Posted by Sunlighten on 22 December 2016

Carbon vs Ceramic Heaters & The Evolution Of Infrared Saunas

Your sauna will be your personal wellness tool and you want it to last and provide the best available health outcomes, that is why it’s so important to do your research before purchasing.

If you want the optimum sauna experience, then you need to ask about the heater technology. You are making a long term decision and you want to ensure your sauna is a worthwhile investment.

There are several heating options on the market, but unless you understand the differences you may be compromising your sauna experience. You are making an investment for health & enjoyment, so you don’t want to have hot & cold spots and inferior heating.

In this post, we will cover the critical differences between infrared heaters. You’ll find useful information to help you choose the most advanced heater for your needs.



In the early years of infrared saunas, ceramic was the most commonly used type of heater and are still used today in some saunas. These heaters have a high surface temperature and get very hot very quickly with hot and cold spots throughout the sauna.

Extensive research and development by Sunlighten has caused a surge in popularity for carbon heaters due to the lower surface temperature which leads to high infrared output or emissivity (video).

carbon ceramic saunas


In 1999 Sunlighten developed wooden infrared sauna cabins using Ceramic Quantum Wave heaters, the largest ceramic heaters on the market.

With research Sunlighten realised in order to produce a precise far-infrared wavelength with high emissivity it needed a heater that was large enough to work at much lower temperatures. The general physics law (Wein’s Law of Displacement) states that a large surface area working at a lower surface temperature will produce the long far-infrared frequency. The ceramic heaters were getting too hot to sustain this frequency, therefore users were not receiving the deeper sweat and toxin release associated with the far-infrared wavelength.

In 2001, Sunlighten introduced the world’s first carbon heaters – Solocarbon®. This breakthrough carbon technology became the foundation of Sunlighten’s success. It broke the mould by combining high far-infrared emissivity with the largest surface area. To prove the faith Sunlighten had in their product tests and studies were performed by independent testing bodies. A clinical study showed a rise in core body temperature while, independent scientific testing was performed proving Sunlighten’s Solocarbon® heaters emitted 95% far-infrared.

Sunlighten have revolutionised the infrared sauna industry again with the introduction of Solocarbon® 3in1 heating. The only technology in the world that can deliver dial up of precise wavelengths needed to target specific wellness outcomes. Near, mid and far-infrared at 99% emissivity.


Logically, it would make sense to combine the two into one heater! However tests by Dr Ronald Lewarchik at the University of Eastern Michigan showed that a blend of carbon and ceramic actually decreased emissivity. Once again the ceramic component had a higher surface temperature .

An infrared sauna should be more than just hot air.

Lower surface temperature = long far-infrared to penetrate into your body and raise your core body temperature. Not high heat which is just heating the ambient air in the cabin.

When doing your research ask for the emissivity testing, if it is not at high levels or independent testing or not supplied then this is a red flag.

We hope this gives you some insight as to why you should ask for and carefully examine independent test data on the sauna heaters before buying.

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