If an electric heater has enough power, rocks, and air movement - you can preheat and enjoy pleasant heat nearly indistinguishable from the best wood-burning stoves.
We've spent years figuring out why sauna heaters fail or underperform. When building a sauna, you don't just want your heater to get the job done. You want a high-performing heater that distributes pleasant heat throughout the hot room.
We've learned "you get what you pay for" doesn't always apply to electric sauna heaters. There are cheap sauna heaters to buy and very expensive sauna heaters to avoid.
For budget saunas on the cheap, $150 Vevor sauna heaters may be the way to go. We have a Vevor sauna heater we purchased for comparison purposes that is still strong.
It's a great value but by no means the best.
Our choice for the best sauna heater doesn't just heat the room but equalizes the air throughout the sauna.
A circulating air heater (and there's only one) can make up for design problems like low bench height and poorly placed vents.
First, a few considerations on getting the most löyly for your loot.
- The best sauna heater in the world is bad if it’s the wrong size. If it’s too small, you won’t reach sauna temperatures. If oversized, the room temperature spikes with harsh heat before the rocks get hot enough for steam. Use SaunaSizer for accurate sizing.
- If you want to save money without sacrificing quality – consider a sauna heater with built-in controls like a Harvia KIPB or Harvia Cilindro (better steam). This will also simplify the installation and save on the electrician’s time.
- Carefully follow the manufacturer’s instructions, even for mundane things like how to stack rocks. Your heater will perform better and last longer if you get these details right. And if you have a problem, you may need to prove you set the rocks properly.
- Similarly, ensure the wiring is done according to the manual and photographed at installation time. If anything goes wrong in the future, manufacturers will ask for photographs of the wiring to ensure it is done properly. Get multiple angles that show the wire going into the terminal. Your electrician will be happy to provide these photos if you request them early on in the process. BONUS: requesting these photos practically ensures your electrician follows the manual and makes better connections.
- If you’re in the US and require a sauna that will get over 194 degrees Fahrenheit – HUUM is your only professional-grade option because they have worked around UL requirements. If you are cautious and don’t want to give your insurance company any ammo if there’s a problem, this may also be a reason to avoid HUUM (we’ve never heard of a problem filing claims, to be clear).
- We’re here to help! If you don’t see it on Sauna Marketplace we can usually source it with discount codes. We’re happy to answer any questions or help you through your build. Just ask!
That said, there is one electric sauna heater that stands out as the best sauna heater on the market. This is the only heater that solves the biggest challenge with electric heat: stratification. Heat settles high in the sauna and it’s even worse with electric heaters. It’s common to have cold feet and unbearable heat at head height in poorly designed American saunas.
There’s a European sauna heater that completely solves these issues, and it’s now available in North America.
Quick Note: Sauna Marketplace sells Saunum, Harvia, and HUUM directly. There are a lot of excellent distributors out there but beware of Chinese knock-offs, 2nd hand resellers, and outright scammers. Why not get the SAUNA guarantee?
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Best Electric Sauna Heater – Saunum Air
The Saunum Air is a revolutionary sauna heater that solves the biggest problem of electric saunas. Stratification is where the heat becomes unevenly distributed, with the hottest air at the top and the coolest air at the bottom. This can make for an uncomfortable and even dangerous sauna experience.
The Saunum Air is the first electric sauna heater, more of a sauna system that completely solves this problem with its patented air mixing technology. This technology draws heat and steam from near the ceiling, mixes it with cooler, more oxygenated air near the floor, and directs it throughout the sauna. This creates a more even and comfortable sauna experience, with the heat evenly distributed throughout the room.
Check this out:
The result is pure sauna bliss you will not experience with any other electric sauna heater, it’s that simple.
In addition to solving the stratification problem, Saunum Air creates a personalized sauna environment. The Saunum Air comes with several features that allow you to customize your sauna experience, including:
Saunum lets you customize your bathing experience by adjusting airflow, temperature, and steam to suit your preferences. You can choose from a variety of sauna bathing styles, including:
- Russian Banya: This sauna style is characterized by intense heat and steam. Saunum’s air mixing technology helps to evenly distribute the heat and steam evenly, creating a more comfortable and enjoyable experience.
- Finnish Sauna: This style of sauna is known for its dry heat. Saunum’s large stone mass helps to radiate heat evenly throughout the sauna, creating a consistent and relaxing experience.
- Estonian Sauna: This sauna style is similar to the Finnish sauna, but it is known for its longer sessions and richer steam. Saunum’s oxygenated airflow helps to keep the air fresh and clean, even during long sauna sessions.
- Yoga Sauna: This style of sauna is designed for yoga practice. Saunum’s equalized air delivers warming heat even at floor level, making it ideal for yoga poses that require a lot of balance.
- Salt Sauna: This sauna style uses Himalayan salt to create a relaxing and invigorating atmosphere. Saunum’s patented system propels healthful Himalayan salt ions throughout the room, providing a unique and beneficial sauna experience.
- Aromatherapy Sauna: This sauna style uses essential oils to create a relaxing and invigorating atmosphere. Saunum’s high humidity and air movement help to distribute the essential oils evenly throughout the room, creating a truly immersive experience.
No matter your preference, Saunum has a sauna bathing style that is perfect for you. With its adjustable airflow, temperature, and steam, Saunum lets you create the perfect sauna experience every time.
- Wi-Fi control: The Saunum Air can be controlled with a smartphone or tablet, allowing you to set the temperature, humidity, and other settings from anywhere in the house.
- Aromatherapy: The Saunum Air can be used with essential oils, creating a relaxing and invigorating atmosphere.
- Himalayan salt reservoir: The Saunum Air has a built-in Himalayan salt reservoir, which releases negative ions into the air. Negative ions have been shown to have several health benefits, including improving respiratory health, reducing stress, and boosting the immune system.
The Saunum Air is the most advanced sauna heater on the market. It solves the stratification problem, creates a personalized sauna environment, and offers several other features that make it the perfect choice for anyone looking for a luxurious and beneficial sauna experience.
Here are some additional reasons why the Saunum Air is revolutionary:
- It is the first sauna heater to use air mixing technology to solve the stratification problem.
- It is the first sauna heater to offer Wi-Fi control + aromatherapy.
- It is the first sauna heater with a built-in Himalayan salt reservoir.
If you are looking for a revolutionary sauna heater, the Saunum Air is the perfect choice. It offers several features that make it the best on the market, and a satisfaction guarantee backs it. Want to use the Saunum air mixing system with a different heater? Check out the Saunum AirSolo, which can be built into the wall.
You can buy the Saunum Air on Sauna Marketplace here.
Best Freestanding Electric Heater – HUUM HIVE
We are convinced the Best Electric Sauna Heater in 2023 in the North American market is the HUUM HIVE. With rock basket sauna heaters – fatter is absolutely better. You want a barrier of rocks between you and your heating elements to make sure you’re getting the nice convective heat you want instead of sharp radiant heat.
The entire line of HUUM Sauna Heaters are unique, elegant, and modern looking. The HUUM Hive is our favorite because it has such a nice ‘built in’ look that can be built into the sauna floor or bench, when used with the flange. And although it’s rare to find a safety feature that improves the look of a product, but the optional wood safety railing does just that for the HUUM Hive.
New In 2023
Ask us how you can built the HUUM HIVE or HIVE Mini into your floor or bench with the embedding flange.
This can save space and open up a ton of design options that are typically used with the Harvia Cilindro while getting the benefits of a fatter rock basket with more thermal mass.
The free-standing HIVE also avoids some issues the HUUM DROP has with failing heating elements. HUUM seems to have solved those issues with the DROP in 2023, but most will still trust the HIVE more after reading reviews. Because there are so many rocks between the heating elements and the outer layer, the safety clearances are remarkable low. That allows you to place the heater closer to the wall, and can be installed as an alternative to a wall-mounted heater.
Plus, sauna designers can now create stadium-style sauna seating and make the HIVE the show’s star. Our favorite example of this is the Haljas House Saunas which are now available in North America.
What sets the HUUM electric sauna heaters apart is the UKU wifi thermostat in different colors. The UKU looks as elegant and modern as the heater, and the app is simply wonderful.
The other best part is the rock capacity. Stones provide the thermal mass that makes a sauna feel like a hug. Without enough rocks the heat will be harsh and not as comfortable. The HUUM design is the first that (in our opinion) makes it nearly impossible to tell the difference between electric and wood stoves by the quality of the heat.
We liked the HUUM stoves so much we became dealers in the US. You can now buy a HUUM sauna stove that will ship from America to your door, directly from Sauna Marketplace. We make sure you are getting the best possible price, and will support you all the way.
Best Tower/Pillar Sauna Heater
The Cilindro Half Series 6kW (PC60) Sauna Heater is a uniquely sleek, modern electric heater that packs impressive stones in a small cylinder. Once you get the hang of a Harvia Cilindro, you can control your hot room with a soft heat by throwing water along the side or harsher heat from dropping from above.
The PC60 has built-in sauna controls, saving the time and expense of adding an external control.
Best Basic Electric Sauna Heater – Harvia KIP / Finlandia FLB
We consider the Harvia KIP / Finlandia FLB-60 (other sizes available) to be the original electric sauna heater.
It’s the standard home sauna design the looks good and does the job. There are many heaters on the market that look exactly the same, but we would go with the Finlandia (though it’s not cheap) because we know it will last.
We’ve seen these in home saunas that are over 10 years old and going strong.
Best Cheap Electric Sauna Heater
Vevor Electric Sauna Heater
We were shocked it performed better than some models, and is still going strong.
We still don't sell them, but no judgements if you want to save some money and pick one of these up on Amazon like we did.
The built in heat guard is one of the best we've tested, you can safely touch it shortly after use, and it likely wouldn't even burn you (but do not try it).
The heat is absolutely more harsh than a good Harvia or HUUM stove, but that's mostly due to larger stone capacity. The unpleasant sharpness is mostly noticeable over 180 degrees, so we keep it down there.
However, for heat lovers the thermostat on the 9KW model goes all the way up to 221F, hotter than any US approved Harvia heater.
The heating elements are solid and haven't degraded in heating capacity.
If you are looking for a cheap sauna heater, this is the cheapest sauna heater on the market and it works just fine. We've been in several home saunas with cheap VEVOR sauna heaters and honestly, if you are getting a boxy sauna heater that looks like this, you might as well save some money here.
Available in 6KW, 9KW versions for most home saunas, but they also have 2KW (110v!) and 4KW for very small closet saunas.
Best Commercial Sauna Heater
Harvia Virta Pro
The Harvia Virta Pro is a great option.
This strong and reliable heater is divided into two heating elements which ensures even heating and a professional sauna experience. Additionally, the Virta Pro is exceptionally easy to maintain, swap out heating elements, and clean - making it perfect for regular, heavy-duty use.
Sauna Stove Electric Requirements
Get your electrician involved early in your sauna plans. It's often much easier to rough in the sauna stove electric lines before building the sauna itself, and could save you a lot of money.
Most sauna heaters are 220v and require a double pole breaker. Even with a 110v sauna stove, you can probably not use existing wiring in your home because the circuit will be extremely overloaded. Always plan on running a new line to your electric panel that is only used for the sauna heater.
When in doubt, oversize the wiring. The wiring gauge can't be too big and will provide more options if you need a stove.
Conclusion and Big Picture
If you want the best sauna heater, there's no real debate. The 'Saunum Air' is the best sauna heater on the market thanks to its unique air management system that equalizes the sauna temperature throughout the room. It can dial in the temperature and humidity to the bather's ideal comfort level, and it's now available on Sauna Marketplace. The Saunum Air also has high-end features like a WiFi control, salt therapy, and a 6 hour timer.
If you're looking for the most popular, cost-effective sauna heater under $1,000 - then a Harvia KIP with built-in controls will be a really good option. Want to keep it under $500 and don't mind Chinese knock-offs? Pick up a Vevor Sauna Heater on Amazon (this one).
As always, let us know if you have any questions or are willing to share your experience or opinions on any sauna heaters on the market. Remember that buying the sauna heater is only the first step. When you purchase from Sauna Marketplace, our team of experts will support you through the installation and beyond to create the best possible sauna experience.