Saunas have long been used to provide a number of benefits to your health and wellbeing, especially in places like Scandinavia.
The more we have learned about them and how they can help us, the more common it has become for people to look at having a sauna installed in their own home.
This allows them to reap the rewards of a sauna every single day, without having to worry about sharing it with strangers or even getting dressed or leaving the house.
The thing is, as much as it is a nice idea, many people only look at the positives of having their own sauna, while forgetting to analyse the drawbacks, the most obvious of which are the size and price of having such a luxury.
So, how much does it really cost to install your own sauna? If it is too big or expensive for me, are there any more suitable alternatives?
If so, what are they? Well, if any or all of these are questions you find yourself asking, then I highly recommend reading on to find out the answer.
How Much Does It Cost To Install A Sauna At Home?
The average cost to have a sauna installed in your home it said to be around $4,500.
The cheapest options tended to be around $3,000, while higher-end models sell in the region of $6,000.
This price covers everything from the sauna itself to the installation process and any additional materials that may be required to fit it.
The DIY Route
Those looking to save a little money do have the option of going down the “do it yourself” route.
This allows you to cut some of the overheads, as you can often obtain the materials at a lower rate and won’t be paying any labour costs for installation.
Those considering this option do need to be aware of a couple of things though.
Firstly, you will need to have excellent skills in multiple different departments. This is because not only will you be required to build the structure, but you will also need to install the electrical components.
Some models will even require certain components to be plumbed in as well.
The other thing you need to be aware of if you choose to install your home sauna yourself is time.
Building a sauna from scratch is neither quick nor simple, so you need to be sure you have plenty of free time available to work on it, otherwise it could end up taking months to complete your sauna, or perhaps even longer.
While building your own sauna from scratch will allow you a lot of freedom to customise it from scratch to suit your own style, there are a number of standard components that need to be used, in order to make sure it functions correctly.
Perhaps the most important part of the sauna is insulation.
This is what keeps the heat in and allows the sauna to reach the lofty temperatures that are required for it to work effectively.
The most common form of insulation used in a sauna is a combination of fiberglass and a barrier made from foil.
This is a popular choice as it provides great insulation, while also being relatively cost effective.
A sauna simply won’t work without a heating unit, so make sure you select an appropriate option if you want your sauna to work well and for a long period of time.
The ideal heating unit will come equipped with a visible thermostat, so you can easily keep track of the temperature while using the sauna, while it also needs to be easily adjustable.
It must also be capable of reaching the temperature you plan to use your sauna at, as well as being suitable for use in both wet and dry conditions.
If it doesn’t meet these requirements, it won’t work as well as intended and could even break down.
The door is a part of the sauna that usually won’t feature the same insulation as the rest of the structure.
This means you need to find a door that is not only thick enough to hold the heat in but that also seals tight, so the heat doesn’t escape around the edges.
Also, make sure you find one that has been treated for damp or moist conditions. The last thing you want is for it to expand while you are inside and not be able to open it.
While it may seem obvious that you will require lights in your sauna, the type of lights that you need might not be as clear.
Due to the nature of a sauna, you will need to use lights suitable for both wet and dry environments.
This limits the risk of any malfunctions that could lead to them needing to be replaced or even potentially cause injury to the user.
The seating in a sauna needs to be made from a type of wood that can handle both extreme heat and moisture, as well as being strong enough to support the weight of those using the sauna.
The most popular choice for a seating arrangement is cedar wood.
This is because it meets all the above requirements, is aesthetically pleasing, and is generally reasonably affordable.
The panelling boards in a sauna are largely an aesthetic aspect that don’t hold any real functional feature, other than to hide the unsightly insulation and provide an additional, small amount of heat retention.
They do, however, need to be made from a material that is capable of withstanding both heat and moisture.
Most will usually select an option that is in keeping with the door and seating, with cedar wood again being a popular option.
Before you decide building a sauna yourself is the way to go, it is important to realise that a sauna is an expensive thing to have, no matter which way you go about it.
After you have obtained all of the materials required to build your own sauna, you will be looking at a bill of around $1,500.
While this may still seem high, it is a saving of between $3,000 and $4,500 compared to having a sauna installed for you.
To decide if this provides enough of a saving to make it worthwhile, you need to work out how the value of the time you spend compares to the money you save.
The Benefits Of An In-Home Sauna
The list of proven benefits attached to using a sauna is incredibly long and wide ranging.
Studies also show that more regular and regimented use of saunas yields enhanced benefits in comparison to people who only use them occasionally.
Saunas can improve circulation and blood flow, boost brain and heart health, speed up recovery after exercise, relieve stress, encourage better respiratory function, help fight illness and flush out toxins, promote better sleep, and generally enhance overall health, wellness, and physical performance.
The main selling point of having your own home sauna is that it can consistently be done on a daily basis, whereas people may find it difficult to get a daily sauna session in when they have to visit a spa, gym, or other similar establishment.
Done For You Alternatives
While an in-home sauna room can be nice thing to have and offers a multitude of benefits, there are also several concerns attached to it.
The most significant of these concerns is the space and money required to install such a luxury.
For those who want to reap the benefits of the sauna but aren’t married to the idea of having a full size sauna room in their home, there are a number of alternatives that exist.
The most common alternatives to saunas that people turn to are sauna blankets and heat pads.
These devices are designed to provide a similar experience to that of an in-home sauna, but in a more compact package.
These in-home sauna alternatives are excellent for reducing the cost, time, and loss of space associated with the entire process of having a traditional option installed.
A sauna blanket is designed to replicate the experience of a sauna, while taking up virtually no space.
They will contain a heated mechanism and the user either lays under them, wraps themselves up in them, or sometimes even gets inside them.
Their insulated material will then keep the heat in, allowing it to raise the body temperature of the user in a similar way to that of a traditional sauna.
Not only is a sauna blanket a smaller and cheaper alternative to a full size sauna, but many people also actually prefer them, as they find them easier to breathe in.
The MiHigh sauna blanket claims to be the number one sauna blanket in the United Kingdom.
It uses a FAR infrared heating mechanism that is estimated to be up to 7 times more detoxifying than regular heat and can burn as many as 600 calories in a single 30 minute session.
Made from high quality, non-toxic materials and being designed so you can easily climb inside it, the MiHigh sauna blanket holds its temperature incredibly well and stops you from getting any sweat on the surfaces in your home.
The MiHigh sauna blanket also comes with a 30-day trial offer, where the customer can ask for a full refund if they are not completely satisfied with the benefits or quality of the product.
This ensures it is a risk free purchase that everyone can try for themselves without any worries.
At 71 inches (180 centimetres) long, the MiHigh sauna blanket is suitable for users up to 6 foot 5 inches (196 centimetres) tall and has a maximum weight capacity of 330 pounds (150 kg).
It features a recommended retail price of $538 (£399), which includes free shipping, and can be paid for in 4 equal, interest free payments.
- Comes with a risk free trial offer
- Folds into a compact size
- Good height and weight capacity
- Affordable payment plan available if required
- Made from high quality, non-toxic, waterproof material
- Uses FAR infrared heating mechanism
- Limited availability
- Warranty and Return: 30 Day Risk-free Trial.
- Free Shipping USA and Canada
- Dimensions: 180cm long
- Materials: PU Leather exterior, waterproof and non-toxic fabrics on the inside
- CE Approved
- Ships from: USA and Canada
- Ships to: US, Canada, UK, Australia, and New Zealand
The HigherDose Infrared Sauna Blanket V3 is a new and improved version of an already highly popular product, that now boasts a number of more useful functions.
One of the most popular new features is a timer, allowing you to gently drift off, knowing the blanket will shut off when you are asleep.
It has also added a handheld controller, so you can easily adjust the settings, without getting out of the blanket.
The blanket was specifically designed using infrared technology to detoxify the body, induce a feeling of relaxation, and help to rejuvenate the body. It offers adjustable temperature settings, with 10 different options, to make sure it gets just as warm as you want it.
At 71 square inches (180 centimetres), it has a maximum interior circumference of 65 inches (165 centimetres) when in use. Available in a choice of two different colours, purple and red or black and green, it provides the chance for you to match it in with your own décor.
With a recommended retail price of $632 (£469), it is a little more expensive than some of its competitors.
However, it offers a range of different payment plans, all with little or no interest, starting at payments of just $40 (£30) per month.
The HigherDose Infrared Sauna Blanket V3 also comes with a 1 year warranty, so you can be sure you are covered if you experience any breakages.
- A range of different financing options are available
- Focuses on providing detoxification and relaxation effects
- 1 year warranty included
- Available in two different colour schemes
- Includes a handheld remote and sleep timer
- 10 different temperature settings
- A little expensive when compared to some of the similar alternatives
The HeatHealers sauna blanket is developed with a primary focus on activating the body’s natural ability to heal itself from the inside.
It uses infrared technology and is made from a combination of amide fabric and jade and tourmaline stones, to provide a non-toxic, completely relaxing experience.
The heat produced inside the HeatHealers sauna blanket can be easily adjusted using the built-in remote control, while it also features a self-regulating function, to make sure it never gets too hot. It can reach a maximum temperature of 80°C (176°F).
The HeatHealers sauna blanket prides itself on being able to offer benefits in as little as 15 minutes, while suggesting you use it for 60 to achieve the complete experience.
It boasts a large structure, which is 190 centimetres long (75 inches) and offers a circumference of 175 centimetres (69), which provides better coverage for bigger individuals, ensuring everyone has an enjoyable experience.
It is suitable for users up to 200 centimetres (79 inches) tall, and 140 kg (309 pounds) in weight.
With a recommended retail price of $592 (£439), it is in a similar range to most of its competitors, and it is available on a payment plan of 4 equal payments.
It also boasts a 2 year warranty, so you are covered if anything goes wrong during the course of normal use.
- Design based on proven scientific research
- Features multiple heating zones
- Larger size than competitors
- Designed to promote natural healing
- Includes a 2 year warranty
- Timer setting cannot be adjusted
- No free trail
Heating pads are similar to sauna blankets, however they provide heat in specific spots, as opposed to all around.
Usually laid on or placed on chosen areas, they are an ideal option for people who have a particular issue they are dealing with or who like a little more breathing room during their experience.
The Therasage heating pads are available in multiple sizes that people can choose from, ranging from mini to large.
This allows a person to get a pad that provides sufficient coverage for their own personal needs.
Each can be used on the whole body, for the experience that most closely resembles a traditional sauna, or for precision therapy, to deal with any specific pains or injuries.
A built-in LCD display helps with monitoring how long you have been using the product and at what temperature. It also features a convenient, handheld control, so you can change the settings, without having to move from the position you are in.
All models use jade stones and full spectrum infrared technology, to generate negative ions and provide even heat distribution, ensuring each pad provides equal benefit.
The ½ inch (1.3 centimetre) thick base is made from a strong, antibacterial material, which can be conveniently wiped down after use.
With a 2 year warranty and 30 day money back guarantee, you can guarantee complete satisfaction or a refund or replacement, no matter whether you experience any breakages or simply change your mind.
With prices ranging from $130 (£96) to $775 (£575), there are options to suit all budgets, all of which are well within the average price range of its competitors.
- Available in mini, small, medium, and large sizes
- Each comes with a built-in LCD display and handheld control
- Features a 2 year warranty and 30 day money back guarantee
- Prices available to suit all budgets
- Able to precision target specific spots
- Limited coverage, even on the larger models
The HigherDose Infrared Heating Pad uses infrared technology, along with a built-in heating system, helping it to produce a dual therapy option.
This allows it to provide similar therapeutic results to completing an hour of yoga or meditation.
At 29 inches by 73 inches (73.5 by 185 centimetres), it is suitable for users of most sizes. The large design of the heating pad allows a person to put their entire body on top, while it also offers the ability to be used on specific spots like regular heating pads.
With a recommended retail price of $1199 (£890), it is incredibly expensive, almost doubling the average price of its competitors.
However, for those on tighter budgets who have their heart set on it, you can take advantage of the payment plans, which start as low as $75 (£55.66) per month, with little or no interest.
The product also comes with a 1 year limited warranty in case anything malfunctions during normal use.
- Provides coverage for most peoples’ bodies
- Can be used for precision therapy
- Embedded Infrared PEMF technology
- Larger than most heating pads on the market
- A choice of different payment plans are available
- Too expensive for many people
- No mention of different heat or time settings
- Warranty is rather limited
- No remote control
- Size: 73.5 x 185 cm (29" x 73")
- Weight: 19kg / 43lbs
- Power: Voltage USA 110V. Wattage 180
- PEMF Info: 4pcs PEMF Cores Implanted. 4 levels of Hz Frequency: 3Hz-23Hz.
- Heaters: 0.2-0.8 milligauss. (Global TOC criteria is 2 milligauss. Electrical field: Low EMF.)
How Effective Are The Alternatives?
While the alternatives to an in-home sauna may not provide an entire room to give the individual that “full sauna” experience, that does not mean they aren’t efficient or effective.
Many alternatives can still provide excellent coverage for the body, while the best options can even provide a similar or equal effect to the traditional method.
There are even certain benefits associated with the alternatives that can’t be achieved with a traditional sauna.
For example, with a sauna blanket, the user can lie down on their bed or sofa and enjoy a book or a movie, while still giving their body an effective sauna experience.
With heating pads, it is also possible to pinpoint specific areas of the body, to provide fast relief from pain and injuries.
Both options also leave your head out of the heated area, making it easier to breathe during your session, which is something many people regularly mention as a drawback to traditional saunas.
How Much Should You Spend On Sauna Alternatives?
The primary reason most people will turn to a sauna alternative, as opposed to the real thing, is due to the amount of space and money it will save them.
While any alternative is going to be significantly smaller than a full size sauna, it is important to choose an option that isn’t overly expensive, otherwise you may as well have just committed to going for the real thing.
There is not one fixed price that will be suitable for everyone, as people all have their own budgets and requirements.
Rather, you should look at your available funds and determine how much you are comfortable spending on this sort of product.
The average price for these sauna alternatives is around $500. Some can be picked up for less, while other, top of the range options, boast a higher price tag.
Which you go for is up to you but keep this figure in mind while trying to determine the kind of value each product has to offer.
Main Factors To Look For In A Sauna Alternative
While there are a number of factors to consider when selecting the best sauna alternative for your own needs and wants, there are a few things you must pay close attention to if you want to make sure you choose the right option.
Be sure to not only select a product that is within your budget but one that you feel offers good value.
Not doing this could lead to you paying over the odds and having a less satisfactory experience.
While most sauna alternatives are suitable for use by people of a great range of different weights, shapes, and sizes, they will usually have an upper limit.
If you are someone who knows you are on the larger side, whether that be in height, weight, or width, make sure the product is suitable for you, before you purchase it.
The heating mechanism used by your sauna alternative will determine both the maximum and minimum heats it as able to be set to.
If you have a particular heat in mind that you plan to use your product at, be sure to check it is capable of achieving this.
Some sauna alternatives will be able to run on batteries, while others will need to be plugged in to the mains.
If you intend to use your product in a location where a power socket isn’t available, or simply aren’t comfortable using a product that is plugged in, make sure you only look at battery operated products.
While both heating pads and sauna blankets are sauna alternatives, they both have their own unique selling points and capabilities.
Make sure you clearly know the difference between these two designs, before you settle on which type of product to go for.
Design can also relate to the appearance of your product as well.
While the appearance of a sauna alternative may not affect how it operates, it can still alter your enjoyment of the product. If you find yourself torn between two similar products, make sure to think about which one you find more aesthetically pleasing.
The durability of your product plays an important role in determining its value, as selecting a cheap option that breaks quickly can work out less cost efficient than shelling out for a slightly more expensive, yet higher quality alternative.
Make sure to look at the reviews to see how others who have purchased a product rate its longevity.
Different sauna alternatives will each have their own recommended method of cleaning, which is usually dependant on whether or not you can remove the mechanical elements.
If you are hoping to clean your product in a washing machine, make sure this is possible, as you could otherwise easily damage or break it.
A home sauna is a wonderful thing to have, but it will certainly require a good deal of available space and funds to make a reality.
Those who are lucky enough to be able to have one fitted will find they reap an incredible number of benefits from using this feature on a regular basis.
For anyone who has decided they simply can’t justify installing a sauna in their home, there are a great number of fabulous alternatives available.
While they won’t all offer the exact same benefits as a traditional sauna, some will replace the benefits they miss out on with ones exclusive to that product.
Whichever way you decide to go, partaking in a sauna experience on a regular basis is a great way to improve your health, wellbeing, and physical performance, and is something I would highly recommend the vast majority of people try out for themselves as soon as possible, if you haven’t already.
Dr. Ahmed Zayed holds a bachelor’s degree in medicine from Alexandria university and is a practicing plastic surgeon. He’s our expert on all things nutrition, medicine, rehabilitation, and flexibility. Dr.Ahmed has been a medical content writer for more than 11 years and his work reached top publications such as the HuffingtonPost