Imagine finishing a long, stressful day at work. Before starting your commute home, you reach for your phone, open an app, and activate your sauna. As you begin the drive home, you can almost feel your stress melting away already, because you know that by the time you get home, your sauna will be at your preferred temperature and you can start enjoying its benefits immediately.
Sound like something you would love? If you’re a fan of home automation, then you might be interested in some ideas for automating a home sauna as well! You’ll be happy to know that almost anything you can automate in your home, from sensors that control lighting to climate control to your sound system, you can also apply in automating a home sauna.
SAUNA CARE TIP: If you keep your sauna at another residence that you only visit a few weeks out of the year — like a summer home, winter cabin, or work residence — sauna automation may be just the solution you’re looking for!
Why? Because, hands down, the best sauna maintenance is to USE the sauna regularly. Just like a vehicle that needs to be started occasionally and driven around the block to keep it running well, turning your sauna on at least once a week will help to keep it dry, prevent mold from forming, and help it last as long as possible.
In this article, we will be walking you through all the ways you can automate a home sauna. The most obvious idea for automating a home sauna is the temperature, but you really can do so much more.
While the internet is full of messageboards with ways to DIY sauna automation, we do NOT recommend DIY-ing your ideas for automating a home sauna, as most functions will require taking out the control panel to modify it. Unless you are a skilled electrician, you risk damaging your sauna, potentially voiding any warranties, and seriously injuring yourself.
AUTOMATING A HOME SAUNA #1: AUTOMATION OPTIONS
More and more sauna and heater brands are offering Wifi controls. In today’s article we’re going to be covering 3 sauna automation systems – HUUM heaters, Harvia with Xenio Digital Control, and Loxone products.
Made in Estonia, HUUM heaters (seen in the image above) bring traditional Finnish design into the modern era, made with brushed stainless steel elements for long-life and larger rock capacity than other heaters for better steam.
Harvia — one of the world’s premier sauna heaters — has developed a new remote start system with a proprietary app for a few of their heater models which we will summarize in the next section.
In addition to HUUM and Harvia heaters, we’ll be talking about Loxone home automation products in this article. As a disclaimer, we do not sell Loxone products nor are we an affiliate partner! They just have some really awesome sauna automation options and products that can really add value, comfort and convenience to your sauna experience.
AUTOMATING A HOME SAUNA #2: TEMPERATURE
Automating a sauna’s temperature is one of the most obvious choices when it comes to sauna automation options. Consider this scenario: it’s winter and outside it is bitterly cold. You want to have a sauna session, but you really don’t want to go outside twice just to enjoy a single session.
So, instead of putting down the good book you’re reading or pausing the game you’re playing with your daughter in order to bundle up and make the trek to your sauna turn it on, you get to stay in the comfort of your home and just use your tablet or phone to turn it on and begin pre-heating. This option is really convenient, and is especially useful if your sauna is placed somewhere that takes a bit of a walk to get to.
Enter: Wifi controlled sauna heaters. First, let’s talk about HUUM. HUUM heaters are precision-crafted with brushed stainless steel elements and feature large rock capacity with minimalist designs that allow the beauty of the stones to really shine. The extra stones give more powerful heat distribution, as well as better steam. And when you throw in the HUUM mobile app, they just might become your favorite sauna heater option.
HUUM UKU is the overarching name for the brand’s sauna control system. It includes a wall-mounted controller that connects to the heater as well as other sensors inside the sauna. This is known as UKU Local, but they’ve also developed a mobile app that comes with UKU WiFi and UKU Glass. These two include the wall-mounted controller, but make it so you can access it from anywhere using a smartphone or tablet. All you need is an internet connection. So, if you opt for a HUUM heater, just be sure to select UKU WiFi or Glass for your heater control option and you will be ready to automate!
Next, let’s talk about Harvia. Virta, Harvia KIP and Cilindro heater models include a Xenio Digital Control Panel, which is a clear touch digital control panel that can be mounted outside of the sauna and preset up to 12 hours in advance.
If you’re using other heater stoves and you want to integrate Loxone, you will need to purchase the Loxone miniserver as the central control (or “brain” of your home sauna), temperature and humidity sensors, and a contactor for your heater. Loxone has its own proprietary app that’s regularly updated and you can download for free. Then, you can use it to automatically turn your sauna on, and also use the temperature and humidity sensors to automatically monitor your sauna’s temperature and adjust accordingly. Plus, the Loxone App gives you the ability to track your sauna temperature status, so you know exactly where it is.That means no more going outside to check the thermometer, just peek at your app and know for sure when it’s ready for you.
We all learned as kids that heat rises, and for your sauna, that means the ceiling (and any temperature sensors near there) will always be a few degrees warmer than the benches. This imbalance can be unnoticeable to some, but to many people this can be frustrating. However, there is a way around it with “temperature correction!”
This is a very cool feature that will sense any temperature differences within your sauna (such as between the ceiling and benches) and will automatically correct it. For it to work, of course, you’ll need temperature sensors both near the ceiling and the benches.
AUTOMATING A HOME SAUNA #3: SOUND SYSTEM
Listening to music, podcasts, or simple relaxing sounds can really enhance your sauna experience. And, if your sauna comes with speakers, or if you’re able to build some in, then automating music control is a must-do! Alexa and other similar home automation systems can work with most speakers, but I’m going to keep our theme consistent by explaining Loxone’s sound system automation.
First, you’ll need a music server and sauna speakers. This Loxone speaker is ideal for a sauna because it is created with a rubberized design and is weather resistant and suitable for sauna use! The audio function in the sauna comes from built-in Loxone Speakers underneath the bench. Keep in mind the possible temperature ranges that you may reach in your sauna.
If you opt to DIY it by installing your own speakers and connecting it to your Alexa/Google Voice device, then be sure to look for speakers that also utilize rubberized, all-weather design that can live in the sauna temperature range.
AUTOMATING A HOME SAUNA #4: SAFETY
Sauna safety is of utmost importance. After all, you are engaging in hyperthermia, also known as heat stress. And while studies have shown hyperthermia offers a number of health benefits, such as cardiovascular improvements and reduced risk of hypertension, too much of a good thing (aka, overheating) can be very harmful and even deadly, causing dehydration and heat exhaustion on the lesser end of the spectrum and heat stroke on other end.
So, first, you definitely want to know how to engage in sauna sessions safely. We recommend checking out this article here to learn all about it: How to Sauna Like a Pro. Second, you might want to consider safety ideas for automating a home sauna.
Most, if not all, sauna heaters come with a standard safety temperature limiter (known as a STL) in case dangerously high temperatures are reached which will prevent it from getting any hotter.
HUUM UKU provides a range of safety features. A child safety lock prevents a young one from accidentally turning the heat on, and there’s a time included too. It also provides overheating protection by utilizing the sensors throughout your sauna. If it senses overheating, you are protected via an automatic shut off.
Loxone offers an additional safety switch as a backup. This is helpful if you wanted to set a lower STL than what comes standard with most heaters, which is usually somewhere around 220ºF. If you wanted to have a lower STL, say something like 200ºF, then you can set it and if that temperature is ever reached the safety switch will kick in to stop running electricity to the heater.
Another valuable safety feature is “movement detection.” This is especially helpful for accidents, potential falls or overheating. If you live alone or use the sauna by yourself a lot, this one is important! Movement detection basically works by switching off the heater if all motion stops after a specific period of time.
If you’re using Loxone LED light strips, you can program the lights inside the sauna to turn on while the lights outside the sauna turn off. And then, you can set it so that after 10, 15, or 20 minutes have gone by, the light outside switches on automatically and the lights in the sauna turn off.
The colorful LED light strips from Loxone allow you to select the color as well. This may be of interest to those who are interested in chromotherapy (color light therapy). Chromotherapy is the process of restoring balance to the body through color. The concept is that color bathing with certain colors can adjust frequencies that will promote better health and relaxation. Many of our infrared saunas come equipped with chromotherapy lights. (As of the moment of writing this, while there is a control panel, there are no automation options).
SAUNA LIGHTING TIP: Consider placing LED light strips under the sauna benches to create a subtle glow and cozy ambience.
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While Almost Heaven offers LED light bars that can also be used in many different sauna designs and types, these are not “smart LEDs” so they can’t be automated. However, if you are able to find some smart LED light strips, such as the Loxone ones mentioned above, you could most likely pair them with a third-party system and devices for automation, such as an Amazon Alexa, Apple Homekit, Google Assistant or Microsoft Cortana. At the time of writing this article, we have not heard of anyone trying this. (If you have, please let us know in the comments!).
HOW TO PLAN FOR YOUR SAUNA’S AUTOMATION?
If you don’t have a home sauna yet, then now is the best time to start planning for your sauna automation. Keep in mind that sauna temperature automation works with saunas with electric heaters only. So, when you do buy your sauna, be sure you are selecting one with an electric heater. However, if you’re looking for lighting or sound automation ONLY, you should be able to make it happen no matter what kind of sauna heater you use.
If you are using Loxone, you will want to make sure you and your electrician (or partner have sufficient cables leading from the distributor to the sauna for:
Sauna heater (high voltage current)
Touch Surface (this is the control panel and is built into the wall of the sauna. At the location of each “touch point,” a hole will need to be drilled into the wall.
Now, if you’re using other sauna automation systems or trying to DIY your lighting automation or something like that, you will need to do some further research. And regardless of what kind of sauna automation you want, always follow the directions and recommendations of the experts!
Automating a home sauna comes with a wealth of benefits. It adds convenience, comfort, adds to your safety, and increases energy efficiency. So if you’re searching for a home sauna that you can automate, please check out our large selection of saunas that use electric heaters. And if you have any questions about saunas or sauna automation, feel free to chat with us using the chat feature on this page, or by contacting us here. We will be happy to answer any questions you have.