How to Select a Portable Oxygen Concentrator? [Ultimate Guide]

How to Select a Portable Oxygen Concentrator? [Ultimate Guide]

With the loud cry for oxygen due to COVID, you probably ask questions like, “how to select a portable oxygen concentrator.” To help with your dilemma, we created the ultimate guide to help you choose the best concentrator for your needs.

In this guide, you'll learn:

7 Steps on How to Select a Portable Oxygen Concentrator

Here is the summary of all the steps in choosing a portable oxygen concentrator.

  • Step 1. Know What You Should Consider When Purchasing A Portable Oxygen Concentrator
  • Step 2. Talk to Your Doctor About What Type of Concentrator You Need
  • Step 3. Consider Your Budget
  • Step 4. Narrow Down Your Choices Based on Your Needs
  • Step 5. Determine What Accessories You Need
  • Step 6. Identify Your Financing Options
  • Step 7. Buy From a Trusted Shop

how to select a portable oxygen concentrator - a collection of portable O2 concentrators


Step 1. Know What You Should Consider When Purchasing A Portable Oxygen Concentrator

Buying portable oxygen concentrators is not an overly complicated process, especially if you know what to look for. When choosing portable concentrators, the top considerations are:

1. Your Lifestyle

One of the main concerns of oxygen therapy is how it changes one’s lifestyle. For some, it means that they can’t just freely leave their homes, especially not without an oxygen concentrator at hand. Fortunately, there are now portable systems and units available in the market. You will need to choose one that fits your current lifestyle.

2. Type of Portable Oxygen Concentrator

There are two primary types of oxygen concentrators; Pulse Dose/Flow and Continuous Flow. Pulse flow can detect breathing patterns and can distribute oxygen when inhalation is detected. On the other hand, continuous flow releases a steady stream of oxygen flow every minute unless you switch the device off. 

3. Brand

The brand and company are vital factors to consider when choosing the best portable oxygen concentrator. Currently, we live in an era where eCommerce is thriving. It is beneficial for those who do oxygen therapy as it means staying in and not leaving the house. Since you can’t physically test the product before buying it, you will need to have complete faith in the brands you choose. 

For portable oxygen concentrators, companies like Arya, Airsep, Respironics, ResMed, Inogen, GCE, SeQual Technologies, and Caire Inc. are some of the leading oxygen manufacturers in the industry. If you consider a concentrator with a brand other than the ones listed, it would be good to research them thoroughly. 

4. Medical vs Non-Medical Grade

Amongst the most important factors to know on how to buy an oxygen concentrator is whether you want a medical or a non-medical grade. For one, a medical-grade oxygen concentrator is a portable and easy-to-use device that offers high pure oxygen gas (>95% oxygen) at every flow rate setting. You will, however, need a valid medical prescription to buy one. 

A non-medical grade oxygen concentrator on the other hand, cannot sustain high levels of oxygen purity at each flow rate. It is not advisable for medical use since it can carry infection, leading to dangerous health consequences. 

5. Physician’s Advice

You may know what an oxygen concentrator is, but do you know how oxygen concentrators work and operate? Normal air has about 21% of oxygen. Keep in mind that the concentrator sucks the air in the atmosphere, filters nitrogen and other gasses then releases the compressed oxygen through the nasal cannula or oxygen mask. 

If 1-liter of oxygen is distributed to the patient via an oxygen concentrator, the level of saturation in the air of the lungs will increase to 24%. With 2 liters, it increases to 28%, and with 10 liters, it reaches almost 60%. An oxygen concentrator can give 1.0-liters per minute to 5-10 liters. 

Hence, consulting a doctor to know the need for oxygen in the body is essential. Talk to your physician before you buy portable or home oxygen concentrators. 

6. Battery Life

For most oxygen patients, battery life is essential. After all, a POC that can run for only an hour without the need to be charged is not exactly portable or convenient. This limitation can make you feel you have less freedom than with oxygen tanks.

Large battery life allows you more time away from outlets, either in your home or car. A smaller and lighter battery, on the other hand, will give you less time to spend away from home. It is also infrequent and in short spurts. 

7. Oxygen Concentration

After being filtered and compressed within the concentrator, the oxygen delivered to the patient now has a particular percentage of pure oxygen content. This value is called oxygen concentration. 

The majority of oxygen contractors in the market have a concentrator value between 87%-99%. Usually, higher-powered devices designed for patients who need high oxygen flow can also give higher oxygen concentrations. Meanwhile, lightweight and portable oxygen concentrators do not typically have the highest concentration value. 

Read more: How much oxygen does a portable oxygen concentrator produce?

8. Capacity

Make sure to check the capacity of the oxygen concentrator. They typically come in 2 sizes; 5L and 10L. The former can provide up to 5 liters per minute, while the 10L capacity can provide 10 liters of oxygen per minute.

9. Size

There is no standard size for portable oxygen concentrators. They come in different sizes and shapes, so it’s best to ask yourself, “what size oxygen concentrator do I need” before you come up with a decision.

Consider the weight, height, and depth of the device. While it is not advisable to purchase POC based on size, the benefits are undeniable. You would be able to hold it easily by your side, take it to crowded areas, and store it in tight spaces. 

Read more: Smallest portable oxygen concentrators in the market

10. Weight

Several people nowadays, may they be old or young, suffer from back pain. So, carrying a 10-pound oxygen tank is not an option for most. Fortunately, there are lightweight POCs invented today.

Depending on the battery size, a portable oxygen concentrator can weigh as few as 3 pounds or as many as 20. Consider what is best manageable for you on a regular and daily basis.

Read more: Lightest portable oxygen concentrators in the market

11. Noise Level

While it may be an obvious consideration for some, the noise level is commonly overlooked when people buy an oxygen concentrator. Due to the wide range of layouts, power levels, and constructions, oxygen concentrators vary in the amount of noise they make while in operation. 

Read more: Most quiet portable oxygen concentrators in the market

12. FAA Approved

If you travel a lot, you will undoubtedly need a POC that is FAA-approved. FAA, or Federal Aviation Administration, oversees all the safety regulations that pertain to in-flight oxygen use. Fortunately, the majority of POC are approved for in-flight use. 

13. Warranty

A warranty is the written agreement that states the oxygen manufacturer will replace or repair a unit within a given time. Most electronic devices have warranties for them, and they’re a great way to protect your purchase if it malfunctions unexpectedly.

Due to the reliability of modern POC, most reputable brands offer a free 3-year warranty. Most will allow you to extend a 4 or 5-year warranty. 

14. Available Support

If you have an oxygen machine to buy already, ensure you have available support, like service centers.

SpryLyfe has authorized service centers available for customers if they need them. The company has service centers in Parker, Colorado and Lake City, Florida.

Step 2. Talk to Your Doctor About What Type of Concentrator You Need

Use an oxygen concentrator only when prescribed by a home care provider. Without first consulting your doctor, giving yourself oxygen can do more harm than good. You may take up too little or too much oxygen, which is dangerous to your body. 

Deciding to use a portable oxygen concentrator without a valid medical prescription can lead to serious health problems like oxygen toxicity, which is caused by receiving too much oxygen. Breathing high concentrations of oxygen can also damage the lungs, whereas not getting enough oxygen in the blood can lead to hypoxia, damaging the brain, heart, and other organs.

Step 3. Consider Your Budget

A portable oxygen concentrator is probably the cheapest option for respiratory patients who need long-term oxygen therapy. Unfortunately, many choose to turn away from POC due to the initial and upfront costs. In reality, though, portable oxygen concentrators cost less than oxygen tanks in the long run.

If you have an oxygen concentrator to buy, you must ready at least $2000 upfront. If you plan to use a POC for a long time, then it is worth purchasing one.

If budget is a concern, most companies provide payment plans for POC so you can spread the cost. Buying refurbished or used POC is also an option if you are tight on funds. 

Another option is renting. There are both short and long-term rental options for oxygen concentrators available. Contact Us for more information.

Step 4. Narrow Down Your Choices Based on Your Needs

The list of oxygen concentrators in the market is almost endless. Finding the right one is a challenge. You can make it much easier for yourself by narrowing down your choices based on your needs.

Set up a personal list of criteria based on your needs and preference. Choose a range of height, weight, size, and noise level you are most comfortable with. Then, consider the oxygen concentration and type you need. By doing this, you will explicitly narrow down the choices of oxygen concentrators you can choose from. 

Step 5. Determine What Accessories You Need

Like any other medical use device, you will need a specific list of accessories. The essential accessories for oxygen concentrators are a nasal cannula, carry bags/cases, replacement batteries, and oxygen masks. 

Nasal Cannula

Nasal cannula is a medical device with two prongs below the nose. The prongs deliver oxygen directly to the nostrils. This device is for mostly people with respiratory problems. 

Carry Bags or Cases

A carry bag or case is used to carry your portable oxygen concentrators while you are on the go. It is perfect for traveling with your POC and usually has excellent storage and comfortable straps. People with smaller POC units typically need these carry bags.

Replacement Batteries

Replacement batteries are the perfect solution for POCs that require more battery life or need to replace their old one. Batteries power most modern POC units, so having replacements ready is a good idea, especially if you are traveling away from home.

Oxygen Mask

The oxygen mask is the accessory that helps transfer oxygen gas from the concentrator to your lungs. It may cover the entire face (full-face mask) or only the nose and mouth (oral, nasal mask). It is needed by people who have lung and respiratory conditions. 

Step 6. Identify Your Financing Options

In buying an oxygen concentrator, you have to consider your financing options. Fortunately, there are multiple ways to pay.

Upfront Payment

The first payment option is, of course, upfront payment. If you purchase the oxygen concentrator in a physical store, you can quickly pay it with cash and in full. 

Credit Card

You can use your credit card to finance your portable oxygen concentrator and other medical supplies and equipment. Most stores today accept credit card options. 

With Medicare, etc.

A POC may be covered by Medicare or health insurance when medically necessary. The exact coverage amount and out-of-pocket cost will depend on several factors, including your medical insurance provider and plan, co-pay requirements, and annual deductible.  

Step 7. Buy From a Trusted Shop

Since it is illegal to sell medical oxygen devices without verifying the oxygen use, the ones on Amazon and eBay are either not approved for medical use or the seller is breaking the law. Make sure to only purchase from certified and verified POC distributors and retailers. 

Sprylyfe awarded as the best oxygen concentrator store in the US for 2021

Amongst the trusted oxygen concentrator brand and shops in the market right now is Sprylyfe. We are a reputable company with a whole team of experts that made it possible to produce high-quality products and achieve top-notch ratings and reviews. We are also BBB accredited, with available reliable service centers for our customers’ needs.

7 Steps on How to Select a Portable Oxygen Concentrator infographic by Sprylyfe

FAQs About Buying Portable Oxygen Concentrators

What size of portable oxygen concentrator do I need?

Oxygen concentrators range significantly in portability and size. If you need higher levels of oxygen, you can consider high-powered units. Although, they are typically larger and heavier.

If you travel a lot, consider smaller units. They are easier to transport and use out of the house. There are ones that weigh between 2-4kgs. 

Which portable oxygen concentrator is suitable for home use?

It would be best to consult with your doctor first to know whether it would be better for you to use pulse flow or a continuous flow oxygen concentrator for home use. The two types of oxygen concentrators have different delivery methods. You will need to talk to your doctor to know which is best for your health and respiratory needs. 

Can portable oxygen concentrators be used 24/7?

Yes, but it depends on the product. Home oxygen concentrators, in particular, can run for 24 hours a day. Unlike an oxygen cylinder or tank, a concentrator does not need to be refilled to run continuously without running out of oxygen. However, some POCs may not be appropriate for sleep if they only supply pulse flow oxygen. 

What is the difference between a 5L and 10L oxygen concentrator?

Oxygen concentrators can come in 5L or 10L capacity. The difference lies in the numbers. A 5L can deliver 5 liters of oxygen in a minute, while 10L can supply up to 10 Liters of oxygen in just a minute.  

How many hours does a portable oxygen concentrator last?

You can expect a POC with a single battery to run up to 4-5 hours before you need to charge it up again. Double battery POCs can last up to 10 hours. If you are uncertain of how long the battery life of your POC is, it would be better to pack up some replacement batteries.

Are portable oxygen concentrators effective?

Modern portable oxygen concentrator units are as effective as other oxygen delivery devices in several circumstances. POC are lightweight and versatile with unlimited oxygen supply, ideal for patients who like to travel. It is also more cost-effective in the long term, prompting several people to switch. 

Which is better: oxygen tank or oxygen concentrator?

It depends on the patient’s preference. For one, concentrators are versatile and portable machines with an infinite supply of oxygen, though they have limited battery life. On the other hand, oxygen cylinders have a finite amount of oxygen but do not require power to operate and lower initial costs.

Looking For The Perfect Portable Oxygen Concentrator?

Choosing a suitable machine for yourself can seem complicated, but it is not that difficult when you sit down and learn how to select a portable oxygen concentrator.

If you have yet to pick a trusted company, you can choose SpryLyfe! We can fix you up with the best possible concentrator to meet your medical needs.

Select from the portable oxygen concentrators for sale in our shop, or call us at 1-(800) 314-8225 and we can help you choose the best one for your needs.
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Sherry Gladman - October 27, 2022

Hi Kayla. Don’t know if you remember me. We talked at length. It’s just that it’s a large purchase, for something unseen, and I have 0 knowledge. Did you change companies, and if so, may I ask why? I see you have “used” machines for 900. What kind of warranty comes with these machines. I live in Wichita. To whom would I go if I had problems. I think I could talk with you again for at least two hours. I really want to do this but as you can tell,I’m really at my wits end with it all. Thanks for listening to me. Sherry Gladman

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