Nitrogen, hybrid, and electric cryosaunas – what is the difference?

Despite becoming popular primarily among athletic communities, whole-body cryotherapy has become a trend for healthy lifestyle enthusiasts who want to feel more energetic, relaxed, and sleep better, with additional benefits of stronger immunity and faster metabolism. Public interest was the key driver behind the cryotherapy industry’s growth, promoting the evolution of cryo technologies. 


What kind of equipment do we have now in the market? 

  • open-top nitrogen-cooled machines with direct injection of nitrogen vapors;
  • electric-powered walk-in cryo chambers;
  • hybrid walk-in cryo chambers with breathable air inside, cooled only by nitrogen or both by nitrogen and electricity. 

For an inexperienced buyer, such diversity may be pretty confusing. 

In most cases, an aspiring  cryopreneur zeroes in on the price of cryotherapy equipment as a starting point for making a decision. No wonder, as some cold treatment devices may have a price tag on the wrong side of 100,000 EUR. However, in the long run, operating and maintenance costs might prove more important than the initial investment. So which cryotherapy machine, nitrogen-powered, hybrid or electric, is better for your cryo center? We hope this article helps you better understand the pros and cons of the three basic types of whole-body cryotherapy equipment.  

What are the main differences between electric, hybrid, and nitrogen cryosaunas?

To compare, we have grouped the differences by the effect on the human body, technical characteristics, and costs related to cryotherapy machines.

Imact of extreme cold on the body

Impact on the body

The underlying mechanism of whole-body cryotherapy in any type of equipment, whether electric, hybrid, or nitrogen-powered, is the same. Thermal shock is essentially a rapid drop of the skin temperature from the normal 34ºC/35ºC to 7ºC/12ºC within several minutes. Pain relief, reduced inflammation and spasticity, improved metabolism and energy levels are only a few of the positive effects triggered in the body. The colder the cryotherapy environment the better, as the skin cools down more quickly and efficiently.

Nitrogen cryosaunas produce treatment temperatures down to -120ºC/-190ºC, while electric and hybrid cryotherapy machines generate a minimum of -80ºC/-110ºC.

Based on experience, the technology does not matter, as a 15 to 20-degree temperature drop on the skin needed for thermal shock can be achieved in any cryotherapy device with a consistent cooling environment, be it nitrogen-powered, hybrid, or electric cryosaunas.

Head in or head out?

Electric cryo chamber manufacturers claim more consistent treatment results in walk-in cryotherapy machines because of better vagus nerve stimulation. In fact, a bigger part of the nerve part is still exposed to extreme cold temperatures during treatments in an open-top cryosauna, except for the section on the neck. The truth is, in walk-in machines, the head is protected with earmuffs or a beanie, while the hair hampers the cold action even further. Besides, the studies of the vagus nerve cryostimulation have shown ambiguous results. 

Breathing air safety

Electric and hybrid cryogenic machines are believed to be generally safer as they do not pose a risk of inhaling the nitrogen-air mixture, which is a working environment in nitrogen-powered cryosaunas. However, cryosauna manufacturers use up-to-date technologies to eliminate this risk. For example, Cryomed’s cryosaunas feature a set of onboard sensors that control the customer and operator positions, door opening, nitrogen level, pressure, etc., and automatic operation algorithms to create a safe and comfortable cryotherapy environment and prevent human error. 

Technical characteristics

Technical characteristics

The differences between technical characteristics result from cooling technologies used in cryotherapy equipment. Nitrogen-powered cryosaunas have an open-loop cryogen delivery system pumping nitrogen and air mixture directly into the cryosauna cabin. Hybrid cryo machines supply liquid nitrogen to the closed-loop heat exchangers on the walls and/or ceiling. Electric cryo machines deliver pre-cooled air into the chamber cabin through dedicated vents. 

Time to get ready to work

A nitrogen cryosauna pre-cools in 3 to 5 minutes. A hybrid walk-in chamber takes a little longer to pre-cool, 5 to 30 minutes, depending on the manufacturer. An electric cryo chamber needs 30 minutes to several hours to get ready for cryo sessions.

Maintaining a stable temperature

When the customer goes in or out of any cryosauna, the air temperature in the cabin goes up. But, while in a nitrogen-based cryosauna, it takes only 30 seconds to bring the temperature back down, in an electric cryo chamber, you will have to wait longer. That is why many electric cryo machine manufacturers provide an anteroom or even two to prevent the loss of cold and cut the time needed to reset the treatment temperature. 

Footprint

Nitrogen-fed cryosaunas are generally the most compact devices among the machines for whole-body cryotherapy. Some need only one square meter to install (see Cryomed Mini cryosauna). Electric cryotherapy chambers are massive themselves. Besides, they need additional powerful equipment like generators and chillers, which also take up free space. With individual electric chambers without an anteroom, the smaller size comes at a price, as such machines usually cannot go lower than 80ºC or boast a balanced temperature at the door.  

Costs

Costs

A cryotherapy machine cost, for sure, is the highest expense for new cryopreneurs. But remember to look into the running and maintenance costs of your cryotherapy machine as well. 

The price

An electric cryosauna is often much more expensive than the nitrogen-based version. Hybrid machines start almost at the same level as electric ones but have a more affordable high-end price. For small businesses, it can be a deal breaker. Read in detail about the cost of a cryotherapy machine here

Running costs

With nitrogen and hybrid cryosaunas, the main consumable is liquid nitrogen. This implies you have to buy or rent cryogenic tanks for storage. Electric cryosaunas have high electric power consumption compared to their nitrogen counterparts. As a rule, the cost of one treatment in an electric cryo chamber is lower than in a nitrogen one. More about the running costs here

Maintenance costs

Electric cryo chambers require mandatory yearly maintenance performed only by their manufacturer, which can set you back 3,000 to 5,000 EUR. Bear in mind that all the spare parts are expensive, and any repairs need to be performed only by the manufacturer. Nitrogen and hybrid cryo machines, on the other hand, require little to no maintenance. In most cases, these machines support remote diagnostics and troubleshooting. Any skilled technician can repair the equipment following the manufacturer’s instructions, and replacement parts are relatively cheap. 

Let’s summarize the discussion in a very illustrative table, where the pros and cons are shown in color for better understanding.

What are the key takeaways? 

Your choice of a cryotherapy machine depends mainly on your budget, availability and price of consumables, estimated customer flow and available space. More about opening a cryotherapy business and associated expenses here. 

For any questions about the best choice for your business, reach out to our sales team via  WhatsApp on + 421 918 250 160 or email info@cryomed.pro.