What Is An Oxygen Generator?

Have you heard the terms oxygen generator and oxygen concentrator used for the same device, or wondered what the difference is? If you are new to oxygen therapy, this is not uncommon, and it can raise a lot of questions. While some people use the terms oxygen concentrator and oxygen generator interchangeably, they are very different machines created for different purposes. Keep reading to learn more about what an oxygen generator is and how it is used. 

How Does an Oxygen Generator Work?

It is important to understand that while both oxygen generators and oxygen concentrators provide oxygen, they are not the same thing. There are variations in the way each machine functions, and they are used differently. 

The air we breathe in our atmosphere is a combination of gasses. Believe it or not, our air only contains 21% oxygen, while it contains 78% nitrogen and a small mix of other gases, including argon and carbon dioxide.[1] Oxygen generators and oxygen concentrators are similar in that they both separate oxygen from the air, and they work in the same way. Both machines pull in the surrounding air first, then compress and purify that air, eliminating nitrogen and other trace gases and impurities.[2] Concentrated oxygen is then produced by the machine for various uses, depending on whether it is an oxygen generator or an oxygen concentrator. From here, the differences between the two begin to apply. 

What Is the Difference Between an Oxygen Generator and an Oxygen Concentrator?

Both machines separate oxygen from the surrounding air in the same way, but the primary difference between an oxygen concentrator and an oxygen generator is the way in which each machine is used. An oxygen concentrator is a smaller medical oxygen system meant for personal use at home. An oxygen generator, on the other hand, typically refers to larger systems or systems meant for industrial use.[3][4] While an oxygen concentrator might be used by a patient for supplemental oxygen therapy in their home, oxygen generators are used for large-scale breathing systems, like those in a submarine. Oxygen generators are also used in industrial situations like fish farms, gold mining, manufacturing plants or even treatment plants.[4] However, though oxygen concentrators are usually smaller, the size of the unit does not necessarily tell you whether it is an oxygen concentrator or an oxygen generator. Oxygen generators can be small, so it is important to take a look at how the machine is being utilized. air pollution and lung health

Another difference between oxygen concentrators and oxygen generators, and one of the reasons they are able to be used differently, is that oxygen generators can provide greater pressure, which is necessary for certain applications. For example, an oxygen generator used in a veterinary clinic produces 90 PSI (pounds per square inch), which can flush an anesthesia machine.[4] Oxygen concentrators do not produce this same force of pressure. Often it is not necessary that they remain lightweight or portable, so many oxygen generators feature a reservoir. This can vary in size depending on the kind of oxygen generator and what it is being used for. This reservoir allows oxygen to continue to flow for a short time, should the power fail.[4] 

While many oxygen generators pipe oxygen directly to the required source, like those inside a hospital, oxygen generators are also used to fill oxygen tanks. Many organizations, like oxygen supply stores or SCUBA supply stores, may have large oxygen generators that they use to produce oxygen on-site, rather than having to purchase bulk oxygen.[1] 

Do I Need an Oxygen Generator or an Oxygen Concentrator for Oxygen Therapy?

If you have been prescribed supplemental oxygen, you need an oxygen concentrator. Oxygen concentrators are used for supplemental oxygen therapy at home. Depending on the dosing you require to meet your oxygen needs, you may need a home oxygen concentrator that provides continuous flow oxygen, or you may be prescribed pulse-dosing from a portable oxygen concentrator, which adjusts to your breathing. The kind of oxygen dosing you need, along with the liters per minute oxygen flow you are prescribed, will be the deciding factor in whether you use a stationary home oxygen concentrator or a portable oxygen concentrator. 

How To Decide Which Oxygen Concentrator is Right For You

Between a stationary home oxygen concentrator and a portable oxygen concentrator, your doctor will ultimately decide which type of oxygen concentrator you need. Your doctor will determine your oxygen therapy prescription, including your oxygen dosing, your oxygen flow rate and the frequency with which you will need oxygen therapy treatments. They will prescribe the type of oxygen delivery device you should use. In some cases, doctors may automatically prescribe traditional oxygen tanks, but if your prescription allows for it and you are interested in an oxygen concentrator, let your doctor know. 

From there, you can decide from a variety of manufacturers and models to decide which type of oxygen concentrator is right for your oxygen needs and your life. While there are many different manufacturers to choose from, Inogen was the first to create portable oxygen concentrators cleared for patient use by the FDA and FAA in the early 2000s, and we remain a first-rate, award-winning company. We were inspired by Mae, a beloved grandmother, to create the first Inogen oxygen concentrator, and when we handed it to her in 2004, she declared it “better than anything I could have ever hoped for.” Inogen is proud of our early achievements, and we are still at the forefront of innovative oxygen concentrator technology. Our goal has always been to help oxygen patients like you live better lives on oxygen. Our goal, each and every day, is to improve your freedom, mobility and independence while you receive oxygen therapy. Inogen oxygen concentrators are created to help you live your life as normally as possible and breathe better. 

Inogen Offers Oxygen Solutions For You

Inogen offers oxygen concentrators that work for your life. If you need continuous dose oxygen, the Inogen At Home is an excellent choice. This home oxygen concentrator is designed to offer you the continuous flow of oxygen you need, without the overwhelming loudness or significant energy drain that comes with other stationary oxygen concentrators. The Inogen At Home is lightweight enough to move around your home with you, and quietly uses the same amount of energy as a standard 100-watt light bulb. This allows you to enjoy the continuous oxygen flow you need, without worrying about noisiness or a huge increase on your energy bill.

If pulse-dosing works for your oxygen prescription, any of our Inogen One Portable Oxygen Concentrators will allow you to get your oxygen therapy at home or on the go. For people who love to travel, the Inogen One allows you to bring your oxygen therapy on your adventures. We offer several models, allowing you to choose which benefit matters most. From the long battery life and six flow settings available with the Inogen One G5 to the remarkably small size and weight of the Inogen One G4, you can find the Inogen One that makes your life better. Use our Inogen One comparison chart to help you decide which model is right for you. 

Get Your Inogen Oxygen Concentrator Today – The Oxygen Solution for You

If you have been prescribed supplemental oxygen therapy, find out if your prescription allows you to use a portable oxygen concentrator for home use or on the go. Inogen can help you choose the perfect oxygen concentrator model for you. There is no need to be bound by the minutes left in an oxygen tank or to live your life tethered to heavy, awkward oxygen cylinders. Instead, bring home an Inogen oxygen concentrator and improve your quality of life. Whether you require a home oxygen concentrator for continuous flow or a smaller portable oxygen concentrator with pulse dosing, Inogen has the oxygen solution for you. Find out what it feels like to move easily through your home without feeling breathless, or bring your portable oxygen concentrator out with you and receive your oxygen treatments on the go. 

Ready to try an Inogen oxygen concentrator yourself? There is no need to wait. Contact us today at 855-MY-INOGEN to find out how an Inogen Oxygen Concentrator can improve your freedom, mobility and independence. Enjoy your life more and breathe better as soon as possible. 

Oxygen. Anytime. Anywhere.® 



[1] “What Is an Oxygen Generator?” Gaslab.com, Gaslab.com, 29 Jan. 2021, gaslab.com/blogs/articles/what-is-an-oxygen-generator. 

[2] “How Does an Oxygen Concentrator, or Oxygen Generator Work?” Inogen, Inogen Inc., 22 Oct. 2020, www.inogen.com/resources/oxygen-concentrators/how-does-an-oxygen-concentrator-work/. 

[3] “Frequently Asked Questions.” Oxygen Generating Systems Intl., Audubon Machinery Corporation, 29 Jan. 2021, www.ogsi.com/index.php?src=faq&category=OGSI#faq32. 

[4] Dispomed. “Oxygen Generator Purchase Guide.” Dispomed, Dispomed Ltd., 13 July 2018, www.dispomed.com/oxygen-generator-purchase-guide/. 


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