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Oxygen Tanks vs. Portable Oxygen Concentrate [Infographic]

When you are deciding between an oxygen tank and an oxygen concentrator for your supplemental oxygen, it is helpful to know the pros and cons of each delivery method.  Our infographic below compares the two to help you make the best choice. 


oxygen concentrator vs oxygen tank

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Oxygen Tanks

Size: Oxygen tanks are technically portable, but since they contain compressed oxygen, the tanks must be built a certain way. As a result, oxygen tanks are:

  • Bulky
  • Heavy
  • Difficult to carry and lift
  • Require a wheeled carrier to move
  • Cumbersome to travel with

Safety: Oxygen tanks are susceptible to leaks, causing a potential fire hazard as well as a risk to the user. Safety risks include:

  • Could be punctured or leak
  • Leaks create oxygen-rich air, which is highly flammable
  • If the tank leaks, the user could run out of oxygen

Supply Consistency: Oxygen tanks contain a finite amount of oxygen. Users can monitor amounts, but tanks:

  • Run out of oxygen periodically
  • Need to be refilled or replaced

Cost: The costs of oxygen tanks are incurred over time. While they are inexpensive up front, you will pay for:

  • The initial tank, a refill and a cart
  • Each new tank or refill needed until oxygen therapy is no longer necessary
  • New tubing, masks or nasal cannulas

Lifestyle: Oxygen tanks can impact your ability to live your life normally, as you have to plan ahead for supply and transportation. You will need consider:

  • The amount of oxygen you have before needing refills or replacement
  • How to adjust for accessibility with the need to roll the large tanks
  • Whether you will need help lifting the tanks for transport


Oxygen Concentrators

Size: Oxygen concentrators are smaller than tanks and do not need to retain oxygen, making them easier to take with you. Oxygen concentrators are:

  • Small
  • Compact
  • Lightweight enough to carry in a bag
  • Can be wheeled or carried in a pack
  • Easy to travel with

Safety: Oxygen concentrators pull from the surrounding air, compressing it and purifying it to produce medical grade oxygen as needed. There is no storing, reducing risks of leaks, and it never runs out as long as you have power. They:

  • Do not have tanks, which can leak or be punctured
  • Pose a lower fire risk than oxygen tanks
  • Will continue providing oxygen as long as there is power
  • Offer power via battery and AC or DC power sources and can be recharged easily

Supply Consistency: Oxygen concentrators offer consistent supply as long as they are plugged in or the battery is charged. Users are able to enjoy:

  • A consistent, infinite oxygen supply as long as the concentrator has power
  • No need to refill or replace any tanks

Cost: You pay for an oxygen concentrator up front, but with few additional costs down the road. You will pay for:

  • The initial cost of the oxygen concentrator
  • Cannulas, filters and columns

Lifestyle: With a smaller, portable oxygen concentrator, you are able live your life, doing the things you enjoy without your oxygen supplies slowing you down. With oxygen concentrators, users experience:

  • Increased freedom
  • Increased mobility
  • Increased independence

Overall, their smaller size, endless supply and smaller safety risk allow portable oxygen concentrators to offer patients the ability to maintain a sense or normalcy and live the life they want to live, without being held back.  

21 thoughts on “Oxygen Tanks vs. Portable Oxygen Concentrate [Infographic]”

  1. Avatar VIRGINIA S PECK says:

    If my husband is on flow level 3 continuous oxygen, will the gen5 provide him with enough oxygen to keep his o2 levels in the mid 90's?

    1. Inogen Inogen says:

      Hi Virginia,
      Thank you for your question. Please call us (with your husband) at 800-695-7915 and an oxygen sales specialist can gather more details and help you. The Inogen One G5 has flow settings up to 6, so quite possibly. We look forward to speaking with you.

  2. Avatar bill abbott says:

    do you need a doctor to submit a request or can an individual order one.

    1. Inogen Inogen says:

      Hi Bill, Thank you for reaching out. A doctor's prescription is necessary for an Inogen One unit. Please call us at 800-695-7915 we can explain in more detail. Thank you!

  3. Avatar Susan W says:

    I run oxygen through my cpap at night. Can I do that with this concentrator?


    1. Inogen Inogen says:

      Hi Susan,
      All of our units are available for 24/7 usage. Unfortunately, a CPAP and an Inogen One unit cannot be simultaneously used.
      Thank you for writing us and take care!

  4. Avatar Cheryl Ra says:

    Why can I never find the cost a your unit

    1. Inogen Inogen says:

      Hi Cheryl,
      The costs are here on our website. Click on more details and you will see the different pricing options.

  5. Avatar JAMES MARGARIA says:

    I am looking to buy a Portable oxygen concentrator My insurance will not cover

    1. Inogen Inogen says:

      Hi James,
      Please give us a call and we can discuss financing, as well as cash purchases with you. 800-695-7915. Thank you!

  6. Avatar William Miller says:

    I’d like more info on your portable oxygen devices and costs.

    1. Inogen Inogen says:

      Hi William, Please call us at 800-695-7915 and we can send you an information kit via mail. Also, this website has the pricing available. Please visit the Products section to learn more. Thank you!

  7. Avatar Bob iseman says:

    Looks like a great unit for my 92 old mother, but we thought it would of been covered my Medicare. But she could never afford a great unit like this. We were looking for her pay out of being 20%, but not the thousands of dollars. Thank you

    1. Inogen Inogen says:

      Hi Bob, I suggest you call us and ask about financing options. 800-695-7915 is the phone number and we can discuss different options for your mother. Thank you.

  8. Avatar stephen connell says:

    I asked for the info on your product, thanks but I can't afford it. I'm just a retired military guy on limited funds, I just can't do it adding up whats coming in moneywise. Thank's anyway looks like you have a nice product that would be great , but I just can't do it.

  9. Avatar paul bernard says:

    will medicare or Humana supplement help with the cost?

    1. Inogen Inogen says:

      Hi Paul,
      Please give us a call and we can provide you with a free Medicare eligibility check. 800-695-7915
      Thank you!

  10. Avatar Ray Conkright says:

    Why can't the iongen system be use with a cpap?

    1. Inogen Inogen says:

      Hi Ray, Thank you for your message. Please visit https://www.inogen.com/support/faqs/ for information. In this case, using an Inogen One with a CPAP might impair performance or cause damage to the equipment.

  11. Avatar Patricia says:

    Is the oxygen delivery by these concentrators considered pulse or continuous flow? My best friend already carries a different unit but it’s pulse method, unlike her home unit which is continuous flow. I did not see this information on the site. Thank you

    1. Inogen Inogen says:

      Hi Patricia,
      Thank you for reaching out. The portables are all pulse dose technology, but the at home concentrator is a continuous flow. Here is a good article to read if you would like more information-https://www.inogen.com/oxygen-therapy/pulse-dose-vs-continuous-flow/. Also, you can give us a call anytime and we can answer any questions you may have.
      Thank you!

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