Sauna bathing in the Scandinavian style is an activity that’s centuries old, and it’s really only relatively recently that electric sauna heaters have come onto the scene. Often we wonder if some venting specifications that we see really apply more to the old style wood fired saunas.
Aside from the case of a public sauna, which can be filled with hundreds of smelly bodies every day, there is no need for “fresh air” in the sauna, and at Almost Heaven we sincerely now believe that venting in a small residential sauna simply is never really required.
The purpose of venting in a residential sauna is not to provide fresh air, as many people would expect. The venting can be useful for getting the heat from the heater to the far corner of the sauna, but in a small sauna, the far corner isn’t very far away.
Proper usage of the vents is therefore often contrary to what most people would surmise. You would start your sauna with the outlet vent open, and close the vent once the sauna reached full temperature, much like starting your car on a hot day and leaving the windows cracked a bit at first so the air conditioner can displace the hot air in the car.
As long as you design your venting according to the proper specification, the only advantage will be the ability to heat the sauna about five minutes more quickly. Keep in mind, though, that the Tylo sauna heater is already heating the sauna in half the time of other brands of sauna heaters anyway, so the gain is less than you might think.
Most important, if you violate some of the basic tenets regarding venting, you could actually make things worse. Our favorite adage on the matter is that “bad venting is much worse than no venting at all”.
The basic rules for venting state that the inlet vent should be below the heater and the outlet vent as far as possible from that, in an opposing wall or corner, either in the ceiling or high up in the wall. Also, most important, both inlet and outlet vent must open into the same room or space. You cannot go through a wall and into another room with one of your vents.
You’re far better off omitting the vents completely, if it would otherwise mean violating one of the above rules, and since the inlet vent must always be under the heater and the outlet vent as far from this as possible, whether or not you vent your sauna can affect the overall layout of the sauna by virtue of the position of the heater.
You’ll find many opinions on the subject of sauna venting, but after nearly 30 years in the sauna industry we’re convinced it’s unnecessary in residential sauna applications.