How to Choose the Oxygen Concentrator in 2023

 

If you or a loved one need oxygen therapy in your daily life, then there’s no doubt you’re at least somewhat familiar with the perennial favorite, the oxygen concentrator. These devices are specially designed to collect oxygen and nitrogen present in ambient air and, after quickly filtering the air, provide it to a patient as safe, oxygen-enriched air for easier breathing.

So just how exactly do oxygen concentrators work? First, the device draws ambient air (which is mostly nitrogen and oxygen) through a compressor. The air is then run through several filtering apparatuses that remove the nitrogen and purify the oxygen. The purified oxygen is then run through a pressure regulator—controlling the flow of the air—and then is delivered to the patient via oxygen tubing and a mask or nasal cannula.

 

Given their popularity and clear usefulness, oxygen concentrators are numerous and diverse in their features and benefits. In light of this, finding the right product to meet the needs of you or your loved one may seem like a challenge. With that in mind, this article will present some need-to-know information and help you to determine which oxygen concentrator is the best fit for you by laying out some of the most important features and benefits to consider.

 

 

How to Choose

 

There are a number of different features and benefits associated with different oxygen concentrators, which can make them more or less ideal for any given patient. Because of this, we’ve outlined some of the most important variables to consider, helping walk you through the process so you can more easily choose the best Oxygen concentrator shop near me for your needs.

Flow Rate

Easily one of the most important factors to consider when purchasing an oxygen concentrator is the flow rate capabilities. Flow rate refers to the rate at which oxygen is able to travel from the machine to the patient.

The ideal flow rate for a patient is typically advised by a doctor, so it is recommended that you discuss any potential oxygen concentrator purchases with your doctor beforehand.

Certain oxygen concentrators may have lower flow rates (in the range of 250 to 750 milliliters per minute) while others may offer higher flow rates (such as the 1 to 20 liters per minute range). Because not all oxygen concentrators provide the same range of flow rates, it is crucial that customers review the flow rate offered by a product before making a purchase. 

Portability

One of the first and most important points to consider when looking into oxygen concentrators is how mobile you will need your concentrator to be. Oxygen concentrators can range significantly in size and portability.

Some units are high-powered products that are designed to work hard and provide higher flow rates, but are typically larger and heavier. These models are often designed to deliver higher flow rates, and are a great solution for in-home use.

A number of portable oxygen concentrators are available. Typically weighing between 5 to 10 pounds, these portable oxygen concentrators sacrifice higher flow rates in order to be significantly easier to transport and use while out and about. This makes them the perfect tool for patients who do not require high oxygen flow rates. 

 

Oxygen Concentration

After being compressed and filtered within an oxygen concentrator, the oxygen that is delivered to the patient has a specific percentage of pure oxygen content. This value is referred to as the oxygen concentration. Oxygen concentration level is affected by the number and design of the filtration systems included in your oxygen concentrator, as well as the effectiveness of the concentrator’s nitrogen-removing sieve system.

While the majority of products offer oxygen concentration values between 87 to 93 percent, it is important to note that this value can vary between oxygen concentrators. Typically, higher powered products that are designed for patients who require high oxygen flow rates are also capable of providing higher oxygen concentrations, whereas lightweight, portable oxygen concentrators for patients on the go do not usually require the highest oxygen concentrations. 

Noise

While perhaps an obvious consideration, the amount of noise generated by an oxygen concentrator during its regular function is a commonly overlooked topic. Because of their wide range of constructions, layouts, and power levels, oxygen concentrators can vary in the amount of noise they generate while in operation.

Some smaller portable concentrator units are very quiet and unobtrusive. Other products, such as the high powered, high flow rate devices, can be a bit noisier while operating, as they both require higher power and have a higher rate of oxygen flowing from them.

Oxygen Delivery Modes

While stationary oxygen concentrators deliver a continuous flow of oxygen, portable devices can either provide a continuous flow or a pulse mode. Pulse mode POCs can only be used by those using nasal cannulas who have enough breathing power to trigger the device to deliver a pulse of oxygen. People with tracheostomies (a surgical opening in the neck into the trachea) or very poor breathing ability need a continuous flow POC. Some POCs feature both pulse dose and continuous flow settings.

It’s also important to consider the amount of oxygen needed, Pulse mode POCs can typically deliver 1 to 6 liters of oxygen per minute, though some small ones are limited to 3 liters per minute. Continuous flow POCs can only provide 1 to 3 liters of oxygen per minute.

Battery Life

Batteries on pulse mode POC devices have a much longer life than those on continuous flow concentrators.

All portable concentrators have a car charger, he notes, but airplanes don’t “have enough power to operate a POC, so the user needs to have enough batteries to operate the POC for the duration of a flight.” Many airlines require passengers to have enough battery life for 150% of a planned flight time as a safety precaution to avoid emergencies. If you use a continuous flow portable oxygen concentrator, that could mean traveling with an additional 20 to 30 pounds of batteries.

 

Difference between oxygen concentrator and portable oxygen concentrator

these two types of units differ primarily in the locations in which they are intended to be used, as well as the size of the units themselves. As its name suggests, a portable oxygen concentrator is designed to be used both in the home and on the go. As a result, these types of units tend to be smaller, more lightweight, and much more compact while still providing essential oxygen for people with breathing issues and various types of chronic lung conditions. POCs use pulse dose technology, which means the oxygen is delivered to you when you inhale and is based on your breathing rate and other factors. Portable units are commonly small enough to carry and fit easily in the average-sized automobile

 

Additional Features

Many products offer a variety of supplemental features or items that can help make the use of the oxygen concentrator easier or more effective. These additional features include carrying containers (boxes, bags), flow locking settings, easy to replace filter systems, oxygen concentrator accessories, and much more. Because the selection of additional features varies from product to product, it is worth reviewing what supplemental options are available with a concentrator before making a purchase.

 

How to clean an oxygen concentrator

Here are step-by-step instructions on how to clean an oxygen concentrator and added tips to keep the oxygen flow healthy.

 

1. Clean the outside of the oxygen concentrator

 

2. Clean the particle filter

 

3. Clean the nasal cannula

 

Additional tips

 

Frequently Asked Questions

 

Q: Which is better oxygen tank or oxygen concentrator?

A: Compared to oxygen tanks, oxygen concentrators are highly efficient, and because of that and the way they work, also more expensive. Oxygen concentrators can come in form of stationary devices that can be used at home or in hospitals and medical care centers.  

Q: Can you sleep while using an oxygen concentrator?

A: Yes. However, in order to sleep with your oxygen concentrator, your doctor will most likely want to conduct a sleep study to determine the best flow rate for you. Then, you’ll want to choose a concentrator that’s quiet enough that you can peacefully sleep while it’s operating. 

Q: How long do most oxygen concentrators last?

A: This number varies by model, but portable concentrators typically last 4 to 7 years, while standard oxygen concentrators last longer, closer to between 6 and 10 years. 

Ultimately, it is recommended that the oxygen concentrator is replaced once its oxygen concentration product begins to dip closer to 80 percent (as opposed to the usual range of 87 to 93 percent). At that point, it becomes necessary to either replace the filters or purchase a new product altogether. 

Q: What are some of the side effects of using an oxygen concentrator?

A: Skin irritation and nasal dryness are the most common side effects, as is the case with most oxygen therapy tools. This is the result of the consistent airflow into the sinuses, and typically results in the case of long-term oxygen use or use of high flow rates of oxygen.

Q: Can we use oxygen concentrator continuously?

A: Oxygen concentrators are made in such a way that they can run for 24 hours. But at times, they face the problem of heating up and stopping abruptly. Therefore, after continuous usage of 7-8 hours, the concentrator should be given a rest of 20-30 minutes.

Q: Where to buy oxygen concentrator accessories?

A: Available at nearby pharmacies and online

Q: How much is an oxygen concentrator battery operated?

A: New portable oxygen concentrators vary in pricing and usually cost between $390 and $1600depending on batteries and other accessories. 

Summary

Oxygen concentrators are an invaluable tool for convenient and effective delivery of oxygen to those patients who cannot get enough on their own. These devices utilize the ambient air in any room to filter, process, and compress, then ultimately deliver purely oxygenated air to those who need it.

However, due to the large variety of oxygen concentrators on the market, it may be difficult to choose the right one for your needs. Some users may prefer a lightweight, portable concentrator, while others prioritize high power and flow rate. Still others feel that the most important consideration is how loud a concentrator is when in use. 

Choosing the right oxygen concentrator can seem complex, but when you sit down and methodically consider each feature, it's really not that difficult. And hopefully, we've been able to help.