The air we breathe is 79% nitrogen and 21% oxygen. An oxygen concentrator takes the air from the room and converts that air into 95% pure oxygen.
There are two types of portable oxygen concentrators: Continuous flow and pulse dose, or intermittent flow. These two types of oxygen systems have very different benefits and limitations. Understanding each machine will help you to determine which portable oxygen concentrator is the best solution for you.
Continuous Flow Portable Oxygen Concentrators (view products)
Continuous Flow Portable Oxygen Concentrators are the most similar to a home unit. These POCs are able to produce up to 3 liters per minute of oxygen delivered continuously.
Continuous flow POCs are able to deliver up to the equivalent of 3,000 mL of oxygen per minute, ans can handle a wider range of oxygen demands than a pulse dose model. If you require anywhere from 2 to 5 liters per minute of oxygen, a continuous flow portable oxygen concentrator is probably the best choice for you.
Continuous flow POCs are generally bigger than other POCs on the market. The typical weight of one of these POCs is up to 18 pounds not including additional accessories. These often require the use of a cart to transport them. While a continuous flow POC is indeed portable, it is less portable than many of the pulse dose varieties available on the market today.
Pulse Dose Portable Oxygen Concentrators (view products)Pulse dose portable oxygen concentrators deliver oxygen deliver oxygen only when the patient inhales, rather than continuously. Most pulse dose POCs are able to deliver anywhere from 450 mL per minute to 1250 mL per minute. They are typically recommended for low oxygen requirement patients who require up to 2 LPM of oxygen.
These units most often run on AC, DC and battery power. Battery life is often advertised for use at the lowest setting, so consider how much battery life you'll have when used at the oxygen output setting you require. Pulse dose portable oxygen concentrators have a different range than continuous flow devices, but are more portable. Some of the newest pulse dose POCs weighing as little as four pounds. Because of their small physical size and low weight, pulse dose POCs are easily wearable and often come with shoulder straps or a backpack for ease of portability.
How Do You Make an Educated Decision?
Find out your oxygen requirements for rest, activity and sleep, and share these with your doctor. They can assist you in finding a product that can meet these needs.
All POC manufacturers provide delivery specifications; but if the POC delivers a lower volume than what you need it will not be able to meet your needs. Also consider that you do not want to buy a POC that will only be useful as long as your lung condition does not change.