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Infrared sauna vs conventional
Old 11-25-2015, 08:59 AM   #1
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Infrared sauna vs conventional

I'm looking for opinions from those who have used a far infrared sauna. I would especially hope that some have used both types.

I've used conventional saunas all my life and love them. I've built them in our last two homes. Now that we're settled in our new condo, I'm prepared to put one in here. It would just be a small single-person version (probably about 4x4 ft) and I would like a modular pre-built one.

I've never used an infrared sauna and I wonder what it would be like compared to the conventional type. There are descriptions on the manufacturer/dealer websites, but it would be great to have some actual opinions from people with experience.
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Old 11-25-2015, 05:25 PM   #2
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Am I really the only sauna aficionado here?
Somehow I just expected there would be others.
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Old 11-26-2015, 01:35 AM   #3
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Hey braumeister,

I have a bit of experience with both a conventional dry sauna and a far infrared unit. I tried the standard sauna a few times when I was a member of a fancy health club. DW put a higher-end (Sunlighten) 2-person far infrared sauna into our 3rd bedroom.

In terms of user experience, the air in a standard sauna feels much hotter because they heat the air, then the air heats your body. In the infrared sauna, the panels radiate IR waves that heat your body directly. The air gradually warms up, but not as hot as in a conventional sauna. I think your body can feel subjectively just as hot in the IR sauna if you crank up the settings, and the air gets warm but not incredibly hot.

Actually, I greatly prefer the IR sauna over the conventional one since the cooler air is easier to breath, yet my body is warmed nicely. You can actually lean against the IR panels and you get quite toasty.

We have a Sunlighten "broad spectrum" IR model that includes far IR as well as other wavelengths claimed as beneficial. It's a smaller version of the one DW's chiropractor uses commercially in his office. DW used the chiropractor's IR sauna so much, she decided to get essentially same model. Although it cost around $5K+ full loaded, we didn't want to risk getting a cheaper version only for DW to be unhappy. The cheaper units from other vendors tend to run about $2K.

Our Sunlighten IR sauna was prefab, beautifully engineered. The only hassle is that they only offered curbside delivery and no qualified installation. The sales person actually discouraged the extra cost "assembly" since it was just the random delivery guy with a screw driver and no prior experience! So not impressed by Sunlighten service, but very impressed by the sauna itself. DW and I assembled the prefab unit with a neighbor's help. If you're not handy, you may want to pay for help.

Obviously, there are many other brands of far IR saunas, most much cheaper than Sunlighten. We quickly sat in one we saw at a fitness store (sold nicer threadmills, steppers, universal weight machines). We were impressed given that it cost less than $2K. I'm not sure if these cheaper units are as good or beneficial as the more expensive Sunlighten. I'd recommend trying to locally audition several units throughout the price range if possible.

Let me know if you would like any more info.

FB
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Old 11-26-2015, 06:06 AM   #4
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Thanks, FreeBear. Very helpful comments.
I'm a little skeptical of the "broad spectrum" claims (they don't provide specs on it, just "proprietary blends of wavelengths").

But I will definitely do plenty of research. Having had my own traditional saunas and used many more at gyms, I'm very familiar with them. Leaning now toward the infrared because DW can't handle nearly as high a conventional heat as I can.
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Old 11-26-2015, 10:05 AM   #5
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Am I really the only sauna aficionado here?
Somehow I just expected there would be others.
Nah.

I use a sauna at the Y twice a week for the last seven years at least. After my workouts. I'd prefer it a bit hotter, but they are limited to general population use.

Unfortunately a few dufuses confuse sauna with steam room. Dump way too much water on the heater thus it seems hot, but in reality it just creates condesate on the skin.

Have never experienced IR sauna, so no opinion.

At home we have a hot tub which we use a few times a week, run that around 109 to 112 F.
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Old 11-26-2015, 11:23 PM   #6
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The sauna is part of my ethnic heritage (Finnish). I grew up taking baths in a wood-fired sauna my grandfather built. To me, the primary component of a sauna bath is steam. A dry sauna is not a real sauna.
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Old 05-08-2016, 05:32 PM   #7
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I thought it might be useful to update this. We moved into our condo last summer, and I installed an infrared sauna in January. A little skeptical, since I had never actually used anything but a traditional sauna, but I have to admit the IR version is outstanding.

In previous houses, I had to put in a new 220V circuit for it, but the IR model works just fine on an existing 120V line.

The modular nature of the thing made it relatively easy to put together, and it fit nicely in a corner of the basement storage room.

The IR sauna takes a little longer to get the heat up, but not so much longer that it's a problem. I just start it up 10-15 minutes sooner.

DW likes it in the 120F range, while I prefer at least 140F . Consequently, she uses it either before or after my session. As with any other sauna, it's easy to control the temp, and the IR model is much easier to control.

Overall, I'm very happy with it, and glad I went with the IR over a traditional.

This is the model I got. There are a number of dealers in North America.
IG-530-LH Far-Infrared Sauna
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Old 05-08-2016, 06:43 PM   #8
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The sauna is part of my ethnic heritage (Finnish). I grew up taking baths in a wood-fired sauna my grandfather built. To me, the primary component of a sauna bath is steam. A dry sauna is not a real sauna.
Ditto. Pac NW. And the apartment sauna's post college always had 'rocks' so you could generate steam. Willing to try a an IR model but may be prejudiced even with the cited advantages for smaller areas like a condo.

I suppose one can always imagine an ice cold lake to run out and jump in.



heh heh heh - I'm somewhat a traitor to my heritage - I use my Sister's hot tub(on visits) not her husband's slower to get going wood fired sauna he built in the boat shed.
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Old 05-08-2016, 06:54 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by braumeister View Post
I thought it might be useful to update this. We moved into our condo last summer, and I installed an infrared sauna in January. A little skeptical, since I had never actually used anything but a traditional sauna, but I have to admit the IR version is outstanding.

In previous houses, I had to put in a new 220V circuit for it, but the IR model works just fine on an existing 120V line.

The modular nature of the thing made it relatively easy to put together, and it fit nicely in a corner of the basement storage room.

The IR sauna takes a little longer to get the heat up, but not so much longer that it's a problem. I just start it up 10-15 minutes sooner.

DW likes it in the 120F range, while I prefer at least 140F . Consequently, she uses it either before or after my session. As with any other sauna, it's easy to control the temp, and the IR model is much easier to control.

Overall, I'm very happy with it, and glad I went with the IR over a traditional.

This is the model I got. There are a number of dealers in North America.
IG-530-LH Far-Infrared Sauna
Just curious, how long to get it to 140F?

I am debating making a sauna at my mancave. I have unlimited wood, for wood fired heat, wonder if worth while to run generator for a n IR sauna.
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Old 05-08-2016, 07:06 PM   #10
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Just curious, how long to get it to 140F?.
Hard to say, because each sauna is so individual. My current IR model takes about an hour to get to 140F. But since it uses less than 10 cents of electricity per hour, that's not important.

In my last house, I built a traditional sauna from scratch, and it took about 40 minutes to get to 140.

But they are completely different sizes, different construction, etc. It's not possible to make any sort of direct comparison.
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Old 05-08-2016, 07:09 PM   #11
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Thanks, it would be OK at home, not for generator power. I'll go with wood fired at the mancave.
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Old 05-08-2016, 08:26 PM   #12
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This is the model I got. There are a number of dealers in North America.
IG-530-LH Far-Infrared Sauna
Does it comfortably fit 3 people or is it better suited for 2? Any special maintenance or cleaning required?
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Old 05-08-2016, 08:58 PM   #13
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Ditto. Pac NW. And the apartment sauna's post college always had 'rocks' so you could generate steam. Willing to try a an IR model but may be prejudiced even with the cited advantages for smaller areas like a condo.

I suppose one can always imagine an ice cold lake to run out and jump in.



heh heh heh - I'm somewhat a traitor to my heritage - I use my Sister's hot tub(on visits) not her husband's slower to get going wood fired sauna he built in the boat shed.
My family hails from the Yoop, Mick, although my cousin who grew up in Marquette later moved to Seattle.

I've compromised for the sake of convenience myself, and added a steam shower when we remodeled several years ago. It's pretty good, but not the same as real lyly.
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Old 05-09-2016, 06:31 AM   #14
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Does it comfortably fit 3 people or is it better suited for 2? Any special maintenance or cleaning required?
Yes, this model is built for three people and there is plenty of room to sit side by side. Enough room for one person to lie down flat. They have various size models, but this was a good choice for us. Maintenance-free, as far as I can tell, but we've only had it for five months.
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