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What’s the Difference between an Oxygen Regulator and an Oxygen Sensor?

Supplemental oxygen therapy can be delivered in three ways: via oxygen concentrator, compressed oxygen gas or liquid oxygen. Many oxygen concentrators contain an oxygen sensor, while oxygen tanks work by using an oxygen regulator. The difference between these two is explained in the following text.

Oxygen Concentrators

oxygen regulator, oxygen sensor, oxygen concentratorThe least expensive and most effective way to deliver supplemental oxygen is through an oxygen concentrator.[1] Oxygen concentrators come in many different sizes with the smallest portable unit weighing less than two pounds. Some oxygen concentrators come with an oxygen sensor, while other units can be purchased with or without an oxygen sensor.

Compressed Oxygen Gas

Compressed oxygen gas is stored in oxygen cylinders that are usually made of steel or aluminum. Because oxygen in these tanks is stored in the form of pressurized gas, the canisters must be kept upright and handled with care. As the oxygen flow rate of the patient increases, the tanks increase in size. Oxygen tanks are bulky, heavy and have to be changed frequently. They also contain pressure valves that have to be checked regularly.  The oxygen in the tank is delivered to the patient at 100% concentration.[2] The oxygen tank is also equipped with an oxygen regulator. What’s the difference between an oxygen regulator and an oxygen sensor? More on that in a minute!

Liquid Oxygen

A liquid oxygen supply system consists of a bulk storage unit or reservoir that’s housed in the home and a small, portable unit you can carry around with you. Both units have a design similar to that of a thermos bottle, consisting of a container inside a container separated by a vacuum. Liquid oxygen is also delivered at 100% concentration.[3] One of the biggest perks of using liquid oxygen is that it uses no electricity! Now, the answer to your question!

Oxygen Regulators

Oxygen regulators regulate the flow of oxygen from a portable cylinder of compressed oxygen gas to oxygen tubing and a nasal cannula or an oxygen face mask. Oxygen regulators release compressed oxygen from an oxygen tank in a continuous mode measured in liters per minute (LPM).[4]

The oxygen regulator unit consists of a dual pressure gauge that measures oxygen left in the cylinder and the outgoing oxygen pressure flow. It also has a valve connector for connecting an oxygen mask or nasal cannula. The regulator is adjusted by a knob device that can adjust oxygen flow through the regulator.

Oxygen Sensors

Many portable oxygen concentrators, including the Inogen One G4, are equipped with an oxygen sensor. Oxygen sensors detect the percentage of oxygen in the air being delivered to the patient. Placing oxygen sensors at various points in your oxygen concentrator ensures proper creation and delivery of oxygen. Internal oxygen sensors cause the oxygen concentrator to alarm should the oxygen concentration drop below a therapeutic range.[5]

Setting Up Your Oxygen Equipment in Your Home

Whichever oxygen delivery method you decide upon, you must choose an oxygen supply company to deliver it to your home. Once you choose your company and your oxygen supplies are delivered to your home, a specially trained respiratory technician will typically come to your house to help you set up the oxygen equipment. If you’ve chosen a compressed gas system, make sure you ask questions about the oxygen regulator and how to attach it to your oxygen tanks.

For more information about oxygen regulators, oxygen sensors and oxygen supplies, call an Inogen Oxygen Specialist at 1-800-374-9038.   

[1] University of Michigan. Oxygen Delivery Systems. Accessed February 28, 2018.

[2] Oxygen, Concentrator Store. What’s the Difference between an Oxygen Concentrator and an Oxygen Tank? Accessed February 28, 2018.

[3] Inogen. What is Liquid Oxygen? Accessed February 28, 2018.

[4] American Discount Home Medical Equipment. Oxygen Regulators and Conservers. Accessed February 28, 2018.  

[5] Servoflo. Pressure & Oxygen Sensors in Oxygen Concentrators. January 7, 2016.

4 thoughts on “What’s the Difference between an Oxygen Regulator and an Oxygen Sensor?”

  1. Jan Hendriks says:

    Your emails are vague. Please forward in hard
    copy your info kit, brochure or catalog via USPS.

    1. Inogen Inogen says:

      Hi Jan,
      Thank you for your interest in our products. Please call us at 855-434-0079 and we will be happy to send you an information kit.

  2. Glenn Pinter says:

    Good afternoon!

    My current prescription is at 8 to 10 liters. What is available for high levels.

    1. Inogen Inogen says:

      Hi Glenn,
      Unfortunately, our units will not accommodate your needs. Sorry!

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