Create a Relaxing Oasis: Designing your Indoor Sauna for Home

An Indoor sauna for home is all the rage these days. One of the easiest ways to get one is also the most popular: buying a solid-wood portable infrared sauna. They come in many sizes and some can even be plugged into a regular 110-volt household outlet so you don’t have to do any extra wiring at home. Too Easy!

But an indoor sauna for home can also mean designing your own dream spa and building it into a customized special-purpose sauna room near a shower or a bathroom. Designing this type of indoor sauna for home can mean the sky is the limit. There are multiple tiered benches, under-bench LED mood lighting, and even lighting made with Himalayan salt that provides a beautiful natural colour as well as some additional healing effects. Some of the better companies have made Canadian versions of both. 

Choosing the best indoor sauna for home

  1. The Wood

Either way, your indoor sauna for home will wind up being your new dream come true, as long as you get the right one for you. The first thing to check for when searching for an indoor sauna for a home is that it is made of solid wood. There are many cheaper versions of a real sauna these days. Some are even bags made from fabric. These should be avoided. The problem with the bag saunas is you don’t know what the bag is made of.  Sometimes there are glues and materials that can off-gas toxic vapour when they are heated. And they are heated every time you use them. Others are made of “natural fabrics” but that also means they have to be doused in chemical fire retardants in order to be safe enough for sale in North America. 

Other indoor saunas for home can look like they are made of solid wood, but they contain plywood which is made with formaldehyde glue. When you turn on your sauna it will heat the plywood and this can release formaldehyde gas into the little sauna room. This is bad when you are buying an indoor sauna for home thinking it might keep you healthy.

So, once you’ve found a solid-wood indoor sauna for home, make sure the wood itself won’t cause your nose to run. Aromatic softwoods like Cedar, Hemlock, Pine, and Spruce can be too scented for people to tolerate. Even if the scent is natural, it can be overwhelming to sit inside. Basswood is the only wood with a zero-allergy rating. It is used for tongue depressors and popsicle sticks because anyone can put it in their mouth and not get a reaction.  It’s rare to find a sauna made of Basswood but there are companies, particularly those made in Canada where Basswood is naturally plentiful, who specialize in medical-grade saunas. This is the best indoor sauna for the home because it’s naturally scent-free and made in a country with high standards of manufacturing and safety. 

  1. The Heaters

Choosing an infrared sauna for home has another critical component and that’s the heating system. High-heat European-style saunas use a single heater with high amperage that super-heats the rooms and super-heats your lungs. These require a specialized 220-volt outlet, tiled floor, drainage, and insulation. 

Most people seeking an indoor sauna for home these days are electing to purchase an infrared sauna. These saunas operate at a lower more comfortable temperature than high-heat saunas. You can sit inside comfortably for 30 minutes without running out to cool down. You can breathe normally and there is no recovery time. This means that after you’re done sweating you can simply step outside, wipe off the sweat, and go about your day. You don’t feel overly tired or hot for the next couple of hours. That’s partly why infrared saunas are so popular these days. Also, the smaller ones can still operate on a regular 110-volt outlet which means your house is already equipped to plug it in and get started!  You can even put one in your bedroom if you want.

The best type of heater for an infrared sauna is a ceramic plate element. These are mostly made in North America and are very durable. The plate formation allows the heat to be dispersed across a large surface area. This is better than the ceramic rods which are sometimes use in cheaper saunas imported from Asia. They are still low in toxins, but they are super-hot in a small area. They eventually glow red-hot which means they are no longer emitting heat in the infrared spectrum.  “Infra” red simply means “below” red. This means the elements never get red-hot. If they do, they are no longer infrared, and this is common with ceramic rods.

A very common alternative in the infrared sauna industry, and one to be avoided when selecting an infrared sauna for home, is the “carbon fiber” style of sauna heater. These are common because they are cheap, they’re actually in-floor heating systems designed for the Chinese construction industry. They work very well as in-floor heaters because this is what they’re designed to do. Although they are made of highly toxic carbon fiberglass material, they are meant to be encased in floor tiles where they cannot cause toxic harm to people. However, when they are placed upright on sauna walls, and not covered with tiles, the substances used to make them might start to release into gasses inside the tiny sauna room where you are trying to sit naked and breathe. 

For these reasons, the ceramic plate element is by far the most superior when selecting an infrared sauna for home. Medical doctors and naturopaths prefer this material in their sauna heaters because their patients can tolerate the purity of the sauna room a lot better than they can a toxic one caused by carbon fiber heaters and formaldehyde-based plywood walls.

What size of Indoor Sauna for Home is right for You?

  1. 110-Volt 

Your first question is “How many people are going to use this at any one time?”  If your answer is one person, then you might select a smaller 100-volt sauna for your personal indoor sauna for your home. There are one-person saunas on the market which are ideal for space savers. People get these little ones for condos, or maybe even fit them into an underutilized closet somewhere in their home. However, there are also slightly larger saunas designed for two people that will still plug into any regular household outlet. When choosing an indoor sauna for a home for one person, you might consider buying one built for two, as long as it still plugs into a regular 110-volt household outlet. If you get the two-person sauna, even if you’re mostly using it for one, then you have a wider bench option and can potentially get your legs up onto the bench and stretch out a little. Even in a small two-person sauna, this is possible for many people. 

  1. 220-Volt

Sometimes a two-person isn’t big enough. Maybe you want to lie down in your indoor sauna at home. Maybe you want to get three or four people at a time inside it. For this you need a 220-volt outlet because the sauna will be bigger and require more heat to make you sweat. All North American homes come equipped with 220-volt power. However, it’s not common in every room. Our clothes dryers run on 220-volt power. Our Kitchen ovens also run on 220-volt, so you can have a 220-volt outlet wired into the place where you want to put a bigger sauna. It is best to hire a licensed electrician to do this. Even people who commonly do their own household wiring do not always have experience with 220-volt systems. One concern is the wiring is a bit different, and the other is the voltage is double, so a shock can be more dangerous if you accidentally touch a live wire while doing the job. If you need a larger sauna for yourself or for more people, this 220-volt infrared sauna can be the ideal indoor sauna for your home. They can seat up to eight people and still be knocked down into component walls and moved later. 

Custom Built-in Indoor Sauna for Home

If you want to build a sauna right into your home, and you have about 80 square feet, you can do a lot these days.  Some indoor saunas for home will have two-tiered bench seating. In an infrared sauna, the second tier is not much hotter than the lower seat. But in a European style high heat sauna, the upper bench is where the hot air travels and it can be as much as 20 degrees C hotter on the top bench vs the lower benches. If you get an infrared sauna, the upper bench simply provides more seating in a smaller space. The heaters on these infrared saunas are often much preferred when selecting an indoor sauna for home. The high-heat saunas need a high-heat heater which takes up a lot of space on the floor because you can’t sit too close to it. The infrared saunas have heaters that tuck into the corners and stay out of your way ergonomically. This way you can fit more people into the smaller space.

An indoor sauna for home can also have a Himalayan salt accent, either with wall sconce lighting made of salt or even an entire wall built with Himalayan salt bricks and backlit with LED lighting. These are exquisite and definitely for those with a high design in mind. 

Where it’s Made

Finally, you must consider what manufacturers call the “origin of goods”. Even some big brand names associated with Scandinavian design and manufacturing are now buying infrared saunas from China. That’s because the Chinese manufacturers have cornered the market by making saunas very cheaply. The builders will use repurposed heaters from the massive construction industry. The use of carbon fiber heaters in infrared saunas is common, but it’s because they are lightweight and cheap, not because they are good. So, when selecting an indoor sauna for home, especially if your choice is a mild heat infrared sauna, make sure you are seeking a made-in-Canada product. Canadian manufacturers are among the last to make high-quality medical-grade saunas for home use. In the past sauna manufacturing was a very localized business with one or two builders specializing in them in any given region. But today you can purchase an indoor sauna for your home from a respectable Canadian manufacturer by going online, sending an email, or even getting on the phone with their staff of sauna specialists. It’s a great time to be a sauna consumer. 

One of the best in the industry worldwide is SaunaRay. It’s a Canadian company top to bottom, designing and building all of its products in Canada and shipping them worldwide to people everywhere who are seeking a high-quality indoor sauna for home.