Portable oxygen concentrator buying guide with pictures. Find the best models and see the reviews of Invacare, Devilbiss, Inogen, with features, pros and cons. What is it and how it works. Features to look for.
Portable oxygen concentrators or POC are portable machines designed to provide oxygen therapy to the patients at a much higher concentrations than the levels found in the ambient air.
Known as portable concentrators, they are similar to oxygen concentrators but with the difference of being smaller and mobile (portable).
This is what makes POC perfect for patients who want to travel freely by car, train, or even airplane.
Due to its lightweight construction and application where it can be used, you can find POC also called the mobile or travel oxygen concentrator. Portable size makes them fit in your car or convenient to carry on a flight.
Note: Look for the portable oxygen concentrators approved by the FAA.
Either planning to rent or buy a portable oxygen concentrator, this is what every buyer should know:
With the more robust design comes more weight, but also a larger O2 capacity. Choose a small portable concentrator that can be plugged into the wall AC outlet, vehicle DC supply and for travel use has a long battery life. Respironics Evergo with 4 hour battery power is a good example. Charge time is another important criterion, lower is better. Take into account the flight length, possible delays... you might want to purchase an extra battery or two.
Small in size, (e.g. 4.5 pound tanks) it can make a difference in mobility, so select a model that allows you to spend longer periods of time away or on the flight, train or cruise.
Which machine is the best for you, depends on the liter flow or your needs for the oxygen. You can find small oxygen concentrators with less than one liter per minute LPM to the large, up to 3 LPM capacity.
More settings are better, but it also depends on your needs.
Oxygen flow and how it is delivered to you is according to some professionals the most important feature when buying a portable concentrator. Pulse flow means that the oxygen is delivered to you in puffs vs. continuous or stream flow. The Eclipse, for example, provides the continuous flow of oxygen when sleeping, while Inogen provides a continuous oxygen flow if it detects the patient is not breathing.
You can also buy a POC with a fixed or variable pulse dosing, or device that has both pulse and continuous modes. Pulse delivery works on demand (when patient inhales) and such a mode maximizes the purity of the oxygen and keeps the wasted oxygen on minimum (when patient exhales).
Check does the airline company you want to use for a flight allows personal oxygen concentrators and for which brand and model. You can easily find is your O2 concentrator FAA approved or not. Check the altitude level spec also as the higher altitudes may affect your machine performance. Maximum operating altitude for Sequal Eclipse 2 is approximately 13 000 ft while for Respironics EverGo 8 000 ft.
Lightweight and compact size is what gives the POC portability. If the unit is heavy for you, buying a system with the additional accessories such as the cart and the bag that can hold extra batteries and chargers will make a difference to you. Invacare XPO2, for example, is seven pounds only while Sequal Eclipse 2 is close to 18 lbs.
Did you consider the available customer support and the warranty on your POC? An average warranty coverage found on portable oxygen concentrators is between 3 and 5 years.
Portable oxygen concentrators are expensive; depending on the features, options and accessories you require or need, the cost can go to over five thousand dollars. This is why renting a portable concentrator might be a solution for you. For budget oriented individuals, refurbished or used models are also available.
Note: Always consult your doctor before buying a portable O2 concentrator.
Portable oxygen concentrator works in a way where a very small compressor inside the POC will pressurize the air through the system of chemical filters known as a molecular sieve.
The Zeolite is the material used in such chemical filters or sieve beds and is used to extract nitrogen from air that passes through, while concentrating the oxygen. Part of this concentrated oxygen is delivered to the patient, and the other part goes back into the sieves where it clears the system from the accumulated nitrogen for the next cycle. Such a process, allows portable concentrators to produce oxygen of up to 96% consistently.
Typically, oxygen concentrator has two cylinders, filled with Zeolite material. Air flows through one cylinder at the pressure around 138 kPa where the nitrogen is captured by the Zeolite while the other cylinder vents it.