When planning your sauna, there are many often overlooked factors that could contribute to how well your sauna performs and how much enjoyment you get from it.  Let’s review some to ensure you get your sauna design right.

Bring us your sauna design. We’ll turn your sketch into your new sauna design.


Generally, smaller is better, but it depends more on factors like the number of people using the sauna at once and the type of heater. Ceiling height is also important, remembering heat rises to the highest point.

  • Electric heater
    • The ideal room size is about 6’x6’, but can be smaller or larger depending of the space available.
    • 7’ ceilings are sufficient and reduce volume of air to heat, saving on your electricity bill.
  • Wood burning heater
    • The ideal room size is about 10’ x 10’. Any smaller and you get into clearance issues from your stove to combustibles like your benches.
    • Minimum ceiling height is the stove height plus 5’ above, to meet WETT certifications needed for your insurance company.


There is nothing worse than an ill sized heater, making it either too hot or not hot enough.

  • Electric heater
    • Oversized units. in kilowatts, could continually shut off due to a factory installed overheat limit switch designed to turn off the unit when the heater body reaches 90 degrees Celsius, as a safety measure. This is mostly a hassle. You need to manually reset the button on the bottom of the stove during your sauna. If it happens while you’re outside the sauna, you might open the door to a lukewarm sauna when you were hoping for a good sweat.
    • If the kilowattage is too small, your room may never reach decent temperatures to get a good steam and sweat.
  • Wood burning heater
    • If the heater is too large, you need to control heat with smaller, shorter fires and good draft control.
    • If the heater is too small, you risk over-firing the stove and warping steel and popping welds to get optimal room temperature. It will need frequent reloading of the fire to maintain temperature.


Heat rises to the ceiling, so to get the best heat you want your top bench as close to the ceiling as comfortably possible (as long as people on the top bench can still sit upright).

The second bench level should be at a comfortable height to rest your feet without too much pressure behind your knees from the edge of the bench, so consider the knee height of a shorter to average person. The step up to this bench, should also be comfortable, so if it is too high, a simple step to split the difference makes a huge difference.

Interior of a wooden finnish sauna

Having benches at multiple heights allows bathers to enjoy sauna at their tolerable temperatures. If temperatures get unbearable, they can move down to a lower bench. Also, children and older family members may find temperatures more comfortable on the second level bench.

The layout of your benches impacts comfort and usage. Some people like to stretch out and relax, maybe lay down, in the sauna. That could eat up all the seating quickly. L-shaped benches allow more seating in the same space.


Oxygen, or lack of, can take away from the comfort and safety of a sauna, causing light headedness. Vents ensure you have good air exchange bringing in fresh air and exhausting stale air.

Bring us your sauna design, even just a scribble on a napkin, and we’ll bring your vision to life.

Ideally you want a static fresh air intake low to the floor below or close to the heater, and an adjustable exhaust vent higher up on the opposite end of the room by the upper bench. Keep this vent closed while heating the room and open as needed while occupying. Leaving the vent open after sauna is useful for airing out the sauna avoiding risk of mold.


To meet building code, sauna doors should always swing out of the sauna allowing for a quick escape in an emergency.

Doors can be solid wood for privacy, or have windows to open up the space and provide safety if there is a lot of traffic in and out.


Maintaining a comfortable temperature adds to your enjoyment.

  • Electric heater
    • Electric heaters come with a thermostat and timer in analog or digital form. The thermostat maintains consistent heat. You just need to define your favorite temperature and leave the thermostat set. The timer will turn your sauna on and off for you desired length of time, and you don’t have to worry about forgetting to turn off the sauna after.
  • Wood burning heater
    • This is where practice and skill come in, knowing how much wood is needed based on the dryness condition of your wood and the amount of air the fire needs for a good controlled burn. Air control varies per stove: a damper, opening & closing of the ash drawer, or opening the door slightly at the start of the fire. Knowing when to reduce air to avoid stove damage is critical.

Bring your sauna design to Nordic Energy and we will happily review and make any recommendations to ensure you create the best sauna ever. It doesn’t need to be fancy, even a quick sketch will do.  We can then review the different heaters and materials you will need to complete your sauna project so you get it right, from the start.

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