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The Far Infrared Sauna Guru: Free Advice for First Time Buyers

Updated on December 26, 2011

Carbon Baked Heating Systems

100% Cedar,Hemlock or Basswood. Never plywood fillers in the walls
100% Cedar,Hemlock or Basswood. Never plywood fillers in the walls
Total Surround Heat for every part of the body
Total Surround Heat for every part of the body
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Beautiful craftsmanship
AM/FM/CD sound system
AM/FM/CD sound system

Tips for Far Infrared Sauna Buyers

NOTE: Before I begin, let me state very clearly that this information is for reference only. Many factors can change from the time you read this article, to the time you install a unit so please, always do your homework first before you spend any money on any big ticket item.

Far Infrared Saunas have been gaining popularity over the last 5 years as the public is becoming more aware of their amazing healing benefits but there is so much competition out there now and everyone is saying that theirs is the best so I'm going to share some information with you to help you decide which units are the best for you.

For any of you reading this article and don't quite know what infrared heat is, it's the light given off by the sun that brings life to every living creature on earth, in the form of heat.

Simply put, the Infrared waves in a sauna penetrate the body right down to the molecular level, which vibrates all of the chemicals and toxins out of molecules in your body and allows it to get rid of those toxic poisons through your normal bodily functions ex. sweating, urination, etc.

The reason why I bought a Far Infrared Sauna in the first place was because many years ago, before I installed my first unit, my job put me on the road a lot.

I was eating poorly and not resting properly plus the fact that we were completely renovating our home at the time, didn't help my stress level any. I'm a stage 2 diabetic which means my blood sugar level is dictated by my diet.

When I went to my doctor, my blood sugar was dangerously high from my poor eating habits, my overweight which lead to my blood pressure was through the roof. My doctor said if I didn't change my lifestyle, I'd be in a box in a year.

That was all I had to hear to wake me up. I bought the sauna and within 6 weeks I lost 28 pounds, my blood sugar was normal as well as my blood pressure. My doctor was blown away and asked me what i did. I told him I stopped eating junk food and took a sauna for 1/2 hour a day, 5 days a week.

I've been a great fan of them ever since. I can't really see me living without one. It's a part of our lifestyle now.

Enough about me, let's get back to business.

It is not a light that provides the heat in the sauna but either panels in the wall or ceramic coils.

There are many great sauna manufacturers in North America and Europe but some of the best Far Infrared Saunas are made in China, just like 90% of everything else we buy these days.

Another big factor in buying Chinese saunas is the price tag. North American manufacturers just can't compete because of China's low labor wages.

Golden Wave and Josens are two of the best manufacturers in China but they both make high and low end models to suit their North American commercial clients.

On the back of the sauna there should be a square metal plate attached to the wall that shows all the electrical specifications plus the manufactures name. Just make sure they are ETL (Electrical) Certified because if they are not and your house burns down, worst-case scenario, home insurance will not cover it. You shouldn't have that issue at the big box stores but if you are buying one from buddy down the street, keep it in mind.

Unfortunately, for most consumers, you have to buy either a 20 or 40 ft. container load of saunas to deal with China and not too many people need 15 to 30 extra saunas sitting around their house, not to mention getting into Global logistics and International money transactions but if that type of business opportunity interests you, I suggest reading another one of my Hubs called.

Buying from China: Tips for Small Business Owners.

That's how Walmart and just about every other big box store out there makes their fortunes, why not you. Anyway, back to the main subject.

Let's explore the difference in the features and heating systems.

Ceramic Heaters: are an average of 8 to18 inches long ceramic tubes that are heated up through an electrical source, wall outlet, and omit Near (not Far) infrared waves.

There are several reasons why ceramic heaters are not as effective as carbon heaters. The waves do not penetrate the body as deeply or as wide an area on your body as carbon heaters. They can heat up to a very hot temperature which can burn the skin and they are not a constant heat. They warm up, cool down and warm up again which equates to a higher electrical bill because the heaters are working harder.

Carbon Paper Heaters: Better than the ceramic but are manufactured with two carbon panels and carbon paper baked in between them which omits a carbon dust when heating up. Not a very healthy breathing environment while trying to get healthy in a sauna.

Carbon Baked Heating Panels. By far the best you can get. It's Japanese technology that has been around for over 50 years and is the same technology used in hospitals for baby incubators. The Far Infrared waves penetrate the body deeper than the other heating systems which creates a far more effective detoxification. An extremely good sweat.

The heating panels are embedded right into the walls and floors, around 10 to 16 inches in width and 16 to 18 + inches long, to create a total surround heating effect on every part of the body. These systems are more costly than ceramic or carbon paper heaters but if you are buying an Infrared sauna to get healthy, it is by far the best way to go so be prepared to pay $2,000.00 to $4,000.00 minimal for these types of saunas, depending on the size and how many seats

You will not be able to buy these systems for $1000.00 at any big box stores because they are more expensive to manufacture and that's just one reason.

If you are buying a cheap sauna just to save money than I suggest to not even waste your money. I would go into the woods, cut down some wooden poles, get some rocks with some old blankets, search the Internet and build a native sweat lodge in your back yard. It will be a lot cheaper and a lot healthier than wasting $1000.00 at a big box store on one of those so called infrared saunas they offer. Pure garbage

Home Depot, Costco or any other store buy very cheap ceramic or carbon paper saunas that are extremely poorly made and are more of a health issue than an alternative health therapy.

Some of the reasons being is that the cabinetry is not 100% Cedar, Hemlock or Basswood but has plywood fillers in between the walls and everyone knows that plywood is filled with formaldehyde, a cancer causing substance. Imagine breathing that in while sitting in a sauna. No thanks.

You also have to make sure all the electrical running inside the walls of the sauna is coated and ETL certified, electrical standards, so your body is not bombarded with electrical discharges while in the sauna. Also Not Good

Another thing to watch out for is that none of the woodwork is using a petroleum based glue. Again, not a good scene inhaling petroleum fumes while sweating in a sauna.

The biggest bonus when using Carbon Baked Heating Systems is that you can set the temperature you are comfortable with by using the buttons on the control panels and it will stay exactly at that temperature for as long as you like.

If 1/2 hour is your limit at 120 degrees, for example, then you punch in 120 degrees for 30 minutes and you are set. The system will automatically shut off after the 1/2 hour. Your body will naturally climatize as you get use to it which enables you to stay in longer at higher temperatures for an even greater sweat if you prefer. It's all in your control.

They use roughly the same amount of power as a blow dryer and you can also lay your skin right on the heaters without being burned.

One thing I've been hearing a lot about lately is the big misconception regarding Cedar being toxic to humans.

This bunch of crap is being generated by sauna dealers selling the cheaper saunas.There are obviously people out there who are allergic to Cedar just like there are people out there allergic to cats and dogs but that doesn't mean dogs and cats are toxic to every human being. If you are honestly allergic to Cedar, than don't buy a Cedar Sauna but if you are not, then they are the way to go no matter what some sales rep is trying to tell you.

Hemlock, although is perfectly fine for sauna usage, is a cheaper wood and will crack and split under heat which equates to major heat lose over time and if you look closely at the warranty, it says that cracking and splitting in Hemlock Saunas is normal and is not covered under the warranty. A little tidbit the dealers always seem to leave out when selling those saunas. Although they look nice on the showroom floor and a cheaper price, don't be fooled.

Cedar is with out a doubt, the safest and most effective wood product used in Saunas of any type which is why the Europeans and Native Americans have been using Cedar for centuries. Do you think they know something we don't?

Cedar does have toxins but they are for natural protection against nature's viruses and not man made. It is a fact that no bacteria can survive in a Far infrared/Cedar environment and if some sauna dealer is telling you different, then I guarantee they are trying to sell you a cheaper system. Don't fall for it. How would any of us be able to walk around outside if so many people are allergic to Cedar.

I would get such a kick out of so many misinformed people writing me and the first thing out of there mouth is, I'm allergic to Cedar and in the second breath say, we were thinking about buying a Hemlock system. Guess who they were just talking too? I would suggest buying a Hemlock sauna if they wanted one bad enough but only after they should receive all the facts and get them to try out a cedar sauna first.

The majority of our clients have some kind health issues and i know from experience, would only be helped with a Cedar Far Infrared Sauna.

Basswood is slowly gaining popularity because it basically gives off no scent at all but is a more expensive wood than Cedar or Hemlock but they are worth checking out.

Another misconception is the type of heat a Far infrared Sauna omits. A lot of people are familiar with the traditional Finnish Saunas with the heater sitting on the floor or mounted on the wall in the sauna with rocks and a heating elements inside the unit. The most popular complaint with these types of saunas is that the heat is suffocating but nothing could be further from the fact when it comes to infrared heat.

I've heard them describe the infrared heat as wrapping yourself in an electric blanket on a cold day or the sun warming your body on a hot summers day at the beach. It is a very clean heat and not suffocating at all. It is not a heat that effects your outer layer of skin. It's medicinal waves penetrate the body and you sweat from the inside out

Just a few more quick tips when looking for a good Far Infrared Sauna.

Make sure the outside wooden panels are least 7 to 8 MM thick. The thicker the panels, the greater the heat retention, the lower your heating bill

You want a respected brand name AM/FM/CD Stereo in the sauna to listen to some nice music while in their. JVC are used in many. It makes for a great ambiance.

Chroma therapy or therapeutic colored lighting is always a nice touch.

Keep them out of the weather. Never leave an Infrared Sauna exposed to the elements unless it is designed and manufactured just for that purpose.

Warranty: 5 year minimum on all cabinetry, electrical and heaters. You'll be hard pressed to find a supplier that offers over a 1 year warranty on any stereo no matter what the brand name is.

Make sure all glass windows and doors are minimal 1/2 inch thick, tempered and tinted glass.

If the electrical cord on the sauna has a T Plug on the end, you will have to hire an electrician to run a direct, dedicated line from your electrical panel right to your wall outlet where you were planning on plugging in the sauna. Actually, I highly recommend doing that for any sauna just to be safe. It may cost $100.00 or more but well worth the price.

Installation tip: Infrared Saunas come in 5 or 6 maybe 7 sections depending on the size. To begin you have to make sure that the area you are installing the unit has a level floor.

If your floor is not level when you lay your base down, you will have trouble getting the roof on so make sure your floor is perfectly level. It's like building a house, if your foundation is crooked, your walls and roof are going to be a nightmare to install.

I use cedar shingles as shims on cedar saunas to help level the base out before I install the walls. Once that part is done the rest of the sauna snaps together like a small puzzle and then plugs in to your wall outlet. Voila, you are good to go

Your first attempt at assembling your sauna should take you a few hours and you'll need someone to give you a hand, especially when it comes to putting on the top section (roof). A few small step ladders will come in handy here. Just follow the directions step by step and you'll easily work your way through it.

They are also portable if you ever want to move it so assembling it yourself will make it a lot easier to disassemble it for the move.

Well that should be enough info to get you started.

All I can say now is take your time and get informed before you spend your hard earned money. Also shop around for pricing. If you can find a supplier who buys container loads directly from China, their prices will be much lower or more negotiable than buying from a business that is supplied by the importer. Get rid of the middle men right!

Lower prices doesn't mean better quality so don't waste your money on some expensive, heated box

Good Luck


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    • profile image

      imtiaz 3 years ago

      hi i m from dhaka Bangladesh, pls provide ur price list and terms of payments

    • profile image

      Sean Alle 3 years ago

      Has anyone checked I heard they have great saunas but have yet to see any reviews.


    • profile image

      colleen 6 years ago

      do you know what the infrared bags are made out of?

    • profile image

      mimimo 6 years ago

      we can supply far infrared sauna for you ,we are professional for 20years and famous same as Josten or Golden Wave,and know ,more you can view our



    • BayBayz profile image

      BayBayz 6 years ago from Nova Scotia, Canada

      Any place that sells Josten or Golden Wave far infrared Cedar saunas with carbon baked heating panels, not coils and ETL,(electrically certified.Try Googling a dealer in your area

    • BayBayz profile image

      BayBayz 6 years ago from Nova Scotia, Canada

      Keep digging,I don't keep those numbers hanging around

    • profile image

      Retha van Heerden 6 years ago

      I have tried out and find the solo sauna (Metachamer & Metapad) very comfortable. I would like to order directly from GOlden Wave in China but email to them keeps returning. Can you supply me with an email that works? Thanking you in advance

    • profile image

      Valarie 6 years ago

      Guru... where are some places you would recommend buying from

    • BayBayz profile image

      BayBayz 6 years ago from Nova Scotia, Canada

      Laying flat is just for your own comfort but they are usually larger units ex. corner units, which will easily double your cost so unless you were planning on moving into one lol, I would suggest a 2 or 3 person unit.One person units remind me of a phone booth. I'm not a fan of near or mid wave units for many reasons but personally, I want to use a sauna to stay healthy or just a good sweat and nothing else comes close to far infrared. Was it a sales rep selling those units saying that near and mid are beneficial? I mean you will definitely sweat but how deep will the waves penetrate your body to shake all the molecules that hold the toxins in your body so you naturally eleiminate them.That won't happen nearly as effective with a near or mid wavelength units. The size of your space is the major factor when buying saunas. Whether by yourself or with company, you want make sure everyone has full body exposure including feet and legs

    • BayBayz profile image

      BayBayz 6 years ago from Nova Scotia, Canada

      I do not recommend American manufacturers.

      I'm not saying there are not any good ones out there but they cannot compete price wise as the Chinese manufacturers because of their high labor costs

    • BayBayz profile image

      BayBayz 6 years ago from Nova Scotia, Canada

      No, sorry. I don't do that but I suggest going to either the Josens or Golden Wave websites in China and see if they have a list for their North American dealers

    • BayBayz profile image

      BayBayz 6 years ago from Nova Scotia, Canada

      Sorry but I have no experience in the type of saunas you are describing and I can't talk about anything I don't have the facts on.

      Good Luck

    • profile image

      Raymond 6 years ago

      I have read the above with great interest. I want to get a sauna that will give me the max benefit.

      A few questions;it will be normally used by one person at a time. I don't want to feel cramped. Is there any real benefit to being able to lie flat? I did not see anyone mention near mid waves only "far"! I was told that "far" is the most important and that mid and near are also beneficial. Is that BS or does it have merit? Is it the size of the space or the number of occupants that that warrant the number of heaters?

      Any advice on this would be appreciated.

    • profile image

      PAM 6 years ago


    • profile image

      dave 6 years ago

      great article ........... wondering if u have a list of dealers who carry saunas that meet your specs? thx

    • profile image

      Stripe 6 years ago

      Hello Sauna Guru, I enjoyed reading your information, above and have a question about portable saunas that are not wood. I can guess your reply. However wanted to describe the process that this sauna in question uses for their carbon panels to get your opinion on whether they are healthy or not.

      These use carbon paste with epoxy to give structure, and it's painted on and baked. Copper conduits up the side (no wires) make the heat transfer from one side to the other, with the carbon conducting the heat. These panels line two half round tubes that go over the body. These are warranteed by Golden Wave Int. and parts are manufactured partly in China, partly in Kansas, with the carbon from Wisc.

    • profile image

      ROB S 6 years ago


    • BayBayz profile image

      BayBayz 7 years ago from Nova Scotia, Canada

      It is cheaper to live in Canada and buy Canadian wood exported to China then sold back to Canada. I just want to clarify what you said David. Did you mean the wood was imported from Canada or the Sauna. Many Canadians look on line at products sold by American companies thinking that it is a great deal but they do not take into consideration many factors that jack up the price and risk. For example, the exchange rate. Although at this time as I'm writing this comment, our Canadian dollar is trading at about 96 US, which is not bad but we all know that fluctuates everyday. Other factors are shipping from the US to somewhere in the Great White North and in Canada, we have a large geographical area to cover by a trucking company which means higher delivery charges, depending on your area. Taxes, duties, customs fees etc. etc. so by the time you add it all up, that 1900.00 US dollar sauna bought from a US firm that looked like such a great deal and sold in Canada can run you easily $3000.00 - $4,000.00 CDN and hopefully nothing gets damaged in shipping because if it does, now you have a sauna you can't use and if the company that sold you the sauna will not take responsibility for shipping damage, then it is up to the buyer to file an insurance claim against the logistics company that shipped your sauna and then wait anywhere up to 9 months for some kind of a settlement and I guarantee, it will only be for the amount you paid for the sauna, minus all those other expenses I mentioned or the spare parts needed if it can be repaired. Either way, you have to go into buying anything with your eyes wide open. especially if it is imported.

      In my other two articles, Buying from China 1 & 2, I go over many details for anyone interested in the import/ export game. A lot of American companies say it's free shipping to Canada but in reality, very few actually do. They ship your product to the nearest customs warehouse across the border in your area and it's up to the buyer to go pick it up and pay the storage fees and you better have all the documentation and correct amount of money owing. If you leave it there, they will also charge you up to $150.00 a day for storage fees and what if that warehouse is a 10 hour drive one way. What is your time really worth? I don't want to deter anyone from dealing with any foreign company, especially our neighbors to the South. All I am saying is do your homework.

    • profile image

      david 7 years ago

      I ordered a 4 person corner sauna which was made in China. It was red cedar wood, imported from Canada. It was great quality. Overall it was $1895 delivered to my door. Here is the site Its by far the best value I've found so far. The wood was great quality, certainly no warps, etc.

    • BayBayz profile image

      BayBayz 7 years ago from Nova Scotia, Canada

      This comment is in response to Henry's comments.

      It is true that China's workforce is highly underpaid compared to North American standards but to call them sweatshops is not an accurate description because I've seen the quality of their manufacturing facilities first hand and they are second to none. Ultra modern and extremely clean. You also have to know that in a communist country, all of the workers food and lodgings are provided for. If consumers used that factor in their decision to buy a sauna, considering over 90% of the products in every household in North America are made in China, company's like Walmart would be out of business. They spend over 10 Billion dollars a year in products made in China. It's also the reason why countries like China and India are becoming economic powerhouses and taking all of the North American manufacturing jobs. I blame the unions for that but that is another debate.

      To also say that the best Infrared Saunas are made in North America is also inaccurate. I've seen many saunas made in North America and as China, there are some goods ones and bad ones but as you stated, North Americans cannot compete in pricing because of the price of labor here.

      Finding the right heating panels for an infrared Sauna is key and ceramic is not the way to go. Very inefficient in comparison to the carbon baked panels but you have to take a lot more into consideration when looking at saunas. For example, are all of the electrical wiring coated to ETL North American electrical standards. You don't want to be bombabred with electrical currents when taking a sauna. Just look on the back of the sauna for inspection tags.

      Is the sauna 100% wood, is another key factor. Cedar, Hemlock, Basswood. Many of the cheaper saunas that Henry says you can buy for $1000 to $1400.00 have plywood fillers in between the walls which are loaded with formaldehyde and give off toxic cancer causing fumes when heated. Warped wood slats Henry. Give me a break. I'm sure the next piece of false information you are going to provide now is that Cedar is toxic to humans and Hemlock is the way to go. I hear that a lot and it is one of the dumbest things I've ever heard but people are buying them because some sales rep told them that. The fact is that no bacterial can survive in a Cedar/far Infrared environment.You sound like a frustrated sauna manufacturer or a sales rep for Sears.

      China has hundreds of sauna manufacturers but there are only a few that make a high quality unit just like anywhere else in the world. Josens and Golden Wave are 2 of the best. Sunlight Saunas, based out Kansas, who are one of the biggest suppliers in North America, use to buy all of their saunas from Golden Wave in China but as the market started to become more competitive, they now switched suppliers and buy models that are a lower standard just so they can be competitive in their pricing.

      I don't know where Henry gets his information from but there are a lot of misleading facts in there. If you are looking for a high quality Infrared Sauna, depending on the size, expect to pay anywhere from $2,000.00 to $4,000.00. The only way you are going to get a great sauna for those prices Henry quoted is if you buy directly from China but you would also have to buy them by the 20 or 40 ft. container load and I don't think most consumers want or need 15 to 30 saunas.

      I don't know what your motivation is Henry by trying to provide readers with the wrong information and misleading them but I would appreciate it if you got your facts straight before you make these types of ridiculous comments on my Hubs.

    • profile image

      johndonnerie@PortableInfraredSaunaHeater 8 years ago

      As end consumers, we must not only take note of the prices of whatever that we will be buying. We should always consider the factor whether it actually provides quality for our use. We don't want to end up regretting what we have decided for.

    • profile image

      johndonnerie@PortableInfraredSaunaHeater 8 years ago

      I have to agree that as consumers we always take note of the price when buying certain things. But I think aside from the price, one should also try to see if it actually suits the quality of the product that you're buying. As consumers we always regret things bought after knowing that there is an alternative product that is cheaper yet provides quality.

    • profile image

      Henry 8 years ago

      It is misleading to say: the best saunas are made in China". The facts are most saunas, over 90% are made in China in mass production sweat shops. An American owner throws out there a nice web side, but his sauna will come from the same factory as his competitor. The differences are only in cosmetics such as where is the control panel located, and like chineese they go for non-essentials like a radio, CD player and such. Find the instalation manual in their webpage. Look at the pictures, and all the worped wood slats and such. The best Sauna's are made in Canada or US , but the cost is considerably higher. Most important factor are the type of Heater (emmiter) and how many they have in there. A 2 person sauna should have at least 6 prefarbly 7-9 heaters of decent size , such as 8"X16" or therabouts and should be emmiting waves in the range of 7-12 microns. Human body absorbs 9.4 wave the best , but otherwaves on both side of this number is beneficial also. Read Reviews and comments on different brands, before bying. For $1000-1400 you can get a very good sauna.


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