For frequent sauna users, a home sauna is a very good idea. If you are spending hundreds or even thousands of dollars on sauna sessions annually, owning a sauna could bring noticeable money-savings!
Not everybody has enough space in their home for a sauna though. Even the smallest sauna is a sizable piece of technology.
But what if you moved the sauna outdoors? Chances are that you have plenty of space in your backyard! With an outdoor sauna, you could go much bigger without any issues!
Well, if you have very limited room but nonetheless want to enjoy home sauna sessions without compromises, then have a look at our roundup of the 5 best outdoor saunas! After all, outdoor saunas might be the answer to your worries about limited indoor space!
5 Best Outdoor Saunas Reviewed for 2020
If you want a roomy set up, then this barrel sauna by BZBCabins.com might be a good option. It’s very pricey, but it has a lot of room – in fact, it’s so big that it can easily accommodate 6 people!
The 6-person capacity isn’t the most notable feature in this outdoor sauna, however. This sauna has separate compartments for changing and steaming, so you won’t have to go from your home to the sauna half-naked.
The BZBCabins barrel sauna offers a very simple and traditional sauna experience. This sauna comes with a wood-burning heater that should allow for higher temperatures and perhaps a more involved sauna experience since you’ll need to maintain heat manually.
Besides, unlike infrared saunas, the heater in this sauna will allow you to adjust the humidity level inside.
Materials are also important in saunas. The BZBCabins product is pretty decent in this area – it’s built from spruce, which is a fairly decent wood for saunas. Though it’s not as durable as woods like cedar, it does its job well enough and doesn’t emit any smells.
In spite of its size, this unit is claimed to be fairly easy to assemble. BZBCabins writes that two people should be able to assemble it in one or two days. But if you don’t want to assemble the sauna yourself, then you may hire an expert for assembly.
Overall, the BZBCabins option seems like a solid choice of a sauna for those who want to hang out with their friends or family.
- Offers traditional sauna experience.
- Allows you to adjust humidity.
- Accommodates 6 people.
- Very roomy.
- Has separate compartments for changing and steaming.
- The wood-burning heater will be a headache to clean.
Next, we have this 4-person outdoor sauna by Cayenne. Even though this outdoor sauna isn’t as roomy as the BZBCabins barrel sauna, it has a lot of other things to offer.
Perhaps most importantly, this one has infrared heating delivered 8 ceramic heaters. These heaters will deliver heat fast, so you won’t have to wait for too long for the sauna to get ready. With that said, ceramic heaters generally get pretty hot, so you should not overexpose yourself to them in this sauna.
In terms of wood, the Cayenne sauna has a Canadian hemlock build. Canadian hemlock is comparable with spruce (which was used in the BZBCabins sauna), so there’s isn’t anything new to add – Canadian hemlock is a pretty decent wood, but it’s not as durable as cedar.
Another notable thing about this outdoor sauna is that it has an integrated music playback system with FM, CD, and MP3 players. Besides, the Cayenne outdoor sauna boasts an oxygen ionizer that should keep the air inside the sauna clean.
For added convenience, this outdoor sauna also has exterior lighting. What may matter to you as well is that this sauna is ETL/CSA-certified.
All in all, the Cayenne outdoor sauna is a decent unit for not that much money. It’s got some quality issues here and there (its parts aren’t made too accurately), but it’s a good buy for the price.
- Quick infrared heating.
- Exterior lighting.
- Music playback capabilities.
- Accommodates 4 people.
- Has an oxygen ionizer for air purification.
- Inconsistent build quality.
- The infrared ceramic heaters might get very hot.
Although the MCP Cedar Sauna 3-person outdoor sauna is also an infrared sauna, it’s very different from the Cayenne sauna.
Perhaps most importantly, this outdoor sauna employs carbon infrared heaters. These heaters stay much cooler and produce temperatures up to around 140-150 degrees Fahrenheit. This is about 20-30 degrees less than what you’d get from a traditional sauna, but you are still going to sweat a lot in the MCP Cedar Sauna.
You might have also guessed already that this sauna is built from cedar. This softwood is highly valued in sauna-building. Cedar easily expands and contracts when exposed to heat and humidity, which allows it to survive repeated sauna use.
Aside from that, some people like the wood smell that comes out of cedar. However, some users might actually be allergic to the emissions, so be careful with this thing.
For better pastime, this infrared outdoor sauna has an integrated stereo system with auxiliary input. Aside from that, the MCP Cedar 3-person sauna features an ozone generator for cleaner air along with chromotherapy lights that might allow for better relaxation while taking a sauna.
The roof in this unit is also waterproof, which certainly is a welcome feature in an outdoor sauna.
In the end, the MCP Cedar 3-person outdoor sauna is a solid option if you want a durable sauna that will serve you for a long time.
- Fast infrared heaters.
- Durable cedar construction.
- Integrated stereo system.
- Has an ozone generator and chromotherapy lights.
- Accommodates 3 people.
- Waterproof roof..
- Some people may find this sauna to be cold by sauna standards.
This outdoor sauna by MCP Sauna is a nice alternative to the BZBCabins barrel sauna we’ve overviewed at the very beginning. This thing isn’t as roomy and comfortable, but it will deliver a similar sauna experience.
Heat here is delivered by an electric heater that can take the temperatures up to 200 degrees Fahrenheit, which is traditional for saunas. And unlike the BZBCabins sauna, you won’t have to deal with ashes and smoke!
Of course, this sauna also allows you to adjust the humidity level inside.
Space-wise, this barrel sauna can accommodate 4 people comfortably, perhaps even more. Unlike the BZBCabins sauna, this barrel sauna doesn’t have a changing compartment, but this isn’t that big of an issue.
The wood here is Canadian pine, which is comparable to hemlock and spruce. You probably won’t have issues with this sauna’s durability, but it, of course, won’t be as durable as a cedar sauna.
MCP Sauna also kindly includes a few essential accessories with this sauna – a bucket, ladle, and a thermometer/hygrometer.
One thing to keep in mind with this sauna is that it requires 220V 40A power, which may not be available in some US households.
- Offers traditional sauna experience.
- Allows you to adjust the humidity inside.
- Accommodates 4 people.
- Includes basic sauna accessories.
And finally, we have this 4-person outdoor sauna by Decorate With Daria. This sauna is very similar to the Cayenne 4-person option overviewed a little earlier, but there are a few minor differences.
More importantly, this sauna doesn’t come with exterior lights, an oxygen ionizer, and we can’t tell whether it is compliant with any safety standards. For the latter, it probably is, but we can’t claim anything since the manufacturer doesn’t indicate compliance with any standards.
What is similar between the Cayenne and this sauna is that both rely on ceramic infrared heaters to deliver heat. The ceramic heaters in this unit may get pretty hot and prevent you from staying inside the sauna for too long, but they will also heat you up much quicker than non-infrared heaters.
This 4-person outdoor sauna is built from hemlock wood, and as we already know, this is a decent wood for sauna-building, but not the best.
For entertainment, this option has an integrated music system with a CD player and AM/FM radio. Aside from that, this sauna has color therapy lights on the ceiling.
If you decided to go for this sauna, then keep in mind that it requires 220V current. If you don’t have it, you may need to hire an electrician to get this thing set up.
- Quick heating via infrared technology.
- Accommodates 4 people.
- Color therapy lights.
- Integrated music system.
- The ceramic heaters may get very hot.
- Requires 220V current.
Why Buy An Outdoor Sauna For Your Home?
You probably know that saunas are available in indoor and outdoor configurations. So given the two types, why should you opt for an outdoor sauna?
Well, here are the key benefits of an outdoor sauna:
- An outdoor sauna won’t be limited by the size of your home. It’s likely that you have much less free room indoors than in your backyard. With this in mind, it’s much easier to size outdoor saunas than an indoor sauna. And if you have a large backyard, you’ll have more room for error, and you’ll also be able to install a larger sauna.
- Outdoor saunas have more room. Since they don’t have to be built small to fit in homes, they get much bigger. So if you are going to host large parties or just want a more comfortable sauna, then the best option would be an outdoor sauna, though you can find some pretty big indoor saunas as well.
With that said, keep in mind that indoor saunas are better when it comes to privacy and costs. Price-wise, indoor and outdoor options are roughly the same, but the installation costs of outdoor units tend to be higher though.
Make Sure That You Are Allowed To Have One On Your Property
Before reviewing outdoor saunas, make sure that you are allowed to install one in your backyard.
It’s difficult to give advice because laws differ from state to state. But given how significantly outdoor saunas can change the landscape, your state will probably have some regulations in regard to them.
You might also need to obtain a building permit to install a sauna, and you may also need to pay taxes associated with adding a permanent structure in your backyard.
Ask around, get in touch with authorities, and do some online research to find out whether or not structures like saunas are allowed in your area and, if allowed, what kind of rules you need to follow.
Things To Look For When Shopping For An Outdoor Sauna
Once you’ve confirmed that you can indeed build a sauna in your backyard, you could start looking for the right option.
There are various outdoor saunas available out there, all with different features and prices. For a newbie, picking the right sauna might be a challenge. Well, in this section, let’s talk about the key things that you should be looking for when shopping for an outdoor sauna.
One of the first things to consider in your research is size. Of course, with an outdoor sauna, you could go pretty big, but there are a few things to keep in mind when trying to choose a size.
So first of all, how much free area do you have in your backyard? And how much are you actually willing to allocate to your sauna? You’ll need to do some measurements to know precisely what’s the limit for your sauna’s sizing.
Then, how are you going to use your sauna? Are you going to host sauna parties, or will your sauna be intended only for family members? Needless to say, for hosting purposes, you’d want to get a bigger sauna.
When it comes to sauna sizing, there are two things to pay attention to:
- Dimensions. It’s important that you know how large the sauna is when fully assembled. This will allow you to assess whether your backyard will be able to physically take the sauna.
- How many people the sauna can accommodate. Typically, this figure shows how many benching spots a sauna has. When it comes to person capacity, sellers might give exaggerated figures. It’s one thing to barely fit 4 people, and it’s another thing to comfortably accommodate 4 people and have some room for others.
You might also want to pay attention to how the sauna looks. After all, it is going to be a very noticeable addition to your backyard, and it would probably be a good idea to match your sauna with your design and backyard structures.
There are several heater types used in saunas (not only outdoor but also indoor saunas). We’ve seen a few heater types in our reviews and briefly touched upon their pros and cons. Now, let’s give a more expanded overview of the heater types used in saunas.
Nowadays, traditional heaters are usually electric, though you may find saunas that use wood or gas heaters. All in all, electric is the more economical type of heater because it produces no waste. Aside from that, unlike gas heaters, the costs of running an electric heater are more or less steady – gas prices tend to fluctuate.
So unless you have specific reasons not to go for an electric heater, choose a sauna that comes with an electric heating appliance.
The two biggest benefits of traditional heaters are:
- They heat up the sauna to high temperatures. Traditional heaters tend to heat up the sauna up to 180-200 degrees Fahrenheit, which is a range generally favored by sauna users.
- They allow for humidity adjustment. TUnlike infrared saunas, traditional saunas allow you to adjust the air humidity by sprinkling water on hot stones. You could thus take both dry and wet saunas.
All in all, these two features allow traditional saunas to deliver a more classical sauna experience.
On the other hand, traditional saunas take a long time to heat up – usually up to an hour or more, depending on the heat setting and the size of the sauna. Not only that, but traditional saunas are more expensive to run – usually, traditional saunas cost 40-50 cents per minute, while infrared units cost 5-10 cents per minute.
The unique thing about infrared heaters is that they deliver heat directly to bodies that have a lower temperature. This is in contrast with traditional heaters where the air is heated up first and only then the bodies that come in contact with it.
Infrared saunas thus do not need contact or medium to transfer heat. What this allows for is dramatically sped up heating – depending on the size of the sauna and selected temperature, it may take just a few minutes for the sauna to reach the desired temperature.
However, since infrared heaters do not heat up the air, they do not deliver heat evenly. Due to this, sauna manufacturers place a few heaters throughout the cabin to ensure even heat distribution.
As mentioned above, infrared saunas typically don’t allow you to adjust the air humidity. Aside from that, modern infrared saunas usually reach temperatures up to around 140-150 degrees Fahrenheit, though this depends on the heater type.
Infrared heater type & wavelength
If you are going for an infrared option, then pay attention to what kind of heater it comes with. There are three main types of infrared heaters:
- Ceramic. This an older type of infrared heater. It’s very efficient, but its surface temperatures tend to reach 300-400 degrees Fahrenheit. Though ceramic heaters can be different, in a sauna with ceramic heaters, you probably will soon start feeling uncomfortable from the heat.
- Carbon. Carbon heaters are very popular in infrared saunas these days. They have a larger surface area and thus stay cooler, heating up to 140-150 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Carbon/ceramic. A combination of the two previous types, carbon/ceramic heaters reach temperatures of around 200 degrees Fahrenheit. If you feel that 140-150 degrees will be too cold for you, then look for a sauna with carbon/ceramic heater.
There are a few things to know about wavelength as well. Most infrared saunas are far-infrared saunas, and this type of infrared sauna has been shown to have some health benefits.
An emerging type of infrared sauna is the near-infrared sauna. Manufacturers claim that these are cleaner and safer than far-infrared saunas, but near-infrared saunas aren’t well-researched yet, so we can’t give any recommendations here. You may just stick to far-infrared saunas until more insight into near-infrared saunas is available.
The type of wood used in outdoor saunas is pretty important as well. In fact, due to the harsh outdoor conditions, it’s more important than with indoor saunas. Outdoors, temperatures may vary widely throughout the year, and they might do so very quickly.
With this in mind, cedar will most likely be the best wood for outdoor saunas. This softwood readily expands and contracts in response to temperature and humidity changes, and it’s much less prone to cracking and warping than other wood types used in saunas.
Some people also like cedar’s smell, but some users may be allergic to it.
Another notable wood type is basswood. Basswood isn’t as durable as cedar, but it doesn’t emit any smells and is hypoallergenic if treated right.
Eucalyptus is also sometimes used in saunas. It’s a fast-growing wood that’s pretty cheap. Besides, it’s easy to stain, which allows it to take consistent colors.
You also have woods like pine, spruce, and Canadian hemlock wood. These are inexpensive woods that are mostly found in cheap saunas. They are pretty durable, but they probably won’t live long in very harsh climates with rapid temperature changes.
Final Thoughts For Your New Sauna
Setting up an outdoor sauna is perhaps more difficult than an indoor one.
First off, you need to obtain a permit and maybe pay tax. Then, you need to have that huge thing delivered to your doorstep. Next comes assembly along with wiring and plumbing. Make sure you find out up front if your unit is easy to assemble or not. From start to finish, getting an outdoor sauna up and running can be quite timely and costly.
But trust us, it can be worth it if your primary needs are space and comfort. But to make all that effort worth it, be sure to follow our guidelines and do pick the best outdoor sauna you can!