Uncle Bobs Tips: Generator Guide

Steam Bath Generators

Today, with the advent of steam bath generators, you need not go to the local fitness center to enjoy all these benefits.

Steam baths are one of the oldest healing remedies in the world, being used for centuries to promote health and vitality. Steam bathing has a stimulating effect on the cardiovascular system, increasing pulse rate from 75 beats per minute (average) to between 100 - 150 beats per minute during a 15 - 20 minute session. This increases blood circulation but not blood pressure, since the heat causes blood vessels in the skin to expand, accommodating the increased blood flow. Steam stimulates the immune system by causing the body to produce more white blood cells, thus steam inhalation is an effective treatment in respiratory conditions and is highly recommended for the treatment of the common cold, sinusitis, bronchitis, allergies and asthma.

Moreover, steam bathing, whether dry (sauna) or wet (steam) has been considered as one of the simplest ways to rid the body of toxins. As the body's temperature rises during a steam bath, your skin pores open, creating a flow of perspiration that lifts out the impurities of everyday living. The result is a deep skin cleansing.

Today, with the advent of steam bath generators, you need not go to the local fitness center to enjoy all these benefits. Having a steam bath generator is now an affordable luxury that any homeowner can enjoy. With a steam bath generator in your own home, you can energize yourself on a daily basis or wind down on the weekend. Best of all, steam bath generators are affordable and can be easily installed.

There are two types of steam bath generators: commercial and residential. Steam bath generators are found in fitness centers and spas around the world, and are now increasingly located in homes as well. Is there a difference between a steam bath and a sauna? The answer is yes. The temperature and humidity levels differ along with the room construction. Steam is wet with a temperature generally ranging between 110 - 120+ F on average and close to 100% relative humidity. Sauna is dry with average temperatures ranging between 165 - 180+ F and with 10 - 15% humidity. Steam bath units are generally constructed with walls of ceramic tile, stone, or acrylic while cedar or redwood is used for a sauna. The choice of a steam unit or a sauna is purely personal preference.

Depending upon your specific installation, you may be able to convert an existing residential tub/shower to a steam bath. Be sure you get the advice of a qualified steam bath generator professional (a licensed contractor with plumbing and electrical experience) before proceeding with your plans. If you use your existing tub/shower, you may have to make minor modifications to make it a steam bath. For example, the door and enclosure must be totally enclosed, so the steam does not escape from above. A 3/8" gap at the bottom of the door will allow cooler air to enter the shower for a more dense steam experience. An exhaust fan is not required in the steam room since the steam condenses down the drain.

Installing a steam bath generator is relatively simple, with steam bath generator electrical connections similar to that of a hot water heater with 240 volt electricity and a cold (or hot) water supply to the unit. A steam line to the bathing area and a glass steam enclosure is all that is necessary to complete the installation. Steam bath generator units are compact in size and can be installed up to 25 feet away from the bathing area in a vanity, closet, insulated attic or basement, thus not taking up valuable bathroom space. Steam bath generators are easy to operate, as time/temperature controls in or out of the steam room make it both convenient and very comfortable to use. Further, steam bath generator units are virtually maintenance free and come with warranties on labor and parts. Steam bath generators are conservative on water and electricity, making steam bath generators a very cost effective way to relax at home.

Average bathing temperature in a steam bath should be about 105°F to 120°F with a humidity factor of 98%. With proper sizing of your steam bath generator, your steam shower should warm up to a comfortable temperature in 10-20 minutes. Note that while a 120V steam bath generator can be used, it has limited applications as it can be used only in small acrylic shower units, which don't have high heat demands due to size and wall materials. A 240V generator best serves today's upscale steam showers. When purchasing your steam bath generator, ask the sales associate for help in sizing the proper steam bath generator to avoid purchasing the improper unit.

Some steam bath generators offer special features such as the allowance of adding essential oils, a wonderful enhancement to the steam experience. Exclusive steam bath generator systems utilize full power upon initial heat up, then cut power consumption to half to maintain then set temperature within the room and to lower the operation cost. Multiple steam bath generator units may be connected to provide a sufficient volume of heat for larger enclosures (up to 1100 cubic feet), or for smaller steam rooms with hard-to-heat surfaces such as glass, marble or natural stone. These efficient multi-unit systems are operated as a single unit with one set of controls, offering installation flexibility.

Although doctors consider steam baths generally healthy to use, people suffering from heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, pregnant women and the elderly who are not in good health should not take a steam bath unless otherwise directed by a physician. Consult with your doctor if you have any health issues before acquiring a steam bath generator. Also, steam bathing should be avoided while intoxicated.

Follow these criteria for the proper design for the steam room:

  • Steam Bath Generator - Must be compatible with the cubic foot of the steam room and must factor in exterior walls and the type of material used in construction of the steam room.
  • Local Utility Line Voltage - Choose appropriate steam generator, i.e. 208 or 240 Volt.
  • Location of Steam Generator - Select a serviceable area to mount the steam generator that is protected from freezing and moisture. Steam generator must never be mounted outdoors, inside the steam room or in an attic that is not insulated.
  • Avoid the use of exposed or untreated materials, like wood. Choose materials like ceramic tile instead.
  • Insulate all steam room walls and ceiling.
  • Skylights or windows are not recommended in a steam room. However, if they exist, windows must be double pane and skylights must be closed off and sealed at the ceiling height.
  • Steam room walls, ceiling, and floor must be completely covered with waterproof finish, i.e., tile, marble, etc. Exposed sheetrock or plaster is not recommended, but may be used if sealed with a commercial grade waterproof paint.
  • All cracks and joints must be filled with a silicone sealer.
  • Ceiling height should not exceed 8'-0" when possible because it is harder to heat rooms with higher ceilings. If the ceiling height does exceed 8'-0", then use the next larger size model steam generator.
  • Ceiling should be sloped a minimum of 2" per foot to prevent condensation from dripping on the bather; the seat should be sloped the same.
  • Steam room walls, floor and ceiling must be completely enclosed and use a vapor-tight door. In a small steam shower, a 3/8" air gap is recommended below the door and the door should incorporate a splashguard.
  • If installing exhaust fans or vents, they should be mounted outside of the steam room.
  • A floor drain must be provided for condensate run-off and cleaning.
  • Steam head should be mounted 18" above the shower floor and on the opposite wall from where the bather will be seated as far away as possible. A steam diffuser should be installed in small shower enclosures such as 3' x 4' or 4' x 4'.

Steam bath generators transform your bath or shower enclosure into a luxurious private spa to pamper yourself and to melt away the stress of your busy day. At the end of a day, a hot steam bath will encourage a good night's sleep. You'll feel rested, rejuvenated, and ready to get more out of life with your steam bath generator.

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