Aesthetically interesting yet fundamentally flawed, the Plunge Sauna, with its pre-order model, exudes a compelling charm that caters to the cold plunger eager to begin their sauna cold plunge routine. While we hope we are wrong, the Plunge Sauna misses some important sauna design principles, and we feel sad that so many sauna owners may never experience quality heat and steam.
We first became suspicious when we watched Jesse Itzler and The Sauna Papi bike across America with two saunas. A prototype Plunge Sauna, and a Barrel Sauna from Nomad Saunas in Minneapolis. Guess which one never got used?
We then started to learn of customers who had paid the deposit, and were never provided updates on when the sauna might be shipping.
Indeed, underneath the surface of beautifully paired incense cedar, pine, and hemlock lies a series of design missteps that could potentially render the Plunge Sauna experience, as promised, ineffective, if not downright disappointing.
At a price range of $10,990 – $11,990, Plunge Sauna’s fundamental flaw lies in its approach to heating. The product seems to neglect the basic understanding of sauna principles: the heat generated by the sauna stove needs to be evenly distributed for the occupant’s comfort. This is accomplished with ventilation and a convective loop.
As the design currently stands, the heat will be drawn upwards, settling in the high pocket of the sauna due to a clear lack of intake and exhaust ventilation. Even with proper vents, the odd shape of the sauna will not allow the air to move freely.
Without a convective loop, the result is uneven sauna temperatures and stale air rich in CO2 and low in oxygen.
While the shape and lack of ventilation are the biggest problems, the placement of the Huum 6KW ‘Drop’ Sauna Heater in the sauna design also doesn’t seem conducive to promoting an evenly heated space. While a 132-pound stone capacity is impressive, it’s of limited value if the heat is inefficiently utilized.
Furthermore, the sauna’s design sees bathers’ heads uncomfortably close to the ceiling. This can lead to extreme discomfort due to the significant heat disparity between the sauna’s lower and upper parts, which could negatively affect the sauna experience. Sauna-goers may be more preoccupied with dodging the uncomfortably hot ceiling than enjoying a relaxing sweat session.
A sauna hat will help if you find yourself enduring this sauna.
Despite its impressive exterior, the Plunge Sauna seems to lack the necessary attention to the core elements of a sauna experience: efficient heat distribution, ventilation, and user comfort. Also, the marketing approach with the ‘pre-order model’ lacks the transparency consumers deserve, particularly given the hefty price tag. Details such as the delivery timeline are absent, leaving customers wondering when to expect their sauna.
One option to make this sauna usable would be to upgrade to a Saunum heater that equalizes air through the sauna. However, it’s unclear if Saunum Air models will properly fit the Plunge Sauna, and they don’t seem to sell them without heaters.
The best part of the Plunge Sauna is the electric system, a smart approach to selling a plug-and-play sauna. This is where Plunge’s experience making some of the best cold plunge tubs seems to have paid off.
Expect Nuisance Trips.
The Plunge Sauna plans on using a NEMA 14-30 socket so users can ‘plug and play.’ Brilliant, but why don’t other saunas use that? Because it requires a GFCI (ground fault protector) that causes the breaker to trip. Sauna heaters, including the HUUM DROP do not recommend a GFCI or any earth leakage fault protection for this reason.
In fact, we’ve heard this is a big reason for the delayed release of the Plunge Sauna. We don’t expect it to be released until they change their electrical plan to hardwired 240v like HUUM and every other sauna heater requires.
Odd Wood Choices
The Plunge sauna uses incense aromic cedar for exterior and benches. This is not the western red cedar you would expect on a sauna, but Juniper used for cedar chests. It is not known for exterior use and is likely to warp in this role. This is another design choice that we would bet against.
These saunas are not built to last. There’s a reason there’s no exterior decking or siding material made out of incense cedar, unfortunately, Plunge ignored it.
Plunge Sauna Reviews By Sauna People
We’re not the only ones who are concerned about the Plunge Sauna. Here is a conclusive look at all opinions found on a Facebook page about sauna design:
- Some people find The Plunge Sauna is small and lacking a drain, and ventilation, and they have concerns about its weird ceiling geometry.
- One person believes it is unlikely that many people would purchase the sauna, describing it as odd and trying too hard.
- Another individual sees it as a missed opportunity.
- There are concerns about the Huum wall-hung electric heaters having problems with failing elements, with doubts about whether the issue has been adequately addressed (editors note: they have).
- The company is criticized for prioritizing looks over functionality. The sloped roof and ends of the sauna are deemed problematic, as they make it difficult to submerge and lie down comfortably fully.
- The sauna is considered expensive at $9,000.
- One person recommends looking into alternative sauna companies.
- A contributor suggests contacting the nearest Helo or Finnleo dealer for further recommendations. (Editors note, we recommend starting here for better alternatives).
In conclusion, the Plunge Sauna seems to be a classic case of prioritizing style over substance. Customers are urged to consider whether brand loyalty can compensate for the apparent design shortcomings and the potential impact on their sauna experience. The sauna is a significant investment in your well-being and should be evaluated critically before purchase. We can only hope that the folks at Plunge take these criticisms to heart and make the necessary adjustments before commencing shipping.
Looking for a better outdoor sauna design with proper ventilation and airflow? Try these.