Our step-up pick is the Almost Heaven Weston and it can fit up to 6 people all in all and is made with rustic cedar as well. It has an 8 kW heater that has a Finnish style. It has a delay timer as well and has pre-assembled ends for ease of setup.
The budget pick is the ALEKO SB5CEDARCP and it can fit up to 5 people inside. It has a 4.5 kW heater and uses stainless steel (304 grade) bands for fastening it together. It also comes with venting holes and comes with a bucket, ladle and other accessories.
A Little Background
Saunas can come in a variety of sizes and shapes, depending on what’s available in your land area. Smaller ones can be found in most gymnasiums and homes, but bigger ones are usually the ones that are found in resorts as well as in some gymnasiums and establishments. Bigger ones are usually for public use while those who have private ones are usually for 1 to 3 persons only, much like a small bathroom at home.
A barrel type sauna is a kind of unit that is like an oak barrel but is used for heating up. They are usually situated outdoors and can either have a wet or dry heating mechanism, which can vary from model to model and from different manufacturers. Usually, they are for large scale operations and are intended for 3 or more people inside because of their size and setup procedures.
Compared to other types of regular saunas that look like telephone booths, these ones are much more expensive when it comes down to the labor, materials and everything else. Hence, they are mostly intended for public usage and rarely for private areas. They are also made of similar materials with regular heating rooms such as pine or cedar wood.
There are warnings for using this kind of heating room. For instance, pregnant women are not advised for using it. Similarly, women in their periods can also experience problems since periods can raise a woman’s body temperature, and it can lead to an uneasy feeling or even dehydration and dizziness due to hormonal complications.
How we Picked
If you want the best barrel sauna, you should look for the following criteria:
Size: the size is usually around 7 to 8 feet depending on the model that you have and the manufacturer. When you want to consider the size, you should also consider where you will place it, so as not to overestimate.
Number of people: this can vary from 3 person to 5 person, with some larger ones fitting even more people inside. Knowing how many people will use this kind of barrel room unit for heating is important so that you will know the size that you should get.
Safety certification: they should be ETL certified or at least UL listed in their components to ensure that they are safe to use and to operate overall. Safety is important when it comes down to anything that uses heat so that it will not cause potential household fires and the like.
Wood used: these wooden rooms should be made out of quality material. Cedar wood is the most expensive type of wood but it is very durable by all means. Pine is a less durable but cheaper option for those who do not have a lot of budget for cedar wood.
Type of heating: most will be electrical heater based units but there are still some that depend on wood burning for a very classic and authentic feeling that can be enjoyed by enthusiasts and newcomers alike. Wood burning is great for those who want a rustic and traditional feeling, but electrical units are great for those who don’t like to wait for a long time to heat up the entire room.
Electrical heater: most of these will use either wet or dry heating methods and will usually depend on an electrical heating mechanism. The range can be from 4.5 kW to 6 kW and some can be up to 8 kW for larger models that are intended for commercial usage.
Ease of setup: nobody would ever say that setting up a barrel type sauna is easy, but it should be at least user-friendly with its manual so that it will take less time to put it together, especially for your electrician or for yourself if you’d like to DIY its installation anyway to save up on costs.
Included accessories: to complete your rustic and authentic Finnish spa experience, the sauna should have a lot of accessories and freebies to choose from, one of which being lava rocks so that you do not have to go out and get them somewhere else.
Warranty policy: the warranty policy should state for how long the warranty is valid and what is covered by the warranty on the unit. It is important that you know the warranty policy of a company, especially if it is something that is above $2,000 in price, since usually, these types of heating rooms are very expensive to buy, so they should come with a reasonable warranty period all in all.
Delivery policy: it should be easily delivered and there should be some good options when it comes to delivering it, since it will be a troublesome and bulky thing to deliver to your home. You should know their delivery policies so you can be able to work with a plan B in case you need to move it from the streets to a faraway home off the road.
As our top pick, the Almost Heaven Pinnacle comes with a tempered glass door and is made with cedar wood for its construction. It can heat up to 195 degrees Fahrenheit within 1 hour and it comes with a thermometer and hygrometer along with a ladle and bucket and the heating stones.
Flaws but Not Dealbrakers
Like all barrel saunas, the Almost Heaven Pinnacle could be expensive to purchase, so you should prepare a good budget for it.
The Almost Heaven Weston can accommodate up to 6 people, as our step-up pick, and uses a Finnish style heater at 8 kW of power. It comes with pre-assembled benches, staves and ends for ease of setup when it arrives in your doorstep.
For our budget pick, we chose the ALEKO SB5CEDARCP, which is made with stainless steel bands and other hardware for durability and stability in bad weather. It is made with Canadian western red cedar for added strength and is made with a 4.5 kW heater that is ETL approved.
Best Barrel Sauna with Wood Burning
For those who like a traditional wood burning heating room, the BZBCabins W29 is a good choice, which has a free wood door upgrade, 3 steel bands, a length of 6 feet and 7 inches and is made with Nordic spruce for its overall construction with a thickness of 1 and 5/8 inches.
Best Barrel Sauna made of Pine Wood
If you want something that is made of pine wood, you can go for the SDI PINE WOOD model which can fit up to 4 people at once and spans 8 feet in length. It comes with all of the accessories needed and has legs for ease of setup.
Best Barrel Sauna made of Spruce
For those who want a spruce barrel, the Allwood #300-WHP is a great choice, with a thickness of 1 5/8 inches for its construction. It has a length of 90 inches for the section and a total diameter of 6 feet and 8 inches. It can fit up to 6 people inside.
Best Barrel Sauna made of Cedar Wood
If you want something that is made of sturdy cedar wood, the Western Pacific 6FTCDR-sds is a good choice, with included hydrometer and thermometer among other accessories. It is a wet and dry heating room that has a 6 kW heater and can house 4 people. It has a 1 year warranty as well.
Best Barrel Sauna for 6 People
For 6 people to fit inside, the BZBCabins W44 is a good choice and is made with quality support cradles, steel bands and spruce construction. It comes with a built-in changing room so you don’t have to go outside to do it.
Best Barrel Sauna for 4 People
For those who just want 4 people to fit inside, you can go for the Allwood #250-WHP, which is made with spruce material and has a section length of 70 inches. It also comes with a quality built steel chimney and has a thickness of 1 5/8 inches for the frame material.
Best Barrel Sauna with a Wet/Dry Heater
The Western Pacific 6FTPN-sds has a wet and dry operation and has a 6 kW heater that operates on 220 volts. It comes with interior lighting and comes with all the lava rocks needed. It is made with quality pine wood and comes with a 1 year warranty for the parts.
While others looked promising, they lacked in durability because the wood material was not very good and the warranty policies did not cover it enough. Also, the construction wasn’t very durable on those others that we did not include in this list.
Other Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What are the advantages of a barrel sauna?
A: This unique kind of heating room has the following benefits over regular types of heating rooms?
1. It heats up way faster than the average sauna. Heating time has always been a problem for those who want to use this kind of heating room, and the barrel type is a great choice for those who want a traditional looking or Finland inspired design that is both functional and aesthetic. The faster it heats up, the sooner you can get inside to do your business and sweat a lot.
2. The heat circulates better because of the round shape. Due to the unique design of the barrel type heating room, the heat can go around better than with a square or rectangular shaped one. The air circulation is important and the heat circulation helps you to fully experience a closed space that has no cold spots and an even temperature all throughout your stay there. Nobody likes having a cold spot anywhere inside the place.
3. It’s cooperage is excellent for resisting temperature changes. The term cooperage refers to how the barrel has been made, in which it is similarly constructed to a wine barrel or oak barrel. The tightness of the manufacturing of this kind of inner room is what makes the whole things much more resistant to weather disturbances and other outdoor factors that can affect its performance in the long run. The tight seal allows it to insulate the people inside better.
4. Wood construction for barrel types are usually much more durable. Cedar is mostly probably used, hence it can last for a long time and won’t retain moisture that easily unlike other wood species. It also does not absorb heat so it can resist the high temperature of the inner room. Because of the thickness of cedar wood, it insulate much better than other wood types and other construction types of this kind of heating room.
5. The overall construction won’t easily damage the wood while manufacturing it. Because of its rounded shape, excellent tapering and lumber profile, it will less likely get damaged while being crafted. The stave profile makes them much better than other types of heating rooms. This kind of construction is what prompts manufacturers to give higher and longer warranty periods for customer satisfaction, due to their quality build and durable finish.
Q: What are the misconceptions about barrel saunas?
A: This kind of heating room is known for its unique design that mimics the Finnish type ones that you often see in Finland and in other cold countries. With this cool designed heating room, there also come many misconceptions, such as the following:
They can be hard to assemble because of their large design.
Not really, because they are usually built-in when you order them and the guys from the manufacturing company just bring them over to your area and secure it to your place.
Shipping can be a problem with them.
While it is true that they ship unassembled most of the time, this helps you to receive it easier rather than having a large truck come over.
Changing after you use the heating room can be difficult.
There’s no changing room inside the design of this barrel type room.
While it doesn’t have a changing room, if you do set it nearer to a makeshift changing room, you can easily go there to avoid the cold wind. Or, some people might prefer to go through the cold weather like they would on an ice dip in Finland.
It can get cold due to lack of insulation.
There’s no insulation or vapor barrier to protect you from the cold.
However, if you purchase quality wood that has natural insulation properties then there might not be a need for insulation at all.
It feels cramped inside due to the rounded space.
This varies from different models, as some can have longer lengths to cope with the cramped space due to the rounded design.
Barrel saunas can be set up anywhere in the country or the world.
It’s only suitable for those with just-right climates, such as areas in California or in tropical countries. If you live somewhere in Canada, Alaska, and similar areas, it can be hard to change clothes (see above).
In addition to that, here are some things to note with the use of this barrel type room:
1. You need to close the door immediately, especially in cold weather. This is important not just with this kind of heating room, but also with any space or area that should be secured from the cold. Letting out cold air from the outside can compromise the heating capability of the in this kind of room.
2. It pays to add some amenities near the barrel room. There are amenities like a changing room (mentioned above) that you can add so that the people who are in the barrel room will feel less uncomfortable when they want to walk out and change immediately to avoid the really cold weather outside of the barrel room.
3. Remember that it doesn’t have an upper bench. Two bench levels are usually found in regular types of heating rooms out there, usually the square or rectangle ones. Because these levels are not present due to the construction of the barrel type room, it can be hard to get the right heating area for you, so take heed if you don’t like something that lack some flexibility, especially if you have youngsters who aren’t very used to heat.
4. Make sure they are properly maintained, especially if you live in a snowy area. As with any kind of outdoor item that uses wood, make sure it is properly coated with protective materials to insulate it well from the harsh weather of the outside world. It should be checked more frequently since it will be situated outside of your house or living area.
5. Consider electrical components that are ETL and UL listed for safety. It pays to have a safe and sound experience while heating up, and this can be supplemented by a safety listed set of electrical components to make sure that everything is up and running and safely operating all the time.
Q: What’s a wet sauna and what’s a dry one?
A: These two types of heating room methods come with their own unique properties, such as the following:
a. Mostly used for steam inhalation and vapor therapy.
b. Produced by pouring water over the rocks to create steam.
c. Simply adds humidity in the environment of your room.
a. When the steam dissipates to create a damp environment.
b. Lacks humidity so it is basically a dry experience.
c. Mostly used for headaches, back and joint pains and others.
Q: Are there any health benefits to infrared types?
A: Yes, there can be some benefits for your health if you chose to use the infrared type, such as the following advantages:
1. It brings lower temperatures that are bearable for most people.
2. It heats up quickly compared to the traditional ways of heating.
3. It has no known side effects as of today.
4. It can help alleviate chronic illnesses like high blood pressure.
5. They are usually cheaper than traditional types.
Q: What are the major differences between traditional and infrared types?
A: In terms of differences, we have the following between traditional and infrared rooms:
The heating method is usually either electric or traditional wood burning from a stove.
The heating method is through infrared rays, which penetrate the skin of a person.
This works best if you want to get that traditional Finnish feeling of having relaxation, or when you’re in a group of people.
This works best if you just want something at home to heat up on during bad weather to help alleviate stress and aches.
Usually, they come in large scale product or room so they will need more space compared to the infrared type.
The infrared type is mostly a residential room so it will most likely be smaller in size.
The best temperatures that you can go with for this kind of room is from 150 to 185 degrees Fahrenheit.
In an infrared room, the best temperatures would be from 120 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit.
Number of persons
You can fit in up to 4 more people inside, with some establishments, such as those with barrels, fitting even 5 or 10 due to the large scale.
Most of these rooms are small and can either be for a single person or for 2 to 3 persons only.
Because of their traditional ways of heating up, you can expect it to work within 30 to 40 minutes.
This varies from different models, but usually, they heat up right away when you turn on the room. Some may require you to wait around 5 minutes or so.
Wet or dry
They can either be wet or super dry depending on whether you pour water over the rocks inside the room for added humidity.
The humidity is usually just fine for most people, so it’s not overly dry or overly wet, and can have adjustments as well.
Where to find
Can be found on public areas and resorts, as well as other commercial establishments.
Can be found on some establishments, but mostly found inside residential homes.
They can be square or rectangular ones with 2 levels of benches, or the barrel types which have one level of bench for sitting.
They can come in either ceramic heating or carbon heating methods, or a combination of both.
Q: What common misconceptions and fallacies surround traditional and infrared types?
A: Both the traditional and infrared types are often mistaken for some common misconceptions, and here are some of them:
The traditional type is more costly over the infrared type.
This depends on how much you use it and how many people will get inside.
It takes roughly 40 minutes to heat up a traditional type room.
It depends on the size of the room, as smaller ones can prompt you to sweat faster, in under 35 minutes or less.
Traditional types take forever to install compared to infrared types.
Not always true, as there are traditional types that do get shipped pre-assembled so that you don’t have to fumble over DIY construction if you are not that knowledgeable with it.
There’s no need for an electrician for installing infrared types.
Not true, because you still need an electrician for larger types that might require a 15 to 20 amp plug for you to use it properly.
Maintenance is much more difficult with traditional types.
Maintenance is actually the same thing, whether you have a traditional or an infrared type. It depends more on how often you use it and how many people use it on the average.
Traditional types are only for those who are expert with heat tolerance, whereas infrared ones are softer.
Not always true, as traditional types do have two levels of benches, so you can adjust accordingly depending on the heat levels that you want.
If you tweak the settings of your infrared type room, you can obtain a similar feeling with traditional types.
Q: What are the benefits of using a sauna for the winter season?
A: In the upcoming winter season, it pays to work a little sweat without having to workout at the gym or in your exercise machine. One such way is by going through this kind of heating room, with the following benefits for your well-being:
1. Recovery time – your recovery time is most likely seen if you are performing any kind of physical activity such as exercises, sports and the like. Recovery time can improve if you get into this kind of heat enduring activity, as your tolerance to heat will improve and it will help you revitalize yourself after a workout, which is why it should only be done (best done) after your physical activity.
2. Pain reduction – it helps alleviate pains in your joints, muscles and back. It is helpful for adults who have always been stuck in a desk job and want to help themselves relax. If you have been through a massage therapy then this will be pretty similar – except that it is the heat at work this time. The heat can help alleviate those joints and muscles that need some relaxation.
3. Lower cholesterol levels – this heating activity helps you decrease your cholesterol levels, which can be helpful for maintaining a better heart health as well. Having a lower cholesterol can help those above 40 years old who may be at risk for certain illnesses like hypertension and heart problems.
4. Better heart health – along with lowering cholesterol all in all, it can help with your cardiovascular system so that your heart will be healthier. One thing that heat does to your body is that it activates the blood flow of your body so that it will be regularized to make sure you stay fit and healthy.
5. Mental health benefits – aside from the physical benefits to your body, one of the best things that make this kind of heating activity so fruitful is that it can help you relax and release all of the stress from your mind and body. If you have been through any kind of tough activity that made your mind really clogged with negativity and stressful ideas, one way to unwind is to go through this heating room.
Q: What are the benefits of using wet heating methods?
A: Steam heating or wet heating is a way to heat up in this kind of heating room, which has the following benefits for your health:
1. It helps you breathe much better. Proper breathing can be achieved if you have been staying in a room with vapors of smoke that produce heat so that your clogged nose passages can be cleared. Those with respiratory and breathing problems such as asthma, cough, colds, sinusitis, allergies and the like can get some form of relief when they get into this kind of heating method.
2. It relaxes your muscles from tension. Just as we mentioned above, getting into the heat of this kind of activity helps you relief from sore muscles. This happens often when you get into any physical activity such as an exercise or a sport. Getting relief for your muscles is important and recovery can be done and improved in this kind of method of heating.
3. It alleviates your brain from stress. One thing that the heat of the steam can do you to your mind is to relax it from the negative vibes. It is important to unwind once in a while so that it will help you live a positive life and help you focus more on your next tasks ahead, whether at work or in school. Releasing your stress is important because mental health is just as important as physical health.
4. It might help in weight loss and calorie burning. While it should be accompanied with physical activities and a healthy lifestyle, getting into this kind of heating method can also potentially burn calories and may help you with losing more weight because you tend to sweat some more.
5. It helps you improve your heat tolerance and endurance. If you are not very used to heat then you can train yourself with this kind of method. Heat tolerance and endurance can help boost your immune system so that you will be less likely catching colds, cough and other illnesses.
Q: What are the benefits of using dry heating methods?
A: Dry heating is another way of heating up in this kind of room, which is the opposite of steam or wet heating, which has the following advantages:
1. It helps a lot in blood circulation. With dry heating, you can definitely get your blood pumping much like with exercise. A good way to boost your healthy blood circulation is to heat up your body using this kind of heating method. In this way, you can release yourself from the formation of blood clots and you will feel much more energized throughout the day.
2. Your flexibility on your joints will improve. One thing that dry heat can do to your body is that they will help with the recovery time of your joints and muscles. This is important for those who are near their 40s or 60s so that they don’t end up with bone problems such as osteoporosis, osteoarthritis and the like, so that they can be able to do more things with their life.
3. It promotes better relaxation. If you have been plagued with stressful projects in real life, you can help yourself unwind and relax some more if you get into this kind of dry kind of heating. Relaxing is important and it can also potentially alleviate bouts of anxiety, depression and other mental and emotional problems you may have.
4. It helps on detoxifying your body. Detoxifying your body is important if you have been consuming too much products that may be unhealthy for your well-being. Aside from weight loss, detoxifying options are important for you to live much healthier than you were before.
5. It improves your metabolism, which has good effects on weight loss. Metabolism is the process of how your food goes down into your belly and through your intestines. If you have a faster metabolism rate then you will have less chances of retaining fats inside your body, making you healthier.
Q: Can seniors get in the sauna? What should be considered?
A: These heating rooms are also good for seniors, because of the following benefits:
a. It helps them lower their blood pressure. One of the most common problem among seniors is hypertension, or having too much high blood pressure, which can be lowered with the help of relaxation methods such as this.
b. It may save them from Alzheimer’s disease. This is important so that they will not lose their memory in their later years, which can impact their quality of life and can have problems with their loved ones. They should have a good memory as they grow older so that they can cherish life’s moments even in their last few years.
c. It may help their cardiovascular system improve in performance. Most heart problems come from seniors who do not engage in physically engaging activities. Having a good exercise for their cardiovascular system by means of heating can help their heart stay active and healthy. Heart attacks are some of the most common problems that seniors face.
d. It’s a social activity if they gather in public rooms. Because most seniors are retired and have nothing to do in life, they tend to socialize with fellow seniors often. One way of doing this is to get into a public room with senior friends and colleagues so that they can talk about life while they are sweating inside the heating room.
e. It’s a good workout that doesn’t involve straining joints. Because stressful physical activities might not be suitable for all ages, especially for seniors, they should have a low impact way of shedding sweat and pounds all in all. One such way of doing so is to sweat using the heat of this kind of room.
With that said, here are some reminders for seniors who do want to get into this kind of heating activity to stay safe all the time:
a. Make sure they get properly hydrated before and after each session.
b. They should not force themselves when they feel nauseous.
c. They should be physically fit and health to use this kind of room.
d. Alcohol and heating rooms don’t mix – they give you more risk of dehydration.
e. Consult your physician first before you get into this kind of activity.
Q: How are steam rooms and saunas different from each other?
A: There are a couple of differences between these two types of rooms:
Those who like less humid conditions, preferably very hot rooms can use this kind of heating.
The steam room is ideal for those who do not like dry heat.
They are usually made out of wood such as cedar, hemlock and pine.
They can be made out of glass, usually tempered glass.
Wet or dry
Both wet and dry can be used in this kind of heating mechanism.
It is mostly done with hot steam so it is most often always wet.
From 158 to 212 degrees Fahrenheit
From 115 to 120 degrees Fahrenheit
The heat comes from a stove but some have an electric heater and others that are popular today include infrared ceramic or carbon heaters for heating.
Steam can be produced with a steam generator. In some cases, pouring water over rocks can make saunas also produce steam.
Q: What accessories can you add to this heating room?
A: Some of the really cool accessories you can add are the following:
1. Aromatherapy fragrances – for adding fragrance and a pleasant feeling inside the room.
2. Pails, buckets and dippers – for using on pouring water on the rocks to produce steam.
3. Bath products – for adding moisture to your skin after you get into the heating room.
4. Stone scents – these are special scents that are mixed with water to pour over the stones.
5. Timers – they are helpful for you to keep track of your time when you are staying inside.
6. Thermometer – this helps you to keep track of your temperature inside.
7. Towel hanger – for hanging your towels.
8. Mirror – this is important for checking your appearance, just as you would in a bathroom.
9. Brush – also known as whisks, they can help add a good scrub.
10. Chairs and headrests – they can help you relax better while inside the room.
11. Pillows – special pillows can help you relax better while in the room.
12. Lighting – there are special lighting installations you can install.
13. Special flooring – there are installation kits that come in rolls for added traction to the flooring.
14. Fountains – for added attraction inside the space.
15. Signs and logos – you can add these if you’re planning on putting together a public sauna.
Q: Is this heating room safe for kids to enjoy?
A: Yes, this kind of heating room is safe for the children. They can help detoxify children from the bad stuff and can help with boosting their immune system as well. However, they should be at a good age in which they can tolerate heat levels properly, so as not to get dehydrating problems.
Q: What are the benefits and drawbacks of indoor and outdoor heating rooms?
A: Indoor and outdoor systems have the following pros and cons:
a. Ease of installation
b. Less costs for installation
a. Requires some space indoors
b. DIY kits may require some setup
a. Flexible with sizing options
b. Adds value to your home
a. Can be expensive to install
b. Should be durable for the elements
Q: What risks should I be aware of with this heating room?
A: There are some risks that could pose a threat to your health if you use this room in the wrong way, such as the following:
a. Dehydration and overheating
b. Heart and blood pressure problems
c. Alcohol complications
Q: What are the common problems that can arise with this kind of room and how do I fix it?
A: Some of the most common problems you can address are the following:
Light not turning on
Light needs to be replaced
Check the power cord, breaker, control panel or power socket
Chromotherapy doesn’t work well
Check the battery and the remote position
Heater doesn’t work
Check the heat sensor, connections, heater plug and control box
Control panel problems
Check the heat sensor connection or check the user’s manual
Q: What is chromotherapy and how does it work in this heating room?
A: It is the art of using colors while you are in the heating room to add therapeutic effects, such as with the following colors:
Low blood pressure
Bronchitis, fat and asthma
Skin, lymphatic system and tissues
Relaxation, antiseptic, harmonious
Joints, infection, stress, respiratory
Eyes, nose and ears
Muscles, nervous system
Detoxification and blood flow
Q: What meals are the best to enjoy after getting into this heating room?
A: A good meal to enjoy after getting into this heating room would be:
- a good, cold glass of beer
- open fire roasted sausages
- fruits and juices for hydration
Q: Is there a dress code in this heating room?
A: This depends on the heating room that you’re in – private or public – but the best choice would be a towel wrap-around. If you feel uncomfortable, you can choose a breathable swimsuit or anything made of cotton. Just don’t wear shoes, sweat suits, workout clothes, sauna suits and of course, street clothes.
Q: Why is cedar the number one choice for barrel types?
A: Cedar is very durable when it comes down to its weather resistant properties. It is also a good choice for all other types of heating rooms. Red wood cedar is the best because it has natural oils that can resist mold, mildew and various kinds of stains caused by weather.
Wrapping It Up
Overall, the Almost Heaven Pinnacle is our pick for the best barrel sauna because it can fit 4 people, comes with all the accessories needed and is made with quality cedar wood.