Home Concentrator Buying Guide - How to Select a Home Unit
If you are looking to purchase a home oxygen concentrator but do not know which device is best for your needs, this buying guide will help you make the right choice. Home oxygen concentrators are important healthcare devices, so choosing the right one from the start will provide you with years of comfortable use.
With this guide, you will learn everything you need to know about home oxygen concentrators and which features are critical to remember when comparing each device. We will also cover the accessories you will need to make your device more user-friendly.
How Home Oxygen Concentrators Work
While portable oxygen concentrators are perfect for extended travel and short-term trips, home oxygen concentrators are built for long-term use at home. Two key benefits of home oxygen concentrators are:
They do not require much electricity
They do not require battery or tank changes
Home oxygen concentrators plug right into a regular wall outlet and generally only increase your monthly electricity bill by 5–10% (1). They can also provide continuous oxygen 24 hours a day without changing tanks or batteries.
Home oxygen concentrators work by separating oxygen molecules in the air from the nitrogen molecules to form a concentrated gas made up of 90–95% pure oxygen. Normally, the air we breathe is made up of 79% nitrogen and 21% oxygen. Home oxygen concentrators flip that ratio on its head to create a gas that is almost pure oxygen for therapeutic purposes.
During this process, the air is also filtered to remove any particles or bacteria with a molecular sieve, so the final flow of concentrated oxygen is purified. These filters generally need to be replaced about every 2 years, but some do not require filter changes at all.
Oxygen Flow Delivery with Home Concentrators
While portable oxygen concentrators generally offer both continuous and pulse-dose flow, home oxygen concentrators are built to provide continuous flow only. Pulse-dose systems are meant to conserve oxygen stores while on-the-go. However, since the conservation of oxygen gas is less of a concern at home, home oxygen concentrators can be used 24 hours a day to provide a steady, continuous flow of oxygen.
Now that you know a bit more about home oxygen concentrators let us look at the key features to keep in mind when comparing devices.
1. Power Consumption
Home oxygen concentrators draw power from any regular wall outlet just like any other home appliance. However, the amount of energy they use varies widely between devices. Some closely comparable devices have different average energy consumptions due to manufacturing differences. Others have higher consumption because they can provide higher oxygen liter flows. While it might make sense to go with a concentrator that boasts the lowest average power consumption, your oxygen requirements, as prescribed by your doctor, might lead you to a device that consumes a bit more power. Additionally, some models have a place to insert consumer-grade batteries, which is helpful if the power goes out. For your convenience, we have included the average power consumption of several home oxygen concentrators in a comparison chart.
2. Liter Flow
As mentioned above, it is also important to consider the liter flow capabilities of your home oxygen concentrator. Most people who use oxygen at home are prescribed 2 liters or less. However, many people require higher liter flows. If 2 liters of oxygen works well when you are sitting down or lying in bed, but you notice that you get short of breath when you start moving around, you might consider purchasing a concentrator that has the option to output more oxygen flow if needed. Be sure to consult with your doctor if this is happening to you.
Home oxygen concentrators tend to weigh more because they are built to work more. However, there are several options for lighter home concentrators, with one device weighing in at a light 9-pounds. The trade-off with lighter home oxygen concentrators is that their oxygen output capacities are generally lower. The 9-pound concentrator, in this case, goes up to 2 liters per minute. That is sufficient for most, but not all. At any rate, if you only need 2 liters of oxygen or less, then the lighter concentrators make sense because you will not be using higher liter flows.
4. Ease of Transport
While you might think you would never move your oxygen concentrator, there will be times when you need to move it. Some home concentrators are light enough to carry. Others have wheels to make moving the concentrator across the floor more comfortable. This feature is essential, particularly for emergencies. If you need to move your home concentrator urgently, you will want to make sure the device you choose is easy to move and light enough to carry.
5. Noise Level
Home oxygen concentrators work by drawing in air from the environment and filtering out the oxygen—which can be a loud process. If you are sensitive to noises during sleep, you might consider a concentrator with a lower noise level. The concentrators on this list range anywhere from 40–58 decibels of sound. For context, 40 dB is equivalent to bird calls or the ambiance of a standard library. On the other hand, 60 dB is equivalent to a close conversation or a running air conditioner.
6. Noise Level
Just like any home appliance, your oxygen concentrator will come with a warranty. However, each manufacturer has a different warranty policy. Since these devices are built to last a long time, it is a good idea to review the warranty policy beforehand to make sure you get every bit of functionality you are paying for. Warranties will typically be 3 years, although most devices will last much longer than that. Without a warranty, you have to rely on the trustworthiness of the manufacturer to stand behind their claims. Warranties are something to consider before purchasing a concentrator.
7. Noise Level
If oxygen tends to dry out your nose, you will probably benefit from connecting a continuous humidifier to your concentrator. The cool humidity adds moisture to the dry gas, so your nose does not dry out. However, not all home concentrators are compatible with humidifiers. If your nose gets dried out easily and it is an ongoing problem for you, make sure to find a concentrator that can accept a humidifier.
Top Brands and Models
There are many different home oxygen concentrator brands with various features to meet your specific needs. Here are the top models available:
Certain accessories are available to make the use and transportation of a home oxygen concentrator more comfortable:
A nasal cannula is a device you will use to deliver oxygen into your nose directly. Home concentrators generally stay in one place, however, moving the device around all day can be tiresome. Nasal cannulas are capable of being daisy-chained with extensions so you can freely move through your home without being tied down to your concentrator.
Oxygen masks cover your nose and mouth to deliver oxygen more accurately by preventing dilution from mouth breathing. Oxygen masks can also be extended in the same way as nasal cannulas.
Carrying Cases and Carts
Many home concentrators have wheels or handles to make transporting the device easy. Some models also have carrying cases and carts to help transport them.
How to Buy a Home Concentrator
Here is a quick checklist to start the process of choosing a home concentrator:
To start, find the liter flow that was prescribed by your doctor and narrow your search to the concentrators that will meet your oxygen needs.
Next, sort by size and energy consumption, as well as other specifications in the concentrators that are within your budget and financing abilities.
Finally, once you find a concentrator you like, begin the process of verifying your prescription and insurance, and request pricing information for further comparison.
Here at the Oxygen Concentrator Store, you can quickly start the process of purchasing a home concentrator by speaking with a live specialist during normal business hours. You can find the live chat box on the bottom right corner of our website. Just click “Live Chat” and submit your message. You can also send us an email, and a representative will contact you as soon as possible.