SaunaSpace Review: Is This Dr. Wilson NIR Heat Lamp Sauna Really Better?

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In this SaunaSpace review, I’m going to cover what changed my opinion of NIR saunas over the last 8 months or so. I know in the past I started recommending these heat lamp saunas, because it’s what I was using myself after building my own shower conversion NIR setup. However, I don’t use this style of sauna anymore, and feel that this is not the best fit for most healthy people looking to detox heavy metals, pesticides, etc… in a reasonable amount of time.

Full disclaimer right up front: I don’t own a Pocket Sauna specifically with the cloth tent, but have built two replicas by hand in my own garage with the exact same design, and even an extended/improved design over DR. Wilson’s(which is where the SaunaSpace design comes from)

It works, but does not deliver anywhere near the same deep penetrating sweat that far infrared wooden sauna enclosure does. It can’t, it just doesn’t get hot enough with a breathable cloth enclosure that isn’t sealed from the outside air.  Just look at the videos of customers using the sauna tent… they’re surface sweating on localized parts of their body, never river sweating with sweat dripping from their fingers, elbows, knees, etc… Compare that to FIR saunas like the one I use everyday, and you river sweat every single time. (river sweating is when you can physically see streams of sweat forming/running down your body, due to the volume of sweat quickly accumulating in short periods of time)

I’m not saying this heat lamp style of sauna doesn’t have any benefit, totally the contrary… The skin healing benefits are awesome, and I like the way it feels. However, for detoxing heavy metals like I need to do, it’s simply just not intense enough to generate that heavy sweat to eliminate the same amount of toxins in a short time period. I estimate it would take several months longer in a heat lamp sauna like this rather than far infrared, since the FIR is the true workhorse behind any of these other “full spectrum” or mid infrared shams marketed by other popular companies. (not SaunaSpace, nothing to do with them)

Why Am I Doing A Review Of The SaunaSpace NIR Sauna?

When I was first seeing my functional medicine doctor after my amalgam removal, she insisted I start getting in an infrared sauna regularly almost immediately. She had recommended the Sauna Space home sauna to me, which put this style of sauna on my radar for the first time. (I didn’t even know what an infrared sauna was prior to this) Apparently she had talked with the owner Brian, and suggested I reach out to him and maybe we could do something together. (I had never blogged about anything health related at this point other than juicing & supplements, but figured what the hell…)  At one time, I was even interested in doing a colab with SaunaSpace.

However, this was back when I knew nothing about saunas in mid 2017.  Foolishly, I recommended this sauna before I began buying and testing other kinds of saunas… and I feel bad about that.

I didn’t realize at the time, that $3,000.00 dollars for a tent, 4 bulbs, and a stick frame, is borderline highway robbery… And you can get a full size two person wooden sauna, FOR LESS MONEY.

So, in an effort to make things right, I need to write a review on the SaunaSpace pocket sauna, in case anyone else comes across old videos where I suggested it.

The bottom line: now that I’ve built several of these, it’s clear to me that the Sauna Space unit (in it’s entirety) costs less than $500 bucks to make, including labor.

Charging people $3k for that is oooooooone hell of a margin… and a fucking rip off.

Why I No Longer Recommend The Sauna Space Pocket Sauna

When I first got into making saunas per Dr. Wilson’s triangular 4 lamp style design, I recommended the SaunaSpace product to people who couldn’t build their own saunas or have any garage workspace/tools and whatnot.

A lot of people live in apartments, don’t have tools, aren’t handy, or simply aren’t well enough to take on a building project of that nature. And so I would recommend they buy this SaunaSpace sauna instead, even though it was expensive.

This was long before I had begun testing all sorts of saunas, and would later find reputable companies that offer wooden saunas for less money than you spend on the sauna tent. At the end of the day, this is my reputation on the line, and if it were my mother, father, relative, or good friend, I wouldn’t tell them to drop $3k on a fabric style sauna tent anymore.  It just isn’t a good recommendation for the amount of funds you have to outlay, since you can buy several pieces of healing equipment for the same price now.

I also question the legitimacy of the whole “near infrared” thing.  After personally testing 9 brands of saunas now, there is a HUGE difference between the different types of saunas.  To make a long story short, even with making an insulated enclosure, adding a floor heater, and using a 6 bulb setup (two more additional 250 watt bulbs), you don’t get a full body sweat after 45 minutes of sitting in front of the thing.

Compare that to sitting in a good far infrared sauna with 360 degrees of coverage, and you’re sweating from your head to your toes in less than 10 minutes.  Big difference!

It’s $3,000.00 Dollars For Nothing More Than 4 Heat Lamp Bulbs, A Stick Frame, And Some Cloth

The main issue I have with the SaunaSpace product, is the price.  It should be more like $1,200 – $1,500 dollars retail to truly deliver people a quality product at a fair price.

I have a hard time knowing there is an 83.34% profit margin (my own calculations, I’m sure they would dispute overhead, cnc’s, labor, etc…) on a product when people are ill and potentially making a vulnerable purchase.

Fact is, it’s a small package that doesn’t even need to be pallet shipped, so the shipping costs are much lower than any other sauna on the planet too. If some of this was passed on to the customer in terms of savings, I could get behind it again.

However, from what I’ve heard through the grapevine, their new SaunaSpace Sanctuary is going to be an even MORE expensive cloth model, supposedly offering an EMF mitigation by way of shielding fabric woven in to the enclosure.  While I like that idea, it doesn’t solve the two issues for customers: 1) lack of more intense FIR heat, and 2) the price for a stick frame, cloth covered, incandescent bulb package is still outrageously high, and likely going up instead of down.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the idea of attenuating RF to create a healing environment, but 5 yards of shielding fabric isn’t that expensive.

I’m absolutely convinced you need far infrared for faster detoxing now. I’m going along with the standard terminology used by people addressing these heat lamp saunas (calling them “near infrared”) to avoid creating any labeling confusion, but I would completely disagree with calling them Near Infrared Saunas altogether if I could…

After trying almost every style of sauna on the market over the last year, and buying several types of saunas, it’s just not possible to increase your core temp enough with 4 heat lamp bulbs without adding external heaters. (which I’ve also done, but it still lacks the oomph you need)

There might be a rare occasion where someone that is incredibly ill actually responds better to the heat lamp therapy, but at some point you want to be river sweating.  I am not a doctor, and this isn’t medical advice. Please consult your physician for that. However, this is my opinion after testing 9 brands of saunas on the market, and over $22,000.00 dollars worth of infrared saunas in the last 6 months.

The only time I recommend one of these heat lamp saunas, is when someone has no money and they need to build a shower conversion for cheap to get by for a while.

I Built 2 DIY NIR Heat Lamp Saunas For Less Than $200

If you noticed above when I talked about price, most of my distaste for the SaunaSpace packages now stems from being able to build one of these yourself for a couple hundred bucks. You can easily order the bulbs, make an enclosure from PVC (yes they will say that PVC is NOT non toxic… but let’s be real here: you are NOT even getting the interior temperature even CLOSE to hot enough for this to even be on the radar) and buy a $20 stool from walmart and you’re off and running with a DIY clone.

Let’s say you’re not as resourceful as I am, and it costs you $500 to order everything you need… still, you can buy the exact same red heat lamps they use for $12 a piece, you need some lumber, likely have a jigsaw already, and I would even argue that this cheap mylar covering would be even better than cloth for getting you sweating for less money.

That said, you still have $2,500 left to get the other things you should be buying along with your sauna to keep your skin and body working better during your detox. Things like a water filter, shower filter, organic soap, a HUSO machine, brain tuner, power vibe, etc… All the things I use that compliment your sauna use.

OR, at least get a damn nice wooden sauna with lights so you can read in the darn thing for that price! lol

I Think They’re Ripping People Off Now That I Found A Sauna Company That Sells A 2 Person Sauna For Less Than $3k

How many ways can I say it….

You can buy a two person sauna, with nice lighting, a glass door, with full body 360 degree infrared coverage, for less money than this thing costs.

But I digress…

Near Infrared VS Far Infrared: Which Is Truly Better?

This is the main thing that I worry about when it comes to deciding if “near infrared” is right for you.

If you look at all the research closely, all of the scientific research pretty much shows that for the body to absorb near infrared, you fairly close to the source in order for the skin to do it’s thing appropriately. There is no way in hell that is ever going to happen with a heat lamp bulb, the surface temperature is just too hot for you to be close enough for any length of time.

There Is Quite The Discrepancy When It Comes To Any Actual Near Infrared Being Absorbed From Heat Lamp Bulbs

Additionally, most of the research and graphs you see passed around on NIR, the studies were actually using LED’s not incandescent sources. You can’t just swap the two and call it good… it doesn’t work that way.

Now I’m not saying there isn’t any benefit here to using heat lamps. At the end of the day what matters in any sauna, no matter the style, is that you’re sweating while immobilized.

However, there seems to be a huge discrepancy and a lot of confusion about what near infrared actually is, and I would argue that these red lamp therapy NIR saunas, are not really near infrared saunas at all. They may emit plenty of near infrared, but when isolated, you can sit in front of near infrared for hours and never sweat. The sweat inducing action from these heat lamp saunas, is from the heat (from the lamp itself: they’re 250 watts each, and the FIR portion of the wavelength emission).

Update: “I would argue that these bulbs are actually putting out more far infrared than near anyway.” – in regards to the sauna experience specifically, when folks call these e26 bulb configurations a “near infrared sauna,” the NIR nm emissions are not contributing to raising core temperature enough to induce a sweat.

The marketing is totally backwards, and in my opinion this is just taking advantage of a pocket in the market.

Bottom Line, You Can Buy The Bulbs For $10 Bucks Each From Amazon Like I Did… I Don’t Think It’s Right To Charge People $3,000 Dollars For What It Costs Them To Make It

One Exception: The Heat Lamp Array Has Value If You’re Not Handy And Have No Tools

As you can guess by now, there are situations where I will still recommend this solution to people. But it’s very very few, and extremely rare at this point.

There just is no replacement for a better solution, that gets you sweating more in less time. (far infrared)

If you are very ill, or have no money, these heat lamp arrays are better than doing nothing in my opinion. But at some point, you’re going to want to river sweat.

Am I Saying The Near Infrared Sauna Reviews Aren’t Legit?

There is no doubt plenty of people have been helped by using heat lamp saunas, any sweating is going to improve your health. But have these advocates of these “near infrared” heat lamp saunas really tried other types of saunas to know what they’re missing?….

DIY Sauna Course

18 thoughts on “SaunaSpace Review: Is This Dr. Wilson NIR Heat Lamp Sauna Really Better?”

  1. Excellent review! My detox practitioner started offering these at crazy prices which made me look into what she was doing and what my counseling was costing. I have since fired her as she was making a boatload on affiliate commissions, moved into a fancy high rise and now has a “beach” house we “bought” for her.

    • Hi Tom,

      It’s funny you mention this…

      Yep, that’s how I was introduced to them too. I didn’t really know any better at the time, and it was presented in such a way where I thought it was a good deal. But I was spending so much on everything else at the time, something made me hesitate and start looking around. Good thing in hindsight!

      There is still some merit to them, but when you can add a set of these lights to any sauna on the planet for around $150 dollars, you should at least get a sauna with a door for $3,000.00 + !!

      I make money on affiliate stuff too, but there is a right and wrong way to do it… trading shitty recommendations at super inflated prices for dollars, will never make you happy. Nor is it of service to the people who are in your shoes either. I suspect a lot of the people just pushing whatever, have never been through the hardship themselves.

  2. Hi Matt,
    Thanks for posting your review. It is helpful.
    I wanted to share a few thoughts. I have been researching infrared therapy to help a family member with a health condition, so that is the context for my investigations.

    Far infrared wavelengths excite water molecules in the near surface of the skin. That is why far infrared saunas make you sweat so much without being in an extreme environment and why they are good for detoxification through the skin. I am surprised that practitioners are recommending near infrared for detoxification. Far infrared is so much more effective.

    Red and near infrared wavelengths excite certain molecules in the mitochondria–the small organelles inside each cell that provide energy for the body. Wavelengths around 950 nm affect calcium channels so there are other cellular effects. The near infrared wavelengths also penetrate the tissue more deeply than red or far infrared. Near infrared therapy is best for health conditions that involve the mitochondria, the immune system, the organs (especially the heart) and inflammation (like arthritis). They don’t excite water, so there isn’t heat generated by the light itself. With the LED versions, you stand in front of the lights, feel nothing, and move on. The SaunaSpace products use incandescent lamps, so they generate waste heat. You might get warm and sweat a bit from that, but the main purpose with that kind of therapy isn’t to sweat but to change how the cells work.

    A family member has chronic fatigue syndrome–a condition where the mitochondria work poorly (hence the exhaustion and muscle pain) and the temperature control system doesn’t work properly (the skin doesn’t sweat and there is poor heat tolerance). That’s why I am looking into near infrared products and came across your review. I just wanted to point out that there is a place for near infrared technologies, just not for detoxification and experiencing a good sweat.

    Thanks so much for your assessment of the costs and ways to DIY. I am still mulling this one over. We don’t have a garage and have a very small house with all the space used for something. I am handy and I think my husband could work with the lighting system, so maybe I can duplicate the SaunaSpace system at a much lower cost.

    • Hi Kira,

      Agreed on all points. Not sure if you’ve seen my other videos or articles, but I’m using NIR light panels now as well… just not heat lamp bulbs.

      I did however, add heat lamp bulbs to a previous far infrared sauna for around $50. I’m toying with the idea of putting together a tutorial for it for other people that want that, but most people don’t seem to be interested in drilling a couple holes in the roof.

      • Thanks for the link to the LED system. I noticed that in the specs they quote their power intensity at a distance of 8 inches. The model in the photographs is very close to the panels. Have you measured EMF levels at that distance? (Sorry if you have this in other posts–I will be checking them out soon.)

        I had been looking at the Joov which is similar. They also have a 850/660 combo (or there about). Are the prices for the panels comparable?

        SaunaSpace has an article comparing their product to the Joov. With the Joov, they found measurable EMF exposure at distances that a user might experience, whereas, their product was shielded and had none. In other posts you mentioned that companies often cheat when measuring EMFs. They show photographs with the lamps on and report the instruments they used for both power intensity and EMF output. Is their approach legit?

        I will check out your other posts. Sorry if I am asking questions you have answered elsewhere.

        • Any PBMT therapy device with fans in it, has magnetic fields. You can’t get away from it, since there’s a coil motor back there.

          Yep I’ve tested them all, there is some EMF but the exposure time is low enough to where I don’t worry about it.

          Yep it’s legit, although they’re not doing anything special… there isn’t any emf from a heat lamp bulb in the first place, only the wiring that’s routed to power it. If you watch my oldest emf videos on youtube, I’ve been over the ones I built several times.

          While there might be significant emf differences between a saunaspace heatlamp setup and a joove, so is the actual output… totally different. (the two products are not even in the same stratosphere different)

          As far as their article, I’m not really interested in getting in the middle of someone else’s pissing match, which is clearly what’s going on there.

  3. Hello Matt,
    Could you clarify for me if heat lamp bulbs are the same as Near infra red lamps? I see amazon sells bulbs that are all red as near infra red bulbs. The heat lamps are the just red on the top and are used in bathrooms and for animals.
    Thanks so much,

    • Hi Cheryl,

      I’m not really sure what you’re asking here. Might be better to watch some of my youtube videos that go into detail on these.

      A heat lamp bulb is a heat lamp bulb, doesn’t matter if it has a red coating on it or not. People that sell saunas call them “near infrared” bulbs, even though they’re not really 100% NIR.

      You didn’t say what you’re trying to do, so it’s hard to help. If you’re building a shower conversion, just use these:

  4. Hi Matt,

    What is the basis for your statement “red lamp therapy saunas are actually putting out more far infrared than near anyway”? The Philips spectral energy distribution chart shows an output peak from 700 to 1400 nm with a gradual decline to 4000 nm. Chromophore receptors in the mitocondria are sensitive to near IR from 810 – 830 nm which the Philips bulbs provide. A 4 – bulb array at a distance of 24″ should provide the recommended therapudic dose of 10-100 mw/cm squared. There are two mechanisms at play here, Photo Bio Modulation and Sweating. From a PBM standpoint, the Philips bulbs should be adequate. As far as Sweating is concerned, I’ll hold off on that till my sauna is finished.

    Best, Dennis

    • Hi Dennis,

      Thanks for mentioning this!! Not sure where I said that, but it sounds wrong. It’s on my to-do list to do a search and clean some of this stuff up. If it’s in a video from a year ago, or another article that hasn’t been updated, I had it confused and it’s definitely wrong. You are correct. However, I’m not convinced you get the same absorption from these… if you haven’t tried them out yet, they are scorching hot, and getting enough minutes on a single side without backing up, is pretty damn difficult from my experience.

      My current updated stance on the heat lamp saunas is: the NIR output isn’t bad, but calling them a “near infrared sauna” is a sham. NIR doesn’t heat you up on it’s own, it’s the heat from the heat lamp itself, and the “far infrared” portion of the output in my opinion. Without that, it wouldn’t be a sauna at all.

      You can sit in front of straight NIR non incandescent sources for hours, and never sweat, which I’m sure you know. (you sound more educated on pbmt than myself… it’s the one area where I’m lacking in depth)

      If you’re just looking for an economical pbmt source though (which is what it sounds like?), sure these should do it. With other devices like the Joove and whatnot costing thousands of dollars, I can see why people would be interested in them. But you will still have to rotate every 5 minutes like a rotisserie, since they’re screaming hot.

      Again, for other people reading, the technical mumbo jumbo could be wrong on my part, I am not a scientist. However, I have built more variations of these heat lamp saunas than most people. And while heat lamp saunas do make you sweat, it’s extremely directional in nature compared to FIR, and takes a LOOOOOOOONG time to get a full torso sweat going compared to everything else I use… not to mention a full body sweat. (doesn’t happen at all)

  5. Hi Matt. Pretty confounding stuff. Anyway, my wife has an auto-immune disease, and ive learned that saunas and very therapeutic for people with hashimotos disease. For the sweating, the part considered very good, i was just going ro build a steam room. Through the course of researching, we discovered the near infrared, and all its benefits. So to be clear, the near research is based on led which is heatless? Do they sell these bulbs? It sounds like it wouldnt be a bad idea to just sit in a room loaded with these and just get the sweat in the steam room. Through all the reading, the one thing i didnt see was an led option. Any clarification you can offer would be great. Thanks for all your research. Lots of it already confirmed what i was already thinking.

  6. I used to work for Sauna Space. When we started out the most expensive sauna we sold was around 1,200 USD (for the complete set, a 4 light panel, some sticks and cloth). Now that same sauna with a bamboo mat is selling at 2,999 USD.

    Brian started the company with great intentions – a low cost sauna that anyone could afford. We even had a version that was around 600 USD, using PVC pipes instead of wooden dowels. Later we discontinued the PVC version due to the exact thing you mentioned in your article. Around this time the company’s mission statement was thrown out and the price hikes began.

    I truly felt like we were trying to help people when the company started but after the price hikes it felt more and more like a cash grab. For some people this sauna was a “last hope” for them due to serious aliments. I felt terrible knowing we were selling them this cheap sauna for a huge profit margin. I understand that a business wants to make as much money as possible but there is a line and when you cross it you’re just taking advantage of people, in this case, taking advantage of sick people.

    I’m not sure if I can disclose the exact manufacturing cost of the sauna , but from what I can gather about your cloned sauna it seems you’ve used materials very close to that of the original.

    Thanks for making an honest review.

  7. I also used to work for Sauna Space… all I can say is that by this time, Brian is very aware of what he is doing and will go to any lengths to avoid answering any questions with a real answer.
    Sauna Space is aware that their target market is desperate, health compromised individuals, and clearly takes advantage of this desperation.


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