A key component to an efficient, comfortable home sauna is the choice of heater. There are a number of different options available, but it can be difficult to judge which model will give adequate performance and offer good value.
If the sauna heater is too small, the air in the sauna room can be hot and dry. If it’s too powerful for the space, then the excess steam makes the air constantly damp and uncomfortable.
The information and advice in this guide will help shoppers find the right solution for a home sauna. Technical specifications and installations are provided, and shoppers will find recommendations for the best sauna heater to suit almost any situation.
- BEST OVERALL: Finlandia/Harvia FLB-80/KIP-80B Sauna Heater
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Vevor 3 kW Electric Steam Bath Sauna Heater
- UPGRADE PICK: Huum Drop 9.0 kW Wi-Fi Control Sauna Heater
- BEST WOOD-BURNING: Harvia M3 Woodburning Sauna Heater
- BEST DIGITAL: Turku TU90WD-OD Digital Wet and Dry Sauna Heater
- BEST MINI: Smartmak Portable Sauna Steamer
- BEST STEAM GENERATOR: CGoldenwall 9 kW Luxury Self-Draining Steam Generator
- ALSO CONSIDER: Finsauna H450 4.5 kW Home Sauna Heater
How We Chose the Best Sauna Heaters
Having previously researched the best home saunas, we already had some useful background information. Several of those included in our guide have built-in infrared heating, while others require a separate source. For this article, we explored the current products of the leading manufacturers of electric and wood-fired sauna heaters, assessing both performance and reliability.
We tried to find as wide a variety of sauna heaters as possible, so there is something in our list of top picks that will suit virtually all needs. While we are well aware of the importance of price, we wanted to avoid cheap sauna heaters that can fail to live up to expectations and, as a result, be a poor value. Some of the brands included may not be immediately recognizable to consumers, but each has an established reputation within the industry.
We also sought out the expert advice of health professionals. Dr. Brett Smith, a DO at Tennessee Direct Rheumatology in Knoxville, Tennessee, added a note of caution: “Use of a sauna throughout the week could be a beneficial nonmedication-based therapy for many individuals with joint pain.” He recommends limiting sauna time to about 15 minutes per session. “Like any approach, too much of one specific remedy can be detrimental,” he says. Combining medication and nonmedication-based approaches (saunas, exercise, sleep, nutrition, stress management) is the best strategy, according to Smith.
Our Top Picks
After thorough research and consideration of consumer needs, we narrowed the field of sauna heaters to the following products. We’re confident that most shoppers will be able to find a suitable model among what we believe to be the best sauna heaters currently available.
- Power: 8 kW
- Area: Up to 425 cubic feet
- Stone capacity: 55 pounds
- A high-quality model from probably the biggest name in sauna heaters
- Largely stainless steel construction that won’t rust in the moist sauna environment
- Has an 8-hour timer for prewarming and automatically switches off after an hour
- Comes with a premium price tag and only offers manual controls
Finlandia is arguably the best-known name in sauna heaters. They are made by the Finnish company Harvia, which produces a variety of high-quality electric and wood-burning models. This one is rated at 8 kilowatts (kW), with an effective area of up to 425 cubic feet.
Much of the construction is stainless steel to ensure that it won’t rust in the humid sauna room environment. There are front-mounted controls for temperature (basic minimum to maximum) and an 8-hour timer, but there’s no remote control option.
The required 45 pounds of sauna stones are included, which is often not the case. There is a cutout to prevent overheating, and it is interesting to note that although made in Europe, the Finlandia is safety rated to U.S. standards and is Electrical Testing Laboratories (ETL) listed, meaning it has been tested and complies with national safety standards.
Get the Finlandia/Harvia sauna heater at Amazon.
- Power: 3 kW
- Area: Up to 141 cubic feet
- Stone capacity: 33 pounds
- A very affordable option for small- to medium-size home saunas
- Stainless steel heating elements and zinc casing are both corrosion-resistant
- Easy-to-use mechanical knobs for temperature and a 3-hour timer
- Stones are not included and must be purchased separately
Potential buyers of a sauna heater will be attracted by both the budget-friendly price of the Vevor 3 kW electric sauna stove and the specifications. It shares a number of key features with more expensive rivals.
It provides heat for small to medium home saunas of up to 141 square feet. The stainless steel heating element will not rust, and it warms the space quickly. The aluminized zinc case is also corrosion-resistant.
The Vevor is designed to be wall-mounted to save floor space. Stone capacity is 33 pounds (these do need to be purchased separately). There are straightforward manual controls for heat and a 3-hour timer.
Get the Vevor sauna heater at Amazon, The Home Depot, or Wayfair.
- Power: 9 kW
- Area: Up to 530 cubic feet
- Stone capacity: 121 pounds
- The performance of a large wood-burning heater in a relatively compact, beautifully designed electric model
- Comes with a control system that incorporates digital wall panel and features Wi-Fi connectivity
- Provides gentle, consistent heat and is made from durable stainless steel
- It’s a lot of money, and although faults are rare, getting spare parts can be slow
The Huum Drop has a unique design said to be based on a drop of water. Fortunately, while this appearance is eye-catching, the performance of this model is also top-notch, likely to impress anyone wanting a high-class sauna experience. The 9 kW model is intended for spaces up to 530 cubic feet and, with a stone capacity of 121 pounds, it delivers the consistent, gentle heat ideal for relaxation.
A wall-mounted digital panel provides precise control, and there’s also Wi-Fi integration with a smartphone app that enables monitoring and adjustment from anywhere. For example, users can set the Huum Drop before leaving work, and the sauna will be ready upon arrival.
It is an expensive choice, but it rivals large wood-burning sauna stoves for power, and for most people, it will be much more convenient. It’s important, however, to check what the chosen retailer includes in the purchase price. Stones will certainly be extra, and some treat the UKU control unit as a separate item.
Get the Huum sauna heater at Amazon.
- Power: N/A (wood-burning)
- Area: 212 to 459 cubic feet
- Stone capacity: Not provided
- Perfect for those desiring traditional sauna experience provided by a wood-burning heater; glass door provides view of flames
- The unit can be placed inside or outside the sauna
- Stones are included, and a water heater can be added at additional cost
- The required chimney kit is not included, and regular cleaning is highly recommended
For some, there is simply no substitute for the atmosphere created by a wood-burning sauna heater. This high-quality Harvia model is elegant and compact, with a glass door that provides the visual appeal of a real flame.
It is impossible to accurately predict the actual output from wood-burning sauna heaters because it depends on the airflow and the type of log being burned. While they may not generally be the most efficient space heaters, this wood-burning model is rated as suitable for saunas from 212 to 459 cubic feet.
As with all wood-burning sauna heaters, a chimney is needed, although no power is required—which will go some way to offsetting the cost. Sauna stones are included with the unit, and while weight capacity is not provided, the complete package is 100 pounds.
Get the Harvia sauna heater at Amazon.
- Power: 9 kW
- Area: 250 to 450 cubic feet
- Stone capacity: Not provided
- A high-output unit for medium to large home saunas at a very competitive price
- Heating elements are coated with Teflon to prevent corrosion and extend working life
- Digital controller for sauna exterior plus temperature and timer knobs on the unit
- The digital control panel adds little functionality and has a somewhat dated look
Those in the market for an affordable, high-performance sauna heater may want to take a close look at the Turku. It produces 9 kW and is capable of heating spaces of up to 450 cubic feet. The case is constructed from aluminum alloy, which is relatively light and won’t rust. The heating elements are coated in Teflon to prevent corrosion.
The key feature of the Turku is the remote control, designed to be mounted on the outside wall of the sauna. The digital display allows for more accurate settings than standard front-mounted controls. For safety, a built-in sensor will shut the unit down if it detects overheating.
It is fair to say that the Turku sauna heater is not the most attractive model on the market, and the display panel looks particularly dated. However, while the stones are extra, the Turku still offers excellent value for money.
Get the Turku sauna heater at Walmart or Amazon.
- Power: 1.6 kW
- Area: Personal steamer tents
- Stone capacity: Not applicable
- 1.6 kW heater produces steam for personal sauna tents in just 10 minutes
- Onboard controls plus handheld remote for temperature and timer
- Herbal box extension allows essential oils to be added to the sauna steam
- A few buyers have experienced problems with the lid seal failing
Some personal sauna tents come with their own heater, but many do not. In the latter case, this Smartmak sauna heater provides an easy-to-use fully featured competitively priced solution.
To operate, simply connect the supplied hoses to the sauna, fill the leak-free stainless steel pot with 4 liters (1.05 gallons) of cold water, close the lid, and turn the unit on. The 1.6 kW element provides sufficient heat for most personal sauna tents in approximately 10 minutes.
Temperature can be adjusted either at the onboard control panel or via handheld remote. There’s a built-in timer that can be set for up to 99 minutes. An “herbal box” extension allows essential oils to be added directly into the sauna area.
Get the Smartmak sauna heater at Amazon.
- Power: 9 kW
- Area: 300 cubic feet
- Stone capacity: N/A
- Can be used in saunas but also provides sauna experience in showers and bathrooms
- Ready in 5 minutes; produces steam from 95 degrees Fahrenheit to 131 degrees Fahrenheit
- Waterproof digital controller can be installed inside or outside the steam area
- Plumbing and electrical work required, so many will prefer to call in a professional
The CGoldenwall is not a typical electric sauna stove in that it does not provide direct heat. However, within a few minutes of turning it on, this unit can produce steam at up to 131 degrees Fahrenheit and at enough volume for a space of up to 300 cubic feet.
Steam generators can be used with saunas but can also turn appropriately sized showers and bathrooms into steam rooms. This unit can be fitted in any convenient closet, vanity unit, or directly on the wall. It has a digital control panel that can mount inside or outside the sauna or steam room. Plumbing for the water supply and drain is required, though once fitted, the device flushes excess water automatically.
Get the CGoldenwall sauna heater at Amazon.
- Power: 4.5 kW
- Area: Up to 210 cubic feet
- Stone capacity: 45 pounds
- High-quality corrosion-resistant stainless steel throughout with attractive polished chrome finish
- Innovative AFT reduces warm-up time and quickly produces moisture-rich atmosphere
- Preset timer for up to 8 hours in advance, plus automatic 60-minute shutoff
- We would like to see either external or remote control as an option
The Finsauna H450 sauna heater is a midrange model rated for home saunas of up to 210 cubic feet. Quality is excellent with corrosion-resistant stainless used throughout, plus a sleek polished chrome exterior finish.
Finsauna uses proprietary AirFlow Technology (AFT) to disperse heat quickly and claims the direct contact between heating elements and rocks provides optimal heat retention and humidity control. The necessary 45 pounds of rocks are included.
Straightforward dials give access to the 8-hour preset timer and temperature control (as is common, the latter is marked simply min and max). The Finsauna H450 sauna heater will automatically turn itself off after 60 minutes. No external control or remote are offered.
Get the Finsauna sauna heater at Amazon or Walmart.
What to Consider When Choosing a Sauna Heater
While all sauna heating units are intended to perform the same function, there are differences in capacity, fuel sources, controls, and other elements. For those who are new to shopping for a sauna heater, these features can be confusing. In the following section, learn the key features that define the best sauna heater for different situations.
Electric sauna heaters are clean, convenient, and by far the most popular. They operate in a similar way to a kettle or oven, using heating elements that are covered with rocks. Controls can be on the electric sauna heater itself, or there may be an option to fit them remotely on the outside of the sauna. Digital models give the ability to set a very precise temperature.
Electric steam generators are another approach that can be used with a sauna or with a shower or wet room to create a sauna experience. They fit outside the space and pipe steam inside, allowing maximum room for occupants. However, they do not produce direct heat.
Wood-burning sauna heaters create a traditional atmosphere that some feel is the best way to heat a sauna. However, dealing with logs, lighting the stove, and ash cleanup afterward can be inconvenient. They can also be surprisingly expensive to run for those who don’t cut their own wood.
Gas heaters are more fuel efficient than electric heaters, though the initial cost is usually high. Most are high-output devices designed for commercial spaces. None were included in the shopping recommendation list since they weren’t suitable for home sauna heating.
It is crucial to have the right size sauna heater for the space. One that is too powerful negatively impacts the environment just as much as having one that’s too small. Manufacturers of electric sauna heaters provide a kilowatt rating. Many experts recommend 1 kW per 45 to 50 cubic feet of space.
Wood-burning sauna heaters usually only provide a cubic feet rating. Most electric sauna heater makers provide this figure.
The physical size of the unit will also be a consideration. It’s worth making a simple cardboard mock-up that shoppers can place in the sauna during the planning stage to assess the heater’s size.
Stone capacity is sometimes used to measure the power of a sauna heater. The higher the stone capacity, the more powerful the heater needs to be to raise the temperature to the required level.
While it’s a popular statistic, stone capacity is perhaps not the most accurate metric. Although specific sauna stones are necessary for safety reasons, their chemical composition can vary and, therefore, heating times may differ. As a result, kW output and estimated area are a better guide to performance. However, users who have two heaters with the same kW output but different stone capacity will find that the one with additional stones will heat up more slowly.
Stone capacity can also have an impact on how the sauna heater is installed, especially with a wall-mounted model. It’s important that the wall offers the necessary support for what can be a weight of 100 pounds or more.
Electric sauna heaters will heat a given space more quickly than a wood-fired stove. However, it is difficult to determine the precise amount of heat-up time because it depends on the ambient temperature, sauna size, and the material of the sauna’s interior.
That said, for the sake of general comparison, an electric sauna heater might take 30 minutes to bring a space to the required temperature, while a wood-burning model would probably take an hour or more.
Another big advantage of the best electric sauna heaters is the ability to set a timer so the sauna can be ready exactly when it is most convenient. However, it’s important to check the type of timer as many will simply set the length of time the sauna heater will run once started.
Ease of Use and Installation
Electric sauna heaters are the easiest to use—particularly those with remote control. Gas models also offer reasonable precision and easy ignition. Anyone who has ever used a wood fire of any kind will know that control is a bit hit and miss. However, for many, the atmosphere they create is worth it.
In terms of installation, electric sauna heaters are also the simplest. The main consideration is that the supply will almost always need to be upgraded to 220/240 volts. This shouldn’t be a difficult task for any competent electrician.
For safety reasons, gas sauna heaters need a flue that goes through an outside wall. This prevents the build-up of carbon monoxide, which can be very dangerous. Wood-burning sauna heaters need a chimney to let out the smoke, though this doesn’t necessarily have to vent vertically.
While many keen DIY enthusiasts will be capable of carrying out the necessary work, it is recommended to use a qualified installer if someone is not entirely confident in the process.
We’ve explored the factors to consider when choosing a sauna and provided a variety of high-quality examples from leading brands. Although we have already answered many of the questions that might crop up in the search for the best sauna heater, we will address other general questions in this section.
Q. What is the best way to heat a sauna?
The best way to heat a sauna depends on several factors, which are discussed in detail above. Personal preference is also a factor. Some prefer a traditional wood burner while others favor the ease of use of an electric sauna heater. Standard wall heaters are not appropriate as they do not raise the humidity.
Q. Do I need to use sauna stones?
Sauna stones are usually needed to absorb heat and produce steam. You shouldn’t normally use a sauna heater without stones. It’s important to use proper sauna stones rather than just any rocks because the latter can crack or even explode.
Q. Is it safe to put water on an electric sauna?
Water can be safely added to all of the electric saunas in our Top Picks above. However, always read the operating instructions carefully in order to know how to add water—and how much.
Q. How much does a sauna heater cost?
The cost of a sauna heater can vary considerably, anywhere from about a hundred dollars to a couple of thousand. The list above offers models to suit a wide range of budgets.
Q. Will a sauna heater increase my energy bill?
Yes. Regular use of a home sauna is bound to have some impact on your energy bill, though how much will depend on performance. The higher the kW, the more expensive it is to run. Of course, wood-burning saunas won’t directly impact the energy bill, but the wood still has to be paid for.
Q. How long do sauna heaters last?
According to the North American Sauna Society, with regular maintenance, the best sauna heaters can last up to 20 years.
Q. Can a sauna heater break due to hot and cold air changes?
Hot and cold air changes should not be a problem if the sauna heater is installed according to the manufacturer’s instructions and has been maintained correctly. The owner’s documents may offer troubleshooting tips, but if a problem persists, it is a good idea to call in a suitably qualified technician.
Why Trust Bob Vila
Bob Vila has been America’s Handyman since 1979. As the host of beloved and groundbreaking TV series including “This Old House” and “Bob Vila’s Home Again,” he popularized and became synonymous with “do-it-yourself” home improvement.
Over the course of his decades-long career, Bob Vila has helped millions of people build, renovate, repair, and live better each day—a tradition that continues today with expert yet accessible home advice. The Bob Vila team distills need-to-know information into project tutorials, maintenance guides, tool 101s, and more. These home and garden experts then thoroughly research, vet, and recommend products that support homeowners, renters, DIYers, and professionals in their to-do lists.