Ultimate Buying Guide for Sauna Heater 2024

Ultimate Buying Guide for Sauna Heater

Looking to buy a sauna heater? In this buying guide, we will go over the different types of sauna heaters available on the market and what you should look for when buying one. We’ll also provide some tips on how to install and use your new sauna heater!

How to Choose A Sauna Heater?

Although sauna heaters have the same purpose of heating the space, different sauna heaters bring a different sauna experience. For example, an electric sauna heater although delivers heat, just like a wood-burning sauna heater, does not give off a hint of the burnt wood scent. On the other hand, an electric heater offers great simplicity in operating your sauna from turning the heater on and off to the ability to accurately control the temperature without much effort. 

A wood-burning sauna heater can bring a more authentic feel but will be less convenient than an electric heater. There are many factors to consider when choosing the heater for your sauna. 

Sauna Heater Buying Checklist

What should you consider when buying a heater for your sauna? Here’s a rundown of what to take note of:

  • Where is my sauna located? Is it outdoors or indoors?
  • Does my sauna have access to electricity? Do I have easy access to firewood? 
  • Are there limitations/ regulations on the area where I want to place my sauna?
  • What are the typical costs for sauna heaters?
  • What is the internal volume of my sauna? 
  • Sauna Heater Types

Sauna Location

To know which sauna heater to use, determine where you want your sauna to be located, whether have it inside your home or outdoors. Most of the time, you’ll probably go with an electric sauna heater for an indoor sauna due to limitations with flue design and installation. 

For an outdoor sauna, your choices are open, just make sure that your sauna is designed for the outdoors, in which case the interior space is protected from the outside weather. Also, as long as you have the sauna conveniently located near power sources, you’re good to go with the electric heating option. 

Often the preference is to have an electric heater, but due to the high cost of installation and wiring, the choice, in the end, goes in favor of the firewood heater. It might be a good idea to check where the sauna is going to be installed and how much will it cost to run the wiring to the unit. 

This brings us to our next point. 

Does my sauna have access to electricity? Do I have easy access to firewood? 

When you desire an outdoor sauna but you live in the city, you could probably go with an electric-powered sauna heater for convenience. There’s no need to find wood, which can be hard to find in urban areas. You have to go for the wood-fired option for remote areas that can’t be reached with a suitable electric source. 

But, as another point of consideration, look up the regulations and limitations you may face when you opt for a wood-burning sauna heater. 

Are There Limitations/ Regulations In Regards To The Location Of My Sauna?

This goes especially for wood-fired sauna heaters: Be informed of regulations regarding wood burning in your area. Ask for assistance from your heater supplier regarding environmental and health standards in installing and using these types of heaters. Local Councils may have different requirements and regulations for wood burning, so make sure you have this sorted out properly.

As for electric-powered sauna heaters, make sure to have installation overlooked by a certified electrician to ensure the safety and reliability of your heater. 

How Much Does a Sauna Heater Cost?

When you plan on having a new sauna, most likely your supplier will recommend and include a heater in your sauna package. In case you are planning on making a DIY sauna or just planning to replace an old heater, here are some rough estimates on sauna heater prices today:

Types of SaunaAverage Cost
Wood-Fired Sauna Heater$1,500 to $10,000
Electric Sauna Heater $400 to $4,500

*Prices shown are in Australian Dollars (AUD)

What Size of Heater Do I Need for My Sauna?

To find the perfect sauna heater size, appropriate it according to your sauna space. As a general principle, a sauna heater needs 1 KW to heat 1.25 – 1.5 cubic meters of sauna space

For example, if your sauna has dimensions of  2 m (L) x 1.5 m (W) x 2 m (H), then your sauna volume computes to 6 cubic meters. This then gives you a rough estimate for a heater rated for 4-4.5 kW. This is very approximate as it does not take into account the quality of insulation and/or windows and doors in the sauna. 

Another example: A two to four-person barrel sauna with dimensions of 1.5 m in length and 1.8 m in diameter has a sauna space of 3.82 cubic meters ≈ 4 cubic meters.

(Volume = 3.142 x (Radius)^2 x Length) 

For this barrel sauna, you will need a heater size of around 4-4.5 kW. 

Sauna Heater Types

Saunas are basically heated with either traditional or infrared heating. Traditional sauna heaters have different types of power sources, namely electric, wood-fired, and even gas-fired, but still heat the sauna with the same method.

Traditional Sauna Heater

This type of sauna heater functions as it heats up the air in the room and the stones in the heater. Once the stones are hot, small amounts of water can be poured on to create steam. The steam in the air increases the humidity and thus the sauna starts to feel hotter. Aside from the relaxing heat in the sauna, the pouring of water over heated rocks brings another unique and delightful experience for sauna users. 

As compared to an infrared sauna, traditional saunas are heated to 70 – 90 degrees Celsius. You can control the temperature in most saunas, especially if you use an electric heater. By adding water to the rocks you can also control the humidity in the sauna and thus change the environment to your liking. Small amounts of essential oils can be mixed in the water to improve the environment by filling the room with aroma.  

Electric Sauna Heaters

Electric sauna heaters are the most popular and most used in the market. It’s relatively inexpensive, easy, and safe to use as compared to other traditional heating methods. With the flick of a switch, you can easily turn the heater on, wait for a few minutes, and your sauna is ready for use!

Most electric sauna heaters also come with sensors and controls that can be pre-set according to your desired temperature. 

Wood-Burning Sauna Heaters

Using a wood-burning sauna heater may be the most traditional way to enjoy a sauna. Being a way to disconnect from the modern lifestyle, the experience of burning wood and taking things slow can be a preference for many. 

A wood-burning sauna can be laborious and inconvenient to heat up and use, but many people find the element of burning wood and smoke a must when enjoying a sauna. 

In the economical and practical sense, wood-burning saunas are very ideal when your area is not reached by electricity lines. 

Of course, as compared to an electrical heater, the wood-burning sauna’s heat is difficult to be regulated. However, wood-burning heaters can produce more heat, making them a good and practical choice for medium and large saunas. 

Gas Sauna Heaters

The least common heating method, gas sauna heaters are mostly used in commercial saunas that typically run for multiple hours in a day and even days. Gas heating can be more applicable in the urban setting but may be too bulky for a home sauna. Unless you plan to build a sauna business that could cater for a ton of hours per day, you can instead go for electrical heating or a wood-fired one. 

Infrared Sauna Heaters

Infrared heaters heat the sauna space by radiation, meaning they directly heat people in the sauna without heating the air, unlike traditional saunas. This gives equal heating in the whole room, no matter where you sit in the sauna space (assuming the panels are spaced and installed correctly). 

Infrared sauna heaters (panels) provide dry but milder heat, which could be a preference for others. The radiation of infrared spectra causes your body to heat up and sweat, but it operates at about 38 to 65 degrees Celsius only. 

Infrared sauna heaters are available in the market; however, they are mostly sold as a part of an infrared sauna package. Moreover, infrared heaters are typically more expensive than traditional electric heaters. 

Additional Buying Tips

Here are some additional things to consider when buying a sauna heater:

Shipping and Delivery

Another thing to consider in buying sauna heaters is shipping and delivery. A bulky appliance can be difficult and costly to ship; it’s wise to consider shops that are close to you. Not only shipping can be cheaper, but also you have the option to pick it up from the warehouse for free. 

As for Shymsaunas, we have our products available for pickup from our warehouse at no additional expense for you. We also ship throughout Australia with various shipping options for you. 

Installation Services

No time for installing the sauna heater yourself? Make sure to look if your sauna supplier can provide installation. This additional service may come with an additional cost but can help a lot with building your sauna quickly with less hassle. 

How To Install A Heater For Your Sauna

Installing a heater for your sauna can be easy, but always make sure to have a professional overlook the installation process, whether it be for wood-fired heaters or electrical-powered ones. For electric heaters, it is a requirement that they are installed only by a qualified electrician. 

When installing a heater, always follow the manufacturer’s instructions on installation and pay attention to specific requirements. Every sauna heater has different specifications, so it’s best to always refer to your heater model’s information page.

Guidelines For Electric Sauna Heater

As a general guide for an electrical sauna heater installation, refer to the following: 

  • Sauna heaters will typically need a 220 – 240 V, 50 Hz, single or three-phase power supply and should be hard-wired to the electrical distribution box. 
  • The final specs for the power requirements will be determined by the sauna heater you choose. 
  • Make sure to use a qualified electrician to connect and install your heater. 
  • Some electric heaters are wall mounted and some are installed on the sauna floor 

Again, these are just general guidelines for the electrical connection of a sauna heater, always have your sauna heater installed by a professional. 

Basic Installation Guide For Wood-Fired Sauna Heater

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As mentioned previously it is important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions when installing a firewood heater in your sauna.  

  • Typically, all firewood heaters will come with some protective panels, which protect the areas of the sauna that are close to the heater. The manual will state how to use the panels and what minimum clearances are.
  • Make sure that the heater has clearance from the wooden parts of the sauna. 
  • Check and make sure that the firewood heater is leveled to make sure that the flue is installed straight. 
  • Use external and internal sealing arrangements for the flue recommended by the manufacturer.  

Tips And Tricks For Getting The Most Out Of Your Sauna Heater!

Here are some more tips for maximising your sauna:

  • Your sauna will take time to heat up before you can use it. There are varying times to heat the different types of sauna:
    • A wood-fired sauna may heat up from 30-60 minutes
    • Electric saunas reach sauna temperature within 30-45 minutes
    • Infrared saunas do not need to heat the air and just need 10-15 minutes to reach the desired temperature.
  • Many people enjoy the experience of wood-fired sauna heaters but these are the most difficult to maintain. Once in a while, you will need to clean out the ashes, and then keep a supply of wood if you want to use it regularly. 
  • The electricity usage for electric saunas will depend on how often you use them and how large your heater is. For example, a 4 kW sauna will use approximately 4 kWh when you use it for an hour. Just make sure that your sauna heater is properly installed, and your sauna is insulated properly so you can have everything operate efficiently. 

Wrapping Up

Known as the heart of the sauna, sauna heaters define what a sauna experience will be. A sauna with an ineffective heater is nothing but space. Sure, saunas are easily identified with their exterior wooden aesthetics, but the sauna heater is what delivers a sauna’s essence. 

Need a sauna heater? Don’t hesitate to reach out to us, so we can help you with heater recommendations. When you’re ready to purchase a sauna heater, drop by our shop and see if our sauna heaters will supply what you need. 

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