With a rise in consumer preference toward health and wellness, outdoor saunas are becoming increasingly popular. Beyond enjoyment and relaxation, saunas have been found to provide myriad health benefits such as improving heart health, reducing stress, fighting illness, burning calories, flushing toxins, and relieving sore muscles.
Given the amount of real estate that an outdoor sauna takes up in the backyard, form is nearly as important as function. When shopping for an outdoor sauna, many consumers look for a quality product that provides convenient features and benefits for health without sacrificing style. Scroll through this article to learn about some of the key characteristics of outdoor saunas and read about some of the best outdoor saunas on the market.
- BEST OVERALL: SunRay HL300D Grandby Outdoor Sauna
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Xmatch Far Infrared Wooden Outdoor Sauna
- BEST FAR-INFRARED: SDI Factory Direct 4 Person Outdoor Infrared Sauna
- BEST BARREL: Almost Heaven Saunas Audra Barrel Sauna
- BEST DESIGN: BZB Cabins Outdoor Pod Sauna Igloo Kit 40
- BEST COMPACT: Dynamic Sauna Golden Designs Dry Heat Sauna
Types of Outdoor Saunas
Whether shoppers are looking for a traditional steam sauna or a sauna with dry heat, there are a ton of options to consider. A traditional Finnish sauna is heated by a wood-burning stove with sauna rocks, while a dry sauna typically produces heat with a carbon or ceramic electric heater. Depending on the heat source, different types of outdoor saunas provide users with a different variety of health benefits.
Traditional Finnish Sauna
Although they’ve become popular in all parts of the world, saunas are entwined with Finnish culture. The traditional Finnish sauna is a steam sauna heated by a wood-burning stove, with or without a chimney. A basket of sauna rocks is heated by the stove, and water is tossed on top of the rocks once the rocks have warmed to create steam and humidity throughout the sauna.
With most traditional saunas, users can adjust the temperature to create their ideal atmosphere. The combination of high heat and humidity is known to provide health benefits, such as improving skin health, clearing congestion, reducing joint stiffness, lowering blood pressure, and more.
Both steam and dry saunas provide health benefits by heating the body, but they do so in different ways. A steam sauna uses wet heat and high humidity to create a sauna experience, while a dry sauna operates at a much lower temperature and provides much less humidity.
Dry saunas heat the air evenly and penetrate deeper into the skin. The heating element may be powered by an electric or fuel-powered heater. Dry saunas range from 150 to 195 degrees Fahrenheit.
Infrared saunas use infrared light to penetrate the skin and heat the body directly. They operate at a lower temperature compared with an outdoor traditional sauna and dry sauna, typically between 120 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Users can enjoy a deep sweat without overheating, which results in a safer and more enjoyable sauna experience.
Providing plenty of health benefits, infrared saunas help with relaxation, aid weight loss, improve circulation, relieve sore muscles, lead to better sleep, and more. When shopping for an outdoor infrared sauna, consumers will find near-infrared, far-infrared, and full-spectrum saunas. Most infrared saunas use either carbon or ceramic heaters to evenly disperse heat.
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Outdoor Sauna
Before making a purchase, consider the size, material, and design of the sauna to find the best fit for an outdoor space. It’s important to find an option with the right amount of seating and the kinds of accessories that make the most impact. Depending on how often owners want to sauna bathe, shoppers will want to consider the overall safety of every sauna type. Keep reading to learn more about these key considerations.
Size and Seating Capacity
Outdoor saunas are available in various shapes and sizes, as they can be intended for a couple, for the entire family, or for entertaining small groups. Two- or three-person saunas look great on a patio or deck, while larger barrel saunas tend to work best in a backyard. Some barrel saunas can accommodate up to eight people, and some even include a separate dressing room and a front porch for additional seating.
Larger saunas typically have benches on both sides, making it easier for users to hang out and talk while enjoying their backyard sauna experience. It also provides those in smaller groups the option to lie down on the bench while inside the sauna. Whereas both a one-person outdoor sauna and a two-person outdoor sauna tend to have only one bench, they are a great option for those who don’t have a ton of outdoor space.
Materials and Design
Most outdoor saunas are constructed of wood, with the most popular materials being cedar, hemlock, and spruce wood. Thick wood panels offer more insulation so heat stays inside, regardless of the weather outside.
When considering the type of materials, think about the exterior of the sauna for longevity and how it relates to other structures around the yard, such as a pool house or a shed. While some saunas have a wooden door, many have a door made of tempered glass. Some models even have front or rear windows, so users can enjoy views of nature while inside their backyard sauna. Some wooden saunas have roofing shingles to protect against damage from rain and UV rays.
Traditional outdoor saunas use a wood-burning stove, either with or without a chimney. Some have a sauna guard, which is usually a wooden structure that surrounds the heater or stove for safety reasons so that bathers do not accidentally touch the heat source. For a more comfortable sauna experience, some outdoor saunas have vents that circulate air throughout the structure.
When shopping for a sauna, it’s important for consumers to consider which features and accessories are most important to them. Many models allow users to set the sauna to the preferred temperature using a thermometer, and some include a timer that can be set hours in advance. There are steam saunas that also include a hygrometer, which measures the amount of water vapor in the air.
Some models include LED lights and recessed lighting inside, making it possible for users to read a book or a magazine. Others include chromotherapy lights, which are known to provide additional health benefits such as accelerating healing, relieving muscle tension, and improving circulation. Additional options include MP3 players or charging outputs and Bluetooth connectivity, so users can enjoy music from inside the sauna.
Generally, all outdoor saunas are safe to use regularly, although infrared saunas are considered to be safer in the long-term. Infrared saunas operate at a much lower temperature, between 120 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit, which makes them the safer option for users who want to sauna bathe for longer periods or for those who want to enjoy their sauna every day.
If installed correctly, outdoor saunas are not considered a fire hazard. Owners will want to follow the instructions closely when installing a sauna. Steam saunas have the potential to grow mold and mildew, which is why it’s important to clean a sauna regularly after each use.
Our Top Picks
Now it’s time to explore some of the top options. Whether it’s a spacious barrel sauna, compact infrared sauna, or a two-room sauna with a separate dressing room, our top picks include some of the best outdoor saunas to blend seamlessly with many types of backyards.
The SunRay Grandby sauna may be a great fit for those who want a versatile sauna. It fits three people and offers plenty of interior space, yet it doesn’t require a large outdoor area. It’s the perfect option for a smaller patio or deck. The exterior resembles a typical house with a pitched roof, which helps prevent water from damaging the structure.
The seven ceramic heaters warm up within 10 to 15 minutes, and the control panel allows users to select their preferred temperature up to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. To curate a great sauna experience, there is also an oxygen ionization system to keep the air fresh and clean, recessed interior lighting, an FM radio, and an MP3 player. Made of natural Canadian hemlock wood, the three-person sauna is easy to assemble and ready to use once it’s plugged in.
- Temperature: Up to 140 degrees Fahrenheit
- Capacity: 3 people
- Extras: 7 ceramic heaters, ergonomic backrests, oxygen ionizer
- FM radio and MP3 player
- Easy-to-use control panel
- Heats up fast
- Easy to assemble
Get the SunRay outdoor sauna at AnySauna.
The nine low-electromagnetic-field (EMF) heating plates warm this kiln-dried hemlock wood sauna within 10 to 15 minutes. An LCD panel lets bathers choose an ideal temperature between 68 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit. For added benefit, the tempered glass door keeps heat in while making it possible to see outside the sauna.
The tongue-and-groove design ensures a quick assembly regardless of whether users are looking for an affordable option for indoor or outdoor use. With two Bluetooth speakers, this infrared outdoor sauna makes it easy to play music from a smartphone or tablet. Although the interior is spacious enough for two people, this sauna is not ideal for those taller than 6 feet 2 inches.
- Temperature: 68 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit
- Capacity: 2 people
- Extras: LCD panel, reading lamps, chromotherapy
- 10-to-15-minute warm-up
- Indoor or outdoor use
- Simple assembly
- Bluetooth connection
- Not ideal for those taller than 6 feet 2 inches
- Could be more spacious
Get the Xmatch outdoor sauna on Amazon.
This newly designed 2022 model from SDI Factory Direct uses far-infrared ceramic heaters and includes an oxygen ionizer with an ozone generator to keep air fresh. Users can play music from a smartphone with the auxiliary input; however, there is no Bluetooth connection.
Complete with a shingled roof and waterproof hemlock-wood construction, the sauna boasts a simple aesthetic that pairs well with many home styles. It does, however, lack a modern look when compared to other options. The digital control panel makes it easy to regulate the temperature anywhere from 64 to 149 degrees Fahrenheit. Users can also control four LED reading lights and the four chromotherapy lights. The sauna is designed to fit up to four people comfortably. The overall height is more than 7 feet, so even taller individuals can comfortably fit inside.
- Temperature: Not specified
- Capacity: 4 people
- Extras: Stereo speakers, oxygen ionizer, chromotherapy
- Shingled roof
- Waterproof hemlock-wood construction
- Auxiliary input
- More than 7 feet tall
Get the SDI Factory Direct outdoor sauna on SDI Factory Direct.
This spacious 6-foot-by-6-foot sauna heats up to 195 degrees Fahrenheit. The Harvia electric heater can heat up right away or can be programmed up to 8 hours ahead of time. While inside, individuals can use a sauna ladle to pour water over the rocks and immerse the interior with steam.
Made of solid wood, this barrel-style sauna has a covered canopy with additional outside seating and a tempered-glass door with a stainless steel handle. Although it’s sleek and stylish, this sauna must be covered, or else rainwater will enter through the wooden roof. There is also no speaker system or smart screen to control the temperature or interior light easily.
- Temperature: Up to 195 degrees Fahrenheit
- Capacity: 4 people
- Extras: Covered porch with 2 exterior benches
- Ready to assemble
- Sleek design
- Porch provides extra seating and storage space
- Water will enter the sauna if left uncovered
- Temperature does not easily adjust
- No speaker system or smart screen
Get the Almost Heaven outdoor sauna on Wayfair or at Lowe’s.
This spacious two-room sauna from BZB Cabins and Outdoors includes a separate changing room with additional benches. Use the room for additional hangout space or to store towels, beverages, and other essentials. Reminiscent of a classic red barn and complete with two rear windows, this stylish sauna prioritizes aesthetics better than its competitors. The sauna kit also includes roofing shingles to complete the look while also providing protection from rain and UV rays.
Fit the whole family or entertain guests, as this sauna provides space for up to eight people. Inside, the outdoor home sauna is 6 feet 10 inches high, so even taller users can walk around comfortably. Shoppers can choose from a Harvia M3 wood-burning heater or a Harvia FLB60 heater. This kit includes everything needed for assembly, although the materials are heavy and the wood is unfinished, meaning the assembly may be time-consuming.
- Temperature: Not specified
- Capacity: 8 people
- Extras: Changing room, bucket and ladle, 2 windows
- Charming design
- 2 separate rooms
- Large capacity
- Roofing shingles included
- Delivered unfinished
- Time-consuming assembly
- Heavy construction
Get the BZB Cabins outdoor sauna on Amazon or BZB Cabins and Outdoors.
Those who don’t have a big backyard may benefit from the Dynamic Saunas’ Golden Designs model. This top pick is as compact as they come, at 75 inches high by 48 inches wide by 42 inches deep. This pick has even heat distribution up to 140 degrees Fahrenheit with low EMF far-infrared carbon heating panels making it energy efficient and ideal for 2 people.
As for aesthetics, this pick is made with Canadian hemlock wood, a tempered-glass door, and dual side windows, which provide a warm look to a backyard and an open-concept feel. This pick also has a soft-touch control panel with an LED display, making it easy to program. Plus, an MP3 AUX connection allows sauna bathers to play the perfect calming music while the sauna is in use. One downside to this option is that it needs to be covered during rough weather conditions.
- Temperature: 140 degrees Fahrenheit
- Capacity: 1 or 2 people
- Extras: Side windows and MP3 AUX connection
- Even heat distribution
- Energy efficient
- Canadian hemlock construction
- Control panel with LED display
- May not withstand rough weather conditions
- No radio included
Get the Dynamic Sauna outdoor sauna on Amazon.
Overall, the SunRay outdoor sauna is our top pick for most users because of its high-tech features, including the FM radio and MP3 connection, seven ceramic heaters, ergonomic backrests, oxygen ionizer, and ease of assembly. The Xmatch outdoor sauna is another great pick for those on a budget with its useful features, including an LCD panel, reading lamps, and chromotherapy plus its Bluetooth connectivity and the ability to heat up in a cinch.
How We Chose the Best Outdoor Saunas
When creating this list, we wanted to include a good-quality option for every type of user. We considered the types of saunas at various price points,as well as different sizes, styles, and materials. When it comes to size and capacity, it’s important to consider how the sauna will be used, so we included options that are ideal for couples, the whole family, or small groups. The ease of assembly also weighed into our decision-making process.
We also considered extra features, as shoppers may value certain accessories, such as a stereo system, chromotherapy lights, or a traditional bucket with sauna rocks. Further, we took into account the durability and weather resistance of every option. We wanted to offer a variety of styles to ensure that all users could find a fit to accommodate their space, whether it’s a backyard, deck, or patio.
We’ve covered a lot of information about the best outdoor saunas, but you might still have some questions. Keep reading for answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about outdoor saunas.
Q. Can I put a sauna in my backyard?
Yes, you can put a sauna in your backyard. Make sure that the sauna you choose is built for outdoor use.
Q. Will I have to assemble my outdoor sauna?
Most likely. Some saunas come partially assembled, but most take at least a few hours to assemble.
Q. What’s the difference between an indoor and outdoor sauna?
Indoor saunas tend to accommodate two to four people, while outdoor saunas are often larger. Some models are designed to function indoors or outdoors.
Q. What are the health benefits of using a sauna?
Sauna bathing has been known to increase circulation, improve cardiovascular health, reduce pain, boost immunity, improve sleep, and reduce stress.
Q. How do I clean and sanitize my sauna?
Outdoor saunas can be wiped clean using mild soap and water. Sauna floors can be mopped with a mild detergent.
Q. How much does an outdoor sauna cost?
Depending on the type of sauna and its quality, outdoor saunas can cost anywhere from $2,000 to more than $10,000.