6 STEPS TO IMPROVING THE TEMPERATURE OF YOUR OUTDOOR BARREL SAUNA
For the most part, you enjoy your outdoor barrel sauna, but you want the temperature to be hotter. While most traditional saunas reach temperatures over 190 degrees Fahrenheit (87.7 degrees Celsius), some sauna fans wish to withstand more heat during their sessions.
Before you try to ‘bring on the heat’, perhaps you have questions about the proper materials needed. You might be wondering about how heating works inside your sauna. You might also want to know more about what extra precautions you should take. This guide will provide more information on how to heat your sauna. Here are 6 steps to improving the temperature of your barrel sauna.
HOW HOT DOES AN OUTDOOR BARREL SAUNA GET?
Finnish Sauna Society says that traditional saunas should be at a temperature between 176 and 194 degrees Fahrenheit (80 to 100 degrees Celsius). To help you keep track of the heat flow as it increases, you can use a thermometer. If you use an electric stove, start by adjusting the temperature knob.
If you use a wood-burning stove, keep in mind that you will have to keep adding logs until the sauna is hot. How hot your sauna gets depends on many factors. Keep the following facts in mind:
Electric heaters and wood-burning heaters both reach a max of195 degrees Fahrenheit.
The heater, as well as the wood selected for fuel, and sauna stones can all have an effect on how your sauna creates and holds heat.
The barrel sauna does not need insulation to increase heat.
HOW TO HEAT YOUR BARREL SAUNA
No matter the size, whether a 1-person outdoor sauna or a 6-person barrel sauna, you will need wood, a heat source, and sauna stones for heating.
Your sauna has two choices for a source of heat - theelectric heaterand thewood-burning heater. Here’s how they differ:
Quick heating (less than 10 minutes)
Automatic reset after an hour for safety
May affect your utility bill
Customers in rural areas may struggle with finding electric service
No need for electrical wiring
Requires chimney installation
Harder to control temperature
Takes longer to heat
Wood can be expensive
Sauna heaters require little maintenance, but a little goes a long way. If properly maintained, most heaters last anywhere between5 to 20 years. Here’s how to ensure that your heater lasts for a couple decades:
Be sure to only use a soft cloth, water, and a mild cleaner or baking soda for the outer casing.
Avoid using bleach or ammonia. They will discolor your wood and may also release harmful chemicals when your sauna is hot again.
Wipe your heater and the interior of your sauna regularly to avoid hard water build-up. Hard water has chalk, calcium, lime, magnesium sulfates, and other minerals that will also discolor your wood.
If the wood near your heater has stubborn hard water stains, use full-fat mayonnaise as a hack for removing them. Leave the spot covered for 8 hours for the best results.
If your sauna heater is the wrong size, chances are it will not work properly. If the heater is too small, warming your sauna can take way longer than it should. If the heater is too big, your sauna will become too hot quickly. Here a few tips for sizing:
Most saunas have a ceiling height no higher than 7 feet. If your sauna is taller, the heating requirements will be different.
You will need1 KW of heater power per 45 cubic feet inside your sauna.
For every square meter (10.75 square feet) of a wall that does not have insulation, increase the volume by 1.2 cubic meters, or 42 cubic feet.
Add rock or brick walls and large windows
If the weather in your area is very cold, try slightly increasing the size of your sauna heater as long as the measurements allow it.
Most outdoor barrel saunas will need a heater that is between 5 and 8 KWs.
You should opt for an inside feed rather than using an outside feed for a number of reasons. For example:
An outside feed will cause your sauna to lose 25% of the heat inside of your sauna.
Using a chimney kit is cheaper than feeding through a wall.
An inside feed requires little cleaning up and provides a better ambiance.
PROPER SAUNA WOOD
If your sauna has a wood-burning stove, of course, you need wood for fuel. Softwoods are good for starting your fire. Pine, cedar, redwood, fir, and spruce are examples of softwoods.
Hardwoods are better for fuel because they burn slower. They are usually the more expensive option. Oak, maple, walnut, cherry, poplar, and birch are examples of hardwoods. Keep the following in mind when selecting wood for your heater:
Try to only use wood that you can access easily for stocking. You will save money in the long run.
Avoid wood that is painted or stained. It can release toxic, deadly chemicals.
Also, avoid trees with sap. They might release fumes or burning liquid.
Greenwood, or freshly cut wood, will not work. Stick with wood that is cleaned and seasoned.
The wood should be smooth with little changes in color. Avoid broken knots.
If your sauna heater does not have the proper stones, it will not operate correctly. Using stones from your yard will not work. This is because they have to be a certain weight in order to retain heat. Sauna stones allow slow and steady heat over time by acting as a heat sink. They operate by storing energy and smoothing the delivery of heat.
Without sauna rocks, the sauna heater would be too hot while running. It would also cool off way faster than it should. If you use too many rocks, you could slow your warm-up time down even more since stones heat up slower than air. The stones might not steam at all. The right amount of rocks allows the heater to actually convert more water to steam without leaving a puddle behind.
While you can gather your own rocks with careful selection, stick with using sauna stones only if possible. Benefits include:
Holds 45 lbs of rocks
Maximize air circulation
Helps with effective vaporization
Darker rocks give off heat quicker
Replaceable once a year
If you use your sauna 2 or 3 times a week, replace them 2 or 3 times a year.
WHY DOES THE SAUNA GET HOTTER WHEN ADDING WATER TO STONES?
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When water goes on the stones, the heat transfer rate from the rocks to the air increases.
Evaporation gives off lots of hot steam, which rises and mixes with cooler air.
As a result, the sauna’s temperature increases.
Steam causes humidity to increase.
Water precipitation on your skin increases.
Sweat evaporation decreases.
In short, the heat transfer that takes place when the water touches the stones is what makes your sauna hotter.
6 STEPS FOR IMPROVING YOUR BARREL SAUNA TEMPERATURE
Almost Heaven explains that you should examine the interior, as well as the exterior of your sauna for maximum results. Here are 6 steps that can make your sauna hotter:
OUTSIDE THE SAUNA:
COVER THE TOP
Since barrel saunas do not require insulation, you can cover the top as an alternative. Many saunas offer options as you complete your purchase. For example, theAlmost Heaven Salem 2-Person Standard Barrel Saunagives the option to add a rain jacket conveniently during checkout.
Adding another layer on your sauna keeps hot air from escaping and blocks cold air from coming inside. Here are a few different ways you can go about covering the top of your sauna:
Completely UV resistant
Known for keeping moisture out
Available in different colors
Allows you to be in control of how much space you cover
Different styles and colors available to suit your needs
May take longer because of laying each individual shingle
Straps down between uses
Permanently covers sauna
Variety of colors available
Corrugated Metal Roof
Easily accessible at local hardware store
Installed using .75” sheet metal screws
DIY (Do It Yourself)
Permanently covers sauna
Allows you to fully customize the appearance of your cover
Requires the most materials and time
Seal the Sauna
Be sure that you seal all possible leaks within your sauna. Follow these steps to help you remember:
Begin by checking the door. Be sure that hinges are tight so that the door does not slip. Seal extra spaces around your door by using a piece of weather stripping.
Be mindful of wooden staves. Be sure that you have added as many as you can. Make sure that the bands are fully tightened as well.
Check the sauna window.
Look for any other spaces where there might be leakage.
INSIDE THE SAUNA:
Check Your Sauna Heater
Your heater might be the culprit behind your sauna not reaching the desired temperature. Remember not to pack your heater with sauna stones. Start with smaller stones and work your way up. If you use the Harvia KIP Electric Heater, keep the following in mind:
Make sure you mount the heater so that there are about 5 to 7 inches between the ground and the bottom of the heater.
If placed too high, hot air will not heat the bottom of your sauna.
Lower the temperature sensor. Keep it placed 18 inches above and 18 inches to the side of the heater.
Used to turn the heater off when your outdoor sauna house gets too hot
If too high, it might cause the heater to do a permanent shut-off.
When using the sauna stones that come with the heater, you should have about 5 to 10 rocks left over.
CLOSE YOUR VENTS
Almost Heaven barrel saunas come with two vents - one located underneath the heater so that fresh air is pulled in, and one by the ceiling on the wall across from the heater for exhaustion. Here are a few tips for your vents:
Leave vents open while warming up your sauna heater so that the high-limit sensor is not triggered.
Close them when your session begins. If the air gets too stuffy for you, you can open them back up.
Also, keep the corks in the drain stave so that cold air cannot get in the bottom of your sauna.
CIRCULATE (FAN) HOT AIR
Because heat rises, you need a way to keep the air flowing. Hot air tends to get stuck at the top of the sauna. Use a small fan or wave a towel overhead to help the air even disperse throughout the room.
INCREASE THE HUMIDITY
One of the benefits of using a traditional outdoor wood sauna is the fact that you can control your humidity levels. Add more water to stones to create a burst of steam. Of course, dry heat and wet heat are the same temperature-wise, but wet heat feels hotter to your body than dry heat.
Be sure not to dump water onto the sauna stones. Instead, try using a bucket and ladle to slowly drizzle water evenly onto sauna rocks.
There are several ways that you can improve your sauna’s temperature. First, try covering the top using a rain jacket, roof shingles, tarp, or corrugated metal. You can even build your own structure for cover. Next, be sure that you seal your sauna. Examine the door, wooden staves, window(s), and other problem areas for leaks.
Be sure that your heater is mounted correctly and has the right amount of stones. Close your vents when your session starts, but reopen them if it gets too hot for you. Fan hot air to help with circulation and gradually add more water to your stones to keep the humidity level high. Follow these steps and prepare to enjoy that extra hot, powerful punch you crave every single session.
For more information on the outdoor barrel sauna, or accessories that will assist you with increasing your sauna’s temperature, be sure to check our blogs and services.