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Cheap Portable Oxygen Concentrators

There are lots of reasons we might need oxygen therapy as we age. Conditions such as sleep apnea, asthma, COPD, some heart conditions, or even having an infection, can affect our blood oxygen levels.

Lack of oxygen in the blood can cause a range of unpleasant symptoms, such as dizziness, shortness of breath, chest pain, numbness in the limbs, and a feeling of weakness. Thankfully, there is a way to restore blood oxygen levels. Using a portable oxygen concentrator is an easy way to get a little extra oxygen therapy.

Who Needs A Portable Oxygen Concentrator?

A portable oxygen concentrator is a good solution for anyone struggling with low blood oxygen levels.

Portable concentrators are particularly well suited to seniors who still want to go out and about and get the most from life. It used to be that oxygen therapy meant using a heavy, bulky oxygen cylinder. They were hard to move, and changing the cylinder was a hassle. There was also a fire risk associated with using them.

Thanks to today's portable oxygen concentrators, getting extra oxygen is much simpler and easier than it was before. A portable concentrator can travel with you, as it’s small and light enough to travel easily in its own carrying case. Many models are even suitable for air travel.

Seniors who stay mostly around the home can also benefit from a portable model, as they’re much easier to transport from room to room or take with you when getting up to go to the bathroom.

How Do Portable Oxygen Concentrators Work?

Portable oxygen concentrators pull in air and move it to an inlet filter into a compressor. The compressor then compresses the air, and pushes it to a part called a sieve bed. This saturates the sieve bed with oxygen, so the air that exits the machine is very oxygen-rich (about 95% oxygen, as opposed to the usual 21% oxygen of the air we breathe every day.)

The oxygen is then delivered to the user via a nasal cannula or a face mask. You simply connect the cannula to the machine, choose your settings, and switch the machine on.

What Should You Know About Purchasing A Portable Oxygen Concentrator?

Before purchasing a portable oxygen concentrator, it’s important to understand you or your loved one’s oxygen needs in terms of how many liters per minute (LPM) are required. It’s important not to guess this number – ask your primary care physician, or specialist, to give you an exact number to use.

It’s also important to know whether you need a pulse or continuous flow machine. Pulse flow machines release a puff of oxygen whenever the user breathes in. They’re best suited to more active seniors who need a little extra breathing support. Pulse flow machines support up to 2 LPM of flow. Continuous flow machines deliver a steady stream of oxygen and support up to 5 LPM of flow. Continuous flow models work with BiPAP machines, so they’re the only option for users who wear a BiPAP. They’re also the best option for those who need oxygen overnight.

Some concentrators have both pulse and continuous settings, so you can choose between them.

What Else Should You Look For When Choosing A Portable Oxygen Concentrator?

Once you understand your level and flow needs, we recommend also assessing:

  • The weight and bulk of each machine. It’s important that you or your loved one can handle it.
  • Battery life. This will depend largely on whether you need pulse or continuous flow, and continuous flow machines have shorter battery life. In general though, look for at least two hours of battery life, especially if you plan to travel with it.
  • Filter type. Filter types are pretty standard across models, but users with weaker immune systems can benefit from the addition of an antibacterial filter.
  • Whether it’s flight-ready if you need that. General advice in the industry says that if you plan to fly with it, choose a model with a battery life that’s twice as long as the flight. You’ll also want to choose a model that’s FAA approved.
  • Sound levels. Most models list the decibel level, or you can check with the manufacturer. Sound isn’t normally a problem as most portable concentrators are fairly quiet, but if this is a particular concern, it's still worth checking.
  • Whether it comes with accessories. At the very least you’ll want a spare battery and cannula, and a case or trolley for transporting it. If the model you choose doesn’t come with those, you’ll want to budget a little extra for purchasing them separately.

The Hunt For A Cheap Portable Oxygen Concentrator

A portable oxygen concentrator is a significant investment, and it’s important to buy a good quality unit from a reputable manufacturer. The lowest starting point for a good quality concentrator is usually around $2100 – $2500 (more expensive models cost around $3000.) Let’s take a look at four models that fit this price range, without compromising on quality.

*Please note manufacturers' prices may vary – these are intended as a guideline only.*

Inogen One G3

Inogen portable oxygen concentrators are some of the best in the industry. The G3 was specifically designed to be light and easy to transport and use, making life easier for the user. It’s small enough that it doesn’t need a rolling trolley – you can simply put it in the specially designed carry bag, and carry it like a purse or travel bag. As well as packing in a good level of oxygen per pound of unit, the G3 is quiet enough that you can use it unobtrusively in most settings. Check out the full line-up of Inogen portable oxygen concentrators here.

Flow type: Pulse
LPM: Up to 1.05
Weight: 4.9 lbs when using an 8 cell battery.
Dimensions: 8.75 inches wide x 3 inches deep x 8.25 inches high.
Battery: Usually runs on an 8 cell battery, but can take a 16 cell (this makes it a little heavier, but adds to the battery life.)
Battery life: Around 4 hours with the 8 cell, or 8 hours with the 16 cell.
Sound level: Less than 39 decibels (that means less than a normal indoor conversation.)
FAA approved: Yes
Price: $2,295
Our verdict: Light, quiet, and user-friendly, this is a high-quality unit you can rely on.

Inogen One G4

The Inogen One G4 contains all the power and technical excellence of Inogen concentrators, in a small and light package that’s truly portable. The G4 also features Inogen’s intelligent delivery technology. That means it delivers oxygen at the very start of a breath, when it can be used by the body most effectively. The G4 was designed for continuous 24/7 use and can be charged on the go.

Flow type: Pulse
Weight: A tiny 2.8 lbs when using a 4 cell battery (or 3.3 lbs when using an 8 cell.)
Dimensions: 5.91 inches wide x 2.68 inches deep x 7.2 inches high.
Battery: Takes 4 or 8 cell batteries.
Battery life: Around 2 hours with the 4 cell, or 4.5 hours with the 8 cell.
Sound level: 40 decibels (that means less than a normal indoor conversation.)
FAA approved: Yes
Price: $2,295
Our verdict: Efficient oxygen delivery all day every day, in a package small enough to take with you wherever you need to go.

Respironics SimplyGo

Respironics SimplyGo offers both pulse and continuous flow options, while still being small enough to take with you wherever you need to go. SimplyGo was designed to be robust and withstand even an active lifestyle and is rugged enough to handle most terrains and temperatures. With a mix of flow options, it delivers oxygen as needed, day or night.

Flow type: Pulse or continuous.
LPM: Up to 2 LPM.
Weight: 10 lbs.
Dimensions: 11.5 inches wide x 6 inches deep x 10 inches high.
Battery life: Around 3 hours on pulse setting, or 1.6 hours on continuous.
Sound level: 43 decibels (that’s around the sound of a refrigerator humming.)
FAA approved: Yes
Price: $2595
Our verdict: Small enough to still be portable, but powerful enough to provide both continuous and pulse flow, making it ideal for those who sometimes need a continuous supply of oxygen.

CAIRE Freestyle Comfort

CAIRE is a popular manufacturer, and its Freestyle Comfort model was designed for maximum user-friendliness. The Freestyle Comfort is small and easy to use, and quiet enough that you can take it anywhere.

Flow type: Pulse
LPM: Up to 5 LPM.
Weight: 5 lbs.
Dimensions: 7.3 inches wide x 3.1 inches deep x 10 inches high.
Battery: You can use an 8 cell or 16 cell.
Battery life: Up to 4 hours with the 8 cell battery or up to 8 with the 16 cell.
Sound level: 43 decibels (that’s around the sound of a refrigerator humming.)
FAA approved: Yes.
Price: $2,495
Our verdict: Small and light enough to carry easily, yet still powerful enough to provide the oxygen you need.

If you’re on the lookout for a cheap portable oxygen concentrator, these four are a great place to start your search. They all offer powerful performance in a portable body and sit on the low – mid-price end of the cost spectrum.

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