Sauna vs Hot Tub - Pros, Cons, Comparisons and Costs (2022)

Many spas and resorts entice potential guests with their list of luxurious amenities, among these saunas and hot tubs. If you could have one of these in your home, which would you choose? The information below will help you decide.

Installation

Hot tubs are the easier of the two options to install since they are typically placed outdoors with no enclosure necessary. The hot tub will be placed on a level, secure surface that can withstand the weight of the unit and water within. Decking around the tub will house the pump1 and filter mechanisms. Electrical access will be necessary to power the pump1, and water access will be needed for filling the tub. This is a job that could be done by a confident DIY homeowner, although a professional is recommended, especially for the electrical and plumbing work.

By contrast, installing a sauna means taking up interior space or building a modular enclosure outdoors. The sauna will need to be built from the foundation up using either a prefab kit or other purchased materials. This is a job for a professional since special skills are necessary for the foundation and other steps. An electrician will be required to wire the light, light switch, and the sauna heater controls. If the heater is gas, a plumber will be needed as well. Insulation will go in the walls and ceiling to make the space as energy efficient as possible. Then, cedar paneling will cover the insulation and provide the interior walls and ceiling of the sauna. The heater and rocks will be added, followed by the seats, door, and other finishing details.

Installing an indoor hot tub is also an invasive and difficult endeavor. Most likely a new room will be built for the hot tub since the tub will need to be laid before the walls are complete. The best floor surface is a non-slip tile because water will ruin most other floor surfaces. It is also best to install a floor drain in the room. To fill the tub from a convenient source, installing a hose bib in the room will be the best option. Because of the humidity created when the tub is in use, regular drywall2 should not be used for the walls or ceiling. Alternatives are concrete, glass, cedar, or moisture-resistant drywall2. An HVAC consultant should install a vent fan sufficient to remove moisture from the room, and the room should be heated to prevent mold and mildew.

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Costs

A sauna that will seat four people, approximately 5 x 7 feet, will cost between $2,400 and $3,200 for the prefab kit with all the materials. Although a DIY homeowner may be able to install the kit, a professional electrician will be necessary for wiring the various electrical elements. If the kit is being installed outdoors, a foundation slab will need to be installed as well. Labor added to a DIY project will cost about $350 to $700. Labor for the kit to be installed completely by a professional will be approximately $1,500 to $3,000. An entire four-person sauna professionally installed will cost about $3,900 to $6,200.

Installing an outdoor hot tub costs more than a sauna. An acrylic tub unit that measures 5 x 6 x 2½ feet will seat three to four people and will cost about $3,500 to $8,000, depending on how many jets and how well constructed it is. The hot tub will be placed on a solid deck or concrete slab3. Installation, including electrical work and concrete pouring, will cost about $500 if done professionally and about $325 if done by the homeowner. A professionally installed three- to four-person outdoor hot tub will cost about $4,000 to $8,500.

Weight-loss Effects

Some claim that taking a 20-minute sauna once daily will raise your metabolism the same as a short walk. Soaking in a hot tub for the same time period reportedly has similar results. However, according to livestrong.com, a partner of the Livestrong Foundation, the weight loss effects of a sauna or hot tub are minimal and temporary, mostly due to water loss, which is regained when you hydrate.

Skin Cleansing and Other Health Benefits

Also according to livestrong.com, the sauna is an excellent way to cleanse the body of toxins through perspiration. You will not get this same result in a hot tub because you will not sweat as much, especially on your face. Freeing facial skin of impurities is one of the desired results of a good sweat. Livestrong mentions other benefits of saunas, such as the cleansing of the skin, increased circulation, and improved function of the immune and lymphatic systems.

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Another benefit of heat therapy found in saunas and hot tubs is the relief of soreness from exertion or pain from arthritis. Most say that a hot tub is better for these purposes because of the weightless effect of the water and the ability to direct the pressure of water jets where they are most needed. Other benefits from hot tubs are a decrease in blood sugar levels and increased circulation in the case of saunas.

Sleeping Benefits

Immersing in a hot tub or sitting in a sauna before bed has been shown to increase deep sleep, according to the American Sleep Association. This period of sleep is important for the processing of memories and restoration of brain functions. The effects of heat can be compared to the effects of prolonged exercise on the sleep center of the brain.

Maintenance

As with any part of the home, a carefully installed sauna or hot tub will not have any serious maintenance issues like leaks or rotting wood. For day-to-day maintenance, the sauna is more maintenance free.

If a sauna’s floor has been properly sealed and wood preservatives applied to the key components, very little maintenance is required beyond regular cleaning. Prop the door open when the sauna is not in use to allow the room to dry and provide towels for the seating areas to prevent perspiration stains.

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Hot tubs, on the other hand, must be regularly maintained to keep them sanitary and efficient. The water chemistry should be tested and adjusted two or more times a week, depending on how much the tub is used. The spa filter must be cleaned or replaced when the pressure reaches a certain level, which means the pressure must be checked frequently. Even if the spa is kept visibly clean, the water should be drained and replaced every two to four months. Air out the hot tub cover twice weekly to prevent the growth of mold and mildew.

Energy Efficiency

New types of insulation, combined with ENERGY STAR® rated pumps1, blowers, and heaters, and a snug cover, allow your hot tub to operate for about $20 a month in electricity. The best insulating product is full foam insulation, which is injected between the shell and the cabinet of the hot tub unit.

The most energy-efficient sauna is the Far Infrared (FIR) sauna. The warm-up time of about 10 minutes is the key. A traditional sauna heater takes 40 to 50 minutes to heat. The type of insulation used for a sauna’s walls and ceiling is important as well. R-11 is the type recommended for interior walls and R-19 for exterior walls. With an energy-efficient sauna, you can expect to spend about $0.26 an hour. Because saunas only run when in use, they cost significantly less to operate than hot tubs.

Health Risks

To avoid illness or injury, maintain the correct temperature in your sauna or hot tub, 140 degrees Fahrenheit for a sauna and 100 degrees Fahrenheit for a hot tub. Also, a hot tub’s water should be carefully monitored and treated to prevent the growth of bacteria. Always exit either a sauna or hot tub before you feel light-headed or dizzy. The American Heart Association no longer restricts the use of saunas and hot tubs for people with heart disease or high blood pressure. However, they caution that these patients should not move from cold to hot conditions repeatedly because it is an act that can actually raise blood pressure. Men should know that even short periods of sauna or hot tub heat can cause short-term infertility. In addition to these warnings, the Centers for Disease Control offers the following cautions:

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  • Do not let children under five use a hot tub.
  • Pregnant women should stay out of both saunas and hot tubs since either can be harmful to an unborn child.
  • Alcohol, prescription medications that cause drowsiness, or recreational drugs do not mix well with intense heat. Unconsciousness can result, causing possible drowning in a hot tub or severe burns or dehydration in a sauna.

Legal Concerns

As with any other home feature, it is up to the homeowner to ensure that guests are safe in the sauna or hot tub. All of the above precautions should be shared with guests. As the homeowner, you could be liable for any slip-and-fall, heat exposure, or other injuries sustained while a guest is in your home.

In addition, an outdoor sauna or hot tub could be considered an attractive menace, a legal term referring to features of a home that may be inviting to trespassers, particularly children. Check local regulations to see what precautions you must take to protect yourself from liability if someone should be harmed by unauthorized use.

Resale Value

A sauna increases the value of a home, and it is seen as a luxury item that is even more valuable in an upscale neighborhood accustomed to such luxuries. Real estate professionals are not as sure about hot tubs, however. The attractiveness of a hot tub has been given an iffy standing by many remodeling professionals. Much like a swimming pool, whether a hot tub increases a home’s value depends on many factors, including the personal preferences of the buyers and the quality of the hot tub.

FAQs

Which is better for you a hot tub or a sauna? ›

The benefits of a hot tub are similar to a sauna. They both achieve stress relief, improved sleep, muscle relaxation, and cardiovascular improvement. However, the difference is a hot tub has more offerings such as massaging jets, hydrotherapy options, relaxing sounds of water, and sore muscle relief.

Is a spa as good as a sauna? ›

Hot tubs and saunas offer a similar function: They provide heat to the body for relaxation and therapeutic purposes. Both can offer a feeling of well-being; both can alleviate muscle soreness and body pains. Hot tubs and saunas are both great places to relax, ease tension and spend quality family time.

Does hot tub have same effects as sauna? ›

Although the basic physiological responses of saunas and hot baths are similar, they are not identical. The biggest difference is that hot baths have the added influence of hydrostatic pressure — the force exerted by the water. This assists in the return of blood to your heart.

What are the disadvantages of a hot tub? ›

The warm water can harbor risks to your health, especially if you're older
  • The water can make you sick. Identifying a Healthy Hot Tub. ...
  • The steam can make you sick, too. ...
  • You might get a rash. ...
  • The heat can leave you woozy.
May 18, 2022

What are the disadvantages of sauna? ›

When your body gets overheated, you sweat. Sweating causes you to lose fluids. You get dehydrated when you lose more fluid than you're taking in. There's a risk of getting dehydrated from being in any type of sauna.

What is better for sore muscles hot tub or sauna? ›

Is a Hot Tub or Sauna More Beneficial for Easing Sore Muscles? A hot tub is superior when it comes to easing and preventing sore muscles. While a sauna does heat you up, the results are only temporary.

Is it OK to hot tub everyday? ›

However, it's completely OK to use a hot tub every day. In fact, many of the benefits of a hot tub only become apparent when it's used on a regular basis. To make sure you get the most use out of your hot tub we've come up with a post on what you can do to ensure your hot tub use remains consistent.

How often can you take a sauna? ›

Most specialists recommend one 20-minute sauna session one to three times a week for maximum benefits without any damage to your health. Also, you may adjust the number of sessions during one visit, depending on your health and physical fitness.

Is sitting in a hot tub healthy? ›

Health Benefits

The heat widens blood vessels, which sends nutrient-rich blood throughout your body. Warm water also brings down swelling and loosens tight muscles. And the water's buoyancy takes weight off painful joints. A dip in the hot tub might also help your mental state.

Do saunas help you lose weight? ›

You can't rely on only using a sauna to lose weight. That's because all the weight you lose by sitting in one is water weight. The heat makes you sweat and drop extra water that's being stored in your body. You can lose about 5 pounds in one sauna session but when you start drinking fluids again, you'll gain it back.

Do hot tubs help with inflammation? ›

Hydrotherapy in a hot tub reduces inflammation from your muscles and eases soreness. Regular use of a hot tub can help you manage mild to severe inflammation caused by overuse. That means you'll experience less pain and enjoy better mobility.

Is daily sauna healthy? ›

Improves heart function: A study has shown that regular saunas may improve heart function in people with heart failure. Another study has shown that using a sauna 4-7 times a week can significantly lower the risk of sudden cardiac death and other heart diseases.

Why you shouldn't buy a hot tub? ›

Con #1: Hot tubs must be properly (and regularly) maintained

Not taking proper care of your hot tub can cause unsanitary conditions, since a hot tub creates the perfect warm, moist environment for bacterial growth. That's why you'll need a few chemicals and some equipment to make sure the water stays clean and safe.

How hard is the upkeep on a hot tub? ›

Fortunately, hot tubs are not too hard to maintain once you master a few basic skills. You need to learn how to to perform weekly checks of the water balance and add necessary chemicals, clean and change the filters monthly, and fully replace the water every 3-4 months.

Are hot tubs expensive to maintain? ›

The basic level of hot tub water care (using bottled chemicals) costs around $20 per month to maintain your hot tub, however this depends on what water system that you choose. Upgrading your water care system may be initially more expensive but will save you money and maintenance time in the future.

Why should you not use a sauna? ›

Although sauna bathing does not cause drying of the skin-and may even benefit patients with psoriasis-sweating may increase itching in patients with atopic dermatitis. Contraindications to sauna bathing include unstable angina pectoris, recent myocardial infarction, and severe aortic stenosis.

What type of sauna is best for your health? ›

WINNER: INFRARED

An infrared sauna provides a much milder temperature environment – between 120 to 150 degrees F. Additionally, the light of infrared saunas travels much deeper into the body, meaning they are to cause a more vigorous sweat, despite the lower (and more comfortable) temperature.

Are saunas good for Covid? ›

The temperatures achieved within a sauna are well within the range required for pathogen control and often exceed temperatures of 60°C for 30 min, 65°C for 15 min or 80°C for 1 min, which have been shown to reduce coronavirus infectivity by at least 4 log10 ( Kampf et al., 2020).

Why does my body ache after hot tub? ›

It's lactic acid that, more often than not, is responsible for the soreness that we experience after a workout. If the muscles don't get enough oxygen when they're being worked then lactic acid is created. This acid can be burned as energy but when it's not the result is muscle pain and soreness.

How long should you stay in a sauna? ›

The longer you stay in the sauna, the more you risk dehydration, so a general rule is to cap your time to 15 to 20 minutes. The Finnish, who the word “sauna” comes from, may have an even simpler suggestion since the sauna is meant for relaxing, not ticking off minutes: Leave the sauna once you feel hot enough.

Are ice baths better than saunas? ›

The verdict: Saunas seem to be the better choice as they provide long-term recovery while cryotherapy provides that instant but short term relief from muscle pain. Personally I'd prefer to step into a relaxing sauna than shock my system in an ice bath, but that's just me.

What happens if you pee in hot tub? ›

Urine contains a nitrogen compound called urea. When urea is combined with chlorine, it breaks it down into a by-product called chloramine. Chloramine is harmful if it contacts the skin, via the hot tub water, or if it is inhaled, via the steam from the hot tub.

How often should you drain a hot tub? ›

With average use, your hot tub should be drained and refilled about once every three or four months. But since everyone uses their hot tub differently, the answer can vary based on how many people use it and how often. Hot tub manufacturers like Jacuzzi offer some handy tips for figuring out when to drain and refill.

Do hot tubs raise blood pressure? ›

"The high temperatures in a warm tub or sauna cause your blood vessels to dilate, which lowers blood pressure," says Dr. Adolph Hutter, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. The volume of blood your heart pumps will also rise, especially in a hot tub.

Does sauna reduce belly fat? ›

There's no evidence that sitting in a sauna will help target belly fat specifically.

Can you use your phone in a sauna? ›

Answer: No, you should not take a phone into a sauna, the extreme temperatures can and will damage your phone's internal components. Phones are designed to operate in a temperature range of 0º to 35º – any higher or lower and you will cause damage to the phone's components.

Should you shower after sauna? ›

Relax, recover, refresh

Cooling off after the sauna is important because you can catch a cold if you sweat too much. Sauna-goers should leave enough time to cool down before warming up again. If you can, don't have a shower straight after the sauna. It's better for the body if you cool off in the fresh air first.

What is hot tub lung? ›

Hot tub lung (HTL) is a granulomatous lung disease thought to occur as a result of a hypersensitivity response to non-tuberculous mycobacteria (NTM). Typical radiographic findings are diffuse micronodular and/or ground glass opacities.

Are hot tubs good for weight loss? ›

Burning Calories in a Hot Tub

Seems strange, but it's true! A daily soak in your hot tub can help you lose weight, even if it's in an indirect way. If you weigh around 150 pounds, you can normally burn up to 17 calories or . 005 pounds of fat by simply submerging yourself in your hot tub for 15 to 20 minutes.

Are hot tubs good for arthritis? ›

HOT TUB FOR ARTHRITIS BENEFITS. The warm water and massaging jets of your Hot Spring ® spa can deliver wellness benefits that reach beyond relaxation. Hot tubbing can improve the quality of sleep, increase circulation, and manage pain – and research shows that making time for a daily soak can be good for arthritis.

Do hot tubs help you lose weight? ›

Burning Calories in a Hot Tub

A daily soak in your hot tub can help you lose weight, even if it's in an indirect way. If you weigh around 150 pounds, you can normally burn up to 17 calories or . 005 pounds of fat by simply submerging yourself in your hot tub for 15 to 20 minutes.

How long do you have to sit in a sauna to detox your body? ›

The amount of time spent in a sauna detox session may vary depending upon your tolerance and daily activity level. To get your body accustomed to infrared therapy, start with 10-15 minute sessions every other day. Gradually increase towards 40 minute daily sessions in the optimal temperature range.

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