Oxygen Concentrator Guide

This guide should help answer any questions that you might have before you decide to purchase an oxygen concentrator.

Q. Will Medicaire cover the cost of portable or home concentrators?
A. No, Medicare will not purchase a portable oxygen concentrator. They provide only a monthly rental benefit for oxygen equipment. No, Medicare will not cover a portable oxygen concentrator in addition to the oxygen tanks you most likely already receive.

Q. Will the Veterans Administration (VA) cover the cost of portable or home concentrators?
A. Home oxygen services will be provided as medically needed to all eligible beneficiaries accepted for care within the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). (1) Oxygen is provided in a large cylinder under a compressed gas system. For those who require portability, a small tank with a cart is provided. Contact your local office for eligibility. Click here to visit the VA Website

Q. Can Oxygen Concentrators be harmful?
A. Despite what you may have heard, oxygen itself is non-flammable and will not explode entirely on its own. Now, if your oxygen comes into close contact with a fire, even a very small fire such as a candle, it can quickly help fuel the fire and cause it to get out of control.

Stay at least 5 feet away from heat or open flames while you are using your oxygen, that includes people who are smoking or using a gas operated stove. It's generally a bad idea to be around smokers, anyway. Put up a sign by the entrances of your home to warn people that you are using oxygen therapy.

Stay away from flammable chemicals while you are using an oxygen concentrator. Store your machine in an open room with plenty of ventilation and make sure it is completely off and unplugged while you aren't using it. Keep any oxygen tanks in an open room and without anything on top of them or crowding them.

A reoccurring question from many is if your oxygen concentrator is turned off, is it still dangerous? The answer is NO. It is no longer making high purity oxygen and no longer will be a fire hazard.

Q. Why are Oxygen Concentrators so noisy?
A. All Oxygen Concentrators do emit a certain range of noise measured in decibels. As technology has progressed oxygen concentrators have started to become much quieter. The sound levels range from 31 to 60 decibel. That is the equivalent of a quiet library to conversation.

Q. Why are Oxygen Concentrators so expensive?
A. Reconditioned Oxygen Concentrators can be purchased for an average price of $450 including shipping and a comprehensive warranty. With an electrical usage cost of about $15 per month, and a lifespan of around 60 months, operational costs averages out to be actually very affordable at just under $1 per day.

Q. Why are Portable Oxygen Concentrators so expensive?
A. For people who need long-term oxygen therapy, the daily cost of solutions like a quality reconditioned Portable Oxygen Concentrato is much lower in comparison to other options such as Oxygen Bars, Oxygen Tanks, or cans of Oxygen. At less than $2 a day for a Portable Concentrator, the annual cost of an equally portable solution to breathing difficulties averages at around $700. Many of the millions of Americans who have COPD need to receive at least 15 hours of oxygen therapy each day, the use of which can dramatically improve their quality of life.

Q. Which are the best Oxygen Concentrators?
A. The top rated Oxygen Concentrators for 2017 are the Respironics EverFlo 5LPM which is the lightest at only 31 pounds. Another top rated Oxygen Concentrator is the Invacare Perfecto 5LPM which is a very durable and long lasting machine. The best 10LPM Oxygen Concentrator is the Invacare Platinum 10LPM. At a robust 54 pounds, this machine is designed to run and last a very long time. Typical life span is around 15,000 hours or more of use!

Q. Where should I buy a used Oxygen Concentrator?
A. I would not buy a used Oxygen Concentrator from just anyone. You do not know if the machine is working properly. If the machine turns on and runs, that does NOT mean it is putting out the proper purity that you body needs! I would buy one from an established, reputable company with certified technicians. This way you know the machine has been properly serviced and works at or above manufacturers specifications. It should also come with a warranty to cover the costly repairs if the machine were to malfunction. Sometimes we are asked where to donate an Oxygen Concentrator? PAY IT FORWARD! If you can box up your machine, we will have it picked up at your home free of charge with FedEx. They will even provide the shipping label. If it is a current model, or an older model, we will take a donation and recondition it, and set these units aside for certain cases for an individual that will need Oxygen but may not be able to afford one. We will donate it to them for free. Same applies if you have a unit to sell. If you are selling something we are interested in, we will agree on a price, have it picked up at your home and we will mail you a check once it arrives to our facility!

Q. Can I rent an Oxygen Concentrator?
A. You can from some places locally or even online. Our customers experiences told to us are that renting generally is a big hassle. Most of the time you have to pay full price for the machine and all the extra accessories. When you return the unit, the proper credit should be refunded. The biggest issue being "Will you even be able to get one?" as wait lists are generally pretty long, and there is not enough supply to go around. They you have to pay exorbitant rental fees on even things like extra batteries. We have even heard of some customers being denied a portion of their refund due to made up "cosmetic damage" or "smoke smell". Our customers decide to just purchase their own machines and bypass all the drama.

Q. Where should I buy a used Portable Oxygen Concentrator?
A. I would not buy a used Portable Oxygen Concentrator from just anyone. You do not know if the machine is working properly. If the machine turns on and runs, that does NOT mean it is putting out the proper purity that you body needs! I would buy one from an established, reputable company with certified technicians. This way you know the machine has been properly serviced and works at or above manufacturers specifications. It should also come with a warranty to cover the costly repairs if the machine were to malfunction.

Q. What are Oxygen Concentrators?
A. An oxygen concentrator (also sometimes called “oxygen generator”) is a medical device used to deliver oxygen to those who require it. It brings in ambient air from the room it is placed, compresses the oxygen in a filter called a Sieve Bed. The Sieve Bed essentially holds on to the Nitrogen in the air, and passes the Oxygen to the patient. The Nitrogen will be released back into the room. The air supply will never run out as long as the machine has a reliable power source.

Q. What are Portable Oxygen Concentrators?
A. A portable oxygen concentrator is a medical device used to deliver oxygen to those who require it. It brings in ambient air from the room it is placed, compresses the oxygen in a filter called a Sieve Bed. The Sieve Bed essentially holds on to the Nitrogen in the air, and passes the Oxygen to the patient. The Nitrogen will be released back into the room. The air supply will never run out as long as the machine has a reliable power source, either by plugging it into the wall or using the supplied battery.

Q. How does an Oxygen Concentrator work?
A. An Oxygen Concentrator is an electrical piece of equipment. You plug it in to the wall outlet of your home. Make sure it has at least 6 inches of room all around it to allow ample air flow. When you turn the machine on, it will bring in air from the room around it. First, the air passes through a couple of filters to clean the air before it enters the compressor. Once inside, the compressor will pump the air into a pair of Sieve Beds. Once the Sieve Beds are pressurized, the material inside called Zeolite will cling on to the Nitrogen, and pass on the Oxygen and other trace gasses to the patient. Every ten to twelve seconds, the internal Valves will switch the air from one Sieve Bed to the other. This produces a rhythmic "breathing" sound from your Oxygen Concentrator, and is normal. During the breathing of your Oxygen Concentrator, the Nitrogen that was in the Sieve Bed is released back in to the rooms atmosphere. Oxygen Concentrators are designed to run 24 hours a day, seven days a week if needed. Oxygen Concentrators do work at high altitude, but at a decreased purity, since there is less atmosphere to process. Even though they may work at a slightly less purity, they are still widely used to help combat altitude sickness and altitude headaches. You can even rent them in mountain ranges while skiing in places like Breckenridge, CO.

Q. What airlines allow Oxygen Concentrators?
A. Most major airlines allow the use of Oxygen Concentrators while in flight. It is always the best idea to call ahead and prescreen for any questions or concerns before your flight. The airline may also require you to bring certain documentation to make your screening process quick and easy.

Q. How long do Oxygen Concentrators Last?
A. Oxygen Concentrator life span is based off many factors. Variables like temperature, relative humidity, cleanliness of the room it is in, and how often it is used. We have seen that older and heavier machines tend to last longer, typically around 15,000 to 20,000 hours of use before the machine would need to be rebuilt again. Newer, lighter machines, while still reliable, last around about 8,000 to 10,000 hours. Most of the time the parts are smaller and tend to wear out quicker.

Q. How long do Portable Oxygen Concentrators last?
A. Portable Oxygen Concentrator life span is based off many factors. Variables like temperature, relative humidity, cleanliness of the room it is in, and how often it is used. Typical life span appears to be around 1,500 to 2,000 hours of use. Since most people typically use their POC seldomly, they can last several years before needing much repair.

Q. How noisy are Oxygen Concentrators?
A. All Oxygen Concentrators do emit a certain range of noise measured in decibels. As technology has progressed oxygen concentrators have started to become much quieter. The sound levels range from 31 to 60 decibel. That is the equivalent of a quiet library to conversation.

Q. How to use an Oxygen Concentrator?
A. Using an Oxygen Concentrator is very easy, following this guide.

  • Care for the air inlet filter: Wash it in soapy water when it becomes dirty. Rinse it clean, and pat it dry before reinstalling it in the oxygen concentrator.
  • Check the alarm: If your oxygen concentrator has this feature, make sure it’s in working order. If the buzzer does not sound when you push your power switch, call your oxygen provider for assistance.
  • Set the flow meter: Your health-care provider should show you how to set your prescribed flow for your needs.
  • Check the humidifier: Refill the bottle with distilled water when it runs low, which might be once or more per day.
  • Use your oxygen concentrator: Hook up the tube, plug in the concentrator, press the power button and put on the breathing device to begin receiving oxygen.

Q. How to use a Portable Oxygen Concentrator?
A. Using a Portable Oxygen Concentrator is very easy, following this guide.

  • Care for the air inlet filter: Wash it in soapy water when it becomes dirty. Rinse it clean, and pat it dry before reinstalling it in the oxygen concentrator.
  • Check the alarm: If your oxygen concentrator has this feature, make sure it’s in working order. If the buzzer does not sound when you push your power switch, call your oxygen provider for assistance.
  • Set the flow meter: Your health-care provider should show you how to set your prescribed flow for your needs.
  • Check the battery: It is always a good idea to have your Portable Oxygen Concentrator plugged in to charge while not in use. This ensures you will have ample battery life when it is needed!
  • Use your oxygen concentrator: Hook up the tube, plug in the concentrator, press the power button and put on the breathing device to begin receiving oxygen.

Q. How safe is an Oxygen Concentrator
A. Despite what you may have heard, oxygen itself is non-flammable and will not explode entirely on its own. Now, if your oxygen comes into close contact with a fire, even a very small fire such as a candle, it can quickly help fuel the fire and cause it to get out of control.

Q. Are Oxygen Concentrators Flammable?
A. Despite what you may have heard, oxygen itself is non-flammable and will not explode entirely on its own. Now, if your oxygen comes into close contact with a fire, even a very small fire such as a candle, it can quickly help fuel the fire and cause it to get out of control.

Q. Are Oxygen Concentrators covered by Medicare
A. Yes, your Medicare oxygen benefit covers the cost of portable oxygen. However, the portable oxygen benefit can be satisfied with small liquid tanks, larger gaseous tanks, or a portable oxygen concentrator. Regardless of the equipment provided, Medicare pays the same amount of money each month to the homecare.

Q. Are Oxygen Concentrators allowed on Airplanes?
A. A. Most major airlines allow the use of Oxygen Concentrators while in flight. It is always the best idea to call ahead and prescreen for any questions or concerns before your flight. The airline may also require you to bring certain documentation to make your screening process quick and easy.

Q. Are Oxygen Concentrators Dangerous?
A. Despite what you may have heard, oxygen itself is non-flammable and will not explode entirely on its own. Now, if your oxygen comes into close contact with a fire, even a very small fire such as a candle, it can quickly help fuel the fire and cause it to get out of control.

Q. Are Oxygen Concentrators Noisy?
A. All Oxygen Concentrators do emit a certain range of noise measured in decibels. As technology has progressed oxygen concentrators have started to become much quieter. The sound levels range from 31 to 60 decibel. That is the equivalent of a quiet library to conversation.

Q. Are Oxygen Concentrators allowed in Hotels?
A. Yes, hotels generally allow you to bring your Oxygen Concentrator with you. It is a medical necessity and they cannot deny service due to your needs for it. Call in advance and let them know you will bring it. They may choose to move your room to a quieter section of the hotel so the sound of the concentrator running may not disturb other patrons.

Q. Are Portable Oxygen Concentrators tax deductible?
A. If you need an oxygen concentrator, bottled oxygen, or Cpap machine to treat a medical condition, then yes, that expense is deductible as a medical expense. Medical expenses are only deductible if you itemize deductions, and are only deductible in the year paid.

Q. Are there quiet oxygen concentrators?
A. Yes! There are some models of Oxygen Concentrator, namely the Invacare Perfecto W, and the Respironics EverFlo Q that are the quietest of the quiet. They generally include a better exhaust muffler as well as additional interior noise cancelling foam. The generally run at about the same noise level as your home refrigerator.

Q. Do you need a prescription for Oxygen?
A. Like other medications, supplemental oxygen is a medical treatment and treatment is specific to the user1. Your doctor may prescribe an oxygen flow rate, as well as the length of time you should use the oxygen each day. 

Your doctor will provide you with a description. In order to be valid, your prescription should include the following:

  • Specifics regarding the duration of oxygen use and flow.
  • Defined delivery device, often a nasal cannula or oxygen mask.
  • Defined oxygen source ie: Oxygen Concentrator or Oxygen Tank
  • Medical Coding necessary for insurance billing
  • Documentation to support medical guidelines
  • Information for your oxygen provider, including which equipment and oxygen services need to be delivered to your home, and their frequency
Q. What are side effects of being on Oxygen?
A. Even though it is considered safe, some patients may still experience some side effects of oxygen therapy. An experienced medical professional must always administer the treatment.

These are some of the side effects of oxygen therapy:

  • Bloody nose or skin irritation where oxygen is administered
  • Morning headaches
  • Fatigue
While not a medical side effect, oxygen therapy poses a fire risk. Oxygen is not explosive, but it can intensify a fire. It’s important to follow all safety precautions outlined by the medical device manufacturer. 
Q. How long will Medicare pay for Oxygen?
A. You pay 20% of the Medicare approved amount, and the Part B deductible applies.

If you have Medicare and use oxygen, you’ll rent oxygen equipment from a supplier for 36 months. After 36 months, your supplier must continue to provide oxygen equipment and related supplies for an additional 24 months. Your supplier must provide equipment and supplies for up to a total of 5 years, as long as you have a medical need for oxygen.

The monthly rental payments to the supplier cover not only your oxygen equipment, but also any supplies and accessories like:

  • Tubing or a mouthpiece
  • Oxygen contents
  • Maintenance
  • Servicing
  • Repairs
Q. How much does it cost to buy an oxygen tank?
A. Buying a large metal oxygen tank can be costly in the end. While the cylinder itself may only cost up to $300 depending on size, the cost to refill it when needed will be anywhere from $25 to $40 per fill, and can be a burden depending on how  many times you end up filling it.

 

Q. Can you die from too much oxygen?

A. Please consult with your Doctor on this question. Every patients needs and bodies are different.

Q. How to fill an Oxygen Tank with an Oxygen Concentrator?
A. There are a few ways to achieve this. You will need an Oxygen Concentrator such as the Invacare Platinum or Invacare Perfecto as they are "Home Fill Compatible". You would then need to purchase the aforementioned HomeFill Compressor, and appropriate HomeFill Oxygen Tanks. The Oxygen Concentrator will supply a small amount of high purity Oxygen to the Compressor, and the Compressor slow squeezes it into the Oxygen Tank that you would plug into the Compressor. Another brand that will accomplish the same result would be the Respironics Ultrafill System. Both systems are designed to be very easy to use in the patients home. The Invacare system has been known to be adapted to fill ANY size oxygen tank, provided you have the correct adapters. Fill times obviously will vary depending on tank size. A large K tank for welding can take up to 36 hours to fill in this fashion.
Q. How much does it cost to run an Oxygen Concentrator? How much power do they use?
A. Standard 5LPM Oxygen Concentrators typically use between 350-450 watts, while a larger 10LPM Oxygen Concentrator can use around 600 watts, and an average of about 6 amps. On average, an Oxygen Concentrator will cost about $1.90 to operate for 24 hours. This equates to about $700 per year.

 

Q. What is a humidifier Bottle? How do I use it?
A. Generally, the oxygen coming out of an Oxygen Concentrator will be very dry. This is a normal side effect of the air passing through the Sieve Beds inside of the Oxygen Concentrator. If your nose or throat feel itchy or sore when using an Oxygen Concentrator, you may need to add humidification to the air. Humidifier Bottles are an accessory that will work with any concentrator. Depending on the model of machine that you have, the bottle will either screw directly on to the Oxygen Concentrator or you may need a tubing adapter to hook it up. The concentrator will pump air through the water in the bottle, and the air will become humidified right before you breathe it. This will soothe any dryness you may experience. Please note it is advised that you use only Distilled water, and NOT tap water.
Q. What are Sieve Beds?
A. Sieve Beds are one of many components found inside of an Oxygen Concentrator. They specifically contain a sand-like material called Zeolite. When operating properly, the Zeolite material will cling on to the Nitrogen that passes through it, and will pass the Oxygen and trace gasses to the patient. As Zeolite ages, it will lose its ability to hold on to Nitrogen, and will typically start to put out lower purity. Most sieve beds can be "repoured" which is a process where you replace the Zeolite inside of them. This should only be performed by trained technicians with approved Zeolite. Sieve Bed repour cost for home concentrators varies between $85 and $150 depending on make and model of your machine.
Q. Why is there water in my cannula or oxygen tubing?
A. There are a few reasons you can get some pretty annoying water droplets in your oxygen line.

A few reasons could be:

  • Humidifier Bottle is overfilled
  • Oxygen Concentrator is tipped forward
  • Oxygen Concentrator flow meter is turned too high
  • Humidifier Bottle is tipped forward
  • Temperature in room is colder than Oxygen from Oxygen Concentrator
  • Humidifier Bottle has failed

Here are a few possible remedies to rid yourself of the excess water. First, make sure that the water level in the humidifier bottle is between the minimum and maximum lines as discussed above. Second, make sure that your Oxygen Concentrator is sitting nice and level, and not partially on carpet, and partially on a wooden floor. If the Oxygen Concentrator were tipped forward, the water could possibly pour through the outlet of the humidifier bottle and into your tubing. The same inspection should be done for your humidifier bottle. Make sure it is sitting nice and level, and strapped into the humidifier bottle holder that is built into your oxygen concentrator. Also make sure that the flow meter on your Oxygen Concentrator is not turned up too high. If you happen to be forcing too much Oxygen through your humidifier bottle, this could cause small droplets of water into your oxygen tubing. Another possibility is that your humidifier bottle has failed and need to be replaced. Keep in mind that a humidifier bottle is considered a disposable supply and are recommended to be replaced once a month. They are pretty affordable at around five dollars per bottle.

Q. How much Oxygen is in the atmosphere/ambient air?
A. There is about 21% Oxygen and about 78% nitrogen. The small remainder is comprised of trace gases.
Q. What tubing will fit my Oxygen Concentrator? How often should I change it?
A. Any Oxygen Tubing! The good news is that all Oxygen Tubing, and connectors are all made to one standardized size! This means that any tubing will fit on any machine! Make sure to change it at least once a month!
Q. Can I check an Oxygen Concentrator on an airplane?
A. Absolutely! While home Oxygen Concentrators are not able to be used on a plane, you can generally check them on as a piece of luggage as long as they are adequately packed in a box. However, most ALL portable Oxygen Concentrators produced currently are able to be used on a plane while flying! Please check our Blog about this very topic Here
Q. Can I use a home Oxygen Concentrator in a car?
A. Yes! Way before Portable concentrators were made, it was very common for people to use a home concentrator in their car or truck! The key is the proper inverter. It is imperative that you find how many watts your concentrator uses. Multiply that by 2.5x and that is the "peak power" that your inverter must have to properly power your concentrator. Also, you will NOT be able to plug the inverter into your cigarette lighter. The wiring is too small. You will absolutely have to install the inverter professionally at an auto mechanic or camper/RV shop. They will wire the inverter directly to the battery.
Q. Why is my Oxygen Concentrator alarming or beeping?
A. Oxygen Concentrators have a number of built in alarms and safety features. Some machines have extra sensors at an added cost. Lets discuss what might make your Oxygen Concentrator beep:
  1. Flow Meter set too high or too low
  2. Tubing is Kinked
  3. Oxygen tubing is too long
  4. Filter is clogged
  5. Oxygen Purity is too low
  6. Internal component failure

When setting your flow meter, do it with all oxygen tubing disconnected. Make sure that the floating ball is set to the Liter Per Minute LPM setting prescribed to you. Never set the ball higher than the maximum number, or lower than the minimum number on your flow meter. Make sure that your Oxygen tubing is not kinked and the oxygen outlet is not blocked. If the oxygen cannot come out of the concentrator, it will alarm. Also make sure your filters are clean, and allow ample airflow to enter the concentrator. Make sure you are not using more than 60 feet of total oxygen tubing and cannulas/masks. Too much can cause the machine to alarm due to excessive backpressure. If you have checked all of these items and the machine is still alarming, it is possible that an internal component of the machine has failed, and will need to be sent to us for repair evaluation.

Q. What Service/Maintenance does my Oxygen Concentrator need?
A. If equipped, the foam Cabinet Filter on your Oxygen Concentrator should be rinsed in your sink every week. Let it air dry before placing back in the Oxygen Concentrator. The HEPA filters inside the machine should be discarded and replaced once a year. The bubble humidifier should be washed daily using a mild detergent and hot water. Tubing, Cannulas, etc are not to be cleaned. Simply dispose of and replace as needed.
Q. What is the Oxygen Concentration Purity at altitude?
A. Due to less atmosphere for the concentrator to process, the purity from an Oxygen Concentrator will be less than a machine operated at Sea Level. For instance, at Sea Level a properly operating concentrator will put out about 92-95% purity. At high elevations over 10,000 feet, purity will drop to 88-92% which is still within the parameters to be considered medical grade.
Q. Will high purity Oxygen help with Oxygen Sickness?
A. Absolutely! On order of your Doctor, using high purity oxygen will help many symptoms of Altitude Sickness like shortness of breath, dizziness, headaches and nausea. If traveling to a high altitude destination like ski resorts in Colorado, you may even find companies that do nightly rentals of Oxygen Concentrators specifically for this purpose.
Q. How do I hook my Oxygen Concentrator to my CPAP or BiPAP?
A. Easy enough! You will need a piece listed on our website called a Blend Adapter
This piece fits on your CPAP or BiPAP machine on one side, and your hose fits on to the other side of the adapter. Your oxygen tubing will hook up to the male adapter on the fitting. As you breathe, you will also get Oxygen provided by your Concentrator!
Q. How do I hook my Oxygen Concentrator to my Glassworking Torch?
A. Pretty easy. Follow these basic steps. Each setup may vary a little.
  1. Screw your Oxygen hose to your Concentrator, and Torch
  2. Open Oxygen valve on torch 100%, close fuel valve on torch 100%
  3. Turn on Oxygen Concentrator to highest number on the flow meter
  4. Let it run 10 minutes to warm up
  5. Quickly turn off Oxygen valve on torch, open fuel valve on torch and light it
  6. Open Oxygen valve until you get the desired flame
  7. Note that concentrator flowmeter will no longer be at the top. This is normal. You are now controlling the concentrator with your torch. This ensures that you will never run the concentrator higher than what it was designed for, which will help the concentrator last longer, with  better purity.
Q. Can I smoke around my Oxygen Concentrator?
A. NO! This is extremely dangerous, and how you can start a very fast moving and power fire inside your house. DO NOT SMOKE while using your Oxygen Concentrator. Besides, Smoking is pretty bad for you anyway.

Subscribe