Finding a sauna that will fit your home nicely is often a hard task. Questions like where to put it or how much space it will take are often some of the reasons people opt to have an outdoor sauna as opposed to an indoor one that will take up a whole room in the house. Still, finding the best outdoor sauna is no easy feat since you have an equally large number of things to take into consideration. Outdoor saunas often need extra piping and electricity depending on their type. They also heavily vary in their shape, size, and materials which play a major role in its look and performance.
In order to help you choose the next beautiful addition to your backyard, I created this guide where we will go through all the top models for this year and compare their features. Further down the guide, we will talk about some of the benefits of outdoor saunas and the features that you need to look for when browsing for one.
Outdoor Saunas Comparison Chart
|Product||Type||Capacity||Wood Type||Our Rating|
|ALEKO CED6IMATRA||Traditional||4 People||Canadian Red Cedar|
|Cayenne Outdoor Sauna||Infrared||4 People||Hemlock|
|ALEKO SB7ABPI||Traditional||7 People||Pine wood|
|BZBCabins Oval Sauna||Traditional||8 People||Nordic Spruce|
|Western Pacific Sauna||Infrared||3-4 People||Hemlock|
|MCP Outdoor Sauna||Traditional||1-2 People||Hemlock|
ALEKO CED6IMATRA Canadian Red Cedar Outdoor Wet Dry Sauna
First on my list is the Aleko CED6IMATRA Outdoor sauna. It offers one of the best price-to-value deals on the market currently and is big enough sauna for people looking for something that can accommodate up to 4 people. The whole construction is made out of Canadian Red Cedar which is extremely durable and has excellent thermal properties. While it is great for heat insulation, the wood itself doesn’t heat up fast and can stay relatively cool to the touch even when the inside temperature reaches 190 degrees. The heat here is provided by a 4.5 W ELT-approved heater which does an alright job at maintaining the desired temperature. The heater has a control panel with touch screen controls that allow you to set temperatures and control other various features.
The interior is made on two levels and has lamps, a hygrometer, and a thermometer. There are two windows on each side of the central door. All the windows are made out of tempered glass. The door handle, along with everything else you touch is made out of wood. The overall dimensions of the sauna are 85 (H) x 71 (W) x 47 (D) inches. It has a shingled sloping roof that is durable and provides nice weather resistance to the sauna. One of the downsides of this model is that it struggles a bit with heating up, especially in colder weather, due to the large surface covered with glass.
- Comfortably fits 4 adults
- Good for both indoor and outdoor usage
- Doubles as a wet and dry sauna
- Made of Canadian Red Cedar
- Looks great
- Has a nice wooden scent on the inside
- Doesn’t heat up very fast
Cayenne 4-Person Outdoor Sauna
The Cayenne 4-person Sauna is one of the most complete packages on this list. With it, you get basically everything you need for a full-on sauna experience. It is good looking, stable, and has eight rapid-heat ceramic heaters that will bring the sauna up to the right temperature in no time. The Canadian Hemlock construction is also great-looking and durable enough to be placed anywhere outside.
In terms of additional accessories, this sauna is head and shoulders above its competition. On the inside, it has 4 removable backrests which are ergonomic and add a ton of comfort to your sauna experience. Furthermore, there is an ionization system for keeping the air clean. The lighting is waterproof and nicely matched to the interior contours. There is also an FM radio and a CD/MP3 player which can connect to your phone or iPod. You also get 2 cupholders and a few more accessories which make this basically the most complete package out of all the saunas here. The installation process is also quite easy with its tongue and groove design. The whole construction has 7 years of warranty which covers defects.
- Easy installation
- Fits up to 4 people
- Comes with a ton of accessories
- Has 4 backrests inside
- Beautiful color
- Tempered glass windows
- Electronics are prone to breaking over time
ALEKO SB7ABPI Pine Outdoor Wet Dry Barrel Sauna
The only barrel-shaped sauna on this list is the Aleko SB7ABPI Outdoor wet and dry sauna. It is also one of the most spacious models here and has the most powerful heater. The heater itself is 9kW and is ETL Certified. The Design of the sauna is quite unique and durable, as well as easy to install. Still, the top part isn’t fully waterproof, so putting some additional shingles won’t be a bad idea. The shingled roof is sold separately, unfortunately. Despite that small fault, the thick pinewood does an okay job of insulating the whole structure. At the front, you have two benches for whoever is waiting to go inside or wants to cool down after the sauna session. Inside, it is quite spacious and there is easily enough space for 6 adults with space for 1 more if you feel like being a bit too close to each other.
The heater packs 44 pounds of sauna stones and has touch screen controls like other Aleko sauna models. The interior lamps are anti-explosive so they can withstand the extreme heat, which can get up to 200 degrees, unlike some infrared saunas. On the inside, you also have a hygrothermograph, wooden bucket and scoop, and a sand watch. As with other Aleko models, though, this one is quite pricey and has a somewhat high operational costs due to the strong heater.
- Relatively easy to install if you follow the manual
- Durable pine wood construction
- Powerful 9 kW ETL-approved heater
- Fits up to 7 people (6 adults)
- Comes with a decent amount of accessories
- Shingled roof is sold separately
- Quite demanding in terms of electrical power
BZBCabins 8 Person Oval Outdoor Sauna
One rather unique model is the BZB Cabins and Outdoors Sauna Kit W2. It is very unique due to its oval shape which allows for it to be split in half on the inside, resulting in two rooms, both almost equally functional. Due to that shape, there is also more headroom inside. The sauna itself is the largest out of all models here, being able to fit 8 adults easily. It is also one of the prettiest thanks to its Nordic Spruce Construction which is dark and has a very subtle scent on the inside. The construction is a bit hard to be put together but, unlike some other models, comes with its roofing shingles.
On the inside, you have an entry room and a sauna room with a Harvia M3 wood-fired heater which is quite potent and raises the temperatures up to 200 degrees easily. You can either stay in the room with the heater and have the door closed, or have it opened and keep the whole interior hot. The second option will be harder to achieve due to the fact that the heater will have to heat up twice the space, but once everything is heated up, this is a proper 8-person sauna. Unfortunately, the price is also one that suits a proper 8-person sauna, which is also one of the biggest disadvantages of this model.
- Comes with roofing shingles
- Huge interior space
- Suitable for 8 adults
- Powerful heater
- Can be separated into two interior rooms
- Beautiful looks and solid construction
- Very expensive
- Not easy to build and maintain
Western Pacific 3 to 4 Person Outdoor Sauna
The Western Pacific Indoor/Outdoor sauna is one of the more promising models on paper but in reality it doesn’t bring good value to the table. While it is suitable for up to 4 people, it doesn’t provide the much-needed waterproofing an outdoor model should have. This is surprising since Hemlock wood is pretty weather resistant and this sauna is made entirely out of it. Still, the corners are known to leak over time, especially if you live in a rainy climate and use it frequently.
The roof is solid, though, and doesn’t allow any snow or rain to crack through it. On the inside, you are greeted with the familiar and cozy Hemlock interior that looks and smells great. The 8 Large ceramic far infrared heaters are excellent at what they do. They heat up the sauna relatively quick but can’t get the temperature much above 160 degrees, so if you’re into very hot traditional saunas, this won’t cut it for you. On the inside, it also has a digital control panel that has an MP3 port for your iPod or phone.
- Gorgeous design
- Fits up to 4 people
- Canadian Hemlock construction
- 8 Large ceramic IR heaters
- Has digital controls with MP3 compatibility
- Tempered Glass Windows
- The LED indicators have known issues
- Very expensive
- Not perfectly waterproof
MCP Sauna Canadian Hemlock Traditional Swedish Outdoor Sauna
Last but not least is the MCP Sauna Traditional Swedish Sauna which is the smallest and cheapest model out of the bunch here. It features a tall and narrow design that is good for up to 2 adults, although it is built with 1 adult in mind if I have to be honest. The base footprint is 48 inches wide, and 43 inches deep which isn’t a lot but that’s the appeal of this sauna – that it can fit in almost any corner of your yard, no matter how cramped. Despite its Canadian hemlock wood, it isn’t very weatherproof, so you will either have to re-roof it or install a tarp beneath the roof that will keep things dry in heavy rain. The door has a large wooden handle and a temperated glass window from top to bottom.
The stove is a 4.5kW one that fits roughly 40lbs sauna rocks. On the inside, there is a single bench with a pre-installed backrest. You also get a bucket and ladle, thermometer, sand timer, and a hygrometer.
- Compact Design
- Perfect for 1-2 people
- Powerful 4.5kWs stove
- Includes a lot of additional accessories
- You need a licensed electrician for the installation
- Very narrow interior
- Not very weatherproof
Outdoor Saunas Buyer’s Guide
Traditionally, saunas originated by being a small wooden hut that housed everyone during a cold winter night in the Scandinavian peninsula. While there are now modern options that allow you integrate a sauna into your home, outdoor models are still very popular not only because of their bigger dimensions but also because they really bring that authentic sauna feeling. After all, is there anything better than going out of a blazing hot sauna and feeling your body melt the snow around you?
Despite of being generally more expensive and harder to assemble, outdoor models do offer a variety of advantages which make them worth considering. Let’s check out some of those benefits now…
Benefits Of Outdoor Saunas
First and foremost, one of the major and most obvious benefits is that you don’t have to put aside a whole room in your house to install the sauna. Outdoor models are becoming more and more popular since people prefer sparing some room in an already big bayard rather than a whole room inside the house. Granted, there are smaller indoor models but they still take quite a lot of interior space.
Being outside the house, you now have a lot of freedom with the place you will put the sauna and how big it can be. Some outdoor models easily each 8-people capacity, while indoor models can often fit no more than 3 or 4 people. Now, with that outdoor positioning, there will be a few drawbacks. First of all, depending on your sauna type, you might have to lay out new power lines and give the sauna access to running water. Secondly, these saunas are harder to heat up compared to some indoor models which can heat up in less than 10 minutes.
Still, the sauna itself can be built close enough to your house that you don’t really feel the inconvenience of having to walk a lot to enter the sauna. Some people prefer having the sauna near an outdoor hot tub or the pool, which will give them a good place to cool down or stay warm during the spa session.
Another benefit that is often overlooked is easier maintenance. While an indoor sauna can damage the surrounding walls and rooms of your house due to the heat and moisture, an outdoor one will not. Sure, it takes a little more time to clean up due to the bigger proportions but it is away from your home where it is safe for it to heat up to the desired temperature.
If you want to further compare the benefits and drawbacks of both indoor and outdoor saunas, I suggest checking out my full article on that topic by clicking here. Now, let’s go through some of the most important features that define what a good outdoor sauna should be…
Outdoor Sauna Features
- Sauna type
- Material quality
- Design & Dimensions
- Additional Features and Accessories
- Initial Price and Operating Costs
When it comes to the sauna type, there are two major options to choose from – traditional wood-burning saunas, or electric infrared ones. Both of these have their own sets of pros and cons and different people will enjoy either kind.
The most important advantage of traditional saunas is that they can reach high temperatures, usually in the realm of 190-200 degrees. They do so by using a wood-burning heater which has rocks on top of it. You water these rocks to create steam and raise the moisture in the room. Still, as you might’ve already guessed, these require a constant supply of wood and a high level of maintenance. Due to their high temperatures, these saunas are often feature-poor compared to infrared ones.
Infrared saunas, on the other hand, run on electricity and use carbon-based heaters that emit infrared light. While there is no doubt infrared light has many benefits, it does depend on electricity, meaning you will either have to position the sauna near your house or bring electricity to it one way or another. These saunas don’t reach temperatures as high as the ones in traditional models which allows them to be more feature-rich. They are also far easier to maintain and have more internal space due to the lack of a wood heater. IR saunas can also be remotely started or programmed to start at a specific time of the day but more on that later.
The bottom line is, if you enjoy extreme heat, opt for a traditional one, while you should choose an infrared sauna if you want to reap the benefits of IR light and don’t want to constantly maintain a wood heater.
There are three materials you should look at for every sauna you browse – the wood, the glass panels, and the metal bands and fasteners.
Firstly, the main wood types used in modern outdoor saunas are Cedar, Pinewood, and Hemlock. These wood types are durable enough and require little to no maintenance in order to last you quite some time. Any other wood type besides those three will likely degrade over time.
Apart from the wood, you should pay attention to the glass and metal used around the sauna. All the metal fasteners and bands should be made out of steel in order to improve durability and the rigidity of the structure. The glass panes should be made out of tempered glass which is not only more heat resistant but is also stronger and more solid than normal glass which is especially important when we’re talking about safety.
The quality of the materials also plays a major role in weatherproofing your sauna. If your area gets a wide range of weather types, it is best for the sauna to be entirely water-resistant on the outside and resistant to humidity on the inside.
When it comes to installations, outdoor saunas are much harder to deal with than indoor ones. They are bigger, heavier, and often require a lot more time to construct. In most cases, you will also need extra power lines and water piping done leading to the sauna. Traditional saunas with a wood-burning heater are easier to install since they don’t require anything besides an empty patch of land to build on. All you need to pay attention to with these traditional models is the ventilation.
Still, as many people opt for infrared saunas, they need to take into consideration electricity. While most saunas come with detailed instructions on how to properly build them, some companies out there offer to build them for you, sometimes even at no extra cost. This is why you should check with the manufacturer whether the installation is included in the cost, and if not – how much it costs.
Before you get an outdoor sauna, you can walk around your yard and figure out the perfect place for it. Make sure you level the ground well and that there is no dense vegetation near that land. Determine the size of the area you’ve put aside for the sauna and work with those dimensions when choosing your model.
The size of the sauna mainly depends on the area you can spare in your yard and on how many people you want to fit inside. Outdoor saunas have the advantage of being especially large, so if you want to get an 8-person sauna, there most likely is a model for your needs.
Still, the bigger the size, the more expensive the sauna. Bigger saunas are also harder to install and maintain. They also reach their operating temperatures harder and use more electricity/wood to keep the desired temperature constant. In other words, large saunas aren’t very efficient with their energy but are also the best option if you want to invite friends and family over. Larger saunas also have more features and are sometimes built into two height levels on the inside with one bench being above the other. This allows for people to sit lower, where the temperatures are cooler, or higher, where the temperatures reach their maximum.
Some large models even have 2 rooms inside, with one room acting as a slightly-cooler waiting room and the other being the actual sauna room that is fully heated up.
Design & Dimensions
There are quite a few design options when it comes to outdoor saunas, so you will have quite a few to pick from. The most common type is barrel-shaped saunas which are also one of the oldest sauna types. This design allows for good heat management and is also more stable and durable over time. These saunas look great in any backyard and can range heavily in terms of their capacity. Barrel saunas are wider but their roof is typically quite low compared to square-shaped saunas.
The other saunas which are quite common are house or square-shape saunas. They are taller and have a more traditional look. They have a cozy look and feature a shingled triangle roof which makes them look like small huts in your backyard. Other types of sauna designs include oval-shaped and triangular-shaped.
As with the roof of your house, you want the roof of your new outdoor sauna to be as impenetrable to the elements as possible. Nothing is worse for a wooden structure than a constantly leaking roof. If you are living in a windy area or somewhere with a lot of snowfall, you might also invest in sauna with a sturdier roof. Normally, barrel-shaped saunas have the strongest roofs and with a little bit of insulation, they are also excellent at retaining heat.
Additional Features and Accessories
One of my favorite additional features for any type of sauna is a built-in music player. These waterproof players allow you to listen to your favorite songs or radios while relaxing inside.
Another very useful feature that you should be looking for is the “delay timer” option. What this feature does is that it basically allows you to set a time when the sauna to turn on. This means that you can go out and come back to a perfectly heated up sauna ready for you. If you plan on enjoying your sauna at a specific time of the day, you can just set the timer and it will turn the sauna on at the appointed moment.
The topic of accessories is a bit difficult to discuss as most people prefer getting their own accessories that fit their own needs while others prefer having everything included in the sauna package they are getting. These accessories include backrests, footrests, headrests, essential oil holders, and others. With backrests, it is always good to find ones that are ergonomically designed and big enough for you. They should also fit your sauna’s interior looks-wise. The easiest way to color-match your accessories to your sauna’s interior is to try getting them from the same wood type your sauna is made of.
Sauna Tip: If you like controlling and monitoring your heart rate when inside the sauna, I suggest getting a waterproof fitness tracker that will keep an eye on your heart’s metrics and give you a detailed graph after the session is over.
Initial Price and Operating Costs
If you get an outdoor sauna that has electrically powered heaters, you will have to take into account the running costs of it. Granted, wood for burning costs money too, so all of that should be taken into account when you choose the size of the sauna. The bigger the sauna, the more electricity/wood it will burn. However, if you plan on using it only once per week, these costs are neglegable. Those bigger saunas also take a lot more energy to heat up properly. The energy required by the sauna will determine the size of the power cable that you use for it as well as how much it will stack on top of your electricity bill.
The initial price is the easiest factor to consider. Just set a budget and follow it throughout the shopping process. Have in mind that some sauna accessories can quickly add up to the cost, especially if you are buying them in sets of more than 2, depending on your sauna’s seats.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is building your own sauna better than buying one?
It depends on a lot of factors. First and foremost, it depends on how big you want your sauna. A typical sauna for 6 people will be a lot harder to build properly than buying it. Smaller saunas, however, are easier to build and maintain, and are also quite cheaper than the pre-built options on the market.
How fast do outdoor saunas heat up?
The time it takes for the sauna to heat up mainly depends on the ambient temperature and how well the sauna is insulated. As a rule of thumb, a sauna will heat up to 194 degrees in roughly 1 hour.
To cool down after the sauna, though, you might want to take a cold shower. But are they as healthy as hot ones? Find out more about this topic by clicking here.
Where is the best place to put my outdoor sauna?
Generally speaking, the closer to your house, the better. While some people ty to match their outdoor saunas to the house decorations and overall colors, others prefer having their saunas deep into the yard, where it will be a whole other experience to go to the sauna and chill around it. Take into consideration power cables and water piping if you plan on placing it further away from the house.
Are outdoor saunas resistant to rain and snow?
Most expensive models are. This heavily depends on how well they are built and what types of materials has been used. The premium woods like Cedar and Hemlock are pretty resistant to adverse weather when treated correctly beforehand. Water resistant, however, mainly depends on the roof and its shingles.
Finding the best outdoor sauna depends on a lot of key factors that you need to take into consideration. The main feature which determines most of the sauna’s other features is the capacity. The bigger the sauna, the more expensive it will be both initially and in the long run. Bigger saunas also require more outdoor space to be built and take longer to heat up. Still, nothing beats having all of your friends and family inside during a long sauna session. Pay attention to the wood type used in the sauna, as well as the type of heaters it uses for its effect. Traditional saunas are easier to run and don’t rely on electricity allowing them to be placed further away from your house.