A recreational vehicle, mountains, lakes...wilderness - a perfect setting for a sauna. Why not consider building one in your RV? Impossible? Not at all. The author is doing just that. Find out about this and sauna stories, hints, books, neat products...all here at the Finnish Sauna Culture page.
During the spring-fall work season, I work away from my wife and family in the northern British Columbia wilderness. It is beautiful there, not withstanding the terrible swarms of blackflies that immediately cause skin infections. It's a rugged country where a Canadian Finn feels right at home. It is in the blood. The forest is not an alien environment to a person of Finnish persuasion; it is home. I arrive home every day from my highway engineering job on one of the isolated stretches. And every day I wish I could relax in my own sauna as there is maybe one sauna for every 200 km in the Highway 37 region of the province. I can't understand why this is even though it is a winter country. No tradition in that direction I guess. This contrasts sharply with my own heritage, where every little shack or mansion has a sauna. And the prestigious President Hotel in Helsinki, where I stay in Helsinki, has one with a large picture window overlooking the city. The Finns have learned to enjoy the little things in life that make the north tolerable, and even desireable, and I intend to do the same. My home for five or six months of the year (which is all I work, the rest is taken as time off) is a 30 foot Wilderness trailer. So it would be natural to wonder if a sauna could be built in the trailer. The design converts the bathroom into a sauna, without taking away its primary functions. The toilet is covered and an air-tight lid can be used for access. That will require some special engineering. The bench mounts over the sink, and there is a hinged portion that allows access to the sink. You can fill a basin and pour the water into the shower area where it goes through the spaces in the boards.
The heater could be converted from a small, very inexpensive wood stove, or a small (RV?) gas fired water heater. But I plan to use a ecologically friendly Pyrolytic system of my own design that uses twigs and wood-chips or what have you and does not produce smoke. Nor does it need a chimney, just some ventilation, when adjusted properly. The new, inexpensive "Turbogas sauna stove" is beginning test trials early 2004. The goal is to obtain 3 kw heat per 1 kg (2.2 lb) of wood chips or sticks which is the energy of the 2.2 m3 (1 m3=35.3147 ft3) of pyrolytic gases given off. The energy output per kilogram would be the equivilent of 1/3 liter (a little more than 1/3 quart) of diesel fuel or a 3 kw electric heater. For more information, contact me. Plans are available or I can custom design to suit your RV. osmo
A clean burning sauna stove such as the one I am developing is not supposed to create CO problems but don't take any chances with yours. If you burn anything for heat, be sure to have a CO monitor and stay well under 10 ppm increasing ventilaton as required. See Not all CO detectors are created equal.
Soapstone tiles, which get 2 times hotter than brick using the same heat and give back heat over 12 hours, could be added to hot areas to store the heat. If you are interested in heating stoves look into soapstone products by Tulikivi of Finland. Be sure to comply with proper construction methods stressing fire and carbon monoxide safety. Overdo it in this regard; also have fire extinguishers, carbon monoxide and smoke alarms. photos of soapstone stoves, includes small stove with soapstone inlay.
Shower water is easy to heat with a tankless water heater, and you never have to worry about running out. An inexpensive point of use system could also be used. My office has a propane heated tankless unit and I can't see any reason to fool with tanks anymore especially if the RV has to be winterized as mine does. The systems are inexpensive enough and I believe they will be used extensively in the future and there are many models available to suit your requirements. I have included a few links for examples of what you could use and in fact you could order them today. The dimensions of the sauna are 35" x 5'6", drawn to scale. The sauna heater is 7" deep and can be installed on the wall with a 1/2" space.
Sauna built in a converted van trailer
Stoves in log home section
Majava Sauna The Sauna Tradition Feeman Virtual Sauna Sauna and Bath Supplies Finn - Tastic Sauna & Gift Saunasite, lots of information Homecraft, Langley BC Canada Finnish Sauna and Wood Products Suomen Sauna Seura/Finnish Sauna Society Kastor - one of Finland's oldest sauna heater companies
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