Infrared vs traditional sauna. What’s the difference?

infrared vs traditional saunas
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Should I get an infrared sauna or traditional sauna?

Traditionally saunas have been heated with wood burning or electric stoves. 

But recently the health world is buzzing about infrared saunas, also know as far infrared saunas (FIR). 

What’s the difference? 

And, which one is better? 

Infrared or traditional? 

Let the battle commence…

What's the difference between infrared and traditional saunas?

There are many similarities between the infrared sauna and traditional sauna. 

Again, much like the sauna vs steam room, the results and benefits are very similar. But how they go about achieving this is very different. 

If you don’t fancy reading it all, this table gives a quick overview of all the similarities and differences between infrared and traditional saunas:

What's the difference in... Traditional sauna Infrared sauna
Materials Wood Wood
Temperature 80 - 100 degrees C 40-60 degrees C
Heater Wood burner/electric stove Infrared light panels
Cost Kit: £900 - £17,000
Custom: Approx. £7500-£12,000
Kit: £800 - £17,000
Custom: Approx. £7500-£12,000

Infrared vs traditional sauna. What are they made of?

All saunas are made of wood. Whether they use traditional wood burning/electric stoves or infrared panels to heat them.

The wood is used for a couple of reasons:

1. Wood was traditionally used in Finish saunas

2. It is a natural insulator and helps keep the heat in.

3. It is resistant to the heat, and if the right wood is used it won’t crack or break in the intense heat.

4. The wood heats, but never gets too hot to touch so it is comfortable to sit in.

Although Infrared saunas are not as hot as traditional saunas, they are still very hot (approx. 40-60 degrees). And the properties that make wood effective in a traditional sauna also work great in an infrared sauna. 

Related content:

Infrared vs traditional sauna. What is the temperature difference?

infrared saunaTraditional saunas heat the room excessively to around 80-100 degrees Celsius using an electric or wood burning stove. 

In comparison, the infrared sauna warms the body in the same way that natural sunlight does using panels of light. They use the visible and non-visible wavelengths of the light spectrum to heat the body directly. This penetrates the skin and tissue deeper than the traditional sauna.

The results will be similar to those in a traditional sauna, with an increase in heart rate and excessive sweating. But at almost half the room temperature (around 40-60 degrees Celsius), it will be in an environment that is much more comfortable to sit in for extended periods time. Which, can be especially beneficial to those who find the traditional sauna environment stifling. 

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Infrared vs traditional sauna health benefits

Both traditional and infrared saunas have very similar health benefits. Some people think that due to the light waves penetrating the skin and tissue, the health benefits of an infrared saunas are amplified. Especially for things such as muscle recovery and joint pain such as arthritis. 

Some of health the benefits of both traditional and infrared saunas are:

1. Removes toxins from the body, through excessive sweating.

2. Improves cardiovascular health by increasing heart rate and circulation, without increasing blood pressure.

3. Strengthens the immune system.

4. Helps you lose weight, burning up to 60 calories in a 30 minute session.

5. Improves your skin, by flushing out impurities and dead skin cells.

6. Relieves pain from Arthritis and Raynaud’s disease by dilating blood vessels and increasing blood flow.

Infrared vs traditional sauna installation costs

The cost can vary in both infrared saunas and traditional saunas depending on quality and size. But generally, the price ranges are very similar. 

Kit saunas for both infrared and traditional saunas can range between £800/£900 – £17,000. There is a massive difference in quality between the low end and the high end. With Scandinavian manufacturers starting around £2500 upwards. Beyond that, the size of the sauna will be the main factor deciding cost. With the price usually going up as the size increases.

In the same way that we custom build traditional saunas, we custom build infrared saunas. We build the exterior and interior of the sauna. For infrared, instead of installing an electric stove, we install the infrared panels. So the price is very similar for a custom build sauna, whether you are using a traditional or infrared panel. On average, saunas from us cost between £7500 – £12,000. But this depends on size and customisation options. 

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In summary

The main difference between infrared and traditional saunas is the temperature and the way the room is heated. 

Most of the time, it is personal preference. You might prefer one over the other. We still find that, even though infrared has become more popular, almost everyone still installs the traditional sauna stove. It’s familiar. It feels like a real sauna. And it’s what people are used to.  

If you are unsure we recommend you try them both out to see which one you like the best.


Related content:

Everything you need to know about Infrared saunas

Health benefits of an infrared sauna

Health benefits of a traditional sauna


Debbie Ekins
Debbie Ekins
Eagle Leisure - Sales & Marketing Manager Mission = to arm you with the knowledge you need to make the best buying decisions. Fuelled by coffee (and naps). Explorer of Scotland and the world.
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