Ranking Portable Oxygen Concentrators with Continuous & Pulse Flow
Portable Oxygen Concentrators Rankings and Comparison
Portable Oxygen Concentrators that offer both continuous and pulse flow oxygen are on the rise. Just a few years ago there were only two concentrators that offered this feature--the SOLO 2 and the Eclipse 3. The SOLO2 has been discontinued by Invacare and the Eclipse 3 has been replaced by the Eclipse 5. Currently there are five portable oxygen concentrators that offer continuous/pulse flow. These portable concentrators are the Respironics SimplyGo, SeQual Eclipse 5, Sequal eQuinox, Oxlife Independence and the DeVilbiss iGo. Continuous flow oxygen provides a constant flow of oxygen regardless of whether the oxygen patient is inhaling or exhaling. Pulse flow oxygen offers a puff of oxygen when the patient inhales. Continuous/Pulse Flow Portable Oxygen Concentrators allow oxygen patients to select either continuous flow or pulse flow modes depending upon their needs at a given time. The portable concentrators in this review are the top portable oxygen concentrators that offer both continuous and pulse flows. A side-by-side comparison of the Top Portable Oxygen Concentrators with Continuous/Pulse Flow is provided below this review. Other concentrator reviews, rankings and comparison charts are available at the following links:
Additional oxygen concentrator reviews, rankings and comparison charts can be viewed by clicking on the links below:
- Portable Oxygen Concentrator Reviews by brand.
- Pulse Flow Portable Oxygen Concentrator Review - compares the top portable oxygen machines on the market.
- Airline Travel with an FAA Approved Portable Oxygen Concentrator.
- Choosing a Travel Concentrator or portable oxygen machine for airline travel.
- What is a Continuous Flow Portable Oxygen Concentrator?
- What is a Pulse Flow Oxygen Concentrator? Shoulder and backpack concentrators.
- Home Oxygen Concentrator Review and Comparison for the top ten 5 liter concentrators.
- Ranking the Top Home Oxygen Concentrators with High Flow of 8 and 10 liter concentrators.
- Reviewing the Low Flow Oxygen Concentrators for home use that offer 3 liters or less.
Reviewing the Top Portable Concentrators by Size and Weight
The size of a portable oxygen concentrator is a major factor when considering which oxygen concentrator to purchase. Large, heavy concentrators are more difficult to transport and use while away from your home. While all of the six concentrators in this review are small enough to travel with on an airline, all but one are too large to carry, and therefore require a cart for portability. The SimplyGo from Respironics is designed to be carried by the oxygen patient in a shoulder bag that comes with the concentrator when it is purchased. An optional cart can also be purchased to pull the SimplyGo behind you. Compared with the largest concentrator in this review, the SimplyGo is 690 cubic inches which is 3 times smaller than the Oxlife Independence at 2091 cubic inches. The second smallest portable concentrator is the eQuinox from SeQual at 1066 cubic inches. The DeVilbiss iGo comes in third at 1320 cubic inches. Although the Oxlife has the largest footprint, it is the only portable concentrator with the cart actually built into the concentrator cabinet. When comparing these portable concentrators while attached to their carts, the Oxlife dimensions in comparison are not so large anymore. The added benefit of having a one-piece portable concentrator is a significant plus. The Oxlife Independence is still small enough to fit under the seat on an airplane. The other concentrators require removing the cart from the concentrator in order to place under the seat on airline carriers.
Weight is another significant selection factor regardless of whether you are carrying the concentrator or pulling it behind you. The more the concentrator, battery and cart weighs, the more of a burden it is to take with you wherever you go. The most lightweight concentrator in this review is the SimplyGo, weighing 15.15 pounds with the cart and battery. Without the cart, the SimplyGo weighs 11.4 pounds. The eQuinox is second at 17.3 pounds while the Oxlife Independence is third at 17.3 pounds. The two charts below display a comparison of the size of these portable oxygen concentrators as well as their weight. In the first chart, both size and weight are compared. The average size for the concentrators is indicated by the red horizontal line on the chart while the average weight of the concentrator is indicated by the red vertical line. The area of the chart marked in light blue indicates that any concentrator is this area is less than the average weight and less than the average size. Only the SimplyGo and the eQuinox make the "Blue Zone" for being better than average for size and weight. The Oxlife is better than average for concentrator weight.
Since the Oxlife has the cart built into the concentrator, the comparison above is not fair towards the Oxlife concentrator. The chart below compares the size of the portable concentrators with the concentrator mounted on the cart. Weight is also compared on the chart. Like the chart above, the average size and weight is displayed along with a "Blue Zone" indicating which concentrators are less than the average size and less than average weight. Dimensions for the DeVilbiss iGo with the concentrator mounted on the cart is not available for this comparison chart. The eQuinox ranks number 1 for mounted size and weight and is the only portable concentrator in the "Blue Zone". The Oxlife ranks second followed by the SimplyGo.
The next chart below compares the separate weights for each portable concentrator with the concentrator machine's weight in blue, the battery weight in purple and the cart weight in gold. The Oxlife concentrator has no cart weight indicated in gold since its cart is built into the concentrator and is included in the weight of the concentrator. There are two red horizontal lines indicating average weights. The first, lower red line displays the average concentrator weight and the second red line indicates the 20 pound marker, indicating the average total weight for the concentrators in portable mode mounted on their carts and with their batteries. The most lightweight portable concentrator is the SimplyGo at 15.2 pounds, while the heaviest is the iGo at 25 pounds.
Ranking Portable Concentrators by Power Consumption
Power consumption measures the amount of average watts the concentrator uses in order to operate. The eQuinox ranks number 1 for low power consumption at 110 watts. There is a tie for the second place rank between the Oxlife Independence and the Respironics SimplyGo at 120 watts. The DeVilbiss iGo ranks third at 130 watts. The comparison chart below displays the power consumption for each concentrator with the median watt usage for the six concentrators indicated by a red horizontal line at 138 watts. The Oxlife, SimplyGo and the iGo have better than average power consumption.
Ranking Portable Concentrators by Battery Duration Time
This section of the review compares the amount of battery time the oxygen patient can expect between recharging. Oxygen concentrators use more energy to run in continuous mode than they do in pulse mode. That means that these portable oxygen concentrators can run for longer periods of time between recharging if they are operating in pulse flow mode. For this review, the battery duration times for each of these concentrators was accessed when the concentrator is operating at level 2. Ranking number 1 for the longest battery time is the eQuinox which can be powered from its 24 cell battery for 5.94 hours in pulse mode and 2.75 hours in continuous mode. A smaller lightweight battery for the eQuinox powers the concentrator for 2.78 hours in pulse flow and 1.21 hours in continuous flow. Ranking second is the Oxlife Independence with 5.75 hours in pulse flow and 2.5 hours in continuous flow. Ranking third is the Eclipse 5 with 5.2 hours in continuous mode and 2 hours in pulse. The iGo ranks fourth with 4.7 hours in pulse and 2.4 hours in continuous. Concentrators that outperformed the average of 4.7 hours in pulse oxygen mode and 2.2 hours in continuous oxygen mode include the eQuinox and the Oxlife.The Eclipse 5 performs better than average while in pulse flow lasting up to 5.2 hours.
Ranking Portable Concentrators by Battery Duration Time
Among the most important criteria in selecting a portable oxygen concentrator is the performance of the oxygen generator. In the performance review, we compare five important factors: continuous flow oxygen output, pulse flow oxygen output, oxygen concentration level, oxygen outlet pressure, and maximum operating altitude. First is the oxygen output of each concentrator machine. Five of the concentrators offer 3 liters of continuous flow oxygen while the lightweight SimplyGo offers 2 liters. Second is pulse mode oxygen delivery. Two portable concentrators are tied for the number 1 ranking--the eQuinox and the Eclipse 5, both offering 192 mL. The Oxlife ranks next with 96 mL of pulse flow. The next comparative element is the amount of oxygen concentration. The SimplyGo, as the smallest concentrator, has the ability to produce the highest concentration level of 97%, but also has the lowest concentration range at 86%. For the second rank, the Oxlife Independence with a concentration range of 87 to 95.6%. The forth comparative element is oxygen outlet pressure, which is important for those who like to use long oxygen tubing with their concentrator. The higher the outlet pressure, the longer the distance the oxygen compressor can push oxygen to the patient. Ranking first for oxygen outlet pressure is the iGo at 15 psi. The remaining four concentrators offer 5 psi of outlet pressure. The last comparison is the maximum operating altitude for the oxygen concentrators. This element is important for oxygen patients who live in mountain ranges or plan to travel to an area with high elevations.
The eQuinox ranks number 1 with 13,130 feet above sea level. Three concentrators vie for the second rank with 13,123 feet above sea level--the Eclipse 5, Oxlife, and iGo. The concentrator comparison chart below displays the data for each concentrator for all five comparative elements. This concentrator chart displays the concentrators in rank order for best performance. The eQuinox is the top performing portable concentrator followed by the Eclipse 5 and the SOLO2. The SimplyGo has the lowest performance measurements in the comparison.
Best Performing Pulse Oxygen Concentrator
|1||eQuinox||3||192||87 to 95.5%||5||13,130|
|2||Eclipse 5||3||192||87 to 93%||5||13,123|
|3||Oxlife||3||96||87 to 95.6%||5||13,123|
|4||iGo||3||84||88 to 94%||15||13,123|
|5||SimplyGo||2||72||86 to 97%||5||10,000|
Comparing the Top Portable Concentrators by Lowest Noise
Many oxygen patients are more concerned about others hearing their loud oxygen concentrator than they are about themselves having to hear it. Most oxygen user prefer to use oxygen as discreetly as possible. Each of the six concentrators in this comparison are in the safe, comfortable zone as identified by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Noise levels below 50 decibels are considered as safe and comfortable. A refrigerator operates at around 30 decibels while human conversation is at around 60 decibels. Each of the six concentrators are below 50 decibels. The loudest oxygen machine is the DeVilbiss iGo at 48 decibels. The Eclipse 5 ranked number 1 for the lowest decibels at 40. Two concentrators ranked for number 2 at 43 decibels, the Oxlife and the SimplyGo. The chart below shows the safe zone range along with where each concentrator falls for noise level.
Portable Oxygen Machines with 24/7 Operation
Many oxygen patients that are using only 2 liters of oxygen or less from their oxygen machines prefer having a single concentrator for their home use as well as their travel. Three portable concentrators in this review are able to serve the needs of patients who desire a 24/7 portable concentrator. These concentrators are both of the SeQual models, the Eclipse 5 and eQuinox, as well as the Oxlife. Because portable oxygen concentrators cost significantly more than a home oxygen concentrator. Vitality Medical recommends that you purchase a low cost 5 liter machine like the DeVilbiss or the Respironics EverGo in order to save "wear-and-tear" on your portable. You can purchase four or more home concentrators for the same price as one good portable. While traveling, a good 24/7 portable concentrator is a significant factor since the portable is likely to be the oxygen patient's only source of oxygen day and night while they are away from home.
Portable Concentrators with Extra Features
Some portable oxygen concentrators come with additional features that make them a "cut above" the rest of the competition. Some of the concentrators in this review have noteworthy features that make them standout. For instance, the SeQual Eclipse 5 and the Oxlife Independence are able to furnish oxygen while also charging off of your car battery. The other concentrators need more power to operate and charge simultaneously than a car battery is able to provide. The SeQual eQuinox has a multi-language voice function. this voice feature provides verbal confirmation of flow rate settings, remaining battery time, and system alarms. For anyone with impaired sight, the eQuinox voice function is very useful. The Oxlife Independence and the SimplyGo provide easy access to the battery compartment for quick exchange to a freshly charged battery. The other models are more cumbersome to conduct an exchange, some requiring removing the concentrator from the cart to change batteries. The Oxlife Independence is the only concentrator manufactured with a metal case, the others are all made with plastic. Since portable concentrator prices start at $1900 and go up to nearly $5000, protecting your investment with a durable concentrator that can withstand the demands and rigours of travel is a wise choice.
Portable Oxygen Concentrator Best Sellers
The Eclipse 5 has the best name recognition of the six concentrators compared in this review. It is also the best selling concentrator by a margin of 5 to 1 over the next best online sales competitor, the iGo. The Eclipse 5 replaced the older Eclipse 3 which was one of the pioneer oxygen portable concentrators.
Overall Best Portable Oxygen Concentrator with Continuous Flow and Pulse Flow
To determine which concentrator is the best, we looked at the concentrator rankings in each category, giving the highest priority to performance, second to weight, third to size and forth to battery time. Performance is the most important factor because it is what a concentrator is designed to do--deliver concentrated oxygen to a patient. Size and weight are significant because of the need for the concentrator to be portable. Long battery life impacts the portability of the concentrator away from external power sources. The other elements are also compared but are secondary to these four.
The SeQual eQuinox has the best performance rankings, sharing the number 1 ranking for continuous flow output and pulse flow output, a number 3 ranking for oxygen concentration level and a number 1 ranking for max operating altitude. The eQuinox is also ranked number one for battery duration time for both continuous flow and pulse flow modes. The eQuinox is also ranked first for the lowest power consumption. While the SimplyGo is by far the leading concentrator for smallest size and lowest weight, the eQuinox ranks second in these important factors. The 24/7 operational capability of the eQuinox concentrator is another important feature offered by this oxygen generator. The multi-language voice function is a feature unique to the eQuinox. Of course, made in the USA is always an important consideration. The overall best portable oxygen concentrator offering both continuous flow and pulse flow is the eQuinox. A summary of the rankings highlights for the eQuinox are displayed below.
Other Top Ranking Portable Concentrators
If size and weight are the chief concern for the oxygen patient, they should seriously consider the Respironics SimplyGo. None of the other models in this review are even close to the small size and low weight of the SimplyGo. Currently, it is the only portable oxygen concentrator that you can carry in a backpack or shoulder bag that offers both continuous flow and pulse flow oxygen. However, if you plan to purchase the optional cart for the SimplyGo and prefer to pull the concentrator behind you, the size and weight advantage disappears. The SimplyGo also ranked number 2 for lowest power consumption at 120 watts (tied with the Oxlife).
The Oxlife Independence is also worthy of praise for its durability and its outstanding record for low repairs and warranty claims. Made with a metal cabinet, it is the most reliable and durable portable concentrator. It is the only portable with a 5 year warranty, at least two years more than any of its competitors. The Oxlife ranked second for battery time duration, third for pulse oxygen flow and tied for first with the eQuinox for continuous oxygen flow (along with two other concentrators) . The Oxlife Independence also has the shortest recharge time for its batteries--1.5 hours for 1 battery and 2.5 hours for 2 batteries. We also like the design of its built-in cart without the fragile telescoping handle popular on the completing models. This built-in cart feature is important for those who travel often on airlines since there is no need to remove the concentrator from the cart to fit the cart under the seat. The handle on the concentrator simply flips up for use and down when not in use. The easy flip-out battery exchange is also a highlight.
Below is a detailed comparison chart displaying each of the comparative factors and the data for each portable oxygen concentrator.
Portable Oxygen Concentrator Comparison (compare side-by-side)
|Continuous/Pulse Flow Concentrators||Respironics
|Continuous Oxygen Flow
|Pulse Oxygen Flow
(ave minute volume mL at highest setting)
|Oxygen Concentration||86 to 97%||87 to 93%||87 to 95.5%||87 to 95.6%||88 to 94%|
|Oxygen Outlet Pressure
(feet above sea level)
|0-10,000||0-13,123||1,254 to 13,130||0-13,123||0- 13,123|
|Portable Weight w/o Accessories
|Power Requirements||100-240 VAC
50-60 Hz 2.0 A
19 VDC, 7.9 A
| 100-240 VAC
50-60 Hz, 2.0 Amps
15 VDC, 10 Amps
Europe, UK, China, Australia
|120 not charging
|145||110||120 not charging
|Battery||Lithium Ion||12 Cell Lithium Ion||12 Cell Lithium Ion
24 Cell Lithium Ion
|12 Cell Lithium Ion||Lithium Ion|
|Pulse Battery Service Hours
(at setting 2)
|Continuous Battery Service Hours
(at setting 2)
|Battery Recharge Time
|Preventive Maintenance Check
(after # hours)
|Made In The USA||Yes||China||Yes||Yes||Yes|
(after # hours)
|Warranty||2 Yrs||3 Yrs||3 Yrs||5 Yrs||3 Yrs|
Notes: Each of the concentrators compared have approval by the FAA for airline travel.