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What to Look for in a Battery Operated Oxygen Concentrator

When you are researching portable oxygen concentrators, it can be helpful to look at the pros and cons that could affect your day-to-day experience using a battery-operated oxygen concentrator. Below are the most common pros and cons for the majority of customers.

 

  Pros Cons
Portable Oxygen Concentrators (POCs)
  • Can be used at home or on the go
  • Can be powered via battery or outlet
  • Usually small and portable
  • Many are FAA approved
  • No refills or tank replacements required
  • Need to consider battery life while on the go
  • Might not provide the flow dosing you need
  • Cost more upfront

 

Portable oxygen concentrators (POCs) are becoming quieter, more portable, more energy-efficient and less expensive every day. While portable oxygen tank systems only allow for carefully timed outings, the latest portable oxygen concentrator systems allow you to do much more. With today’s portable oxygen concentrators, you can enjoy lunch and a movie with friends, spend more quality time with out-of-town family members and even travel across the country, all with your POC by your side. And, with an extra battery pack for your portable oxygen concentrator, you can spend an entire day out and about, worry-free. But what should you look for in a battery operated oxygen concentrator, and how do you know which one is right for you given so many choices? Read on to learn about a few of the most important things to consider for you and your oxygen needs.

Battery Life

By far, one of the most important aspects of a portable, personal oxygen concentrator is the amount of time it allows you to be mobile, as it runs on a rechargeable battery. But knowing the advertised battery life of a particular POC’s battery is not enough; manufacturers often advertise the battery life consistent with the lowest possible setting.

You must consider how much battery life you’ll have when using the POC at the oxygen setting you require. For example, if the manufacturer’s advertised battery life is 4 hours on a pulse-dose setting of 2, it might only last 3 hours on a pulse-dose setting of 3. This is very important to understand, especially if you lead an active lifestyle and enjoy doing things away from home. Some POCs, like all the Inogen One models, give you the option of purchasing additional single or double batteries, or certain package deals, like Inogen’s Freedom Package, that offer an additional battery pack for your portable oxygen concentrator. For Inogen One models, this provides you with up to double the battery time listed for the battery life (at flow setting 2) with the single battery.

Pulse Dose or Continuous Flow?

There are two main types of POCs available: continuous flow and pulse dose. Which you choose will depend upon your oxygen needs and personal preference. Continuous flow POCs deliver oxygen continuously at a constant rate. This means regardless of whether you are inhaling or not, the oxygen is still flowing. Depending on how much oxygen you need per minute and when you need your oxygen concentrator, your doctor may suggest a continuous flow device as the best choice for you.

Pulse dose POCs, on the other hand, deliver oxygen based on the user’s breathing rate and inhalations. These types of POCs are generally recommended for people who do not have high oxygen requirements per minute. Your health care provider can help you choose which POC to pick based on your condition and individual needs.

Size and Weight of Unit

Most people purchase a POC because they don’t want to be tied down to a heavy oxygen delivery device. As such, the size and weight of the device, including the unit’s battery and accessories, are probably very important to you. Because continuous flow devices are able to meet a wide range of oxygen demands, they are generally bigger and heavier than pulse dose oxygen concentrators. A continuous dose home oxygen concentrator can weigh about 18 pounds or more, depending on the manufacturer. Though an 18-pound oxygen concentrator can be moved around the house, heavier options may not be possible to move without a cart. Pulse dose units are typically much smaller and lighter, with some weighing less than 5 pounds. These units are so light and compact that they can be easily carried and often come with a handy carrying case that you can strap across your shoulder or a lightweight backpack for ease of use. Inogen One models range between 4.8 pounds for the Inogen One G5, with the longest battery life available in Inogen POCs, to as little as 2.8 pounds for the Inogen One G4, which is as small as a pound bag of coffee. Keep the battery pack for your portable oxygen concentrator in mind when looking at the total weight.

How Much Oxygen Does the POC Deliver?

Before you choose a POC, it’s important that you know your oxygen requirements at rest and during activities and sleep so you can better understand which unit will deliver the amount of oxygen you require to maintain your oxygen saturation. Continuous flow POCs deliver oxygen in liters per minute (L/min), usually ranging from 1-3 L/min, whereas a pulse dose unit administers a volume (bolus) of oxygen in milliliters per breath (mL/breath). Usually, continuous flow POCs deliver up to 3,000 mL/min, while pulse-dose POCs deliver between 450 mL/min to 1,250 mL/min. Your health care provider and oxygen supply company will help you determine which choice is best for you, depending upon your typical oxygen saturation and your oxygen needs.

Approved for Flight by FAA?

As of May 2016, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) allows oxygen-dependent passengers to carry their own POCs on board all U.S. domestic and international flights beginning and ending in the United States if the POC satisfies acceptance criteria and bears a label indicating conformance with the acceptance criteria. This rule also allows for older, previously FAA approved models to be used. Because these models will not have the label, airlines may use the approved list available in Special Federal Aviation Regulation (SFAR) 106 to determine its eligibility. If you plan to travel by airplane, you’ll want to choose one of these. Please note, the Inogen One, Inogen One G2 and Inogen One G3 are all approved by the FAA for in-flight travel, while the Inogen One G4 and Inogen One G5 both meet FAA requirements

Warranty

Most POCs come with a standard, 3-year manufacturer’s warranty. Some companies, including Inogen, give you the option of purchasing a longer warranty for an additional charge. The Inogen One G4 and Inogen One G5 both offer optional Freedom Packages, which include a Lifetime Warranty, along with additional batteries. Be sure to check warranty information when purchasing a POC and consider the included warranty, and extended warranty options, when looking at the overall cost and value of the unit.

Insurance Coverage

Finally, your insurance, and your budget, might play a role in which portable oxygen concentrator you choose. If your budget restricts you from purchasing directly, contact your insurance or Medicare to see if they cover any battery operated oxygen concentrators and, if so, what it takes to qualify for coverage. After speaking with your insurance, or if you are unsure, give us a call so we can help you navigate the eligibility and insurance process. If you have Medicare, we are happy to offer a Free Medicare Eligibility Check to help you find out if you qualify for coverage of a portable oxygen concentrator rental. As you look at your budget, keep in mind that while the cost of a portable oxygen concentrator is up front, you will ultimately save money as time goes on because you won’t incur additional costs for tank refills or tank replacements. With or without insurance, however, the time and money you save over the long run with a portable oxygen concentrator really adds up.

The Bottom Line

Choosing the POC that’s right for you is one of the most important decisions you’ll ever make. Your primary health care provider or pulmonologist can assist you in determining whether a continuous flow or pulse dose device would work best for you based on your individual oxygen needs. Once you know this information, you can compare the features and benefits of a variety of battery operated oxygen concentrators that are currently on the market. 

Inogen leads the way in portable oxygen concentrator technology. We offer lightweight options, like the Inogen One G4 at 2.8 pounds, as well as long-lasting options like the Inogen One G5 with 6 flow settings and a single battery lasting up to 6.5 hours and a double battery pack for your portable oxygen concentrator that lasts up to an astonishing 13 hours. Before you choose the POC that fits your life best, consider the pros and cons that matter most to you. Contact us today for additional guidance and information about each of our oxygen concentrators.

Frequently Asked Questions: Battery Operated Oxygen Concentrators

Can I get an extra battery pack for my portable oxygen concentrator?

Most POCs offer extra batteries for purchase. Inogen offers both additional batteries for purchase, as well as Freedom Packages, which provide a Lifetime Warranty and an additional two or three battery pack for your portable oxygen concentrator.

Is it worth buying an oxygen concentrator?

An oxygen concentrator significantly improves quality of life for patients receiving daily oxygen therapy. The cost may seem significant at first, but consider that you will never have to refill or replace tanks, or worry about making plans based on minutes left in your oxygen tank. 

SOURCES

“Acceptance Criteria for Portable Oxygen Concentrators Used On Board Aircraft.” Federal Register: The Daily Journal of the United States Government, National Archives and Records Administration, 24 May 2016, www.federalregister.gov/documents/2016/05/24/2016-11918/acceptance-criteria-for-portable-oxygen-concentrators-used-on-board-aircraft.

“Acceptance Criteria for Portable Oxygen Concentrators.” Federation Aviation Administration, United States Department of Transportation, 11 Oct. 2019, www.faa.gov/about/initiatives/cabin_safety/portable_oxygen/.

Parode, Nancy. “Air Travel With Portable Oxygen Concentrators.” TripSavvy, Dotdash Publishing, 26 June 2019, www.tripsavvy.com/air-travel-with-portable-oxygen-concentrators-2972594.

 
 

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