Monday, March 4, 2024

Gas Sauna Heater Guide - Benefits, Tips and Recommendations

Gas-fired sauna heaters provide an efficient, convenient way to heat your sauna. Unlike traditional wood-burning stoves, gas heaters offer more precise temperature control and hands-off operation. This guide covers the pros and cons of gas sauna heaters, how to choose the right one, proper ventilation requirements, safety tips, maintenance and recommendations for top models.

What is a Gas Sauna Heater?

A gas sauna heater uses natural gas or propane to heat a contained space like a sauna room. The gas is burned and combusted within the sealed heater unit. The heat generated is then dispersed evenly throughout the sauna by a fan system or convection heating.

Gas sauna heaters provide even, efficient and adjustable warmth. Most models allow you to precisely dial in your desired temperature. They heat up quicker than wood-burning stoves and are much easier to operate. Just turn it on, set the temp, and enjoy your sauna.

Many also have timers allowing you to preset the duration. Once the time is up, the sauna heater automatically shuts off for safety. This provides complete hands-free operation.

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Benefits of Gas Sauna Heaters

Compared to traditional wood-burning stoves, gas sauna heaters offer some nice advantages:

More Precise Temperature Control - Dial in exactly the temp you want for your sauna session. Gets hotter faster than wood.

Convenience - No need to continuously add wood. Just turn on, set temp and relax.

Even Heating - Fan disperses warmth evenly throughout the sauna unlike wood stoves.

Low Maintenance - No cleanup of ash and soot like a wood-burning heater.

Safety Features - Preset timers eliminate risk of forgetting to turn it off.

Cleaner Air - No smoke or wood smell. Some find gas heat more breathable.

Modern Aesthetic - Sleek, low-profile design for a modern spa-like look.

For most people, the biggest perk is the hands-free automation and precision temperature control gas sauna heaters allow.

Considerations Before Choosing a Gas Sauna Heater

While gas sauna heaters provide wonderful benefits, they aren't necessarily right for everyone. Here are some considerations before choosing one:

Ventilation Requirements - Proper ventilation is critical for gas heater safety. Requires an exterior vent.

** Saulfonateless Initial Install Cost** - More expensive upfront cost for purchase and professional installation vs a wood stove.

Operating Cost - Ongoing gas costs for fuel to run it. Not as inexpensive as burning wood.

Environmental Impact - Burning gas isn’t as eco-friendly as wood. But lower emissions than wood.

No Traditional Feel - For those wanting an old-world traditional sauna experience, wood burning stoves may be preferable.

Make sure you can accommodate the ventilation needs and upfront install costs. But for most modern sauna owners, the perks of gas heaters outweigh the drawbacks.

Gas Sauna Heater Ventilation Requirements

Proper ventilation is critical to safely operate a gas sauna heater. The exhaust gases must be safely ventilated to the outside. Gas heaters require:

  • A ventilation opening near the floor for cool air intake.
  • An exhaust vent above the heater to remove hot gases.
  • Exhaust venting that runs to the outside of the building.
  • The exhaust vent size must meet size recommendations by the manufacturer. Undersizing can lead to dangerous buildup of carbon monoxide.
  • Avoid any tight bends or obstructions in exhaust ductwork.

Gas sauna heaters CANNOT be installed in an enclosed room without an exterior vent. Always consult local building codes for any additional ventilation requirements for gas appliances in your area. Professionally installing the exhaust system is highly recommended.

How to Choose the Right Gas Sauna Heater

Selecting the appropriate gas sauna heater involves:

Determining the Correct Size

Match the heater BTU rating to the size of your sauna room:

  • Small saunas under 100 cubic feet = 11,000 to 18,000 BTUs
  • Medium saunas 100-250 cubic feet = 18,000 to 36,000 BTUs
  • Large saunas over 250 cubic feet = Consult heater manuals for BTU requirements

Ignition Type

  • Standing pilot ignition - Pilot light is always on for instant heat when turned on. No waiting for ignition. But wastes gas when not in use.
  • Electronic ignition - Starts by electronic spark. No pilot light needed. Better for intermittent sauna use to save gas.

Ventilation Compatibility

  • Ensure the CFM rating meets your exhaust venting needs.
  • Wall or ceiling venting? Verify which vent types the heater accommodates.

Fuel Type

  • Natural Gas - Connects to home gas supply. Convenient but not portable if you move.
  • Propane - Requires portable propane tank. Makes it movable if you relocate the sauna.

Temperature Range

  • Make sure the max temp meets your preferences. Many reach up to 194°F.

Safety Certifications

  • Look for ETL certification to ensure it meets all North American gas appliance standards.

Once you know the size of your sauna, focus on finding the right mix of BTUs, ventilation, gas type, temp range and certifications. An incorrectly sized or ventilated heater can be dangerous.

Top 5 Gas Sauna Heater Recommendations

Based on key criteria like safety, heating efficiency, durability, and customer reviews, here are 5 of the best gas sauna heaters:

1. Finngal Gas Heater

  • 26-39k BTU options
  • Electronic or standing pilot ignition
  • Natural gas or propane
  • Built-in controls and thermostat
  • ETL Safety Certified

2. Finnleo Gas Heater

  • 11-36k BTU range
  • Electronic or manual standing pilot
  • Natural gas or propane ready
  • Up to 194°F
  • Built to last with corrosion resistant coating

3. Polar Gas Heater

  • 16-42k BTUs for 100-350 cu.ft rooms
  • Spark electronic ignition
  • Natural gas or large propane tank
  • Timer and thermostat
  • Suitable for commercial saunas

4. Saunacore Gas Heater SC9-36

  • 18-36k BTU options
  • Standing pilot and electronic ignition
  • Stainless steel casing
  • Digital sauna controls
  • Vented or ventless configurations

5. Helo Commercial Gas Heater

  • Up to 70k BTU for large public saunas
  • Modulating burner for steady temp
  • Natural gas or propane
  • Programmable digital controls
  • Power venting included

Stick with a highly reputable brand that specializes in sauna products. Read customer reviews and ensure the heater is safety certified.

Installing a Gas Sauna Heater - Should You DIY?

You can install a gas sauna heater yourself if you are very handy and have professional plumbing and ventilation skills. But for most people, it is highly advisable to hire a professional for installation.

The risks of improperly installed gas appliances include:

  • Gas leaks leading to explosion.
  • Inadequate ventilation resulting in dangerous carbon monoxide buildup.
  • Electrical wiring issues causing shock or fire risks.

Make sure to pull all required local permits for gas appliance installation in your area too. And have the completed installation inspected. Hiring a professional is strongly recommended for the utmost safety.

Gas Sauna Heater Safety Tips

While gas sauna heaters are designed to be safe, always exercise caution as with any heating appliance:

  • Never operate without proper working ventilation.
  • Inspect for leaks and cracks in hoses annually. Have any issues professionally repaired immediately.
  • Keep all flammable items away from the heater.
  • Turn off gas supply to heater when not in use for extended periods.
  • If you smell gas at any point, shut off the gas supply and evacuate the building. Call the fire department. Do not take risks of an explosion.
  • Never operate a gas device under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  • Have a carbon monoxide detector installed in the sauna.

Your diligence about maintaining the heater properly combined with professional installation is crucial for ongoing safety. Never take shortcuts or operate a malfunctioning gas sauna heater.

Gas Sauna Heater Maintenance

To keep your gas sauna heater running safely for years:

  • Have a professional service the heater annually. They will inspect all gas connections, check for leaks, clean the unit, and fix any issues. Do not take chances with gas systems.
  • If applicable, inspect and clean the pilot light routinely to remove any debris or dirt that could obstruct it.
  • Keep the area around the heater clear of dust buildup and any flammable materials.
  • Wipe down the exterior periodically with a damp cloth to keep the unit clean. Avoid pouring water directly on the heater.
  • Check that ventilation intakes and exhaust vents remain clear. Make sure there is no blockage or collapse of vent pipes.
  • Replace any damaged or worn components like hoses, knobs, doors, etc.
  • If operational issues develop, have it professionally repaired immediately. Do not operate a malfunctioning gas heater.

Troubleshooting Common Gas Sauna Heater Problems

Pilot light goes out frequently - May need cleaning or adjustment. Have a professional service. Never relight a pilot repeatedly.

Burners won’t ignite - If electronic ignition model, spark steam generator may need replacing. For standing pilot style, pilot may be obstructed. Professional service recommended.

Slow to heat up - Have ventilation inspected for obstructions. Clean filter and test door seal. If issue persists, consult installer.

Not reaching desired temperature - Heater may be too small for the sauna size. Adding volcanic rocks around the heater can help in some cases.

Temperature fluctuates - Fluctuations are normal but if excessive, there could be an issue with gas supply, moisture fouling sensor or failing thermostat.

Smoke or odor - If any smoke or odd smells from the heater at any point, turn off heater and call for service immediately.

FAQs About Gas Sauna Heaters

How long does a gas heater take to heat a sauna?

With a properly sized heater, a gas-heated sauna generally takes 30-60 minutes to fully preheat depending on the size. Maintaining the set temp is quicker than preheating. Choose an appropriate BTU output heater for fastest heating.

What’s the cost of a gas sauna heater?

The average cost for a new gas heater unit alone is $600-$2000 depending on the BTU rating. With professional installation, venting and labor, expect total costs from $2000-$5000+. Ongoing propane or natural gas costs will apply as well.

Do gas sauna heaters require electricity?

Most gas sauna heaters do require an electrical supply to run the fan, controls and ignition. Ensure your electrical system can support the voltage amperage required by the heater you choose.

Is it safe to use a gas sauna heater indoors?

Yes, gas sauna heaters are designed specifically for safe operation indoors when proper ventilation to the outside is installed. Never use an indoor gas heater of any kind without ventilation - very dangerous.

Do you need rocks for a gas sauna heater?

It's not required but placing volcanic rocks around the heater can help absorb and radiate heat. Follow manufacturer guidance on quantity and placement of rocks if adding them around a gas heater.


Gas-fired heaters offer convenience, control and hands-off operation for your home sauna. Just ensure proper sizing, ventilation and installation especially the exhaust venting. With some prudent operation and maintenance precautions, a gas-powered heater can provide safe, reliable warmth for your sauna for many years. Follow the tips in this guide and enjoy the wonders of a gas-heated sauna in the comfort of your own home gym or spa.

Key Takeaways:

  • Gas sauna heaters provide adjustable, efficient warmth and are convenient to use. But they require ventilation.
  • Ensure electrical supply can handle the heater and install a CO detector for safety.
  • Match the BTU rating to your sauna's size. Undersizing impairs heating.
  • Hire professional installers for gas and exhaust venting work. DIY is risky.
  • Inspect for leaks, clear vents, and service annually. Never ignore warning signs or odors.
  • Enjoy the benefits of automation and precise temperature control gas heaters offer!

Designing a Sauna Room for a Gas Heater


Use tile, concrete, stone or other waterproof materials that can withstand splashes. Natural wood can warp over time from moisture. Avoid carpeting or other absorbent flooring.

Provide floor drains for easy cleaning. Tile with radiant heating under is a popular choice for comfort underfoot.

Walls & Ceiling

Use moisture-resistant tongue and groove wood, moisture proof drywall, or tile. Avoid standard drywall or exposed wood which will deteriorate over time.

Use light colors that won't absorb heat as much. Accent with wood trims or planks. Proper insulation helps regulate temperature too.

Heater Placements

Usually mounted on a wall about 4 ft up or in a corner. Provide ample clearance from walls and ceiling as per manufacturer instructions, normally at least 6 inches.

Install easily accessible gas and electrical supply lines for the heater, but keep the actual supply lines concealed for aesthetics.


Gas heaters require fresh air intake vents near floor level and exhaust vents above unit venting outdoors. Keep pathways straight and smooth. Diffusers help appropriately disperse airflow.

Vents, ducts and grilles can match wall colors to help conceal them. Just avoid flow obstructions.

Safety Elements

Have smoke and CO detectors installed inside. Provide fire extinguishers rated for electrical/gas fires. Place slip resistant rubber mats.

Ensure waterproof lighting, speakers and accessories rated for sauna use. Water should not reach electrical items.


Use insulating glass doors with metal frames or solid sealed hardwood. Include magnetic seals around the doors to contain heat. Can add frosted texture or film for privacy.

The door must open outward by code in public commercial saunas, but home saunas can have inward opening doors.


Use heat tolerant hardwoods with rounded edges. Allow for airflow under benches. Various multi-level bench designs provide options for comfort and social seating.

Line benches with towels or cushions. Make sure any fabrics can withstand sauna heat and moisture.

Adding Accessories and Amenities to Your Gas Sauna

Heating Upgrades

Adding volcanic rocks around the heater absorbs and radiates infrared heat. Under-bench radiant heating pads provide foot warming luxury.

Heat boosting salt wall infusions or warming wall panels augment heat exposure for those who prefer it even hotter.


Integrate waterproof speakers to play relaxing or invigorating music powered by an exterior mounted amplifier.

Wireless Bluetooth audio systems avoid wiring into the sauna. Make sure electronics can handle the heat and moisture.


Use only waterproof lighting fixtures rated for sauna use. Dimmer controls create a calming ambience. Consider color changing LEDs to set a mood.

For safety, provide lighting around benches, steps and exits. Install emergency lighting as a backup for power outages.


Essential oil infusers provide aromatic benefits. Hygrometers or thermometers help monitor conditions.

Provide wall-mounted hourglasses, mirrors or magazine racks for convenience. Use metal or high-heat plastics only.


Add waterproof, high-temp tablet stands or TV screens to watch shows while you sweat. Controls should be exterior-mounted.

Smart sauna systems allow remote temperature monitoring and control by phone. Some systems automatically text you when the sauna is preheated and ready.

Exterior Style

Design a beautiful dressing area and shower space outside the sauna room to enhance the experience.

Use materials like stone, marble, wood paneling and mosaics to elevate the style. Continue design details and luxuries outside the sauna as well.

Best Practices for Sauna Use & Safety

Usage Tips

  • Limit sauna sessions to 15-20 minutes maximum for beginners.
  • Slowly increase time in 5 minute increments over several weeks as your body adjusts.
  • Wait at least 24 hours between sessions to start. Then gradually use daily if desired.
  • Hydrate well before and after use to replace fluids.
  • Avoid alcohol intake before or during sauna use as it increases dehydration.
  • Time your sessions based on convenience and your fitness goals.
  • Use consistently 1-2 times a week to notice lasting benefits.

Heating Safely

  • Preheat to only about 110-125°F initially until you know your tolerance.
  • Slowly work up to higher temps - 160-190°F is typical but start low.
  • Pour water on heated rocks to increase humidity if air feels too dry.
  • Avoid extremely high 200°F+ temperatures, especially when new to saunas.
  • Listen to your body. Exit immediately if feeling nauseous, dizzy or unwell.
  • Ask your doctor before use if you have health conditions.

Gas Sauna Heater Guide - Benefits, Tips and Recommendations

Gas-fired sauna heaters provide an efficient, convenient way to heat your sauna. Unlike traditional wood-burning stoves, gas heaters offer m...