Our step-up pick is the JNH Lifestyles Freedom and this one can fit up to 3 people inside. It is ETL approved in its components and also UL listed. It comes with a sound system, is made of Canadian western cedar and has a 5 year warranty.
The budget pick is the Empava EMPV-SR-T1 and it can fit up to 2 people so it is okay for small homes. It has an oxygen ionizer, some vents and is made out of Canadian hemlock. It has a music player and is ETL listed as well. It has a total of 6 carbon fiber heaters.
A Little Background
There are many kinds of saunas, depending on the technology or method used for heating. The traditional types are mostly used by the Finns while the electric and the infrared types are used worldwide. Infrared types tend to heat less but they have a more stable heating capability compared to other types of heating. They also heat up quickly compared to others and this is why they are the ones that are generally preferred by most residential homes.
Safety inside this kind of heating room should be kept at all times. Dehydration is the number one problem that most people can face when they are using this kind of room. The heat in the room can drain out your energy, especially for first time users, and this is why proper hydration is important. You should drink plenty of liquids before and after to keep your body in shape and to keep you from dehydrating and easily passing out.
Setting it up usually requires an electrician. For you to set up your entire unit, you need the expertise of a professional at hand because they know the best things to do for your heating room to work at the best and most economical way possible. While it is true that traditional type heating rooms require more setup, both traditional and the infrared types require an electrician for you to plug in the outlets correctly and install the heaters safely.
The size can vary depending on how many people will use it. The typical size is usually for 2 to 4 people but this is usually different depending on the model and the manufacturer that made it. For instance, those barrel types could have less room but the square or rectangular models may have more room in them. In addition to that, they can also vary in seating arrangement.
There’s a difference between private and public ones. Infrared ones are most often seen in private areas for residential homes, while wood burning and electric ones are often seen in public areas where more people are expected to use it. If you do want an infrared type heating room then it is best used in a private area or home.
How we Picked
In terms of the best infrared sauna, here were our criteria:
Number of people: bigger ones can be ideal for those who are expecting more guests inside the heating room. For personal use, a smaller one would be okay. There can be units for 2 people or even personal ones for 1 person only. There are also those that can be for up to 3 or up to 4 people. Larger ones that are meant for commercial use can be for up to 5 or 6 people or even more.
Dimensions or size: you should make sure that your intended space is just right for the size of the entire barrel room so that you don’t run into trouble later on when setting it up. The dimensions can be somewhere between 4 to 6 feet in size, but larger ones can span as much as 8 feet, especially those that are for commercial use. If you want something for private use, anything around 4 feet will be just fine.
Wood species: do remember that choosing a quality wood material is crucial for any kind of heating room so that it will be sturdy against the intense heat of the heater. Wood species such as cedar wood are the best to use for this kind of heating room because it will be much greater for resisting mold, mildew and stains due to humidity, heat and other factors. Other wood species often used include pine, eucalyptus, spruce, basswood and Canadian hemlock.
Ceramic or carbon heating: the heater component can either be made out of ceramic or carbon depending on the model that you have. Ceramic used to be the norm until the carbon heaters came into the scene. Ceramic has disadvantages of having cold spots but carbon solves that problem with better and more even heating. Today, it can be hard to find ceramic heaters as you will most likely find carbon heater units out there.
Included accessories: added accessories may include any of the following: a music player, a bunch of backrests, some ladles and buckets, some stones, a couple of whisks and many more. These additions are great to add to the great experience of getting into the sauna, especially if it is for yourself, and even more if it is for other people such as for a public area. Accessories help people enjoy it to the fullest.
Ease of setup: it is true that most of these heating rooms take difficulty in another level when it comes down to setting it up. However, remember that there should always be a user’s manual so that you can set it up easily, especially for the electrical configurations for your electrician, and even more if you want to try to DIY the whole thing by yourself.
Indoor or outdoor use: you can either have an indoor or outdoor based unit depending on what you need. Indoor units tend to be easier to set up because they can already be plugged into the existing system of the house.
Portability: some units tend to be more portable than others, especially those that are for personal use or for one person only. They can also be taken to the beach or anywhere.
The JNH NE2HB1 ENSI is our top pick and it is of commercial grade with its heaters amounting to 7 carbon fiber units. It has an AUX control and other music controls and it has an LED panel for other controls. It is EMF-free and is made with quality Canadian hemlock. It is backed by a lifetime warranty.
Flaws but Not Dealbrakers
The only non-deal breaking con about this JNH NE2HB1 ENSI is that it does not come with a backrest, but you can always buy one separately.
The JNH Lifestyles Freedom is ETL approved with its quality components such as its music player, control panel and its 8 heaters made of carbon fiber. It is able to fit up to 3 people inside and is made with Canadian western cedar. It has a 5 year warranty.
The Empava EMPV-SR-T1 is our budget pick, which can be set up within 30 to 45 minutes and can take 15 to 25 minutes to reach its ideal temperature of 124 degrees Fahrenheit. It uses 6 low EMF carbon fiber heaters and it can fit up to 2 people. It has a music player as well.
Best Infrared Sauna with Carbon Fiber Heaters
For those who want a carbon fiber system, the best one for you is the JNH Joyous Corner. It is made out of Canadian hemlock that is quality made and is ETL approved and UL listed for all of its electrical components. It has a total of 8 carbon fiber heaters and comes with a 5 year warranty.
Best Infrared Sauna for 3 People
The Radiant Cedar Corner is a good choice for 3 people fitting inside. It has 7 carbon heaters and it has easy to use buttons on the control panel that is LED lit. It comes with a tinted tempered glass door and it is constructed out of red cedar wood for a durable finish. It has a 7 year warranty.
Best Infrared Sauna for 4 People
For 4 people, the Radiant 4-Person Hemlock is a good choice and it is made out of hemlock which is also durable. It has an easy to use LED control panel and can produce 2270 watts of heat. It comes with a speaker system for all of your listening needs and has a tempered glass door.
Best Infrared Sauna with Color Therapy Lights
For 3 people and for chromotherapy or color therapy, the Crystal FWC300 3-Person is a great choice. It has a bench that has a depth of 20 1/2 inches and has a music player for added convenience. It has 7 color therapy lights and can cover up to 5,440 square inches in its heating.
Best Infrared Sauna made of Hemlock
If you want something made of hemlock, the Golden Designs DYN-6106-01 is the way to go. It is coupled with a music player and comes with 6 carbon heaters. It has an easy to use LED control panel and it has a durable tempered glass door.
Best Infrared Sauna made of Cedar
For 1 person and something that is made of cedar, the JNH Freedom 1-Person is a good choice. All of the quality electrical components are ETL and UL listed for safety. It has 2 speakers and is made out of quality cedar wood. It has a digital control for the temperature as well.
Best Infrared Sauna with a Music Player
The Crystal FWC400 4-Person has a music player for your listening pleasure. It has room for up to 4 people so it is fairly large. Its total heating area is about 6,272 square inches. There are a total of 10 carbon fiber heaters that are working in this unit. It also has 7 color therapy lights.
Others did not get included in our list because their infrared technology was not very good and did not heat up significantly compared to other brands. It is also important that their quality for their materials are well-built to be a good room to use.
Other Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What are the benefits of getting infrared therapy from a sauna?
A: Infrared therapy is a new thing nowadays and is popular among those who cannot afford to go to Finland or get into a real or traditional wood burning sauna. Here are the benefits of such a new technology or heating therapy:
a. Infrared helps you feel more relaxed. One really great thing to know about infrared is that it may help you feel relaxed after a tired day. Those who have hard labor, stressful jobs in the office or have too much homework at hand from school can help themselves feel more relaxed after a very busy day. The heat of the infrared rays can help your muscles and body better as if you are getting a massage from a spa.
b. You flush out toxins out of your body. Toxins are the bad stuff that get stuck in your body when you consume a lot of foods and use a lot of products. These toxins can be flushed out with things such as fiber when you eat pineapples.
However, to aid into detoxification, sweating a lot can flush out these toxins away from your body by getting yourself to sweat inside this kind of heating room. This is another way of sweating away the bad stuff without as much moving a muscle.
c. Most of your joint pains and muscle aches can be relieved. It is important that you protect your joints and muscles as you grow older because they can make you suffer later on in life if you do not take care of them properly.
Especially for those who are near their 40s and 60s, it is important not to overwork these muscles and joints and yet still relax and sweat at the same time by the use of this kind of heating room, in which you sweat away without breaking bones or hurting your muscles too often.
d. It may contribute to weight loss, given a proper and healthy lifestyle. One of the best things to know about this kind of heating room is that the heat can help you to lose more weight by making you sweat. If you know you have been out of shape due to lack of exercise or physical activity, it’s a good start.
It can also work well if you just want to add another workout but don’t have the strength to move more muscles, sweating inside this kind of heating room can be a great alternative for your needs. While weight loss is not much of a deal with it, there is no doubt that it can slightly contribute to it.
e. It helps a lot in your blood circulation. Having a healthy circulatory system and cardiovascular health is important so that you don’t have stagnant blood clots and you won’t get blocked arteries, which can lead to heart problems and the like. Most people who are in their 60s tend to have less activities since they are retired, so it is important to have some manner of shaking your blood circulation.
f. Your skin will be purified much better with it. Skin purification happens if you use the right levels of humidity to make your skin less dry. Adding some more humidity and combining it with your heating mechanism can help open up pores so that your skin can breathe better and it will look a lot healthier than it has ever been.
In addition to these benefits there are three types of levels that are found in infrared, all with their individual benefits for your well-being, such as the following:
Detoxifying your body
Better blood circulation
Adding relaxation to your muscles
Boosting your immune system
Q: Are there proven studies when it comes down to its benefits for arthritis?
A: Yes, a proven study by Oosterveld et. al. noted the success of their studies, with the following results:
a) There were short-term beneficial effects or good recovery results for those with rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis when it comes down to infrared sauna.
b) This kind of heating room does not enhance disease activity while the patients or the respondents were going through the treatment.
c) There is proven good tolerability for the infrared technology among the patients or respondents and no adverse effects were reported so far.
Q: How do traditional types differ from those that have infrared technology?
A: The infrared technology heating rooms differ from the traditional types based on the following:
a. The heat is generated by the use of radiator elements, which can either be made out of ceramic or carbon type heaters.
b. They tend to always be a dry type so it can be hard for them to be used for wet heating or for steam heating, unless there is a steam option.
c. There is a milder temperature that is produced with this kind of heating room, so it does not become too hot for most people who are not very used to the heat.
d. The temperature is usually much more evenly distributed throughout the room, which means there is less likelihood of cold and hot spots.
e. They are widely available today compared to other types of heating rooms and technologies out there.
a. You can choose from either electric or stove (natural gas or wood powered) for its heating source, which makes it more traditional.
b. Finnish culture from Finland upholds this kind of traditional means, especially on barrel saunas.
c. They can either be wet or dry. Adding water to the hot rocks makes vapor come out for adding steam, hence increasing the humidity and making room for a wet environment.
d. The temperatures tend to be really hot, as much as 185 degrees in really extreme cases. They may not be that good for novices.
e. They tend to be the ones that you will find in public places and rarely on residential areas.
Q: What are the reasons to get into this kind of heating room?
A: This heating room has many great benefits that not all people are aware of. Although it is very hot inside, you can get surprising advantages for your health and well-being:
1. It adds some youth to your appearance. One of the key benefits of this kind of activity is that your skin becomes more supple and healthy because the heat helps to open up the pores of your skin, allowing it to breathe properly by sweating and getting hot for a while. This also adds some elasticity to make your skin looking younger, even if you are in your 40s or 50s.
If you want to have some manner of everlasting youth that does not cost too much then getting into a spa and going into this kind of heating room can help do the trick, even with less time for workouts and going to the gym. The sweat can help make your skin feel better in the long run.
2. You can recover better from your exercise or physical activity. If you see athletes go to the sauna then that means they are doing a good thing because they are helping themselves recover better from their sports activity. You see, recovery becomes faster if your body heats up and gets relieved, much like getting a massage from a local spa.
One of the best things to get from this kind of heating room activity is that you not only get relaxation but you also get better chances of recovery so that you can perform your next task, be it a sport, work or school activity, or any other activity, so that you stay focused and be full of energy later on.
3. It adds more volume to your hair. Having healthier hair can be hard to keep up during the winter and staying warm in this kind of heating room can actually do the trick. Instead of investing in hair care products all the time, getting into a heating room can help your scalp to activate its natural oils so that your skin can deliver more moisture and nourishment to your hair.
After all, it is when you sweat that you tend to have more moisture for your skin. This is why it is not just beneficial for your skin but it is also a great thing to do for improving the quality of your hair, especially if it has been dry for the cold season.
4. If you are a sporty person then you can add more endurance to yourself. Endurance can be improved because you are tolerating heat in the long run. If you do this every single day or at least 2 to 3 times a week in longer periods of time per day, you can become stronger to endure a lot of pain in your sporting events or in any activity you may have.
The reason for this is that heating your body is like exercising, by which endorphins are released by your body. These endorphins are also known as the “positive stuff” that makes you feel good, or “gets you in the zone” for most athletes. Simply put, it helps kill the sensation of pain by making you feel relieved, as if you’ve gone through a massage or intense workout plan.
5. It’s a social activity if you go into your local public spa or gym. Nothing beats talking to other people and sharing stories, especially for seniors who have less things to do in their later years, while in the public area for heating. You are not just giving benefits for your well-being in terms of physical and mental relaxation, but you are also enhancing your social aspect in your life.
6. It helps your immune system get a boost of power. The immune system can help you get protected against viruses, illnesses and bad bacteria that can cause flu, fever, chills, colds, cough, allergies and many more. Therefore, it is important to boost your immune system by heating your body inside this kind of heating room, especially during the winter or rainy season when it’s cold outside.
7. Effective weight loss can occur if you combine it with physical activities. Weight loss can happen if you workout first or do some sport or physical activity and then get into the sauna to recover and warm yourself up. It will help you lose more pounds that way when combined with a proper diet and exercise routine. While it is not that high in terms of calorie count, it somehow can help.
8. Toxins from your body can get blown away. Detoxification is important for your body to remove all the bad stuff so that you will feel less uncomfortable inside and out. Toxins from your body can be flushed out with the heat of the room.
Q: What are the precautions that you should take into consideration first before you get into this kind of heating room?
A: Many people may suffer from dehydration and other bad stuff that can happen when they get into this kind of heating room. Here are things you should watch out for when you heat up:
1. Keep yourself protected from burns. Make sure you must never touch any part of the heater when it is operating. It can potentially burn your hands or any part of your body so make sure it is kept away from people when in operation.
2. Don’t use it if you’re pregnant or nursing. Lactating moms could be in trouble just as with pregnant women, as their milk can get affected just as the embryo or fetus formation in pregnant women.
3. Additionally, those women who are on their periods could be in trouble. Because menstrual periods can make women feel hot and uncomfortable, it may also make them more prone to cramps and passing out if they stay longer in this kind of heating room.
4. Alcohol can be dangerous if you take it before you get into the hot room. Alcohol is also something that raises your body temperature, so it can make you pass out and cause other trouble if you stay there for too long while under the influence of alcohol.
5. Don’t spend too much time or else you will get dehydrated. If you get into this kind of room, consider only spending around 20 to 30 minutes in it. Lacking hydration can make you pass out easily as well because you will sweat too much and the body will have no more fluids to depend on.
Always remember that you can be more prone to sudden death if you don’t pay attention to these precautions. Make sure you stay protected from these risks by proper hydration and length of stay.
Q: How do carbon and ceramic heaters differ from each other?
A: Both carbon and ceramic heaters have their differences, such as the following:
Range of wavelength
6 to 14 microns
4 to 22 microns
3 to 18 microns
Rate of emission
85 to 94 percent
Ideal for commercial and public rooms
Ideal for home use
Ideal for home use
Estimated heater lifespan
960 sq inches or less
620 sq inches or less
12 to 56 sq inches
In addition to that, carbon has the following benefits over traditional ceramic types:
1. It’s an energy saving heater.
2. It penetrates deeper into your skin for effective heating.
3. The infrared of carbon is better in terms of length compared to ceramic heaters.
4. It offers more coverage compared to ceramic types.
5. The temperature is not very hot compared to ceramic types.
6. The distribution of heat is just right so it does not have hot spots.
Q: What are the different kinds of accessories that you can add to your heating experience?
A: The following are the most common accessories for your heating room:
A thermometer can help measure the temperature while you are in the heating room.
Hygrometers can measure the amount of humidity or water vapor while in the heating room.
These are more mechanical ways of measuring time spent while in the hot and humid room.
Can be installed outside of the facility to help you determine the current time.
Rock pouring tools
Ladle or dipper
This can help you pick up water from the bucket to pour over the rocks to create steam.
Pail or bucket
The pail or bucket can carry the water that you want to pour over the rocks for steam, using the ladle.
You can install a custom handle for your door.
Magnetic door lock
This can be helpful for keeping the inner temperature of your room just right, especially if it is too cold outside due to violent weather, and if your heating room is situated outdoors.
This can help spice up your experience and illuminate the inner room. In some occasions, color therapy can be used as well.
This can help protect your light unit from splashes of water or from extreme temperatures.
Rests, seats and supports
This can help you lay your back without feeling uncomfortable for longer periods of time.
This can help you relax your head while you are staying inside this kind of room.
This can be added to your flooring to improve the experience so that others can sit properly on the floor.
This is where you will sit on while inside the heating room to make yourself comfortable.
This can be used to hang your towels and other cloth like accessories.
This is useful if you want to put up a public room.
Don’t forget the stones! These are vital if you want to set up a Finnish style or traditional looking sauna.
In some cases, they can also have music players, such as a CD player, an mp3 player, a bunch of speakers, an AUX port and many other amenities for music.
Q: How many calories can you burn in this room?
A: About 300 calories per 30 minutes is the average amount of calories that you can burn in this kind of heating room if you weigh around 160 lbs. This can vary depending on the following factors:
a. your weight
b. your gender
c. your age
d. your lifestyle
Q: Are there any benefits for cold plunge or ice dipping after this heating activity?
A: Yes, most people do claim to get benefits out of this activity. Ice dipping has always been done by the Finns and they can help you with the following:
1. It releases endorphins, which make you feel good inside and out.
2. It helps your blood flow be more regulated.
3. It keeps you away from inflammations.
4. It helps you recover from muscle damage.
5. It helps your skin become healthier.
Q: What activities should I get into after this heating room?
A: After you have spent some time in this heating room, here are some worthwhile activities that you can do to keep you healthy and invigorated, or even relaxed:
a. Cool yourself down within 15 minutes or so.
b. Put on some cool clothes after your body cools down.
c. Drink a lot of water or other liquids.
d. Eat something juicy or watery, such as fruits and veggies.
e. Take it easy and rest – or sleep, if it’s late.
Q: How does a spa differ from a sauna?
A: These two terminologies are often interchanged and confused with each other, but we are going to clear them out:
A spa refers to a hot tub. In commercial use, spas usually refer to health and wellness centers where you can get massages, hair treatments, foot spas and the like. However, traditionally, the spa is basically a whirlpool jet powered hot tub.
The spa is mostly ideal for full hydration and you can set the temperature of the water so that it does not get too hot or too cold. Hot tubs or spas can be made out of hard plastic on the inside but with a wood housing on the outside. They are usually more expensive and luxurious.
The sauna, on the other hand, is nearly fully wooden in its construction. It is meant for heating yourself up rather than immersing yourself in water. In most cases, traditional types can have wet or dry sessions, in which you can splash water over the rocks to maintain the moisture levels indoors.
This kind of heating room is much better for after exercises and after your hot tub experience. Some create steam while others don’t require steam. It creates sweat in your body and may help you to experience relief that is similar to that of getting a massage.
Q: What are some foods you can eat after this kind of activity?
A: Some good foods you can try to eat after sweating a lot in this kind of room are:
a. fruits such as apples
b. vegetables that are fresh
c. cheese for protein
d. pretzels for replacement of sodium
e. sausages for a Finnish tradition
f. popcorn for those who like it light and salty
g. soup for adding hydration and for cold weather
Q: Are there other countries aside from Finland that love saunas?
A: There are actually some other countries that do love these kinds of heating rooms other than Finland:
1. Russia – their banya culture is similar to that of saunas and this is why they are pretty similar and welcoming towards this kind of heating activity.
2. Lithuania and Latvia – they are also known to keep this kind of heating activity because they are similar to Russia in terms of culture and are also near Finland.
3. Estonia – they also have a lot of these kinds of heating rooms much like Finland, and they are said to be experts when it comes down to the smoking technique.
Q: What makes Finland as the most sauna loving country in the world?
A: Finland is known as the pioneer of or the most loving country of this activity in the world because of the following facts:
1. They have a world known as “loyly” for water vapor coming from the rocks.
2.They have more saunas than cars, up to 3.3 million to date.
3. They made the ice dip popular.
4. Sauna is, well, a Finnish word.
5. There is a Finnish quote: “If a sick person is not cured by tar, spirits or sauna, then they will die”.
Q: What risks should I avoid with infrared heaters?
A: There could be risks that you should avoid when it comes down to these infrared heaters, such as the following:
1. Getting dehydrated and passing out
2. Avoid if you have silicone implants
3. People with eczema may worsen
4. Heart problems can arise for those with risks
5. Alcohol consumption can make things worse
Q: What are the common misconceptions of an infrared type heating room?
A: There are many things that people get wrong with this kind of heating room, such as the following:
Infrared waves are from microwaves or UV rays.
They aren’t similar to your microwave oven rays or the UV rays of the sun – they are totally safe for your skin.
Lower priced ones tend to be substandard.
Not always the case, as most infrared types today are really cheaply priced over the years due to the increasing demand.
The hotter the room, the better.
Not always true, because what matters is that you feel relaxed and the temperatures should be at a safe level.
Electromagnetic field levels can increase in them.
Absolutely not – most models today have very low EMF.
They aren’t backed up by science.
This kind of heating method has always been approved by many healthcare experts around the world for many years.
Three heaters need to work together all the time to achieve full spectrum.
They only need to use the heater panels but they don’t need to run all the time.
Those who offer lifetime warranty are the best to buy the product from.
Check the warranty policy first on what’s covered and other facts that you need to know about the product.
Q: How do you stay safe while sweating inside the heating room?
A: To stay safe inside, here are some things you can do:
a. Don’t stay in there for too long.
b. Know your body’s capacity to tolerate heat.
c. Have a 10-minute rest once in awhile.
d. Get someone over in case you pass out.
e. Don’t go there if you have heart problems.
f. The optimum time is from 15 to 20 minutes.
g. Drink lots of water before and after.
h. It helps to eat salty foods.
i. Wipe your sweat right away after each session.
j. Leave right away if you feel nauseous.
Q: Can dry heating be okay for your skin?
A: While heating is okay for your skin to bring out the bad toxins away and for your skin to breathe, having too much heat could be dangerous to your skin, and having less humidity can also mean something bad for it.
The best way for your skin to enjoy in this heating room is to have a moderate temperature of heat. In addition to that, there should be some vapor or humidity by splashing the rocks, or using some humidity producer to make sure your skin gets hydrated at some point.
Q: What’s the best wood specie for these heating rooms?
A: Traditionally, cedar is the best way to go when it comes down to heating rooms. They give off a natural scent, are naturally odor-resistant, mildew-resistant and stain-proof. They can eliminate moisture and are very durable. Other choices are:
a. white aspen
b. balsam fir
d. white fir
e. Douglas fir
f. eastern white pine
h. bald cypress
i. Canadian hemlock
Q: How much will I have to spend for the electric bill for this heating room?
A: Because the heating room can call for some electric consumption, there should be knowledge that you should know of when it comes down to its power ratings so that you will know which to buy. The difference is vast depending on your brand and depending on your cost per hour in your area. The likely amount that you may spend are the following for this heating room:
Cost in Cents
5 to 10
9 to 14
14 to 20
Wrapping It Up
As a whole, the JNH NE2HB1 ENSI is our pick for the best infrared sauna due to its ease of use for the controls, reasonable warranty period, enough amount of carbon fiber heaters and lack of EMF.
Jen Miller is a former electrical engineer and product specialist with more than 20 years of product design and testing experience. She has designed more than 200 products for Fortune 500 companies, in fields ranging from home appliances to sports gear and outdoor equipment. She founded Jen Reviews to share her knowledge and critical eye for what makes consumers tick, and adopts a strict no-BS approach to help the reader filter through the maze of products and marketing hype out there. She writes regularly and has been featured on Forbes, Fast Company, The Muse, The Huffington Post, Tiny Buddha and MindBodyGreen.