Infrared Sauna Heater Placement – Are They Needed in the Front?

Do Saunas Need Front Heaters?

One of the critical elements in choosing an infrared sauna is the locations of the heaters.  The emissivity and power of the heating elements is critical, but their location is an area that many brands struggle to utilize.

A key to deep detoxification and sweating is raising your core body temperature to a high enough degree.  You want to have heaters on all sides of your body when seated.  This includes behind and beside your legs and importantly on the front wall of the unit.

Unless your front side is heated, you will not effectively detox your body.  One of the problems with carbon heaters is that, while the heat they produce can be a higher quality, they produce less of the needed wavelengths.  To accommodate for this, many companies add carbon all the way up over your head and nearly up to the ceiling.  This essentially heats the air but does not add benefit to the intended beneficial detoxification.  You need heaters pointing directly at you as light moves in a straight line.

Comparison Chart

We have a comparison chart that details the best infrared saunas on the market.  The top brands all provide an exceptional amount of heat with heating elements in all the required locations.


Infrared Sauna Brands with Front Heaters

FIR1 overhead view

One exceptional brand which is unrivaled in its purity and medical grade heaters is Heavenly Heat.  Heavenly Heat took an excellent approach in its one person unit which is pictured above.  Bob Morgan, the owner, noticed that two other brands simply reduced the size of their 2 person units and removed heaters in the process.

So instead he designed their 1 person unit with a door on the side. This allowed for the entire front wall to contain 2 heaters as well as retain them on both side and back.

Heavenly Heat is perhaps the only brand fully built and manufactured in the USA.  That is the main reason it could have this type of radical design as it has the freedom to do everything exactly as it should be done.

This is the best designed 1 person unit and it is provides the most powerful ceramic heat on the market.


Vital Health Full Spectrum

Another brand that is every efficient in its designs to maximize the square inches of wall space available in a cabin is Vital Health.  Vital Health units are owned and designed by a former engineer which explains the efficient use of cabin space.  Pictured above is a front corner of the brand’s smaller units showing how efficiently the space is utilized.

To receive the full benefit of infrared, your body need to be surrounded by the heaters.  The majority of saunas produced even just 5 years ago did not have front heaters.  Many also omitted them on the side walls and importantly, behind the legs.  Having infrared behind the legs is important for a full body exposure to the  healing light waves.  But having them behind the legs also helps keep the entire body close to an even temperature.

The Fitness Zone states this very clearly and directly:

The key to infrared therapy is heating your body directly so you want heat on the front of your body and on the back of your body.

There are heaters on the front wall, back wall, side walls, underneath the bench and at your calves. The mistake most companies make using carbon heater saunas is they don’t have heaters on the front walls. Without heating the front of your body you will not raise your core body temperature as effectively and you will not sweat and detox as effectively. 
FitnessZone: Clearlight IS-5 5 Person Infrared Premier Saunas


The following article, in discussing why having light waves surrounding the body agrees with the previous article:

The low EMF heaters are strategically located to give you the best coverage possible. The heat is directed at your body, so no heat is wasted above you where it isn’t needed. You are surrounded by the full spectrum heat you really want. You can even set the controller to high and receive 100% contract heat with no shutoff for your entire session.

The key to this kind of therapy is in directly heating your body, front and back. These sauna surround you with heat. Heaters are located on the back, front and side walls, underneath the bench, next to the calves and in the floor. Many companies don’t have front wall heaters, which will not raise your temperature as well, leading to less sweat. 
Clearlight Sanctuary Far Infrared Saunas – Three Sizes



High Emissivity is Needed

While both of these articles mention that most companies do not include front heating, more brands are beginning to add them.  As a result, a higher percentage of brands now included these compared to 5 years ago.  However, additional units for the sake of filling walls does not directly correlate to an improvement in the benefits of that company’s products.

Having the right type of high-emissivity panels is what is most important. As an example, although one popular yet cheap brand appears to use weaker generic carbon panels, it has posted on its site an excited announcement that they now include them also in the front.  It is announced with all capital letters and an exclamation point!

While we like to see the additional heaters as mentioned by that  company’s website, it is only one part of providing you with the most healing benefits.

Clearlight saunas, a top rated brand for 5 years on our Best Infrared Saunas Comparison chart, shares very clearly where they place their highest emmisivity heaters:

Our far infrared heaters have been specifically developed to produce optimal wavelengths between 6-12 microns that match that of the human body. 

Our saunas have heaters on the front wall, back wall, side walls and underneath the bench, heating your body from every direction. This surrounds your body and targets your core, rather than heating the sauna cabin air. Reasons To Choose Clearlight | Clearlight Saunas


It is clear that heating elements on the front wall is a desirable placement to send these healing wavelengths to all sides of your body.  It is important to remember that infrared travels in a straight line.  Without heating elements in front of you, that portion of your body will not receive the light waves or the healing properties they carry.

These light waves also do not penetrate wood.  So it is confusing and disappointing to see a few brands place dozens of wooden slats in front of the heat elements.  There are 4 brands which look identical and all have several dozen of these slats.  While they promote this as a more comfortable way to lean back into the back wall of the cabin, they are also blocking nearly 60% of all of the infrared.

It should be noted that the reason all 4 brands look identical is because they are.  They are all produced in the same assembly line in China and are the identical products.  Only the brand name is different and all are actually dealers of the same brand.

When choosing your brand, ensure that there are adequate heat elements all around your body.  A second critical component is to ensure that the carbon panels or ceramic elements are actually high emissivity elements.

Please consult our brand comparison chart, read the reviews of the top 4 rated brands.  When you choose based on those recommendations, you will have a sauna that will last for decades.  And you will have all of the heating elements you need for deep detoxification and the other benefits this therapy is known to provide.

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