How to Choose the Best Portable Oxygen Concentrator
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 SimplyGo, Activox Pro, Airsep Freestyle, Airsep Freestyle 5, and the Airsep Focus, 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.
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. Others require continuous flow delivery.
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. The Airsep Focus (pictured right) and the Lifechoice Activox are the smallest/lightest units on the market and are perfect for the active user.
Many patients who require oxygen be delivered in a continuous flow have found themselves unable to travel because of their breathing needs. The Simply Go is the big brother of the Respironics EverGo which only offers pulse flow. The SimplyGo offers both pulse and continuous flow and has an impressive battery life of up to 14 hours. The Invacare SOLO2 slightly heavier but offers the most liters per minute at 3 along with offers both pulse and continuous flow. 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. Smaller 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.
Portable Oxygen Concentrators for Airline Travel
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. 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.
All of the Portable Oxygen Concentrators we have mentioned in this article are FAA approved for inflight use and additional batteries can be purchased.
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. 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.
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.
Check out our Portable Oxygen Concentrator Features Comparison Chart for a breakdown of important features to consider when comparing portable oxygen concentrators.