Do Saunas Use A Lot Of Electricity?

Do Saunas Use A Lot Of Electricity

Before deciding if you are going to commit to buying, you not only want to know how much a sauna and steam room will cost initially. But how much it is going to cost to run a sauna and steam room per month.

You wouldn’t buy a car if you couldn’t afford to put petrol in it. And you shouldn’t install a sauna or a steam room before knowing if you can afford to use it.

But, the good news is that saunas and steam rooms require very little maintenance. Because of this, it is surprisingly economical to run a sauna and steam room.

Because purchasing and installing a new home sauna can cost thousands of dollars, it is easy to overlook the actual day-to-day costs of running your sauna. While you can expect the day-to-day costs to vary according to the particular sauna, the amount of usage, and your local electric rates, it is possible to give you some idea of what your operating costs will be. Check out our range of Portable Sauna Melbourne to help with your problem.

To operate a small 2-3 person infrared sauna, it will cost approximately nine cents per session. To operate a larger 4-6 person infrared sauna, it will cost about sixteen cents.

To operate a 3 kW electric sauna heater used in a 2-3 person traditional steam sauna, it will cost approximately twenty-seven cents. To operate an 8 kW heater used in a 4-6 person traditional steam sauna, it will cost about seventy-two cents. 

Most home sauna users will consider these costs to be negligible, and concerning infrared Saunas, they’re probably right. Still, the costs of operating a heater for a traditional sauna should not be overlooked. 

A 3kW heater is likely to run you $200 on the low-end and as much as $900 for a high-end model. Considering that daily use of this sauna heater will result in a yearly electric bill of almost $100, after four or five years, you will have spent more on the electricity than on the heater itself. 

For this reason, just as much, if not more, attention should be on finding an efficiently functioning heater which is the right size for your sauna. Additionally, it is worth the effort to make sure that your sauna is properly insulated and that the doors fit snuggly so that heat is not lost. Finally, don’t buy a larger sauna than need. Realize that a 300 cubic foot sauna requiring a 6kW heater is going to cost twice as much as a 150 cubic foot sauna requiring just a 3kW heater. 

What Is An Infrared Sauna, And Why Is It Cheaper To Run Than A Steam Sauna?

Saunas are small enclosures in which people can enjoy dry heat that opens their pores and relaxes their muscles. Because saunas typically reach temperatures above 175 degrees Fahrenheit (80 degrees Celsius), walls and furniture in saunas tend to be made of durable wood which – unlike metal or plastic – remains comfortably cool throughout the use of the sauna.

Historically, saunas were heated by a wood fire underneath a pile of rocks. Now, other (safer) options are available for heating the saunas that do not pose the fire risk and suffocation risk that traditional heating methods do. Remember, heat is transferred from one place to another via three modes:

  • convection (when hot liquids or gases rise to cooler areas)
  • conduction (when a hot object comes in direct contact with a cooler object)
  • radiation (when an object releases energy as electromagnetic waves that are absorbed by other objects, increasing their energy and therefore heating them)

Fire spreads heat by all three of these means. Infrared waves, on the other hand, are part of the electromagnetic spectrum of waves that people cannot see but can feel as heat by radiation.

By the way, the mention of radiation should not worry you. Infrared heating is not the ionizing radiation of gamma rays and x-rays that is powerful enough to change the makeup of atoms and molecules, but the kind of non-ionizing radiation that allows us to see (visible light waves), listen to the radio (radio waves), and heat objects by exciting their atoms and molecules into a higher energy state.

Why are infrared saunas so popular?

Saunas have historically relied on heating the air in the sauna, and then that hot air heats the people who use the sauna. Infrared heating can heat the air in the sauna-like a conventional sauna. Still, it can also directly heat the people using the sauna, potentially reducing the energy requirements of an infrared sauna compared to a conventional sauna.Looking for Sauna Melbourne? Look no further, Portable Sauna has you covered. Infrared heating poses fewer risks than other methods of heating. Saunas that use classic wood-burning fires are both a fire risk when flames are not properly controlled and need to be vented to prevent dangerous fumes from filling the sauna and house. Saunas that use electric heating elements can also pose a fire risk if flammable materials come into contact with the heating element. Infrared heat sources

Smaller 1- and 2-person infrared saunas are often compatible with standard 120-volt/15 amp grounded outlets, making them easy to install without modification to the home’s electrical system. Larger saunas and non-infrared saunas tend to have higher wattage ratings that require modified outlets with higher voltage and amperage. 

What will it cost to run an infrared sauna?

The cost to run a sauna depends on the wattage of the sauna, how much it is used, and how much electricity costs where it is used. To calculate monthly energy costs of any sauna (conventional or infrared), multiply the wattage of the sauna by the number of hours the sauna is on per month and the cost per kilowatt charged by the electric company. We can write this as:

Monthly cost = wattage (in kilowatts) × hours used per month × cost per kilowatt-hour used


In some cases, infrared saunas have a lower wattage than similarly sized conventional saunas, especially for smaller saunas for one to two people. Whereas 1- to 2-person infrared saunas are often designed with wattages below 1.6 kW that can be used in a standard 110 volt/ 15 amp outlet, even the smallest traditional saunas tend to be 3.0-4.0 kW saunas that require modified electrical outlets similar to those used for washers and dryers. As we can see in the equation above, doubling (or tripling) the wattage of the sauna also doubles (or triples) the cost of use even when the amount of time used and cost of electricity is the same.

Time to heat sauna

In some cases, a similarly-sized conventional sauna and infrared sauna might have the same wattage. Still, when the infrared sauna is used to heat bodies without first heating directly all of the air in the sauna, the hours used per month for an infrared sauna are likely to be lower than hours used per month for a conventional sauna. Infrared saunas tend to have heaters directing infrared waves directly at surfaces that come in contact with users (such as the floor and benches) as well as at users’ bodies rather than relying on a single source of heat as in a traditional sauna. Hence, an infrared sauna can be ready to use just 10 minutes after turning it on. In contrast, a traditional sauna usually needs at least 30 minutes and often an hour to heat to usable temperatures. For a user who wants to spend half an hour a day in their sauna, that means their infrared sauna would be on for 40 minutes a day, whereas their tradition sauna might be on for 90 minutes a day, more than doubling their energy costs.

Costs for electricity

The effect of doubling costs will be felt more by users where energy is expensive than where energy is relatively cheap. Electric companies charge per kilowatt-hour (kWh). This price can be very low in places like Idaho that rely primarily on hydroelectric power, and very high in places like Hawaii that rely on imported crude oil. While average consumer prices across the United States range from 9 to 34 cents per kWh, the average is around $0.12 per kWh.

It is important to remember that if using an infrared sauna to directly heat the body rather than heating the air in the sauna first, the energy costs are reduced primarily by reducing the amount of time the heater is on. In a conventional sauna, users tend to leave the sauna on for 30 minutes to an hour prior to use to heat the air from ambient temperature to sauna temperature (typically 160 to 210 degrees Fahrenheit, roughly 70 to 100 degrees Celsius). Outdoor saunas used during winter months might be combating below-freezing temperatures and need to heat longer than that. Infrared saunas are more commonly used indoors and can effectively heat users in just 10 minutes. Hence, for the same price, a user of an infrared sauna can use their sauna twice as much as the user of a conventional sauna.

Example costs calculations

Let’s work out an example to estimate the cost of running an infrared sauna and a conventional sauna for one month. Let’s assume both saunas are rated as 6000-watt (W) saunas. As mentioned above, we usually talk about electricity usage in kilowatts (kW), so we should divide the wattage by 1000 to determine the sauna’s wattage in kilowatts. In our example, 6000 W divided by 1000 equals 6 kW.

The more that the sauna is used, the more that differences in the cost to run one sauna versus another will add up. Using our example of the user who wants to enjoy half an hour a day in their sauna, we will calculate their energy costs for both an infrared and traditional sauna.

For the infrared sauna, the sauna will run for 40 minutes per day (10 minutes heating the sauna, 30 minutes using it). For a 30-day month, that is a total of 1200 minutes. Dividing 1200 minutes by 60 translates this to 20 hours. We multiply this time by the 6kW required by the sauna to get 120kWh used per month. At the average cost of energy, a consumer might expect to pay 0.12 dollars/kWh x 120 kWh = $14.40 per month to spend half an hour a day in the sauna.

For the traditional sauna, the sauna will run for 75 minutes per day (45 minutes heating the sauna, 30 minutes using it). For a 30-day month, that is a total of 2250 minutes. Dividing 2250 minutes by 60 translates this to 37.5 hours. We multiply this time by the 6kW required by the sauna to get 225kWh used per month. At the average cost of energy, a consumer might expect to pay 0.12 dollars/kWh x 225 kWh = $27.00 per month to spend half an hour a day in the sauna.

In a place where the energy costs are higher at $0.30 per kWh, the infrared sauna would cost $36.00 per month to use this way, whereas a traditional sauna would cost $67.50. A lower wattage infrared sauna that is compatible with standard 110-volt outlets would cost less than a third of this price to use.

Installation cost

Installation costs will depend heavily on the type of sauna that you buy, the size of the sauna, and whether it requires wiring into mains power or can simply be plugged into a convenient PowerPoint. It will also depend largely on you – do you have the muscles and extra helpers required to do most of the installation work yourself, or will you need to call in someone to do the whole job from start to finish? Quotes can vary from area to area, but expect to pay at least $1,000 for the installation – keeping in mind that the larger your sauna, the more work required to install it. We recommend that you browse our saunas, decide on the model that you want, and then shop around your local tradesmen for installation quotes – this saves you being surprised after you buy. Also Portable Sauna Melbourne page which has everything Portable Sauna related that you might need

Optional extras

Look carefully at what your new infrared sauna will include and what it won’t, compared to what you want in your sauna. Some cheap models out there don’t even include the heating element. (although in our opinion, that hardly counts as an ‘optional extra’!) There are some wonderful accessories available that can substantially enhance your sauna experience. Remember to consider the five senses – sight, hearing, smell, touch, and taste – and find ways to incorporate all of them in a positive way to optimize your relaxation time.

Cost to run

Infrared saunas tend to be a lot cheaper to run than their traditional (wood- or electrically-powered) counterparts. For a start, they use less power because they primarily heat surfaces, not the air. But for this reason, they also have lower preparation time. Where a traditional sauna can take an hour or more to heat up to ‘sweating’ temperatures, an infrared sauna can be ready for use in less than half an hour – meaning that you end up running the sauna for less time, as well as more cheaply.

Electricity costs will depend primarily on how much you pay per kilowatt-hour of energy use on your current electrical plan. However, as a general guide, you can look at the energy requirements of your infrared sauna and figure out how much electricity it will use. For example, a 1000W sauna, run for one hour, will generally use 1 kWh of electricity – in the USA, this will cost you around 12c.

The energy efficiency of different saunas

Electric sauna heaters are less energy-efficient than comparable gas models, simply because the production of electricity creates more CO2 than gas does. Gas heaters are relatively hard to find, though, so you may not have many options to choose from. The same goes for electric steam generators used in steam rooms. These are similar to electric hot water tanks in the way they work, which are notoriously inefficient and expensive to operate.

A block of wood-fired heater could be better or worse for the environment than other options, depending on where the wood has come from. If it has come from renewable sources, then it is relatively low impact. If not, the opposite is true. Burning wood inevitably contributes to CO2 emissions. Check out Portable Sauna Melbourne specialists in providing solutions to your problem.

Far Infrared sauna heaters

The most efficient type of sauna heater currently available in the Far Infrared (FIR) sauna. Though it uses electricity, it has a fraction of the warm-up time (around 10 minutes as opposed to 40-60 for a standard sauna) and wastes no energy in heating the air as it warms you directly. Because it heats you faster and you sweat more, usage times are also usually shorter, so less power is used in the session.

Higher temperature settings and sustained usage will increase electricity consumption, though. This may be unavoidable in a larger sauna, as you will need a higher overall temperature to warm all the areas in the sauna evenly. Another thing to keep in mind is how efficient the FIR panels you choose are. Inexpensive and cheaply made FIR sauna panels are likely to provide far poorer energy efficiency – it’s well worth doing a little research to ensure that you’re investing in efficient infrared panels.

Sauna and steam rooms are very low maintenance options. So if you are looking for something to help you relax and add a little bit of luxury to your home, without spending lots of time or money on upkeep, then a sauna or steam room may be the solution for you. 

The cost to run a sauna and steam room will be high per month. But this will vary depending on a few circumstances. And it’s best to work out your average running costs based on the size of your stove, electrical unit rate, average duration time and the number of days the sauna or steam room will likely run per month. 

On top of monthly running costs, you may need to factor in some other expenses, including routine maintenance, and possible maintenance parts. But overall, sauna and steam rooms have comparatively low running costs and ongoing maintenance costs.

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