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Outdoor Infrared Saunas: Buyers Checklist

Outdoor Infrared Saunas: Buyers Checklist

Jillian Le |

Stepping into the world of infrared saunas can feel like opening a new door with many paths. There's wood to consider, different types of infrared like near, mid, far, and the encompassing full spectrum. Then, there's the matter of heaters and, importantly, understanding EMF levels for safety.

Like pieces of a simple puzzle, when you get to know each part, you're on your way to making the best choice. Let's journey together to uncover the essentials of saunas and their benefits.

What to know before buying your sauna

The cold days are finally behind us, and everyone's ready to enjoy the sunshine. If you're thinking about moving your infrared sauna outside to get the best of both worlds, you're on the right track. But, there are a few things to think about first.

What About the Warranty?

Before you move your sauna, look at the warranty. Many saunas come with good warranties, but some might not cover damage if you keep them outside. But there's good news! Some companies, like Enlighten, let you keep your sauna outside, protected for up to 3 years. If you want even more coverage, you can get it by paying a bit extra.

Always read your warranty carefully or call the company to check if outdoor setup is okay.

Why location is important

The sun is great, but too much direct sunlight can change how your sauna's wood looks. The sunlight won't break your sauna, but it might fade the wood over time. If you can, find a shady spot or place it under a patio cover.

Different woods react to sunlight in different ways. Think about where to place your sauna to keep it looking its best.

Setting Up Your Outdoor Sauna

Weather can shift, and depending on your region, rain or an unexpected spring snow can happen. Most saunas can handle a bit of moisture. However, if water sits on or around it for too long, you might face issues like mold or the wood bending. But, don’t worry, this typically doesn’t stop it from working.

A simple solution is to use a cover. It prevents moisture from resting on the wood. And with saunas from Enlighten, you won’t have water gathering on top, thanks to their smart designs.

Powering Your Sauna

All saunas from Enlighten need a specific plug: the 120-volt kind. It's easy to think a 110-volt and 120-volt are the same, but they're different. Setting up a 120-volt is straightforward, though many homes might not have these outdoors by default.

Remember, your sauna also requires a 20 amp circuit. It’s a bit more than what’s standard in many homes. Also, for those keen on an outdoor setup, the plug cord is shorter. You'll want your power source close, within 6 feet.

Double-check your plug type and circuit capacity before setting up.

Picking the Right Spot

The saunas from Enlighten have a bit of weight, ranging between 500-1000 lbs, and they'll need space, around 4' x 4'. So, ensure the ground or platform where you're setting it up can support that.

Choose an Outdoor-Ready Sauna!

Thinking of a long-term outdoor sauna setup? Why not pick one made just for that?

Introducing our latest: the Rustic and Sierra outdoor infrared saunas. These aren't your usual saunas; they're built for outdoor life. Here's what sets them apart:

  • Sturdy Cedar Wood: Built with thick cedar wood, these saunas won't fade or leak. And they keep the warmth inside just where you want it.
  • Solid Build: Weighing in at 1000 pounds, it stands firm, no matter the weather outside.
  • Powerful Heaters: Equipped with two 500-watt full-spectrum heaters, they're ready to warm you up, even on the chilliest days.

Choosing Your Sauna Wood: It's More Than Just Looks!

You're planning to get a sauna, and you're probably imagining a warm, wooden sanctuary. But have you considered what type of wood your sauna should be made of? It's more than just about the visual appeal; it's about health, durability, and overall experience.

What to Keep in Mind When Selecting Wood

We all aim to detoxify in a sauna, so having a wood that doesn't add toxins is a top priority. A wood like Western Red Cedar naturally fends off bacteria and mold. It's a cleaner, safer choice for your sauna moments.

How Heavy is Too Heavy?

If you think setting up a sauna is a one-time thing, think about its weight. A sauna made of heavy wood might seem tough, but softer woods can be durable too, and they're easier to handle. The goal is to find a middle ground – ideally between 20-25 pounds per cubic foot.

Is the wood durable?

A sauna is an investment. It's something you want to last for years. That means opting for wood that won't decay quickly. Some woods naturally have this quality. But if you're uncertain, applying a wood treatment is a good idea to give it an extra protective layer.

Is the wood aesthetically pleasing?

Let's face it, a good-looking sauna adds to the experience. While it may not be the most crucial aspect, it's still worth considering. Envision where you'll set up your sauna and think of a wood type that'll beautify that space.

Is the wood strong?

Just as you don't want a heavy sauna, you don't want a fragile one either. Some woods withstand more stress and weight. Woods like spruce or pine might be too delicate, so it's best to choose something stronger.

What are the different types of wood?

Diving into the world of wood, there's a vast array to explore. However, let's focus on some key types often chosen for crafting saunas:

Western Red Canadian Cedar

Western Red Cedar Wood

Western Red Canadian Cedar stands out as an excellent choice for sauna construction. With its density sitting at an impressive 23 pounds per cubic foot, it perfectly balances sturdiness with insulating capabilities.

The wood’s inherent structure, rich with air spaces, gives it top-notch insulation qualities. Beyond that, cedar brings with it a natural shield against microbial and bacterial growth. This is essential, as saunas are places of intense sweating, which can introduce moisture and bacteria.

Durability is another ace up cedar's sleeve. It remains steadfast against warping, dents, and cracks, even when exposed to the sauna's wide-ranging temperatures. Its resilience in humid settings and innate insect-repellent traits have cemented cedar’s reputation in the sauna world.

Historically, its robustness in wet conditions made it the go-to for traditional steam saunas. Furthermore, if you're considering an outdoor setup, red cedar proves to be a worthy contender, thanks to its weather-resistant properties.



Basswood stands out for its clean and hypoallergenic properties. When treated correctly, it ensures a space free from common irritants, making it an excellent choice for those sensitive to allergens. Beyond that, basswood impresses with its strength, especially considering its weight. With a density hovering around 25 pounds per cubic foot, it strikes a fine balance between durability and manageability.



Poplar offers a varied range in terms of strength and durability due to the many species it encompasses. Generally, its soft and porous nature can be a downside in conditions that fluctuate between hot and cold. It's not the toughest when faced with dents, but it does hold its own in terms of weight, averaging between 22-31 pounds per cubic foot.



Spruce is a budget-friendly choice known to those involved in crafting and model building. While it's perfect for projects like picture frames, its soft nature isn't quite up for the temperature changes in saunas.



Pine might not be the top pick for infrared saunas. It's a bit on the light side and doesn't stand up well to decay. Plus, its tendency to splinter and high resin content could be bothersome during use. It's best to consider other options.

Recommended choice from sauna enthusiasts

Western Red Canadian Cedar: It's not just about the name; this wood is practically designed for saunas. Weighing in at a balanced 23 pounds per cubic foot, it's the right mix of lightness and strength. And if you're considering an outdoor sauna, it naturally repels pests and resists mold. It's a wood that has been chosen for saunas for generations, proving its reliability.

To sum it up, the wood you choose shapes your sauna experience in many ways. Dive deep into these aspects, and you'll make a choice you'll be happy with for years to come!

Understanding Infrared Sauna Heaters

In the realm of infrared saunas, there are primarily two types of heaters: carbon fiber and ceramic compound. Each type comes with its own set of merits. Carbon heaters, for instance, have a lower surface temperature which aligns well with the body's natural infrared output.

On the other hand, ceramic heaters emit a significant amount of infrared at a higher temperature. However, each falls short in certain areas. While ceramic can become excessively hot and emits at a lower micron level, carbon struggles to generate the heat needed to elevate the body's core temperature.

The challenge with Ceramic and Carbon Heaters

Deep and sustained sweating for over 30 minutes is essential to reap the full health benefits of infrared saunas. But here's the challenge: the mild 140°F of most low-priced carbon heaters isn't sufficient to induce the deep sweating we desire. Ceramic heaters, despite their capacity to stimulate profound sweating, often miss the mark in producing the right far infrared wavelength for optimal body absorption.

Guru Ultra Carbon® heaters

Enter the Guru Ultra Carbon® heaters. They seamlessly merge the strengths of both ceramic and carbon heaters. Imagine the robust, hot infrared emissions of ceramic heaters coupled with the deep, penetrating waves of carbon heaters. The result?

A heater that's not just more efficient than the less effective carbon models, but also offers a more pleasant experience than sitting inches away from a ceramic one. After all, comfort is key; if the sauna isn't pleasant, chances are, it won't see much use.

Still need convincing? The credibility of our heaters is backed by solid evidence. They are the only infrared heaters clinically verified to elevate core body temperatures by the Arcadia Cancer Clinic. Moreover, their potential in aiding weight loss has been recognized by Binghamton University. So, with these heaters, you’re not just getting a promise, but proven results.

What Is a Full Spectrum Infrared Sauna? A Guide to Near, Mid and Far Infrared

Infrared saunas have been a part of our wellness journey for around 30 years. Their evolution saw the integration of not just far infrared but also mid and near infrared, with the latter joining the scene roughly 15 years ago. This addition came as we began to recognize the distinct benefits each type offers when combined.

How does infrared work?

The sun emits a range of energies, and a part of this is the infrared spectrum, which we experience as warmth. Just beyond the realm of visible light, this spectrum is divided into near, mid, and far infrared.

Each segment of this spectrum plays a unique role in our world: for instance, gamma rays help combat cancer cells and visible light aids our vision.

Similarly, the infrared spectrum, when harnessed in saunas, emits a light that our bodies absorb as heat. This gentle elevation in our core body temperature triggers the health benefits many seek from infrared saunas.

Within the infrared spectrum, the three levels - near, mid, and far - interact differently with our bodies, specifically with the layer of fat just beneath our skin. Each level triggers its own set of healing responses, offering a range of benefits that enhance our sauna experience.

Near Infrared

Near infrared focuses on cell immunity, skin renewal, tissue growth, and pain relief. These wavelengths, due to their shorter span, mainly affect the skin's top layer, the epidermis. This feature makes them a prime choice for promoting healthy cells, rejuvenating skin, and accelerating wound healing.

What is near infrared commonly used for?

Many sauna businesses have adopted near-infrared technology similar to that found in cosmetic LED devices. These gadgets are fantastic when honed onto specific skin areas but might not be as effective in the broader sauna environment.

For instance, a popular LED panel used by some competitors requires direct and prolonged skin contact for effectiveness, which is not always feasible in a sauna setting.

Furthermore, these LED panels are often situated behind mesh covers, reducing their efficacy due to obstructed light rays. For a sauna's primary purpose, raising the body's core temperature, these small LED panels don't provide sufficient heat.

A better use for near-infrared technology:

A more efficient option is the near-infrared lamp heater, which achieves around 2,150 °F to generate those beneficial near-infrared waves. This way, users can still reap the health benefits while getting the warmth integral to a sauna experience.

Most companies focusing solely on near infrared utilize these lamps instead of LEDs, recognizing the importance of heat in the process. However, solely relying on near-infrared might not be the best approach.

The high temperature it reaches makes it challenging for users to stay in a completely near-infrared environment. Hence, a balance is essential for both health benefits and comfort.


Mid infrared wavelengths delve deeper into the body than their near infrared counterparts, making them particularly effective at enhancing circulation and blood flow.

Benefits of mid-infrared

Regular exposure to mid infrared can notably improve blood movement and alleviate joint and muscle pain. This is because it reaches deeper into the soft tissues where inflammation typically arises, thus speeding up the healing process.

For saunas to generate mid infrared, their heaters should consistently maintain a surface temperature of 410 °F. It's worth noting, though, that while many sauna companies may profess to offer mid infrared, their heater materials might not achieve this required temperature. Instead of being swayed by flashy promotions and branding, it's vital to focus on the sauna's actual performance and efficacy.

Far Infrared

Far infrared is known for a slew of benefits including weight loss, detoxification, improved circulation, blood pressure reduction, and relaxation. Unique in its mechanism, far infrared sauna therapy directly heats the body, bypassing the need to warm the air around it.

Benefits of far infrared

This direct heating elevates the core body temperature, triggering a deep and detoxifying sweat right at the cellular level, where most toxins are stored. Furthermore, this process promotes blood pressure reduction and weight loss, essentially giving the body a form of passive aerobic exercise.

What makes far infrared different?

The distinctiveness of far infrared lies in its wavelength, which is the longest among infrared types. It penetrates the body deeply, reaching the adipose tissue or fat cells, where a significant amount of toxins are harbored. For a sauna to be most effective in emitting far infrared, its heating panel should operate between temperatures of 90 °F and 400 °F. Within this range, the beneficial far infrared band is generated.

Precautions to consider:

However, practical experience suggests that sitting merely 2 inches from a heater operating at 400 °F can be unbearably hot. It may hinder one's ability to remain in the sauna for a desirable 30-minute duration. The core idea behind an infrared sauna is to have prolonged sessions, maximizing sweat production. The longer the sweat, the greater the health benefits derived.

Notably, many heating devices in the market, often labeled with terms like "solocarbon" or "nanocarbon", only achieve a surface temperature of 140 °F. This isn't sufficiently hot to induce the desired sweat. Striking a balance, Enlighten sauna heaters target a temperature of 200 °F on their surface.

This ensures the optimal wavelength at the most conducive temperature for users. Consequently, one can comfortably stay in the sauna for half an hour daily, benefiting from a profound and health-boosting sweat.

The Advancement of Infrared Saunas

Infrared saunas have long been a choice for those seeking health benefits, typically falling into two categories: Far Infrared and Near Infrared. Each type has its own unique attributes, catering to different health needs.

But today, there's an even more comprehensive option available: the Full Spectrum Infrared Sauna. This innovative sauna merges all three infrared spectrums, providing a broader range of benefits in just one session.

How does a full-spectrum infrared sauna work?

Your skin, being the largest organ, harbors a layer of fat right beneath its surface. This layer often traps various toxins harmful to the body. What sets the Full Spectrum Infrared Sauna apart is its ability to penetrate up to two inches deep into these tissues.

While its operating temperature ranges from 100 to 150 degrees °F, which might seem lower than traditional saunas, it induces more sweating. This is due to the full spectrum's ability to penetrate heat at multiple levels.

Enhanced benefits of full-spectrum infrared saunas

The wonders of this sauna don't end there. Under regular conditions, our body circulates about ten to fourteen pints of blood every minute. This circulation can almost double when exposed to full spectrum infrared rays. This elevated blood flow brings along higher oxygen levels, rejuvenating cells and tissues, promoting faster healing.

Additionally, the sauna stimulates our body to release trapped toxins, from everyday petrochemicals to heavy metals like mercury. Stored toxins, which the body might not expel under normal conditions, are effectively flushed out. This not only amps up your metabolism but strengthens your immune system, ensuring a healthier you.

Beyond the physical, a Full Spectrum Infrared Sauna session is a treat for the soul. Inside, you can indulge in relaxation: listen to soothing tunes, engage in meditation, or even enjoy light therapy.

Some even incorporate yoga, making the most of the enveloping warmth. After stepping out, you'll carry a sense of well-being throughout the day. The detoxing effects linger, ensuring comfort and pain relief long after your sauna session concludes.

What is "EMF" and Why Is it Important?

In my college days, I was pretty attentive in class, though I must admit, diving deep into research wasn't always my cup of tea. However, when I stumbled upon the topic of infrared saunas, my curiosity led me down a rabbit hole of information about electromagnetic fields, or EMF. This was essential since the potential health risks seemed significant.

There's a fair amount of discussion about the safety of electromagnetic fields. These fields come from electrical items, including infrared saunas. While organizations like the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) haven't labeled EMF as a confirmed health risk, there's other research that gives one pause. It suggests that it might be a good idea to be cautious about high-level EMF exposure, not just in the context of saunas but also in daily life.

Where can EMF be found?

Navigating the sauna industry from a health and fitness perspective does involve some scientific understanding, but diving into topics like EMF can feel like a leap. Curious to break it down, I chatted with a friend who's well-versed in physics. In simple terms, he explained that EMF is like invisible energy waves. They come from anything that uses electricity: from your computer and TV to even your microwave. So, these devices release electromagnetic fields when they're on.

He further clarified that these energy waves can influence any object they encounter, including us humans. But here's the silver lining: most everyday gadgets emit such minimal EMF levels that they're generally safe. Yet, larger entities, think power lines, with a significant electric current might be a different story, especially with prolonged exposure. And a quick note: while some might say EMR (electromagnetic radiation) instead of EMF, they're essentially the same for our discussion. So, I'll stick with EMF for clarity.

How do you determine EMF levels?

When thinking about household items and their EMF emissions, the curiosity can be overwhelming, right? After chatting with my friend, I decided to dive into some independent research. Here's the gist: the electromagnetic field's intensity really depends on the device's size and power. Proximity matters too; the closer you are to the source, the stronger the EMF you're exposed to. This understanding made me particularly interested in the EMF levels of common household objects, especially when considering our daily exposure.

Risks of EMF

Understanding the potential risks of EMF led me to delve into some prominent scientific studies. One noteworthy article from 2002, often cited by experts, highlighted two major research projects. The results? Significant and long-term EMF exposure was linked to health issues like childhood leukemia, adult brain cancer, Lou Gehrig’s Disease, and miscarriage.

Intensity and duration of EMF 

Now, you might wonder about the common devices we use daily that emit EMF. The catch here is the intensity and duration. For instance, a microwave briefly emitting a small amount of EMF isn't a major concern. Yet, it's essential to acknowledge the studies' gravity. It's evident that when considering tools like infrared saunas, minimizing EMF exposure is ideal. While achieving zero emissions isn't feasible due to the saunas' electrical nature, some models emit minimal EMF.

EMF in saunas

Infrared saunas are sizable units that encase you with electrical components for a certain duration. Given what we know about EMF, this might sound concerning. But, the good news is that advanced infrared sauna technology has been developed to emit incredibly low EMF levels, ranging from .2 to .3 mG.

For a better understanding, the Environmental Protection Agency once suggested a safety benchmark of 3 mG. Any reading below this is considered safe. So, when shopping for an infrared sauna, it's straightforward: just inquire about its exact EMF emission. Stick to the facts and numbers.

Considerations when buying an infrared sauna

Being proactive never hurts. If you're considering bringing an infrared sauna into your space, think about investing in a milligauss or Tri-Field EMF meter. While most vendors would provide accurate information, having an EMF meter handy offers an added layer of assurance, especially when buying significant electronic appliances.

How EMF plays a role in infrared saunas

Infrared saunas primarily use carbon or ceramic materials to produce those beneficial infrared rays. These rays are what elevate our core body temperature, rev up our metabolism, and deliver the health advantages we seek.

Now, carbon heaters, though a newer development, tend to produce quite high EMF levels, sometimes reaching up to 80 mG. This is way above the recommended safety levels. Meanwhile, traditional ceramic heaters fare better, emitting lower EMF. But, interestingly, there's a way to go even lower.

What research says about combining infrared sauna heaters

Research from Vitatech Electromagnetics, an independent research group, reveals a fascinating insight. Infrared saunas equipped with heaters blending both carbon and ceramic materials give out the least EMF, sometimes as low as .2 mG.

The science behind this is pretty cool. When layered together, the electromagnetic fields from each material kind of neutralize each other, significantly reducing the EMF emitted.

Drawing from this knowledge, it seems wise to lean towards infrared saunas that use this combined ceramic and carbon heater approach. Not only do they minimize EMF exposure, but they also let users enjoy their sauna sessions with peace of mind.

If you're diving into the infrared sauna world, consider testing one out with the right equipment. It adds an extra layer of confidence, ensuring a relaxing and safer experience.


Diving into the world of infrared saunas is like opening a new book with many chapters. We've looked at the kind of wood used and its impact. We've also explored the different types of infrared: near, mid, far, and the all-in-one full spectrum.

The heaters are important, but we've also seen how key it is to keep EMF levels low for safety. Each part is like a puzzle piece, and when you know about each one, you can make the best choices for your health and comfort. So, when thinking about saunas, remember to consider all these details to get the most out of your experience.

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