Posted by Sunlighten on 15 April 2015

Infrared vs. Steam saunas

If you’re considering a sauna for your home or business, one of the first decisions you’ll make is between infrared and steam heating. As pioneers of infrared heating technology our bias is clear: we believe in the benefits of true infrared heat. However we also understand infrared isn't suitable for every situation.

To help you get started, the following is a list of pros and cons of both infrared and steam saunas, so you can decide which sauna heating option is right for you.

Steam, hot rock or ‘traditional’ saunas

traditional saunas

The Pro's

An invigorating experience

There’s no two ways about it - for traditionalists, the high heat environment of a steam or hot rock sauna is inimitable. The intensity of steam, controlled breathing and herbal infusions (perhaps even a dip in an icy bath afterwards) combine to create a uniquely invigorating experience. But it’s not for everyone.

Custom-built sauna environments

The clinical-grade infrared heating in Sunlighten saunas is calibrated specifically for the sauna cabins in our range. This infrared heating technology cannot be installed or retrofitted to an existing room. Therefore, all custom-built or architecturally-integrated sauna rooms must be heated by hot rock or steam heating systems.

Outdoor settings

Traditional, purpose-built sauna huts are perfect for outdoor environments. If you will be positioning your sauna on a fully exposed deck or at the back of your garden, a traditional sauna is ideal.

If you’re looking for the health benefits of a Sunlighten sauna but you’d like to position it outdoors, speak to our specialists for advice. We have many clients that have successfully integrated a Sunlighten sauna with their outdoor entertaining environment by building protective shelters or by using Sunlighten marine-grade canvas covers. These are available by speaking to one of our friendly consultants.

 

The Con's

High heat and humidity

Traditional saunas use red-hot rocks or elements to create high-heat and humid, steamy environments. These high temperatures and moist conditions can lead to a range of complications, incurring higher costs in both installation and maintenance.

More expensive to operate

High-heat saunas (either traditional or poor quality infrared) are more expensive to run than good quality infrared saunas as they take longer to warm up, and draw more current to sustain the high temperatures required to heat an entire sauna room.

Sunlighten saunas’ Solocarbon heaters operate at lower temperatures and work directly on the body. The outcome is very low running costs and a deeper, more beneficial sweat. It’s worth mentioning that not all infrared heaters give a deep sweat either.

If you’re researching, do your due diligence and ask for an independent test, showing the infrared heater you’re considering emits a continuous wavelength of far-infrared heat.

Irregular use

It may seem obvious, but we have over ten years’ experience working with clients who have made the switch from traditional to Sunlighten saunas. The reason? “We have a steam sauna but never get the chance to use it.”

Sunlighten saunas make it easy to enjoy a deep, healthy sweat every day.

Quick warm-up times, low running costs and more comfortable temperatures – you can even pre-program sessions so they are pre-heated and ready when you wake up in the morning or get home at night.


Infrared Saunas

The Pro's

The benefits of infrared heating

Independent clinical research has established the benefits of specific wavelengths of far-infrared heat. The key is finding an infrared sauna that has been proven to consistently emit the right wavelength for the outcome you want.

Sunlighten far-infrared saunas (the Signature Series and the Solo system) have been independently tested and proven to emit consistent far-infrared heat, which is the wavelength cited by clinical studies in the benefits of infrared heat. These saunas have also been proven to raise core body temperature.

If you want a more targeted technology, the Sunlighten mPulse series uses full spectrum infrared heat (near, mid and far-infrared) in six pre-set programs: detoxification, pain relief, skin health, weight loss, cardio and relaxation.

Running costs

As true infrared saunas work efficiently at lower temperatures, the running costs are much lower. The heaters don’t need to reach the same high temperatures to give you a deep, profuse sweat in a much shorter time. They require little to no maintenance and warm up quickly.

Easy to install

Most infrared saunas on the market are designed to be installed by the customer. There are a variety of methods. Screws, clips and fasteners were used in early infrared saunas to assemble the units. In the mid 2000's, Sunlighten pioneered the patented Magneseal assembly system. Magnetic assembly not only makes it easier to install the sauna, but allows for natural expansion and contraction of the timber as it heats and cools, preventing warping, cracking or splitting.

Sunlighten saunas can be installed by two people in just over an hour (the solo system is much faster – designed for easy storage, you can set it up out of the box in under five minutes!) Many models plug into a standard 10amp power point, with the larger cabins requiring either 15amp plugs or hard wired connections for the largest models. Of course, if the time comes to move, it’s a quick and easy job to take your infrared sauna with you.

Access your sauna anywhere

Sunlighten understands that your time is precious. We want to make it easy and convenient for you to operate your sauna and control the session times.

You can access your mPulse sauna via desktop, smartphone or tablet through Anywhere Access.

Entertainment options

mP3 players, CD players, DVD players – the choice is yours. As infrared saunas are dry, lower temperature environments, most models come with a built-in entertainment system as standard.

Sunlighten feature Blaupunkt CD/mP3 players in our Signature series cabins. 

Android Touchscreen entertainment systems feature in our mPulse series saunas with access to the internet, Netflix, Facebook, Fitbit and Pandora.

Less Maintenance

Infrared saunas do not require water and will not acquire mould over time. 

 

The Con's

Outdoor exposure

Infrared saunas are not designed for full exposure to the elements. In the case of Sunlighten saunas, we build our infrared saunas to be a pure environment for detoxification, so they are free from toxic paints, sealants, glues or varnishes (all the things that are needed to protect pure, untreated timber from deteriorating when exposed to rain and weather).

As mentioned above, many of our clients have come up with clever solutions that allow them to enjoy the benefits of a Sunlighten infrared sauna in a semi-exposed environment such as a pool area or a deck. Call our team for some examples and suggestions.

Built environment integration

All infrared saunas come as pre-fabricated panels that assemble to form a freestanding cabin. While some architects will design an alcove to enclose an infrared sauna, many will opt for a more integrated built-environment design. As infrared saunas are not made to custom specifications, they are not suitable for these applications.

Commercial environments

Sunlighten have recently released commercial-grade infrared sauna. However, previous to this, infrared saunas have not been well suited to high-volume commercial applications such as gyms for three basic reasons:

  1. Until recently, infrared saunas have not been built using the heavy-gauge timbers necessary for unsupervised, high-volume commercial situations

  2. In unsupervised situations, a poor public understanding of infrared therapy can result in people splashing water on infrared heaters

  3. Most infrared saunas don’t have a permanent ‘on’ setting as they are not designed for continuous use

Sunlighten now have a commercial-grade sauna that uses clinical-grade Solocarbon heating in a DDA compliant (Australian Disability Discrimination Act) sauna designed for fitness centres, resorts and other high-traffic commercial applications. Call our team for more information.

And The Winner Is...

Sunlighten saunas. Obviously. You may well take that conclusion with a grain of salt, but both on paper and in reality, infrared saunas make the sauna experience convenient, customisable, affordable and better for you. Even for the sauna purists and traditionalists - we have more than a few happy customers who enjoy both – the benefits and convenience of an infrared sauna are hard to pass up.


 

*Sunlighten does not provide medical advice. We recommend you consult with a health care practitioner if you are unsure if using an infrared sauna is right for you. For best results, our saunas should be used in conjunction with an appropriate diet and exercise program. Individual results may vary.

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