The wood stove is the heart of your sauna, and the only thing keeping it from being a storage shed. While electric sauna heaters are convenient, nothing beats the ambience and rolling heat of a wood sauna stove.
The best wood burning sauna stoves burn clean, sometime requiring just a fraction of the fuel (wood) as cheap alternatives. A sign of a great wood sauna stove is minimal smoke coming from the chimney. They have even and efficient airflow, and plenty of rock capacity.
In North America, there are some classic family companies like Nippa and Lamppa Kuuma, or well known Finnish companies like Harvia. Though you’ll get what you pay for, there is a stove for every sauna and budget.
Here are our reviews for the best wood sauna stoves.
Best Small Wood Burning Sauna Stove // Harvia M3 Review
Top Choice: The classic yet modern Harvia M3 is THE best wood sauna stove (in our opinion) for smaller and medium saunas. It’s the most imitated, and most popular sauna stove in the world for a reason.
It’s the most affordable name brand sauna stove with a glass door which gives you the glow, smell and ambience you’re looking for. They also have an outside feed option if that’s your preference. The M3 won’t break the bank, here are the best prices in the US for both interior and exterior feed.
AKA: Finlandia M3, Catalina M3, Hanko Premium M-3
For Saunas 65-460 Cubic Ft
The Harvia M3 has an optional water heating tank that fits between the woodstove and the chimney pipe. This heats up water very quickly as the pipe goes straight through the tank.
This is the easiest way to heat water for showers while adding thermal mass to your sauna. The extra thermal mass is recommended for the M3 because it is relatively lightweight.
The benefit is that is heats up faster, but most people prefer the heat when there’s more thermal mass.
- Great airflow through the rock tray
- Easy to light and maintain fire
- Clean and efficient
- Löyly is great, especially with large stones
- Not enough room for sauna rocks
- Takes a maximum length of 15.25″ firewood, when standard is often 16″
- 5/32″ steel thickness, many prefer up to 1/4″
- Looks too modern-looking
- UL and CE Approved
- Width: 390mm
- Height: 710mm
- Depth 430mm
- Weight: 45 KG
- Stone Capacity 30 KG (66 pounds)
- Heater Output: 16.5 kW
In conclusion, the Harvia M3 is great for small to medium saunas 6-13 cubic meters. It’s a great choice for medium to small outdoor saunas, barrel saunas, and indoor home saunas up to 13 cubic meters.
Note: the Harvia M3 is often sold as the Catalina M3 in North America. Just like electric sauna heaters, this is mostly a case of a couple dominant brands (Harvia and TyloHelo) selling their products to other sauna companies to sell as their own.
Other Harvia Stoves
Harvia has a very large range (20+) of wood sauna heaters of all practical size for both home and commercial use. There are eight Harvia Wood Burning Stove models that are readily available in the US.
The M3 is the smaller of the models, and the Harvia 36 (AKA Catalina 36) is the largest for big saunas up to 120 square feet. Here’s what’s available in North America.
Best Stone Capacity & Value // Coasts Wood Fired Sauna Stove
Stone capacity is what makes your sauna consistent, non-harsh heat. Most small wood burning stoves for sale don’t have nearly enough rock capacity. To be honest, our top choice, the Harvia M3 is lacking in this area.
If name-brand isn’t important to you, the Coasts NTSW-CYB is the best value, best stone capacity sauna stove for small and medium saunas.
The NTSW-CYB is equivalent to a 15KW electric sauna heater, roughly comparable to the M3. It also has a really nice ash removal system.
We’ve purchased from this eBay seller ourselves, and recommended them for everything from Barrel Saunas to outdoor sauna lights. Buy the Coasts Wood Fired Sauna Stove at eBay below.
Best Handmade Wood Sauna Stove // Lamppa Kuuma
Visit Lamppa Kumma
Aggregated Reviews (40+)
Small: Up to 512 cubic feet
Medium: Up to 800 cubic feet
Large: Big saunas over 800 cubic feet
Kuuma wood burning stoves are built like bank bank vaults and have a cult-like following. They have 1/4″ reinforced steel and probably the best welding on the market.
The Kuuma wood stoves have a precise air control system that gives the operator complete control of the burn.
The most impressive thing about the Kuuma is how little fuel it consumes and how quickly it heats up a sauna. It takes one load of wood as little as 30 minutes to reach sauna temperatures.
Additional options available include a hot water coil, hot water tank (12 or 16 gallons), integrated heat shields, glass window, optional ash pan, and a through wall throat extension for outside feed sauna stove.
Feeding wood from the outside will reduce ash inside the sauna and may be better if you want to build a more air-tight sauna. It also allows you to keep wood outside the sauna room.
The small and medium models accept standard 16″ logs while the large model can handle 24″ stock.
The optional hot water tanks will allow you to heat water for bathing, and provide additional thermal mass. The attach to either side of the stove.
Speaking of thermal mass, the Kumma stoves alone weigh in between 375-455 pounds before placing rocks. These stoves are so powerful they’ll keep your sauna hot for hours after the fire is out.
Kuuma has a long history and many users boasting 20+ years of reliable use.
If you’ve ever listened to the podcast Sauna Talk or read Sauna Times, you know Glen over there is a big fan of Kuuma stoves. You can listen to his interview with Daryl Lamppa here. Daryl is a third generation stove builder and currently runs the business.
Lamppa Kuuma sells directly to customers from their website, they run between $1000 and $1500 without add-ons. .
Here’s What Some People Don’t Like About The Kuuma:
- Slightly more complicated than the M3, geared towards advanced sauna users who like to have full control of fire.
- All parts get extremely hot, fire gloves are recommended.
- These stoves get so hot, even pouring water on the rocks should be done carefully to avoid scalding.
- You may want to repaint the door with high temperature paint to keep it looking great.
Here’s What’s Reviews Say About The Kuuma:
- “It’s like loading wood into a tank”
- Incredibly efficient burn – starts with little smoke and turns into no smoke at all.
- “You’ll be amazed how little wood you need with a Kuuma”
- Requires half the wood that other stoves need for the same heat.
- Great design, “in 3 years I’ve never seen a spark come out of the chimney”.
- “Love the front to back burn, keep hot coals towards the door and put new wood in back.”
- Looks incredible, well worth the money.
- “Excellent customer service and sauna wood stove”
Kuuma Specs Specs
- UL #1482 Approved
- Air Tight
- Manual here.
- Baffled and Brick-Lined Combustion Chamber
- Unique Front-To-Back Burn
Best Classic Woodstove // Nippa WB-18
Other models: WB-22, WB-24
w/ tank = WC-18, WC-22, WC-24
Nippa is a classic sauna heater company that’s been building almost the same heaters since 1930 in Beulah, Michigan.
Like the Kuuma, this Nippa Sauna Stove has an armored feel and looks like they will outlast humans on this planet.
The base model has a base price around $1000 with optional heat shields, rocks, and an integrated hot water tank that holds 6 gallons of water on the side or rear of the stove.
You can also order any Nippa stove with outside-fire extensions if you want to feed your stove from outside the steam room.
The WB-18 weighs 230 pounds and can fit 17″ logs.
Like Harvia and Kuuma stoves, Nippa has users brag of using their stoves for 20+ years.
Nippa Sauna Stoves can be purchased at Superior Saunas. They can often be found on craigslist or Facebook marketplace as well.
Here’s the only Nippa Stove review you need:
- Gets the job done in righteous fashion.
Best Under $500 Stove // Stoveman 13R
An affordable Estonian wood burning stove comparable to the Huum Hive series sauna stoves.
AKA Stoveman s-l500
It’s hard to find an affordable wood stove with plenty of rock space and a glass door to the interior of the sauna. Look no further.
This inexpensive wood burning sauna stove is well-built and shipped from Estonia (2-4 week delivery).
It’s recommended for 6-13 cubic meter hot rooms, and does not come with rocks. The Saunaman stoves have excellent airflow with six ventilation paths through the bottom of the heater.
Best Wood Burning Sauna Stove Canada
If you’re in Canada, you can buy most of these options, and more.
Sauna Wood Stove Clearances and Considerations
Your wood stove and exhaust system need regular maintenance, depending on how often you use it, and the quality of wood. Read instructions for your stove for manufacturers recommendations.
Sauna builders should also follow local code and installation instructions for all sauna wood stove clearances between stove and combustable materials. Not following these guidelines is dangerous and can result in a dangerous fire.
Sizing your wood burning sauna is also a tricky matter that involves climate, sauna insulation, sauna air tightness, and user preferences.
Oversizing your wood burning sauna heater is not necessarily an issue if you have plenty of thermal mass and sauna rocks to spread the heat. More thermal mass will result in a more consistent sauna session that maintains heat long after the last log is fed.
Weight is a big consideration for mobile saunas, which need to have enough thermal mass for a traditional sauna but still be mobile and fit under weight restrictions. Mobile sauna wood stoves should be located in the center of the trailer whenever possible.
DIY Wood Sauna Stove
You can find good instructions and plans on eBay for building a wood stove from scratch. You need some welding experience and equipment. While we’re all for building a DIY Barrel Sauna from scratch, we don’t recommend this project for most people. Frankly, you won’t save much money on it anyway.