Inogen’s oxygen concentrators are among the top concentrators on the market—and they have accolades to prove it. However, as a consumer, it is still a challenge to understand what makes one concentrator better than another when you are ready to buy one.
In this blog post, I will be discussing the differences between the 3 oxygen concentrators that Inogen offers to help you decide which concentrator fits your needs.
Why I’m An Expert
I am not affiliated in any way with Inogen, so my review of these products constitutes from publically-available information by Inogen and my experiences as a board-licensed respiratory therapist for 11 years, working primarily in acute care hospitals. My experience has exposed me the various challenges and situations that relate to oxygen therapy use, both in the hospital and home settings. Through my training and clinical experience, I have worked extensively with various Inogen product and providing my opinions in the post.
Finally, this post does not constitute medical advice in any way. It is advised to discuss the specifics of these oxygen concentrators with your doctor before ultimately purchasing a device to ensure you have the right equipment for your needs. This information is for educational purposes only.
Inogen: A Brief Overview
When it comes to buying an oxygen concentrator, a review of the company is just as important as reviewing the product itself. Most patients who use oxygen at home are doing so on a long-term basis, so evaluating the reputation of the company is important if you hope to have a great experience with your oxygen concentrator for years to come.
Inogen opened its doors in 2001 following the prescription of oxygen therapy for Mae (the grandmother of the company founders). With Mae’s new need for oxygen therapy, their family soon faced the realities and limitations of using oxygen therapy when taking extended trips. They later developed products that would help patients who use oxygen therapy regain their mobility.
It is important to note that while oxygen therapy has been around since 1917, portable oxygen therapy did not see innovation until very recently. Inogen has created products for oxygen therapy and has become a leader in portable oxygen therapy with products built for mobility.
In addition to their inspiring start, Inogen went on to be awarded Product of the Year for one of their first products; Design of the Decade for the same product, and is accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Health Care as a Nationwide Accredited Homecare Provider.
In the next section, I will briefly cover the differences between stationary and portable oxygen concentrators.
Stationary and Portable Oxygen Concentrators: What are the Differences?
Inogen offers 2 different types of oxygen concentrators: stationary and portable. Which one you choose depends on your needs, but you also have the option to use both if desired. So how do you decide?
Stationary oxygen concentrators are meant to remain in one place with limited movement needs. These devices are generally bulkier because they are intended for more consistent and everyday use. Stationary concentrators almost exclusively run on home electricity, so there is no need to have extra batteries on hand. Overall, stationary concentrators give you the peace of mind that you will be receiving a consistent flow of oxygen without worrying about changing tanks or batteries every several hours.
On the other hand, portable oxygen concentrators are built for traveling and mobility as a focus. These devices are generally light enough to be slung over your shoulder and carried. While these devices run on batteries, Inogen has many options when it comes to battery life so that you can enjoy extended use on-the-go without frequent battery charging. Overall, portable oxygen concentrators are essential if you are looking to preserve your ability to leave your home for long periods while receiving oxygen therapy.
3 Inogen Oxygen Concentrators: Essential Points of Comparison
Before I begin this next section, it is important to note that the final decision over which concentrator to buy ultimately rests on the specifics of your prescription. Your doctor will order specific guidelines on how much oxygen to use and when to use it. That will have a significant impact on which device you will need. However, that said, let us cover the differences between the
Oxygen Flow Range
In terms of flow range, both the G3 and the At Home concentrators can reach up to 5 liters per minute. However, the G4 only goes up to 3 liters per minute.
While it might seem better to go immediately with the higher flow devices, there are additional benefits to choosing the G4 if it suits your needs, such as FAA compliance (for air travel) and its light weight. The important thing to remember is that if your doctor thinks you might need more than 3 liters for any reason (like during exercise, as an example), then the G4 is not the best option for you. However, if your doctor does not think you will ever need more than 3 liters of oxygen (outside of an emergency) than the G4 would make sense for you.
Bottom line: Discuss your oxygen needs with your doctor and make sure to choose the device that will meet your needs in various scenarios.
The Inogen At Home concentrator uses an AC power supply that adjusts based on the setting used. The lower the setting, the lower the power consumption. Inogen touts the At Home concentrator as a low power consumption device that can help you contain your electricity costs while using it.
On the other hand, the G3 and the G4 utilizes a battery system that accepts “Single Batteries” and “Double Batteries,” which are both manufactured by Inogen. The double battery is 2 single batteries made as 1, thus doubling the life of the battery. While somewhat counterintuitive, the G3 has double the battery life of the G4, with the G3 clocking in at 10 hours for the double battery, while the G4 clocks in at 5 hours for the double battery.
The type of battery you should get depends on how far you would like to travel before requiring a battery charge. If you plan on taking extended trips, having more than one battery on hand might be a good idea. Fortunately, Inogen also offers a DC power supply cable to be used in an automobile cigarette lighter or DC power supply to power either the G3 or the G4. With the DC cable, you could power your concentrator with your car battery and save your device battery life. Additionally, both the G3 and the G4 can also run on AC power at home, so you do not need to change batteries while using the device at home.
Bottom line: If you only need a stationary oxygen concentrator, you can use the AC power supply and avoid the whole battery thing altogether. However, if you plan on taking extended trips, having a portable concentrator with more batteries makes sense. You can also purchase a DC cable to help preserve your battery life while driving.
While the At Home concentrator is meant to be stationary, it is considerably lighter than other stationary concentrators. At 18 pounds and 16.5 inches tall, the At Home concentrator is significantly lighter and compact than some other brands that weigh a little over 50 pounds. So moving this stationary concentrator will not be too much of a hassle. On the other hand, the G3 and the G4 are significantly lighter, as they are built to be slung over your shoulder. The G3 weighs in at 4.8 pounds, while the G4 weighs in at only 2.8 pounds. Both devices are under 8.25 inches in height.
Bottom line: Inogen offers some of the lightest devices on the market as a whole, so whether you choose the At Home, the G3, or the G4, you will be selecting a device that has portability built in by design.
Interestingly, Inogen has priced the G3 and the G4 the same at $2,295* for the device itself. So when comparing these devices, the price will not be a factor, which means you can focus on getting the right equipment for your needs. If you want extra batteries or want to purchase a carrying bag designed for this device, those accessories are sold separately.
On the other hand, the Inogen At Home concentrator is priced at $1,495*. Since this device doesn’t have the batteries for portability, the price on this device is lower.
Bottom line: Inogen has created a pricing model that allows you to focus on what you need rather than what you can afford. While the portable devices are priced higher to account for the extra accessories needed to make it portable, the 2 portable devices are priced the same, so you can choose the device that suits your needs.
Inogen oxygen concentrators are built for quality and have received recognition for that over the years. While not mentioned above, Inogen products also include a 3-year warranty with each purchase, which is reasonable given that other tech companies only offer complimentary warranties of 1 year. Overall, whichever device you choose to fit your specific needs, Inogen has demonstrated leadership in the world of portable oxygen therapy, so choosing an Inogen product will likely be a smart choice.
- Wikipedia. Oxygen Therapy. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oxygen_therapy
* Pricing on 4/5/19. These prices are subject to change without prior notice due.