1. What to Look for in an Infrared Sauna

A Sauna purchase is a big investment and has incredible potential to boost your health and reduce stress. To give you quick help and tips for your purchase decision, we have attempted to take over a decade of research knowledge and condense it into very brief bits of information and tips.

As a result, some of these may appear simplistic but have a lot of power behind them. If you keep them in mind you will save yourself hours and prevent a wrong decision.

A Basic premise: This is one industry where quality varies tremendously and the differences are not always apparent. Please note that 95% of all saunas sold in America are mass produced on 4 Chinese assembly lines and have very little health benefit at all. These are re-sold using dozens of different names.

We want you to purchase a sauna that will provide major benefits. Here are ways you can choose what is right for your situation. After reading this page, we encourage you to also re-visit our best infrared sauna reviews page for a side by side brand comparison and some of the individual company review pages.

2. The Sauna Company

clearlight-premier-is-2How do I chose an infrared Sauna?  Start with looking at the company itself. How long have they been in business? In this industry 40% of all sellers will be out of business 5 years from now, leaving you will no warranty recourse and limited available replacement parts. Longevity usually also provides deeper infrared knowledge and application.

Some of our recommended companies have been in business for 20-35 years. Those situations are ideal. They will be here years from now to stand behind their warranty.

What is the quality of the people that endorse a particular company? An endorsement from a doctor that is top in his field is better than 5 people who blog about numerous health related issues.

Is the company an innovator or do they simply re-sell mass produced generic units? Innovators learn and become cutting edge in their offered features.

Has the company changed its name? Usually have the same name for decades is better than a recent name change, although there are exceptions. Sunlighten changed from Sunlight 8 years ago. We could not recommend them for those first few years as disruption and problems accompanied the change. However, they have now moved well past that and are the number one selling brand in the industry.

Vital changed to Vital Health in 2015 to better reflect the purpose and that change was not a negative.

3. Build Quality, Wood and Glues

HealthMate Sauna Wood
Sauna Wood

Thicker walls equates to better insulation, lower operating costs, better warm up times and a sturdier unit. Usually this means easier assembly as well. In contrast, one cheap brand has one-piece walls that flex and bend and are awkward to assemble.

Kiln Dried Wood

What is the wood quality? Sunlighten’s construction is excellent as well as are the upper two lines of Clearlight, all Heavenly Heat and others.

These brands also prepare the wood by air drying and kiln drying. This reduces the moisture content to prevent cracking. Cheap names do not prepare the wood which will then begin to crack, split and separate during use due to the numerous heating cycles. The more you will use your unit and the longer you plan to own it, the more important this becomes.

Many cheap brands still used chemical-saturated plywood inside their walls. You do not want to breath in those compound vapors or the outgassing of the volatile organic compounds plywood will release. You want to sweat out toxins, not breath more in.

You want kiln dried Hemlok (Tsuga canadensis), Western Red Cedar (Thuja plicata) or Basswood (Tilia americana) or Eucalyptus ideally.

Wood Glues

Many people are ok with a small amount of water based wood glues used in the production.  For those that cannot tolerate those heated gases, outgassing or do not want those, Heavenly Heat sauna is the only brand we have certified that uses no glue or adhesives.  They use stainless steel screws and buckles. We have literally cut and drilled one of their walls to verify this.

4. Types and Location of Infrared Heaters

Healing Heat Therapy Sunlighten Basswood Best Wood for Sauna

Carbon Panels

Carbon warms up more slowly than ceramic but has much lower EMF levels and better infrared penetration and detoxification.

Ceramic Heaters

Ceramic Heaters in an Infrared Sauna

Ceramic heaters warm up quickly, get very hot and have a higher interior temperature.  However they do not provide as much detoxification or body coverage.

Heater Emissivity is Most Important

This is really the amount of true infrared the heaters put out, how much of it is able to penetrate and remove toxins from your human body’s tissues.  It is a critical component in your decision.

Note: If the infrared heaters are not efficient and emissive, the product is worthless as far as infrared healing is concerned. It will not remove a toxin.

A lack of posted information does not necessarily mean low quality. If testing is not posted on their site, carefully read our brand reviews and ask the company representative when you call them.  All of our top rated brands including Sunlighten and Clearlight provide excellent emissivity.

Heater Location and Positioning

Heaters surrounding you including heaters in the front facing you and behind the legs under the bench is what you ideally want.  In fact one high-priced brand, Health Mate, that has always only had ceramic heaters launched a new line with carbon panels around 2019.  Those models only have panels on the back behind the user.  There are no panels in front, behind the legs or even on the side walls which is very disappointing. That should be avoided.

You need infrared heaters facing as many parts of you as possible.

5. Far Infrared, Near Infrared or Full Spectrum

Infrared saunas will come standard as far-infrared with optional full spectrum.  Near and mid infrared will be added by additional heater types. We believe far infrared is sufficient for most people as red light therapy for skin health (near infrared type benefits) can be purchase separately and used even outside of the unit.

For Full Spectrum wavelengths the top brands will all have you covered.  This is a topic to discuss with the individual companies you contact.

6. Low EMF and ELF Heaters

EMF Reading Levels are very important, however, not always as much as it seems.

Fifteen years ago electromagnetic fields (EMF) levels were high in almost every product you could buy. A few companies took he lead reducing dangerous EMF levels by shield the electric wires and many others have followed their example. A level of 3.0 mG has usually been considered safe, although now you can achiever far lower levels with a couple top rated brands. Electromagnetic radiation is becoming less of a prevalent concern.

Take note however.  One top rate brand has a mass of technology in its units and one of their product lines has EMFs that range up well over 5.0mG.  You need to ask carefully.  We note the lowest EMF rated brands many places on our site.

We applaud companies like Clearlight infrared sauna for taking the lead and reducing all models to an average of 0.05 mG. Sunlighten as well has reduced its Signature line to similar ultra low levels, however its mPulse is much higher. Heavenly Heat in 2024 dropped their low readings even farther and may have now taken the spot as the lowest.

Note: However, the difference between readings of 2.0 mG, 1.0 mG and ultra low 0.05 mG is not nearly as important as heater emissivity previously discussed. Once the emf levels are within safe levels, the effectiveness of the heaters is the critical factor.

There are still some brands with wavelengths yielding levels of 30.0 – 170.0 mG which are extremely dangerous. You can avoid these by avoiding cheaply priced products.  They will also likely outgas volatile organic compounds which you do not want either.

Third Party EMF Level Reports

Very importantly: Do not accept third party ratings and level reports.  Those are done in isolation in a lab and are often reported incorrectly.  In addition, they do not measure the wiring or the wire connectors. The EMF levels need to be tested in full operation with every electronic component operating. Once that mostly low panel in turned on inside an operating sauna, the readings can skyrocket due to the poorly designed connectors.

Sauna ELF Levels

ELF Electric fields – extremely low frequency fields – are different from electromagnetic fields (EMFs)  and only a few brands aggressively address this.  Heavenly Heat and Clearlight basically have reduced the ELF fields to zero.  If you are sensitive to a lot of things including electronics or electromagnetic radiation, those are the two brands to consider.

7. Sauna Design and Layout

Vital Health Saunas 3 person corner overhead
Vital Health Saunas 3 person corner overhead

Some corner units look great but have very little foot room and are awkward for 3 people to use. Floor space and floor heaters are things to carefully consider.

Our opinion strongly favors having heating elements behind the legs, beside the legs, in front of the body and beside the upper torso. Some models, even on great brands omit these. The more you are surrounded with far infrared, the more that actually penetrates. This also reduces the amount of time needed to achieve the same personal benefits.

Some of our top rated companies excel in design.

8. Infrared Sauna Cost and Budget

The cost of an far infrared sauna can vary widely based on several factors such as size, material, brand, and additional features. Here’s a breakdown of typical price ranges:

Even though the technology used has advanced particularly in brands such as Sunlighten, the cost is still usually less than traditional styles. Higher end products will typically range from $6,000 to $9,000, while comparable traditional saunas often cost between up to $12,000.

The total price will be influenced by the size selected, the type of wood used and extra features like chromotherapy lights or Bluetooth speakers.

Entry-Level Models

Entry-Level Models: These are usually smaller, with basic features and limited capacity (often one to two people). Prices for these models start around $2,000 to $2,500.  You do not want a $1000 product. These will have no healing light absorption. Consider Vital Health for a good quality product with a lower price tag than most good brands.

Mid-Range Models

Mid-Range Models: These often offer better quality woods, larger capacity (two to four people), and may include additional features such as chromotherapy lights and Bluetooth speakers. Prices for mid-range models generally range from $3,000 to $5,000.

The best value brand is Heavenly Heat even though it is actually a very superior quality product.  It will be at the upper end of this range but is the only brand that we have considered to be Under-priced for over 10 years.

High-End Models

High-End Models: These range from excellent  to luxurious  They often accommodating four or more people and have wheelchair access or ability to remove the bench and have a yoga session.  In the case of Sunlighten, they have all types of technology features like full spectrum therapy, music players, and personalized heater controls. Prices can range from $5,000 to $10,000 or more.

In the case of Saunacore, luxury amenities can cost upwards of $20,000.

Keep in mind, the final cost may also include installation fees and may require the cost of necessary electrical wiring upgrades to support the power requirements. Some saunas are designed for easy DIY installation, which can save on costs, while others might require professional installation.

9. Sauna Sizes and Capacity

Vital Health Sauna Elite Five Person
Vital Health Sauna Elite Five
  1. One-Person Saunas: Require the smallest space to install and install easily in your home..
  2. Two-Person Saunas: These are the most popular size fro most companies. They offer a good balance between size and comfort. Even for one person this is an ideal size. Avoid getting one too small for its purpose. But also, getting one too large can become problematic in a smaller home.  One person we spoke will regarding their purchase 3ended up getting one 6 inches too long and it was in the way getting to the hallway for 2 years.
  3. Three-Person Saunas: These of course offer more space to stretch out but for some reason si not as popular as the 2 person or 4 person. But they provide great comfort for even one person.
  4. Four to Five-Person Saunas: These feature large interiors that not only accommodate groups but also offer the flexibility to remove benches for activities like exercises, hot yoga or wheelchair access.

10. The Warranty and Support

Clearlight Premier IS-C Corner SaunaA Warranty will vary from a full lifetime on everything (such as Clearlight’s full lifetime) all the way down to 1 year. The most important areas are the critical expensive parts of heaters, control panels/wiring and wood construction.

However, a lifetime warranty is actually not always desirable.

Instead, it should be considered as part of the company decision. A cheap brand costing $1000 and offering a lifetime warranty will in fact likely offer you very little. It is likely that the brand will be out of business within 5 years and you will be left with no recourse.

On the other hand, if it remains viable, the units are very possibly only worth $500 and are overpriced to pay for the numerous units that will fail.

Also a few brands state a lifetime warranty but area actually limited to 5-7 years.  When asked directly, they will state in fine print that they deem the lifetime expectancy to be 7 years, therefore the lifetime warranty only covers 7 years.

Our top rated brands all carry exceptional coverage.

11. Will You Use it as Indoor or Outdoor Sauna?

Heavenly Heat Outdoor 2 person Infrared Sauna

If you think you will use it as an outdoor sauna experience at some point, you will need to either purchase a quality outdoor cover or purchase an outdoor sauna from the start.  Outdoor units will be stained and weather protected on the outside wood, leaving the interior still toxic free Hemlock, Basswood, Cedar or other type of wood.

12. Safety Features

If automatic shut off is something you think you might need, ask about the specific model you are considering.

13. Warmup Time and Electrical Costs

Daily Electrical Cost of an Infrared Sauna

The daily cost to enjoy your infrared sauna experience for an hour in your home is actually quite low. This is really a very low consideration for your purchase.  The critical aspects are heater emissivity, warranty and low toxicity.

The electric cost varies depending on local power rates of course, but typically, you can expect to spend about $5 per week on electricity. Here’s a breakdown of the costs per hour based on sauna size and power usage:

Overall expect it to cost less than $20 per month in electricity.  You are making this purchase to relive stress so don’t stress over this detail.

14. Installation

Installing an infrared sauna is generally straightforward, often designed for DIY assembly.  Good manuals are provided and online help is there as well if you choose a brand with good customer support. Most models are prefabricated and simply require assembling with provided clasps.  In some cases the basic screwdriver is required.  Sunlighten even has models that snap together with magnets.  Nice.

Make sure there is adequate space around and next to walls so that there is adequate ventilation.

For more complex installations, especially for larger units you will require dedicated electrical circuits.  Consult a licensed professional for that electrical wiring installation and comply with safety, UL LLC and local building codes.

15. Maintenance Requirements

An infrared sauna is much easier to maintain than a traditional steam sauna.

Regular cleaning of the interior with a damp cloth to remove sweat and human body oils is usually sufficient.

You should avoid suing any harsh chemicals that could damage the wood or the heaters and they are also not needed. Periodically checking that any vents and heaters are free from obstructions and are not stained with anything like a spilled beverage will help maintain safe and best operation. A little occasional maintenance will extend their effective life.

16. Additional Features

You can add  additional features such as chromotherapy, halotherapy, and red light therapy.  These additions can provide varying amounts of extra benefit but they do add to the overall sauna experience.


Jacuzzi Clearlight Chromotherapy lights in Infrared Sauna

Color light therapy which is usually referred to as chromotherapy have been shown to provide physical as well as some emotional healing.  To some degree, they reduce pain and and inflammation.  They can certainly add some therapeutic relaxation and mental healing. Blue light therapy is actually a proven medical treatment and is used in neonatal hospitals.


Clearlight HALO ONE Halogenerator with man in sauna

Halotherapy involves inhaling finely crushed salt particles  or in the case of Clearlight’s Halo-One a liquid saline solution.  This has been proven to improve respiratory health and clear blockages. This therapy utilizes a generator, called a halogenerator, to distribute salt inside or outside the sauna.

Red Light Therapy

Red light therapy is a recent addition to the heat therapy lineup.  It uses low-level red wavelengths that stimulates skin rejuvenation and increases production of collagen and providing skin anti-aging benefits. The red light absorption is known for its effectiveness in reducing inflammation and promoting faster healing.

Vibration Resonance Therapy

Vibration resonance therapy (VRT) is a little more debated, but it combines sound and vibration to increase relaxation and sooth the user. This therapeutic approach is very calming.

17. Your Individual Needs in a Sauna

If you want to spend more time at lower temperatures of 110 – 125 degrees, then individual heater controls could be important. Vital Health is currently the only brand that allows for this. For far infrared, the lower the temperature of the heaters, the closer they are to the ideal 9.4 microns that benefits the body the most.

Woman Sitting in Heavenly Heat Combination 2 person Sauna

Is it for a chemically sensitive person? Heavenly Heat has the purest cabins and heaters anywhere. They have cabin air flow in their traditional units as well.

Do you want full spectrum that includes near infrared? Clearlight infrared sauna, Sunlighten, Heavenly Heat and Vital Health all offer this. Clearlight has 1000 watts of powerful near infrared while Vital offers 600 watts. Sunlighten’s small LED bulb arrays offer a total of 10-40 watts of near infrared. However, their mid range infrared is cutting edge and very effective. Some now include massive halogen lamps. Please see the individual review.

If you want the faster heat up times of ceramic, Heavenly Heat’s new heaters heat up extremely rapidly and should be considered.

For customization options, Clearlight and Sunlighten are your brands to look at first. Clearlight will work with your contractor to build an entire custom sauna room or spa.  Saunacore will as well, however the costs will skyrocket and the cost is not worth the gain.  Heavenly Heat previously offered some individual unit customization but as of now they do not add much.  Later in 2024 they may begin adding more smaller-scale customization options.  In fact large custom builds are used in wellness spas.

If you will need to move your unit around once assembled ask about optional castors or consider adding those yourself as they will make moving the unit around the room a breeze.

Where to Purchase

Infrared saunas can be purchased from a variety of sources including specialty online stores and the manufacturer themselves.  A range of quality can be purchased even from Amazon marketplace.

When deciding where to buy, consider the reputation of the seller, the quality of customer service, and the availability of after-sales support.

Purchasing directly from manufacturers or their factory often allows access to better warranties and potentially lower prices.  This is the easiest way.

Your Buyer Checklist

Create your own checklist before contacting the companies you are considering. Remember that glitzy online marketing does not always mean the top quality or value for your money.  It might even mean higher pressure sales.

Avoid These Common Purchase Mistakes

Avoid the mistake of ignoring the quality of the construction of the product you are going to purchase. Ensure the product uses non-toxic materials and is built with durable components that can withstand regular use.  You want true cedar (Cedrus) not fake wood or hidden particle board.

Importantly, do no over or underestimate the size and electrical requirements of the sauna.  We have talked with some who have gotten a unit too large and it blocked off easy access to their laundry room.

Avoid sellers with poor customer service or limited warranties, as ongoing support is crucial for dealing with any potential issues. Finally, not comparing prices and features across different brands can result in missing out on the best value for your investment.

Avoid all of these and more by visiting our best brand page and individual brand review pages. You want heat therapy, not something that can increase your risk of disease.

Please remember, this is not a replacement for medical treatment.

Frequently Asked Questions


These are the areas we have found that should be considered when purchasing. Please see our reviews page for the best infrared sauna reviews side by side brand comparison. The more you take these factors into account, the more likely you will end up with the best brand for you.