Infrared Sauna Comparison

Published: 23rd May 2008
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Are you looking to buy an infrared sauna? Well there are many significant differences in infrared saunas today. There are some made in the USA, some in Canada, and most are made in Asia. There are several types of heaters and many different kinds of woods. Then you can also choose from different options such as colored LED lights or even a DVD player!





The first consideration you might have is how much is this going to cost me and how can you get the best deal for your money? Well, just like anything else, you pretty much get what you pay for. Since saunas range in price from around $1,000 to $5,000. Probably a $1,000 sauna is going to have cheap heaters, cheap controls, and made out of a very inexpensive wood. Since a sauna can be a once in a lifetime purchase, it behooves you to do a little homework and not just buy the cheapest sauna out there.





Otherwise you probably end up buying another one in a few years and then you really wouldn't have saved any money anyway.





The first consideration you want to make is - Are you buying from a reputable company? Are they a dealer or distributor or are they a factory? If they are a dealer, are they selling different brands of saunas or do they specialize in just one? Is the dealer going to be in contact with the factory for years to come if you have a customer service issue? Is the factory local or somewhere overseas? If they need to ship you a new part what is the shipping costs? These are all questions you need to ask yourself before even looking at different styles of saunas.





What good is a pretty sauna if it doesn't work and there is no way to get it fixed? It will just end up being a storage closet or worse, taking up space in your garage.





The next consideration is what kind of heater is the right heater. They all claim that they are the best, but how do you really know? The different choices are: ceramic, incoloy rods, incoloy rods with aluminum and ceramic coating, and the new one, carbon heaters. To really understand the differences in heaters, you need to understand the history of the technology and how it has advanced over the years. For several decades since the early '70's, infrared heat lamps have been used by doctors and physical therapists to treat muscle injuries. You might have seen one or maybe you even own a handheld device with massage and a little red lamp that is an infrared heater. These devices were used e they are a direct heat. After a few minutes the skin overheats and that device has to be removed. The heat is a near wave or short wave of infrared and that is why it overheats the skin. Shortly after this device was developed, researchers in Japan found that if you used the long wave or far wave of infrared, this would actually penetrate the body and give a deeper therapeutic heat. Also they found if they used it in a sauna, it would be a much better heat to use for detoxing because of the penetration qualities. This technology came in the form of a single incoloy metal rod heater that was tuned to the far infrared wavelength. Then came the first production of infrared saunas. These heaters were placed in various types of cabinets and sold throughout Japan. The first American made infrared saunas used the same technology. The actual saunas were made here in the USA but the heaters themselves still came fro Japan and Korea since there is no US manufacturer of the far-wave infrared heater made strictly for sauna use. Since then, these metal rod or incoloy heaters have been enhanced and made larger by configuring them in different shapes like the M-Shaped heater which has a larger surface area. These heaters tend to be about 22-33 inches in length and from one to 4 or 5 inches in width. Since this technology was the original and it worked well, the only way to make it even better was to make it larger. Since then, one manufacturer has found a way to spread the heat in a more uniform manner by adding more surface area and a higher emissitivity by coating the incoloy rod with an aluminum coating and a thin layer of ceramic over the aluminum. These heaters are quite large in that they are 33 x 5 inches and really can pump out the far wave of infrared. There have been two other types of heaters installed in infrared saunas; one is a small ceramic heater that is shaped in a convex or concave shape. These heaters were introduced in the infrared sauna market in the early '90's. They were not the original technology that was developed in Japan but simply regular infrared heaters that are designed to use in factories for heating up various objects used in manufacturing. They come in a standard size, and factories have to configure the actual heater cases or holders to their specifications. They are used for shrink wrap machines, paint drying, plastic melting, and many other heating requirements used in factories. Many Infrared sauna manufacturers started to spring up about this time, in Asia and America and even Canada, and since they couldn't get a hold of the original Japanese technology, this was the next best thing. Many companies try to pass these heaters as being the "best" and "purest" but it is simply not the real "thing." If these heaters were the "real" sauna heaters, why are they not "sized" for people? The ceramic heaters have one standard size and that is standard in the manufacturing industry not the sauna industry. Then there is carbon heaters. This is the newest technology used in the infrared sauna industry today. These came out around the year 2000. This technology is not really new but rather an old technology that has been used for many years to heat up waterbeds. Waterbeds are "out" now and the heater manufacturers needed to find a way to sell their product. "Alas! The new infrared sauna heater. Although carbon heaters are not very pleasing to the eye, infrared sauna manufacturers that are using this technology, are claiming this is the way to go because these heaters are the biggest available. The problem is though; real far infrared heat comes from a low temperature heater. But the heater has to be powerful enough to emit a lot of this low temperature heat. If the heater can't do this, than you simply can't get enough heat





To make you sweat. Since these heaters were not designed for people or saunas either, they are really not powerful enough. They are powerful enough to heat up a waterbed to a low temperature. They are also made out of thin layers of fabric, which are not very expensive to make, therefore saving the sauna manufacturer money. These really are not cost effective for you as a consumer. Again, you get what you pay for.





Now there is the question of wood. Do you have a preference or are you not really sure? The prettiest and most expensive sauna wood is the Western Red Canadian Cedar. There are a few manufacturers using this wood. It is quite expensive, and some manufacturers will only use this wood on the outside of the sauna and not the inside to save money. Some will use it on the inside and not the outside. Cedar is a really beautiful wood and comes with a nice aromatic quality so it is really great to have it on the outside and the inside. Western red Canadian cedar has very few knots and a variety of light and dark combinations. One thing to look out for in the construction of your sauna is, does the grain match or is a hodge podge design. Is it veneer or solid? Is it tongue and groove construction? Does the wood have knots or is it clear? Another popular wood is poplar in that is hypoallergenic. Some chemically sensitive people, or people with allergies tend to need this type of wood. Poplar is the best wood in this case. Poplar can be a variety of shades, and sometimes even a greenish color. The best poplar is in the heartwood which gives it a nice light colored tint of beige. Another wood used in saunas is redwood, which isn't known for its beauty, but for its durability outdoors. Cheaper woods are hemlock, spruce, bass, and pine. These woods are do not have any significant qualities - sauna manufacturers use them to keep costs down.





The last consideration when purchasing a sauna is, how long is the warranty? What does it cover? Usually all infrared sauna manufactures will cover the infrared heaters for at least five years, but some will offer a lifetime warranty. Infrared heaters generally have a long life span, so this isn't really hard for the factory to offer. What you really need is l warranty for is the wiring. Just like anything else, when the wiring goes out, it really is pretty much a useless product. Some companies offer a lifetime warranty on the wiring. Make sure you are dealing with a reputable local company - or your warranty could be useless. Some sites for American made infrared saunas are http://www.cedrussauna.com and www.far-infraredsauna.com





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