Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products, and articles are reviewed by healthcare professionals for medical accuracy. You can read more about our verification process here . We may receive commissions for purchases made through the links we select.
Daily life changes when you need supplemental oxygen on a regular basis. Thus, portable oxygen concentrators are little machines that save and change lives. "People with emphysema or COPD need oxygen," says Kimberly Langdon, MD, an Ohio physician and vice president of product research and development at Physician Integrative Laboratories. 'COPD is usually caused by tobacco and cigarettes. Any lung disease, such as pleural effusion due to cancer, may require oxygen. Another reason is pulmonary hypertension . "
In these conditions and for anyone who needs medical oxygen, portable oxygen concentrators are suitable. They give you the freedom and independence to do what you want, while breathing the oxygenated air you need.
For beginners, oxygen concentrators work by drawing air through a filter and compressing it into one of two zeolite towers. "It's a way of extracting oxygen from the air and removing nitrogen in such a way that the oxygen concentration is higher than that of the ambient air, which is 21%," says Dr. Langdon. "They are safer than traditional pressurized oxygen cylinders, they are cheaper and more convenient; they are easier to transport because they are less bulky and heavy."
Dr. Langdon explains that normally the air around you is 78% nitrogen, 21% oxygen, and 1% other gases. However, after passing through an oxygen concentrator that separates and filters the nitrogen, it releases it to the outside. oxygen in a much higher concentration (up to 95%).
Additionally, the devices can be plugged into a DC connector and used in a car to make breathing easier during travel, and the best ones even offer hours of oxygen concentration per battery charge. This portability is key, according to doctors. According to Dr. Langdon, "The weight of the machine, how long it can run on a single charge," are important factors to consider.
Here are the best portable oxygen concentrators on the market.
The most important factor to consider when purchasing a portable oxygen concentrator is oxygen performance. To meet your needs, the machine must provide you with the oxygen you need. No patient or diagnosis is the same, so you should discuss with your doctor which setting is best for you.
The Inogen One G3 ( look at Inogen ) is overall the best because it's lightweight, powerful, and reliable. An alternative and still the best option is Oxlife Independence (see O2 concept) due to its diminutive size, multi-system delivery modes and excellent altitude performance far superior to the competition.
What to look for in a portable oxygen concentrator
These devices are designed to be used anywhere, so size and weight are important factors, as well as the method of transport you choose. As a general rule of thumb, higher capacity and higher capacity oxygen concentrators are heavier and larger. However, this should not be an impediment to an active lifestyle. Many also have a comfortable trolley with wheels or straps for easy transport.
For reference, a portable continuous unit weighs approximately 20 pounds. The pulsating flow device tends to be significantly lighter, at just three to ten pounds.
Delivery / transmission type
There are two main types of devices: pulse and continuous, based on the supply of oxygenated air. The pulsed flow device delivers air to the patient in short, timed puffs for each breath. As a result, no oxygen is consumed. 'Pulse flow or demand flow delivers oxygen only when the patient is inhaling. It can help with energy consumption. Night use is usually pulsed. Some work in continuous flow with the optional pulse flow feature as needed, ”says Dr. Langdon.
In contrast, a continuous flow plant produces a continuous flow of oxygen. "One to five liters of continuous flow of oxygen per minute is a common method of delivering oxygen continuously, whether inhaled or not," says Dr. Langdon. These units tend to have larger compressors and oxygen is likely to be wasted.
You can count on portable oxygen concentrators that will last up to four to five hours on a single battery charge. Smaller and lighter devices tend to have shorter battery charge intervals, although many devices come with extra batteries that can double the off-grid life and in-car charging options.
By far the main consideration to consider when purchasing an oxygen concentrator is the amount of oxygen that a machine can supply. Unlike oxygen cylinders, which can deliver oxygen in virtually any environment, Scott Marlowe, a respiratory therapist at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, explains that portable concentrators deliver "a certain amount of oxygen with each breath." Most patients require around 400 ml / min, depending on their diagnosis. It is important to discuss your specific requirements with your doctor and which devices will best maintain a stable level of oxygen saturation.
'[Portable oxygen concentrator] is a method of extracting oxygen from the air and removing nitrogen in such a way that the oxygen concentration is higher than that of the ambient air, which is 21%. They are safer than traditional pressurized oxygen cylinders, more economical and convenient; they are easier to transport because they are less bulky and heavy. " – Kimberly Langdon, MD, MD of Ohio, vice president of product research and development at Physician Integrative Laboratories.
Frequently asked questions
Oxygen concentrators are sometimes covered by Medicare, but this depends on the patient's coverage. "What happened with Medicare is that they have established the amount that they cover with any oxygen device," says Dr. Rizzo. Dr. Rizzo adds that homecare companies can provide oxygen to people at a lower cost than liquid oxygen with a portable gas cylinder, so this affects whether the device is closed or not. "If you are eligible for supplemental oxygen at night, it is almost always covered by insurance companies, including Medicare," says Dr. Rizzo. But access to a portable oxygen concentrator, depending on coverage, can be more difficult for patients who require the device.
It depends on your specific condition. If you need an oxygen concentrator, ask your doctor if it is safe to use the device at night.
Most oxygen concentrators are built with durability in mind, as they are used to help a person travel and perform their daily tasks. Many of these devices come with a two-year warranty. A new device should last between five and seven years, depending on the hub and how it is used on a daily basis. "It's like buying any appliance," says Dr. Rizzo. "You want to check the warranty and trust whoever buys or rents from you."
Why trust Verywell Health?
As a seasoned health writer, Jennifer Nay understands how important food quality recommendations are to safely and effectively treating symptoms at home. For more than 10 years, you've researched products, interviewed experts, researched ingredients thoroughly, and researched research and claims to help readers like you understand what works in your particular environment. Each product in this article has been selected based on medical advice, published research, and real-life customer reviews.
Additional reporting for this story by Daniel Zellner
As a seasoned health writer, Daniel Söllner knows how important it is to find the exact product that meets your medical needs. Throughout her career, Danielle has interviewed a variety of health and medical experts, reviewing dozens of products. His experience and knowledge in this field help readers like you find the best products for their daily lives.