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The Ultimate Guide to Choosing the Best Sauna for Your Home

Understanding Sauna Types

Traditional Steam Saunas

  • Traditional steam saunas, also known as Finnish saunas, use a heater to warm stones, and water is thrown onto the hot stones to produce steam. The temperature typically ranges from 70°C to 100°C .

  • Pros:

  • Authentic sauna experience with high humidity for deep relaxation.

  • Helps in detoxification through sweating and improves cardiovascular health.

  • Cons:

  • High operating costs due to energy use for heating.

  • Requires regular maintenance and ventilation to manage moisture.

Infrared Saunas

  • Infrared saunas use infrared heaters to emit infrared light experienced as radiant heat, which is absorbed directly by the skin. This type operates at a lower temperature range than traditional saunas (usually between 45°C and 65°C).

  • Pros:

  • More energy-efficient and operates at a lower temperature.

  • Deeper tissue penetration may offer enhanced muscle relaxation and detoxification.

  • Cons:

  • Some purists may not consider it a "true" sauna experience due to the lack of steam.

  • The long-term effects and benefits of infrared light exposure are less understood.

Wood-Burning Saunas

  • Wood-burning saunas are the most traditional type, using a wood stove to heat the sauna room. They are often found in rural areas or places where access to electricity is limited.

  • Pros:

  • Offers a traditional experience with a natural wood aroma.

  • Does not require electricity, making it suitable for off-grid locations.

  • Cons:

  • Requires more effort to maintain, including sourcing and managing wood.

  • Heating time can be longer compared to electric saunas.

Portable Saunas

  • Portable saunas are compact and can be set up in various locations within a home. They typically use infrared technology or steam to create heat and can be folded away when not in use.

  • Pros:

  • Affordable and easy to install.

  • Flexibility in location and storage when space is limited.

  • Cons:

  • May not offer the same level of heat or experience as built-in models.

  • Often smaller, limiting the number of users at one time.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Sauna

Space and Location

  • Indoor vs. Outdoor Considerations: Indoor saunas are convenient and offer year-round access, but require proper ventilation. Outdoor saunas can blend with the landscape but may require additional construction and weatherproofing.

  • Space Requirements: Ensure there's enough space for the sauna itself, changing area, and possible shower. Consider ceiling height, door swing, and any additional space for a comfortable layout.

Size and Capacity

  • Determining the Right Size: Consider how many people will use the sauna at once. A two-person sauna is compact, while larger families may need space for 4-6 people.

  • Space vs. Capacity Trade-offs: Larger saunas require more space and energy to heat but offer a more social or family-friendly experience.

Material and Construction

  • Different Materials Used: Cedar is popular for its durability and resistance to moisture and decay. Pine is a more affordable option but does not offer the same aroma.

  • Construction Quality Indicators: Look for thick walls, proper insulation, tight-fitting doors, and quality heaters to ensure efficient heating and durability.

Heating Elements

  • Comparison of Heaters: Electric heaters are convenient and easy to control, infrared offers deeper heat penetration with lower temperatures, and wood-burning provides a traditional experience.

  • Efficiency and Maintenance Considerations: Infrared saunas are generally more energy-efficient, while wood-burning saunas require more maintenance. Electric heaters offer a balance between ease of use and operational cost.

Health Benefits and Safety

Health Benefits

  • Detailed Benefits: Regular sauna use is associated with numerous health benefits, such as detoxification, improved circulation, reduced muscle soreness, and relaxation. Some studies suggest saunas can lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases.

  • Scientific Studies or Expert Opinions: Citing studies or expert opinions can lend credibility to the claimed health benefits, providing readers with evidence-based information.

Installation and Maintenance

Installation Process

  • DIY vs. Professional Installation: The choice between DIY and professional installation depends on the sauna type and the homeowner's skill level. Infrared and portable saunas are more accessible for DIY installation, while traditional steam and wood-burning saunas might require professional help due to the complexity of the electrical and ventilation systems.

  • Required Tools and Expertise:

  • For DIY: Basic tools such as drills, hammers, and screwdrivers are necessary. Understanding of electrical wiring is essential for electric and infrared saunas.

  • For Professional: Specialised tools for tasks like custom-cutting wood or installing proper ventilation and insulation. Knowledge of local building codes and regulations is also critical.

Maintenance and Upkeep

  • Routine Maintenance Tasks:

  • Regular cleaning of benches and floors with mild soap.

  • Checking and cleaning heaters, stones, and wood-burning stove chimneys.

  • Inspecting and replacing any worn-out components like door seals.

  • Tips for Long-Term Care and Preservation:

  • Ensure proper ventilation to prevent mould and mildew buildup.

  • Avoid using harsh chemicals that can damage wood or components.

Cost Considerations

Initial Investment

  • Price Ranges for Different Sauna Types:

  • Portable saunas are the most affordable, ranging from a few hundred to a couple of thousand dollars.

  • Infrared saunas range from R15 000 to R75 000

  • Traditional steam and wood-burning saunas can cost anywhere from R45 000 to R150 000 or more, depending on size and customisations.

  • Factors Influencing the Cost: The size of the sauna, materials used (with cedar being more expensive than pine), and the brand's reputation can significantly impact the price.

Operating Costs

  • Energy Consumption Comparison: Infrared saunas are the most energy-efficient, followed by electric and then wood-burning saunas, which may require purchasing wood.

  • Maintenance and Repair Costs Over Time: Infrared saunas generally have lower maintenance costs, while traditional saunas may incur higher costs due to the need for more frequent upkeep and potential repairs.

Personalisation and Accessories

Customisation Options

  • Custom Build vs. Pre-Built Models: Custom-built saunas offer the ability to tailor every aspect to personal preferences and space requirements, whereas pre-built models provide convenience and potentially lower costs.

  • Available Upgrades and Modifications: Options include adjustable lighting, additional benches, windows, and specific wood types or finishes.

Accessories and Enhancement

  • Recommended Accessories:

  • Aromatherapy oils for enhancing relaxation and mood.

  • Sauna stones for traditional steam saunas to improve heat distribution and humidity control.

  • Backrests and headrests for added comfort.

  • Smart Features and Technology Integrations:

  • Digital controls for temperature and humidity.

  • Bluetooth speakers and LED lighting for a personalised ambiance.

  • Smart home integration for remote control and scheduling.

This comprehensive overview covers the essential aspects of installation, maintenance, cost considerations, and personalisation options for home saunas, providing valuable insights for homeowners looking to make an informed decision.

Choosing the Right Brand and Retailer

Brand Reputation

Importance of Choosing Reputable Brands: Selecting a sauna from a reputable brand ensures quality, reliability, and safety. Well-established brands often offer better materials, construction, and heating technology, contributing to a superior sauna experience and longevity of the product.

  • How to Research and Evaluate Brand Reliability:

  • Read Customer Reviews: Online platforms, forums, and social media are great resources to gauge user satisfaction and identify common issues with certain brands.

  • Check Certifications: Look for certifications that indicate compliance with safety and quality standards, such as UL (Underwriters Laboratories) or CE (Conformité Européenne).

  • Consult Experts: Sauna dealers, installers, and even health professionals can provide insights into the best brands for different needs and budgets.

  • Company History: Consider how long the company has been in business and its track record for innovation and customer service.

Retailer Considerations

Benefits of Buying from Specialised Retailers vs. General Handyman: Specialised sauna retailers often have a deeper understanding of their products, can offer detailed advice on selection and installation, and may provide better after-sales support compared to general handyman.

  • Warranty, Return Policies, and Customer Service Importance:

  • Warranty: A comprehensive warranty can protect your investment by covering defects and repairs. Compare warranty lengths and what's included among different brands.

  • Return Policies: Look for retailers with fair return policies, allowing you some flexibility if the sauna doesn't meet your expectations once installed.

  • Customer Service: Good customer service from both the retailer and the manufacturer is crucial for resolving any issues that may arise. Consider companies that are responsive and helpful in customer interactions.

  • Spare parts: A sauna is big investment, make sure your chosen supplier carries spare parts, no use in having a sauna that cannot be fixed or being told there is  waiting time to receive the parts.


Choosing the right sauna for your home is a significant decision that impacts your health, well-being, and the value of your home. It's essential to consider the type of sauna that best fits your lifestyle, the space where it will be installed, the materials and construction quality, and the brand's reputation and reliability. Researching and evaluating these factors thoroughly will ensure that you make an informed decision. Remember, the best sauna is one that meets your specific needs in terms of comfort, size, and budget. Take your time to explore all options, and don't hesitate to consult with professionals to get the most out of your investment. By prioritising quality and suitability, you can enjoy the numerous benefits of sauna ownership for many years to come.


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