Sunlighten Sauna Review
The sauna bath is as old as human civilization itself. For thousands of years, men and women have been sweating it out in enclosed heated spaces to cleanse and detox their bodies.
In fact, the Ayurveda, an ancient Indian treatise on good health and well-being, speaks of 13 types of heat-centric sauna treatments and ten ways to sweat your way to good health without the use of fire or heated materials.
While some of the more outrageous claims of sauna manufacturers and marketers may seem difficult to believe, comprehensive clinical studies have clearly established that regular dry sauna bathing is beneficial for our health.
However, just because sauna baths are good doesn’t mean you can blindly opt for just any sauna and hope to enjoy the physical and mental benefits of regular sauna baths from the comforts of your home.
Read ahead for a detailed review of Sunlighten, a popular and reputed manufacturer of sauna baths, an overview of the features of its various products, a short comparison with another popular brand and points to keep in mind when selecting a Sunlighten product.
Sunlighten was founded as Sunlight Saunas in 1999 by entrepreneur Jason Lincoln Jeffers. What sets Jason entrepreneurial story apart is that his decision to venture into sauna manufacturing resulted from his personal healing experience with infrared sauna treatments.
Over the past two decades, Sunlighten has made significantly contributed to the mainstreaming of infrared saunas and has pioneered numerous innovations and new technologies to make IR saunas healthier, safer and more efficient.
These include an innovative dome-shaped Solo IR sauna that’s designed like a compact sleeping bag that allows you to enjoy a good sauna experience within the comforts of your home.
In 2005, Sunlighten launched its Signature series of sauna baths fitted with its patented Solocarbon far infrared heaters.
This was followed by the introduction of Acoustic Resonance Therapy as an add-on feature, its mPulse range of saunas fitted with near (NIR), mid (MIR) and far (FIR) infrared heaters in a single product.
In 2019, Sunlighten incorporated LEDs into its mPulse series and launched lumiNIR, a hairbrush-shaped hand-held sauna for localized usage for pain relief and energization of specific parts of your body.
Sunlighten has two separate series of saunas designed for personal use along with its popular Solo system and the recently-introduced lumiNIR wand.
The mPulse IR sauna series has six variants.
The Signature IR sauna series has four variants.
- Signature I
- Signature II
- Signature III
- Signature IV
Its commercial range includes ADA-compliant extra-large community FIR saunas and custom-designed commercial IR saunas.
It may be nothing more than a minor irritant but the total disconnect between high-sounding names of Sunlighten’s saunas and their features or benefits can put off those wary about the excessive hype surrounding IR saunas.
Agreed that manufacturers are free to follow their own naming protocols but this approach is unlikely to make a good first impression on somebody unsure about the benefits of Sunlighten’s IR saunas.
Fancy-sounding names apart, there are some core features common in all IR saunas manufactured by Sunlighten.
In fact, it won’t be incorrect to say that all variants are pretty much the same except for the dimension of the panels, the number of heaters and the heating capacity of the saunas.
Of course, this makes it easier to compare options and choose the right product depending on the size of your family and your preferred sauna capacity,
Yet, you cannot help wonder whether a bigger sauna’s performance depends solely on number of IR heaters or whether you deserve more features and value for the price paid for the bigger variant.
The three-in-one feature is advertised as a significant game changer that makes Sunlighten better than all other sauna manufacturers in the market. This feature is available only in the mPulse series since the Signature series of IR saunas consist of far IR heaters only.
The mPulse series owes its name to the pulsed NIR generated by the advanced LEDs used in the saunas. These pulsed NIR penetrates deeper and creates heat within the body without heating the air surrounding you.
The three-in-one heater combines NIR with MIR and FIR to allow users experience the benefits of owning three different saunas in a single product.
However, an ordinary individual exploring IR saunas may get confused by the fact that Sunlighten offers both FIR saunas as well as products that combine IR radiation across different wavelengths.
Sunlighten undertakes comprehensive third-party testing of its saunas to ensure minimal electromagnetic field (EMF) exposure within safe limits.
The tests are performed by VitaTech Electgromagnetics, LLC and the saunas are configured to comply with Swedish safety standards since the US does not have its own EMF safety standards.
Sunlighten claims that sauna users are exposed to undetectable levels of EMF, although these tests measure EMF exposure around where people are expected to sit in the sauna.
However, test conditions are rarely recreated in real life, which means the possibility of higher exposure to EMF cannot be completely ruled out. Further, there have been instances of users measuring significantly higher EMF levels through hand-held EMF measurement devices.
There’s no doubt that Sunlighten’s claim is based on accurate and independently-conducted tests. However, there’s very little clarity on how IR saunas function in real-life conditions, which certainly is a cause of serious concern.
Sunlighten certainly deserves credit for deploying innovative technologies that help users enjoy near-perfect IR sauna experience from the comforts of their homes.
Its patented Solocarbon heating panels are near-perfect black bodies that are very efficient in emitting infrared radiation. The company uses non-toxic and FDA-approved materials in the emissive coatings on its panels. This improves heating as well as the energy efficiency of its Signature series FIR saunas.
At a time when FIR saunas are being criticized for not being hot enough or requiring extensive pre-heating for a good sauna experience, Solocarbon technology should encourage buyers to explore FIR saunas well.
Proper assembly and construction is essential for the efficient functioning of an IR sauna. A weak seal between the walls of the sauna can lead to leakage of hot air, which will degrade your overall sauna experience and can even lead to health or safety hazards.
Sunlighten offers a magnetic locking system that allows you to setup the sauna without having to use external accessories.
While this locking system may be good for aesthetics, one must assess the long-term risks of avoiding clips or slide fasteners to maintain the structural integrity of the sauna. Those planning to buy saunas with capacity to hold multiple persons at once must consider the pros and cons of relying solely on Magne-Seal.
All mPulse IR saunas come with a ten-inch touchscreen control panel powered by an Android OS, which means you can control your sauna through your smartphone app or on your computer through the cloud.
Again, like Magne-Seal, a closer look at the advantages and risks of this feature raises multiple questions.
An obvious query is whether sauna control through an app is truly needed. This feature may make more sense in conventional saunas that require time to create a hot and humid environment.
Since IR saunas don’t really need to heat the air around you, remote control of the sauna or deployment of a preset or manual program through the app, although cool to hear, does not seem like a gamechanger innovation.
Further, connecting your sauna with your smartphone or the cloud raises obvious concerns about safety and security. Does the convenience of wireless control outweigh the risk of the sauna being hacked?
All mPulse saunas offer six preset health programs along with the option of manually creating your own program when using the sauna.
The general health benefits of a sauna experience have been established beyond doubt. However, tall claims about removal of heavy metals from the body or a seven-fold increase in detox through sweat have long been refuted.
Sauna manufacturers, including Sunlighten, have been guilty of overexaggerating the benefits of a sauna experience. Or, they have chosen not to deny improbable health benefits attributed to regular sauna sessions.
As an industry leader, it certainly can be expected of Sunlighten to set the record straight and focus on limited yet impressive benefits of sweating it out in a sauna.
A sauna experience is never just about sweating out the impurities in your body. It is more about relaxing your body and mind in a comfortable environment surrounded by friends and family members.
Obviously, the quality of interiors and exteriors play a significant role in creating the right ambience. Sunlighten offers multiple options for interior and exterior materials to all its buyers. One can choose between basswood, eucalyptus, or a combination of eucalyptus exteriors and cedar interiors for mPulse saunas.
Those opting for Signature saunas don’t have the option of eucalyptus or the combo option with cedar. However, the basswood or cedar are good options and will look good on the outside as well as the inside.
The floor heating option is not available for those opting for eucalyptus, which means there’s an unnecessary tradeoff between features and choice of materials used in the sauna.
A sauna bath is a time-tested and scientifically-proven way to improve your health. Use of colors to modify your body vibrations and to boost health and harmony may, at least to some, seem like pseudo-science.
Yet, if you like the idea of having lights of different color and hues shining upon you during your sauna bath, then you can opt for the Chromotherapy add-on offered by Sunlighten.
There’s no denying that sweating it out in a shiny indigo backdrop or a bright green ambience may seem very cool and hip for the more experimental sauna users.
The Acoustic Resonance Therapy (ART) combines sauna and sonic therapy by using sound and vibrations to help you achieve a deeper state of relaxation. This add on goes beyond just playing music during your time in the bath, although you can use ART towards this simple end as well.
The ART add-on is fitted into the benches of the mPulse sauna kits and the vibrations will soothe your body and muscles even as the IR rays penetrate your cells and make you sweat.
While the exact benefits of such innovative therapies may be unknown, these add-ons can certainly enhance your overall experience and help you recreate a visit to a full-fledged commercial sauna within the comforts of your home.
All standard features and options are available through the six variants of the mPulse IR sauna series. The variants differ only in terms of dimensions, capacity and the number of heaters.
Aspire has a total of 13 heaters and is designed to accommodate one person at a time. Believe has 14 heaters and is designed for two persons. Conquer is a three-person sauna with 20 heaters while Discover has 30 heaters for four persons.
Empower is the biggest variant with a staggering 33 heaters and will allow an entire family of six persons to take a sauna bath together.
The biggest distinction between Signature and mPulse is that the former has only Far infrared heaters with the variants differing in terms of dimensions, capacity and number of heaters.
Signature I has six heaters, Signature II has nine heaters while Signature III and IV have ten heaters each.
The absence of NIR and MIR heaters is compensated through the use of Solocarbon far infrared heaters, which, as per Sunlighten, offers numerous additional health benefits and advantages.
Again, there is very little clinical proof of such benefits, which makes you wonder why makers don’t just stick to the proven advantages of spending time in a sauna bath.
The Solo system is truly unique because it essentially fits the sauna bath into a sleeping bag or a tanning bed-like structure. The double dome combines with the Solopad to create a portable and compact sauna bath that’s perfect for those who don’t have the space to setup a conventional Sunlighten sauna kit in their homes.
The lumiNIR wand takes it a step further and creates a hand-held sauna experience that can be applied locally depending on your body’s requirements. However, such wand also creates the risk of injuries due to excessive or improper use of the hand-held device on the body.
Sunlighten claims to truly care for your health and wellness, and it certainly shows in the quality of their products. However, despite the positives, there are some issues and irritants that can complicate things for you.
For starters, there’s no way to find out how much these saunas cost without contacting the manufacturer, submitting your personal and contact details, and waiting for their reply.
At a time when online shopping has become the norm, such a complicated process to discover this extremely important factor impacting your purchase decision comes across as a big negative.
The worst part is that all your research and your efforts to compare different variants will go waste if the price is far beyond your budget.
Secondly, and again related to the convenience of online shopping, you don’t have the option of placing the order for the sauna online. While you can find information about their products online, Sunlighten requires you to follow a separate process for placing the order.
Sunlighten could have easily added a ‘Buy’ option to its website and offered the online purchase option even if it did not want its products available on third-party online shopping sites. Yet, this feature is conspicuous by its absence.
Any business operating at Sunlighten’s scale will face inevitable and unavoidable instances of unhappy customers with horror stories.
However, some negative reviews posted by unhappy customers go beyond just faulty components or a defective product and talk about an unnecessarily aggressive approach towards resolution of customer complaints.
Instances of delivery issues not being resolved for more than a year or delayed responses to communication do not reflect well on Sunlighten. Further, instances of threat of lawsuits received by unhappy customers may not seem proper and may put off buyers from choosing Sunlighten despite the good vibes around its sauna kits.
These may be exceptional instances but anybody exploring the idea of buying a sauna bath kit and thinking of choosing Sunlighten must keep these points in mind.
Choosing a sauna bath is a big, and probably very expensive, decision. With a detailed overview of Sunlighten and its products in your hand, you should now be in a position to make an informed decision about the suitability of choosing Sunlighten for your home, community, or commercial venture.