What are the different types of infrared sauna heaters? There are three types of infrared sauna heater. They are ceramic heaters, carbon heaters, and ceramic-carbon combination heaters. Each has a distinct set of characteristics, advantages, and disadvantages, see below.
TYPES OF INFRARED SAUNA HEATER
There are three types of infrared sauna heater – ceramic, carbon fiber, and ceramic-carbon combination heaters. Ceramic were the original heaters used in infrared saunas. They are cheap to make, are long life, and generate lots of heat.
Carbon heaters are a more recent invention. These infrared heaters are incredibly efficient, highly durable, and distribute heat evenly throughout the sauna chamber.
And, combination heaters use a mix of both ceramic and carbon fiber panels. Combination infrared heaters are a middle ground between the two technologies combining the intense heat of ceramic sauna heaters with the efficiency, durability, and heat distribution of carbon fiber panels.
INFRARED SAUNA HEATER GUIDE
CERAMIC INFRARED HEATER
WHAT IS A CERAMIC INFRARED HEATER?
A ceramic heater uses a ceramic rod to generate infrared heat. When a ceramic heater is powered up it glows red hot and emits large quantities of infrared heat. They are cheap to make and reach greater heat levels compared to the other two types.
HOW DO THEY WORK?
They work by heating a ceramic rod using electricity. When the rod becomes hot, it glows red and starts generating high levels of infrared light energy.
Ceramic infrared heaters can become very hot and they can reach temperatures of 350-400 °F. Below we take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of a ceramic infrared sauna heater.
PROS OF CERAMIC HEATERS
Infrared ceramic heaters are highly efficient. They are a much more cost-effective way of generating heat compared to traditional saunas. If you want a smaller energy bill you should aim for an infrared sauna over a traditional sauna.
HIGH HEAT LEVELS
Another advantage of a ceramic heater is that they generate very high levels of heat. They are the most powerful infrared heater type in terms of heat output.
The ceramic rod is heated until it becomes red hot and can reach temperatures of 350-400 °F. If your sauna priority is heat intensity, then a ceramic heater is a good option.
With proper care a ceramic infrared heater will last many years. They have a long life expectancy. Many ceramic heaters are rated for 10,000 operational hours and can effectively last a lifetime.
CHEAPER TO MAKE
Ceramic heaters are cheaper to make than carbon heaters. And, this means they are also cheaper to buy. Most ceramic-powered infrared heaters come with a lower price tag, which will appeal to those on a budget.
CONS OF CERAMIC HEATERS
Although the intense heat of a ceramic heater is a pro for some people, it will be a disadvantage for others. Some people prefer an infrared sauna with a lower level of heat intensity. Uncomfortably high heat levels can lead to shorter sauna sessions which result in fewer health benefits.
Another disadvantage of a ceramic infrared heater is the creation of hot spots. This happens when the heat is not evenly distributed and is more concentrated in some areas than in others. When this happens, you can feel hot spots on your body that receive more heat than other areas.
Another con of an infrared ceramic heater is that it is more easily broken compared to a carbon fiber heater. Ceramic heater rods are brittle and cannot be bent or twisted. If they are handled carelessly they can be easily damaged.
CARBON INFRARED HEATER
WHAT IS A CARBON FIBER INFRARED HEATER?
Carbon fiber sauna heaters were introduced in 2009. They use carbon fiber panels to generate heat. These panels are more flexible than ceramic heating rods, making them more durable and less prone to cracking and breaking.
HOW DO THEY WORK?
The panels are placed throughout the interior of the sauna and cabin and heated using electrical power. Once the carbon fibers heat up they begin to emit infrared heat energy. Below we take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of a carbon infrared sauna heater.
PROS OF CARBON HEATERS
EXCELLENT ENERGY EFFICIENCY
A key characteristic of a carbon heater is its high level of energy efficiency. Although ceramic infrared heaters are energy-efficient, carbon fiber heaters are even more so.
The technology used to generate infrared light in a carbon fiber heating panel consumes less electricity compared to a ceramic rod. If you want to keep your energy bills to a minimum go for a carbon fiber heater.
Another advantage of a carbon fiber heating panel is its durability. They are much less likely to break compared to a ceramic heater. Carbon fiber panels can be slightly bent without breaking. This flexibility allows a certain amount of mistreatment without the panel cracking or getting damaged.
EVEN HEAT DISTRIBUTION
Carbon fiber heating panels deliver excellent heat distribution. Their large flat surface areas are very effective at distributing heat throughout the sauna cabin. This means your body will receive a more even spread of infrared heat compared to a sauna that uses a ceramic heater.
Carbon fiber heaters have a very long life expectancy. The best carbon fiber heating panels are rated to last for 50,000 – 100,000 hours. That’s even better than a ceramic heater. This means a carbon fiber heated infrared sauna will effectively last most people a lifetime.
Another pro of a carbon fiber heater is that they do not become as intensely hot as a ceramic heating rod. This is good news if you accidentally touch a panel. The lower heat level means you are unlikely to get burned. Also, you can sit close to a carbon fiber heater without feeling uncomfortably hot.
HEAT UP QUICKLY
Carbon fiber powered infrared saunas heat up more quickly. Because they run at lower temperatures, they reach their operating temperature more quickly than a ceramic heater. This means less waiting around as your sauna will be ready for use sooner.
A great advantage of a carbon fiber heated sauna is that you can enjoy longer sessions. They run at lower temperatures compared to a ceramic heated sauna. This means you can sit in them for longer before you begin to feel uncomfortably hot. Longer sauna sessions mean better relaxation and health benefits.
CONS OF CARBON HEATERS
Ceramic heaters are more expensive. They use a modern and more advanced technology compared to ceramic heating rods and are more expensive to produce. Infrared saunas with carbon heaters tend to be more expensive than ceramic heated alternatives.
Another disadvantage of a carbon heater is that they run at lower temperatures. This will be a disappointment for people that prefer an intensely hot sauna. However, they achieve all the same results as a ceramic heated sauna and the lower temperature allows people to enjoy longer sessions.
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CERAMIC-CARBON COMBINATION INFRARED HEATER
WHAT IS A CERAMIC-CARBON COMBINATION INFRARED HEATER?
A ceramic-carbon combination infrared heater is a hybrid technology. It is the third type of infrared sauna heater.
A combination heater uses a mix of both ceramic heating rods and carbon fiber infrared panels. The idea is to blend the two technologies and deliver some of the benefits of both heater types.
HOW DO THEY WORK?
Ceramic-carbon combination heaters are electrically powered. They generate infrared light energy using a mix of ceramic rods and carbon fiber heating panels.
These heat sources emit infrared light energy that travels through the sauna cabin and heats your body directly. Below we take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of a ceramic-carbon combination infrared sauna heater.
PROS OF COMBINATION HEATERS
STRIKE A BALANCE
Combination heaters strike a balance between their ceramic and carbon fiber cousins. You can expect all the same pros and cons you get with ceramic and carbon fiber heaters in a combination unit. They land somewhere in the middle between the two.
LESS INTENSE HEAT
A combination heater strikes a balance between the intense heat of a ceramic heating rod and the lower heat level of a carbon fiber panel. If you are looking for an infrared sauna that falls somewhere between the two in terms of heat output – a combination heater will work well.
An infrared sauna using combination heaters will be priced higher than a ceramic heated sauna but lower than an all carbon fiber heated unit. They provide a third option for people looking to buy an infrared sauna at a price point between the two.
Just like a ceramic or carbon fiber infrared sauna, a combination heated sauna is incredibly energy efficient. They are more efficient than a ceramic heated sauna and less efficient than an all carbon fiber device. But, they are much more efficient than a traditional sauna.
A combination heater has a long life expectancy. Just like ceramic and carbon fiber heating panels, the heater is expected to last many years, even a life time if treated with care.
The ceramic rods in the combination heater are brittle and not as durable as the carbon fiber panel. While both heaters should be handled carefully, the ceramic rods require more gentle attention.
CONS OF COMBINATION HEATERS
MORE EXPENSIVE THAN CERAMIC
One disadvantage of a combination heater is that they are more expensive than ceramic heaters. This is because the introduction of carbon fiber panels pushes up the price. They are however cheaper than an all carbon fiber heater.
NOT AS HOT AS ALL-CERAMIC
A ceramic-carbon combination heater will not get as hot as an all ceramic heating unit. This is because of the use of carbon fiber panels – which run at lower temperatures. It will however be hotter than an all carbon fiber heater.
POSITIONING OF HEATERS
Whichever type of infrared sauna heater you choose, you must ensure they are correctly positioned within the sauna cabin. Infrared heaters should be placed in a way that ensures an even distribution of heat throughout the chamber.
The heaters must be positioned so that they target the body core and limbs. Heaters should not be positioned above shoulder height. There should be no heaters at or above head height.
Ideally, infrared heaters should be placed on the back wall, side walls, under the bench, and on the floor. This arrangement will ensure full-body coverage and make the most of your sauna experience.
TYPES OF INFRARED HEAT
Infrared saunas can deliver four classes of infrared heat energy – near, mid, far and full spectrum infrared heat. The most common types you will find in infrared saunas are near and far-infrared light. Let’s take a look at each type below.
Near-infrared heaters use a type of infrared light that has the shortest wavelength. Near-infrared heaters are very popular in infrared saunas and the heat they emit is very effective at penetrating the skin tissue.
Mid-infrared light has a wavelength bigger than near-infrared but shorter than far-infrared. It is not found in infrared saunas as commonly as NIR and FIR. It can penetrate the body more deeply than NIR.
The third type of infrared heat is far-infrared (FIR). This type of infrared has the longest wavelength. Far infrared heat deeply penetrates the body and heats right to the core. It is great for stimulating an intense sweat and stimulating cardiovascular activity.
Full-spectrum infrared heaters use a combination of all three types of infrared heat covered above. These heaters emit near-infrared, mid-infrared, and far-infrared light energy.
INFRARED SAUNA vs TRADITIONAL SAUNA
What’s the difference between an infrared sauna and a traditional sauna? The difference between infrared and traditional saunas is in how they heat the body. An infrared sauna uses a heater that emits infrared light energy.
Infrared light travels from the heat source, through the air, and heats the body directly without heating the air in the cabin. A traditional sauna uses a heat source such as hot coals that are electrically heated.
The heat source heats the air in the cabin, which in turn heats your body. One of the biggest differences between an infrared sauna and a traditional sauna is the level of heat intensity. Infrared saunas run at much lower temperatures, and create a much more comfortable environment, and achieve the same results.