Featured image for sauna heating options.

Sauna Heating Options: Tailoring Your Sauna Experience

Estimated reading time: 12 minutes

Are you confused about which sauna heating option will provide the best experience? There’s a variety of heater types, each offering unique advantages and fitting different needs.

Our comprehensive guide will help you understand these options thoroughly to customize your sauna experience perfectly.

Ready for a deep dive into saunas? Let’s heat it up!

Visit our SunRay Sauna brand page for a rich selection of our top-tier saunas, and delve into comprehensive information that guides you to your ideal wellness experience.

Key Takeaways

  • Electric sauna heaters are a popular choice for their consistent performance, easy controls, and quick heat-up times.
  • Wood-burning sauna heaters offer an authentic experience with crackling fires and soft steam, making them ideal for purists and cost-effective options.
  • Infrared sauna heaters use infrared light waves to heat your body directly, providing intense sweat and potential health benefits. They are perfect for limited spaces.
  • Gas sauna heaters are suitable for outdoor saunas or areas without electricity. They can run on propane or natural gas, offering convenience and reliability.
  • Factors to consider when choosing a sauna heater include the size of the sauna room, programmable controls, stone capacity, heat-up time, ease of installation, and cost.

Different Types of Sauna Heaters

There are several types of sauna heaters, including electric, wood-burning, infrared, and gas heaters.

Electric Sauna Heater

Electric sauna heaters are a sought-after solution for spas, gyms, and homes due to their consistent performance and easy-to-use controls.

These heaters stand out with their inherent safety features, sleek designs, and efficient heating abilities.

Furthermore, they offer quick heat-up times that do not require any pre-planning or preparation. Electric sauna heaters run on your home’s power supply providing a convenient choice for those who prefer uncomplicated setups.

Commercial establishments like hotels and athletic clubs also favor them because they can withstand long hours of operation while maintaining durability.

In choosing the right electric sauna heater, one crucial factor to consider is the size of your sauna space, which significantly influences the heater’s efficiency and effectiveness.

Infographic for electric sauna heaters.
Top Advantages of Electric Sauna Heaters

Wood-Burning Sauna Heater

Wood-burning sauna heaters create a fascinating world of traditional sauna bathing. Offering an authentic experience that purist sauna lovers adore, these heaters feature unique traits.

Their delightful crackling fire and soft löyly, the Finnish term for steam released by pouring water on hot rocks, provide a one-of-a-kind session.

High-quality diabase or olivine stones are often used to achieve optimum heat, although ceramic stones are an alternative option.

Installing a wood-burning heater in your home or outdoor barrel sauna not only keeps the heritage alive but also brings several benefits. To mention some, it’s cost-effective due to the absence of electric power requirements, and its ability to reach high temperatures quickly is indisputable.

This type of heater from Almost Heaven Saunas can cater to any custom need ranging from cozy relaxation spaces right up to larger six-person saunas.

Infrared Sauna Heater

Infrared sauna heaters work differently than traditional ones. Instead of heating the air around you, they heat your body directly with infrared light waves. This can lead to more intense sweat and potentially greater health benefits.

Infrared saunas tend to be smaller in size, making them ideal for those with limited space. They come equipped with either ceramic or carbon heaters.

Ceramics are usually cheaper but don’t offer as even a distribution of heat as carbon does, which also tends to last longer and operate with better energy efficiency.

Infrared sauna heaters include ceramic, carbon fiber, and models combining both materials for optimal performance.

Infographic for infrared sauna heaters.
Infrared Sauna Heaters

Key elements in selecting an infrared heater are how evenly the heat is distributed across the surface area and how long it takes to reach operating temperatures.

Temperature control capabilities also differ among types of infrared heaters; some may only offer preset temperature settings, while others allow adjustable levels that let users personalize their sauna session according to preference or need.

Efficiency plays a big role in choosing a solution for heating up your sauna – especially when considering monthly costs or power requirements – so keep this in mind when looking at different options on the market.

Gas Sauna Heater

Gas sauna heaters are a popular choice for saunas in areas where electricity is not readily accessible. These heaters can run on either propane or natural gas, giving you flexibility in your fuel source.

Propane gas sauna heaters can easily be connected to an exterior propane tank, providing a convenient and efficient way to heat your sauna.

Whether you have an outdoor sauna or simply prefer the convenience of using gas, these heaters offer a reliable heating solution for your sauna experience.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Sauna Heater

When choosing a sauna heater, factors such as the size of the sauna, controls, stone capacity, and heat-up time should be considered. Read on to find out more!

Infographic of the key factors for choosing a sauna heater.
Factors to Consider When Choosing a Sauna Heater

Size of the sauna

The size of the sauna room plays a crucial role in choosing the right sauna heater. The volume of the sauna room, measured in cubic feet, determines the appropriate size of the heater.

It’s essential to consider the internal volume of the sauna room when selecting a heater that can effectively heat up and maintain an optimal temperature.

Different types and sizes of sauna heaters are available depending on the type of sauna you have, including outdoor or off-grid saunas, which may have specific requirements for selecting an appropriate size heater.


Many sauna heaters come with programmable controls that allow users to easily set the time for when they want the sauna heater to turn on.

These controls can be digital, making them even more convenient and reliable.

With programmable controls, you can ensure that your sauna is heated to the perfect temperature at the perfect time, providing a relaxing and enjoyable experience every time you step into your sauna.

Plus, digital controls are becoming increasingly popular due to their reliability and competitive pricing, giving you peace of mind knowing that your sauna heating system is efficient and easy to use.

Stone Capacity

The stone capacity of a sauna heater plays a crucial role in determining the overall sauna experience. The size and amount of stones affect how long it takes for the heater to heat up and how well it retains heat.

If the stones are too small, they won’t hold enough heat, resulting in less steam and a weaker sauna experience.

On the other hand, if the stones are too large or there is insufficient stone capacity, they will take longer to heat up, leading to delayed steam output.

Choosing a sauna heater with an appropriate stone capacity is essential to ensure optimal performance and an enjoyable sauna session.

Heat-up Time

The heat-up time of a sauna can vary depending on its size. Larger saunas generally take longer to heat up compared to smaller ones.

Considering the heat-up time when choosing a sauna heater is essential, as it can impact your sauna experience.

Electric sauna heaters are commonly used and should be chosen based on the size of the sauna. Once you turn on the sauna, it is recommended to wait for about 15 minutes until it reaches a temperature of around 110 degrees Fahrenheit before entering.

This allows enough time for the sauna to reach a comfortable and relaxing temperature for your session.

Ease of Installation

Electric sauna heaters are known for their ease of installation, making them a popular choice among sauna enthusiasts. These heaters can easily be mounted on the wall, requiring minimal effort and time to set up.

On the other hand, wood-burning sauna heaters may require more complex installations due to the need for proper ventilation and safety precautions. 

When choosing a sauna heater, it’s essential to consider the ease of installation based on your specific needs and preferences, whether you prefer a quick and hassle-free setup or are willing to invest more time in installing a traditional wood-burning heater for an authentic sauna experience.


Sauna heaters come with a range of costs, starting from around $200 and going up to $800. When building an indoor sauna, the price can begin at $3,000 and go as high as over $9,500 for a custom sauna.

Running a 40k BTU sauna heater would typically cost about $0.58 per hour, up to approximately $9.28 per month and $111.36 per year.

Remember that the size and customization of the sauna will impact the overall installation cost of a home sauna.

Pros and Cons of Each Sauna Heater Type

Electric sauna heaters offer convenience and ease of use, while wood-burning heaters provide an authentic sauna experience.

Infrared sauna heaters are ideal for limited spaces, and gas sauna heaters are great for outdoor saunas and added convenience.

Infographic of the pros and cons of each sauna heater.
Pros and Cons of Each Sauna Heater Type

Electric Sauna Heaters: Convenience and Ease-of-Use

Electric sauna heaters offer convenience and ease of use, making them a popular choice for those who value simplicity. They are considered the cleanest and most convenient option for heating your sauna.

With their sleek design and efficient operation, electric sauna heaters provide safe and reliable heat without needing wood or gas.

They can be easily controlled with a thermostat or timer, allowing you to set the desired temperature and duration of your sauna session.

Electric sauna heaters are not only suitable for home saunas but also ideal for commercial facilities due to their durability and convenience.

However, it’s important to note that connecting an electric sauna heater directly to the electric heating system may impact your utility bills.

Wood-Burning Sauna Heaters: Authentic Experience

Wood-burning sauna heaters provide an authentic and rustic sauna experience. Their crackling wood fires and pleasant scent bring a unique ambiance to your sauna.

These heaters are also more affordable than electric heater models, making them popular for those who want to enjoy the traditional sauna experience without breaking the bank.

Another advantage of wood-burning sauna stoves is that they offer soft löyly (steam) and gentle heat, providing a relaxing sweat bathing experience.

So if you’re looking for an authentic sauna experience with a touch of nostalgia, consider opting for a wood-burning sauna heater.

Infrared Sauna Heaters: Convenience and Limited Space

Infrared sauna heaters offer a convenient option for those with limited space. Unlike traditional saunas, they operate at lower temperatures and do not require heating up the entire room.

This makes them more energy-efficient and perfect for smaller spaces. With infrared sauna heaters, you can still enjoy all the benefits of a sauna experience without compromising convenience or comfort.

Gas Sauna Heaters: Outdoor Saunas and Convenience

Gas sauna heaters are an excellent choice for outdoor saunas, especially in areas with limited or no access to electricity. These heaters can be fueled by propane or natural gas, offering convenience and versatility.

They can even be attached to an exterior propane tank, making them easy to maintain and operate.

Although the initial costs of gas sauna heaters may be higher than electric or wood heaters, they provide a reliable heat source for outdoor saunas where electricity may not be readily available.

With their convenience and ability to withstand harsh weather conditions, gas sauna heaters are a popular option for those who want to enjoy a relaxing sauna experience in their outdoor space.

Review of the Different Sauna Heater Types

Several different types of sauna heaters are available, each with unique features and benefits.

Electric sauna heaters are a popular choice among sauna enthusiasts because they offer convenience, ease of use, and precise temperature control. They are also energy-efficient and require minimal maintenance.

Wood-burning sauna heaters provide a more traditional sauna experience, using wood as the heat source to create that authentic dry heat and steamy atmosphere.

Gas sauna heaters are another option for outdoor saunas, offering convenience and quick heating time.

Infrared sauna heaters use infrared energy to directly heat the body, providing a gentle and comfortable heat ideal for those who prefer a softer sauna experience or have specific health conditions.

Overall, the choice of sauna heater depends on personal preferences, budget considerations, and the size of your sauna space.

How to Choose the Best Sauna Heater for Your Sauna

  • Consider the size of your sauna to determine the appropriate heater capacity.
  • Determine if you prefer a dry heat or steam-based sauna experience.
  • Research and compare different types of sauna heaters, such as electric, wood-burning, infrared, steam, gas, and hybrid.
  • Choose an electric sauna heater with the correct power rating for your sauna room size.
  • Evaluate the cost of operation and monthly electricity usage for each type of sauna heater.
  • Consider any specific health conditions or considerations when selecting a sauna heating option.

To Sum Up

Make the most of your sauna experience by choosing the right heating option. Consider factors such as size, controls, stone capacity, and heat-up time when selecting a sauna heater.

Whether you prefer the convenience of electric or the authentic feel of wood-burning, there’s a sauna heater that will tailor your experience to perfection.

So go ahead, indulge in deep relaxation, and enjoy all the health benefits that saunas have to offer with a heater suited just for you.


What are the different sauna heating options available?

The different sauna heating options include electric heaters, wood-burning stoves, and infrared heaters.

How does an electric sauna heater work?

An electric sauna heater uses electricity to heat up rocks or elements inside the unit, which then radiates heat throughout the sauna.

Are wood-burning stoves a good option for heating a sauna?

Wood-burning stoves can provide a traditional and authentic sauna experience but require more maintenance and attention than other heating options.

What are the benefits of using an infrared heater in a sauna?

Infrared heaters in saunas produce dry heat that directly warms your body without significantly raising the air temperature. It is believed to have various health benefits, such as detoxification and improved circulation.

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