Our step-up pick is the Finlandia Outdoor 4x4 and it is made out of western red cedar for its inner and outer construction. A 3/8 inch spacing is found on the bench setup, which measures 2 x 2 inches. The door is made with Douglas fir and clear glass.
The budget pick is the HeatWave Santa Fe SA2412DX and this one can fit up to 3 people and is also equipped with 7 carbon heaters. It comes with a chromotherapy or color therapy system and has good interior lighting plus a magazine rack.
A Little Background
Some of the things that a sauna can treat are the common cold, sport pains and injuries and may be good for seniors who are at risk for Alzheimer’s disease. While it is true that most saunas are inhabited by athletes and seniors, anyone who can take the heat, specifically young teens and above, can get into this type of room. If you want a way to help boost your immune system/heat tolerance then this room is effective for that.
One great thing you can enjoy out of this kind of activity is the social interaction, especially in a public place. Whether it’s your own resort where you have your own sauna and meet people, or whether it’s a public resort where you get to meet all kinds of people, the social factor is good with this kind of activity, kind of like going in the gym.
An outdoor sauna can be made out of any kind of material, but cedar wood is the most preferred of all. Cedar is by all means very durable against bad weather, especially when situated outside. This is why most barrel types are made of cedar wood specifically Canadian western red cedar wood. Unlike others, cedar can maintain its natural smell even when inside and it gives off a nice and clean fresh feeling.
Outdoor units can be harder to set up compared to regular indoor ones because of the connections, wiring and the like. An outdoor unit needs to be set up with an electric and any other laborer, in case you do not know how to DIY a unit. Aside from the electrician, there may be other connections so you may need a plumber to do the stuff. Unlike with indoor ones, outdoor units can be a little complicated.
An outdoor unit is a best way to establish a sauna in your area. If you have a resort or spa and want to add this kind of unit to your list of amenities then surely, it will be the talk of the town. After you’ve set it up, all you need is some signage and flyers and people will know that they can heat up in this kind of room and relax after a hard day’s work (or school).
How we Picked
In choosing the best outdoor sauna, we looked at the following features:
Design: most of the outdoor units you will find are made in a barrel design. However, there can be other designs such as huts and those that are regularly designed like your average room sauna. The barrel design is the most popular of all outdoor units because it closely resembles the Finnish style, which is very authentic and traditional. You will find them in most wood burning and electrical types.
Roofing: some of these designed units have special roofing known as bitumen roofing, which can help with the insulation, especially in cold weather. Insulation is highly important in case you need to insulate the unit from the bad weather, especially in some winter seasons. Choosing the right roofing according to your needs is crucial if your weather is not very summery.
Type of heater: consider the type of heater that you want. For instance, there are infrared types and there are also the traditional electric types. Other than that, there are also the more traditional wood burning stoves that you can find in Finland.
Number of heaters (for infrared): the typical amount of heaters in one unit can be somewhere from 6 to 10 depending on the size of your unit. Most of those that have 10 heaters at once can be for 4 people or more while those with less heaters are the ones that are meant for 1 to 3 people. The number of heaters can make a difference when it comes down to the temperature control and the inside heat.
Kilowatts of heater (electrical): consider the kilowatt of your electrical heater. The most common wattages of your heater could be: 4.5 kW, 6 kW or 8 kW, depending on the size of the unit and other factors. It is best to go for the right kilowatt for your heating room so that it will not compromise on cold spots and keep the temperature just fine all throughout the room. It should be constantly working and should be easy to troubleshoot.
Number of people: most units can house somewhere from 2 to 4 people. There are also solo units that are for private use only or for 1 person, but most outdoor units can house a lot of people because they can be bigger due to the less constraint in space usage, unlike when you are indoors.
Wood type: the wood type can vary depending on the manufacturer. The commonly used ones are cedar, hemlock, pine and spruce. Cedar is considered the most high end of all, followed by hemlock and cheaper ones like spruce and pine for those who cannot afford cedar. Most of them are stain and moisture resistant, but cedar takes the cake on this one.
Ease of setup: you have to know how to properly set up the unit with a clear and concise user’s manual to back you up, and to help your electrician do his or her thing. Setting up an outdoor unit takes more time and effort as well as knowledge compared to setting up an indoor unit.
Color therapy: chromotherapy or light color therapy is available on most units today, especially the larger ones for 3 to 4 people. This can help you intensify your experience for your outdoor experience at the heating room alone or with someone. Color therapy is said to have a therapeutic effect on most people because of the colors.
Music player: in some cases, you might want to relax because of a hectic schedule and a busy lifestyle. Adding a music player to your system helps you to listen and unwind to your favorite tunes while passing the time by inside the heating room, so you can stay there for longer periods of time without getting yourself bored.
Other accessories: there are other accessories you can put there, such as towel racks, additional benches, and of course, the traditional sauna stuff, such as the stones, ladles / dippers and buckets / pails for the vapor thing to happen.
Warranty policy: consider knowing about the warranty policy of the company. Most can offer a lifetime warranty for larger units, but be sure to know about what is covered by this warranty. On the other hand, smaller ones can offer somewhere from 5 to 7 years of warranty period.
Delivery method: you need to know what’s the delivery policy or method so that you can be prepared once your item arrives, especially that it is a large unit that you need to set up outdoors.
As our top pick, the Western Pacific 8XL can fit up to 4 people and has an option for music players such as iPhones and iPod. It has 8 ceramic heaters and has 4 LED lights for chromotherapy. It has an ionizer and ozone generator and has 2 classy windows for a clearer view of the outside world.
Flaws but Not Dealbrakers
While not a major con, the Western Pacific 8XL uses ceramic infrared heating, which might not be that effective compared to electric heating, but will suffice if you’re in a less wintery area.
Our step-up pick is the Finlandia Outdoor 4x4, which has 3/8 inch spacing for the 2x2 bench setup. It comes with stones and a heater configuration. The door stands 24 inches and is made with Douglas fir plus clear glass. Its cedar construction on the interior and exterior makes it stand out from the rest.
The HeatWave Santa Fe SA2412DX is our budget pick, which also comes with music options such as mp3 player and CD player controls. It can heat up to 141 degrees on the norm and has a magazine rack as well as interior lighting. It is made with quality hemlock wood and has a tinted tempered glass door.
Best Outdoor Sauna with Wood Heating
If you want something that uses a wood heater, a good unit to buy would be the Allwood #220-WHC. It has a section length of 67 inches and it uses a wood fired heater. It has a construction made of Nordic spruce and it has a diameter of 6 feet and 8 inches.
Best Outdoor Sauna with Infrared Heating
The Crystal LH400 is ideal for those who simply want an infrared heating unit. It can be installed both indoors and outdoors and has a CD player as well. It has color therapy and can heat up to ,695 square inches of area. It also has 12 carbon fiber heaters and has a bench that is 24 inches deep.
Best Outdoor Sauna for Small Areas
The Cedro Outdoor 4x6 is ideal for small areas due to the small size. It is a prebuilt unit that you can use for an installation that you can easily take out when you no longer need it. As a modular unit, it comes with less frustrations in setting it up.
Best Outdoor Sauna with Canadian Hemlock
For something made of hemlock, the Vital Canadian Hemlock is a good choice. It has 11 carbon heaters and can cover an area of up to 5n005 square inches. It has an ionizer and has a digital LED screen for the controls. It also comes with an air purifier for aromatherapy purposes.
Best Outdoor Sauna for Large Areas
The Cedro Outdoor 7x7 is a choice for larger areas due to its sufficient space. Like the 4 x 6 model, this one can be installed and then taken out later on when no longer needed. It is a modular model that can be easy to set up and take down like a tent.
Best Outdoor Sauna with Bitumen Roofing
The ALEKO SB4PINE has a special roofing that makes it ideal for those who live in winter areas. It comes with all accessories needed for your sessions and comes with venting holes that are ready to be used. It is powered by a 4.5kw electrical heater that is ETL approved.
Best Outdoor Sauna with Spruce
The Allwood #330-WHC is your best bet if you want something made of spruce and can fit up to 6 people at once. It has a section length of 75 inches, has a diameter of 6 feet and 8 inches and is a wood heater in its construction.
Others were not included because their construction for the wood is flimsy and they did not have clear instructions on how to set them up. They also lacked information about their delivery and warranty policy, which is important for large units like these.
Other Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What common sauna types are there available?
A: If you are curious about the types of saunas that can be seen around the world and used by many people, here are just some of them:
Type of Sauna
Ideal break time
15 – 20 minutes
15 – 30 minutes
42 to 45 degrees
This type of heating room is ideal for those with respiratory problems, need to reduce on stress, need alleviation of joint and body pains and the like.
10 – 15 minutes
15 – 30 minutes
45 to 55 degrees
It is similar to Turkish bathing and is great for achieving a healthy skin. It is also good for a healthy blood circulation and for your breathing, as well as for relaxing your muscles.
35 to 45 degrees
This one has a calming effect for your circulatory and immune system. It helps you fend of illnesses and stress and is good for nearly all ages.
10 – 20 minutes
15 – 30 minutes
60 to 70 degrees
This one is ideal for your immune system and for your breathing. It helps your skin breathe better as well. It is similar to the Finnish type and uses aromas but in lower temperatures.
15 - 30 minutes
15 – 30 minutes
55 to 65 degrees
This type of heating room is ideal for really working up a sweat so you should do it for shorter lengths of time. It is great for regulating your blood pressure and is good for the heart.
60 to 65 degrees
This one makes use of salt, more specifically, Piran salt pans, to moisturize your skin and replace old skin. It is also great for your respiratory system other than for your skin.
8 – 15 minutes
85 to 110 degrees
This is also known as the most popular type because of its intense heat and then being followed by an ice plunge. It lowers your stress levels, releases pain killing endorphins and can also boost your immune system overall.
Q: What benefits can I reap from this activity?
A: This heating activity is good for your overall health, as experts say. There are specific benefits that you can obtain out of it, such as the following:
It helps to boost your immune system because you become more open to tolerating heat and extreme temperatures, which can help you not to get sick easily.
It helps you to recover easily from injuries and wounds, which is helpful if you’re a busy person.
If you are prone to hormonal imbalance and other problems relating to hormones, this is a great activity to indulge into. It helps your hormones to be balanced and can also boost other things to make you feel healthier.
Those with problems in life can take their time to relax a little bit with this kind of activity. The heat can help people to unwind from their problems and other negative stuff that they are enduring. Mental health is just as important as physical health.
You may think that these kinds of heating rooms are bad for your skin, but they’re not – most of them can induce steam, such as with vapor inducing rocks, so that your skin can feel better and more elastic. It helps a lot if you are in your 40s and need to maintain a supple skin.
Although not in big amounts, just sweating for hours when you’re resting can help somehow with your weight loss program. Combine it with exercise, a healthy diet and many other things so you can boost your weight loss and metabolism rate altogether. You can be burning up to 600 calories within 30 minutes depending on your weight.
It helps a lot if you improve your oxygen intake. In this way, you get tired less often and your overall endurance can be boosted. This is important if you’re not a very sporty person and you need to keep up with life, or if you’re sporty and need to boost your endurance.
Aside from oxygen intake improvements, your blood circulation is also very important. Not moving a lot during the winter or simply sitting around in regular temperatures will not be enough to move and circulate your blood properly, and this is why heating up your body can really help the blood in your veins flow better.
One of the best things to know about this kind of heating activity is that it can help you avoid certain heart problems like heart failures and the like. It can also help you alleviate blood pressure problems like hypertension, especially for the seniors or even those in their 40s.
Other diseases and illnesses
There are many other medical illnesses and conditions that can be alleviated by this kind of activity, including chronic headaches, autoimmune disease, arthritis and even bouts of depression and anxiety.
It helps to detoxify your body by removing all the bad stuff, such as heavy metals, from your body due to the heat of the room. This is important in maintaining the right health for your body to be free from diseases that may be life threatening.
It gives you a lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease later on in life, and it can also reduce the likelihood of dementia. This is helpful for those in their 40s or 60s so that they won’t get memory problems later on in life.
One of the best benefits you can get out of this kind of activity is that you can increase your lifespan altogether if you get into this kind of heating room because of its many benefits for your overall health.
Q: What’s the difference between indoor and outdoor units in terms of construction?
A: Both of these two units are different from each other and here are some basic differences between the two and their construction specifics:
For indoor units, you will need the following:
a. Plumbing knowledge
b. Just a little amount of space
c. Easy access to a water supply
d. Strength to move it to the area desired
For outdoor units, you will need the following:
a. Check with your locality for building permits needed
b. Access to power and water supply
c. Plumbing knowledge
d. Carpentry knowledge
e. An electrician, or prior knowledge to that
f. A significant amount of space
Q: Which is more beneficial: an indoor or an outdoor unit?
A: That depends on various factors and your needs, but here are the different benefits that you can reap out of the two different units:
Indoor Unit Benefits
Outdoor Unit Benefits
a. It’s a lot easier to make connections because you can just tap into the existing system of your home in terms of water supply and power supply.
b. It is super simple to build because you don’t need to set up a lot of stuff in order to put it together to be able to use readily.
c. They can last for a longer period of time because they don’t get exposed to the bad weather elements outside.
a. You get to be more creative in terms of flexibility and design because it allows for more room of customization.
b. It offers you a lot of relaxation in the long run because it is situated away from your house so you can have some peaceful time – even more if you have an outdoor garden.
c. You have the option to invite your friends and family over for a sauna party, or convert it to a public area for a resort or something.
Q: Is it important to have a changing room in this kind of heating room?
A: Yes, although most units do not offer a changing room, building one or setting up one, or purchasing one that includes a changing room, is highly important, especially for really cold weather countries or areas. Here are the benefits of adding a changing room to your unit:
1. It’s cold outside – being only in your towel can make it uncomfortable.
2. Some units are big enough to offer change of clothes.
3. If you want to set up a sauna party then a changing room is crucial.
4. The whole unit will feel like a house rather than a wooden cubicle.
5. It allows you to cool your body down after a session without having to go outside.
Q: What are the different factors you can consider with a changing room?
A: To fully customize and decorate a changing room for this kind of heating unit, here are some factors that you might want to consider:
1. Choose the materials for the construction wisely.
2. Add some texture and color for an awesome feeling.
3. Put some add-ons like chairs, hangers and the like.
4. Add a music player for an ambient and relaxing feeling.
5. Decorate with rugs and curtains.
6. Put bottles of soap, lotions and other beauty products.
7. Add fixtures like a sink, mirror and other bathroom essentials.
Q: How do you survive winter inside a sauna?
A: This kind of heating room has always been a problem for those who live in really cold temperatures (and not from Finland or not used to Finnish sauna), but there are some quick fixes that you can do about it to feel better:
1. Listen to pleasing music while you’re waiting.
2. Use cotton Turkish towels for a soft feeling and easy drying.
3. Add aromatherapy oils into your indoor experience. A great set of oils would be citrus, pine, lavender, eucalyptus, peppermint and whatever you like.
4. If you’re alone or with a significant other, taking off the towel actually helps.
5. Drinking water can help you feel less dehydrated.
6. Make sure to reduce your time if you have heart problems.
7. Light eating is much more preferred after this activity.
8. Don’t include jewelry and earrings while you get in so that it won’t get affected by the heat.
9. Don’t bring gadgets because not only will they heat up – they can distract you as well.
10. Shower and relax afterwards – or you can do an ice dip if you’re up for it.
Q: What’s the difference between electric heating and wood burning for this kind of heating room?
A: There are many differences to settle between these two traditional ways to heat up the entire room, such as the following:
Type of Heating
Ideal for basements
Ideal for outdoor use
Firewood, which can be hard to find in some cases or for storing it
Electric heaters available in various kilowatts
Time to heat up
Usually very slow to heat up because you have to wait for the wood to heat up before you can use it
Electric heaters take shorter times to heat up compared to the traditional wood burning ways
Usually cheaper because all you need is firewood
Usually more expensive because of the heater
Done by traditional means over firewood
Uses a control panel to adjust the temperature
Q: What sizes can I get for this kind of unit?
A: Whether it is an indoor or an outdoor unit, an infrared, electric or wood burning one, here are some potential sizes that you can get, including their typical heating areas:
4 x 4 feet
120 to 150 cubic feet
160 to 200 cubic feet
200 to 250 cubic feet
5 x 7 feet
240 to 300 cubic feet
6 x 7 feet
5 x 6 feet
6 x 8 feet
280 to 375 cubic feet
7 x 7 feet
7 x 8 feet
8 feet and above
280 to 450 cubic feet
480 to 600 cubic feet
-you should add 1 kW more for the size in case you have a deep rock chamber.
- the average height to the ceiling should be around 7 feet tall.
Q: What wood types can be used for the interior and exterior part of the unit?
A: The unit is made out of wood parts, both for the interior and the exterior, in which you may have the following choices:
Interior wood: these can be used for the flooring, for benches, for walls and the like. They have good thermal conductivity and they don’t cause splinters and the like.
1. Spruce Softline – has a more natural finish and usually comes in narrower sets of planks.
2. Aspen Softline – has a cleaner and more bleached finish so it is great for cleaner lines.
3. Hemlock Softline – has a darker color but with a fine finish, usually in narrower sets.
4. Hemlock panel – tends to be in wider planks, comes off clean with its finish, and a little darker.
5. Kelo Boden-Deckel Schalung – usually in wider planks and gives a natural finish as well.
6. Douglasie Boden-Deckel Schalung – tends to have more stains than other plank and wood finishes.
Exterior wood: these are for heavy duty wear resistance against bad weather and other factors on the outside world. They should be highly durable and yet provide a lasting impression on the finish.
1. Oak – one of the best outdoor materials there is, it has a darker color for a rustic feeling.
2. Softline in white stained spruce – for those who like it clean and light in your outdoor finish.
3.High-gloss finish in white – a much brighter and cleaner finish compared to softline spruce.
4. Stained hemlock – hemlock is very clean when it comes down to the finish and has a medium brown.
5. Maple – it has a light color when installed and it gives off clean lines and a decent finish as well.
6. Cherry tree – cherry wood has a dark color that is a bit similar to that of oak.
7. Zebrano – this type of wood finish has a patterned design due to the staining, which is rustic.
8. Wenge – this is the darkest finish when it comes down to wood materials, almost similar to black.
9. Walnut – walnut is also dark and has more stain lines than oak and cherry, but in vertical.
Q: What accessories can I add to enhance my experience?
A: There are many accessories you can add to this kind of unit to help you relax even better. Here is a list of some cool accessories and amenities you can install or add:
Used for getting a nice cold beer or any kind of drink so you can place it there while you’re heating inside.
For adding relaxation to your legs while you are inside.
For helping your back to relax while you stay inside.
It helps your head to relax while inside the heating room or while taking a break.
Lighting helps you make the most out of your experience and it also helps in color therapy. Aside from the built-in stuff from your unit, you can also fully customize and add some more for a better experience altogether for adding ambiance.
This helps you protect the flooring from unwanted scratches and getting damaged.
This can help you feel more relaxed, especially if you also have an aromatherapy diffuser. Consider citrus for invigoration, peppermint for energy, eucalyptus and lavender for relaxation and many others.
Ladle and bucket
These will be used to pour some water onto the rocks to create the steam or vapor inside the unit.
Consider hygrometers and thermometers so that you can know the temperature and the amount of humidity that you have inside the unit.
This is helpful for you to know just how much you have spent inside so as now to overstay. Because a regular wall clock will not work inside due to the extensive heat, consider a sand timer instead – it is more traditional, rustic and won’t get damaged by the heat.
Some roof kits are available for winter prone areas in case you want to add some more insulation to your unit, especially if it is a barrel type outdoor unit.
Q: What should I dress when inside this kind of heating room?
A: The proper norm is a towel wrap-around, or going completely naked if you want. However, this can vary depending on the cultural norms in your area and the policies and etiquette that is allowed or mandated in the area where you live. In case you don’t have any courage to go for a wrap-around because of cultural and personal reasons, here are other options:
a. loosely fitted swimsuit with natural fabrics
b. anything that is made out of cotton
c. anything loose that is made out of natural fabrics
In addition to that, here are things you should not wear inside:
b. shoes, sandals, slippers or other footwear
c. street wear and sportswear
d. swimsuits with manmade fabrics
e. “sauna suits”
Q: It could get boring while sitting for a long time in this kind of heating activity. How do I get off boredom? What can I do?
A: To get yourself off boredom while you are heating yourself inside this room, here are some suggested activities:
1. Hold a sauna party.
2. Read a good book or magazine.
3. Play some nice tunes (and maybe sing along).
4. Write something.
5. If it’s a private room, consider doing some workouts.
6. Talk with people.
7. Play word games with people.
Q: Some people say it’s unsafe in this kind of heating room. How do I stay protected?
A: To keep yourself protected from injuries and the like, here’s a little guide for you:
1. Drinking 2 to 4 glasses of water before and after the session is important for hydration.
2. Keep jewelry out of the room so that it will not affect your skin and cause burning.
3. Stay away from the heater part so that you don’t risk burning.
4. Cool down first after you leave, either in a pool or a cold shower.
5. Add moisture to your skin with friendly products.
6. Similarly, add moisture to your hair as well.
7. Keep each session between 15 to 20 minutes only.
8. Those with heart problems or high blood pressure should take caution.
9. Don’t mix alcohol and heating up in the room.
10. It is best to eat after the session and not before to avoid dizziness.
Q: How do I properly maintain this kind of unit to keep it from falling apart?
A: Here are some maintenance tips you can do to make it last for a long time:
1. Replace stones if they fall apart or crack.
2. Check the doors, staves and other parts in case they need to be replaced.
3. Check the other accessories like towel hangers and back rests for damage.
1. Clean up the exterior using a UV inhibitor coating, especially for outdoor use.
2. Make sure there are no gaps for the rain to go inside, for outdoor units.
3. Use baking soda and water for cleaning the interior part.
1. Use baking soda and water for the interior part.
2. Sandpaper works well for stains.
3. Follow the user’s manual for a recommended exterior coating.
Q: What are good essential oils to add to your heating room experience?
A: Here is a good list of oils that you can use to this kind of heating room to enhance your experience:
b. blood circulation
c. pain relief
a. better digestion
b. respiratory problems
c. cleansing your skin
a. fungal infections
b. acne and skin problems
c. athlete’s foot
a. bad breath
b. good for skin
b. memory enhancer
a. hormone balance
b. depression and anxiety
c. blood pressure
a. hair growth
b. mental alertness
c. respiratory issues
a. stress reducer
c. digestive problems
a. lower cravings
c. skin toning
c. mood swings
a. blood flow
c. varicose veins
b. depression and anxiety
c. muscle and joint aches
Q: What is the difference between a pre-cut kit and a prefab kit?
A: These two kinds of setup kits differ from each other, and most of them are for outdoor use. Here’s how to differentiate pre-cut types with prefab types:
A prefab kit is something that is very easy to set up. It can already come with the panels and it is a recommended type of setup if you do not have a room to put it on yet. This is also ideal for those who want an outdoor setting.
A precut kit, on the other hand, is a kind of kit or setup in which you have to do some of the work. It requires you to already have some base frame in which to install your or precut kit. Generally, this is more ideal for indoor settings but some can also be used for the great outdoors.
Q: What mistakes am I probably doing when it comes down to purchasing outdoor units?
A: To avoid yourself from hassle, here are mistakes that you’re probably doing and how to solve them:
1. You’re not asking the right people – talk to salespeople from hardware stores instead of relying on the internet all the time. People who install and work on saunas know better, as setups may vary depending on your country’s norms.
2. You’re buying an infrared unit for outdoor use – not very ideal, because infrared temperatures are not very hot compared to electric and wood burning units. Infrared units are best for indoor spaces due to their limited amount of heating.
3. You’ve ordered the wrong size for your unit – consider looking at charts first or measuring your area before you buy the size that meets your standards or area. Also, consider if there are building restrictions in your place or if building permits are required.
Q: Can children use this kind of room? Is it safe?
A: A study published by Jokien et. al. looked into the case of children. The study had the following conclusions:
a) The safe use of saunas by infants and children has no particular guidelines in most countries.
b) Some thermoregulatory imbalances in children can happen when the temperature is too high.
c) Finns take kids to this heating room as early as early infancy.
d) The age of 7 years is the ideal age for kids to really take in the heat of this kind of room.
Q: What is the ideal rock type for this kind of heating room?
A: The heating room should be made with rocks that are not susceptible to releasing harsh toxins in the air and can heat up easily. The clear winner for most people is peridotite because it is an igneous rock and it can heat up in a simple way compared to other rocks.
Wrapping It Up
As a whole, the Western Pacific 8XL is our pick for the best outdoor sauna due to its durable construction, unique design, roofing and windows and various amenities inside.