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Infrared Saunas vs. Traditional Saunas: Which is Better?

Wondering about infrared saunas vs. traditional saunas: which is better? You're not alone. Many find it hard to spot and understand the differences between those two types of saunas.

That's because infrared and traditional saunas share a lot of similarities. Still, each has a few core differences.

This post will highlight the main distinctions between the two saunas. We'll help you decide on which one to choose.

Infrared Saunas vs. Traditional Saunas: An Overview

Before diving into the differences between them, let's take a quick look at infrared and traditional saunas:

Infrared Saunas

Infrared saunas are a modern form of sauna therapy. They work by emitting wavelengths of light that your body absorbs.

In a few seconds, your body starts to heat up due to absorbing these infrared lights. This means that these saunas heat your body directly without needing hot air or steam.


  • More comfortable than traditional saunas as they don't highly increase the room temperature 
  • Don't cause excessive humidity in the sauna room
  • Have low operation cost


  • Typically less suitable for outdoor use in cold, harsh climates

Traditional Saunas

Traditional saunas have an electric heater or a wood-burning stove as their primary heat source.

The heater works by heating the air in the room, increasing the sauna's temperature. As a result, the user's body temperature starts to rise. Traditional saunas also come in a few different formats, such as sauna barrels and sauna cabins.

Given that, a traditional sauna can be dry or humid.


  • A considerable number of studies prove its health benefits
  • More enjoyable for people who prefer a high-humidity sauna experience
  • Many units can accommodate more than four users per session


  • Have higher running costs

Infrared Saunas vs. Traditional Saunas: A Toe-To-Toe Comparison

To help you choose the right type of sauna for you, here's an in-depth comparison between traditional and infrared saunas:

1. Health Benefits

Most people, if not all, use saunas mainly for their relaxation effect and health benefits.

That way, understanding the benefits each type of sauna provides is vital to determine which one is better for you.

Traditional Saunas

Researchers have been studying the traditional sauna effect on users for decades. Studies proved that traditional saunas offer the following benefits:

  • Enhance heart health 
  • Improve blood flow 
  • Support immunity
  • Reduce infections
  • Remove toxins 
  • Assist in weight loss
  • Alleviate joints pain
  • Help in improving sleep
  • Soothe muscle soreness

Infrared Saunas

Infrared saunas work with a different mechanism than that of the traditional sauna. However, they provide the a similar set of benefits.

Still, some claim that infrared saunas provide better results for cardiovascular health, skin condition, and detoxification than traditional saunas.

Some attribute these benefits to the fact that infrared saunas penetrate your tissues much deeper. Nonetheless, there's no robust evidence to support these claims.

The Verdict

Studies have found no significant difference in the health benefits of the two types of saunas so far.

2. Maximum Temperature

Some people can't withstand extremely high temperatures in sauna rooms. The good news is that infrared saunas can be a good option for those.

Traditional Saunas

Traditional saunas work by warming your body indirectly by heating the room's air. As a result, it leads to considerably high temperatures in the room.

A traditional sauna can reach temperatures up to 185 °F. This heat level can be significantly uncomfortable for some people.

Infrared Saunas 

Infrared saunas can only reach a maximum temperature range of 120 –150 °F. This temperature is much lower than those of a traditional sauna.

That way, infrared saunas can be a better choice for people who can't tolerate the extreme temperatures of traditional saunas.

The Verdict 

Infrared saunas are an excellent option for people who can't bear the scorching temperature of traditional saunas.

They provide relatively lower temperatures that most people can tolerate.

3. Humidity Level

Some people prefer highly moist sauna sessions. Others favor a low level of humidity.

Traditional Saunas

Most traditional saunas use hot steam as a part of their working mechanism. This results in a high humidity level in the room. Many users enjoy this humidity level.

Infrared Saunas

Because infrared saunas work by directly heating your body without using steam, they cause low humidity levels in the room.

So, if you prefer a sauna with a low humidity level, you'll enjoy infrared saunas more than traditional ones. Alternatively, you can try traditional dry saunas instead of the normal ones.

The Verdict

If you're into the highly humid sauna experience, the traditional sauna is the way to go. If you prefer moderate humidity, infrared or traditional dry saunas will be ideal.

4. Convenience

Each type of sauna comes with a different level of convenience.

Traditional Saunas

For a traditional sauna to fully heat up, it can take up to 45 minutes. This is the time required until the room temperature reaches its desired level.

So, you need to wait all this time before using the sauna.

Infrared Saunas

Infrared saunas don't require the room temperature to rise too high before use. A few minutes of preheating is just enough. That way, they can be ready to use in only 10 minutes.

The Verdict

Infrared saunas are easier and quicker to use as they can be ready in as little as only 10 minutes.

5. Cost

The cost of purchasing and operating a sauna varies based on its size and model. Still, the cost of installing traditional saunas is relatively similar to that of infrared ones.

The significant difference in expenses lies in the running costs.

Traditional Saunas

Traditional saunas consume, on average, 6 kilowatts of power per session. Alternatively, you'll need a continuous wood supply if you use a wood-burning stove in your sauna.

Infrared Saunas

Generally, infrared saunas are more energy-efficient than traditional saunas.

An infrared sauna usually consumes, on average, only 1.6 kilowatts of power per session. This is three times less than that of traditional saunas.

This results in much lower energy costs.

The Verdict

The installation cost of both infrared and traditional saunas is relatively close. Nonetheless, the running costs of infrared saunas are considerably less than traditional ones.

The Bottom Line

Infrared saunas vs. traditional saunas: which is better? Both types provide the same health benefits.

However, infrared saunas are easier to use and have lower operating costs than traditional saunas.

They also offer an experience with less humidity and moderate temperatures, which some people may prefer.  If you cannot decide between them, you can explore some of our hybrid sauna options.  If you are unsure which might best suit you, feel free to give us a call or message us on chat so may assist you with your choice.