Infrared or traditional steam sauna? We can help you choose!

If you’re just beginning to shop for a sauna, you might think all saunas are the same. You just want the benefits – stress reduction, relaxation, easing your aches and pains, and detoxifying.

But you actually have a lot of choices to make. The first is: Traditional steam sauna, or infrared?

Both will give you your ultimate goal – those health and relaxation benefits. But each delivers those benefits in pretty different ways. Let’s take a closer look at each type.

Traditional Steam Saunas

The air inside these saunas is actually quite dry, until you sprinkle water on the rocks. The more water, the more steam you create. The humidity created makes the room more comfortable, moistens the nasal passages, and allows you to add aromatherapy to the water if you want to.

The temperature inside a traditional steam sauna typically ranges from 150 – 185 degrees, but no more than 194 degrees at the ceiling. (That’s the maximum temperature in the US, by law.) When a sauna of this type has been heated properly, the air is at the set temperature, the walls are warm, and the rocks are super-heated.

Once this temperature is achieved, the heating elements cycle on and off to maintain the desired temp. It can take half an hour or a little more for a traditional sauna to fully heat. You’ll want to wait that long before you attempt to use the sauna.

Other points:

  • Typical traditional sauna sessions last about 15 minutes.
  • Traditional saunas tend to use more energy than infrared saunas, mostly because they tend to be larger. Even then, typical use does not usually have a large effect on electric bills.

Infrared Saunas

The humidity level inside an infrared sauna will match whatever the humidity level is inside your home. You will not be able to control the humidity, add steam, etc.

The temperature inside an infrared sauna will be much lower than in a traditional sauna. Somewhere between 120 – 140 degrees is common. The point of an infrared sauna ISN’T high heat – it’s continuously emitting energy. When the emitters are on, they’re producing infrared energy in wavelengths close to the same that the body emits. This means the energy is easily received by the body, so it deeply penetrates the muscles and joints, causing your body temperature to go up, and you to perspire.

Even though they’re efficient, infrared saunas are designed to run almost continuously while they are in use – otherwise you begin to cool down quickly. Because of the way they’re designed, you can begin to use an infrared sauna as soon as you turn in on, though most people prefer to wait until it reaches at least 110 degrees.  

Other things to consider:

  • Sessions typically last 15-30 minutes.
  • Infrared saunas tend to be smaller, and can include upgrades like sound systems, colored light therapy, and more.

When you’re ready to make your sauna purchase – or if you’d just like to learn a little more – stop by a showroom to talk to a member of our qualified sales team today.


The 2019 Limelight Collection Owner’s Manual will help you understand your spa’s features, and answer questions you might have regarding spa operation, water care, and maintenance. There is also a troubleshooting section included for your convenience.  

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