Learn More About Portable Oxygen Concentrators
How to Choose the Best Portable Oxygen Concentrator?
Our comparison guide helps you find the best portable oxygen concentrator for your individual needs.
When a doctor prescribes oxygen therapy for a patient, the patient often feels like their freedom is inhibited and finds it difficult to enjoy a lifestyle they had grown accustomed to. Since airlines do not permit the use of oxygen tanks, patients who are used to frequent travel find themselves in need of a portable oxygen concentrator. Portable oxygen concentrators give those who are accustomed to active lifestyles the ability to keep up with family, friends, and travel.
Unfortunately portable oxygen concentrators are not cheap; some portable concentrators can cost over five thousand dollars depending on the features the patient needs and the accessories they purchase. But with so many different models available, such as the Respironics EverGo, Life Choice Portable Oxygen Concentrator, and Invacare XPO2, Invacare SOLO2, Drive Oxus Reliability Plus, Respironics SimplyGo, and Inogen One G2, how does one decide which model will be the best portable oxygen concentrator for their own personal needs? When choosing a portable concentrator, there are a number of factors to consider.
First, your own personal oxygen needs: will pulse flow be enough, or do you require a continuous flow concentrator? Second, will you be using the portable oxygen concentrator for airline travel? If so, you need a concentrator that is FAA approved and offers sufficient battery life. If you are going to travel frequently, you also want a device that is compact in design. Finally, you want to be sure the concentrator you choose has a good warranty to cover you in case anything goes wrong.
Continuous Flow Portable Oxygen Concentrator
The most important feature to consider when purchasing a portable concentrator is how much oxygen is delivered and how it is delivered. Typically patients receive oxygen in pulse mode, meaning that the air is delivered in puffs as opposed to a continuous stream. The Respironics EverGo Portable Oxygen Concentrator delivers more oxygen in pulse mode than any other model - up to 1.05 liters of oxygen per minute. Easy to use touch screen controls allow the user to easily adjust the settings as needed while the over-the-shoulder bag and rolling cart make transportation of the device easy.
Many patients who require oxygen be delivered in a continuous flow have found themselves unable to travel because of their breathing needs. The Sequal Eclipse was the first portable oxygen concentrator to incorporate both pules and continuous flow options, and the Invacare SOLO2 improved on it, giving those patients the freedom to travel. Slightly heavier and bulkier than pulse mode only concentrators, the Invacare SOLO2 is a flexible and reliable oxygen therapy system that is easier to operate than most other devices. The SOLO2 includes a rolling cart with sturdy, hardened rubber wheels ideal for practically any surface, making it easy to take anywhere, and allows users to easily change filters without opening the shell of the unit. It also is designed to operate at elevations of up to 10,000 feet, making it ideal for use on airplanes and great for locations with high elevations. The Invacare SOLO2 is versatile enough to be used while travelling or at home, eliminating the need for a home oxygen concentrator or oxygen delivery service.
The newest addition to the portable oxygen concentrator market is the Respironics SimplyGo. From the makers of the award winning EverGo, the Respironics SimplyGo Portable Oxygen Concentrator provides continuous flow and pulse dose oxygen therapy. Small than any other continuous flow concentrator, the SimplyGo is incredibly easy to use with intuitive touch screen controls. With the battery installed the SimplyGo weighs only 10 pounds and it includes everything you need for portability and convenience: carry bag, wheeled cart, power cords, and an accessory case.
For those who prefer to travel by airplane, it is best to choose a portable oxygen concentrator that is not only FAA approved for air travel, but offers enough battery power to last through a long flight or a possible flight delay and can handle the thin oxygen in airplane passenger compartments. Airline cabins are typically pressurized to simulate oxygen levels found at 8000 feet above sea level. The Respironics EverGo Portable Oxygen Concentrator, which is FAA approved, is designed to deliver concentrated oxygen at altitudes of up to 8000 feet, which enables the user to still get the amount of oxygen they need throughout the flight. This ability also makes them ideal for visiting places with higher elevations. The Respironics Evergo also offers longer battery life than most of its competitors (up to 8 hours with two batteries installed). When planning for an airline trip, keep in mind that most airlines require that passengers carrying portable oxygen concentrators have enough batteries for twice the duration of the flight, as well as one extra battery. The Respironics EverGo includes 3 batteries with purchase. The Inogen One G2 Portable Oxygen Concentrator, is also designed to operate at altitudes of up to 10,000 feet. The battery life of the Inogen One, however, is less than that of the Respironics EverGo, so additional batteries will be needed on flights without available DC outputs.
Using a Portable Oxygen Concentrator with a Sleep Therapy Machine(CPAP or BPAP)
There is only one type of portable oxygen concentrator used with a sleep therapy machine. The continuous flow portable oxygen concentrator setting is the only type of machine that can be used with these CPAP's or BPAP's. The pulse dose portable oxygen concentrator cannot be used with these sleep therapy machines because it cannot sense when the patient breathes in and it will not work. Consult your physican with further questions.
Overall Size and Portability
If you're going to be traveling with an oxygen concentrator, obviously you want most lightweight, compact unit available that is going to give you the performance that you need. The Invacare SOLO2 is significantly larger than its competitors, but this can be attributed to SOLO2's ability to provide oxygen in a continuous flow. It does, however, include a cart to eliminate the need to carry the unit. The Respironics EverGo is lightweight and includes both a shoulder bag and a rolling cart. The batteries used in the EverGo are slim in design and similar to the batteries used in laptop computers. Weighing approximately ten pounds with two batteries installed, the EverGo can be carried over the shoulder when boarding airplanes and is small enough in size to be tucked under the seat in front of you. The two smallest and most affordable portable oxygen concentrators available are the Invacare XPO2 and the Life Choice Portable Oxygen Concentrator. Able to operate at altitudes up to 10000 feet, the Invacare XPO2 weighs approximately 6 pounds and significantly smaller than both the Respironics Evergo and the Inogen One. It comes in a handy carry bag and features simple controls for easy operation. The Invacare XPO2 is FAA approved for air travel, but be sure to check with your airline for additional portable oxygen concentrator information. The Life Choice Portable Oxygen Concentrator is the smallest concentrator on the market. Weighing just under 5 pounds at 9.5" tall, 7.5" wide, and 3.125" deep, the Life Choice concentrator is incredibly convenient for air travel. The Life Choice features a 2 hour internal battery pack and optional 3 hour external battery packs to make travel easy. It also features an enhanced sleep mode setting that increases breath sensitivity, ensuring that the Life Choice Oxygen Concentrator delivers the right amount of oxygen while the patient is sleeping.
Warranty Coverage and Reliability
While the warranty service on your portable oxygen concentrator is handled by the retailer you purchase it from, oxygen concentrators are covered by different warranties depending on who manufactured them. It is important to keep in mind the duration of your warranty so you are prepared with the correct information, should a problem with your device arise. Typically warranty coverage against manufacturer defects on a portable oxygen concentrator runs for 3 years, but the top brands are built to last for many more years than that. In the case of the Respironics SimplyGo, you can select a warranty period of 2, 3, or 5 years when you purchase the concentrator. Be sure to check warranty coverage when purchasing a portable oxygen concentrator, and keep in mind that used oxygen concentrators typically do not include any sort of warranty coverage, so the savings over a new device may not be worth it. The Drive Oxus Reliability Plus Portable Oxygen Concentrator is a great model to consider if you can accept pulse dose oxygen delivery and need a unit that is lightweight yet very durable. Put through rigorous testing, the Drive Oxus has proven itself to be an incredibly durable portable oxygen concentrator ideal for active lifestyles and activities such as camping. When purchasing a new oxygen therapy device, it is important to look at all of the features, benefits, and warranty coverage of each model while taking into consideration how you will be using it and what your oxygen needs are. Be sure to carefully consider the different portable oxygen concentrators available before purchasing. However, regardless of what model you choose, you are sure to enjoy the freedom of being able to travel in ways that, several years ago, were not possible for patients requiring oxygen therapy.
Shop for Portable Oxygen Concentrators
Click here to learn more about other topics.