Sauna Heater FAQs
Starting your sauna heater for the first time
Yes, we do recommend starting any sauna heater with the sauna door open for about 30 minutes max.
This is to burn off any residual chemicals used in the manufacture of the sauna heater elements or housing.
If you go over 30 minutes you are likely to trip the "over-limit" circuit of an electrical sauna. This means your heater has a way to protect itself from working too hard and burning itself out – good design.
My first time doing this, I let my Polar HMR 80 sauna heater go for 45 minutes. The internal sauna room temperature was 120°F with the sauna door open! Since it automatically shut itself off, it required pressing the reset button on the very bottom of the heater (on the Polar brand heaters).
Sauna heaters types and heat sources
There are electrical saunas, combination wet/dry sauna heaters, natural gas or propane sauna heaters, woodburning sauna heaters, infrared sauna light, infrared emitters.
This article on sauna heater types addresses each one more specifically.
- GAS Natural or Propane Gas sauna heaters are larger and are more expensive than wood or electric heaters. You must have a 7'x8' room or larger and must install the heater on an outside wall.
- WOOD FIRED Most wood heaters are installed in an outdoor installation. You must install wood sauna heaters much like a fireplace or wood stove. Options for wood heaters include water jackets and shower plumb in options that heat water.
- ELECTRIC HEATER The majority of heaters are electric (95%) and require only 20, 30 or 40 AMP dedicated circuits for residential applications. We estimate the cost per usage for an electric sauna at $5-$10/mo.
- INFRARED Infrared sauna therapy lights provide the full spectrum of light frequencies: near, middle and far infrared wave lengths. The entire infrared spectrum is compatible with cellular processes. Most importantly these lights produce no electromagnetic field!
In brief, all these heat sources have their place and advantages in different sauna scenarios
Clearly for convenience gas and electric sauna heaters shine.
Most sauna heaters are electric these days. Gas does have one extra advantage similar to cooking with gas … when you turn it up, it quickly produces more heat. Too much heat? Turn it down and it produces less heat quickly. Gas sauna heaters do have one more advantage... if the power goes out, you can still take a sauna ;-)
Electric sauna heaters need more time to warm up and cool down. If you like humidity, many electric sauna heaters come with a steamy feature designed into the unit now.
In the woods, what else can you use? It's also the most traditional and instinctually satisfying. If you've never chopped your wood, stoked your sauna fire, smelled the smoke, felt the blast of steam and the good sweat of a wood-fired sauna, endeavor to try it. Ideally all of these sauna heat sources should be experienced, not merely purchased on the word of some showroom salesman.
Indeed, one of our staff recounts a memorable sauna in a native sweat lodge: "We heated 35 rocks within a pyramid of logs outside. Once the rocks were red hot, we brought 9 rocks into the shallow teepee and songs were sung. Water over the rocks released steam. Then 8 more, more sweating, talking and singing. Then 9 more, more sweating and singing. Then 8 more, more sweating and singing. One rock was left outside as a tribute to our ancestors looking down from the stars."
Infrared saunas don't get as hot nor cause profuse sweating like a traditional sauna, but they're great for the healing sauna therapy light. It's especially better for those recovering from an illness or surgery, or often for seniors who do not like a red hot sauna. And you can't beat the nearly instant penetrating heat. Infrared lights can be added to the other saunas mentioned.
Mounting and Installing Your Electrical Sauna Heater on the Wall
We have a great article about converting a spare room into a sauna that includes information and videos on centering, mounting, and installing your sauna heater.
Your electrical sauna unit should include specs on mounting the heater. Heaters usually have specific information on how far the unit should be mounted off the floor, and should be observed to assist proper incoming air flow.
Look over that and if you still have questions, let us know.
Safely mount your sauna heater on the wall
This question is answered only generally and is intended to lead you to the User's Manual for YOUR sauna heater.
Of course, ALWAYS consult the User's Manual for your sauna heater to determine a safe mounting distance.
- See a list of our Sauna Heater manuals available.
- See our videos on mounting a sauna heater to the wall. Demo shows how with a Polar HMR series heater.
For each sauna heater we sell, you will find in the "Description" tab a table specifically showing the safe distance to the wall, e.g.:
Quick formula to determine the right sauna heater for your space
Our Rule of thumb: Sauna's Cubic feet / 50 = Sauna Heater Power Needed
So ... multiply your sauna's Length x Width x Height (in feet) to calculate the cubic footage of your heat sauna, and then divide by 50.
E.g. a 5' x 8' x 6'6" sauna is 260 cubic feet / 50 = 5.2 and then round up to the next best heater. So the minimum is 5.2 kW to heat this sauna. Some economical choices here would be the Polar HMR 60 (6kW).
And the Finlandia Sauna Heaters, see chart.
Using an infrared light or emitter with another traditional sauna heater together
Yes, you certainly can use infrared sauna lights and/or emitters with another traditional sauna heater together. Many of our customers like this combo! An infrared sauna light provides heat in 10 seconds (yes, seconds), so you feel direct heat in an instant. That's the advantage of infrared. Infrared also provides other health benefits.
Then, in about 25-35 minutes your electrical or gas heater will fully heat your sauna to about 140° F. The infrared components are fine getting hot as well. It will not impair their function.
Then as you like, turn off your infrared light or rotate with another sauna bather. Infrared has a way driving heat inside the body taking any chill off quickly.
We do offer a selection of sauna heater replacement parts, or we'll find it
Yes, we do! We will certainly do our best to find contactor boxes, thermostats, sauna rocks and timers for these sauna heater manufacturers: Amerec / Metos, Polar, Helo/Tylo, Narvi, Finnleo, Polar, Helo, Narvi, Finnleo, Nippa, Saunatec and others.
Feel free to use the greatest invention since the internet — the telephone!
Call us at 1.800.426.3929. Contact Us any time.
Adding water over your sauna rocks produces a wonderful steam and humidifies your sauna session
Nearly all sauna heaters (wood-fired, gas and electric) are meant to enjoy a traditional Finnish steamy sauna experience.
Generally a couple of splashes of water is enough to create enough steam. Don't pour the water, drizzle it over the rocks. You'll get a better steam and it won't overwhelm the room and your sauna heater.
Most sauna heaters can handle a couple of ladles of water onto the sauna rocks easily, but do it lightly to get the most steam.
- Remember do NOT dump water on the rocks. They are not made to be dowsed with water.
- Drizzle water on with a ladle, never your hand! Steam is very hot.
- Consider also adding several drops of eucalyptus oil to the water to help open the lungs and your pores. Do NOT put eucalyptus oil directly onto the rocks or any other essential oil — they are volatile oils and do ignite when hot.
Keep healthy in your steamy sauna
- Also consider the Sauna Heater Humidifier for steady release of light steam to humidify your sauna session.
- Also see our article on How to Take a Sauna.
Saunas I can just plug-in or use on standard 120 volt power supply as is standard in most homes (except for your dryer and your oven)
Dry sauna and a steamy sauna
If you like humidity in your sauna for the "soft" heat, you'll love the "Tylo Combi-U or Polar SaunaTime.
You need no plumbing outlet as you fill the Combi-U with a pitcher. The Combi-U operates at 145° F at 65% humidity. The Combi-U has a computerized automatic "dry out cycle" to eliminate moisture problems to the sauna wood.
The wet/dry sauna heater combine the best features of the sauna and steam room. Since it is used in a wooden room, the humidity is still not as high as a steam room, but it does provide more steam than one can get by pouring water over rocks. It requires a 240V elelctrical circuit with 30-40 amps. There are reservoirs for water that are filled manually or automatically (requires plumbing).
For all 8,000 watt heaters and above that require 40 amps or more at 240 voltage, a contactor limits the electricity flowing to the timer.
So for example a sauna contactor on a 40 amp heater will limit or reduce the electral flow to the timer/controller to 30 amps, thus protecting the timer/controller any electrical surges and receiving too much power.
We sell many popular brands of sauna heaters
Sure here are the basic feature differences:
Polar Sauna Heater Features:
- The Polar HMR sauna heater models with the built in controls, come standard with a thermostat and a timer with a 1- 9 hour preset feature. The heater will count down from 1-9 hours and then turn on and operate for 60 minutes and then shut off. The sauna can be hot in the morning, after a workout or when you come home from work!
- Controls come from the factory located on the front but can be moved to either side for easier access when the bench is close to the heater.
- The rock capacity is 50 lbs and they stack across the top an down into the heater with direct contact with the red hot elements * Water can be ladled over the rocks.
Tylo Sauna Heater Features:
- Evaporation tray on back of heater that allows the addition of moisture as the room is heating.
- Side air vents for faster heating.
- Center stacked rock arrangement for maximum steam output when adding water to rocks. 35 Lb rock capacity. * Water can be ladled over the rocks
- "Thermo safe" exterior where no safety guardrail is required by United Laboratories.
- Three stage thermostat with divided output for greater energy efficiency. Standard mechanical 60 minute timer.
- The Tylo Supersport sauna heater has the convenient top right location of the control. The Tylo Sport U controls are at the bottom.
- External controls of multiple style are available and with the CC style controls you can even turn the heater on and off with your smart phone.
Finnlandia Sauna Heater Features:
- Sauna Heater is standard wall-mount
- Built in Controls (60 Min. Timer (with 1-8 hour pre set, Thermostat)
- Programmable Time Clock can be preset up to 8 Hours
- Stainless Steel Heating Elements
- Welded unibody powder coated glossy Enamel Exterior with compressed metal design for the greatest strength
- Control location can moved from the front to either side.
- Includes 50 lbs. of Vulcanite sauna rocks
- Controls can also be located on either side of the sauna heater
- Not for commercial application because of the 1-8 delay timer
Harvia Sauna Heater Features
- Stainless steel is used extensively
- Exceptionally efficient air-circulation system which warms up the heater and the sauna quickly while producing an even temperature.
- Harvia Cilindro Sauna Heater is a cylindrical model exposing rocks along the height of the heater
My Metos Sauna no longer heats .... is it time to replace the elements?
Here are the specifics of the unit I have: Metos Model MW5B, 240 VAC, 5kw, 1 phase
Do you stock or can you get a replacement element for this unit? If so, what is the cost, how do I order, how long for shipment/delivery, and can I replace the unit myself or do I need to have it professionally installed? Do you do installation and, if so, what is the charge?
Any Metos sauna heater is getting pretty old. We can replace most of the parts for this heater. It may not be the elements. Often only one or two elements will go bad but the heater will still partially work and put out “some” heat. So it may not be the elements. There should be Hi limit/Reset button on the bottom of the heater somewhere. Look for that and push and see if the heater comes on. Also many times if the timer goes bad the heater will be totally dead. Try these thing first and call with any other questions.
Getting by with a less powerful electric sauna heater
Basically, our rule is 125 cubic feet to determine if you need 30 or 40 amps to power your sauna.
- If your sauna is less than 125 cu. ft. you can use a sauna heater powered by a 30 amp circuit.
For example, a Polar HMR 60 electric sauna heater can easily power 4'x6'x6'4" sauna can use a 30 amp circuit.
- Greater than 125 cubic feet (cu. ft) use a 40 amp circuit. If you tried to "get by" with less ... well for one, your heater will need to work harder, shortening it's life and it won't warm the sauna as fast you'd like.
If you can't afford to spare amps toward your sauna, then consider a gas or wood-fired sauna heater ... or the smaller sauna.