Infrared saunas compete with dry heat, steam rural life electricity bill calculator


More recently infrared saunas have come on the market. They use invisible light within certain frequencies to penetrate and heat body tissues directly. There are three types of infrared saunas as well, including near infrared, far infrared – also called FIR – and full spectrum infrared. Of these three the most popular are the FIR models and they are usually the most compact and economical, averaging about $4,000 for a two-person sauna, noted Matt Spivey of Bonsall Pools and Spas in Lincoln, Neb.

Researching which form of sauna is right for you is a bit tricky, given their scarcity. Most people have their first sauna experience at a hotel or health club, which is a far cry from what it’s like in the home, noted Kalevi Ruuska in an article for Aqua magazine. Ruuska is vice president of the American Sauna Society, a Fishkill, N.Y., group that “promotes the traditional sauna experience to its full cultural extent.”

Some of the things Ruuska looks for in a good public sauna include heated rocks in the sauna and the ability to pour water on them to control humidity, good ventilation throughout the area and a cool-down area with drinking water and a shower immediately adjacent to the sauna.

Home shows, fairs and festivals are among the places staff at Supreme Spas and Pools in Lincoln suggest individuals go to check out their options. They noted while they no longer carry saunas in their inventory, they can special order them for customers.

Both products heat the body, but the infrared is quicker to heat up since it doesn’t heat the air. Product brochures note a person can enter the infrared sauna in maybe 15 minutes and begin to get the effect of the infrared wavelengths. Because of the rapid heating, health buffs enjoy using infrared as part of a workout, where the user can switch it on, warm up muscles in the sauna and be ready to exercise after exiting the unit.

Another consideration when deciding between a conventional or infrared sauna is that conventional sauna temperatures range from 150-190 degrees Fahrenheit. If a person has a low tolerance to heat, they might want to consider an infrared alternative. Infrared cabins use radiation to heat the skin and can do so while keeping the air temperature as low as 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

On the other hand, steam is the main advantage of the traditional sauna, which is good for the sinuses, skin and lungs. Other health benefits listed by various sauna manufacturers include detoxification, ability to soothe sore muscles, reduce stress, improve circulation, increase a body’s metabolic rate, promote anti-aging, muscle growth, injury and wound healing, improve mood, mental health and cognitive function, as well as aid in reducing inflammation and promoting autoimmunity.

Sauna users do need to take certain precautions when enjoying their benefits. Physicians urge users not to stay in a sauna too long, as it could lead to dehydration or even a stroke. Users need to properly hydrate before using a sauna, especially in a dry climate.

Never use a sauna under the influence of alcohol or drugs and always consult a physician before beginning regular sauna use, as they can be potentially dangerous if an individual has heart disease, abnormal blood pressure or if a woman is pregnant. Children under age five should not use a sauna because of the risk of severe dehydration.

Once the decision to purchase a sauna has been made there are still installation factors to consider. In a recent edition of Forbes magazine, technicians noted customers need to be sure there is a waterproof floor – especially for traditional saunas – and that there is access to a 240-volt electric hookup for the heater. They also suggested placing a sauna near a shower for user convenience in cooling off.

Spivey also noted that electronics don’t belong in the high heat of a sauna. “Cell phones will basically fry,” he noted. “Some previous models we sold had a sound system and would only last a few months before the electronics melted. Newer models now have Bluetooth, so you don’t have to have electronics in the booth, they can remain outside.”

Ruuska believes the traditional sauna is more of a lifestyle product. “It’s more of a relaxation ritual, he said, “with heating up and cooling down, and perhaps eating and drinking something. But both have a place in the market, and people should try to test both types so they can choose for themselves.”