Infrared Sauna Heaters vs. Traditional Scandinavian Style Sauna Heaters

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.

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Are Infrared Saunas Dangerous?

Posted May 6th, 2010 by admin and filed in Saunas

Mostly all of the infrared saunas on the market today are made in the PRC (China) with substandard construction, and improper wiring. Some infrared sauna manufacturers have had to recall their saunas due to fire hazards caused by faulty heating units and fuses. The Office of the Fire Marshall in Ontario also issued a warning concerning the safety of infrared saunas.

So-called “infrared” sauna heaters are sometimes compared to the electric space heaters many people use in their homes. To be fair, it is unlikely that sitting in a well made infrared sauna is any more dangerous than sitting in front of a space heater, though if you’re looking for a true Scandinavian sauna experience you’re not going to be able to achieve that environment using an infrared sauna.

We can’t be sure about the materials in these saunas, either. The deadly drywall recently exported by China is a perfect case in point, so it’s entirely possible that the varnishes, glues, and other materials used in these saunas might be toxic. It would not surprise us at all.

This is in direct contrast to mostly all of the traditional Scandinavian style saunas, which are made either here in the United States or in Europe, conform to the rules and regulations set forth by the U.S. government or the EU, and for which safety and efficacy have been clearly proven and evident for centuries.

Do your research before buying a sauna of any kind. Always check the country of origin and make sure you know exactly what you’re purchasing with your hard earned money.

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The Difference Between Saunas and Steam Rooms

While many people use the terms “sauna” and “steam room” interchangeably, they are actually two different types of enclosures with two completely different environments.

A steam room, sometimes called a steam shower, is not a sauna. A sauna is constructed from porous material (usually high grade cedar), while a steam room is constructed of something completely nonporous, such as plastic, tile or glass.

Steam rooms use steam generators, which directly heat the water, filling the enclosure with clouds of condensed water vapor. In an environment such as this, the humidity exceeds 100 percent, and the temperature is typically in the range of 115 to 120 F.

In contrast, a sauna heater heats the air in an enclosure, with humidity levels as low as 2 or 3 percent and temperatures as high as 190 F (at least within 6″ of the ceiling). These heaters also heat a compartment of sauna stones onto which water can be poured to create a “wet” sauna experience. Even in this type of environment, however, the humidity is still only at 10 to 15 percent.

The difference between a sauna and steam room is a matter of preference. Both are relaxing, and surprisingly enough, both have the very same well documented health benefits.

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Commercial Steam Generators VS Residential Steam Generators

There are basically two types of steam generator designs – those that employ a pressurized boiler system and are suitable for the constant duty of a commercial application, and those that simply produce steam on an open line under no pressure (also known as “low pressure”) and are mostly for residential use.

Residential generators may cost less than commercial ones at the start, but given the fact that they constantly require repair after just a couple/few years of use in a commercial setting, in the long run they cost more than a pressurized boiler system in parts, service, and especially downtime.

If you think about the way these generators operate, the reason for the difference should become more apparent. On steam generators that make steam on an open line, each time the thermostat calls for steam, the entire circuit is powered, and each time the steam room reaches the desired temperature the entire circuit is shut down. In such a manner, the main circuit and all of its internal switches likely operate dozens of times per hour.

In a pressurized, commercial grade boiler system, constant steam is maintained under pressure in the steam tank. The thermostat simply operates a solenoid valve on the steam line, opening and closing as needed. The main power circuit only operates to maintain the required pressure in the tank – only a fraction of the number of times that the main circuit is switched in a residential steam generator.

Another side benefit of the commercial system is that the steam is always “on demand” right behind that steam solenoid valve, ready to flow instantly.

Many companies make only non-pressurized generators and claim that they’re suitable for use under constant duty. From our parts sales and nearly three decades in this business, we’ve seen the proof countless times that this is simply not true. To view our full line of both Mr. Steam and Tylo steam generators please visit the Steam Generators page on our parent site (http://www.almostheaven.net/aho/steamgen.htm).

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Welcome to Almost Heaven Group’s blog!

Posted April 1st, 2010 by admin and filed in Hot Tubs and Spas, Saunas, Steam Rooms

On this blog you’ll find helpful information about saunas, steam rooms, hot tubs, and all related accessories and components.  If you have an idea for a blog post you’d like to see here, please feel free to shoot us an e-mail at blog@almostheaven.net

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