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Portable vs. Stationary Oxygen Concentrators: Get to Know Them Better

Whether it’s because of COPD, emphysema, or some other respiratory ailment, supplemental oxygen therapy can benefit from the use of oxygen concentrators. Much like each reason for needing supplemental oxygen is different; the solution can be just as unique. Each person is unique and so is the potential solution. Oxygen concentrators do offer respiratory therapy patients freedom from oxygen tanks, but which one is right for you? Let Health Products for You clear the muddied waters and help you make the correct decision!!

Devilbiss Ultra Quiet Five Liter Compact Oxygen Concentrator
Devilbiss Ultra Quiet Five Liter Compact Oxygen Concentrator​

How to choose between Oxygen Tank and Concentrator?

Okay, you need supplemental oxygen therapy but what is the best option for you and your lifestyle? The two main options available to respiratory patients are oxygen tanks and oxygen concentrators. Yes, oxygen tanks may be the cheaper option, but you must weigh the benefits of an oxygen concentrator (especially the benefits to your independence and lifestyle). While both deliver oxygen to the user, they do it in significantly different ways. An oxygen tank is just that, a heavy cylinder that has been filled with oxygen that gets delivered through a regulator to either a mask or nasal cannula. They can be portable, but they are heavy (5-15 pounds apiece) and they have a finite amount of oxygen in them, so users do run the risk of running out of oxygen. Oxygen concentrators, on the other hand, create oxygen from the air around them so there’s no risk of running out of oxygen (as long as there is AC/DC power). Much like the option between oxygen tank and a concentrator, does a portable or stationary oxygen concentrator provide the benefits to support your lifestyle?

GCE Zen-O Portable Oxygen Concentrator
GCE Zen-O Portable Oxygen Concentrator

Portable vs. Stationary Oxygen Concentrator 

Understanding the benefits of both portable and stationary oxygen concentrators can allow you to make the best decision possible. Each individual patient has features and specifications that are important to them depending upon their lifestyle. What might be important or significant to one person may not even be a consideration to another. While each version of the oxygen concentrator has their own merits, you need to weigh what features will make your life easier or more enjoyable. You can work with your doctor, nurse or even your respiratory therapist if you have any specific questions regarding any particular oxygen concentrator. The two main types of oxygen concentrators are:

1. Portable Oxygen Concentrator

Invacare Platinum Mobile Oxygen Concentrator
Invacare Platinum Mobile Oxygen Concentrator

These oxygen providers operate by converting the air around them into breathable therapeutic oxygen, but are lightweight and can be worn either in a backpack or a shoulder strap to keep you active. They are powered by chargeable batteries, so you must keep an eye on your battery level or you may run out of oxygen. One major benefit to portable oxygen concentrators is that they are approximately 66% lighter than stationary oxygen concentrators. The trade-off is along with lighter weight and compact size comes a lower oxygen output. Some smaller oxygen concentrators produce less than 3 L per minute. If you require more oxygen per minute this may not be an option for you.

2. Stationary Oxygen Concentrator

Inogen At Home Oxygen Concentrator
Inogen At Home Oxygen Concentrator

Powered by AC power, these are used in the home and can even be moved from room to room. These are not limited by battery life since they are plugged into your home’s commercial power. Even though stationary oxygen concentrators are not as portable as some of the lighter, smaller portable options many do have wheels so they can be easily moved from room to room. Also, stationary oxygen concentrators have a higher oxygen output (5-10 L per minute).

Another major consideration is what type of oxygen flow you require. Respiratory patients have basically two options for oxygen flow: pulse flow oxygen & continuous oxygen flow. Many portable oxygen concentrators use pulse flow oxygen which keeps the concentrator unit smaller but only provides a puff of oxygen on the inhalation. Continuous oxygen flow is just that, oxygen being supplied on both the inhalation and exhalation. Many supplemental oxygen patients are fine using the pulse flow oxygen portable concentrators, but you should check with your physician or respiratory therapist to determine if you require more oxygen than a portable concentrator can provide.

Invacare Perfecto2 V Five Liter Oxygen Concentrator With SensO2 Oxygen Sensor
Invacare Perfecto2 V Five Liter Oxygen Concentrator With SensO2 Oxygen Sensor

Oxygen concentrators are a wonderful tool for those who may need supplemental oxygen therapy. They create a sense of independence and allow users to get away from those heavy oxygen tanks that can be cumbersome and awkward. There are loads of options available so there should not be a reason for not using an oxygen concentrator. Find what works for you and maintain your quality of life!!

 


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