The infrared saunas use a “space heater” style heater. These heaters radiate heat as a space heater would, by warming the part of the body facing the heater. This means that the side of the body not facing the heater stays cold. As if this is some sort of an advantage, most infrared sauna proponents freely admit that their heaters don’t heat the air inside the sauna, meaning the area enclosed in the sauna never reaches genuine sauna bathing temperatures.
A true Scandinavian style sauna heater works by heating the entire volume of air inside the sauna. These heaters are generally electrically powered, though a few “die-hard” sauna aficionados wouldn’t consider it a true sauna unless they were using a wood fired sauna heater. Both of these traditional styles of heaters work the same way, by heating not only the air inside the sauna but also heating a container of sauna rocks.
This design, unique to a traditional Scandinavian sauna heater, allows the bather to sprinkle water onto the hot rocks, creating steam and raising the humidity from under 5% to somewhere around 10% or 15%. The application of water onto the stones, which is known as the Finnish tradition of “löyly”, drastically changes the environment of a sauna, and is simply something you’re not going to be able to enjoy in an infrared sauna.
Some of the advocates of infrared saunas cite a quicker heat up time as a reason to buy infrared heaters rather than traditional heaters. That’s an easy enough claim to validate, when your operating temperature is the 120 F achieved by the infrared sauna heater, as opposed to the 190 F typical of a Scandinavian style sauna heater. Moreover, Tylo Sauna Heaters have patented double side vent technology which allows them a heat up time that is the same as, if not less than, these infrared heaters, despite the much higher temperature achieved.