WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN
INFRARED AND TRADITIONAL SAUNAS?
Traditional saunas are
a high heat, low humidity environment. Temperatures range
between 80-90°C (185-195°F) and water is splashed over the
heater rocks to create a blast of hypersteam and intensify
the feeling of heat. For those who enjoy this experience,
there is nothing in the world quite like it.
NOTE: There is an exception for the Tylo Combi sauna heater. The Combi produces its own steam and so operates at a lower temperature. The Combi is the "soft-heat" traditional sauna.
Infrared saunas provide
a much more mild environment. Infrared rays heat the body
directly and the air secondarily. For those who enjoy the
"heat bath" experience, but cannot take or do not
enjoy traditional saunas, infrared is an excellent alternative.
It is important to keep in
mind that the experience is not the same.
Many people who have experienced and enjoyed traditional saunas
inquire about infrared saunas thinking it will be the same.
Infrared saunas provide a very
enjoyable experience, but are different from a traditional
sauna. If you know and love traditional saunas, you should
seek out information beyond the claims of infrared vendors.
Many infrared manufacturers and
distributors make comparisons to traditional saunas that are
misleading and untrue. As a distributor of both types of
saunas, Saunafin would like dispel some of these misstatements:
The chart below lists some of the
claims often made and explains them in more detail:
|| CORRECT INFORMATION
|Infrared saunas heat up in under 10
minutes. Traditional saunas require 45-90 minutes
||Infrared saunas heat to between
120°F to 150°F. Traditional saunas to 195°F.
Infrareds heat up in about 10-20 minutes. A traditional
sauna, sized properly, will heat a sauna in 20-35 minutes.
However, Heating up an infrared only provides for that
"toasty" feeling. To perspire, you must be exposed
to the infrared rays. It generally takes 12-20 minutes
of exposure to begin sweating.
|Traditional saunas are expensive to
||Electrical costs are a direct
reflection of heater size and operating time. The average
electrical cost is 7 cents per kw hour. A 1.6 kW infrared
sauna will cost 5-10 cents per use. A 6 kw traditional
sauna will cost 40-50 cents. Most people use their sauna
once or twice per week. So while it is true that traditional
cost more, in either case costs are measured in pennies,
|Infrared saunas assemble in minutes,
while traditional saunas take days and require special
||Infrared saunas come primarily
as pre-fabricated panels that snap or screw together.
While they are relatively simple to assemble, it is more
realistic to assume 1-2 hours for assembly. Traditional
saunas are most popularly purchased as do-it yourself
kits, which take a few days to install. There are also
pre-fab traditional saunas that are built in essentially
the same way as infrareds-that is panels that are simply
screwed together. And they too can be assembled in a couple
|Traditional saunas require special
electrical work. Infrareds plug into any outlet.
||Traditional do require a dedicated
breaker. While some smaller infrared saunas can plug into
any outlet, many mid size to larger require a dedicated
15 or 20 amp plug - which must also be installed by an
|Traditional saunas require a lot of
||There is absolutely no difference
in the amount of maintenance required. Even a heavily
used home sauna gets relatively light use - once or twice
a week on average. The only maintenance required is to
wipe down the walls and benches periodically with a mild
solution of water and dish detergent.
|Infrared sauna heat is dry and gentle,
where traditional saunas are harsh and claustrophobic.
||This is really a matter of
"to each his own". It is true that traditional
saunas are a harsher environment. For many that is the
essence of a sauna - extreme heat with blasts of humidity
from splashing the rocks. For those sauna purists, there
is nothing else. However, for those who seek the benefits
of heat therapy, but do not enjoy traditional saunas,
infrareds offer a practical and enjoyable alternative.
INFRARED SAUNA COMPARISON
DIFFERENCES BETWEEN INFRARED SAUNAS?
There are basically two factors, which
differentiate infrared saunas from each other: Construction
Materials and the type of Infrared Emitter.
Because of heat and humidity, traditional saunas must use a durable softwood and cedar is the material of choice. There is no humidity in infrared saunas, so there are more other wood options available. Most infrared saunas are constructed of Cedar or Canadian Hemlock.
Some suggest that cedar is not healthy.
This is another of those unfortunate misstatements designed
to unfairly knock the competition. Cedar has been used for
hundreds of years in the construction of saunas as well as
for decks, fences and in homes. It is an effective, attractive
and aromatic product that many associate with saunas.
Those who criticize cedar fail to tell
you that the only ill effects from cedar come from its dust
- that is, to a few workers in the lumber industry who cut
and process the timbers. Of course, this applies to virtually
every other wood or industrial product. There are
no health issues resulting from the use of cedar for saunas.
ELEMENT (EMITTER) TYPE
Most elements are either Carbon or Ceramic (Solid Ceramic or Incoloy).
Built properly, both types can work effectively. The basic difference is the size of the heater and the intensity of the heat.
Incoloy: It is a tubular element usually coated in ceramic in order for it to pass as an infrared element. Of the three types, we would strongly discourage these. Firstly, it is not true ceramic. Secondly, they are the lowest quality.
Solid Ceramic: It is a heating filament cast into solid convex shaped ceramic heater. These are industrial elements generally used for zone or patio heating. They are being used in saunas with no real alteration to their design or construction.
On the plus side, this is a real infrared emitter and can be effective. It is popular among smaller local manufacturers because the emitters are readily available in small quantities.
The issue with all ceramic emitters is their small size and the intensity of surface and localized temperature. These emitters can get up to 400oC (750oF). It is necessary to have a backrest at least to 3” to 4” away from the heater in order for it to be used at all. Many complain that it is too hot on their skin and that they must shift their body frequently or lean forward to avoid discomfort.
Ceramic emitters work well for those who are building their own sauna. Such saunas are often non-standard in size and the smaller ceramic emitters offer more flexibility in placement. Also, custom infrared saunas are often larger, so require more emitters. Ceramic are available in 240 volt, so that the load remains manageable. And since these are being hard-wired in the field, 240 volt is not an issue. With Carbon, it would be necessary to run several 120 volt circuits.
Carbon: Organic Carbon emitters have a very large surface area. The result is a much cooler surface temperature, more even heating and full body coverage. It is possible to touch the heater during use without getting burned. The heating surface area is typically 30-50 times greater ceramic tube heaters. The larger surface area envelopes and reduces any hot or cold spots in the sauna.
Depending on the motivation behind selecting an infrared sauna, carbon may be the preferred choice. If the major consideration is heat therapy for sore muscles, arthritis or fibromyalgia, carbon is likely the better selection. Carbon heaters spread the heat evenly throughout the sauna. Virtually all the wall space is covered. And as is the case with our Tylo saunas, there are heaters in the bench and floor as well – This can not be done with ceramic. Ceramic aims at your body core and it will work to make you perspire. But carbon will heat the whole body more evenly.
Having said that, our Carbon emitters operate from 8.4 to 9.4 microns for maximum infrared penetration and benefit.