Infrared Saunas: Ceramic Vs. Carbon Heaters

Infrared Saunas

What’s the Difference? Which Should You Choose?

Infrared home saunas are rising in popularity as availability increases and cost declines. Selecting which sauna to bring into the home may seem like a simple decision initially — most are beautifully constructed wood enclosures with comfortable seating, sound systems, and other luxurious extras. The choice of heating element, though, is where most homeowners get stuck.  Infrared saunas are available with either a ceramic heater or a carbon heater.  What’s the difference?  Both have their advantages and drawbacks, but understanding the basics of each heating option should provide homeowners with enough information to make the best individual decision.

Warm Up Time and Distribution of Heat

In general, ceramic heaters are quicker to heat up than carbon heaters, but with ceramic heaters, more intense warmth tends to be concentrated closest to the heating elements. With carbon heaters, the heat is more evenly distributed throughout the sauna and provides a body with even heat exposure. Heat that is not as evenly dispersed will warm the body unevenly, but it can be an effective way to focus the more intense heat on specific areas of the body that may need more attention.

Some homeowners prefer carbon heaters for larger saunas because uneven heat distribution is more noticeable.  Some, however, prefer the subtle variations in temperature in a sauna that uses a ceramic heater because it allows for a less intense experience.


An important consideration when comparing home saunas is durability of the heating elements.  Both ceramic and carbon heaters are considered durable. Ceramic rods, though, can be fragile, so carbon heaters are generally able to endure more abuse.  The durability of the sauna’s construction should be considered, too. A well-constructed sauna will help provide safe a sturdy housing for the heating elements, so they can remain in good condition over many years.

Energy Efficiency

Infrared heating, in general, is very energy efficient, so it should come as no surprise that ceramic and carbon heaters both score high for energy efficient performance.  Either choice would provide homeowners with a sauna that operates at a low cost.  Carbon heaters, though, are usually more efficient than ceramic, which means operation costs would be even lower than with ceramic heaters.


The overall cost of home saunas is certainly a consideration for homeowners in the market for one.  Saunas that use carbon heaters are usually more expensive to purchase than saunas that use ceramic. Before making the final decision, though, homeowners should weigh all of the different characteristics of carbon and ceramic heaters to determine which offers the best fit for the individual.  Homeowners should also compare other sauna features, too.  Quality of construction, ease of assembly, size, and creature comforts can make a significant difference in final cost.

Understanding the main differences between ceramic and carbon heaters for infrared saunas is crucial for making the most informed purchasing decision. When the desired heating components and sauna features match the homeowner’s expectations and desires, the result is a more rewarding and satisfying experience.

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