Electric Sauna Heaters are a relative newcomer to the sauna scene. Brought on by the widespread availability of electricity by the 1950’s, Electric Sauna Heaters quickly became the top choice among sauna enthusiasts. Because of their ease of use and cleanliness, this type of sauna heater was the obvious choice in most residential and commercial environments.
Fast-forward to today, where electric sauna heaters outsell all of the other types of sauna heaters combined. While today’s electric sauna heaters are very similar to their predecessors, they now offer a number of refinements over the original ones. These include compact designs, lighted controls, built-in heater fences, digital controls, and more. There is even a heat-storage sauna heater that stays ready to go instantly with the opening of its lid.
These cost more up-front, but are relatively inexpensive to operate. They are ideal for those who use their sauna 3 or more times a week. Electric sauna heaters vary in price, depending on the heater and control options you desire. When deciding which heater to choose, it’s important to consider how frequently your sauna will be used.
Another consideration is the desired rock capacity. Many enthusiasts feel that electric sauna heaters with larger rock capacities produce softer heat and better steam. Sauna heaters with large rock capacities are generally designed for the rocks to be placed within the heating elements. Other sauna heaters with smaller rock capacities tend to have more of a “fry pan” design, where the stones are located above the elements and are heated indirectly.
Advantages of Electric Saunas
Electric heaters are convenient, clean, and quick. United States UL code has set the max temperature of an electric sauna heater at 194° F, and many models can reach that temperature in less than ten minutes. Some models allow pre-programming, so you can have your sauna ready when you want it. Because electric heaters are so quick and convenient, you may find that you take saunas more regularly. They also come with safety features that are worth considering. For example, most residential electric saunas won’t run for more than an hour without resetting.
The chief disadvantage to the electric sauna is just that – it’s electric. While there is a variety of electric heaters available, providing a range of price points that will suit any budget, it will still affect your utility bill. Additionally, those who live in the country, or at the lake, or any other rural setting might have some difficulty finding stable electric service.
Very common, plenty of models to choose from
Convenient and easy to use
Very safe when installed properly
No chimney or flue required
Needs to be installed by an electrician
Painted models can corrode over time
Electricity is increasingly expensive
Higher CO2 emissions than other fuel types
How do electric sauna heaters work?
Electric, gas, and wood-fired sauna heaters all heat using convection. In an electric heater, electricity is passed through resistive elements. The resistance causes electric energy to be converted into heat energy, and as a result, the elements heat up. Heat is then transferred from the heating elements to stones that are stacked on top of them. These stones store the heat and consequently heat the air surrounding them. Direct contact between the heating elements and the stones ensures that heat is transferred as efficiently as possible.
When the stones are hot, water is gently added to them which instantly evaporates to create steam. This steam is circulated around the room, creating a hot, humid sauna environment.
How effective are electric saunas?
Electric saunas are slightly less responsive to thermostat adjustments than gas or Far Infra-Red (FIR) sauna heaters due to the time taken for the elements to heat and cool. This is less of a problem in a sauna than it might be in something like an oven where precise temperature regulation is needed though and is unlikely to have any great effect on the overall experience.
How powerful should my electric sauna heater be?
The most important thing to check for in an electric sauna heater is that it is powerful enough to meet your size requirements. Different sauna heaters are designed for different-sized saunas. If you get one that’s too small, it is unlikely to provide sufficient heat. Likewise, if it’s too powerful, you may have a hard time keeping the temperature and humidity at a comfortable level, and you might end up spending more than you need to on electricity. Keep in mind that a bigger heater may be needed in colder climates or for a sauna with outdoor exposure.
The power of electric saunas is measured in terms of kilowatts (kW), however, most manufacturers will also provide some indication of the area or sauna size that each model is designed to heat.