Which barrel saunas are best?
You don’t have to be a member of an exclusive gym or go to an expensive spa to experience a sauna. Heat therapy can be enjoyed in the comfort of your own barrel sauna if you have the outdoor space and skill to assemble it yourself.
These barrel-shaped structures transform your backyard into a spa experience and offer both relaxation and health benefits. Our buying guide can tell you what you need to know before purchasing a barrel sauna. We’ve also included our top recommendations, like the Almost Heaven Saunas Huntington Six-person Traditional Steam Sauna — an attractive, well-designed sauna that can fit up to eight people.
What to know before you buy a barrel sauna
- Wood: Traditional saunas are heated by a wood-burning stove. This creates a low-humidity heat and a pleasant, authentic aroma. However, the temperature of this heating method is unregulated, and burning wood can be expensive, though sauna purists feel it’s worth it.
- Electric: Electric heaters offer low humidity and high temperatures. This type of heat source is easy to operate, and some electric heaters can even be synced with your smart devices. The downside is that it raises your energy bill.
- Gas: Gas heating for barrel saunas is less common because the cost of installation, operation, and upkeep are prohibitively expensive, not to mention complicated. However, if you’re passionate about having a gas-operated heating source, this is an option.
- Infrared: A newer heating technology, infrared heat doesn’t warm the air in your barrel sauna but rather emits wavelengths in the infrared spectrum that penetrate your body and heat you up from the inside out. Though this sounds strange, infrared radiation is safe and works at lower temperatures.
Barrel saunas are defined by their barrel-turned-on-its-side shape. They come in different sizes that can fit anywhere from two to eight people. Consider your household size before buying, as well as if you plan to lay down in your sauna, which takes up extra space.
What to look for in a quality barrel sauna
All barrel saunas come with a bench inside for you to sit or recline on. The simplest designs consist of horizontal slats of wood; others offer more ergonomic designs with back support. If you plan on lying down in your sauna, be sure the bench can accommodate that position.
To get into the sauna, you enter through a door at one end of the barrel. Doors can be wooden or glass. Consider what level of privacy you desire when selecting a door — solid wood offers the most, whereas glass offers the least but allows for a view.
A window in a sauna is a nice way to enjoy an outdoor view while staying toasty and warm on the inside. Windows can also help mitigate claustrophobia. Be aware that if your sauna features a window, it’s less private, if you’re sweating in the buff.
Many barrel saunas come with accessories like a water bucket and ladle for steam, sauna rocks, footrests, and a thermometer. Not all saunas include these perks, so check before you make a purchase or you may have to buy them separately.
Some saunas feature a “front porch,” which is a platform extending out from the front of the sauna where you can sit and enjoy the fresh air after your heat therapy. Some of these are canopied and have built-in benches.
How much you can expect to spend on a barrel sauna
For a small barrel sauna that fits between two and four people, expect to pay between $5,000 and $6,000. Larger saunas that fit up to eight people cost between $6,000 and $9,000, with high-end models reaching $15,000.
Barrel sauna FAQ
What are the advantages of having a barrel-shaped vs. a rectangular sauna?
A. The barrel shape is intentional to eliminate unused air space, which can collect in the corners of rectangular saunas. The rounded ceiling also helps push hot air that has risen to the top back down into the lower realms of the sauna where you’re sitting.
How hot does it get in a barrel sauna?
A. Temperatures in a barrel sauna generally reach up to 170 degrees. As your skin temperature rises, your body begins to sweat, which has detoxifying and mood-enhancing qualities. However, there are many risks associated with saunas, like dehydration, so check with your healthcare practitioner before using a sauna.
What are the best barrel saunas to buy?
Top barrel sauna
Almost Heaven Saunas Huntington Six-person Traditional Steam Sauna
What you need to know: With its unique cabin-like design, you’ll feel right at home in this luxury sauna.
What you’ll love: This barrel sauna is large enough to fit six people and has two benches outside to cool off.
What you should consider: You only have a choice of one electric heater.
Where to buy: Sold by Wayfair
Top barrel sauna for the money
Almost Heaven Saunas Watoga Four-person Sauna
What you need to know: This is a cozy, reasonably priced barrel sauna in a classic design with lots of accessories.
What you’ll love: It has high-quality wood construction and fits up to four people. It includes a vent and two benches.
What you should consider: Quarters may feel tight if you’re tall due to the 6-foot diameter.
Worth checking out
Thermory Four-person Outdoor Traditional Steam Sauna
What you need to know: This sleek, modern barrel sauna features a frosted glass door.
What you’ll love: This spruce wood sauna offers a modern, Scandinavian aesthetic. It measures 7.3 feet on the inside and has 24-inch deep Thermo-Aspen benches for comfort.
What you should consider: The glass door offers little privacy.
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