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Oxygen Concentrators

Oxygen Concentrators are often referred to as oxygen machines, oxygen generators, oxygen compressors or O2 concentrators. Regardless of the name, they provide a cost-effective way for oxygen therapy patients to supplement their oxygen needs without the need of bulkly, heavy oxygen tanks. Unlike tanks, oxygen concentrators do not run out of oxygen. A personal oxygen concentrator pulls-in regular room air, filters out some of the other gases present and delivers concentrated, medical oxygen.

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Since medical grade oxygen devices are regulated by the federal government, a prescription by a licensed physican is required in order to purchase any medical oxygen concentrator for sale. A non-medical oxygen concentrator is often referred to as an oxygen bar and is most often used for "recreational" oxygen. These types of oxygen machines do not require a prescription from a doctor. The SeQual Regalia is an example of an non medical oxygen concentrator.

Types of Concentrators: Portable Oxygen vs. Home Oxygen

There are two types of oxygen concentrators: a Portable Oxygen Concentrator and a Stationary Oxygen Concentrator. A stationary or home oxygen concentrator usually features built-in wheels to move from room to room and is powered by AC current (plugging it into the wall). Home oxygen concentrators are able to operate continuously 24/7 and produce higher liter-per-minute flows of oxygen than their portable counterparts.

A portable oxygen concentrator is a smaller, ligthweight oxygen concentrator that runs off of a battery rather than just AC current. Portable concentrators can also operate from AC current and in-fact, they charge their batteries from household AC current. Portable oxygen machines also come with a DC power cord to operate in your car or RV. The DC power cord allows you to use the concentrator while in a vehicle, conserving your battery power for when their is no external power source.

How Oxygen Concentrators Work: Continuous Flow vs Pulse Flow

An oxygen concentrator filters air from its surroundings, compresses it and then dispenses it in a continuous flow or a pulse flow. A continuous flow concentrator continually delivers a concentrated flow of oxygen to the patient. Continuous flow oxygen is measured in liters-per-minute (LPM). All home oxygen concentrators provide continuous flow oxygen. Only a few portable oxygen concentrators can provide continuous flow and these oxygen machines are slightly larger than the "carry type" travel concentrators that accompany the patient in a backpack or handbag. The continuous flow portable concentrators usually have built-on wheels or a cart for easy transport.

A pulse flow oxygen concentrator is usually assoicated with the "carry type" oxygen machines. A pulse flow concentrator delivers concentrated bursts, or pulses of oxygen, every time you inhale. These pulse doses of oxygen are measured in what is called a bolus output. Pulse flow O2 concentrators are usually smaller in size and weight less than 10 pounds. Not every oxygen patient is capable of using a pulse flow oxygen concentrator because of the

When determining which oxygen concentrator you should use, always confer with your doctor.

Advantages of a Portable Oxygen Concentrator Over an Oxygen Tank

  • On demand oxygen that never runs out.
  • A one time expense rather than a monthly fee to fill tanks.
  • Most portable oxygen concentrators are FAA approved, oxygen tanks are not.
  • Built-in safety alarms if the oxygen concentration drops below medical grade.
  • Concentrators are more lightweight and easier to handle.

Challenges for Oxygen Therapy

There is always a demand for a lighter, smaller, quieter oxygen concentrator. The problem is that the quieter the concentrator, the bigger it usually is. The smaller concentrators typically aren't capable of continuous flow at all and they are louder than bigger concentrators. The reason being that the compressor has to work harder if it is a smaller. If the patient needs a liter-per-minute flow of 6 or more, there are only a few machines capable of this and they are bigger and louder than 5 liter oxygen concentrators. Another consideration is the aesthetics of the concentrator. Since a stationary concentrator is designed for the home, many customers have come to regard it as a piece of furniture, rather than just a tool for providing oxygen. The Caire Companion 5 was designed to be more aesthetically pleasing than some other competing models.

The Future for Oxygen Concentrators

Single solution portable oxygen concentrators are designed to be the only piece of oxygen equipment in your home. This technology will continue to improve with time, but there are a few machines that can achieve this purpose now. The Oxlife Independence 24/7 and SeQual Eclipse 5 are both designed to be used as a portable or stationary unit. However, the limitation with this machine is that it cannot support a continuous flow setting of 4 or higher.

When people are using portable oxygen concentrators for traveling, especially on long flights, they need a longer battery life. Most airlines require that you have 1-1/2 times the flight time in battery life. Due to this need, we will likely see longer and longer battery lives in our concentrators. One brand that does this very well is Inogen. An Inogen G3 16 cell battery is capable of up to 9.5 hours of run time at setting 2. Buy the Inogen One G3 from Vitality Medical, and select between two long-life batteries or two lightweight batteries. That is an amazing 19 hours of battery life or 8 hours of battery life for 2.2 pounds less! (Note: Each 8 cell battery is 1.1 pounds less than the 16 cell battery.)

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