Wood burning vs electric sauna stove. What’s the difference?

wood burning vs electric stove
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Should I get a wood burning or electric sauna stove?

Saunas have been around a lot longer than electricity. And traditionally they were heated using a wood burning stoves. But today, electric sauna stoves are the most common way to get your saunas warm.

At Eagle Leisure we only offer electric sauna stoves. For a couple of reasons.

1. We only build indoor saunas. And it’s often not convenient or economical to place flue/chimney within the room.

2. We don’t find there is a massive demand for wood-burning stove.

But still. You probably want to know what the difference is between wood burning and electric sauna stoves. And which one might be the best for you to install. 

What's the difference between wood burning and electric sauna stoves?

There are many similarities between wood burning and electric sauna stoves. And there are a few subtle differences. Although a lot of the decision will come down to personal preference. 

But, we’ll evaluate wood burning and electric sauna stoves on four different factors:

What's the difference in... Wood burning Electric
Temperature Between 60-100 degrees.
Potentially better heat created
Between 60-100 degrees
Installation costs Between £800 & £17,000
- include flue parts & installation
Between £800 - £17,000 - include electrical wire installation
Running costs Approx. £10-£30/month Dependent on wood supply
Maintenance Very little. Replace the elements/stones occassionally Set and clear the fireplace. Check the flue for blockages.

What's the difference in temperature between wood-burning and electric sauna stoves?

Saunas are designed to reach temperatures of up to 80-100 degrees. And both the wood-burning and electric stove are capable of reaching this temperature. 

Both stoves work in the same way. They heat the stones and this heats the room. Of course, just using different sources of heat. The electric stove, uses electricity to heat the elements, which heat the stones and in turn the room. The wood-burning stove uses fire to heat the stones, then heat the room. 

So, is there a difference in temperature between wood-burning stoves and electric stoves? 

Lovers of the wood-burning stove, argue that the wood fire heats the room in a different way. A better way, in comparison to the electric stove. Something to do with thermodynamics (I’m not a scientist so I’m not 100% sure on this).

But what about the electric stoves

Electric stoves are so easy to turn on and they heat up faster than wood-burning stoves. Plus, you can control the heat much easier. If it gets to hot, you can turn it off and the stove will start to cool down. With the wood-burning stove it’s much harder, and you have to distinguish the fire or else it will continue to heat.

What's the difference in installation costs between wood-burning and electric sauna stoves?

Installation costs are relatively similar for both wood-burning and electric stove saunas. Traditionally wood burning saunas would work out slightly more expensive. And that will still hold true in many cases, although the difference is less pronounced.

The stove itself can range in price from hundreds of pounds to thousands of pounds for both wood-burning and electric stoves. Depending on what style you are looking for, and what quality of stove you want to invest in. 

With wood-burning stoves you need to take into consideration the costs for parts and labour to install the flue/chimney. And with electric stoves you will need an electrical installation installed. So both have additional features that will add to the overall cost. 

If we were to install a wood-burning stove, the cost would be slightly more than an electric sauna. The cabinet would be custom built in the same way. The stove would cost approx. the same. But the parts and time to install the vent and flue would add to the cost.

N.B When we install electric saunas we don’t provide the electrical wire for installation, so it’s not included in the installation price.  

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What's the difference in running costs between wood-burning and electric sauna stoves?

Saunas are relatively low cost to run per month. In both cases it usually depends on the size of the stove, and the efficiency. 

To work out the approx. cost to run an electric sauna use the following formula:

Size of stove (kW) x cost of kW/hour x duration of use x number of time you use/month

It’s a bit harder to work out the costs for running a wood burning stove. It will depend on how efficient the stove is. But the main determinant of cost will be how available wood is for you to use as fuel And how much this costs. If you already have a source of wood for a fireplace, or wood-burning hot tub then a wood-burning stove can be cheap fuel source. 

But both electric and wood burning saunas can be relatively cheap to run.

What's the difference in maintenance between wood-burning and electric sauna stoves?

home saunaWe’ve talked before about how saunas are one of the lowest maintenance products that we sell and install. Which makes them very attractive to most people.

The convenience and maintenance aspect is the one which separates the wood-burning and electric sauna stove the most.

While the electric stove is very low maintenance. With very little being required apart from changing the elements or stones if they become worn. 

A wood-burning stove requires more maintenance and the convenience factor is quite low. Not only do you have to build the fire to heat the sauna. You need to clear it out in the same way you do with a fire place and ensure the flue isn’t blocked. If you are used to using fireplaces or wood-burning hot tubs this might not be a problem. But for many people, this lack of convenience and added chore is what seals the decision on choosing an electric stove over the wood-burning sauna stove.

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In Summary

We only offer electric sauna stoves. And we find that they are the most popular and sought after in sauna builds. While electric stoves have all the same benefits as the wood-burning stoves, they have the added benefit of convenience and low maintenance.

But, in many cases it will be personal preference in which one you prefer. And if you are set on a wood-burning stove, then it’s still possible to get one and experience the full authentic sauna environment. 

Which one do you prefer? Let us know in the comments. 


Related content:

Sauna vs steam room. What is the difference?

Sauna vs steam room. Which one is better for you?

Health benefits of using a 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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