Wood heat vs. electric heat

Is there a difference?  Tell me your opinion.

Considering whether to build a wood burning sauna or an electric sauna?  You may want to read below.. I’ll post all comments.

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14 thoughts on “Wood heat vs. electric heat”

  1. Electric 20 mins to sauna. Always On, never have wet wood to worry about. Simple, Fast, EZ install. Can be set on timers to be Ready when u R. Da Lazy Man’s Sauna for sure !

  2. Electric vs. wood is like comparing charcoal to gas BBQs. One is much quicker & convenient than the other. If you are busy & only want a quickie, go for electric. Though I prefer the crackling of wood to the sometimes buzz or ticking you hear from electric saunas.

  3. Electric Sauna
    Clean, convenience (flip a switch)Good choice if installing sauna in basement, and lastly cost is less.
    Suited to small Sauna, if you like steam from splashing water on the rocks it may not be able to keep up with large amounts of water.

    Wood fire Sauna
    Large steel stove, with 75 lbs of rock will radiate heat to a large room and handle water being splashed for great steam.

    Finding a wood supply, storing of wood, and disposal of ash.

    Best suited for a stand alone or garage sauna

  4. Got to go with wood – better smell, better heat. Better for my psyche. It is more hassle, but how much of a chore is it to cut wood and prep for a suana?

  5. I think one of the main issues here is location. Glenn – You’re the only city dweller I know who has a wood burning sauna. I LOVE it but it implies a few different things:
    1. You have the space to chop and store wood.
    2. You have the time.
    3. You have room either in your garage or yard for a wood sauna (Homeowners insurance doesn’t quite see eye to eye with wood burning saunas in the home…)

    I have an electric sauna in my garage but a wood sauna at my cabin so I feel that I get the best of both worlds. When I pull into the garage I flip the switch and a half hour later I hop in around 150 degrees (I can easily get it over 200 if I want). At the cabin (or your place Glenn), I can get my traditional fix because in my opinion wood burning is the most satisfying experience overall. I would rank setups as follows:

    1. Wood burning in garage.
    2. Stand alone wood burning in yard (changing room necessary).
    3. Electric in garage.
    4. Electric in house.

    Infrared never.


  6. I wanted to add one other thing about negative ions. From what I’ve read, wood burning saunas produce a tidal wave of negative ions, which apparently account for part of the refreshed feeling you get from them (also explains the feeling you get from waterfalls) Modern electric stoves can do the same but I’ve read that it depends on how they’re grounded and how much of the rock is in contact with the coils. Infrared rooms do not produce negative ions at all 🙁

    I wish I knew more about this – if someone can comment that would be great!

  7. I am in the process of building a sauna that is attached to my home and I chose a wood burning sauna stove. I did this for several reasons, perhaps the most important reason for me is that I like the process of chopping the wood and firing the stove. I also belive that a wood burning stove has a more organic heat. I also know that I will be able to heat the stove to any temperature that I desire whether if be 160 degrees or 210 degrees by adjusting the burn of the wood. Can you control the temperature as easily on an electric stove?

  8. In my experience it has been easier to control the temp on an electric stove. The wood at my cabin varies a bit (hardness, moisture content)and thus burns a little differently all the time. My electric stove has a temperature know that works great. Sometimes I want 180+ for a quick blast, sometimes 150 because I want to read for awhile. I’d still choose wood if I could, but yes, mine is very accurate.

  9. All of the above postings have merit. There are pros and cons to each and location is an important part of the equation. Having said that, the essence of the sauna experience can only be felt through the deep heat penetration of a wood fired stove. Tradition, aroma, preparation and overall duration are all the proper pairings for the transcendant journey, but it is the feeling of the wood heat with it’s ability to deliver dry, wet and everything in between that make it unapproachable.
    Laying in bed afterward in wintertime releasing stored thermal heat when most nights you are either shivering or layered up is an added bonus.

  10. I like the metaphor that “Moses” made. Is that guy’s name really “Moses”? Anyway, I think the metaphor of comparing electric to wood burning stoves to gas vs. charcoal BBQs hits the nail on the head. I went with electric because I really need the convenience. My sauna gets used up to five times per week by multiple family members at different times. If I had a wood stove, it would only get used once weekly. What the sauna manufacturing industry needs to do is to listen to these debates and produce a duo stove (gas & electric). I recently bought a BBQ and am very pleased with it. Its called the Chargriller Duo – one side is gas and one side is charcoal. On the weekdays, I use the gas grill. On the weekends, I use the charcoal grill. See: http://www.chargriller.com/store/product_info.php?cPath=21&products_id=29

  11. I am set on getting a small outdoor rustic all wood sauna.
    The Allegheny sauna with wood stove is like having a little cabin in the woods since it has a rustic look and tiny fireplace in it.
    Looks like a great place to hide and meditate!
    Not cheap though…but I figure I might be spending a lot of time in it so probably worth it.
    Wondering about how bad the fireplace fumes might be to my health in that confined cabin verses just getting an FAR infrared sauna…
    Anyway it sure is fun shopping for one!?

  12. Tamara: Nice work. Fireplace fumes may be bad, but there are no fumes emitted from a good wood burning sauna stove. The concept is that smoke is contained within the fire box. BONUS: When a quality wood stove is burning at full, efficient mode, a sauna bather with towel wrapped around them outside, with steam billowing while breathing in the fresh air, may look up to the sky and after realizing how beautiful this is, they may then gaze up at the chimney stack and may have a hard time noticing if the stove is actually burning. The reason for this phenomenon is that quality wood stoves burn so efficiently because of gasification, where smoke gets burned off inside the fire box, emitting more BTUs from smoke combustion. The intended/unintended benefit from this is that neighbors need not freak out from jealousy or any smoke emissions.
    We sauna bathers benefit in numerous ways, detailed throughout this website.

  13. Does anyone have experience with the electric Harvia heaters that have a lot of stones, such as the kivi or legend? Does the heat compare more to a wood burning stove? Im also wondering about the Ions. I have read that when electric heaters heat up rocks thoroughly that they also produce negative ions just like wood burning stove.
    I normally prefer wood burning stoves, but i like that i can put the electric heater on a timer. We will be renting out cabins and want to build a sauna for guests, we will be using it ourselves in the off season only.
    The sauna will be about 17m3, does anyone have an idea how long it will take to heat up a (relatively) large sauna space like that with an electric vs wood sauna stove?

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