LED lights in hot saunas?

Susan Fernandez January 01 2022

Saunas are becoming more and more popular, with the US alone looking to be changing over 100 000 saunas. Saunas are relaxing for most people, and they provide a good way for socializing and getting rid of all the negative ions that we're exposed to in our day-to-day lives.

However, operating a sauna is not always easy; it needs regular maintenance, particularly when cleaning. The steam in saunas contains small dust particles that can collect on surfaces such as mirrors, windows, and light covers. This means that often these lights need replacing every once in a while.

If you don't have an extra couple of dozen LED bulbs stored away somewhere inside your house or garage waiting to fit into your sauna's light covers, then the only solution is to head down to your local DIY store or hardware shop.

What bulbs will you put in the sauna?

So are all LED lights suitable for this purpose? Well, yes and no; it depends on the quality of the LED bulbs. Some if not most cheap LED lights (sold under false pretenses as 'sauna' lights) emit large amounts of infrared radiation which can pose a serious risk to your health within only a few minutes of exposure.

This might be surprising given how these LEDs look like any normal bulb that you would use in your home. However, after extensive research into this subject (including many hours spent reading through IEEE papers on photobiological effects), we believe that most tunas should be fitted with quality LED bulbs that do not emit high levels of infrared light (such as the ones we offer in our online shop), and that these lights should be checked regularly.

Are high temperatures in the sauna dangerous for LED bulbs?

High operating temperatures can change the color of LED bulbs, but this only becomes a problem if the bulb is turned on for hours at a time. In saunas where it might take an hour or two to reach such high temperatures, you should be fine leaving your standard quality LED lights in place without any issues.

If you're concerned about potential temperature changes affecting your lightbulbs, then one very simple solution is to purchase high-temperature LEDs that will resist temperature fluctuations within the sauna.

Sauna temperatures range from 80 to 95 degrees C. Yellow light is optimal for skin penetration, red light is best for blood circulation and blue light is best for detoxification.

How hot can be in the sauna?

Saunas are not harmful to your health. The dangers come from the overheating of your sauna, which can cause serious burns, especially if you have a high fever or are physically weak. If you are new to saunas it is best to always enter slowly, so that your body becomes used to it step by step.

Saunas are very safe if safety procedures are followed (for example, once the sauna reaches 40 degrees Celsius, you should not be in it for more than 15 minutes). A study found that people who use saunas four times a week were 54% less likely to die of any cause. The benefits are cumulative; with each additional sauna session adding about another 24% reduction in risk.

The Finnish Sauna Society recommends taking a sauna once a day for five to ten minutes, though there are no adverse effects if you stay in the sauna longer. The recommended temperature for a good sauna is 110-120 °F or 44-49 °C. This is above the normal body temperature of 98.6 °F or 37 °C, so it will not make you hotter but more comfortable as your body cools down from increased perspiration and increased circulation.

Be careful choosing the right kind of bulb

Many manufacturers have started offering 'sauna' LED lights that are said to be specially designed to resist high temperatures. These LEDs emit mostly infrared radiation with very little visible light or heat emissions.

However, this doesn't necessarily mean they are any safer than regular LED bulbs - some emit large amounts of infrared radiation which poses a risk to your health even after just a few minutes of exposure. So before you go out shopping for sauna LEDs, please do some research on the models available first (such as reviewing their datasheets).

A good rule of thumb is to look for LEDs with wavelengths below 850 nanometres (nm). For sauna use, these heat-resistant LEDs should not emit any infrared radiation above 2.5 milliwatts per square centimeter at their hottest point.

Here are some examples of high-quality LED bulbs that can be safely used in heated rooms such as saunas. These include the CREE XP series, XT-E, and XTE series, Luxeon K2 1 watt chips, OSRAM OSLON SSL family, etc. We hope you find this information useful! Please also remember to rotate your lightbulbs every once in a while so they don't overheat and fail prematurely.

What about using LED lights in ultra red saunas?

Ultra-red saunas have been shown to have great benefits.

In particular, the complaint of over-heating in a sauna is nonexistent with LED lights because your body does not get nearly as hot due to the low infrared radiation levels emitted from LED lighting. In fact, you can turn down the heat in saunas and make them hotter OR go up to 120 degrees which makes for even more sweat.

Emitting high amounts of near-infrared light (invisible light between 700nm through 1200nm), red LEDs are able to penetrate deeply into the skin to stimulate healthy collagen production, reduce wrinkles when used regularly, improve skin health by eliminating acne when used topically at specific power ratings (that's why they were originally designed) and reduce cellulite when used externally in the affected areas!  

Moreover, red light therapy experts recommend keeping your sauna session under 20 minutes in length due to research that found that shorter sessions are much healthier for you. So after all of the above is considered - yes LED lights can be used safely in Ultra-red saunas because they do not produce enough heat to harm you and provide far more health benefits than just sweating alone ever could.

Can you use LED bulbs in the solarium?

Solariums put out a large amount of UVA and UVB radiation. Using LED bulbs in a solarium is not recommended because there could be a risk of the heat from the sauna damaging the components inside your light, shortening its life.

Solarium works in such a way that it emits strong UVA radiation. The artificial light source in the solarium is not only for tanning, it is also an effective treatment against psoriasis and eczema as well as cold sores.

In the case of using LED bulbs, there is a risk that they won't be able to stand an intense exposure to ultraviolet rays emitted by solarium lamps which have different spectral power distribution from the sun. Taking into account they are electrical components inside - this could lead to a failure of LEDs and shorten their lifetime.

What about LED strip lights in saunas?

The difference between LED bulbs and strip lights is that they are composed of several smaller LED lights, so the heat build-up inside each individual light is lower.

In the case of using LED strip lights in saunas, you don't need to worry about their safety as much as in the case with LED bulbs - but it's not a 100% guarantee. The reason why they can be used safely in that the strip length will create enough distance between the electrical components and the source of heat which will reduce the temperature built-up on them.

That's why if you would like to use LED strip lights in your heated room, please follow these simple rules: never place strip lighting closer than 30 cm (12 inches) from any surface; ensure good ventilation for the strip light by placing/mounting it on a slotted surface away from walls and any other obstructions.

In short, LED strip lights can be used safely in heated rooms as they will not overheat as long as they are mounted 30 cm (12 inches) from the nearest surface and there is good ventilation to dissipate the heat that they do produce - but LED bulbs must be kept at least 45 cm (18 inches) from all surfaces to keep them safe.   

What about LED Christmas lights?

LED Christmas lights are usually safe for use in a sauna, provided they meet the relevant safety standards, which means all components including electrical wiring, power supply, and control gear need to be "Christmas-light approved" meaning it has been tested to ensure it meets UL or European CE safety standards.

The reason why they can be used safely is a bit different from the case of LED strip lights. Given that Christmas lights are tested and approved as a whole unit, including all electrical wiring, power supply, and control gear - you don't have to worry about any damage or failure that could happen if they were placed too close to a heating element in your sauna because it would never even get hot enough to damage them!

How to use LED bar lights in heated rooms?

As we mentioned above, there is no need for worry if you want to place LED lighting closer than 30 cm (12 inches) from the nearest heated surface provided ventilation is good and there is no risk of any component overheating due to too close proximity to the heating element.

So what about LED bars for a sauna? If they meet the relevant safety standards, it is perfectly safe to mount them closer than 30 cm (12 inches) from any heated surface providing good ventilation and there's no risk of the electrical components overheating due to being too close to heating elements. For example, if your sauna can reach 50°C (122°F), you should ensure that the LED bar lights are mounted above this temperature by at least 10°C (18°F).

Can humidity affect LED bulbs performance?

Yes, humidity can affect the performance of LED bulbs. It is therefore important to keep in mind that when there's a risk for increased humidity (e.g. in a wet environment or during summer), it's necessary to protect all electrical components which include LEDs themselves, control gear, and power supply from water damage.

A steamy sauna environment is just one example where you should be careful about humidity. If you're wondering whether it's safe to use LED lights in your home during winter, here are some tips:

If the bulb or strip light does not come with IP or ingress protection rating (e.g. IP20) which means that it has no protection against solid objects greater than 1 mm (0.04 inches) and/or water spray from any direction - do not use them in humid conditions as there's a risk of damage to electrical components!

You should also bear in mind that even if a bulb or strip light comes with an IP rating (e.g. IP65), it doesn't necessarily mean will survive if exposed to seawater or other liquids for extended periods of time.

If any electrical components get wet, you should disconnect the power supply and dry everything using a normal hairdryer (avoid using a heat gun as it could melt the plastic), then wait until all parts are completely dry before connecting back to the power supply.

Bottom line

As long as you pay attention to ventilation and don't place your LED lights too close to the nearest heated surface, it's perfectly safe to use them in a sauna if they have been verified with all required safety certifications.

That being said, we would recommend reading the manufacturer's instructions carefully prior to installation just in case.

There are some risks when using LED lighting at very low temperatures where humidity is a factor - which is why it's important not only to check the IP rating of each component but also its operating temperature range.