Deciding on which oxygen concentrator to get can be a tough decision or a no-brainer, depending on your specific situation. Either way, your doctor came to the conclusion that you need oxygen therapy, and it's extremely important that you start getting the oxygen you need, as quickly as possible. To help make a selection as quickly as possible, there are a few things to consider and an order in which to considering them by the right priorities.
First Things First: Oxygen Flow Rate and Liters Per Minute
First, you need to look at the prescription your doctor wrote for your oxygen therapy – this is the main reference to look to when choosing an oxygen concentrator. The liters per minute absolutely have to be met.
For example, if you need a continuous flow of 6 LPM, your options have just been narrowed down immensely. If you need continuous 6 LPM, this counts out all of the portable oxygen concentrators. If you need a pulse dose of 6 LPM, you can choose between the DeVilbiss iGo, Oxlife Independence, or the EverGo by Respironics. These three concentrators also offer lower rates of continuous flow settings. If you need less than this, your options are much more varied.
Next Step: Decide How Much Independent Battery Life You Need/Energy Consumption
The battery duration and charge time are next on the list of priorities as far as portable oxygen concentrators are concerned. Let's say, you need a concentrator to take with you as you go hiking in the mountains, or while you go camping. It depends on how active and mobile you want to be, how often you can get to a power source and how long you can sit still while your concentrator's internal and external batteries can charge.
Since you already narrowed down your selection from oxygen flow rate, it's now easier to consider battery life. Naturally, the more LPMs you need, the quicker your batteries will drain. If you know you will need more mobile time, and if you need to use your oxygen concentrator for many hours out of the day, you will need to choose the one that meets your oxygen needs, with the longest lasting battery.
As for home oxygen concentrators, you can make your selection as per how much electricity is needed to run it. If you need up to 7 to 10 LPM, you can help but use more energy (around 500+ watts). If you need 5 LPM or less, you will be using considerably less electricity.
Size and Weight
After your oxygen and battery duration needs are met, you can be choosy about the size and weight of your concentrator. For example, you have several to choose from if you want a portable model that will deliver 2 LPM pulse dose with the longest lasting battery possible – the Inogen One G2, Inogen One G3 with 16-cell battery, Lifechoice, Lifechoice ActiveOx, and Invacare XPO2. From these, you can look at the other specifications, such as maximum operational altitude and noise level, and choose from the smallest one that fits your needs.