The Top 4 Tips for Using Your POC in the Car

If you’re visiting family, running errands, or even traveling, more often than not you’re driving to get there, but how do you do travel with your portable oxygen concentrator?

Luckily, today, portable oxygen concentrators come in various shapes and sizes; some even as light as 1.75 pounds! Traveling with oxygen shouldn’t be a difficult or negative experience, and today many POCs come with a plethora of useful and convenient concentrator accessories like carrying cases, rolling carts, backpacks, car charging cords, and more to make driving even easier!

Although jumping in your car with a portable oxygen unit is easy, there are still a few tips and guidelines that can help make your next car trip with oxygen easy and most of all, safe! Keep reading to learn our top 4 tips of using your POC in the car!

1. Do Not Leave Your Unit in the Car

Extreme Temperatures
One of our most important rules of advice, especially during warm months, is don't leave your concentrator in your car! Operating temperatures go up to roughly 104 degrees; however, internal vehicle temperatures can easily exceed that at many popular vacation destinations such as Las Vegas and Phoenix. A POC is considered an electronic and will have a hard time operating in temperatures over 100 degrees. High temperatures can easily damage circuitry within the unit.

Lithium Ion Batteries
Something of equal importance are the batteries inside your unit. Portable oxygen concentrator batteries are Lithium Ion, meaning high temperatures will erode the efficacy of the batteries which in turn will reduce charging ability over time. The same is true for frigid temperatures as well. If a concentrator is exposed to extreme conditions, it’s important that the machine returns to proper operating temperature before continuing use.

Unfortunately, we often hear stories from patients about their concentrators being stolen out of their car. POCs are valuable pieces of equipment and should be taken with you, when not at home, and kept within sight. Carrying cases, backpacks, and easy rolling carts can help by comfortably keeping your concentrator within reach while not restricting your freedom.

2. Don’t Smoke!

Smoking while using oxygen is the number one cause of fire injuries and related deaths. Do not smoke, use candles, or have any other open flames in a car with an oxygen concentrator or oxygen-carrying accessories. Smoking while wearing an oxygen cannula may cause facial burns and possibly death. Make sure you do not remove your cannula and place it on any clothing, cushions, or other flammable materials while the machine is in use.

If you MUST Smoke Follow These 3 Steps to Ensure Your Safety

  1. Turn off the unit.
  2. Take off the cannula
  3. Leave your car or the room where your oxygen device is located

3. Store Your Unit Safely

Proper Storage
When driving, it’s best, if possible, to place the unit on the passenger side’s floor, you can also place it on the passenger side’s seat but make sure it is completely secure, buckled in, and will not move or cause distractions while driving.

Keep it Free & Clear
Be sure you do not place anything on top of the unit such as purses, blankets, or clothing. This may cause the unit to overheat. Your POC is an electronic and as such tends to overheat and malfunction if its vents are blocked or covered. Keep it secure, upright, uncovered and in place at all times during driving.

4. Bring Your DC Charging Cord

Luckily, a DC power adapter charging cord is a standard included accessory among concentrators today. This power cord acts as a battery charger for internal and external batteries on most units and hooks up to your car via the standard cigarette lighter. Consult your owner’s manual for unit specific information on how to charge and use your DC power adapter. Can’t find your cord? View additional charging cords and accessories.

IMPORTANT: Your vehicle should be started and running before connecting to the DC outlet! Never leave a unit plugged into the DC charger in a car that is not running. Doing so will cause the unit to continue to pull power, thus killing the battery and potentially hurting the unit.

Available Power & Charging Time
Most concentrators will charge under DC power; however, that can mean charging more slowly than AC power. Estimate and allow for more charging time when using DC power vs. AC power, especially if you are planning on running your unit while charging.

Although most units will charge with a DC charging cord, that’s only if there is sufficient power available in the car. The available charging power will vary depending on the type of car you have. Consult your owner’s manual and the manual of your vehicle to find the charging output needed by the unit and provided by the vehicle.

Trouble Shooting
No indication of charging? If the external power light or charging indicator on the unit does not illuminate, disconnect the power cable from the DC outlet, restart your vehicle, and then reconnect the cable to the DC outlet.

Consult your owner’s manual if you need more assistance on charging and troubleshooting your individual unit in the car.

  • Before making any changes to your lifestyle or activity level be sure to consult your doctor and discuss any activity restrictions you may have or foresee.
  • Also consider discussing any altitude changes, high pollution areas, extreme temperature or humidity, or any seasonal allergies that may affect you on your trip.
  • It’s always best to travel with your prescription should any additional needs or issues arise.
  • If you’re going to a drier climate you may want to consider a humidified bottle.
  • Dry and dusty climates may cause units to pick up extra debris. Keep your concentrator in top working order by keeping filters clean and clear. Read more about cleaning your POC.
  • If your trip includes air travel, be sure to contact your individual airline in advance to meet their requirements for flying with an oxygen concentrator. Read more about flying with an oxygen concentrator.

Using a POC in a Car Video

Page last updated: October 14, 2018

About Scott Ridl: Scott joined American Medical Sales and Rentals in 2008 as a Web Manager and Content Writer. He is a writer and designer. He is extensively trained on oxygen therapy products from leading manufacturers such as Inogen, Respironics, Chart, Invacare, ResMed and more. Scott works closely with respiratory therapists and oxygen specialists to educate the community about oxygen therapy products, COPD, asthma and lung diseases. He writes weekly columns and is passionate about educating the community on oxygen therapy and respiratory issues.

20 thoughts on “The Top 4 Tips for Using Your POC in the Car”

  • Bobby Chambers

    Have a Simple Go and a Sequel 5 , Bought a new Chevy Malibu that has Auto Stop every time we stop at a light machine go to Battery mode any suggestions ? we have to stop and reset machine at almost every stop light

    • Danielle Jason

      Thank you for your comment, Bobby. Being that your car has Auto Stop, the feature is designed to turn off the engine when the car comes to a stop. This is like turning off your car, hence your unit's inability to continue charging. A car that is not turned on will not be able to charge a machine; this is why you're seeing your machine go to Battery Mode.

  • Gordon F Cruickshank
    Gordon F Cruickshank February 2, 2018 at 2:30 am

    Very good advice but I one question. If you have your unit on the passenger seat and buckled in, won't it over heat if it is tight against the seat back ? Thanks

    • Danielle Jason

      Great question, Gordon. You should always make sure the vents on your unit are front facing and uncovered; especially if the machine is on and in use.

  • Curt West

    Is it best to remove battery when running POC in vehicle so as not to use up too many of the batteries charge cycles?

    • Danielle Jason

      Thank you for your inquiry, Curt. If you'll refer to your owner's manual for your specific unit, it will walk you through best practices for using and charging your unit in the car. If you have further questions, feel free to inquire with our Service Department at 877-303-9289.

  • jim

    That malibu may have a programable power source, I'd go to a dealer and talk with them.My latest thing is A solar charging panel for my poc.I bought A small one but it's not enough to indecate charge on the poc.I look to go bigger.

  • Gary Silcott

    I have an Inogen 3 which I bought primarily for flight and at altitude (Durango, CO.). I have not needed the concentrator at home, but bought an extra battery for long flights/backup. I have tried to keep the batteries in partial charge, but on trying to charge one of them, it was dead and would not take a charge. This is terrible; the back-up battery was very expensive and has seen very limited service and numbers of recharges. What do I do?

    • Danielle Jason

      Thank you for your comment, Gary. How long did you have your battery stored for at a partial charge? It’s suggested by most manufacturers and listed in user manuals to preform a battery recalibration once a month. Have you been keeping up with this monthly task? Feel free to review our blog post on How to Care for and Maintain Your Concentrator Batteries here:

  • Rusty

    I have a Sequal and no matter what vehicle I use (I've tried a Chevy Avalanche, Saturn Vue, Chrysler 300, NIssan SUV and Lincoln Navigator) it stops running when plugged into the DC power with no battery in the unit. It gives a "no power" signal. I restart it and it'll stay on for anywhere from 2 - 5 minutes, but that's all.

  • marcia

    I have an inogen g3 and an inogen BA-306 car travel charger (2 of them). When I connect it in the car it will charge the first time connected but if I stop and get out and then get back in and reconnect it will provide power but not charging. It does this with any of the 3 batteries which are in good shape and both chargers. This happens in different vehicles and with all the variations of order of connection. Any suggestions?

    • Margaret Goodman
      Margaret Goodman August 23, 2018 at 5:10 am

      Please contact our customer care team so that they can best assist you in troubleshooting your issue. They can be reached at 877-303-9289.

  • Leslie Thompson
    Leslie Thompson August 25, 2018 at 12:45 pm

    You just replaced my car charger and it is not charging my Inogen 3 either. Is there some trick I am not aware of? My husbands phone charges up fine in his car which is where l am trying to use the Imogene

    • Margaret Goodman
      Margaret Goodman August 27, 2018 at 7:49 am

      I have passed along your information to a specialist who will reach out regarding your request. For more immediate assistance feel free to give our customer care team a call so that they can best assist you in troubleshooting your issue. They can be reached at 877-303-9289.

  • Lucy Nelson

    First of all, Thanks for such a great article You have included all the necessary info which is very helpful for a like me. After reading this, now I am able to use it properly.

  • Lori McNeil

    How do I carry my extra battery in car when out running errands? Is it safe to have in backpack next to concentrator or should I store in an insulated bag out of sunlight? I live in Houston texas.

    • Ed Rodgers

      Just keep it out of the direct sunlight best you can. If you don't have it in direct sunlight you are likely fine. Keep in the trunk and/or in a shady part of the car where while it can get hot the direct sunlight through glass is much hotter. Also I would expect you are bringing the battery in after errands and not being left in the car. So the several hours out and about, the battery should be fine. Also if you are truly concerned, invest in some cooling packs (like for lunch boxes) and keep them in the bag with the battery. That will keep the bag a bit cooler than the car for several hours. Hope this helps!

  • Vanessa Brown
    Vanessa Brown July 13, 2019 at 6:28 am

    My mother is using the inogen one and the system read hot while out on road trip . What has ti be done ? I already removed battery and I unplugged the system from the car outlet .

    • Ed Rodgers

      Hi Vanessa, There is a couple things to try and diagnose this. If the machine gets hot when plugged into a wall outlet, you machine may need to be looked at. When your Mother is using the DC car charger, try either using or charging it but do not do both and see if this keeps the machine from getting hot. What is a common symptom of this is that the DC plug in a car does not always deliver the needed power. Next time you have the car serviced, have them check the DC plug and the volts it is delivering. If it is low then this might be the issue which is making the machine work really hard to do try and charge and work with a lower voltage coming into the machine.


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