Infrared Sauna vs Hot Tub: What’s The Difference

Infrared Sauna vs Hot Tub: What’s The Difference

An infrared sauna and a hot tub each produce heat that induces sweating, but they do so with their own distinct methods. Infrared saunas use heat panels in a dry sauna room, where the infrared light is directed to the body for intense penetration into the skin to induce sweating. With a hot tub, you submerge your body into hot, bubbling water to induce sweating. 

Each helps to relieve stress after a long, hectic day by wrapping your body in warmth and allowing the muscles to relax. If you’re coming home post-workout, the systems help relieve aches and pains associated with the intensity of training. In addition, they bring a sense of relaxation and calm, preparing you for a good night’s rest.

Two very different units with comparable benefits. We’ll review how these compare so you can make an informed decision.

How Do Hot Tubs and Infrared Saunas Compare?

We’ve considered some comparisons between the infrared sauna and the hot tub, with sweating being the most prominent similarity and the primary difference being the heating method. Let’s look more in-depth at the systems to allow for more informed decision-making.

Here is a detailed comparison between infrared saunas and hot tubs, based on various real facts and specific details.


Infrared Saunas

Hot Tubs

Heat Source

Infrared rays heat the body directly

Heated water with jets

Temperature Range

120-140°F (49-60°C)

Around 100°F (38°C)


No humidity

High humidity due to hot water

Installation Cost

$3,900–$6,200 for a four-person unit

$4,000–$8,500 for a three-four-person unit

Operating Cost

Approximately $0.26 per hour

Approximately $20 per month in electricity

Health Benefits

Detoxification, improved circulation, pain relief, enhanced skin health, and reduced cardiovascular risk

Muscle relaxation, improved sleep, stress reduction, arthritis relief, and cardiovascular benefits

Weight Loss

Minimal and mostly water loss

Minimal and mostly water loss


Low maintenance, requires regular cleaning and ventilation

High maintenance, regular water chemistry testing, filter cleaning, and water replacement

Session Duration

25-45 minutes

15-30 minutes

Social/Communal Use

Can be communal or private

Generally private, but can be used socially

Year-Round Use



Safety Considerations

Risk of overheating or dehydration

Risk of overheating, dehydration, and bacterial infections if not maintained properly

Energy Efficiency

High, quick warm-up time

Moderate, requires continuous heating

Relief from Soreness

Effective for deep tissue relief

Effective for surface muscle relief

Additional Features

Can include chromotherapy and aromatherapy

Can include hydrotherapy and massaging jets

Skin Benefits

Promotes sweating and toxin release

It helps with hydration and soothes skin

Cardiovascular Health

Can improve circulation and heart health

Can lower blood pressure and increase heart rate

Browse Our Collection Of best-selling infrared saunas here.

The heating technique

The infrared sauna incorporates heat panels that directly penetrate your body for a deep, intense rise in temperature. This induces profuse sweating, making your system work harder to cool down, comparable to when you work out. The heat panels don’t warm the air in the space. The focus is bringing the core body temperature up

A hot tub is similar to a small pool or oversized bathtub filled with heated water. With a spa heater and water jets, the water is heated to a comfortable temperature with adequate flow and pressure to induce a massage sensation. Bubbles add to the soothing experience. This unit also raises body temperature, inducing sweating.

The health benefits 

The similarities between an infrared sauna and a hot tub lie primarily in their health benefits. An infrared sauna can help with relaxation by relieving aches and pains caused by sore muscles and painful joints. It also opens the airways, making breathing easier, improving circulation, and improving blood flow for improved heart health.

The hot tub is almost like a workout without the exercise. It is beneficial for those with type 2 diabetes. The soothing hot water relieves aches and pains in joints and muscles. With pain relief comes a reduction in stress and tension. Here is how they compare in terms of health benefits.

  • Pain and muscle relief

  • The heated water of hot tubs help loosen sore muscles and relieve tension. This encourages your body to release stress and unwind, dissipating the aches and pains. You will realize greater flexibility and mobility.

    The deep penetration from the heat of the infrared panels in a sauna is comparable to the heated water of a hot tub. Only this direct and dry heat relaxes localized areas, removing joint and muscle tension. 

    With both units, endorphins are released, which helps with pain relief in any area that might be stiff or tense. Endorphins are referred to as “feel-good chemicals.”

  • Improved circulation
  • An infrared sauna gets the blood flowing. The intense heat elevates the heart rate, transporting the blood faster throughout the body. It’s comparable to going through a “vessel workout.”  You might notice relief of pain symptoms and relaxed muscles as circulation improves. It’s like a wake-up call for your entire body.

    The hot tub is not quite as effective, but the jets massage your body, improving the blood flow throughout your body and relieving cramping. If you’re used to cold hands and feet from poor circulation, the hot tub could help warm up your fingers and toes.

  • Detoxification
  • In both the infrared sauna and the hot tub, you will sweat. The more you sweat, the greater the amount of toxins eliminated from your skin and body—a cleansing through the pores. The sauna has the edge with this health benefit due to the panels' deep penetration and direct, intense heat.

    Infrared Sauna/Hot Tub Comparable Benefits

    It boosts the function of the lymphatic and immune systems

    Relieves aches and pains of the muscles and joints from overexertion

    Reduces episodes of stress/tension, encouraging better sleep patterns

    Improves circulation to elevate heart rate—acting almost in the capacity of a mini-workout

    It cleanses the body of harsh toxins and improves the skin

    Burning calories encourages weight loss when a healthy wellness routine is followed


    The infrared sauna is a breeze to set up with a few panels and a pre-assembled kit. The hot tub is considerably more involved. You must have a flat surface to sit the unit and have plumbing and electricity available. The hot tub requires testing to ensure the water and chemicals are balanced. You will also need to keep it clean to prevent mold and mildew.

    You can have the sauna professionally installed since it involves some electrical work. The hot tub is recommended for professional installation as both electrical and plumbing work are required for setup. 

    Here is a detailed comparison of the costs associated with buying and installing an infrared sauna versus a hot tub, based on factual information.


    Infrared Sauna

    Hot Tub

    Initial Purchase Cost

    $2,300 - $8,500 (prefab models)

    $4,000 - $15,000

    Installation Cost

    $300 - $1,500 (prefab installation)

    $500 - $1,500 (professional installation)

    Professional Installation

    $1,500 - $2,500 (pre-cut sauna kit)

    $4,000–$8,500 (total professional installation)

    Labor Costs

    $300 - $1,500 for prefab; $1,500 - $2,500 for pre-cut

    $500 - $1,500 (including electrical and plumbing)

    Electrical Work

    $300 - $800 (for dedicated 110V or 220V circuit)

    $300 - $800 (for dedicated 220V circuit)

    Plumbing Costs

    Typically not required

    $350 - $1,750

    Operating Cost

    Approximately $0.26 per hour

    $20 - $75 per month

    Maintenance Costs

    Low, occasional cleaning and minor maintenance

    High-quality, regular water testing, chemical balancing, and filter replacement

    The cost

    A hot tub is a substantial investment with variables determining your spending amount, ranging up to as much as $15,000. The infrared sauna is more budget-friendly upfront, with a starter unit at roughly $2000. Maintaining the systems, cleaning, and ensuring functionality will add to the cost as time progresses. 

    Each system requires routine care and cleaning. Again, that's significantly more in-depth with the hot tub when considering the chemicals and testing supplies for keeping the water hygienic. The sauna requires less maintenance but must be cleaned regularly from excessive sweat.

    Here's a detailed comparison of the cost of buying and running an infrared sauna versus a hot tub.


    Infrared Sauna

    Hot Tub

    Initial Purchase Cost

    $2,000 - $8,500

    $4,000 - $15,000

    Installation Cost

    $3,900–$6,200 (including professional installation)

    $4,000–$8,500 (including professional installation)

    Energy Cost

    Approximately $0.26 per hour

    $20 - $75 per month

    Maintenance Cost

    Low, occasional cleaning and minor maintenance

    High-quality, regular water testing, chemical balancing, and filter replacement

    Cleaning Requirements

    Regular cleaning from excessive sweat

    Frequent water testing, cleaning and chemical treatments to keep water hygienic


    10–20 years with proper maintenance

    10–15 years with proper maintenance

    Usage Cost (Annual)

    Approximately $261.20 (based on $0.12 per kWh)

    $240–$900 annually, depending on usage and energy rates

    Other Costs

    Occasional replacement of heating elements

    Regular replacement of filters, chemicals, and potential repairs

    Energy efficiency

    A hot tub requires a lot of power to heat a substantial amount of water and keep it warm consistently. You will want to consider that a unit will use the same amount of electricity as some of the home’s major appliances. If you're on a restrictive budget or trying to maintain a certain utility cost, you might want to consider the sauna instead.

    The infrared sauna is more energy efficient because the heated panels are only powered when the sauna is in use. Thus, you can more readily budget for expenses when setting up this system.

    Here's a detailed comparison of the energy costs associated with running an infrared sauna versus a hot tub, based on current information.


    Infrared Sauna

    Hot Tub

    Power Consumption

    1.6 to 3 kWh per hour

    3 kWh per hour for heating

    Electricity Cost

    $0.25–$0.50 per 40-minute session

    $0.75 per hour for heating (at $0.25 per kWh)

    Monthly Cost

    Approximately $10 if used daily

    $20–$75 per month, depending on usage

    Energy Efficiency

    Highly efficient due to direct heating

    Less efficient due to continuous heating

    Heating Time

    Short, typically no preheat required

    Continuous heating required

    Standby Power


    100 - 250 watts

    Final Thought

    Are you torn between the soothing warmth of a hot tub and the deep, penetrating heat of an infrared sauna? Both offer incredible health benefits, like stress relief, improved cardiovascular health, and muscle relaxation. Imagine melting away the day's stress while boosting your overall wellness—sounds perfect, right?

    At Calmspas, we understand the magic that infrared saunas and hot tubs can bring to your life. Our infrared saunas provide an efficient, low-maintenance way to detoxify and rejuvenate your body while fitting seamlessly into your home.

    Curious to learn more? Come check out our fantastic collection of infrared saunas. Let us help you find the perfect match for your lifestyle and wellness needs.

    Visit us today and transform your home into a sanctuary of relaxation and health!