For seniors who have low oxygen levels in their blood for any reason, a portable oxygen concentrator is a very helpful little machine. They’re lighter and easier to use than standard oxygen tanks, provide a solution for people who travel or need an oxygen concentrator outside their home.
There are lots of reasons people need oxygen therapy as we get older. Conditions such as sleep apnea, COPD, anemia or recovering from surgery, can leave us with low oxygen levels. A portable oxygen concentrator is an easy way to increase oxygen saturation in the blood. Portable oxygen concentrators work by drawing in air, compressing it, and using a sieve bed to filter out nitrogen, leaving behind 95% pure oxygen which can then be inhaled via a mask or nasal cannula.
What to Look For When Buying a Portable Oxygen Concentrator
The main thing to be aware of is your oxygen needs, in terms of liters per minute (LPM.) Your physician will be able to give you an exact figure and armed with that knowledge you can double-check that a concentrator is capable of delivering the amount of oxygen you need.
Your physician can also explain whether you need a pulse or continuous flow unit. Pulse units are triggered by inhalation, and continuous flow units provide a steady stream of oxygen. As a result, continuous flow units tend to be bigger and more power-hungry. If you use a CPAP machine you will need continuous flow, as pulse flow units are not compatible with CPAPs. Depending on your needs, you might prefer a unit that offers both flow options.
You’ll also want to consider the size and weight of the unit, especially if you know you’re going to want it for traveling or going out and about every day. Ask about the battery life too – especially if you plan to take it on flights or road trips.
There are several retailers to purchase portable oxygen concentrators. Let’s take a closer look at some of them, and explore the available range.
List of the Best Portable Oxygen Concentrators in 2019
- Oxygen Concentrator Store – Best Online Store
- Inogen – Best Portability
- Invacare – Easiest to Use
- Pure Medical – Best Range of Products
- Philips Everflo – Quietest Portable Oxygen
- AirSep – Best Customer Service
Oxygen Concentrator Store – Best Online Store
If there’s a one-stop-shop for all your oxygen concentrator needs, this is it. Oxygen Concentrator Store has been in business for over 18 years and carries a wide range of portable oxygen concentrators. Their staff is fully trained on each and every product, and ready to help you with any questions you have.
Portable model range: Oxygen Concentrator Store carries a wide range of models from companies including Airsep, Inogen, Respironics and SeQual.
Flow type: All models are either pulse dose, or offer both pulse and continuous.
Weight: Some of the smaller models weigh as little as 2.8lbs, while some of the larger ones weigh around 10lbs.
Battery life: From as low as 2.5 on some of the Airsep models, all the way up to 8 hours on the Invacare Platinum.
LPM: Up to 6 LPM on some models.
Notable models: If you’re looking for something light and easy to take anywhere, you can’t help but notice the Inogen One G4! The website mentions this is their lightest model, at a mere 2.8lbs. This pulse dose unit is only 7.2” high and has a 4.5 hour battery life. It can be charged at home or run on a battery too, for extra versatility.
Anything else: You can narrow your search by weight, flow type, battery life and LPM rating, and the individual listing for each unit is very helpful and informative.
Our verdict: Whatever your oxygen needs, the Oxygen Concentrator Store is well worth a look. They have a great range of options from most of the “big names” in oxygen concentrators, backed by knowledgeable staff.
Inogen – Best Portability
Inogen makes small, sleek portable oxygen concentrators that look modern and are designed to be carried easily. Their models are generally quite lightweight.
Portable model range: Current Inogen models include the Inogen One G1, G2, and G3.
Flow type: Pulse flow. Continuous flow is available via their Inogen At Home model, but that’s a non-portable at-home only concentrator.
Weight: Starts at a tiny 2.8lbs, all the way up to around 8lbs.
Battery life: Around 4 hours.
LPM: Up to 6 LPM on the Inogen One G2 model.
Notable models: The Inogen One G3 is a fantastic all-rounder. It weighs less than 5lbs and requires very little maintenance, yet is powerful enough to run for up to four hours before needing a new battery (or up to eight hours if you opt for a 16 cell battery.)
Anything else: Inogen models are designed to be small, modern and easy to maintain and carry, making them a popular choice.
Our verdict: If you’re looking for a portable oxygen concentrator that can go out and about with you easily with no need for a trolley or special carrying equipment, Inogen is a great choice.
Invacare – Easiest to Use
Invacare offers portable oxygen units with high specifications that are suitable for the rigors of daily life.
Portable model range: Invacare has two main models – the Invacare Platinum and the Invacare XP02.
Flow type: Pulse
Weight: The Platinum is 4.8lbs and the XP02 is 7lbs.
Battery life: Up to eight hours on the Platinum and up to five hours on the XP02.
LPM: The Platinum delivers up to 44 ml per minute, while the XP02 delivers up to 5 LPM.
Notable models: Both models have a lot to offer, but we especially want to mention the Platinum! This model was specifically designed to stand up to everyday wear and tear with a foam casing around the compressor and reinforced bumpers. It can withstand up to 10 minutes of direct rain – but it’s still light, quiet, and very portable.
Anything else: Both Invacare models feature an easy to read interface/control panel so you can get them to do what you want them to go with minimum fuss.
Our verdict: Sturdy yet lightweight models that are easy to use and strong enough to take you through every day.
Pure Medical – Best Range of Products
Pure Medical offers a carefully chosen range of quality portable oxygen concentrators. Their range includes models that are especially light, quiet, and portable
Portable model range: Pure Medical offers concentrators from top manufacturers including Inogen, OxyGo, Invacare, EasyPulse and Respironics.
Flow type: Offers both pulse and continuous flow models.
Weight: Most are around 4lbs, but they do have a couple of models at 2.8lbs, and one heavier one at 10lbs.
Battery life: Ranges from a couple of hours all the way up to eleven hours (on the EasyPulse POC-3.)
LPM: Not listed for all models – the highest we saw mentioned specifically was 3 LPM.
Notable models: Many portable oxygen concentrators are pulse flow only, so it’s good to see a continuous flow option in the shape of the Oxlife Independence. At a little over 16lbs, this is heavier than the pulse flow models but has a sturdy yet ergonomic integrated mobile cart for ease of transport. The Independence can provide up to 5.75 hours of use per battery charge.
Anything else: It’s worth checking out Pure Medical just for the supplementary information – they set out all the specs and design details of each model, without overwhelming the reader.
Our verdict: An excellent range of portable units, with options for both pulse and continuous flow, and some seriously light and mobile models.
Philips Everflo – Quietest Portable Oxygen
Philips Everflo is perhaps one of the least portable concentrators on this list – that’s because it’s designed for stationary use at home. However, compared to other similar models, the Everflo is small and easy to move around.
Portable model range: We’re just focusing on one model this time – the Everflo.
Flow type: Continuous flow.
Battery life: Use while plugged in.
LPM: Up to 5 LPM.
Notable features: As far as stationary in-home models go, the Everflo is compact, easy to move, and designed to look modern and not like a piece of medical equipment. It’s quiet and durable, and small enough to move if you need to take it with you somewhere.
Anything else: The Everflo is very low maintenance. It has a filter that needs replacing once every two years – and that’s all!
Our verdict: If you need a steady continuous flow model, this is a good choice. It’s robust but small enough to handle, and quiet enough to use without disruption.
AirSep – Best Customer Service
AirSep offers lightweight concentrators that are modern to look at and easy to carry. They’re designed to be very user-friendly, too.
Portable model range: The two most commonly-seen offerings from this manufacturer right now is the FreeStyle 3 and the FreeStyle 5.
Flow type: Pulse
Weight: FreeStyle 3 weighs 4.9 lbs and FreeStyle 5 weighs 6.7 lbs.
Battery life: 3.5 on the FreeStyle 3 and 2.5 on the FreeStyle 5.
LPM: 500 ml per minute.
Notable models: Both models have a lot going for them, but let’s take a moment to talk about how versatile the Freestyle 3 is. It’s designed to operate in temperatures up to 104 degrees F, and yet it’s small, easy to carry, and very quiet. When you consider it’s also FAA approved for use on flights, it truly is a go-anywhere portable oxygen unit.
Anything else: Both models offer simple one-touch operation for a user-friendly experience.
Our verdict: Light but powerful and easy to use – the AirSep models are versatile and reliable.
Portable Oxygen concentrators mean you can go about your daily activities, even if you need a little extra oxygen support. With such a wide range available, you’re sure to find the concentrator you need, whether you’re looking for something lightweight, quiet, or suitable for use overnight.