Infrared Sauna Equipment : What Makes Up a Sauna

In order to make a good decision about what infrared sauna equipment you’d like your sauna to consist of, you’ll first need to know a little about the components that are used to construct a far infrared sauna.

The main parts of the fir sauna are the wood cabinet, the infrared sauna heaters, and the control panel. Get oriented on these essential sauna parts here, then read more on each component of infrared sauna equipment individually so you can choose between the options for each of the main sauna parts. For information on a sauna kit, check out sauna building plans. Also check out sauna accessories.

The wood cabinet

The infrared sauna enclosure and structure itself is called the cabinet. Most are constructed of wood or a combination of glass and wood. The typical wood species used to build the fir sauna cabinet are hemlock, cedar, redwood, bass, spruce, and poplar.

High quality thin boards of these woods are machined with tongues and grooves along their edges. These boards are joined to form sheets. Two of these sheets are used to create hollow panels that are turned into the walls, ceiling and floor of the sauna.

The typical wall panel thickness is approximately 1.5” thick. The hollow core of the ceiling panel may be thicker than that of the walls. On the outside of the top of the sauna, a hardboard, mdf (medium density fiber) board, masonite, or some other thin panel board may be used as a cover piece. The sauna floor, like the walls, is constructed of tongue and groove boards but is placed on top of a sheet of plywood that has ribs or legs for support.

What your sauna’s construction should not include

You'll also need to pay attention to how your infrared sauna equipment is attached together. It is strongly suggested that you do not purchase a sauna from a manufacturer who uses toxic glues, adhesives, or finishes in the construction of the sauna. This is extremely important if you are planning to use the fir sauna for detoxification. See benefits of infrared sauna for more information.

All glass used in the cabinet should be tempered or safety glass. Plastic, while used by some sauna manufacturers is not ideal. Plastic will outgas and does show scratch marks.

Infrared sauna heaters

The most important component of your infrared sauna equipment is the heater. Infrared sauna heater units are available in several materials. The most prevalent are ceramic, carbon fiber, compressed carbon, incoloy, and carbon flat panel. Read more about the differences between these materials at infrared sauna heaters. The infrared lamp is also used in home built, portable, and facial infrared saunas.

Sauna heaters are composed of conductive materials that radiate far infrared energy into the sauna cabinet when a current is applied to the heater. See the fir sauna page for a description of what far infrared energy is. This conductive material is nestled in an enclosure which is reflective and allows the heat and energy from the heaters to be efficiently transmitted into the sauna cabinet.

A protective grill prevents the sauna user from coming in contact with the heater element.

How many sauna heaters should your sauna have?

Depending on the size of your cabinet, measured by how many users can sit in the cabinet at once, there is a general formula used to determine how many infrared sauna heaters are necessary. It is typical to see 3 or 4 ceramic heaters in a one person unit, five in a two person sauna, six to eight in a three person sauna, six to eight in a four person sauna, and eight heaters in a five person sauna. If you build a sauna yourself, or purchase a sauna kit, be sure the infrared sauna equipment you buy includes the right number of sauna heaters.

How big a sauna can your home handle?

While the number of sauna heaters is important for uniform fir energy distribution, pay close attention to the total number of watts your sauna demands. This number will help you determine if the circuit breaker in your home can handle it. If you are not sure or have any questions consult with a professional licensed electrician.

Here is a very basic guideline that assumes that there is no other demand on the circuit that your sauna is on: Below 1750 watts you can use a 15 amp circuitBetween 1750 and 2350 you require a 20 amp circuitAbove 2350 you require a 30 amp or a 240 volt circuitIf an infrared sauna has two plugs and requires two outlets, that doesn’t meanYou can plug the cords into the same receptacle—it means you’ll need to use two unique outlets that are on separate circuits.

The control panel

Your infrared sauna equipment will always include a control panel, which is the brain of the fir sauna. Almost all control panels are digital, allowing the user to enter and view precise data. the key pads are pressure sensitive and have a LED display. The most common and basic functions that are run from here are the temperature settings and time settings.

The thermostat inside the control panel controls when and for how long the infrared heaters are active. Some panels operate interior and exterior lighting, sound and media systems, ionizers, as well as other accessories. A relatively new operation to the sauna panel is wireless remote control operation.

Almost all infrared saunas have dual control panels, one inside and one outside of the cabinet. This allows for setting and monitoring the temperature and time for preheating and during use. The interior panel displays cabin temperature and time remaining. The user can make adjustments to the temp/or time at any point of their session.

Now you can choose which infrared sauna equipment you want

Now that you understand how a sauna is constructed, the next step is to read up on the choices available to you in cabinet materials, sauna heaters, and how the sauna heaters are placed in the cabinet.

There is a direct correlation between the quality of your sauna and the quality of the infrared sauna equipment that it is constructed with. Take care when reviewing the offerings of the various manufacturers. Not all cabinets, heaters, and control panels are alike.