Electric sauna heaters are becoming the more prominent choice for peoples’ home saunas as home saunas continue to rise in popularity. Compared to their counterparts, the wood burning heater and infrared heater, electric heaters remain the cheapest, simplest and easiest to use which is why it is no surprise that they are taking over. We are going to take you through what makes a quality sauna heater and our take on the best electric sauna heater.
How Do Electric Sauna Heaters Work?
For those who are new to the sauna world – maybe you’re just considering getting a sauna for your home – I’ll briefly go over how electric sauna heaters work and how they are different than their counterparts.
Electric heaters typically have some type of heating element arrangement on the bottom half of the unit of which heat up the sauna stones on the upper portion. The stones create a more efficient use of the heat produced by the heating element due to retention.
Some electric heaters are what are called wet heater, which means that water can be poured on the sauna stones and this creates steam which increases the humidity in the sauna.
All electric heaters that we’ve come across run off of 220-240V power supply, so rather than the typical 120V wall receptacle, it requires a different type of receptacle in North America. You may be familiar with 220-240V receptacles if you have installed a dryer or oven. Check the difference below!
What to Look for
Like any purchasing decision, there are a multitude of manufacturers, models, sizes etc. to choose from. I’ll first break down some criteria that you may want to consider when choosing the best electric heater for your home sauna, then I’ll get into some of my top picks.
Does Size Matter?
Ah, a question as old as time. In the context of saunas and sauna heaters, yes size does matter.
A couple things to consider when choosing which size is best. The most obvious one is the size of the sauna it is trying to heat. This refers to the volume or cubic dimensions of the sauna.
Some forms of sauna, like the economical barrel sauna, are designed in a way that minimizes the volume/space that needs to be heated up while maintaining the same usable space. This means a smaller heater/less electricity is necessary for it to get up to the desired heat and stay there while maintaining the some level of comfortability inside the sauna.
The more traditional cabin-style saunas are a little bit less efficient, aka more space being heated up than necessary. Because they usually have more cubic feet (or cubic meters), this requires a more powerful/larger heater.
In the end, the size and design of your sauna will dictate the size of heater (kilowatt (kw)) you choose. Most brands make heaters between 2-9kw. Here are some rough room size compatibilities:
2kw: 75-100 cubic feet
4kw: 100-150 cubic feet
6kw: 175- 300 cubic feet
8/9kw: 200-450+ cubic feet
Usually one of the more important criteria in any buying decision.
Sauna heaters can range anywhere from $150-$1,500+, which is obviously a very large range and creates a lot of questions. The wide range of cost provides a wide range of different features, reliability and overall quality.
The Best Electric Sauna Heater
We’ve broken our selections up into 3 different sections. Best Overall is just what we believe to be the best electric heater on the market. Runner Up is a close second place. Most Economical is for those looking to be as frugal as possible while still getting top tier quality. Here are our recommendations for the best electric sauna heater:
Best Overall: Finlandia FLB-80
Finlandia, as the name implies, is a manufacturer out of Finland. Finlandia delivers everything you could possibly need in a sauna heater with this particular model. They have clearly brought forth the generations of knowledge and Finnish sauna heritage to the table with this refined model.
This unit comes with stainless steel heating elements and interior allowing for both wet and dry usage, while also giving you the option to choose from a variety of stylish finishes. The two most common are the stainless steel and burgundy.
This model features internal controls which means that you control the temperature and time via dials on the actual unit (see pictures below). The opposite being externally controlled, located on the outside of the sauna, usually mounted next to the door. Many prefer the internal controls because you can adjust the settings without stepping outside the sauna and letting heat out.
A unique feature that Finlandia has pioneered is the preset feature. This means you can preset the sauna to start heating up in a 1-8 timeframe. This is super useful when you don’t want to wait around for it to heat up. You can preset it before a workout so that its ready to go after, or even set it before you go to work so that its ready for when you get home.
This feature is something that seems small but really adds a lot of value and saves a ton of time for users.
Like all purchases from Finlandia, they throw in a complimentary bag of sauna stones with the heater.
Earlier we talked about the different sizes (kw) of heaters, this model comes in a FLB-80 (8kw) and FLB-60 (6kw) which are pretty much suited for any size of sauna.
The FLB-80 comes in at $1,005.00, which is slightly on the premium side of the spectrum, but still a discount when considering the features and quality that they deliver.
- Maximum Temperature: 220°F
- Unit Dimensions: 16″ x 11″ x 24″
- Room Size Compatibility: 425+ cubic feet
Runner up: Coasts AM60
A very close second on our list of best electric sauna heaters is undoubtedly the Coast AM series, which – like the Finlandia FLB series – comes in different sizes ranging from 4.5kw-9kw, making it suitable for all sauna sizes and also comes in 2 colour-ways: navy blue and stainless steel.
If you’re looking for a slick design that will be a nice compliment to your home sauna, Coasts is here to deliver with top quality materials. The galvanized steel used inside and out means that this unit is rust, corrosion and deformation resistant.
Like the preset feature that Finlandia has integrated on their line, Coasts also integrated a unique competitive advantage: their remote controller.
This remote functions anywhere in the sauna and displays time, temperature, fan switch and also has a light. As we mentioned earlier, people really seem to love the internal controls so that they don’t have to exit the sauna to make any adjustments; well this is even better, you don’t even have to get up at all!
Another massive benefit this unit provides is the price, less than half of what the Finlandia goes for (for the same size). Crazy what Coasts was able to squeeze into these units for the price.
- Maximum Temperature: 220°F
- Unit Dimensions: 17″ x 12″ x 28″
- Room Size Compatibility: 400+ cubic feet
Most Economical: VEVOR 9kw
Now we know that purchasing and installing a home sauna really starts to take a hit on your bank account, this is why we wanted to include this section which is “how can I get basically the same experience or performance for a fraction of the cost?”. This is where VEVOR really steps up.
This line of heaters comes in all sizes, from 2kw-9kw and ranging from $136.99 for the 2kw model and only $212.99 for the 9kw model; less than a quarter of the Finlandia model.
Of course, this decrease in price comes with a decrease of user experience and quality. However, that doesn’t mean they use materials from the street to put these things together.
Most notably, their heating element consists of 316 stainless steel coils which is known for its thermal conductivity – meaning it heats up fast and is very efficient at maintaining heat. This also means it takes less electricity to run. So to conclude, the VEVOR is one of the cheapest to buy and cheapest to run.
VEVOR has done a great job for people looking to install their home sauna on a budget.
- Maximum Temperature: 195°F
- Unit Dimensions: 15.7″ x 9″ x 22″
- Room Size Compatibility: ~315 cubic feet
At the end of the day, these three brands are industry leaders when it comes to home saunas and your choice will really just reflect how much you want to pay and could all be considered the best electric sauna heater on the market, depending on your preferences. The Finlandia line comes in a little more expensive but you really do reap all the benefits that come with the price.
However if you’re just looking for a unit that does the job and you aren’t looking for any fancy add-ons, VEVOR is a great choice.
If you’re maybe somewhere in between, you want to be financially conscious, while also looking for superb quality, Coasts is your best bet!.