How Long Does a Sauna Take To Heat Up? (Dry, Infrared, Electric, Wood)

While some people like to heat up along with their sauna, others like for their sauna to fully heat up before they enter. Are you anxious to get in your sauna right away?

Electric, infrared, and wood-burning saunas take different amounts of time to heat up based on type, size, insulation, heat source, wattage, outside temperature, and more. Infrared saunas are fastest at as little as 10 minutes, while wood-burning saunas can take the longest to heat up at 30-60 minutes. You can preheat your sauna or warm up with it.

Keep reading for an all-in-one guide to heating up saunas!

How long do saunas take to heat up?

It’s important to know how long it takes your sauna to heat up so you can get in at the right time. 

Electric saunas take 30-45 minutes to heat up, wood-burning saunas take 30-60 minutes to heat up, and infrared saunas take 10-15 minutes to heat up. Many variables (like size, insulation, and heat source) affect how fast your sauna heats up. Some people like to enter the sauna as it’s heating up, while others like to wait for it to be fully heated. 

Here are some variables that affect how quickly your sauna will heat up:

  • Infrared saunas with carbon heaters heat up more quickly than ceramic heaters.
  • Continuously fired wood stoves heat up more quickly than single-fired wood stoves.
  • If you have better insulation, your sauna will heat up more quickly.
  • The wattage of your heater greatly impacts how quickly your sauna heats up.
  • A larger sauna takes more time to heat up if you don’t have a properly sized heater.
  • Outdoor saunas in cold temperatures take longer to heat up.

Traditional dry sauna

If you have a sauna in your backyard, it’s likely a traditional dry sauna. They’re the most popular kind of sauna, after all!

Traditional dry saunas are either electric or wood-burning. Electric dry saunas take around 30 to 45 minutes to heat up, while wood-burning dry saunas take around 30 to 60 minutes to heat up. Continuously fired wood-fired stoves heat up faster than single-fired wood stoves.

Factors include the size of your sauna, how well insulated it is, what kind of dry sauna it is, and whether you live somewhere cold.

Dry saunas help you detox heavy metals by sweating them out, increase blood flow (which helps sore muscles and skin), lower cortisol levels, and more.

Electric

Electric heaters are a modern invention and have changed the game for sauna users worldwide.

An electric sauna will take 30 to 45 minutes to heat up. Experiment to see how long your individual sauna takes to heat up. Turn it on that amount of time before you want to use it. While it heats up you can get ready for your session. Some people like to sit in the sauna while it heats up.

Electric heaters are the most popular kind of heater.

Wood-burning

Wood-burning saunas are the most classic kind of sauna and are popular in summer cottages. 

Laws surrounding wood-burning saunas differ around the world. For example, Finland is more lenient while Germany is very strict.

A wood-burning sauna will take 30 to 60 minutes to heat up, depending on the size of it. Experiment to see how long it takes your individual sauna to heat up, and start it up that amount of time before you want to use it. While it heats up you can get ready for your session. Some people like to sit in the sauna while it heats up.

Warming up wood-burning saunas takes about 100kg of energy to heat the stones up to 212°F. 

There is such a thing as a single-fired wood stove, in which the stove has to get heated as high as 932°F to glow red and get rid of burning residue that would otherwise enter the air of the sauna when you pour water on the stove. 

The sauna air doesn’t warm up very much with this kind of stove, and it’s very smoky and can be dangerous!

Continuously fired wood-fired stoves are more common, where a fire chamber separates the stones from the flames and exhaust heat. This kind of wood-burning sauna heats up more quickly, despite the stones being at a lower temperature.

Infrared

Infrared saunas are a new favorite among many sauna fanatics. From infrared sauna blankets to portable infrared saunas, there’s something for everyone!

An infrared sauna will take between 10 and 15 minutes to heat up. Carbon heaters heat up faster than ceramic. Experiment to see how long it takes your individual sauna to heat up, and start it up that amount of time before you want to use it. While it heats up you can get ready for your session. Some people like to sit in the sauna as it heats up.

There are two kinds of infrared heaters: carbon and ceramic

Carbon heaters are the newer technology that come with many benefits. They have a more even heat distribution so don’t have “cold spots,” and therefore don’t need to run as hot. Because of this, they heat up much more quickly.

Carbon heaters have 10-20x the lifespan of ceramic heaters as well!

Do you have to preheat a sauna?

If you’re eager to get into your sauna as soon as possible, you’re in luck.

You don’t have to preheat a sauna. You can hop in as soon as you turn it on. However, you may work up less of a sweat if you do this. This is because you still have to follow safety precautions when you jump in early, and since the sauna won’t be as hot, you won’t reap as many benefits.

Some people like how it feels to warm up along with the sauna. It’s a matter of preference. 

But when you jump in early, you still need to follow safety precautions, monitor how you’re feeling, stay hydrated, and stick to the recommended time limits.

How can you heat your sauna faster?

You just need to get in your sauna. You can’t wait any longer! Let’s talk about speeding up the process.

You can heat your sauna faster by getting the right sized heater, getting better insulation, using an inside feed, using the right sauna stones, and using the right wood for fuel.

To get the right sized heater, consider: 

  • Location – If you have an outside sauna and it’s cold where you live, increase the size of your heater.
  • Size – You need 1 KW of power for each 45 cubic feet.
  • Insulation – For each square meter of a wall with no insulation, increase the projected size of your sauna by about 40 cubic feet.

Get insulation that has a foil vapor barrier to keep water vapor from accumulating in the insulation, and to reflect heat back into your sauna. Find insulation with a high R-value and don’t forget to insulate the ceiling!

Outside feeds can cause your sauna to lose up to 25% of its heat and an inside feed requires less cleanup.

Your sauna stones should be soapstone, jade, basalt, grabo, or granite. Rough textures hold water longer than smooth textures, whereas small stones won’t hold heat but large stones take longer to absorb heat.

Hardwoods, while more expensive, are best for fuel. Softwoods are best for starting your fire. Don’t use wood that is stained or painted, avoid trees with sap, avoid knots, and only use seasoned wood.

What is the ideal sauna temperature?

Each kind of sauna has a different ideal temperature.

Hotter isn’t always better because you can reach the same health benefits at a lower temperature. Underlying health conditions may inhibit higher temperatures, and it’s best to start lower as a beginner. Here are the ideal temperatures for each sauna type are:

  • Traditional dry saunas – 150-175°F
  • Infrared saunas – 120-130°F
  • Steam rooms – 110-115°F

These ideal temperatures are based on which temperatures provide the most health benefits while still being comfortable. 

You need the sauna to be hot enough to induce sweat in order to detox, while a lower temperature might not be enough to sweat but will still relax you.

Traditional dry sauna

What is the ideal temperature for traditional dry saunas?

The ideal temperature for traditional dry saunas – whether gas, electric, or wood – is between 150 and 175°F, although they can reach 194°F.

In other parts of the world, saunas can reach as high as 220°F, but in the USA and Canada the max is 194°F. 

The ideal temperature of your sauna depends on both your health and how much heat feels comfortable to you. If you have health conditions like cardiovascular disease or problems with your blood pressure, you should consult a physician before using a sauna.

 When you first start out, try a lower temperature. As you get used to this temperature, you can slowly increase it.

Infrared saunas

Infrared saunas run a little cooler than traditional dry saunas.

The ideal temperature for infrared saunas is between 120 and 130°F, although they can reach 150°F.

Infrared saunas are great for people who feel more comfortable in a less-hot environment but still want the benefits of a sauna.

Although they can reach up to 150°F, using them at this temperature can cause dehydration, heatstroke, and more- especially if it’s your first go around. Gradually increase the temperature from the low end as you learn how your body responds.

You can stay inside your infrared sauna for 15-30 minutes, but shoot for 5-10 at a lower temperature when you’re first starting out.

Steam rooms

Due to perceived heat, steam rooms need to be at a lower temperature than any other kind of sauna.

The ideal temperature for steam rooms is between 110 and 115°F, although they can reach 120°F.

Many people prefer steam rooms because they have added benefits such as improved congestion, aiding skin health, and increased blood circulation.

Steam rooms date back to the ancient Greeks and Romans who used them to socialize, as well as gain health benefits.

Steam rooms have a humidity of 100%, which increases the perceived temperature. So although they are technically less hot than a traditional sauna, they may feel just as hot.

Sauna not heating up at all?

If your sauna isn’t heating up at all, there are a few things that might be wrong.

The most common reasons that saunas don’t heat up at all is not letting it heat up long enough, if there’s something wrong with the power source, if the thermostat isn’t functioning correctly, or if the heating element is damaged.

Let’s talk about some troubleshooting!

  • If you don’t think your sauna is getting power, check the GFCI outlet, fuse, and breaker box. 
  • To see if your thermostat is in working order, check if the thermostat changes when you adjust the temperature on your sauna. You can also compare if the temperature on an internal thermometer matches the thermostat.
  • In a traditional sauna, there are many heating elements that should glow red when working correctly. If none are red, the sauna may be wired incorrectly. If only a few aren’t red, they’ve probably burned out. If the pilot light is on but there’s no heat, you might have tripped the sauna high limit.