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Designing & Building

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Where should you focus your attention when you start designing a sauna?
Various points have an effect on the overall result. Of course, the heart of the sauna is the heater and the right selection heater model and control options can heavily impact your overall enjoyment of the sauna. Sauna temperature and good quality heater stones are also important aspects of consideration when designing a sauna.

Sauna size
The sauna should be insulated to a minimum of R12 on the walls and R16 on the ceiling. The sauna itself requires an equally effective heater to maximize size according to UL, CSA or ETL guidelines. Consult your local dealer or Helo heater charts for proper sizing.

Inside height
The minimum permitted ceiling height of a sauna is 77”. A typical ceiling height in the sauna is 84”. Check the minimum sauna height in the heater brochure or installation instructions. A maximum ceiling height as recommended by safety guidelines is 96”.

Benches in the sauna is a very important step. Maximizing bench space and minimizing wasted floor space adds to the efficiency of your sauna and maximizes the number of users for your space. Typically a sauna should plan for a lower bench and upper bench, with your upper bench area used as the main calculation for how many users you’d like to accommodate. Figure 2’ of bench space as typical for each sauna bather. Wood options for the benches and walls: Usually the seating boards are built from Cedar or Alder wood. Sauna walls are typically covered with Cedar or European Alder.

Sauna door
An all-glass door is quickly become the world standard as a stylish and durable option. The glass is resistant under high-heat, steam and fluctuations of wet and dry conditions.

Heater location
The heater is typically located along the front or side wall to maximize your main wall and additional side wall benching options. Recent innovations with sauna heaters (Tonttu series for example) has allowed for unique bench designs and even designs that allow the benches to wrap around the heater. Your local Finnleo or Helo dealer will be happy to sketch out options with you and will provide professional 2D or 3D CAD drawings of your space showing you heater and bench layout options.

Sauna ventilation
Air mass that is colder than the surrounding temperature always tries to move downwards. Room-temperature air in the sauna 'sinks' down to the floor of the sauna unless it can be mixed with the air mass circulating inside the sauna. To get the natural draw effect and pull fresh air through the room, it is important to locate your in-vent directly under the heater so that the intense heat of the rocks accompanied with Helo’s open air heater design pulls the air into the room. By placing the exhaust vent as close to opposite your heater in-vent as possible your maximize air exchange and the level of the out-vent (typically 2’ off the floor) is low enough you have little heat loss, but high enough you’ll get good air exchange. For those who wish to use mechanical venting, please contact Helo’s technical staff or your local dealer for direct options related to your particular install.

Importance of Helo’s Vulkanite heater stones

  1. The sauna heater stones of an electrical heater have to fulfill the following requirements:
  2. They have to withstand high temperatures and wide fluctuations of sauna heat.
  3. They must not create dust nor discharge any odors.
  4. They have to deliver the heat sufficiently, grab water and then prevent the dripping of water. Therefore, an uneven surface is better than an even one.
  5. They have to be sufficiently large in order for the air to circulate well between the stones and for the elements to operate better.
  6. They must hold heat well. Once the room reaches temperature, a rock that holds the heat well will use less energy to stay hot and will produce wonderful steam.
  7. They should be recommended and tested by the heater manufacturer. The Helo Vulkanite stones are tested heater stones containing no harmful VOC’s.


Learn the answers to some of the frequently asked questions.

Sauna Specifications

The following specifications include design parameters for helo® prefab/modular saunas, as well as for helo® Custom-Cut material packages.

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