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Could LED dimmable rope lighting be the next big sauna building game changer?

Every sauna built from today forward shall have this lighting configuration:

  1. LED rope light extended underneath the upper bench.
  2. Two sconce lights, one on either side of the hot room door.

Both light systems shall be controlled by dimmer switches via a dual switch box installed at a convenient height outside the hot room door, opposite of hinge side.

ADVANTAGES:

  1. Lighting underneath upper bench casts indirect light, a pleasant vibe for sauna bathers.  This light helps illuminate the path from the upper bench down to the floor, and out the door.  What was once the dark dim underbelly of the sauna hot room now becomes a soft, glowing, appealing space, making our hot rooms feel that much larger.  Thanks to the dimmer switch, we can control exactly how much illumination we want: an illumination level of our own creation.
  2. Lighting via overhead sconces casts direct light, a functional vibe for sauna bathers.  This light helps illuminate the entire hot room for cleaning, or early stages of sauna as we fire up our stoves and prep the area.  Thanks to the dimmer switch, we can control exactly how much illumination we want from our overhead sconce lights.  Often, we may set for a very soft glow to cast off from the wall sconces, which is enhanced by the light reflecting off our wood paneling.  This provides a warm feeling for the sauna bather, who may be known to remark at the beauty of our tongue and groove paneling not just as a compliment to our craftsmanship, but as a representation of nature’s beauty.  And if the sauna bather thinks more deeply, they may possibly also pay homage to the fact that trees also provide us the fuel for our sauna stoves and the oxygen for each of our breaths.

Modifications of above can include LED rope light system, also on a dimmer switch, mounted under bench in changing area.

The advance of LED rope light technology is upon us.  We now have these systems available at big box Depot stores.  We can install these systems via conventional 110v 15 amp 12 gauge wiring.

If there is a better lighting system for our saunas, I’d like to know about it.

Wisdom Woods sauna hot room

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9 Comments on This Post

  1. I have put LED strip lights in both of my saunas and they work great! Same concept as the rope light, but instead of a dimmer switch, I use a remote control. Both are multi colored, so If Im feeling like red light suits the mood, great! If I feel like green, same! They are relatively inexpensive (under $25 for 3 meters) and are waterproof and have a sticky back so no nails are needed.

  2. After “really good heat” #2 on the list of “what makes for a good sauna?” may just be good hot room benches. Then, after that, maybe #3 on the list may just be lighting. And we can control this feature inexpensively and even after marketably (ie, I should get off my ass and run some LED lighting under my sauna benches!!).

  3. Are you running these LED lights plugged into a regular outlet installed in the hot room tied to a switch? Any special provisions for outlets in the hot room (GFCI?). I was thinking about installing an outlet under the bench with one outlet tied to a dimmable switch and the other a constant hot. Not sure what I would need the constant hot for. Thanks for the help.

  4. L – no outlets in the hot room. The LED system is hard wired through the wall, directly to switch box in changing room.

  5. Glenn, could you elaborate on why no outlet in the hot room? I was thinking of putting an outlet in the hot room on a dimmer switch that will be located in the Changing room. The reason for the outlet is it would make it easier to switch out lights for a longer strand or a different color.

    Plus I haven’t seen any rope lights that don’t have a plug – do you just cut off the plug and hardwire it?

    Disclamer – I haven’t yet read the homedept wiring book – it is at the top of my Sauna to do list.

  6. Brennan:

    Try hard to avoid outlet in the hot room. Moisture, water, 110v.. not a good mix. What you can do, and I did for the Lake Superior sauna, and it’s illustrated in the ebook, is to drill a hole down low in the common wall from hot room to changing room as a “pass through” for plug, where outlet resides in the changing room. You can plug this pass through space with a piece of insulation to keep moist air from traveling through. A bit rudimentary but works great. Good luck.

  7. while the practical hazard of running a cord through the wall in this application is nil, be aware that it is a national electrical code violation to do so. if you are building a new sauna and are getting it permitted/inspected, you’ll want to wait until after the inspector leaves before running the cord through the wall. *wink-wink*

    if anyone is hell-bent on placing a receptacle in the sauna, place it as close to the floor as possible, where it is radically cooler compared to the upper elevations. locate under a bench to keep it out of the way. use an outdoor-rated receptacle with an in-use weatherproof cover. key phrase here is ‘in-use’. an in-use cover allows for a cord to be plugged in and still be able to close the cover, maintaining the weatherproof protection. the old-school receptacles only had a cover over the receptacle face (the holes). that worked fine as long as nothing was plugged into but what is the point of a weatherproof receptacle that is only weatherproof if nothing is plugged into it?

    and note these covers are weatherproof, not water-tight. they will offer protection against falling water from above or at a bit of an angle but aren’t rated for something like, say, throwing a cup of water at it with force.

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