Respiratory problems and breathing disorders are among the most significant health concerns that anyone ever experiences, but they no longer have to rid you of your independence. A range of specialized respiratory aids are now readily available, restoring comfort and normality to the lives of millions. Portable oxygen concentrators are among the most beneficial products on the market, delivering transformations that were once unfathomable. Better still, it can often fit directly in your pocket.
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What Exactly Is A Portable Oxygen Concentrator?
Portable oxygen concentrators, otherwise known as POCs, are medical devices that deliver increased oxygen levels to help promote increased blood oxygen levels in patients. While oxygen concentrators have existed for many years, the lightweight oxygen concentrators offer mobility. In turn, users can now gain the benefits of an oxygen concentrator while they are on the go. POCs work on the following basic principle:
- The device receives natural air, which is composed primarily of nitrogen and partly oxygen.
- It then purifies the air, removing some of the nitrogen until oxygen is the main substance.
- The POC subsequently spits the air out directly into the user's respiratory system.
POCs are, like traditional oxygen concentrators, deliver the purified air through a mask and tubes. Lightweight portable oxygen concentrators can be powered by an electrical outlet or batteries while the best portable oxygen concentrators are also equipped with adapters to facilitate charging while driving. The vast majority of models are pocket-size, although some bigger units that can still be carried around (in the same way that an oxygen tank might) can be classified under this section too.
Who Are Portable Oxygen Contractors For?
Oxygen contractors, including POC devices, are normally exclusively open to individuals that have been medically advised to purchase one. This advice is usually the result of a medical diagnosis relating to respiratory health issues that can benefit from oxygen therapy. Aside from confirming that oxygen therapy is the most suitable solution, a doctor can inform patients and caregivers about what density of filtration is required. This is traditionally measured in liters per minute (LPM).
POCs can be used to treat a wide range of acute and chronic conditions to deliver short-term blood oxygen improvements or ongoing regulation. The most common issues include the following:
- Asthma – when an asthma attack strikes, a burst of increased oxygen will make it easier to breathe and help combat the issues caused by mucus accumulation and airway inflammations.
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease – COPD is a chronic lung condition where individuals will need regular, and potentially constant, oxygen support. FAA-approved portable oxygen concentrators are the best solution for ongoing care.
- Respiratory Distress Syndrome – RDS sufferers need oxygen therapy because their lungs often collapse as a result of reduced surfactant production. However, this is a condition usually limited to infants, particularly those that have been prematurely.
- Bronchopulmonary dysplasia – BPD sufferers will usually require surgery to treat their long-term lung condition, but may also use ongoing oxygen therapy following surgery.
- Pneumonia – when you have pneumonia, the infection and inflammation can fill your lungs with fluid. Oxygen therapy courtesy of POCs can help regulate oxygen levels to support the body's natural defense systems.
- Sleep apnea – if you regularly experience sleep apnea, the use of oxygen can stop the throat from collapsing while also promoting better oxygen levels.
- Cystic fibrosis – the potentially life-threatening condition causes a thick, sticky mucus to block tubes and airways but the best portable oxygen concentrators can help manage the condition through ongoing usage.
A number of less common uses are possible too. Anyone experiencing respiratory disorders should seek medical support to determine whether oxygen therapy is a suitable management tool.
What Benefits Can POCs Deliver?
Depending on the individual circumstances of the breathing condition, high flow portable oxygen concentrators can deliver a wide range of benefits for users, including but not limited to;
- A better night's sleep due to increased oxygen saturation levels, particularly for individuals who suffer from sleep apnea or asthma.
- Increased energy levels due to improved sleep and the fact that your lungs are no longer struggling to breathe fresh air.
- An improved sense of independence as you can breathe more easily, even on the go, thanks to the POC device's capabilities.
- A greater sense of mental clarity as the increased blood oxygen feeds the brain with the sweet, sweet O2 it craves.
- Reduced physical discomfort due to better lung performance and oxygen supplies to all organs throughout the body.
In turn, oxygen therapy provided by the best portable oxygen contractors will significantly increase your quality of life. Whether it's managing discomfort, gaining direct health benefits, or restoring normality to your daily activities doesn't matter. Your opportunities for social activities will improve while you'll also have better control of completing tasks around the home.
It is no exaggeration to state that individuals living with respiratory problems will enjoy a far brighter future as a result of oxygen therapy. In many cases, it can actively extend your lifespan too. For the best results, though, it's imperative that you find a suitable POC unit.
Portable Oxygen Contractors Versus Oxygen Tanks
The fundamental functions of POCs and traditional oxygen tanks are almost identical. They help treat and manage symptoms related to the same extensive list of breathing conditions. However, the differences between the two types of units do mean that each option is better suited to some situations more than others. While there is no one right or wrong solution for everyone, it's important to analyze the pros and cons of each.
Portable Oxygen Contractors Pros & Cons
- The biggest benefits gained from portable oxygen contractors is that they extract and filter the surrounding air. This means that there is no limit to how much oxygen is available.
- POCs additionally offer greater lifestyle upgrades due to their size and lightweight nature. When supported by the choice of battery or A/C power, you can make it work in a versatile way.
- The units are a cheaper long-term investment as you will not need to replace gas canisters or add new and costly features. You are essentially set to go from day one.
- The biggest challenge relates to power supplies. When the unit isn't plugged in, it's likely that you'll gain around five hours of battery power. If you're out for longer, spare batteries are needed.
- POCs are quite loud, especially if you choose an inferior machine. While users will probably acclimatize to this quite quickly, it's likely that it may cause disruption for loved ones.
- The initial outlay is costly and will require a $1,500+ investment even for a basic model. The best portable oxygen contractors are closer to the $2,500-$3,000 mark.
Standard Oxygen Tanks Pros & Cons
- The most obvious benefit is that oxygen tanks do not require a power supply, either through A/Cs or batteries. This does, of course, mean you'll have access to its full function at any time.
- Oxygen tanks are additionally silent in their performance, aside from the sound of actually breathing in and out. This is a noticeable benefit over POCs, especially for loved ones.
- Oxygen tanks are far cheaper as an initial purchase as you do not need to invest in the POC unit, which makes the outlay far smaller.
- Oxygen tanks are very heavy, particularly when full, and are not portable unless you have a specialized cart. This means that any lifestyle benefits are severely impacted as a direct consequence.
- The costs are greater in the long haul because oxygen canisters must be replaced on a frequent basis. Even when oxygen supplementation isn't needed on a 24/7 basis, it becomes very costly.
- Oxygen tanks only deliver a certain amount of oxygen. If it runs out, you will no longer have access to blood oxygen upgrades. When going away, you'll have to take several items.
Portable Oxygen Contractors
Standard Oxygen Tanks
Daily equipment management
Ease of use
What Is Pulse Oxygen Flow And Continuous Oxygen Flow
When checking out lightweight portable oxygen concentrators, you will often see the terms pulse flow and continuous flow. They describe the two ways in which the filtered oxygen can be delivered to your nasal passage.
Pulse oxygen, also known as pulse dose or PD, is when the oxygen is delivered based on your breathing habits. So, it adapts to your rate of breathing and offers a fully personalized performance. It gives you more oxygen when your body needs it, and less when the body is back to a 'normal' breathing routine.
Conversely, continuous flow is when the oxygen is distributed at a set rate. The liter per minute rate can be set accordingly, but it will stay at a constant. Each solution is suited to some situations better than others while the best portable oxygen contractors are capable of performing both functions. After all, your oxygen needs can change drastically throughout the day.
What To Look For In A Portable Oxygen Contractor
Confirming that a portable oxygen contractor will improve your quality of life is one thing, but finding the right unit is another challenge altogether. When analyzing the marketplace, your natural instinct is to look solely at portable oxygen concentrators prices. While this is a key factor, you should be prepared to check out a wide range of contributing factors. The most telling features are listed below:
First and foremost, the best portable oxygen contractor must be safe to use for your specific breathing disorder and lifestyle. A medical diagnosis will give you a list of attributes related to your condition. Crucially, if you are planning to use it for travel to a vacation, you must seek Federal Aviation Association, or FAA approved portable oxygen concentrators.
Size and weight
The physical dimensions of the portable oxygen contractor are essential features of the decision-making process. After all, if it's not truly portable, you may as well stick with a traditional oxygen contractor unit. A POC can weigh as little as 3lbs whereas standard units are around 50lbs. Do not underestimate the significance that this can have on your lifestyle and daily habits.
High flow portable oxygen concentrators are essential for those with severe chronic respiratory conditions. However, individuals with progressive troubles may also want to look at devices with higher liter flow levels as a precaution for the future. The settings can be lowered in the meantime before being increased if and when the circumstances require it.
While it's not the only key factor, you should not ignore the costs. After all, the best portable oxygen concentrators will cost a four-figure fee. Cheap doesn't necessarily equate to value, particularly when you consider the impact that the purchase will have on your health. An affordable unit that delivers life-changing benefits for many years is the ideal solution.
No two people are the same, and you need a POC that can deliver the exact level of supplementary oxygen that you require. Some devices can use both pulse-flow and continuous flow oxygen. Whether it's a hybrid or a unit that focuses on just one of those features, the ability to adjust the settings over time is crucial. Only a personalized item will bring comfort and performance.
Oxygen machines and equipment naturally make mechanical sounds from the power supplies and air filtration mechanisms. A unit that runs at a low decibel level will add to the convenience of your daily life while it can also protect your hearing health. You will not achieve total silence, but finding a quiet portable oxygen concentrator can make a world of difference.
Choosing a well-known manufacturer, like Vital Lite or Inogen One, brings an increased level of reliability. Furthermore, your increased trust in the brand will deliver peace of mind. On a side note, it can also aid the cause when looking for accessories, repairs, or replacement parts. For the sake of performance and convenience, do not overlook this issue.
When you compare portable oxygen concentrators, you must remember that they are designed to add independence. However, the lifestyle benefits are a little redundant if the unit dies after just an hour. Even with spare batteries, it would restrict you in many aspects of daily life.
The Best Portable Oxygen Contractors Of 2020
Once you have your checklist of attributes to look for in a portable oxygen contractor device, the next job is to analyze the market. With dozens of products to choose from, finding lightweight portable oxygen concentrators to choose from, it can feel as though you are navigating a minefield. Thankfully, we've done the handwork for you by shortlisting the best POCs of 2020. Here's all you need to know:
#1. The Inogen One G3 System (IS-300)
Inogen is one of the leading names in the world of respiratory support machines, and the One G3 system remains one of the most popular in its family of stunning devices. It runs at exceptionally quiet speeds, allowing you to truly enjoy life and interactions with others to the full. Moreover, it is operational at altitudes of up to 10,000ft.
The G3 incorporates a range of sensors and responsive tools to instantly identify dropped performance levels. Whether it's a loss of power, oxygen purity issues, or problems with breath detection, the alarms will sound to alert users and their loved ones. These features make it one of the safest units on the market, which is why it has sold over 300,000 machines.
A long battery life that lasts virtually all day is another pleasing factor that offers convenience and peace of mind while flow settings run from 1-5. This delivers the flexibility of long-term reliability and personalization to meet ongoing needs to reflect changes in your respiratory health or lifestyle.
Key features include:
- Highest capacity from a unit weighing under 5lbs.
- Clinically proven for 24/7 use.
- Pulse dose delivery system.
- Sound output of jus 39 dB.
- LCD display and easy controls.
#2. The Vital Lite: Oxygen Concentrator
When looking at portable oxygen concentrators prices, the Vital Lite brand will immediately stand out from the crowd. Vital Lite produces oxygen tanks and portable oxygen concentrators. Its oxygen concentrator unit delivers one of the most affordable and practical solutions on the market. At 30lbs, it is heavier than a lot of models, but it is still portable for most users.
Its lockable flow control valve, oxygen concentration status indicator OCSI monitor, and circuit breaker reset features provide a safe and reliable service for users on a daily basis. Whether used to boost blood oxygen levels for acute or chronic respiratory issues, the Vital Lite oxygen concentrator can be set to provide 0.125 to 5 liters per minute.
So, from mild to severe cases, the unit will facilitate the right level of supplementary oxygen. It runs at 40 dB for a very quiet performance. The battery life doesn't match that of the best performers in the Inogen One family, but it is still more than adequate in most situations.
Key features include:
- Compact size of 14"W x 9"D x 23"H
- Oxygen concentration levels reach 90% at 5LPM.
- It averages 310W of power.
- Analog dial is preferred by many senior citizens.
- It's currently available for under $1,000.
#3. Airsep Freestyle 3
Most POCs are small, but the Airsep Freestyle 3 is like carrying a smartphone around. It is a significant improvement on its predecessors and can now provide a liter per minute rate of 1-3 liters. Its visible battery checker and one-touch function controls make it a very good option for busy users on the move while it takes a double battery pack to deliver 6.5 hours of service.
While it doesn't look as attractive as some of the other models on the market, the carry case does make up for this to an extent while the optional harness is a nice touch for convenience. At 41 dB, the sound output is unlikely to cause distractions. Moreover, the pulse oxygen delivery system can support individuals through a range of conditions to improve independence and daily comfort.
It comes with a three-year warranty too – 12 months for batteries.
#4. Respironics SimplyGo
A continuous flow portable oxygen contractor is a far less common purchase than pulse flow alternatives. When s continuous flow is the right choice for you, though, SimplyGo by the Respironics team is one of the best in class. For starters, it can deliver almost an hour of continued oxygen on a single battery, which is more than adequate for most short-term requirements for acute issues.
The device can switch to pulse settings too, but at 10lbs in weight and just 12” in height, it is primarily heralded as one of the best for continuous flow. Its durable casing is supported by a carry case while audible levels alert you when oxygen levels fall below the desired rate. Its simple interface can be used by virtually any user of any age, regardless of previous familiarity with modern tech.
It works at altitudes of up to 10,000ft too, using a pulse setting of 1-6 or a continuous flow of up to 2.5LPM.
#5. The Inogen One G4 System (IS-400)
At just 2.8lbs, the Inogen One G4 is one of the lightest POC unit available. Despite its compact size and weight, portability does not impact its performance. In fact, it delivers pulse doses on levels 1-3 on a 24/7 basis, making it perfect for mild to moderate oxygen supplementation for both chronic and acute conditions. And it runs at just 40 dB for an ultra-quiet sound.
The five-hour battery life is less than some of the other units in the Inogen One collection, but that reflects the compact size while it's still a pleasing duration that has played a part in the sale of over 60,000 units and counting. The simple control features and LCD display are ideal for anyone with limited mobility, strength, or dexterity in the hands.
It is the ideal partner for anyone that has a busy lifestyle and wants to carry a portable oxygen contractor that will boost blood oxygen levels during asthma attacks. It's also very popular among gardening enthusiasts and those that like to stay mobile near the home.
Key features include:
- It's a stylish unit that looks great with its case.
- Light and portable even when using a dual battery.
- Changeable sieve beds.
- Made by Inogen, a brand with a great reputation.
- Surprisingly affordable compared to similar models.
#6. SeQual Eclipse 5
AT 18lbs, the SeQual Eclipse 5 is one of the heavier models in the FAA-approved portable oxygen concentrators market. With pulse dosages ranging from 1LPM to 6LPM, the device's extra weight is forgiven. Not least because it can serve users with degenerative conditions for several years to come thanks to those strong oxygen-boosting capabilities.
A battery life of five hours is pretty impressive, particularly as this can be doubled up for even greater energy efficiency. It is very easy to use as all buttons are located on the top of the unit while it is capable of working all night long when plugged in. The wheeled case is ideal for individuals with mobility or postural issues while its versatility can be used with nasal cannula, facemask, humidifier bottle.
Its sleep detection also automatically switches from pulse to continuous flow for added safety.
#7. Precision Medical EasyPulse
The EasyPulse model by Precision Medical looks a little outdated, but its simplicity is actually a great attribute for the right user. The front panel buttons show correlate to which level of pulsed oxygen is required. Moreover, its single filter makes cleaning and maintenance a very simple task. Again, this is something that makes it a great choice for many users – as does the price.
Still, the fact that it has five LPM levels should highlight the 6.8lb POC's capabilities. An automated oxygen control ensures optimal efficiency, with the flow of air reflecting your breath rate at all times. While it can be plugged in and used 24/7, it is probably best used for those with acute conditions that only need it for short periods rather than an ongoing basis throughout the day.
Nonetheless, its compact size and low operational sounds make it a popular option.
#8. The Inogen One G5 System (IS-500)
No other POC on the market currently provides the same level of oxygen per pound, which makes the G5 from Inogen One the most advanced and sought-after unit today. However, the 1-6 flow settings and ability to deliver more oxygen isn't the only reason to love this unit. It is far more than a machine designed for extreme circumstances. It delivers reliability, mobility, and optimal safety.
Like its sister units, the G5 is super responsive when power drops or oxygen levels are impacted for any reason. The advanced diagnostics are supported further by the Bluetooth-enabled Inogen Connect App, which removes any guesswork. If that doesn't suit your preferences, the simple LCD screen displays everything from battery levels to settings while one-touch buttons can make alterations.
The G5 uses pulse oxygen delivery and is designed for 24/7 uses. When combined with the appropriate carry case, it looks like a natural part of your daily luggage rather than a piece of medical equipment. This is another feature that many users actively love.
Key features include:
- Battery life of up to 13 hours.
- The newest unit with the most advanced tech.
- Builds on the success of the G3 and G4.
- Meets all FAA requirements with ease.
- Runs at just 38 dB.
Portable Oxygen Contractors FAQs
Are POCs covered by Medicare?
Unfortunately, no. Medicare slashed its reimbursement rates for oxygen equipment in half in 2013, leaving providers unable to maintain their contracts. As such, Medicare no longer buys or covers the costs associated with portable oxygen contractors.
Why should I only buy from trusted suppliers?
When checking portable oxygen concentrators prices, it may be possible to find cheaper alternatives. However, if your doctor has prescribed oxygen therapy, it is not an issue where you can afford to cut corners. Your health is far too important to take risks.
What accessories should I consider?
While not all users will need all accessories, there is a long list to consider. The best are; a carry case or backpack, spare batteries, charger adapters, backup oxygen tubes, battery charging units, and spare charger cables.
How quickly will I notice the benefits?
When using the oxygen contractor unit, the benefits of restored blood oxygen levels can be felt instantly. It will put your body and mind at ease. Moreover, the lifestyle rewards are delivered right away, although it can take a little adjustment.
What happens if I take too much oxygen?
Anyone that has a respiratory needs the supplementary oxygen. However, too much oxygen in the blood can cause toxicity, leading to serious illnesses. This is one of the many reasons for seeking medical prescriptions rather than self-diagnosis.
What else should I know about using POCs?
When using a POC unit, it's vital that you avoid flammable products and remain 2m away from heat sources. Avoiding smoking, including secondhand smoke, is also vital while oxygen containers must stay upright at all times.
Portable oxygen contractors are incredibly important medical devices that filtrate the air to promote improved blood oxygen levels for individuals living with respiratory conditions and breathing disorders. While primarily thought of as a unit to be used by senior citizens, they also offer effective symptom management for much younger people that have chronic conditions.
Whether oxygen therapy is required for acute or chronic symptoms, matching yourself to the best portable oxygen contractor unit will deliver immediate benefits that will transform your life for the better.
To find out more about individual POC devices or to place your order today, call Scooters N Chairs on 1-800-674-8395 or send an email to [email protected] today. Our team of passionate, compassionate, and highly experienced agents will help you breathe a sigh of relief by making the process easier than you ever thought possible.