The cost of a pre-made infrared sauna can run you around $900 and up, if you buy one from a sauna manufacturer but you can build your very own infrared sauna at home for far less than that.
By using some simple items you can find on Amazon, you can have one up and running in a matter of hours and ready to use the same day! Let's take a closer look at all of the components you'll need and how they all go together.
What You'll Need:
How Much Space Do I Need?
A 3' x 3' space is adequate but a 4' x 4' or 5' x 5' area is more spacious and still small enough to get that "sauna" experience, providing that the ceiling is lowered to about 5 1/2'.
What Kind Of Power Supply Do I Need?
Most of the time you will only need a 120v outlet (15 amp) to power all of your infrared lights. If you are running a heater at the same time, be sure it is lower wattage to avoid popping breakers. If you live in an area that uses 240v outlets, be sure to get lamps, bulbs that are rated for that instead.
How Much Will It Cost?
The basic cost will be dependent on a few things, mainly if you build your frame yourself, or buy one, what type of light/heat setup you use and so on. These will typically cost anywhere between $100 - $250. Not bad considering the cost of a pre-made unit!
What Kind Infrared Light Should I Use (Near or Far)?
Some people swear by near infrared light and others point out that far (fir) infrared light penetrates the skin deeper and has more beneficial effects. I will link to a few articles and let you make up your own mind.
How Hot Does It Get Inside The Sauna?
This will depend on how small your sauna is, what materials it is made out of and what type of light/heater you are using. Temperatures can range from 100 degrees F to 190 degrees F. Use a thermometer to see what range you are in.
How Hot Do The Bulbs Get?
The bulbs can get extremely hot and you will want to keep a minimum distance of 12" between the light and any other object (skin, tent material, etc.). Water will also make a violent reaction happen if it comes in contact with a hot infrared bulb, so be careful!
The enclosure or shell of the sauna is going to be one of the most important parts to this project. It is up to you, whether you want to build one yourself or buy one (or buy something that will work).
A Pre-Made Enclosure: These are very hard to find and I haven't found any pre-made rooms that are specifically made for saunas so you will have to be resourceful. I have a couple of ideas that you can use to get a head start below...
A Custom Built Enclosure: There are pros and cons to each but basically a pre-made one is going to cost more (in most cases) but will be more comfortable and custom built to suit your needs. You can have custom seating, add accessories if you wanted and so many other options because you can build them into the sauna, however you want!
An Existing Space: The easiest thing to do would be to use an existing room in your house like a closet or similar small room. The only problem with these is that the ceilings are tall which makes the room larger and will not get as hot as it would in a smaller space where the ceilings were lower.
Since they don't make sauna enclosures, you will have to buy a similar structure and do some slight modifications to it, but no big deal. I found some really cool tents that would work perfectly for this and look pretty decent as well.
These are really just privacy tents (available on Amazon) that are made for changing your clothes in if you are at an event of some sort but they would work great for a basic frame. They are just like those ez-up sun canopies and can be set up and taken down easily and quickly.
You can use the fabric, if you would like but be mindful of heat around it or close to it because of fire issues. You can replace the fabric with a better material like foil insulation that you can get at Amazon and if you do, be sure to get some tape and velcro as well to help make the shape of the structure.
I don't want to go into great detail on how to do this but you should get a few ideas on how it works and what I have in mind. I will add it to my "to do list" and make a detailed post later on describing the construction process.
Optional Frames You Could Use: They also have portable closets that you could use for the frame part but they are quite small and only measure about 20" wide by 6 feet long.
They are much cheaper than they changing room mentioned above and worth a look.
Ideas To Get Motivation From: The frame would be a self standing structure and the walls would then be attached to the frame. I would recommend taping the corners of the foil insulation so you can easily reuse it again and again and would only have to set it up once.
Here are a couple of pictures to help you get a better idea of what I had in mind by using a frame and the reflective bubble wrapping or some type of organic cotton material to create a basic sauna structure...
Building a custom structure can be the right choice for those who have the knowledge and tools of building something. These will cost more and take the most amount of time but there are simple versions out there that can make life a little easier.
Dimensional lumber is best for this but remember that weight is one of the major considerations, especially if it is going to be a portable model that you erect and take down on a regular basis. I would use the same foil barrier I mentioned above for this, as it is the easiest and most cost effective method for the walls.
Like I mentioned earlier, using an existing room or space in your house is the fastest, cheapest and probably the easiest way to get your own diy infrared sauna going. I have seen people use closets, bathtubs, a simple table with a curtain around it and so many other small space to get the most out of their experience.
There are two main lighting options and these are simply using a light source of some sort or buying an infrared sauna heater that is designed for saunas specifically. There are options to choose from when looking at lamps that use infrared bulbs but only one option for infrared sauna heaters.
You can make you own lamps using an infrared bulb and a lamp or you can buy a lamp that has a single bulb or multiple bulbs on it. It will be roughly the same cost if you cheese to use 4 separate bulbs and lamps as a lamp that uses multiple bulbs.
Pre-Made Lamp Options: There are different lamps out there nowadays that can make life a bit easier and make things way more convenient. Check out Amazon to see the different options.
There are also near and far infrared bulbs available, so you can choose which ones you want to use. Here are a few visual examples of what is out there:
Light Fixtures and Bulbs: You could also just grab a couple of light fixtures and a couple of bulbs and make your own lamp. This is a little more inconvenient but also alows you to put the lights in a custom arrangement and control the angles and spacing a lot more than you could with a pre-made lamp.
You also have to make sure that the lamp is rated for the bulb. So if the bulb is 250 watts, then I would recommend a 300 watt lamp. Most should work but check to be safe.
Lamps To Choose From:
A lot of people like to use the clamp type of lamps, shown in the picture to the right. I have seen them used with the reflective shields on and I have seen people take them off. I think it is probably a good idea to leave them on, it's safer all around. You could also use standard lamp sockets attached to a board too, to make it easier to use.
If you were to research the different light configurations that people are using to make their own infrared saunas, you would see dozens of examples that would give you a better idea of what would work best for you.
Some are encased in a wooden box, some are independent but grouped together in a pattern and others are tight formations that form a bigger more powerful source of heat and light.
Here are a few photos I found to give you a better idea of the different setups people have used:
There are also sauna heaters they make that you can hang up and use instead of a light and bulb setup.
These are easy to install (like hanging a picture) and run off of either 120 or 240 volts, depending on where you live and what kind of power you want them to produce.
You will have to wire them into a controller of some sort, in order to control the heat. The other option would be to wire it directly to a power switch, pretty simple to do though.
A Chair Or Bench: This isn't really an optional accessory but it isn't something most people would think about much either. They have small, less comfortable camping type chairs that you could use for this, with or without a backrest/arm rests.
You don't necessarily have to use a cheaper chair like this, you can get a more comfortable one but these do tend to make is more convenient and are relatively inexpensive.
A Thermometer/Hygrometer: The thermometer lies somewhere between a necessity and an optional accessory. You will want to monitor the heat inside your infrared sauna, making sure it doesn't get too hot.
A hygrometer just measures the amount of humidity (or moisture) in the air. You don't really need a hygrometer for an infrared sauna but it is cool to see the relative humidity in the air while using the sauna.
An Additional Heater: If you want your sauna to generate additional heat, so you get a more authentic sauna experience, then you will want to have an additional space heater on hand.
The small ones will work just fine for such a small space. A heater that is around 300-600 watts should work for this type of setup.
Radio/Mp3 Player: These are completely optional and will be highly valuable to some people but a nuisance to others. Watch the heat and your device!
Some people enjoy peace and quiet during a sauna session, much like a meditative session. Others seem to enjoy a little bit of music, nature sounds or light instrumental sounds while inn the sauna.
That's about all there is to building you very own infrared sauna! I didn't want to have one specific layout or design because there are so many different variations out there that creating you own is all part of the process and being creative with it.
Let me know if there is anything you would like me to add to this post, in the comments section below.