Last updated: August 8, 2021

A sauna heater is the heart of every sauna. If you are an enthusiastic sauna lover and you are planning or already have your own sauna at home, the choice of heater is one of the most important. Sauna heaters come in a variety of designs and models. Depending on your taste, you can choose between a variety of heaters.

But it's easy to lose track of all the different ovens. That's why you should read this guide before you buy. Here in our large sauna heater test 2021 we present all the different versions of a sauna heater. In addition, we list all the advantages and disadvantages of the different versions and, based on our purchase criteria, your decision to buy should be much easier.

When taking a sauna, up to 1.5 litres of water are lost from the body through sweating. The body compensates for this water loss by taking water from the body tissue. This removes waste products from the body and leads to a significant increase in metabolic activity. So that you do not interrupt this healthy process, you should not drink between sauna sessions, but ensure sufficient fluid balance before and after sauna.



Summary

  • The sauna heater influences the temperature, heating time, energy consumption and climate of a sauna and is therefore its heart.
  • Basically, a distinction is made between 4 types of sauna heaters: wood, gas, electric and bio sauna heaters. All of them are available in numerous variants and different power ratings.
  • Electric heaters are the simplest and quickest way to enjoy a sauna at home. Wood heaters offer traditional Finnish sauna bathing, bio heaters score with their gentle climate and choice of options.

The Best Sauna Heater: Our Choices

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying a sauna heater

What do I have to consider when buying a sauna heater?

Basically, the most expensive product is not necessarily the best. However, there are some aspects you should consider when buying a sauna heater. We have already introduced you to the different types of sauna heaters. First of all, you should consider which functions and advantages are most important to you and then decide on a variant.

In the next step, it is important to consider the size of the sauna cabin. The larger the sauna, the higher the heater's output must be. It is also important to find out what requirements must be met for connecting the respective heater.

In addition, you should deal with questions of safety. In the case of a wood-burning sauna stove, for example, fire safety and smoke emission standards must be met.

What does a sauna heater cost?

Like infrared cabins, sauna heaters are available in many price categories: there are no upper limits. You can get smaller heaters for as little as 150 euros, but you can also find heaters that cost 7,000 euros. Most sauna heaters that correspond to the quality and size of a private sauna cost between 300 and 800 euros.

You should bear in mind that a sauna heater has operating costs in addition to the purchase price. A low purchase price does not make sense if the maintenance and usage costs are very high later on. Therefore, before you buy, find out what the respective heater will cost to maintain.

Type Price
Wood sauna heater from approx. 300 €
Gas sauna heater from approx. 500 €
Electric sauna heater from approx. 150 €
Bio sauna heater from approx. 400 €

What is the right sauna temperature?

Most heaters reach temperatures between 70 and 120 degrees Celsius. You will find out for yourself which degree of heat is most comfortable for you. Basically, you should keep in mind: It is better to sauna briefly at a higher temperature than for a long time at a lower temperature.

The Finns take this seriously and sometimes even sauna at 120 degrees Celsius. However, in order not to put too much strain on your cardiovascular system, you should avoid exceeding a temperature of 100 to 110 degrees Celsius.

The sauna heater is the heart of the sauna. It influences the temperature, heating time, energy consumption and climate. Most sauna heaters reach 70 to 120 degrees Celsius. (Image source: pixabay.com / PublicDomainPictures)

How do I reach the right operating temperature?

If a sauna heater is too small, the sauna cannot be heated up to the desired temperature. As a rule of thumb, a sauna with a surface area of 2 x 2 x 2 metres requires a sauna heater with at least six kilowatts of power (eight is even better). Our tip: there is hardly any difference in price between the individual output classes. Therefore, if in doubt, opt for the next higher power class!

In order for the sauna heater to reach the desired temperature, you should allow it an appropriate lead time. This is the only way for the sauna stones to heat up completely. Normally, you can allow 45 to 60 minutes for this.

Which and how many stones does my sauna heater need?

Sauna stones are an important part of an intensive sauna experience. They serve as air humidifiers and store the heat inside. Apart from the arrangement of the stones, the right quantity is crucial.

More is more! The larger the quantity of stones, the higher the humidity and heat storage capacity. To distribute the heat evenly, you need at least 15 to 20 kilograms of sauna stones.

If you want the full sauna experience with professional infusions, you should opt for a stone quantity of up to 100 kilograms. When buying a sauna heater, make sure that you choose one with the appropriate capacity. If you buy a sauna heater at a low price, you may have to buy the necessary stones separately.

Does a sauna heater require special maintenance/cleaning?

Regular maintenance and care of your sauna heater will prolong its life. Especially if you use the sauna frequently, we advise you to change the stones at least every two years. It is important to clean the heater every few months to prevent germ formation.

You can buy many professional care sets in the shops. These are usually very expensive, but not absolutely necessary. Instead, you can simply use conventional cleaning products such as grill cleaner, oven cleaner or similar.

Note that many sauna heaters have a power connection. So always disconnect the sauna heater from the mains before cleaning.

How does a sauna session affect my body?

During a sauna session, the body temperature rises by one to two degrees. This is about the same as a fever. The skin warms up by three to ten degrees. The blood vessels dilate and twice the amount of blood is pumped through them. The muscles relax.

This process serves to relax body and mind and thus contributes to your general well-being. Besides the feel-good factor, a regular sweating cure has many positive effects on your health.

The alternation between heat and cold strengthens your immune system and hardens the body against infections or colds. It is recommended to use the sauna not only in winter, but also in the warm season and especially in autumn.

In addition, the metabolism and blood circulation are stimulated and harmful substances are flushed out of the body. In general, regular saunas have a very cleansing, strengthening effect on the body.

Decision: What types of sauna heater are there and which is the right one for you?

Basically, four types of sauna heaters can be distinguished:

  • Sauna heater wood
  • Sauna heater gas
  • Electric sauna heater
  • Sauna heater bio / combi

Each of these types differs in performance and functionality. The sauna heater influences the temperature, heating time, energy consumption and climate of a sauna and is therefore its heart.

Depending on your idea of a perfect sauna session, a different model is best suited for you. We will help you find out which type of sauna heater is right for you. Below we present the different types of sauna heaters and explain their advantages and disadvantages.

Große Sauna mit Ofen

There are four types of sauna heaters: wood heaters, gas heaters, electric heaters and bio or combi heaters. Each model has its advantages and disadvantages. The simplest and quickest option is an electric sauna heater. (Photo: solskin / pixabay.com)

How does a wood-burning sauna heater work and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

Heating a sauna with wood is the classic and original way. The wood-burning sauna heater is the optimal choice for a traditional Finnish sauna experience. With a wood-burning sauna heater, wood burns in a corresponding combustion chamber to generate heat.

The wood should be as dry as possible to avoid smoke development. An air supply from the outside to the inside is needed for the necessary oxygen supply.

Advantages
  • Cosy flair
  • Good air regulation
  • Pleasant room climate
  • No electricity connection required
Disadvantages
  • No constant temperature
  • Connection to chimney
  • Wood must be procured and replenished
  • EU standard and emission specifications

When it comes to cosiness, a wood-burning sauna stove is the absolute favourite. The crackling fire creates a cosy atmosphere and a particularly pleasant warmth. When buying, you should pay attention to high-quality insulation. This way, the heat is optimally stored and several sauna sessions are possible without any problems.

How does a gas sauna heater work and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

A gas sauna heater can be brought up to temperature very quickly - similar to a gas barbecue / gas cooker. This variant therefore also allows spontaneous sauna sessions without a long lead time.

In a gas stove, the air in the combustion chamber is heated by means of integrated heating pipes. The heat that flows upwards first heats the sauna stones and is then radiated further into the sauna cabin. Fresh air is supplied through openings on the underside of the heater.

Advantages
  • Fast heating
  • Low operating costs
  • Environmentally friendly and clean
  • Individual control
  • Long service life
Disadvantages
  • High purchase costs
  • High safety requirements
  • Flue gas routing
  • Complex ventilation

The combustion process does not produce any soot particles or residues. In addition, the energy costs required are comparatively low. A gas sauna heater is therefore the cleanest and most environmentally friendly option.

Another advantage over the classic wood sauna is the integrated control system, with which the temperature can be precisely regulated. This allows you to set the heat level that is most comfortable for you personally.

Even if the purchase is somewhat more expensive, the investment can be worthwhile in the end. After all, gas heaters can have a long service life and low operating costs.

How does an electric sauna heater work and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

An electric heater is the quickest and easiest way to experience a sauna and is therefore best suited for a home sauna. Heating rods are used to heat the sauna stones placed on top.

These store the heat inside and radiate it evenly into the interior of the cabin. To distribute the heat evenly, it is important to ensure sufficient air circulation.

Advantages
  • Rapid heating
  • Precise temperature regulation
  • Inexpensive to purchase
  • Simple connection
  • Reduced risk of combustion
Disadvantages
  • Power line required
  • High operating costs

An electric oven is the right choice for those who like it simple, cheap and efficient. With the help of the control unit, the desired temperature can be set individually. This is quickly reached and kept constant. The temperature control ensures that a maximum temperature is not exceeded and a minimum temperature is not fallen short of.

Connecting an electric stove is less complicated than with a gas or wood stove and can be done easily by yourself or quickly by an electrician. All you need is a power connection. Installation and operation are very simple and hardly susceptible to faults. Therefore, an electric heater is also suitable for sauna beginners and people who have little to do with technology.

With an electric heater, the risk of burns is significantly reduced, which is why it is a child-safe variant.

How does a bio sauna heater work and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

The bio sauna heater is also known as a combi heater because it can imitate the different types of sauna. You can use it to create a classic Finnish sauna, an aroma steam bath or a hot air bath - depending on what you feel like.

A bio sauna heater is equipped with a so-called evaporator pocket. This brings water to the boil and thus produces sauna steam, which is evenly distributed in the sauna cabin. In addition, essential oils or essences can be used.

Advantages
  • Imitation of different types of sauna
  • Regulation of air humidity
  • Gentle climate
  • Very compatible
Disadvantages
  • Relatively high operating costs
  • Relatively high acquisition costs

The integrated vaporiser system allows you to set the desired humidity and temperature yourself. In a family, for example, the wishes of all members can be catered for.

Compared to the other variants, the bio sauna has a lower temperature and higher humidity. This creates a very gentle climate that is easy on the circulation and beneficial for the bronchial tubes.

For people with corresponding problems as well as beginners, the vaporiser heater is the optimal alternative to the other variants. Even people who do not like or cannot tolerate extreme heat do not have to forego the benefits of sauna bathing.

Buying criteria: Use these factors to compare and evaluate sauna heaters

If you want to buy a sauna heater, we recommend that you consider some features and criteria. In the following, we will show you which criteria you can use to compare and evaluate sauna heaters. This will help you to find out which product is best for you.

In summary, these are:

  • Article type
  • Material
  • Heating capacity / Recommended cabin size
  • Temperature
  • Connection
  • Type of control
  • Stone quantity
  • Mounting / type of installation

In the following paragraphs you can read about the respective purchase criteria and find out what they mean.

Type of sauna heater

We have already explained in detail how the different types of sauna heaters, i.e. wood, gas, electric or bio heaters, differ from each other. Nevertheless, we would like to remind you that this is probably the most important criterion when buying a sauna heater.

The type of heater determines the temperature, heating time, energy consumption and ambience. You should therefore first ask yourself how you imagine your perfect sauna session. If you are more the cosy type who likes it original and authentic, you should choose a wood-burning sauna heater.

If you want the full range of sauna experiences, from aromatherapy to Finnish sauna, or are sensitive to high heat, then a bio / combi heater is the right choice. If you attach the most importance to simple, uncomplicated handling, an electric heater is the most suitable.

It's up to you what you decide - but you should definitely have looked into the alternatives.

Dampfende Sauna

A wood-burning sauna heater is perfect if there is no electricity connection in the sauna. (Photo: EsaRiutta / pixabay.com)

Material

A sauna heater must be able to withstand high heat and humidity. The material should be able to withstand these stresses. The quality of the material therefore has a great influence on the lifespan of your sauna heater.

If you choose a metal model, make sure that it is made of rust-free materials such as stainless steel or aluminium zinc. This way you can prevent rust from forming and you will not have to invest in the maintenance of the heater for several years. The same applies to a sauna heater that has a cover to keep the heat out.

Heat output / Recommended cabin size

The heat output is one of the most important factors when buying a sauna heater. This is because in order to be able to heat the sauna cabin to the desired temperature, it is not the size of the heater that is decisive, but its heat output.

Basically, you should know that the necessary heating power depends on the size of the sauna cabin. Large saunas, in which several people sauna at the same time, require a very powerful heater. If you only have a small cabin, a heater with a lower heat output is sufficient.

When buying a sauna, you should therefore bear in mind how large your sauna cabin is or will be. The following applies: The larger the volume of the sauna, the more power is required. Use the following table to find out what heat output you need for a given room size:

Power Room size
3 kW 2-5 m³
4 kW 4-6 m³
6 kW 6-8 m³
8 kW 7-12 m³
9 kW 9-14 m³

Our tip: There is hardly any price difference between the individual performance classes. Therefore, if in doubt, opt for the next higher output class.

Temperature

For a perfect sauna session, it is important that the temperature can be adjusted to your own well-being. In the classic Finnish sauna, the temperature is usually between 80 and 115 degrees Celsius. A temperature that is too high can be harmful to your health, and a temperature that is too low may not meet your requirements.

With a wood-burning stove, you can only regulate the temperature by adding more or less wood. High-quality electric stoves, gas stoves and bio-stoves, on the other hand, are equipped with temperature regulators and can control the temperature precisely.

Especially if you want to get into the high temperature range, you should make sure that you choose a sauna heater that is correspondingly powerful. Not all heaters reach temperatures of up to 120 degrees.

Here you will find an overview of the different types of sauna and their characteristics:

Name Temperature Humidity Positive effect on
Finnish sauna 80 ° to 120 °C Approx. 10 % Immune system and muscles
Steam bath 40 ° to 50 °C Approx. 99 % Lungs, pharynx and bronchi
Tepidarium 38 ° to 40 °C Approx. 20 % Blood circulation
Biosauna / Sanarium 50 ° to 60 °C Approx. 50 % Blood circulation and relaxation

Connection

Depending on the type of sauna heater you have chosen, you should definitely get professional help for the connection. Gas and wood-burning stoves must comply with certain standards and regulations.

It is easier to connect an electric heater, which you can generally do yourself. In order to connect the sauna heater properly, the installation instructions supplied should be read carefully.

If you are unsure, contact a professional to connect the sauna heater properly. An electrical accident can have serious consequences, especially because many heaters are operated with high voltage current. So please keep in mind: If you lack the necessary expertise, it is better to hire a professional.

A sauna heater with 230 volts can get its power supply from a normal power line in the house. More powerful, high-quality sauna heaters, however, usually require a 400-volt power connection. Again, the power supply should be installed by an electrician.

Control unit

A sauna heater needs a suitable control unit to be operated comfortably and safely. It is one of the most important components of a sauna to adjust the temperature to the personal well-being. There are two types of sauna control unit - internal and external.

If the temperature controls are located directly on the sauna heater, this is called integrated control. Here you can make changes to the settings by simply adjusting the controls, in the form of control knobs or electronic displays.

An external control unit, on the other hand, is often mounted on the outer walls of the sauna and allows you to adjust the heater inside from there. External sauna controls usually have more functions than internal ones. They allow you to regulate not only temperature, but also ventilation and humidification.

A control unit is usually included with the heater. But you can also buy them separately. Many manufacturers offer matching control units for their sauna heaters. Also, in case of a defect or malfunction, appropriate spare parts can be purchased.

Stone quantity

As you probably already know, sauna stones serve as air humidifiers and heat accumulators. You should therefore bear in mind that the quantity of stones you use is crucial. When buying a stove, make sure you choose one with a large capacity if you are a lover of professional infusions.

You can remember: The larger the quantity of stones, the higher the humidity and heat storage capacity.

To distribute the heat evenly, you need at least 15 to 20 kilograms. Sauna stones. Anything more will give you a more intense sauna experience. Many sauna heaters come with sauna stones.

If you buy a sauna heater at a low price, you may have to buy the necessary stones separately. Since they have to be replaced regularly anyway, they are available separately from specialist dealers and online.

Installation/ type of installation

When buying a stove, you should also consider how it is to be installed. An incorrectly installed or badly positioned stove can lead to irreparable damage to the appliance.

Many stoves can only be mounted on the wall to create an even distribution of the heated air. This guarantees sufficient ventilation and prevents the appliance from overheating.

If you choose a wall-mounted electric sauna heater, you should always remember to protect the wood behind it with a separate covering.

In contrast, floor-standing heaters radiate heat upwards from below. This means that there is no sufficient air circulation. Therefore, heat can build up during use and cause damage to the appliance.

High-quality models also have feet that provide sufficient ventilation from below. This means that nothing stands in the way of uncomplicated use of the unit without extensive drilling.

Interesting facts about sauna heaters

Where does the sauna actually come from?

The word sauna comes from the Finnish language and means "sweat room". It is probably the only Finnish word that has spread throughout the world. Contrary to what you might think, however, the origin of the sauna is not Scandinavia.

As early as the Stone Age, people heated earth pits or caves with the help of stones that were heated with fire and then doused with water. This earlier form of stone sweat bathing was spread by the Mongols. More than 2,000 years ago, the sauna also found its way to Finland, where it was further developed into a wooden bathhouse.

The original wooden houses are still the model for Finnish sauna cabins as we know them today. In Finland, saunas have become an integral part of the culture - with a population of five million, there are a million saunas.

Why does my sauna heater crack and what can I do about it?

Regular sauna users certainly know it - the soft crackling sound that accompanies sweating in the sauna and adds nicely to the atmosphere.

These noises occur especially when the heater is heated up and when it cools down, as the metal of the heater either expands or contracts due to the different temperatures.

A little cracking is therefore absolutely normal and is no cause for concern. Only sometimes is the sauna heater noticeably loud, which in extreme cases can even disturb relaxation. But what is the reason for this?

Four possible causes can lead to the unusually loud crackling.

  1. The plates of the stove are screwed too tightly, so that they cannot expand or contract sufficiently at extreme temperatures. In this case, loosen the screws of the plates a little.
  2. In some cases, the air supply to the oven is either non-existent, too small or incorrectly placed. Always make sure that enough air and thus oxygen can get into the sauna heater.
  3. The stones in the stove are too densely stacked, so that the air in the cavities has little room to move around in the heat. In this case, place your stones a little "wilder" and not too orderly to create spaces in between.
  4. Too much water was used in the infusion. The problem will quickly resolve itself the longer the heater runs and soon the cracking noises should return to normal.

How can I imagine a Finnish sauna championship?

At the Sauna World Championship in Heinola, Finland, you have to persevere. The principle is simple: an initial temperature of 110 degrees Celsius and an infusion every 30 seconds to further increase the temperature and humidity.

The last person to leave the sweat room is crowned the winner. The record of 18:15 minutes is held by Bjarne Hermannsson from Finland.

Since 1999, the spectacle has attracted many sauna enthusiasts from all over the world to the north of Finland every year. However, since a Russian participant collapsed in the sauna in 2010 and subsequently died, the championships are no longer held.

What does a sauna mean for my ecological footprint?

Of course, a sauna entails high energy consumption. The careful use of resources is an important part of today's society. Some companies have already jumped on the trend of ecological awareness and offer innovative concepts with efficient energy-saving management.

According to the manufacturers, this can save up to 40 percent energy. There are a few things you can keep in mind even if you don't have the most modern version of a sauna. Even if you have plenty of space for a sauna, it should not be too large.

Logically, the smaller the sauna, the faster it heats up and the lower the energy consumption.

You should also make sure that the ventilation system does not cause much heat loss. Stoves that are also part of the ventilation system are best suited. If you use your sauna frequently, you should choose a stove that stores heat.

Image source: pixabay.com / Zerocool

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