Want a pretty and unique-looking outdoor sauna? Well, then a barrel sauna would probably be a good option. Although a barrel perhaps isn’t the most eye-catching object in the world, a barrel sauna can look pretty good, especially if it matches your backyard style.
So anyway, if you’ve been shopping for a barrel sauna for quite some time and haven’t been able to find the right one, let us introduce you to what we think are the 5 best barrel saunas out there. Although these saunas all share the barrel design, they are very different, so you could look forward to some interesting things on our roundup.
Want a huge barrel sauna? Then this barrel sauna by BZBCabins.com might be an excellent choice.
This thing has enough room to fairly comfortably accommodate 6 people. Not only that, but it’s so big that BZBCabins was able to make separate changing and steaming compartments in it. This barrel sauna even has a porch area at the front!
What’s also notable about this sauna is that it comes with a wood-burning heater, although you might be able to find a version of the barrel sauna with an electric heater. The wood-burning heater may make your sauna experience a little more involved, if you will, because you will need to fire the heater up manually.
On the other hand, the wood-burning heater will produce a lot of waste, and you’ll need to clean up after your sauna sessions. This won’t be ideal for everybody.
The BZBCabins barrel sauna is decent when it comes to its construction – it’s built from Nordic spruce, which is a fairly good wood for a sauna. It’s not the best, but it should be able to live for a quite long time even with frequent sauna use.
If you decide to go for this sauna, then know that’s it’s pretty expensive. This thing certainly isn’t pocket-friendly, though it may be worth it for some people.
Offers traditional sauna experience.
Accommodates up to 6 people.
Has a lot of space.
Features a porch, as well as separate compartments for changing and steaming.
This barrel sauna by MCP sauna is noticeably smaller and cheaper than the BZBCabins barrel sauna. It certainly doesn’t provide you with as much room for steaming, but it has a few other things to offer.
Aside from the size, the biggest difference between the two barrel saunas is the heater. In this sauna, you are getting a 6kW electric heater. This heater will be much easier to fire up than the wood heater of the BZBCabins sauna, and it also will be much easier to clean.
One thing to keep in mind with the heater is that it requires 220V current. This isn’t a bad thing, but most US buyers probably won’t have 220V current at home.
Build-wise, this sauna is comparable with the BZBCabins barrel sauna – it’s built from Canadian pine, a wood that is similar to spruce when it comes to use in saunas. What’s also nice about this barrel sauna is that it comes with essentials like a bucket, ladle, and a thermometer/hygrometer.
So all in all, if you don’t need the space riches of the BZBCabins barrel sauna, then the MCP Sauna unit might be a good option.
Although the ALEKO barrel sauna isn’t as huge as the BZBCabins barrel sauna, it’s designed to accommodate up to 8 people. Besides, it’s smaller size may be a big plus for some buyers.
With that said, perhaps the biggest advantage of the ALEKO barrel sauna over the previous two saunas is the red cedar build. If you didn’t know, cedar is widely considered the best wood for sauna-making. This is because cedar is a softwood that easily expands and contracts when exposed to heat and moisture.
And as one could guess, the softness of cedar allows it to go through repeated heating and cooling cycles, which makes it a very durable sauna wood.
What’s also great about cedar is that it’s great at keeping the heat inside, which might imply energy savings in the long run.
Aside from that, the ALEKO barrel sauna has other interesting build features – it boasts a tempered glass door with a wooden handle, a porch area, and built-in hooks.
ALEKO also includes a few goodies with this sauna – an anti-explosive lamp, hygrothermograph, 44 pounds of sauna stones, and a wooden bucket with a scoop.
The heating unit here is electric as well, though it’s powered at 4.5kW. For the size of this sauna though, the power of the heater should be adequate. What may also matter to you is that the heater is ETL-approved.
You might be wondering – haven’t we reviewed this barrel sauna already? Well, almost – even though this barrel sauna seems to be identical to the other MCP Sauna unit, it’s not quite the same.
What differs in this barrel sauna is the wood. This MCP Sauna barrel sauna is made from red cedar, the same kind of wood that is used in the ALEKO barrel sauna. And we already know the good sides of cedar – this wood easily withstands temperature and humidity changes, as well as is excellent at retaining heat.
Of course, due to the cedar, this sauna is much more expensive than its pine counterpart. But for heavy sauna use, this thing may be well worth it.
Other than that, the cedar MCP Sauna unit seems to be identical to the other one. You are again getting a 6kW electrical heater, 4-person capacity, and some essential sauna accessories.
Finally, we have this 6-8-person sauna by BZBCabins.com. This sauna is pretty similar to the other BZBCabins sauna, but there are some important differences to keep in mind.
First off, this sauna isn’t as large as its counterpart – overall, it’s 11 feet 2 inches long, while the other BZBCabins barrel sauna is 14 feet 5 inches long. However, this sauna is wider – 7 feet 5 inches against 6 feet 9 inches in the bigger barrel sauna. It’s a whole foot taller as well – 7’9” vs 6’9”.
In spite of its shortness, this barrel sauna retains the separate changing and sauna chambers. The sauna room is 4 inches shorter, but given the increased width, it should be more spacious and thus easily accommodate the claimed 6-8 people.
The changing chamber is 2 feet shorter though, so the added width probably won’t make up for the difference.
For heating, this sauna also uses a wood-burning heater, allowing for a very basic and traditional sauna experience. But again, cleanup might be a headache in this barrel sauna.
When it comes to materials, this barrel sauna is identical to the other one – both are built from Nordic spruce, a fairly decent wood for a sauna.
So all in all, this BZBCabins barrel sauna is a nice option if you will be hosting larger parties but don’t have much free space in your backyard. However, this barrel sauna is pretty expensive, so it again isn’t a budget-friendly option.
Traditional sauna experience.
Accommodates up to 6-8 people.
Has a lot of room.
Has separate compartments for changing and steaming.
The wood heater will need cleaning.
Why Buy A Barrel Sauna?
As you might have guessed, the first reason to buy a barrel sauna is the cool factor – barrel saunas are very eye-catching. If you have a thematically fitting backyard, then a barrel sauna will be an excellent addition to your property.
Aside from that, as barrel saunas are usually intended for outdoor use, they get much bigger than indoor saunas. Well, you could’ve noticed this based on saunas like the two BZBCabins units. Manufacturers don’t have to make their barrel saunas small for indoor installation, so they can make their saunas as large as well want.
For some people, privacy is going to also matter. Outdoor saunas in general don’t offer a very private experience, unless the area where you are intending to install your sauna is out of view for others.
Things To Consider When Shopping For The Best Barrel Sauna
Barrel saunas can be pretty expensive, and you definitely do not want to make a bad purchase. All the reviewed barrel saunas are great units, but some of them might work better for you than others.
To help you pick the right barrel sauna, let’s have a look at the key features that you should be paying attention to when shopping for a barrel sauna.
First off, pay attention to the size of the desired barrel sauna.
You will most likely be installing your barrel sauna outdoors, though smaller units might be placed indoors as well. If intending to place the barrel sauna outdoors, check how much free space you have in your backyard. Besides, measure how much space you are actually willing to allocate to the sauna.
After having concrete numbers, just pick a barrel sauna that doesn’t exceed them.
A big part of the charm of barrel saunas is their looks, so you’d probably want to get a sauna that is aesthetically fitting to your landscape. By itself, any barrel sauna can look good, but it will make for a finer sight if combined with the right backyard style.
You may get any barrel sauna whose looks you like, but it would probably be nice to have a unit that’s thematically matching to your property.
Perhaps the most important thing to consider in any sauna is its heater type. The kind of heater used in the sauna will have the biggest effect on how your sauna will feel.
Sauna heaters are typically broken down into traditional and infrared heaters. Traditional heaters can be fueled by wood, gas, or electricity. We won’t be diving into these subtypes and instead will focus on the more general things that set traditional and infrared heaters apart.
So, traditional saunas:
Achieve high temperatures. No matter the fuel, traditional heaters usually achieve temperatures of up to 180-200 degrees Fahrenheit. These are common temperatures in a dry sauna. Infrared saunas, in contrast, usually reach only around 140-150 degrees, though this depends on the used heater.
Allow you to adjust humidity. Traditional saunas allow you to adjust the sauna humidity by sprinkling water onto hot stones. You typically can’t do this in an infrared sauna.
On the other hand, infrared saunas:
Heat you up quicker. Infrared heaters do not heat the air. Instead, the heat is delivered directly to solid bodies. This implies dramatically sped up heating, usually twice as fast as in traditional saunas. With that said, since infrared heaters do not heat the air, they deliver uneven heat. To combat this, infrared saunas usually come with several heaters spread around inside.
Are cheaper to run. Infrared heaters usually cost around 5-10 cents per minute to run, while a traditional heater would cost around 40-50 cents, though the latter depends on the fuel type used and its price in your area.
If you prefer wet saunas to dry ones, then a traditional sauna would probably be a better choice. But if you like dry saunas, then you may get an infrared sauna.
Also, know that you can convert one type of sauna into another by changing the heater, so it’s not like you will be stuck with whatever choice you make now.
Infrared heater type
It’s also worth talking about subtypes of infrared heaters. These may have a huge difference in your sauna sensations. While traditional heaters will deliver similar experience regardless of the used fuel, infrared heaters have more variability, which is why we are covering them separately.
So, here are the 3 main infrared heater types used in saunas:
Ceramic heaters. An older type of heater, ceramic heaters aren’t that popular today due to their high temperatures. Their surface temperature can reach 300-400 degrees Fahrenheit, which can make your sauna session uncomfortable very quickly.
Carbon heaters. Carbon heaters have a large surface area, which allows them to heat up to only around 140-150 degrees Fahrenheit. These are decent temperatures for a sauna, but they are much lower than the traditional 180-200 degrees.
Carbon/ceramic heaters. Carbon/ceramic heaters can typically reach 180-200 degrees Fahrenheit, which allows them to deliver a more traditional dry sauna experience.
Infrared heaters can also be far- or near-infrared. Far-infrared is the standard type of heater in infrared saunas, and its health benefits are more or less well-researched. Sellers offering near-infrared saunas claim improved safety and health benefits, but these are yet to be confirmed by research.
In the meantime, don’t think about this much and stick to far-infrared saunas.
As mentioned above, the wood that the sauna is built from has a huge impact on your experience and the sauna’s durability. Below, let’s have a brief overview of the wood types commonly used in saunas.
Cedar. Cedar is widely considered to be the best wood for sauna-building. As mentioned above, this is a softwood that readily expands and contracts when exposed to heat or humidity. This ability allows this wood to withstand repeated sauna sessions. You may also like the smell emitted by this wood, but some people may be allergic to it.
Basswood. Basswood is hypoallergenic when treated right and doesn’t emit any odors. But it’s not nearly as durable as cedar.
Eucalyptus. This wood is more often used for details or framing rather than in sauna walls. Eucalyptus has a consistent texture and is easy to stain, but it isn’t as durable as basswood and cedar.
Spruce, hemlock, pine. These are cheap woods that are decently durable, but they certainly won’t live as long as cedar, especially in harsh climates where temperature can change rapidly.
Given that a barrel sauna will likely be placed outdoors, cedar is the best wood option for it. This wood will most likely withstand outdoor temperature changes easier.
There you have our roundup of the best barrel saunas!
Hopefully, you’ve got a good idea of what to look for in a barrel sauna. Moreover, we hope that one of our listed barrel saunas was able to meet your requirements. And if so, then it might be a worthy buy, though before making a decision, think over your needs first!