The medical and technical marvels of the world today would lead us to believe that there would be a far better system for oxygen users. But then, like a cure for disease, it would sure cut into profits.
I did a lot of research on the varied models. These smaller versions weigh around 4 to 6 pounds and generally come with a nice case, shoulder strap and some with a back pack. From what I could find, all of these were only “pulse” oxygen. Meaning, anyone that needs continuous flow would find it very restricting to try and use a pulse model for anything other than emergency.
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Also an issue among these small portables – they all require a large battery and electricity. Thankfully they do come with car adaptors so you can travel and keep a constant charge. The batteries are frightfully expensive and from review reading it seems they don’t always last long, especially if you do not use them on a regular basis.
If your going into a store shopping, out to dinner or anywhere else without access to electricity, beware, the battery life on some is very low. It depends on the model and also the liter number. The higher the number the shorter the battery life. Lets use 2 liter as an example. One of the most popular selling models will last about 2 hours or less on battery power. You can purchase a larger battery that will last longer for big $$$ but it also makes your machine a few pounds heavier. Another model — that seems to have been discontinued other than their used models — has a battery that will last up to 8 hours on 2 liters. Quite a difference.
How the portables work: They pull air in, compress it, remove the nitrogen and other impurities from the air via filter and sieve beds, then, adjust the delivery setting and deliver the purified oxygen out to the user. All while a cooling mechanism keeps the concentrator from overheating. It’s much the same as the BIG in home machines.
The biggest draw back to some of these portables – is not knowing when they will quit and need to be sent to the factory for maintenance. You have no idea nor will the company give you any idea how long you have until it needs to go in for sieve replacement or other service. It just stops working. I made a point to ask about this with both sales people I talked to. Neither would volunteer an estimation. You might be 100 miles down the road and bang – it stops.
There are one or two that say they have an alert on them to tell you, about 30 days in advance, that your machine will need service. That is something I would think everyone would want. It can be beneficial to do a lot of research and ask a lot of questions before hand.
I know a lady who had it happen. She said it was just like that. Worse yet, she had to send it clear across the country for service. It took over two weeks to get it returned. And mind you. This is only free for the short warranty period. After that you will pay to ship it back and forth and probably for the service and parts. Her particular model was the one I mentioned that was discontinued. She bought it due to the longer battery life but just 6 months in and it quit. That seems a bit ridiculous and probably has a lot to do with why it was discontinued. You can still purchase it as a used machine thou. I imagine the warranty is little to nothing since they know it has issues.
They also make a bigger portable. More in the 10 pound range. A friend had one on a cart. It was a bit heavy to be carrying around in spite of the inspiring photos on the sales page of a man fishing with one on a shoulder strap. Ummm, I don’t think he would be fishing long with 10 pounds of dead weight hanging off him.
Many of these mid range sizes have some perks with higher liter numbers and the option of either pulse or constant flow. With this, one could travel and even use it for night time use. Again thou, the batteries are horribly expensive, don’t last all that long when not plugged in and they also have issue with the batteries going bad much sooner than one would expect.
Another sour note on these portables is that insurance will not pay. You still need a prescription from the doctor to purchase one, but the insurance companies are tied with the “oxygen supply companies.” Oh yes, the oxygen company does have the portables and they might RENT you one under certain circumstances..
One person I know sold many of her things to buy one portable so she did not have the high payments. Another person has two and makes outrageous payments that the average person could never afford. And another friend opts to stick with the “insurance” paid for system of a big in home machine and the little ugly gray canisters. She is very much a home body.
In spite of the many negatives that surround these portables they remain very popular and people will hock their diamond if need be to purchase one because — they are the best option for leaving the house.
These oxygen companies are supposed to be able to accommodate their patients. So what do they offer if you want to take an overnight trip? They told me they can call ahead to the town your going to and if they have a office in that town) they can deliver a BIG machine to wherever your going to stay over night. They can give you several of the ugly little gray canisters to use as you travel or they can rent you one of those portables to travel. I forgot to ask if insurance would pay for any of those things to travel but I highly doubt it. My guess is that would all be out of pocket unless the travel was for medical reasons.
It really is a sad deal all the way around. Your either confined to staying home most of the time or traveling with dubious machines that cost a small fortune and always leave you wondering when they will quit. With the medical and technical marvels of the world today one would think there would be a far better system for oxygen users.
When I use to travel down to visit my Mom before she passed, it was depressing to watch her do things around her house hooked up to that hose which was her lifeline. The tangled mess of a cord was always underfoot and the noise from the big machine was relentless. She was used to it. Also sad to remember her as such a vibrant outdoor person. She loved to garden and do so many things outside. She enjoyed going with her sisters out to lunch and some shopping. All of that was gone from her life.
I hope this 3 part article has been helpful to those who may be qualifying for oxygen. Those already on it.. Well, you have already been there.
Author: Linda Carlson CNC, CWC, retired
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