If you’re looking for a portable oxygen concentrator, it can be hard to know where to start. There’s quite a choice out there, and with so many different settings and specs to choose from it, the search for the right unit can be challenging.
The right portable oxygen concentrator can make a big difference in your life. In this series we’re comparing some popular portable models, to help you decide which one might be right for you.
Today we’re looking at two current models from the manufacturer Inogen, to see what they have to offer and who they’re good for.
Inogen G3 vs Inogen G4
Inogen was founded in 2001 and now operates in 46 countries worldwide. The founders of Inogen created the company because a beloved grandmother of one founder was struggling to carry on life while using traditional oxygen. They set out to create a solution that would give her more freedom, and Inogen was the result.
Inogen is a popular manufacturer due to sleek, streamlined machines that are both portable and powerful. Inogen’s unique intelligence delivery system is fine-tuned to detect inhalation and delivery oxygen at the optimum moment.
Two of Inogen’s popular models include the G4 and the older G3. Let’s see how they stack up.
Inogen G3 Portable Oxygen Concentrator
About: The G3 is one of Inogen’s slightly older models but don’t let that fool you. It’s quiet, powerful, and portable.
Price: Starts at $2295
Flow type: Pulse dose
LPM available: Up to 5 LPM
FAA approved: Yes
Dimensions: 8.75” wide x 3” deep x 8.25” high
Weight: 4.9 lbs with the standard battery, or 5.7 with the large battery
Battery life: Up to 4 hours with an 8 cell battery, or up to 8 hours on a 16 cell.
Anything else: The G3’s batteries are fast-charging compared to some other units. The 8 cell recharges in about 4 hours, and the 16 cell in about 6. You can even charge it in your car!
What customers are saying: Online reviews for the G3 are very positive. We noticed several people praising how truly portable it is, it’s quietness and ease of use and the length of the battery life.
Our verdict: Powerful enough to offer up to 5 LPM to users and yet still small enough to carry anywhere – this is an ideal solution for those who need a higher oxygen dose.
Inogen G4 Portable Oxygen Concentrator
About: Inogen’s G4 is fantastically light and small, which makes it highly portable.
Price: Starts at $2,295
Flow type: Pulse dose
LPM available: Up to 3 LPM
FAA approved: Yes
Dimensions: 5.91” wide x 2.68” deep x 7.2” high
Weight: 2.8 lbs with a single battery and 3.3 lbs with a double
Battery life: Almost 2 hours and 40 minutes on a single battery – add another battery to get it up ot 5 hours
Anything else: The G4 is suitable for round the clock use (unless you have a CPAP machine), thanks to the intelligent delivery system we mentioned, which lets it release the oxygen you need even while you sleep. As well as being small and light, this is a nice quiet unit.
What customers are saying: Reviews of the G4 are very positive and show why it’s one of Inogen’s most popular models.
Our verdict: This is an excellent model for daily use. It’s light and small enough to carry anywhere, but still powerful enough to use for most daily activities.
Inogen G3 vs G4 – Which Should You Choose?
Both units are well-liked by customers and offer a sleek, portable oxygen concentrator with a state of the art intelligent delivery system. Both boast Inogen’s easy to use controls and are easy to keep clean and maintained. It really comes down to your personal oxygen needs and priorities.
The G4 delivers up to 3 LPM while the G3 delivers up to 5 LPM, so if you need a higher does the G3 is an obvious shoo-in. The G3 is a bit bigger and heavier (though still very portable), but in return for the extra weight, it offers a longer battery life.
If battery life is a particular concern for you, the G3 might be exactly what you need. On the other hand, the G4 offers decent enough battery life, packaged in an exceptionally small and light unit, so if ease of portability is a big deal to you, the G4 might just be your ideal concentrator.
What Is A Portable Oxygen Concentrator?
A portable oxygen concentrator is a small machine designed to be carried with a strap or bag. It provides users oxygen the boost the same way traditional oxygen tanks do, except it’s easier to use, much less bulky, and safer, too.
Portable oxygen concentrators are specifically designed for use when out and about. Many of them are also FAA-approved for use on aircraft.
How Does Portable Oxygen Work?
The portable concentrator draws in air and purifies it to have a much higher oxygen concentration. It does this by passing the air through a compressor and to a sieve bed. The air we breathe is normally around 21% oxygen, while the air from a compressor is around 95% oxygen.
The purified air passes out of the machine via a tube, to which users can attach an oxygen mask or a nasal cannula.
Portable oxygen concentrators run on batteries, which need to be recharged regularly. Many units offer the option of adding a second battery to extend the length of time the unit can be used before it needs a battery change.
Most units these days are around 10” or under in all dimensions and weigh somewhere between 3 lbs – 8 lbs. That means that for most users they’re easy to take along on most trips out of the house. You’ll find most units run at around 40 decibels, which is quieter than a typical indoor conversation.
Portable oxygen concentrators are ideal for seniors who want to stay active but need oxygen too. There are stationary concentrators available for home use. However, depending on your needs, you might find a unit that you can use both indoors and outdoors is ideal.
Who Uses Portable Oxygen?
Portable oxygen is for people of any age whose blood oxygen levels are too low. This is commonly due to a lung condition such as COPD, sleep apnea, or asthma. It can also be due to a heart condition, or because of an illness. People sometimes use portable oxygen when recovering from, or waiting for, surgery.
Some seniors use oxygen at specific times, such as overnight, or when exerting themselves. Others use it 24/7.
How Do I Know If I Need A Portable Oxygen Concentrator?
If you or your loved one needs oxygen therapy, your doctor will tell you. Oxygen needs to be prescribed by a doctor.
Where Do I Get One?
One of the easiest ways to get a portable oxygen concentrator is through an online seller such as Sprylyfe or Oxygen Concentrator Store.
A reputable seller will do the following:
- Ask about your prescription to make sure you’re getting the right oxygen machine for you
- Offer a warranty on each machine sold
- Have knowledgeable staff on hand to talk to you about your needs and help you choose the right machine for you
You’ll also find some stores offer:
- A demonstration or trial so you can see the machine for yourself
- Financing options to spread the cost (always read the small print)
Most models retail in the $2300 – $2500 range, though you’ll find a few above and below that.
How Do I Know What To Look For?
When your doctor prescribes oxygen therapy, they’ll tell you two important things:
- Your required dosage in liters per minute (LPM)
- Whether you need pulse or continuous flow
A pulse flow machine releases oxygen in puffs, usually triggered by an inhalation. A continuous flow unit released oxygen steadily. Which one you need is determined by your condition, how much oxygen you need, and when you need it delivered.
If you use a CPAP and you need oxygen overnight, you will need a continuous flow machine.
Anything Else I Should Be Aware Of Before Purchase?
Your flow type and LPM are the most important things to know. It’s also useful to find out:
- The size and weight of the machine so you know you can transport it easily
- How long it lasts on each battery charge
- Whether the batteries can be charged while in place or even while in the car
- Whether you can add an extra battery or a bigger battery for longer use
- What kind of warranty you get and how long it lasts
- The noise level if you’re particularly concerned about that
You’ll need to buy some accessories too: A spare battery (or more) and a spare cannula and tubing. Some models come with a carrying case or strap, but if they don’t, you’ll need those too. It’s a good idea to check with each store about whether they offer any kind of bundle deals on accessories as they can offer significant savings over buying each item individually.