I’m not sure who came up with this term “medical grade” saunas, but it’s almost laughable if you look around at some of the sauna company marketing material.
What exactly makes a sauna “medical grade” anyway?
Does wood from one company operate in a more medical application than another?
Who certifies them?
Where do you find the universal standard for this?
The emails folks are sending me from sauna sales people touting that they should only buy a medical grade sauna are pretty ridiculous. There are even companies that say their sauna is backed by doctors, endorsed by popular biohackers that developed bulletproof coffee, and yada yada.
This is a bunch of made up malarkey if you ask me…
But medical to me, might mean something different than medical to someone else. In the sauna world, my context is: “what is a safe and effective sauna for someone to use that may be ill, recovering, or seeking care for an injury of whatnot.” – That’s a medical need – to me.
Aside from that, to me, a medical grade sauna fits this criteria:
– low VOC’s (with the COMPLETE sauna being tested, NOT just pieces cut out of it and sent to a lad)
– ultra low emf (NOT verified by a third party testing company, where they simply take out a single heater and send it off!)
-build quality to withstand this use
-ease of installation at facility
– this is potentially a liability in a practice setting, and you should modify your general liability policy if you’re going to introduce heat therapy equipment to your office that isn’t well vetted
– stringent manufacturing quality control
To be forward, this is the same criteria I have for myself in residential saunas, so I’m not sure how one sauna is a medical sauna, and another isn’t.
But, in a medical office, chiropractor office, or any type of medical rehabilitation treatment facility, the above criteria is something we would look to install to make it as healthy as possible for patients. (disclaimer: I am not a doctor)
The basis that one infrared sauna heater is more “medical grade” than another, is totally nuts.
This whole thing is a bit ridiculous if you ask me, and thousands of people are being taken for a ride with fancy marketing and overinflated sauna pricing to get a “medical” sauna.
Commercial Grade Saunas – Finally Some Merritt
Now there is some benefit to vetting saunas based on commercial build quality. In all my sauna testing, I’ve seen time and time again poorly built saunas that are going to get used day in and day out, take quite a beating.
It’s very important for the cabinet to be able to withstand public use… something most homeowners don’t have to worry about.
Commercial customers renting sauna sessions by the our, are not careful with the doors, handles, benches, etc…
They regularly beat the crap out of this equipment, and a home owner generally takes much better care of their sauna. (not to mention the cleanliness issue with tons of random people sweating in the same sauna day after day)
In this case, build quality matters.
For instance, if you were to buy a JNH Lifestyles Sauna like I bought from Amazon, you would destroy that thing in less than a month in a medical office. (chiro, gym, etc… doesn’t matter)
It’s built like cardboard, and will never hold up to daily public use. Moreover, it takes forever to preheat, and doesn’t emit that great of infrared coverage anyway, so it wouldn’t be a good experience for your patients at all.
Design Matters – Take Floor Heater Grates For Example
In a commercial setting if I were running the clinic, I would opt to buy saunas without floor heater grates in them. These can become problematic for two reasons: they work themselves loose after a while if customers aren’t careful, and 2) it’s an extra headache to clean if you have to remove them each time to get customers hair, dust, sweat, etc… that drops through after each sessions.
This is just one example that you learn from a lot of experience using saunas, and watching folks use them day after day, but you get the idea on how these little details can make a difference in day to day operations… something most sauna salespeople never talk to you about. (drives me nutes)
So What To Look For In A Commercial Sauna?
For a commercial office setting, if we’re talking about 3-4 person larger saunas like typically selected, you’re going to want at least a 20amp 120v sauna, so there’s enough power on tap to give people a decent detox sweat in a reasonable amount of time. 240v works too, but will likely call for hiring an electrician to come in a drop a line wherever you plan on putting the sauna… whereas the other 120v option is likely already there if you’re in a commercial space. (generally speaking, your space may vary)
If you’re doing buildout on a new concept in a retail location, this is much less important if the walls are open. I would pick whatever you like at that point… for but for business owners starting on a shoestring budget, a retrofit consideration is a nice option.
This shouldn’t be your buying influcence of course, but it’s important to consider ease of installation and setup too.
Sizing For Commercial VS Residential
Generally commercial operations aim to provide 2 person or larger saunas for customers. Usually it’s a good idea to go a size up from what you need in order to offer more spacious environments for customers, so they’ll be more comfortable, can attend two at a time, etc… if they choose.
Bigger Is Better
Making your patients comofortable is a big priority. You may have a small space to work with, but I would recommend going as large as you can or this. A two person sauna at minimum, so people can at least move around a bit even if they’re only doing single sauna sessions… But 3-4 person (or the largest you can fit) is ideal, so patients can stretch out easily, bring a spouse, etc…
This is both based on personal experience, and making patient comfort a priority. Typically, if patients are in a more comfortable environment, the more they will come back and use your services. The more they use the sauna, the more benefits they’ll receive.
If you’re also looking at adding the sauna to your practice as a business decision, anything you can do to make it a successful additional revenue stream, the better…
Things to think about for this, are making sauna sessions an “experience” you can’t get at home.
Little things go a looooong way for example:
– heated towels
– meditation or relaxation music
– addon massage services, float tank, etc…