Saunas have long been recognized as a way to relax and reduce stress. They can alleviate muscle and joint pain, provide a general sense of well-being, and provide detoxification, increased cardiovascular health, and improved resistance to illness.
There are hundreds of models available, from traditional steam baths to outdoor timber saunas for the whole family. However, the range of different sizes, materials, and the use of either steam or infrared heat technologies can make choosing difficult. The following article investigates the various options and focuses on finding the best home sauna for a variety of aesthetic and practical needs.
- BEST OVERALL: Dynamic Saunas Barcelona Hemlock Wood Infrared Sauna
- RUNNER-UP: Maxxus Alpine Low EMF 3-Person Infrared Sauna
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: SereneLife Full-Size Portable Personal Sauna
- BEST 2-PERSON: Dynamic Saunas Heming 2-Person Infrared Sauna
- BEST TRADITIONAL: Almost Heaven Huntington 4- to 6-Person Barrel Sauna
- BEST PORTABLE: Durasage Health Oversized Portable Steam Sauna
- BEST OUTDOOR: Almost Heaven Salem 2-Person Barrel Sauna
- BEST SAUNA BLANKET: LifePro BioRemedy Portable Infrared Sauna Blanket
- BEST INFRARED: SereneLife Infrared Home Spa One Person Sauna
How We Chose the Best Home Saunas
We researched the most sought-after home saunas for shoppers’ next eco-friendly home upgrade and discovered that the best models are determined by their design, temperature range, number of heating elements, power, capacity, ease of installation, and other extra features included by top brands.
While we were searching for the best home saunas, we found that the most popular options among users had large wood and glass or PVC chambers that reached temperatures between 68 and 195 degrees Fahrenheit with the help of one to seven elements. We ensured that this list included a range of capacities and levels of energy consumption, with the small one-person models using 450 to 1,300 watts of power and the large two- to three-person saunas using 1,650 to 8,000 watts.
As for extra features, some of these home saunas come with Bluetooth connectivity, audio systems, digital control panels, chairs and benches, and foldable designs. Though the small, portable saunas require very little work to install, many of the large models come with instruction manuals for easy installation within a few hours.
Our Top Picks
While having an understanding of the technical and physical aspects of home saunas is certainly valuable, it is no substitute for looking at real-world examples. The following represent some of the best home saunas available in various categories to complement a home’s bathroom, gym, or jacuzzi.
Two-person saunas are very popular, and this solid hemlock model from Dynamic Saunas exemplifies why. With a competitive price and a host of user-friendly features, including LED control panels on the interior and exterior, Bluetooth speakers, and an interior chromotherapy lighting system, this easy-to-assemble option offers comfort and convenience. The six infrared heating panels provide all-around warmth and can raise the interior temperature up to 140 degrees Fahrenheit.
The Barcelona home infrared sauna plugs into a standard 15-amp outlet. The hemlock wood construction provides a lightweight yet durable sauna that’s fairly straightforward to assemble, with a tempered glass door that clasps easily together with the rest of the unit.
- Heating elements: 6
- Power: 1,450 watts
- Extras: Bluetooth, chromotherapy
- Made from lightweight and durable hemlock wood that easily clasps together during assembly
- Features relaxing chromotherapy lighting and a Bluetooth speaker system
- This fairly spacious model fits up to 2 people and is quite roomy for a single person
- Assembly instructions are quite confusing and poorly written, despite assembly still being quite easy
Get the Dynamic Saunas Barcelona home sauna at Amazon, The Home Depot, Dynamic Saunas, or TheraHub.
The Maxxus Alpine infrared sauna from Golden Designs Inc. exemplifies many leading features of modern saunas. Made from durable hemlock, it can be installed on any solid level floor, even carpet. Its slot-together design means it can be assembled by two adults using just a Phillips- head screwdriver and a ladder.
There are seven infrared heaters, both carbon and ceramic, delivering efficient, all-around warmth that can reach 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Digital control panels inside and out allow for quick and easy setting of the desired level and include a timer. The Maxxus Alpine three-person sauna also features a chromotherapy light system, hookup for MP3, and two Bluetooth speakers for an enhanced sauna experience.
While manufacturer Golden Designs Inc. calls this sauna a “plug-and-play” unit, it does require a dedicated 20-amp circuit. The included power cord is just 10 inches long, so making connections can be a little fiddly.
- Heating elements: 7
- Power: 2,200 watts
- Extras: Bluetooth, chromotherapy, MP3
- Straightforward DIY installation is easy for most people to accomplish
- Easy-to-use digital controls can be adjusted by user at any time
- Elegant, stylish glass front enhances spacious feel of this sauna
- For proper functioning, requires a dedicated 20-amp circuit during installation
- 10-inch power cord may be too short for use in some locations
Get the Maxxus home sauna at The Home Depot, Wayfair, or Golden Designs Inc.
This portable infrared sauna from SereneLife offers those with smaller budgets a way to enjoy a regular hot sauna at home. It’s easy to put together, and with a footprint of just 35.4 square inches, it can be accommodated in even the smallest of spaces. The fully enclosed cabin provides privacy and leaves hands free for a book or a refreshing drink.
This one-person sauna plugs into a standard wall outlet. A 1,300-watt overhead infrared heater is powerful enough to raise the temperature to 140 degrees Fahrenheit but still economical to run. An electric pad keeps feet warm, while a wired controller provides easy control of the temperature and timer.
At 31.5 pounds, it’s a breeze to move around, though it takes around 20 minutes to assemble, so a semipermanent setup site will probably be preferred. The collapsible seat is convenient, though not especially supportive.
- Heating elements: 1 plus footpad
- Power: 1,300 watts
- Extras: Folding chair
- Affordable option compared to other personal home saunas on the market
- Compact and lightweight makes it easy to store and move around
- Includes a handy wired controller for easy heat and timer adjustments
- Chair could be more supportive; may not be ideal for some users
- Some users have reported experiencing quality-control issues with this item
Get the SereneLife portable sauna at Amazon, The Home Depot, or Wayfair.
Two-person home indoor saunas are a popular choice. Many are compact and competitively priced while still offering the features of larger models, and this two-person infrared sauna is a fine example. Made from solid hemlock, the Heming indoor sauna from Dynamic Saunas has seven carbon heating elements in the walls and floor that are 30 percent larger than those made from ceramic, making for more efficient, evenly distributed heat. Soft-touch digital control panels are located both inside and out and can reach up to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Both panels include a timer for added safety. Audio speakers pair with MP3 or Bluetooth devices, while the lighting provides chromotherapy effects.
Assembly requires only modest DIY skills, and all that’s required for electrical supply is a standard household outlet.
While the exterior footprint of 6.3 feet high by 4 feet wide by 4 feet deep means the Heming infrared sauna can fit in even relatively small homes, interior dimensions of 5.6 feet high by 3.58 feet wide by 3.75 feet deep make it a bit snug with two adults inside. That said, most competitors suffer the same challenges, so this is not unique to the Heming infrared. It is a very pleasant environment when used by one person at a time.
- Heating elements: 7
- Power: 1,650 watts
- Extras: Bluetooth, chromotherapy, MP3
- The attractive solid hemlock construction looks great in any home
- Can plug into any standard outlet, making it easier to install
- This durable sauna is a competitive price compared to similar options
- Interior is quite basic without modern additions such as magazine racks
- Like most home saunas, this is not spacious; 2 people may be a squeeze
Get the Dynamic Saunas home sauna at Amazon, Wayfair, or Dynamic Saunas Direct.
Sometimes there is just no substitute for traditional steam saunas in wooden buildings. For those who have the space, the Almost Heaven Huntington sauna delivers that authentic atmosphere in the form of a beautiful, durable cedar barrel that provides space for up to six people.
A powerful 8,000-watt electric heater can be turned on manually, but it also has a convenient 8-hour timer. Warmed stones can bring the interior to a maximum temperature of 180 degrees Fahrenheit, and the humidity can be increased by adding water. A tempered-glass front door provides safety, and vents allow for airflow.
Clear instructions and clever design make for relatively uncomplicated assembly, though care is required for proper alignment. Installation time for two people ranges from 3 to 6 hours. Keep in mind that the heater will require a 220-volt 40-amp electrical supply.
- Heating elements: 1
- Power: 8,000 watts
- Extras: 2 exterior cool-off benches, LED lighting
- Attractive, spacious design; great wow factor for multiple users at a time
- Weather- and rot-resistant cedar can last a lifetime and provide a pleasant woody aroma
- Clear tempered-glass door provides pleasant view; made in the USA
- Assembly takes care and patience; requires 220V 40-amp electrical supply
Get the Almost Heaven Huntington home sauna at Lowe’s, Wayfair, or Almost Heaven.
Like most portable saunas, the Durasage Health personal steam sauna provides the benefits of traditional steam in a lightweight, low-cost package. Despite the budget price, there are several useful features, including a timer and two external pockets for storing a phone or reading material, which can be easily accessed thanks to zippered openings. The ½-gallon tank can provide traditional steam at a maximum temperature of 114 degrees Fahrenheit for up to 60 minutes—more than enough time needed for a safe sauna session.
The whole energy-efficient kit weighs just under 16 pounds and consists of a tubular PVC frame that supports a padded polyester tent, separate steam generator, and folding chair (which has a weight limit of 220 pounds). It is easy to move and compact for storage. However, while the PVC tubes are adequate to support the cover, care should be taken not to damage them. The same is true of the tent, which could tear or puncture if caught on a sharp edge.
- Heating elements: 1
- Power: 800 watts
- Extras: Folding chair, exterior pockets
- Efficient 1-person steam sauna; compact storage makes it ideal for users with limited space
- Item weighs 15.8 pounds, including chair; very easy to transport
- Much more affordable relative to permanent saunas; great for trying a home-sauna experience for the first time
- Care needed while moving this portable sauna to avoid tears or punctures
- Chair weight limit is 220 pounds; some users say this portable sauna isn’t very sturdy
Get the Durasage Health home sauna at Amazon or Durasage.
With its traditional look and cedar construction, the Almost Heaven Salem sauna provides a pleasant woody aroma and a steamy oasis to any backyard. Available with a regular or vista window option, this model can provide a safe space of solitude or a view of nature while reaching a temperature of up to 185 degrees Fahrenheit.
Emitting over 240 volts (or 4,500 watts) of power, this sauna can warm two people at a time, and the timer can be set up to 8 hours in advance. It can reach its peak temperature in 45 to 60 minutes. Plus, this pick comes with dual benches, LED lighting, and a vent for users to lounge on comfortably while they steam.
- Heating elements: 1
- Power: 4,500 watts
- Extras: 2 benches, LED lighting
- Solid cedar construction provides pleasant aroma; comes in a closed or vista window construction
- Timer can be set up to 8 hours in advance
- Reaches top temperature in 45 to 60 minutes; suitable for indoor and outdoor use
- Not Bluetooth compatible and may require professional help to assemble
- Limited seating compared with similar home-sauna options on the market
Get the Almost Heaven Salem home sauna at Wayfair or Almost Heaven.
Those wanting to benefit from the relaxing effects of a sauna whenever and wherever will want to check out the compact LifePro infrared sauna blanket. The two disposable interior detox wraps help trap heat to promote sweating and improve results, while the oxford fabric exterior is soft and comfortable. Infrared heating elements are designed to flex with the material.
The LifePro far infrared sauna blanket can be set up and ready to go in just a few minutes. Silicone heating wires that course through the blanket can reach a maximum temperature of 176 degrees Fahrenheit, and a 60-minute timer ensures the user doesn’t overdo things. However, the blanket is 71 inches long, so those who are taller will not be able to use it. The good news is that this sauna blanket is also available in a larger 76-inch size.
- Heating elements: N/A (uses silicone heating wires)
- Power: 400 to 550 watts
- Extras: 2 disposable detox wraps, wired controller
- Unrivaled portability; great for traveling or moving around the house
- Folds for compact storage; doesn’t take up too much space
- Available in regular or large sizes to suit taller users when needed
- The recommended cleaning after each use can become quite tedious if the sauna is used regularly
Get the LifePro home sauna at Amazon or LifePro.
Shoppers looking for an at-home sauna experience without having to install a large permanent sauna in their home could consider this portable option from SereneLife. All that’s required is for users to slip the heating foot pad and chair into the pop-up sauna and jump in to enjoy the benefits of sauna therapy. Those who don’t particularly enjoy having their whole body immersed in the heat will rejoice at this model’s head and hand holes, allowing them to pop out and read a magazine or browse their smartphone while the infrared sauna gets to work on the rest of their body.
The wired remote can set the temperature up to 140 degrees Fahrenheit with a timer up to a maximum of 60 minutes. When assembled, the tent measures just 27.6 inches long, 31.5 inches wide, and 37.8 inches high; plenty of space for most people to fit inside. Once the user has finished using the sauna, it also folds down into a compact size, making storage a breeze.
- Heating elements: 1 plus foot pad
- Power: 1,050 watts
- Extras: Folding chair
- Comes with a foldable chair for a more comfortable place to sit while inside the sauna
- Users can pop their head and hands out from the zippered holes during use
- Folds away easily for compact storage; great for homes with less storage space
- Fabric exterior is less durable than materials used other sauna types, making it more fragile when moving around
Get the SereneLife infrared home sauna at Amazon or SereneLife.
What to Consider When Choosing a Home Sauna
Home saunas come in a host of different styles, from one-person steam tents to permanent structures that might add value to the home. Modern infrared models offer a number of benefits, and there are several other details that need to be explored. The following section highlights the key considerations.
Types of Saunas
The traditional image of a sauna is often that of a pine room where water is poured over hot rocks to create steam. Often referred to as a Finnish sauna or steam bath (though this term is also used for Turkish baths where bathing is involved), these types of traditional saunas are very popular. Another form of steam bath, and often a very affordable option, is the individual cabinet or fabric enclosure that’s fed by a steam-generating tank.
The term “dry sauna” has historically described models where rocks are heated as in a Finnish sauna, but moisture is not added. Those who have skin problems that react badly to humidity, such as acne or heat rash, might find dry saunas appealing.
There are also infrared saunas, which don’t heat the air like steam or dry saunas do; they heat the person within the space. Often called FAR (far infrared), the rays penetrate the outer skin layer, providing deeper heat without causing irritation or harm. Infrared saunas are usually ready to use more quickly and are more energy efficient.
Size and Location
Home saunas can be sizable outdoor structures or small interior rooms. Two-, three- and four-person saunas are common, though larger models are also available. There is also a wide variety of one-person saunas, some of which can be folded down and stored when not in use.
Portable saunas are also available and can be used in just about any location. Personal home saunas can be moved around relatively easily to a suitable space, including outdoors temporarily if the weather is pleasant. Other styles and designs can fit into an existing room or be a stand-alone structure. In truth, the only real limit on size or location is the budget.
All home saunas require a solid base. This might be concrete poured specifically for the purpose, or it might be the floor of an existing room. Several models can be positioned on top of carpet. Outdoor Finnish saunas that use a log fire for heating rocks will require space for log storage as well as a means of ash disposal.
Home saunas are typically made of wood, with hemlock and cedar being popular choices. They offer good durability, and designs are often easy to assemble. Toughened glass panels may be included in some models. With personal saunas, polyesters and polyurethanes offer fairly durable surfaces that are easy to keep clean, though sharp objects that can cause tears should be avoided.
Traditional Finnish saunas use hot stones over a log fire to create steam. While it is still perfectly possible to build this kind of steam room, most modern versions use an electric heater. Steam models often generate more heat than infrared saunas—up to 220 degrees Fahrenheit in some cases. They can take 30 minutes or more to warm up.
Infrared saunas’ heaters have either carbon or ceramic elements. Carbon tends to be more durable, while ceramic heats up more quickly. The penetrative nature of infrared rays means these saunas operate at lower temperatures; they tend to hit a maximum of about 130 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit in around 15 to 20 minutes. There has been some concern about the electromagnetic fields (EMF) generated by infrared saunas, but these are usually described as either low or ultra-low and present no health risks.
Additional Features and Safety
Extra features can enhance the sauna experience.
- Lighting: Standard bulbs, LED, or infrared lights can be enhanced by the use of color following chromotherapy principles. This is a form of complementary treatment that claims to improve the body’s balance and energy using harmless light rays in the visible color spectrum.
- Controls: Some models feature digital controls, which make adjusting the temperature easy and accurate. This also makes the temperature easy to read and monitor. Some models allow the user to set the temperature to either Fahrenheit or Celsius.
- Audio systems: Various types of integrated audio systems are also common. These systems are frequently Bluetooth compatible so the user can play music from a mobile device or other source. It’s important to note that mobile devices should not be brought inside a sauna, as temperatures get too high.
- Add-ons: Some personal saunas include a folding chair, while others include things like foot-warming pads for extra comfort.
If used sensibly, saunas are inherently safe. Most people will start to dehydrate after 20 minutes, so a half hour is a common limit. Although saunas can be very relaxing, it is not safe to sleep in one. Timers that turn the sauna off after a set time period are especially helpful if users think they might doze off.
A number of safety certifications are possible, usually related to electrical systems. ETL and UL are independent organizations recognized by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and are sometimes cited in reference to saunas. Some sauna manufacturers comply with the Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive (RoHS). CSA is one of the leading Canadian safety organizations, while CE is the European safety standard. Although all reflect a commitment to current requirements, certification is largely voluntary. Some manufacturers may choose not to test because of the costs involved.
The sections above will have provided a good deal of valuable information, but there might still be some unanswered questions. Read on to learn the answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about home saunas.
Q. How do I install a home sauna?
Without knowing the model and where it is to be installed, it’s impossible to offer specific advice. Installing a sauna may be within the abilities of some DIY enthusiasts. Other saunas may require the services of a professional. It’s important to fully investigate the requirements of the chosen sauna at the outset.
Q. Which type of sauna is better, infrared or steam?
A steam sauna creates sweat on the skin’s surface, whereas the heat from infrared penetrates further. Some claim this provides better muscle relief and detoxification. However, medical opinion does vary, and for some people nothing beats a traditional sauna experience. Saying one is “better” than the other is difficult to justify, so the best sauna is very much a personal decision.
Q. Does a home sauna need ventilation?
Not necessarily. However, many have side or roof vents to improve airflow, which in some designs creates a more effective heating environment.
Q. How much power does a home sauna use?
Electrical power is measured in watts, and whether steam-generating or infrared, each sauna should have a rating that tells you its power consumption.
Q. Are home saunas expensive to run?
Not typically. To work out costs, multiply watts by hours used, then divide by 1,000. This gives you kilowatt hours (kWh). Your utility bill should tell you how much you pay per kWh, so some simple math will give you a figure. As a rough guide, using a sauna for a half hour per day is likely to cost between $15 and $30 a month.
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