With increasing demand for saunas in North America, the simple square box is no longer the prime style for sauna enthusiasts. Veteran sauna bathers, along with the new generation of sauna users, are increasingly looking for something that is above ordinary. A combination of education on saunas and their many health benefits, along with the growth of infrastructure of new home developments and the rise of renovations, has increased the demand for unique sauna installations. It is all about customization and making them a personal attribute to the space. That said, cutting-edge designs are in demand from today’s sauna manufacturers to accommodate these distinct, one-of-a-kind installations.
The evolution of Finnish saunas is astounding. Over the past 2000 years, saunas have developed from a mere hole in the ground (i.e. pit) into wood-panelled rooms, complete with benches and other amenities. Contemporary Finnish saunas can be built from logs, pre-cut wood, or glass and comprise an electrical or wood-burning heat source to obtain air temperatures of approximately 80 C (176 F). Infrared saunas are an entirely different concept. These units may use a choice of infrared heating options (e.g. medical-grade ceramic, ceramic tube, active carbon fibres, etc.) to emit heat and warm objects. The temperatures in these saunas are much lower than traditional units, operating at approximately 50 C (122 F). Infrared sauna rooms also tend to be more compact in design, however, some exceptions apply.
In terms of market trends and consumer demand, dual saunas, which provide bathers the benefits of both sauna types, are popular choices. The ability to have an infrared and hot-rock sauna in one space gives customers the traditional look and ambiance of a hot-rock sauna, while experiencing the many health benefits of an infrared system. These systems are popular because they accommodate the preferences of those households where sauna users are torn between the different types of bathing—sweating at intense temperatures or enjoying soft, natural heat. With these systems, customers are not forced to choose one or the other—they can have both.
Further, all saunas—traditional and infrared—have customization capabilities. Today, tailor-made saunas are becoming increasingly popular, making them high in demand for residential and/or commercial installations.