Sauna heaters, Compendium of knowledge

When we are "aching", we use warming ointments; Finns go into the sauna in such cases. We mainly associate such places with spa & wellness complexes. In recent years, however, it has become increasingly popular to build small cabins in the privacy of the home, for example to relax after a hard day at work.

  • Using a sauna has a positive effect on our health
  • A wood-burning heater is a traditional solution that requires a flue
  • Electric heater are a modern solution, the power of which is selected based on the cubature of the sauna
  • Combi heaters combine the advantages of a dry and steam sauna
  • Infrared saunas allow people who cannot use a traditional sauna due to contraindications to take advantage of the bath

How a sauna heater works

There is no sauna without a heater. It heats the air to high temperatures, making the room climate favorable for bathing sessions. But how does the heart of the sauna work? The principle of operation has not changed since the beginning of the long history of sauna use. Special stones are heated to high temperatures, and these give off heat, warming up the room. With the development of technology, electric heaters appeared. The rule, however, remains the same - you need to warm up the stones. To increase the humidity of the air, it is often sprinkled with water. This allows you to create a delicate steam that soothes the senses of using the sauna.

Types of sauna heaters

There are many manufacturers of sauna heaters on the market. As you can guess, the best ones come from the "sauna capital" - Finland. The heaters differ in appearance and power. With the development of technology and the simplification of the construction of saunas, electric heater were created. They are as efficient as the classic ones and will allow you to build a sauna anywhere, of course with access to electricity. But let's start with the tradition ...

Wood-fired sauna heaters

Wood-fired heater are the traditional method of heating a sauna. They reach very high temperatures that can reach over 100 degrees Celsius at 10 percent humidity. However, the heating process takes longer. The prepared wood is fired in the firebox. Usually it has a glass door, so we can easily check if you need to add it to the oven. In addition, it fulfills another task - the blasting fire and the sound of shooting wood are extremely atmospheric and relaxing. We know this feeling perfectly when we observe a fire in a home hearth. The fumes from the heater are discharged through a chimney, which must be connected to a separate ventilation pipe. This complicates the matter a bit if we want to put such a heater in a home sauna, not a garden. Additionally, you need to provide a place for storing wood. Due to the high temperatures, the distances from the flammable elements must be greater than in other technologies, and this means that for the convenience of using the sauna room, the cubature of the sauna room must be larger.

The wood-burning heater in its design has a special place where stones are deposited that heat up. The principle of operation is the same as in the case of tiled heaters . The stones can be sprinkled with water without fear that the hearth will go out. Modern models of wood heaters take various shapes, some are enclosed in sheet metal, others are completely surrounded by stones. The solution is certainly aimed at lovers of tradition and "rituals". Over time, however, using such a heater can become a nuisance for those who want to take a quick bath to relax after a hard day.

Electric heaters

With the formation of technology and the desire to create gel structures. They are faster and faster to use, because you do not need to pass quickly, you do not need to fire up, and just take it quickly to the buttons or knob. They do not heat up like traditional ones, but still happen, they often reach very high temperatures of over 90 degrees Celsius. Due to the fact that fires are special heaters that heat up the stones, the designers are not limited in terms of construction. Electric heaters take various shapes - spheres, prisms, cylinders. The only limitation is your imagination, but souvenirs about common sense so that they give off heat as effectively as possible.

To meet the expectations of consumers, manufacturers have created combi ovens, popularly known as "combi". They are a combination of an ordinary electric heater with a special container for water or aromas. It is mounted close to the stone chamber. High temperature causes the contents to evaporate. Thanks to this, the humidity in the room increases and we can talk about a steam sauna. This is a good solution for those who do not want to invest in additional equipment such as steam generators and expand their cabins.

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Electric heater control - so what's the difference?

If wood is added in traditional solutions, how is it here? It all depends on the model. Some of the heaters have built-in controls on the casing, others require an external controller. The latter solution is more convenient because it will allow you to start the heater without going into the booth.

Electric heaters allow for more precise temperature control in the sauna. They can also be programmed for a given hour. Thanks to this, we will not have to wait for the sauna to heat up, and we will enter a perfectly prepared room. Modern controllers have a wifi module, thanks to which the heater can be controlled by phone from anywhere. Even outside the home! A hard day at work, returning from the ski slope, a sudden desire to relax - a few clicks on the phone and the sauna will be prepared.

Steam generators

For those who want a taste of the steam sauna, however, there are devices called steam generators. Contrary to the heaters, these heaters are installed outside the room. The cabin only has nozzles through which the steam flows. During the session, the air temperature is much lower, reaching about 50 degrees Celsius, while the air humidity rises to 40%.

Location is also important as the steam generator draws water directly from the house plumbing. Therefore, it will require a close location or reconstruction of the hydraulic system.

See the steam generators that are available in our store

Expert Advises!

What kind of steam sauna heater

As we wrote earlier, a steam generator is required for the full steam sauna conditions. It is an external device that produces sterile and clean steam by means of electrodes immersed in water. The generator produces the necessary amount of it until the temperature reaches an appropriate level. A more economical solution is to purchase a combi oven, the so-called combi. It allows you to create a delicate steam thanks to a special container for water and fragrance oils. This container is integrated with the heater , so it does not require additional space and adaptation of the installation. However, it should be remembered that combi ovens cannot produce as much steam as the generator itself.

What kind of heater for a dry sauna

We have a number of options to create your dream sauna when it comes to choosing a heater. Traditional wood-burning heaters as well as modern electric heaters are perfect here. The latter are a better solution because they do not require any special infrastructure. The leading brands on the market are Harvia, HUUM and Tylo. The multitude of models and their appearance will allow for adjustment to the individual taste of the customer. The perfect dry sauna heater will be found by lovers of the classics as well as fans of modernist shapes. Additionally, some models of electric heaters can be hung on the wall. It is an ideal solution for rooms with a small cubature. This will allow you to save space in the cabin, so that more people can fit, and additionally, it facilitates the cleaning of the entire room

What kind of heater for a garden sauna

With the rise in popularity for 'saunas', manufacturers are making it easier to build and create ready-made cabins that can be installed at home. However, garden barrel saunas are making the biggest furore. This is an aesthetically pleasing solution that allows the cabin to be placed in front of the house in the garden or allotment. The solution is not the cheapest one, as a "barrel" may cost even several thousand zlotys, but the effect is electrifying. Especially in winter, it will make things easier for snow-hardening fans.

The solution is comfortable in that we have total freedom in the choice of heater. The room, due to its oval shape, distributes the heat very well, so it takes much less time to warm up. In a garden barrel sauna, we can install a wood-burning or electric heater. In the case of the former, we have the chimney issue made easier. Saunas are made of wood and can be easily let outdoors. There are also models prepared for the installation of such a heater. They have a flue prepared in their construction. A good solution when we do not have the opportunity to connect to the mains.

If we have this opportunity, an electric heater can be thought of. The advantages of this solution were mentioned earlier. Convenience, ease of use and a lot of time saved are a very big summary of what speaks for this choice. Both solutions for the garden sauna are optimal and the choice is up to personal preference.

Useful products

Sauna Infrared

ne of the more modern methods of therapeutic sessions are infrared saunas. The construction of such saunas requires the purchase of special infrared heaters. It is an ideal solution for people who, for various reasons, have received contraindications to the use of traditional saunas. The difference in operation is very considerable. Infrared heaters have a direct effect on our body. They penetrate deeply, warming up the muscle tissue. The difference is that, as they do not heat the air strongly, the temperature in the cabin is much lower than in a traditional solution.

Infrared saunas reach the required temperature very quickly. This makes them an economical solution. Infrared heaters require several minutes to reach the optimum temperature. Infrared saunas are recommended by doctors because they combine the advantages of a traditional sauna with the omission of contraindications. The sessions look identical to those with heaters, but the sessions can last longer and are more pleasant for people who have difficulty breathing in a dry or steam sauna.

How to choose a sauna heater

Once you have thought through all the pros and cons of all the solutions and decided to build a sauna, the moment will come when you are faced with choosing the heart of the sauna - the heater. Many people wonder which heater to buy. The answer may be surprising - one that we like. However, it must have the right power. Manufacturers offer the same models in different "wattage" variants, so it should not be a problem to find the right heater for you. The question is how to choose the right power for the sauna heater so that it is neither too powerful nor too weak. All for the sake of your wallet and enjoyment.

The principle is very simple, 1m3 of sauna corresponds to 1 kW of heater power. However, there is always a 'but'. The cabin itself is insulated and therefore does not lose heat. However, there may be uninsulated elements (e.g. glass doors) which reduce the efficiency. How do you calculate the power for such a room? The easiest way is to artificially add 1.5 m3 of volume for every 1 m2, I repeat square metre of glazing.

See example of calculation

The cabin is 6.4 m3 in size, so we should buy a 6 kW heater . However, one of the elements is a glass door with a dimension of 1.8m x 0.8m (1.44m2), and this means that we have to add 1.5 m3 to the volume

6.4m3 + 1.5 m3 = 7.9 m3

It follows that it is better to choose a 7.5-8 kW model. This rule of thumb gets a little fuzzy with high-powered heaters, so we present a sauna heater selection table for your convenience. Based on this, we can easily select the right power.

In addition to power, it is also worth paying attention to the power supply when choosing a heater. Those with a low power output (up to about 5 kW) can be supplied with 230 V. However, the high probability is that we will need a heater with a higher power, these require a three-phase 400 V connection. The electrical installation therefore needs to be redone.

In addition, you need to consider the choice of control. Is it to be controlled on the heater or via an external controller. However, this is already a personal preference of the buyer.

How to choose a steam generator for a steam bath

When it comes to steam generators, many factors influence the choice of power. These include the construction of the cabin. This one can be lightweight in plastic or heavy in tile, concrete and stone. In addition, some have ventilation, others do not. Therefore, it will be easiest to present a universal table on the basis of which you can select the right steam generator for your steam bath.

Expert Advises!

How much electricity does a sauna heater consume?

The investment in the construction of the cabin is a cost in the range of several to several thousand. Rising electricity prices may raise some concerns. Pleasure and relaxation are one thing, but there is a question behind all electronic equipment. How much electricity does it use and how much will it cost me to de-stress and take care of my health. As you can imagine, the answer is not clear cut and it all depends on the power of the heater.

See an example calculation*

A Harvia Cilindro 6.8 kW heater in a small sauna will consume 6.8kWh per hour. Assume that the price of one kilowatt hour is 60 groszy

6.8 kWh x 0.6 = 4.08 zł

4.08 PLN - that's how much an hour of sauna heater operation will cost us. Not particularly much, and we hope you haven't forgotten a very important point. The temperature sensor, switches off the heater when the optimum temperature for sauntering is reached, so it won't draw electricity throughout your bathing sessions.

*calculations based on energy prices in Poland

However, the health-promoting properties of using a sauna bath are incalculable. As you can see, the costs of using a sauna are not as high as many people might think.

The sauna is a good solution for people who have problems with their health or live with constant stress. The Finns have been using this method for centuries and are associated with a healthy, positive-minded nation. If they take an example, it is only from positive role models.

Is sauntering safe?

When the sauna heater is connected correctly and all rules related to the use of the sauna are observed, plus there are no medical contraindications, sauntering is completely safe.

Should I cool down with water after using the sauna?

Yes, the basic rule of using the sauna is a cooling bath after leaving the cabin. This is to prevent the body from overheating.

What stones are used for the heater

Use stones of irregular shape intended for heater . Peridotite, olivine diabase, and olivine are all suitable materials. Do not use light, porous ceramic "stones" or soft soapstones. When heated, they do not absorb heat sufficiently. This may damage the heaters

Are electric heaters worse than wood-fired

When it comes to technical aspects, they are in no way inferior to traditional heaters . They are easy to install and use, which is why some people may consider them better than wood-fired heaters.

Can I use fragrance oils in the sauna?

Sauna heaters can also be used for aromatherapy. The fragrance oil is diluted with water and poured over the stones. Combi ovens have special containers into which the solution is poured.

Are electric heaters connected with a "plug"?

No, electric heaters should be connected directly to the electrical installation using the appropriate cable thickness. The manufacturer also specifies in the manual what size of the fuse should be used.

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Tomasz Tomkowicz

Pool Technology Specialist

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