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Infrared Sauna vs. a Traditional Sauna: Which Is Best for You?

woman in traditional sauna

Choosing the Right Sauna Experience:
Traditional vs. Infrared Saunas

Saunas have long been revered in traditional medicine for their relaxation and health benefits. The practice of sweating it out in a sauna is not a recent discovery, but there’s a new contender in the sauna scene – the infrared sauna. 

In this post, we’ll explore the differences between traditional saunas and their modern counterpart infrared saunas, helping you make an informed choice for your sauna experience.

infrared versus traditional sauna

Traditional saunas, rooted in centuries-old practices, involved sitting in a log cabin-like structure around a fire pit with heated rocks.Water thrown onto the rocks created a great deal of steam and an all-encompassing warmth, providing various health benefits.
The high temperature and humidity contribute to a classic sauna experience.

Infrared saunas represent a contemporary take on traditional sauna practices. These focus on heating your body compared to heating the room. Infrared saunas hit you with that deep, penetrating heat, reaching into your muscles by emitting infrared waves. There is no steam or high heat, only infrared wavelengths that heat up the body without raising the overall temperature of the room.

Heat Comparison

infrared sauna

Both sauna types aim to increase body temperature, but traditional saunas typically operate at higher temperatures (150°F to 190°F). While very effective in producing intense sweating, traditional saunas generally take longer to heat up. Typically around 30-45 minutes.

In contrast, infrared saunas stay cooler (120°F to 140°F), providing a comfortable environment for more heat-sensitive individuals. Infrared wavelengths still induce the intense sweating that characterizes a sauna experience, but will heat up much faster, taking 10-20 minutes on average.


humidity sauna

As you might expect, traditional saunas have a much higher level of humidity than infrared saunas do. Proponents of the traditional sauna point to this humidity as part of the benefits of a traditional sauna. The steam can open your pores and allow your skin to rehydrate, as well as promote better sleep.

Infrared saunas, of course, do not use steam and thus have a much lower level of humidity. Instead, they rely on the sweating mechanism for their benefits. Infrared sauna enthusiasts claim the intense sweating these saunas produce can detoxify the body and help burn calories. 

Energy Requirements


Considering energy consumption is crucial when installing a sauna at home. Traditional saunas require more power (up to 9 kW) to heat the entire room.  Average size traditional saunas cost approximately $1 a day to operate. Medium to large size rooms usually require 220v (hard-wired) electrical connection, however there are some smaller models that only require 110v (plug-in) to a standard outlet. 

Infrared saunas, while only powering their heating elements, use about 1.6 kW, offering a more cost-effective solution. If you plan to use your sauna often, this can start to make a big difference. The majority of freestanding infrared rooms only require 110v (15/20 amp) standard plug-in.

Health Benefits

couple in a sauna

Both sauna types can promote relaxation, improved circulation, and potential detoxification benefits. 

Studies suggest additional advantages for each – 

Infrared saunas may aid in improving skin health, aid in weight loss, and reduce fibromyalgia/arthritis pain. 

Traditional saunas may reduce the risk of heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and cancer. 

infrared versus traditional sauna

Got Sauna Questions?

Choosing between an infrared sauna and a traditional sauna is a matter of personal preference. Whether you prioritize the classic warmth of a traditional sauna or the targeted heat of an infrared sauna, the goal is to relax and improve your health. 


If you find it challenging to decide, there are combination models available, offering the best of both worlds. 


Contact Thatcher for pricing on our traditional and infrared saunas today. Interested in adding even more comfort to your life?


We also offer a range of hot tubs, pools, fitness systems, and more to enhance your home.