Barrel saunas are an affordable way to get a backyard sauna that you can assemble in a day. But how much does a barrel sauna cost?
A barrel sauna with a basic heater, roof kit, shipping, rocks, and thermally modified wood costs around $5,000 USD. You can find a cheaper barrel sauna, but consider the following when comparing them:
A lasting barrel sauna requires the following:
- A roof. A barrel sauna without a roof will leak, rot, warp, and fail in under two years. Every barrel sauna needs a roof, even if it doesn’t leak at first. Beware of companies that don’t tell you this.
- Be made of wood that won’t easily rot. This can be cedar, thermally modified wood, or any other wood with a stained exterior. Our favorite is thermally modified wood, since it looks great with no maintenance and doesn’t expand and contract like cedar.
- Wood that’s 1.5″ or thicker. Cheap barrel saunas that aren’t 1.5″ thick or more simply do not last or perform well.
So in summary, find a thermally modified or cedar barrel sauna with thick walls and a roof. Barrel Saunas will start at $5,000 USD for a basic (but very good) 2-4 person barrel sauna shipped with everything you need.
Barrel Sauna Cost Factors
From there, barrel sauna costs rise for the following attributes.
- LENGTH. Small barrel saunas under $5,000 USD are under 60 inches long. Again, you can find smaller or cheaper but this is a good starting point for a good barrel sauna that will last. This size barrel sauna fits 2-4 people depending on how close you are willing to sit. Price goes up as the length expands from 60 inches to 118 inches long for a capacity of 6 to 8 people. Length isn’t as big of a factor as you might think, with the price of the kit only going to about $6,000 USD for the longest barrel saunas (not including heater or shipping).
- DIAMETER. Standard barrel sauna diameter is about 76″. This is a cozy size, which is efficient but don’t plan on stretching out or standing up if you’re tall. A bigger factor is that in these standard barrel saunas, you will be knee to knee with the person across the aisle and the group will want to enter/exit together. Going to larger diameter barrel saunas puts you in the $6k-$8k range but it’s worth considering.
- PORCH. Porches provide a dry, wind-sheltered space to hang a towel and relax between sessions. They also give you a place to install electronics like your heater controller. Have you ever seen a picture of a cedar barrel sauna without a porch after a year? They develop unsightly water marks very quickly. We recommend thermally modified wood, treating the cedar, or getting a porch. The porch doesn’t add much cost in itself, but it is only available in the larger diameter models. Expect to pay $6k-8k for a good barrel sauna with a porch.
- WINDOWS. Nearly all barrel saunas have glass doors that provide some light and openness, but if you are in a private location with a natural view we highly recommend adding a window. Nearly all barrel saunas have the option for a panoramic back window. Most are the upper half (half moon) of the back wall, but a few have back walls that are made entirely of glass, which we don’t recommend. All reputable barrel sauna kits have optional rear windows for their base models that will raise the price approximately $500. Full glass front wall models will start around $6,000. While we don’t recommend full glass walls in the rear next to the heat source, they work really well in the front of the sauna.
- UPPER BENCHES. The biggest criticism of barrel saunas is they don’t elevate the persons feet, which is an important design principle for Finnish Saunas. Low feet are cold feet, so plan on putting your feet up on the bench if using a standard barrel sauna. Upper benches have been popular in European barrel saunas for years, and were brought to North America in 2023 by SaunaLife. The EE6G has two bench levels against the back, and the massive EE8G has upper benches along both sides. Upper bench barrel saunas start around $6,000 USD.
- HEATER. Most prices in this article include no heater or a basic Harvia KIP wall heater. These are fine, but they don’t have much thermal mass (rocks), get very hot (194°F), or do anything about the cold feet problem in barrel saunas. The best way to address the cold feet problem is a Saunum Air heater with climate equalization. These heaters take the good heat and steam from the ceiling and push it out at foot level for a more comfortable, even experience. Another option is a heater with a LOT of rocks and capability to reach over 200°f. This will allow you to ‘superheat’ the space and let the walls and stones provide a more gentle heat when you back off the temps. They can also create a lot of steam due to the heat stored in the rocks. In the US and Canada, HUUM is the only professional option that reaches these temps. The HUUM DROP is the most popular barrel sauna heater, but the HUUM HIVE MINI is our recommendation if the barrel is large enough to acomadate it.