What to consider in buying a portable infrared sauna?

If you’ve heard the buzz about infrared saunas and are thinking of purchasing one for your health, use these tips to find the best value. Cheaper is not better with sauna purchases. Save time; save hassles and ultimately save money buying the right one for your maximum benefit – the first time.

When shopping for the best infrared portable sauna, settling for one model can be a tough call, especially if you’re a complete novice to these machines. Potential buyers can easily be confused by the sheer number of models on the market, which is why it’s important to research as much as you can in order to make an educated choice.

There are quite a few features to look out for when buying a portable infrared sauna. The main ones include:

Heating system

Traditionalists will always seek a way to tout the benefits of a “hot-rock-and-steam” sauna. Still, the majority of new saunas produced today are outfitted with infrared heating elements – not the old-school heaters that create extraordinary amounts of steam within the sauna. Near-infrared and far-infrared only heating elements are available, but saunas that use Full Spectrum Infrared (near, mid and far infrared) are generally considered the best. This heating system promotes sweat and deep-body infrared wave penetration to eliminate toxins as efficiently as possible. One of the biggest benefits of an infrared sauna versus the traditional sauna is the lower operating temperatures afforded by the infrared heating element.

far infrared sauna with blue light

Size of the Sauna

This depends on your intended use. If you are mostly using the sauna by yourself, a compact sauna model might seem like the logical choice. Many health-minded individuals use their sauna as a contained exercise room. You can add a different dimension to your yoga routine by doing it in a sauna, or add a twist to other exercises in your repertoire. Bottom line? Select a sauna that fits your home and your lifestyle, but make sure to account for future needs when narrowing down the overall dimensions.

Easy to setup

With a portable sauna, you have to set it up in your preferred location in the home. It is important to make sure that you choose a portable sauna that will not give you a hard time setting up. If the sauna is easy to set up, you can move it to different locations in the home and enjoy your time relaxing.

Consider a reasonable size

Considering the reasonable size of a portable sauna is important. You don’t want to have a portable sauna that is too restricting for you. The best portable sauna should keep you comfortable and at the same time, allow you to move without restrictions. When the portable sauna is too small, then you will experience comfort issues.

Easy temperature control

The ability to control temperatures on your portable sauna is an important aspect. You need to have a portable sauna that can reach high temperatures without any problems. The ability to reach high temperatures will allow detoxification, and you will be able to gain all the benefits of using the sauna. Before you decide to buy any portable sauna, make sure that you check the maximum temperature.

Design of the sauna

There are various designs of portable sauna that are available today. We have a blanket style and also the tent-like sauna. Many people prefer the sauna that allows them to sit inside and enjoy the experience. When choosing a portable sauna, it is important to consider your personal preference on how you like to use the sauna.


Be sure to inquire about durability before you make your final decision.

Certain parts of your sauna contribute to its overall durability. A good example is heating emitter. The ceramic utilized in the majority of infrared heating emitters are generally of low quality, a lumpy residue of impurities tend to be produced on the tube itself. These deposits cause the ceramic emitter to rust rapidly and become inefficient with time.


An efficient system should be capable of leading infrared energy to the upper shoulders, neck and also head/face regions of the sauna user, resulting in an even distribution of infrared energy to the whole body.

In some portable infrared saunas, there are no floor/foot heaters. This poses a challenge to users as it is very important to heat the feet to eliminate toxins and lactic acid buildup, soothe nerve endings located in the base of the foot and relieve joint-related pain.

Extra Entertainment Provisions

Heating your body from within is very fancy, and everyone enjoys it. But, just like everything else you do for a long time, it begins to get boring after some time. While having a long sauna session, some portable saunas come with the added advantage of a video or audio player. This helps spice things up. 

Presence of Inner Lighting System

Of all portable infrared saunas, the most sought-after are those with lighting features inside the sauna. This is the type you want to look out for. They come with cool shades of blue light that adds that extra touch of relaxation. 


The heat emitters in many infrared saunas on average have high EMF ratings. 

Several of the top quality manufacturers now offer low EMF carbon panel heating emitters, and some brands currently offer zero EMF ratings for their carbon panel infrared emitters.

However, having zero or low rated EMF carbon panels isn’t necessarily adequate to guarantee your overall safety. 

Infrared saunas are known to have a substantial amount of 120V wiring across the wall panels and the roof cap in the windmill. A number of the sauna manufacturers that offer zero or low EMF panels have failed to shield all of the wirings in the windmill correctly. The goal is to buy from a manufacturer, who provides special EMF shielded 120v wiring. Safety first. 

EMF ( Electromagnetic Fields) and infrared saunas.

Electromagnetic Fields (EMF) and Electric Fields (EF) can be emitted by a number of sources like overhead power lines and many appliances both at work and at home.

Some infrared sauna companies downplay the effects of EMF. Working with doctors and other healthcare practitioners over the years, we have found many who state that the effects of EMF are of great concern.

There are a number of research studies addressing health concerns and effects of exposure to EMF; including disruption of the neuroendocrine system in children and adolescents; and neurobehavioral issues in children. EMF exposure has also been shown to promote differentiation in pituitary cells, changes in plasma membrane and influx of intracellular calcium. 

Gauss or milligauss is a measurement scale used to measure the strength of an electromagnetic field (EMF). EMF levels drop off dramatically with distance. For example: If one was two inches away from a microwave, it might measure 30 mG (milligauss), but when moving two feet away, the readings may be zero. Unfortunately, one doesn’t have this luxury when sitting in an infrared sauna. Therefore, you are likely sitting within one or two inches of the heaters and may also be exposed to other electrical components. If these are not tested or safely addressed, you may be unknowingly exposing yourself to a very high electromagnetic field for an extended period of time.

TCO or Swedish Standards are 2 mG (milligauss) or less at the “point of body contact” (the wooden slats one leans against in front of the heaters in an infrared sauna).

Many of the infrared saunas on the market (some even stating zero or low EMF) often, in actuality, measure EMF in the 10 -100 mG range. This is because companies often test only the heaters in isolation at a lab and not the entire sauna. This mistakenly leads a sauna user to believe that the entire sauna is low in EMF when this is absolutely not the case. Adding to more confusion, when marketing on websites and in brochures, companies state low EMF but do not disclose that only a heater was tested in a lab. A sauna manufacturer should be able to provide you with a complete, multi-page, documented testing report from a government certified independent lab, stating very clearly that the entire sauna was tested for EMF. If only heaters are tested, then the testing does not include electrical connections, control panels and wiring which can all emit high levels of EMF.

If EMF averages are given, all readings should be taken at “point of body contact,” for this is where you sit when using the sauna.

Many sauna companies test EMF’s by testing only heaters in isolation in a lab. Portable saunas are tested with a trifield gauss meter at over 100 different locations within the entire sauna. The average reading in a Radiant Health Sauna sauna is a very low 0.3mG at the “point of body contact”. These are the lowest EMF readings in the industry that we have found. We have spent a great deal of time perfecting the engineering of our saunas thanks to valuable input from hundreds of practitioners and customers. We constantly work to improve safety, comfort and effectiveness.

Why are low EMF and low ELF levels significant?

Some health effects linked with EMF are:

  • Memory Loss
  • Depression
  • Loss of Energy
  • Irritability
  • Inability To Concentrate
  • Weakened Immune System
  • Chronic Fatigue
  • Headaches

Entertainment features 

Just sitting around in a sauna for an extended period of time can get pretty boring after a while. Luckily enough, most cutting-edge models come with various features to keep you entertained during your session. So keep an eye out for models that come with audio and DVD players that will keep boredom at bay while you unwind.


The best types of portable infrared saunas tend to have inner light features designed to boost relaxation while creating a pronounced sense of tranquillity. Cutting-edge models, for example, often feature different shades of warm white or blue lamps. Light therapy, combined with saunas, has been known to treat several types of seasonal affective disorders.

Control panels

This is one of the most important features of your portable infrared sauna. While most models have a panel on the outside, an inner panel can be an added advantage since you will be able to adjust the controls without having to constantly get out of the sauna, hence allowing cold air in a while interrupting your relaxation session. Control panels can help you adjust just about anything from the temperature to the time.


This is another feature to consider, especially if you’re overweight. While most one-person saunas can accommodate heavier users, it’s still a good idea to splurge on a two-person model since these provide you with ample space to stretch out and maybe even lie back. It’s also good to know that the market additionally provides models that can accommodate up to six people. Bear in mind that larger saunas have the advantage of offering a larger exposure to infrared heat.

Warranty Included

Though a warranty is only one part of the equation, you’ll want to investigate the company and the warranty offered with each sauna. The warranty should cover the heater, electrical system, controls and other peripherals. Better companies will even cover accessories like audio and chromotherapy systems. Also, determine if the warranty will cover the sauna if the unit is used in a commercial location. If you’re looking for a new sauna for your office or commercial building, this is an important consideration. Most warranties are designed for home use and provide coverage in normal operating modes. Spend some time online, and research any consumer’s feedback of the company, including warranty-related issues.

When researching buying an infrared sauna for your home or office, there are various models available for your consideration that will perform admirably and last for years to come. Clearlight Infrared Saunas are wildly popular today and combine several unique benefits for the discerning shopper. Clearlight Saunas combine Full Spectrum Infrared heaters with kiln and air-dried wood structures for superior durability and performance. Clearlight Saunas can also be enhanced with a number of options, such as chromotherapy lights, custom interiors, sophisticated electronics packages, and more. And it’s all covered by the Clearlight incomparable Limited Lifetime Warranty for residential use. Even commercial-level users enjoy a robust 5-year warranty.

Material Used: Canadian Cedar is one of the most preferred insulator materials for infrared saunas. It is also known as the western red cedar. It is famous for its natural splendour and the outstanding physical properties which make it among the world’s most unique species. Low shrinkage variable and superior to all other coniferous woods in its resistance to warping, twisting and assessing. It is also of great durability.

Another good material is the Pacific Coast Hemlock. It is quite stable with minimal inclination to cup, spin or check. It possesses good properties for both expansion and regeneration. Hemlock yields clean, straight borders and accurate shapes. The mix of equilibrium and smoothness has made Hemlock a favourite wood choice in the construction of saunas. A superb option when you have allergies, as a result of its low resin content along with virtually no odour.

Tips for Buying Portable Sauna

“Test drive” to get the comfort – and the look – you want.

Taking a sauna is the only way you’ll be able to judge whether it’s right for you. Would you buy a car without taking a test drive? Of course not. Find a local dealer who has saunas you can try out before you buy. (We have saunas for you to try at the Olympics.)

Design is the most obvious reason to choose a particular sauna. But design is more than skin deep. There must be no visible external buckles. Look for furniture quality detailing including fine-grained wood throughout (not coarse grain which will peel over time). Look for custom-made moulding, comfortable seating, and doors and windows that are thoughtfully designed to complement the sauna.

Wood choices. Which is best?

Make sure the sauna you select is constructed from smooth, hand-selected tongue-and-groove, vertical grain hemlock or western red cedar. For lasting beauty, Hemlock and cedar are best.

Make sure the wood is certified from a sustainable forest, meaning that the forest is planted, harvested correctly and replanted after harvesting for the least environmental impact. The wood for cheaper models sold on the Internet comes from Burma (now called Myanmar) and is not so certified. Cutting down the rainforest to make saunas is just plain wrong.

VOC’s (Volatile Organic Compounds)

One of the reasons a person may be using an infrared sauna would be to detoxify, lowering one’s toxic load of chemicals and heavy metals. It is very important to make sure that the environment in the infrared sauna is completely nontoxic.

A number of infrared sauna companies use plywood, particleboard or an engineered wood composite as a less expensive option for framing materials in their saunas. This typically can not be seen after construction has been completed. These materials can off-gas formaldehyde and other VOC’s (Volatile Organic Compounds) that can be detrimental to your health. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) considers formaldehyde a Group B1 probable human carcinogen13. Inferior heaters and other components inside the sauna can also off-gas chemicals, so it is very important that the whole sauna is being tested in a lab and not just the heaters.

An infrared sauna company should be able to provide you with independent lab testing where the inside of a brand new sauna was tested for VOC’s so that one knows that when they are using the sauna, they are sitting in a pristine, nontoxic environment.

Are you looking for optimum health benefits? Construction matters.

Tightly fitted joints and screws rather than glue construction mark a sauna that’s built to last. Cheaper saunas rely on glue to keep the joints sealed rather than detailed craftsmanship. Breathing heated glue that emits gasses in the sauna is not healthy. You want pure air in your sauna!

Get delivery, installation AND warranty protection!

Peace of mind is everything! You’re buying a sauna for relaxation, so why tackle the delivery, setup and installation when you don’t have to? Select a local company that will deliver, set up and install your sauna in a few hours. You won’t regret it. You’ll save time and hassle, and your sauna will be put together the right way! The company you select should be able to handle any warranty issues, too. You don’t want to have to hire an electrician to troubleshoot the wiring if something goes wrong, then send parts to a factory, wait for their return and re-install. Installation and warranty are, of course, yet another reason to avoid buying a sauna on the Internet. Be smart – buy local from a company that will be there to help you! (You’ll always find free delivery & setup on most indoor models when you purchase from Olympic Hot Tub.)

Ceramic vs carbon heat panels? Carbon wins.

There are two different types of infrared heat emitters: ceramic and carbon. Many cheaper saunas – especially those sold on the Internet – use ceramic rods or coils in their panels. But carbon panels are far superior to ceramic. Here’s why:

Top-quality carbon panels provide the softest, most enjoyable far-infrared heat available. They heat up faster and give a much broader distribution of heat, so you don’t get ‘hot spots’ or ‘cold spots’ in your sauna as you do with ceramic heaters. Yet the room itself doesn’t get hot like traditional steam saunas do (provided you have enough heating panels – see point #6 below). You can also lean up against carbon panels, unlike ceramic, which can get too hot to touch. Ceramic panels actually make the sauna room too hot and don’t give an optimal far-infrared penetration for the best therapy. Just because the ceramic makes, the room hot doesn’t mean it’s giving you the most effective therapy.

These carbon fibre heaters provide a much larger surface area of the heater close to the body and more consistent heating. The lower surface temperature of the carbon fibre heaters is also more comfortable and has the benefit of increasing the micron wavelength into the beneficial far infrared range.

Carbon emitters give you greater heat absorption and cover more surface area, so you get a better sweat (and therefore a more effective sauna session). Look for carbon panels imported from Japan, which operate at safer and more comfortable sauna temperatures – the room will be warm, not hot. Japanese technology produces panels that emit radiant heat, which penetrates deeply and produces more sweat than ceramic panels.

Carbon-heated infrared saunas also tend to heat up faster (10 – 15 minutes) than ceramic-heated saunas (30 – 45 minutes), which can save on electricity cost. The typical carbon infrared sauna costs only 10 – 15 cents a session!

Don’t skimp on the number of carbon panels. The number of carbon panels and their placement is IMPORTANT.

Most Infrared saunas will have heaters on the back panel, under the seat and in front of you on either side of the door. The best models will have carbon panels on the sides of the sauna as well. The more square inches of heater coverage, the better!

Although not as important as the type of heater emitter (see point #5 above), the number of panel heaters a sauna has can influence the time it takes for a sauna to heat up as well as how much and how fast you start to sweat. Having more heaters means you sweat faster and experience more benefit.

Look for the maximum number of heat panels and the highest total square inches of heater coverage in the size unit you’re considering. Fewer panels mean your sauna will take more time to heat up – which can cost you in electricity bills. It can also be a pain to have to wait 45 minutes for your sauna to heat up!

A wall-to-wall heating system ensures a complete enveloping heat with no cold spots or hot spots. Without this wall-to-wall heating system, you’ll have to turn yourself into a human pretzel, turning your body this way and that to get in front of a panel, to experience maximum sweat. Too few carbon panels in your sauna will never give you the relaxation you’re looking for.

Control panels – inside AND out – are a must.

Most saunas have a control panel on the outside of the unit where you can set the heat, time, turn on lights, etc. But that’s not all you should look for. It’s important to have a control panel inside the sauna, so you don’t have to leave the sauna to make changes.

Then look beyond location – not all controls are created equal! Look for easy-to-use digital controls that have set temperature, actual temperature, set time and time remaining. Controls should also include light switches for internal and external lights and colour light therapy systems.

Size matters. Smaller is NOT better.

Infrared saunas range in size from 1-person up to 6-person units and price varies accordingly. Consider the space you have available in your home as well as where the sauna will be placed. A popular option is a corner unit that saves floor space yet still has a roomy interior.

Make no mistake: a 1-personal sauna is ONLY a 1-person sauna – there’s no room to move around. Do not purchase a 1-person sauna unless you live alone and don’t plan to share your sauna experience, or have the smallest of apartments. The most popular saunas are models that give you enough room to lie down on a bench for maximum relaxation. No one has ever returned to one of our stores saying they were sorry they bought a big sauna. But we have had buyers buy a 1-person and come back to exchange it for a larger one.

Look for inner and outer lighting and light therapy.

Most infrared saunas do come with interior lights, but it’s always important to check. Interior lights are a must if you want to read during your sauna sessions.

Some models also come with exterior lights, which can turn your sauna into a furniture showpiece that your houseguests will admire. Other saunas offer a variety of coloured lights so you can use your sauna for colour light therapy, which is recommended for Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) that’s so common in our overcast Northwest winters.

Better-made saunas include the lighting as standard. Don’t omit these lighting features that will make each sauna use a pure pleasure.

Easily bored? Choose entertainment options.

If you don’t plan to read or meditate, what will you do in the sauna?

Answer: have entertainment at your fingertips by adding a high-quality radio and DVD player at the time you purchase. Having your own entertainment centre can help you enjoy a longer, more luxurious sauna session without getting bored. Playing relaxing videos or classical music on the radio will help pass the time and deepen your sense of calm and well-being. Some saunas come with TVs so you can watch your favourite program while you sweat and lose weight!

Infrared saunas have gained considerable ground in the world of saunas. Being of remarkable heat source, they are worth having. But then, you do not want to bet on the wrong horse, so it is always best to arm yourself with the right knowledge.

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