturdy in any room.
    • Rotating clearance: Almost Heaven Saunas are sometimes sold at discount prices. Stock is subject to availability, so check the website regularly if you want to snag a good deal.
    • Best for: people who want indoor standard or infrared saunas or barrel-shaped outdoor saunas.
    Sunlighten

    Sunlighten has been selling saunas for your home since 1999. Based on a premise that infrared therapy can be used for healing, they sell 11 different models of saunas, all of which use infrared heating technology.

    • Sunlighten sauna prices: Fill out a form on Sunlighten’s website to receive customized pricing information. You can finance your Sunlighten sauna through Wells Fargo Outdoor Solution credit card.
    • mPulse series: Sunlighten’s mPulse series uses heat from near, mid and far infrared heaters. The Aspire holds one person, while the Empower can hold up to six. You can control all of the mPulse models via the cloud on a tablet.
    • Signature series: The Signature series use far infrared heat to create a soothing experience. The Signature I holds one person and uses six heaters, while the Signature IV holds four people and uses ten heaters. The Signature series also incorporates a sound system, that lets you listen to music while you’re relaxing.
    • Community solocarbon: The Community Solocarbon model is made from pure eucalyptus wood. It uses 15 heaters and a full bench and can hold up to six people.
    • Solo system: For those who prefer a more private sauna experience, the Solo model is shaped more like a tanning bed, holding one person. The Solo model uses infrared heating and is only 85 pounds, making it a uniquely portable sauna.
    • Wood options: With the exception of the Solo, the Community Solocarbon and the mPulse Empower, all Sunlighten saunas can be purchased in basswood, cedar or eucalyptus.
    • Best for: people who want custom interior infrared saunas or a private portable sauna.
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    Kate Williams, Ph.D.

    ConsumerAffairs Research Team

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    As a member of the ConsumerAffairs Research Team, Kate Williams, Ph.D. believes everyone deserves easy access to accurate and comprehensive information on products and businesses before they make a purchase. She spends countless hours researching companies and industries before writing buyers guides to make sure consumers have all the information they need to make smart, informed buying decisions.

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