Eight Things to Consider When Purchasing POCs Online:
You can divide POC’s into three categories: small, medium, and large. The smaller portable oxygen concentrators are the most popular, yet they may lack the functionality of the larger ones. The benefit of the smaller POCs is that they travel well. Anyone can easily move them around and do not take up much space. On the other hand, the large POC’s carry much more oxygen, yet take up more space. The first thing you need to decide about the dimensions of your POC is where it will be placed and how often you will have to move it around.
- Continuous Flow Capacity
As the name implies, portable oxygen concentrators with continuous flow deliver nonstop oxygen based on the settings of the device. Although POC’s with continuous flow are generally larger than those with pulse flow, some prescription medications require the use of POC’s with continuous flow. This is one of the things you will need to clarify with your doctor. Also, some patients require the use of continuous flow concentrators while they are sleeping, so please take the time to consider your individual needs when purchasing POCs online.
- Pulse Flow Capacity
Portable oxygen concentrators with pulse flow capacity deliver oxygen based on your breath rate. That is, each time you take a breath, the pulse flow POC detects your inhalation. In turn, the POC gives you a burst of oxygen. You can think of the pulse flow concentrator as a customizable POC because the amount of oxygen you get is based on the strength of your breath and other factors. Pulse flow POC’s are generally smaller and more sophisticated yet have powerful technologies to deliver the amount of oxygen you need, when you need it. Most of them can run nonstop for twenty-four hours a day (or at least 24/6). Plus, since the unit isn’t running continuously, oxygen is conserved in the tank and lasts longer
- Oxygen Purity Level
Oxygen “purity” refers to how clean oxygen is. This is normally rated as percentage. Patients receiving supplemental oxygen want to use what’s known as “medical grade” oxygen. The standard for medical grade oxygen is between 90-96%. Altitude should be taken into consideration when choosing a POC. Oxygen saturation levels will fluctuate in lower altitude areas. Finally, you may want to invest in a pulse oximeter to ensure that your blood-oxygen levels are consistent with what your respiratory treatment requires. If you have questions about oxygen purity levels, please contact our Customer Support team at (800) 653-6888. We will be glad to connect you with one of staff respiratory therapists.
- Battery Power
Pulse flow and continuous flow options dramatically impact the amount of battery life a POC has, yet the most important thing to consider when shopping for the right portable oxygen concentrator is the amount of time a POC allows you to be mobile. This can vary greatly, yet a general range is anywhere from 2-6 hours. However, you must also take into consideration how long it takes to recharge the batteries of the POC. Some battery packs require overnight charging. Thus, you may want to consider a unit that has a double battery. The rule of thumb is this: the more active the lifestyle, the more battery power you need.
- Noise Level
Traditionally, the portable oxygen concentrator was a bulky, awkward, loud machine. However, as technologies have evolved, POC’s have become quieter. For example, the range of decibel levels of a modern POC is between 38-46 decibels. To put this in perspective, a quiet home measures at around 40 decibels. The sound of a refrigerator running is around 43 decibels. A bird chirping is around 41 decibels—the same as a normal conversation. The main thing to consider is how sensitive your hearing is and if background noises in your home are bothersome or distracting. Thus, if you are hearing impaired, you may want to select a unit that is very quiet. While noise level of the portable oxygen concentrator does not contribute to the efficiency of a particular unit, it is a factor that many consider when shopping for a POC.
- FAA Approval
The Federal Aviation Administration approves each make and model of portable oxygen concentrators for use on board an aircraft. Even if you do not travel very much by plane, we suggest that you purchase units are FAA approved (see Code of Federal Regulations 14 CFR 1.1, 1.2, 121.574, 125.219, and 135.91). Plus, if you fly internationally, you may have to comply with other sets of regulations. Check with your airline as soon as book your flight to make sure you understand all of the procedures.
- Storage Temperature
Most portable oxygen concentrators operate best between 60-70 degrees Fahrenheit. However, when the POC is not use, there are safety precautions you must follow. This is especially true for people who live in warm climates, as stored oxygen is highly flammable. The maximum storage temperature is the temperature that the oxygen can be stored at and still function properly later. This varies with each individual unit. Thus, make sure you have read and understood the storage requirements for your POC. Also, never operate a POC near open flames. There are other factors that you may consider when purchasing a POC, yet we feel these are the most important. Finally, if you have any questions regarding purchasing POCs online, please call our Customer Support team at (800) 653-6888. We have certified respiratory therapists on staff that can assist you.