You want to build a sauna in your home and obviously, you want it installed properly and safely. Where should you put a sauna in your home, then?
An indoor sauna may be constructed wherever you have a flat, even surface and enough space. You can add a sauna to a basement, garage, spare closet (seriously!), an attic, a dedicated space you create (like an addition to your home), or really anywhere you have the footage. The type and size of the sauna you want to build will direct your final choice of location.
It might seem like an elaborate undertaking, but building a sauna in your home can actually be a pretty straightforward project that needn’t pose elaborate challenges. Read on for some basic considerations you’ll want to address in the planning stage.
So where is the BEST place for a sauna in a house?
Many people install saunas in their basement, for convenience’s sake – the floor of a basement is typically concrete, and drains have already been installed. There’s often adequate extra space.
It’s also not uncommon to create a dedicated space, such as near or in a bathroom, master bedroom, or pool area, near a pre-existing shower or where one may be installed with relatively little additional plumbing work.
There are a few different concerns you’ll want to pay mind to as you plan your sauna’s installation.
For any type of sauna, you’ll have two basic needs: a flat floor and a 220-240V electrical connection for most stove requirements. The necessary electrical value may vary, so it’s a good idea to check your sauna stove’s manufacturer’s guidelines; figure on at least a 220V connection as a basic rule.
Most manufacturers indicate the electrical specifications and requirements for their sauna stoves, so do check for your particular model, but a general rule of thumb among manufacturers indicates that 220V (220 volts) is standard.
After that, you’ve got plenty of options.
Traditional or infrared: what’s the difference?
Traditional saunas can heat the air to temperatures of 150-220 degrees Fahrenheit. These are the ones with rocks that you douse with water for steam.
An infrared sauna, by comparison, is dry and requires less heat to produce the same sweating; infrared saunas average 140-160 degrees Fahrenheit.
For traditional saunas, you may want a drain in the floor for rinsing, but it isn’t required.
Most people do choose to place a shower nearby, as a quick cool dousing when you come out of the heat is part of the joy of the experience; a sauna just doesn’t seem complete without it!
Is it safe to have a sauna in your house?
Yes! Of course, you’ll want your sauna properly installed.
All wiring and electrical work should be completed by a licensed electrician; that goes without saying for the custom installation of such a luxury item, but a well-built indoor sauna is quite safe.
Your sauna will function as designed and effectively as long as it has what it needs: proper ventilation, enough distance in the placement of the stove away from the floor and walls, and appropriate materials and insulation.
Specific details and instructions on proper construction are outside the scope of this article, so in case of uncertainty in any matter concerning safety, it’s wise to check with your manufacturer (if installing from a kit) or a professional with sauna experience.
Do home saunas use a lot of electricity?
Home saunas do not use much electricity at all. The average cost for running an indoor electrical (or infrared) sauna several times a week for an hour or two at a time typically works out to about $25-$30 USD per month.
Want a breakdown?
Consider first the size of the stove; an average electric sauna stove will need about 6000 watts per hour to run. This means that you’ll use 6 kWh (6-kilowatt hours) of electricity to run your sauna for one hour. (1-kilowatt hour, or kWh, is equal to 1000 watts (W). (1kwh=1000W/hour).
Multiply the number of watts your stove will need to run for an hour by the cost of your power company’s charge for 1 kWh, and this is your cost for running the sauna for one hour. In the US, the average cost of a kilowatt-hour is about $.11 — eleven cents.
If you run the sauna daily for one hour, you’ll be using 6000 watts to heat it, because the size of your stove is 6000 watts. That’s .66 – sixty-six cents. So, less than a dollar an hour to heat the sauna.
Now, work it out — one hour a day for a month = 30 hours. Multiply the 30 hours you’ll spend in the sauna by the cost of each hour’s electricity, and you get 30 x (.66) = $19.80 – less than $20 a month for one hour of daily use.
You can extrapolate from there according to the use to which your family is likely to put your sauna.
The best place to put a traditional sauna in your house
A traditional sauna gets quite hot; given the nature of this localized high temperature, is there an optimal placement for an indoor sauna? Does it need to be somewhere cooler inside the house, such as a basement or against an exterior wall?
Nope. It just depends on how much work you want to do.
If you have an appropriate floor surface already with a drain ready to use and you want as easy an installation as possible, then the best place to build would obviously be where no new construction for a surface is necessary.
On the other hand, other factors may influence your optimal location, such as the size of the sauna you’re looking to build.
If the area where you already have an appropriate floor and drain is only 6’ x 6’, and you want at least an 8’ x 8’ sauna, and you want to use that area, how much work are you willing to put into expanding the floor? And will you need to add an appropriate electrical connection — is one readily available there?
You’ll also need to consider ventilation and insulation, both of which will be important to maintaining a room capable of maintaining and holding high-temperature air, and venting hot air and steam (details on construction will be specific to your model and manufacturer, so start there).
Building your own sauna, whether installing from a kit or starting from scratch, does require that you fulfill specific requirements to keep it functioning optimally.
Can you put a TRADITIONAL sauna in the garage?
Yes, you can build a traditional sauna in your garage. Just keep in mind that in colder months, it may take longer for a sauna to heat up fully in a colder or uninsulated location, such as an unheated room or a garage.
The best place to put an infrared sauna in your house
As with a traditional sauna, most of the considerations for placement of an infrared sauna are concerned with logistics – an electrical connection of appropriate voltage and space enough for the size you’re after…
Can you put an INFRARED sauna in the garage?
The short answer is: probably! In the case of infrared saunas’, materials and manufacturers can vary. It is best to check with the manufacturer of the brand and model you’re considering.
Most reputable manufacturers have dedicated departments to help clients choose the most appropriate model for their needs.
Again, saunas in unheated rooms during cold weather, such as during the winter months in a colder climate, will take longer to heat up. Although the insulation of the room you’re placing the sauna in can mitigate heating time, keep in mind that outdoor infrared saunas will lose heat more easily in an area that is subjected to overall lower temperatures.
Consult with the manufacturer for specifics as they apply to your situation.
Humidity is not a concern with infrared heating, as there’s no steaming involved. There are no rocks as there are atop the stove in a traditional sauna, as the heating process is completely different (see above).
Overall, we’ve found the placement of some higher-end infrared saunas to be specifically made with the convenience of installation in mind. (Some may even be placed on carpeting).
There are few restrictions on where your home sauna can go; they’re safe and have few real requirements aside from the electrical hookup. It’s pretty much up to where you want it to go, whether you want a shower nearby, and you want in terms of size.