One of the advantages that infrared sauna marketers talk about is a low electric power consumption of infrared heaters. I decided to make some calculations to check if this is the case and how one's electric bill will really differ if an infrared sauna or a conventional steam sauna will be used. I did estimates for a 2-person sauna and for a 6-person sauna.
To calculate how much will sauna use cost we need to know the power consumption of an infrared and conventional sauna. The average power consumption of 2-person infrared saunas is around 1600W and differs only slightly. For a 6-person infrared sauna it lies in the range from 2800W to 3600W so I took 3000W as an average.
A 1000W electrical device consumes 1kWh electrical energy in one hour of operation. Let's assume that you take an infrared sauna twice a week and heaters stay on approximately for 1 hour each time you use a sauna (sauna warm-up time plus sauna session time). If you pay $ 0.20 cent per 1kWh then infrared sauna operation in one month will cost you:
For a 2-person infrared sauna:
1.6 kWh x 1 hour x 9 times / month x $ 0.20 = $ 2.88
For a 6-person infrared sauna:
3kWh x 1 hour x 9 times / month x $ 0.20 = $ 5.4
To estimate electric power consumption of electric heaters for a traditional steam sauna I looked at some heater models. For a 2-person sauna, 4.5kW models look suitable, and for a 6-person 6kW will do (my estimation is based on a volume in cubic feet of 2-person and 6-person saunas). As traditional saunas take more time to heat-up, I assume a 2-hour working time for a session. So for a steam sauna we get:
For a 2-person steam sauna:
4.5kWh x 2 hour x 9 times / month x $ 0.20 = $ 16.2
For a 6-person steam sauna:
6kWh x 2 hour x 9 times / month x $ 0.20 = $ 21.6
So what conclusions can be drawn from these figures?
- An infrared sauna indeed consumes less electric power than a conventional sauna with an electric heater, but the difference is not dramatic if you use your sauna about twice a week.
- The difference between power decrees for larger sauna rooms. For my estimate a 2-person infrared sauna consumes about 5 1/2 times less than 2-person conventional. For 6-person saunas the difference is 4 times.
- If you use a sauna often (4-7 times a week) the difference becomes more significant. For 20 sessions per month difference between two 2-person sauna types in my estimate is $ 30, and an infrared sauna costs $ 6.4 per month.
But there is another issue with electric sauna heater for a traditional sauna. It is almost certain that installation of such heater will require some amount of electric wiring work (new outlet for higher voltage and amperage, GFCI, insulation), while with an infrared sauna you have a chance that an additional dedicated outlet will fit well.
Keep in mind that figures are different for other sauna schedules and electric power prices, so you may want to repeat the calculations for you own data.