ask the electrician
Electrician Training Electrical Certification wiring recessed light fixtures Electrical Wiring Electrical Troubleshooting and Electrical Repairs wire outdoor light fixture Home Electrical Wiring Diagrams
wiring home generator and transfer switch wiring a 220 volt range cord outlet Wiring for GFCI Outlets Wiring Outlets and a Switched Outlet Wiring and Installing Ceiling Fans and Remote Controls wire dimmer switch wiring diagrams for switches wiring a dryer cord and 220 outlet circuit breaker panel
Electrical Wire and Cable

Electrical Question about a Portable Infrared Sauna

I’ve been building a portable infrared sauna. I know nothing about electrical work, but did my best to follow the instructions. When I plugged it in, there was a huge spark and popping – obviously, something is wrong.

Home Electrical Wiring Video

How to Wire a GFCI Outlet
without a Ground Wire

Check out my YouTube Channel and Subscribe to my Videos
» AskTheElectrician «

NOTE: A List of All my Helpful Videos
Will Display at the End of This Video
So Keep Watching So I Can Help You Wire it Right!

Electrical Question from Steve about a Portable Infrared Sauna

Received from Steve a Homeowner in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

[ad#block]Question: Hi,
I’ve been building a portable infrared sauna. I know nothing about electrical work, but did my best to follow the instructions. When I plugged it in, there was a huge spark and popping – obviously, something is wrong. I’ve attached 4 photos. Can you tell me where I’ve gone wrong?

Thanks Steve

Dave’s Reply:
Thanks for your electrical question.

Steve – from the looks of the arcing that occurred at one of the plug prongs you have a direct short.

There are only two possible problem areas that you need to check. First, make sure the switch is wired correctly as shown in the wiring diagram. Second, make sure that the connections inside the cord cap body are correct and that the two wires do not come into contact with each other.
Steve, I’m sure the doctor has great intentions but this assembly is  a fire hazard and has a few terrible electrical code violations.
I would never use this device in my home or instruct others to assemble this for their own home use.

Here are a few problems I see with this design and from the information I see on the doctors website:

Mounting lamp sockets into a flammable wood board is a fire hazard.
The lamp sockets and wiring terminations are not mounted to or protected by an approved fixture box enclosure, therefore they are a fire hazard and they are open to human contact which could result in an electrical shock.
The wire is not anchored or supported.
This type of lamp wire is incorrect and may over heat at 1000 watts of load.
The entry of the lamp cord into the electrical switch box in not protected by an approved bushing or cord clamp.
The absence of a ground wire throughout the device.
The absence of a auto off or timer control which would allow automatic shut off.
The plastic pvc frame is unstable and could collapse causing the unit to come into human contact and cause severe burns and cause a fire to any flammable materials that the assembly may  come into contact with.
The doctor mentions using a lamp guard but the proximity of the flammable fabric material may not be adequate to prevent a fire.

Let me know what you discover, the cause should be very obvious.

I am not including the photos here or the doctors website because of the hazardous design of this unit. I may place the photos in another area of the website for review and discussion

The Following links will assist you with your electrical question:

For more information about Light Switch Wiring
Light Switch Wiring

This link is helpful as a Homeowner
Do-It-Yourself Electrical

Make sure not to miss these Resources for: How-To-Pictures
Home Electrical Projects

Be Careful and Be Safe – Never Work on Energized Circuits!

For Best Results Consult a Licensed Electrical Contractor.
Locate An Electrical Contractor in Your Area

The following may also be helpful for you:

Dave's Guide to Home Electrical Wiring:

» You Can Avoid Costly Mistakes! «

Here's How to Do It:
Wire It Right with the help of my Illustrated Wiring Book

Great for any Home Wiring Project.
  electrical wiring  

Complete Guide to Home Electrical Wiring

Perfect for Homeowners, Students,
Handyman, Handy Women, and Electricians
Wiring GFCI Outlets
Wiring Home Electric Circuits
120 Volt and 240 Volt Outlet Circuits
Wiring Light Switches
Wiring 3-Wire and 4-Wire Electric Range
Wiring 3-Wire and 4-Wire Dryer Cord and Dryer Outlet
How to Troubleshoot and Repair Electrical Wiring
Wiring Methods for Upgrading Electrical Wiring
NEC Codes for Home Electrical Wiring
....and much more.

Learn more about Home Electrical Wiring
with my Online Video Course:
Basic Home Electrical Wiring by Example

Be Careful and Be Safe - Never Work on Energized Circuits!
Consult your Local Building Department about Permits and Inspections for all Electric Wiring Projects.

Electrical Tips to Help You Wire it Right

The Safest Way to Test Electrical Devices and Identify Electric Wires!

The Non-Contact Electrical Tester
This is a testing tool that I have had in my personal electrical tool pouch for years, and is the first test tool I grab to help identify electrical wiring. It is a Non-contact tester that I use to easily Detect Voltage in Cables, Cords, Circuit Breakers, Lighting Fixtures, Switches, Outlets and Wires. Simply insert the end of the tester into an outlet, lamp socket, or hold the end of the tester against the wire you wish to test. Very handy and easy to use.

The Quickest Way to Check for Faulty Electrical Wiring!

The Plug-In Outlet Tester
This is the first tool I grab to troubleshoot a problem with outlet circuit wiring. This popular tester is also used by most inspectors to test for power and check the polarity of circuit wiring.
It detects probable improper wiring conditions in standard 110-125 VAC outlets Provides 6 probable wiring conditions that are quick and easy to read for ultimate efficiency Lights indicate if wiring is correct and indicator light chart is included Tests standard 3-wire outlets UL Listed Light indicates if wiring is incorrect Very handy and easy to use.

Strip Off Wire Insulation without Nicking and Damaging the Electric Wire!

The Wire Stripper and Wire Cutter
My absolute favorite wire stripping tool that I have had in my personal electrical tool pouch for years, and this is the tool I use to safely strip electrical wires.
This handy tool has multiple uses:
The wire gauges are shown on the side of the tool so you know which slot to use for stripping insulation.
The end of the tool can be used to grip and bend wire which is handy for attaching wire onto the screw terminals of switches and outlets..

The wire stripper will work on both solid and stranded wire. This tool is Very Handy and Easy to Use.

More articles about Electrical, Hazardous and Home Electrical Wiring:
« Previous Next »
Electrical Question from Sankar about Sizing Cable for a MCCB Replacing Old Low Voltage Light Switches

FAQs Frequently Asked Questions and Comments

2 Responses to “Electrical Question about a Portable Infrared Sauna”
  1. lisa says:

    I have a lux sauna it was working fine but then I moved it now only half of the sauna is working the radio one light and half of the control panel on works and that is it. HELP

  2. Dave Rongey says:

    The Sauna most likely has a 240 volt or 2-pole circuit, and from what you have described half of this circuit has tripped off for some reason. First I would inspect all the electrical circuit components to make sure there has not been any damage while moving the sauna, including any cords, plugs or receptacles that are a part of the sauna. Next the circuit breaker should be located and turned off all the way and then back on. If the circuit breaker trips off then there may be an internal problem with the sauna that will need to be identified.