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Which is Better a Sauna or a Hot Tub?

When thinking about hot tubs and saunas, the question always inevitably comes up, which is better? Homeowners ask the question both from a health benefits perspective as well as from a value standpoint based on lifetime of ownership. We look at some of the features and benefits of owning a hot tub and a sauna and discuss the installation costs, maintenance costs, and value of owning each.

Hot Tubs Versus Saunas #

Hot tubs are the less difficult of the two alternatives to build because they are often installed outside with no enclosure required. Hot Tubs are typically installed on a level, stable platform that can support the weight of the unit and the water contained therein. The pump and filter mechanisms are all housed on the decking around the tub. Electrical access is required to operate the pump, and water access is required to fill the tub. A confident DIY homeowner could complete this repair, but a professional is preferred, especially for the electrical and plumbing work.

Installing a sauna, on the other hand, requires taking up internal space or constructing an outdoor modular enclosure. The sauna will have to be built from the ground up, either using a prefab kit or with other acquired materials. Because unique abilities are required for the foundation and other processes, this is a job for a professional. Wiring the light, light switch, and sauna heating controls will necessitate the services of an electrician. A plumber will also be required if the heater is gas. To make the space as energy-efficient as possible, insulation will be installed in the walls and ceiling. The insulation will then be covered with cedar paneling, which will also serve as the sauna’s interior walls and ceiling. The heater and rocks will be installed first, followed by the chairs, door, and other final touches.

Adding a Sauna In Your Backyard is a Popular Choice These Days
Adding a Sauna In Your Backyard is a Popular Choice These Days – Photo Credit: Bathing Brands

Installation Concerns #

Installing an indoor hot tub is likewise a time-consuming and challenging task. Because the tub will need to be installed before the walls are finished, a new room will most likely be erected for it. Water will destroy most other floor surfaces, therefore a non-slip tile is the best option. It is also recommended that a floor drain be installed in the room. Installing a hose bib in the room will be the greatest option for filling the tub from a convenient source. Regular drywall 2 should not be used for the walls or ceiling because to the humidity caused when the tub is in use. Concrete, glass, cedar, or moisture-resistant drywall are all options. An HVAC specialist should install a suitable vent fan to remove moisture from the area, and the space should be heated to avoid mold and mildew growth.

Cost Considerations #

Adding a sauna to your backyard that seats four people and is around 5 x 7 feet in size will cost between $4,600 and $9,000 for the whole prefab kit. Although a DIY homeowner may be able to install the kit, wiring the various electrical aspects would require the services of a professional electrician. If the kit is to be installed outside, a foundation slab must also be erected. Labor for a do-it-yourself project will cost between $500 and $1,000. A specialist will charge between $2,500 and $4,000 to install the equipment completely. A competent installation of a four-person sauna will cost between $5,000 and $10,000.

An outdoor hot tub is more expensive to install than a sauna. An acrylic tub unit measuring 5 x 6 x 212 feet can seat three to four people and will cost between $5,500 and $8,000, depending on the number of jets and the quality of construction. 3. The hot tub will be installed on a solid deck or concrete slab. Installation, which includes electrical work and concrete pouring, will cost approximately $2,000 if done professionally and approximately $600 if done by the homeowner. A professional installation of a three- to four-person outdoor hot tub will cost between $5,000 and $10,000. Read more in our Hot Tub Buyers Guide.

Effects on Weight Loss #

Some suggest that a 20-minute sauna session once a day will boost your metabolism as much as a brief stroll. Soaking in a hot tub for the same amount of time is said to provide similar outcomes. According to, a Livestrong Foundation partner, the weight reduction effects of a sauna or hot tub are minor and transient, attributable primarily to water loss, which is restored when you hydrate.

Skin Care and Other Health Advantages #

According to, saunas are also an effective technique to rid the body of toxins through perspiration. This effect will not be obtained in a hot tub because you will not sweat as much, particularly on your face. One of the expected outcomes of a good sweat is the removal of pollutants from the facial skin. Other sauna benefits include skin cleansing, enhanced circulation, and improved immunological and lymphatic system function, according to Livestrong.

Another advantage of heat treatment seen in saunas and hot tubs is the reduction of muscle aches and pains caused by arthritis. Most people believe that a hot tub is superior for these objectives because to the weightlessness of the water and the ability to direct the pressure of water jets where they are required the most. Other advantages of hot tubs include lower blood sugar levels and, in the case of saunas, improved circulation.

Sleeping Advantages #

According to the American Sleep Association, sitting in a hot tub or sauna before bedtime has been demonstrated to improve deep sleep. This interval of sleep is critical for memory processing and brain function repair. Heat has been linked to the effects of prolonged exercise on the brain’s sleep region.

Maintenance #

A properly fitted sauna or hot tub, like any other portion of the house, will not have major maintenance difficulties such as leaks or decaying wood. The sauna requires less maintenance on a daily basis.

If the floor of a sauna has been properly sealed and wood preservatives have been put to the important components, relatively little maintenance is necessary aside from regular cleaning. When not in use, leave the sauna door open to allow the space to dry and supply towels for the seating areas to prevent perspiration stains.

Hot tubs, on the other hand, must be serviced on a regular basis in order to remain sanitary and efficient. Depending on how frequently the tub is used, the water chemistry should be examined and adjusted two or more times per week. When the pressure reaches a specific level, the spa filter must be cleaned or replaced, which means the pressure must be checked periodically. Even if the spa is kept clean on the outside, the water should be drained and refilled every two to four months. To avoid mold and mildew growth, air out the hot tub cover twice a week.

Energy Conservation #

New insulation types, together with ENERGY STAR® rated pumps 1, blowers, and heaters, as well as a snug cover, allow your hot tub to operate for roughly $20 per month in electricity. Full foam insulation, which is injected between the shell and cabinet of the hot tub unit, is the best insulating product.

Far Infrared (FIR) saunas are the most energy-efficient. The warm-up period of roughly 10 minutes is critical. It takes 40 to 50 minutes to heat a typical sauna heater. The type of insulation utilized on the walls and ceiling of a sauna is also essential. R-11 is recommended for internal walls while R-19 is recommended for external walls. An energy-efficient sauna will cost you roughly $0.26 per hour. Saunas are substantially less expensive to operate than hot tubs because they only run when in use.

Health Dangers #

Maintain the proper temperature in your sauna or hot tub to avoid disease or damage, 140 degrees Fahrenheit for a sauna and 100 degrees Fahrenheit for a hot tub. In addition, the water in a hot tub should be constantly monitored and sanitized to prevent the formation of bacteria. Exit a sauna or hot tub as soon as you feel light-headed or disoriented. Saunas and hot tubs are no longer prohibited by the American Heart Association for patients with heart disease or high blood pressure. They do warn, however, that these patients should not change from cold to hot circumstances frequently because this might cause blood pressure to rise. Men should be aware that even brief durations of sauna or hot tub use can result in infertility. In addition to these warnings, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the following precautions:

  • A hot tub should not be used by children under the age of five.
  • Pregnant women should avoid saunas and hot tubs since both can be detrimental to an unborn child.
  • Alcohol, drowsy prescription medications, and recreational substances do not combine well with extreme heat.
  • Unconsciousness can occur, perhaps leading to drowning in a hot tub or serious burns or dehydration in a sauna.


Value at Resale #

A sauna adds value to a home and is regarded as a luxury item, which is much more desirable in an upmarket community accustomed to such amenities. However, real estate pros are less certain about hot tubs. Many remodeling pros have cast doubt on the beauty of a hot tub. Like a swimming pool, whether a hot tub boosts a home’s value is dependent on a variety of factors, including the buyers’ personal preferences and the quality of the hot tub.

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