Saunas are a great addition to all homes. Whether you opt for an indoor or outdoor sauna, you will forever be just steps away while in the comfort of your home. However, if you don’t already have one installed, making a plan to install the sauna can be a time-consuming endeavor. You will have to measure, plan the space, find a build kit (or create your own design), and order all the pieces and tools. Lastly, you’ll need to supply electricity – but where do you start?
If you’re installing an electric heated sauna, you will need 40 amps from your home and a 2-pole circuit breaker available to run your electric heater in your sauna. Most electric sauna heaters run on 240V. If you install an infrared sauna, you’ll only need 110/120V in a 15-20 amp circuit.
Infrared saunas are easier to run electricity to since it is the same type of power that comes from a standard wall outlet (more on the differences between saunas in our guide). On the other hand, the electric heaters of traditional saunas draw a significant amount of current, require their own breaker, and 220-240V to run.
What Power is Required for a Sauna?
The power requirements for your sauna depend on the type of sauna you will be installing inside or outside of your home, for instance, this one (on Amazon) won’t require much power. Any time you need new electrical wiring installed, you should hire a qualified electrician – this includes wiring a new sauna. An electrician will ensure that the National Electrical Code is followed for all new electrical connections they add. Here are the power requirements for the different types of saunas:
- Traditional sauna with an electric heater: 220/240 Volts
- Traditional sauna with wood burning heater: 110/120 Volts, or none if you don’t need lighting and outlets
- Infrared sauna: 110/120 Volts
Does a Sauna need a Dedicated Circuit?
To function correctly and ensure they do not excessively trip a breaker, all saunas should have their own dedicated circuit. Saunas draw a lot of electrical current, and the circuit breaker that runs them wouldn’t be able to support additional loads from other devices like a microwave or a TV, for example.
It’s best and safest to use a dedicated circuit for saunas to prevent frequent tripping and safety hazards, plus the National Electrical Code requires it.
How Many Amps Does a Sauna Use?
Depending on the type of sauna you install in (or outside of) your home, (for example, an IR sauna blanket like this one (on Amazon) has different needs than a traditional sauna) they will have a different current draw. Current is measured in amps and can be simply thought of as the amount of electricity your sauna needs, and voltage is a measure of how quickly the electricity is provided.
All saunas use a different amount of amps; it varies based on the model, manufacturer, and more. In general terms, the most common traditional saunas with an electrical heater typically use 15-20 amps, whereas a traditional sauna with a wood-burning heater uses 30 to 60 amps, and an infrared sauna uses 15-20 as well.
When you upgrade your home to include a sauna, you will want to make sure your sauna meets these electrical requirements. No matter which type of sauna you have installed, the electrician will wire it to its own breaker in your electrical panel.
The reason is to meet the National Electrical Code, and so you don’t have frequent tripping of your circuit breaker (and potential safety concerns). Location doesn’t matter; indoor and outdoor saunas will both be installed on their own breaker.
Before you purchase a home sauna kit, check the available capacity in your electrical panel first. Most homes (especially newer ones) have well over 50 amp capacity available to wire in a new sauna. However, some older homes have only 60 amps total for the entire house. As such, you’ll want to be sure of your electrical capacity before making the significant purchase of a sauna.
If your home doesn’t have enough electrical capacity available- don’t let that put a stop to your at-home sauna dream! You can upgrade your electrical panel to increase your home’s electrical capacity, but it will cost you extra money.
Are Saunas Expensive to Run?
Your at-home sauna will definitely be pulling a lot of electricity to create that heat you love. While they do draw a lot of juice, they only incrementally affect your electricity bill. In fact, most people with at-home saunas don’t even notice a difference in their monthly electrical bills.
Most sizeable, 3-4 person saunas only cost about $4 to $6 per month to operate if used 2 to 3 times each week. While they aren’t “free to use,” they are significantly less expensive than a membership to a spa or health club!
How to Wire an Electric Sauna Heater
Wiring an electric sauna heater is not an easy task. If you don’t have any experience or comfort running new electrical connections, you should hire an electrician to help. New wiring for saunas are small jobs and are relatively inexpensive to hire out, plus you get the benefit of ensuring the National Electrical Code is followed. Also, you won’t have to worry about doing something wrong yourself.
If you plan to tackle wiring an electric sauna heater yourself as a weekend DIY project, make sure you follow NEC and local codes. Additionally, reference the manual of your specific electric heater for proper instructions. Here is how an electric sauna heater is typically wired:
- Install a breaker in the breaker box rated for 40 to 50 amps
- Read the manual for the proper capacity for your heater
- It should rarely be a GFI breaker
- Run a cable of suitable gauge (diameter) to the back wall of the sauna
- If ran outdoors, the cable can be trenched (buried) in PVC or a metal conduit
- Terminate the cable in the sauna to a circuit protector (a disconnect box)
- Connect to electrical wires (red and black) from the disconnect box to a junction box for the heater
- Lastly, wire the cable from the electrical heater to the junction box and seal the hole around the cable entry (the hole through the wall)
Can You Have an Electrical Outlet In a Sauna?
An electrical outlet should never be installed inside a sauna. Outlets in saunas are prohibited by most electrical codes and would be a safety hazard. Just think about it; anything you would plug into the outlet in the sauna would be destroyed by the heat anyway.