How Does Oxygen Concentration Work?
The air you breathe in is a mixture of gases, mainly nitrogen (78-79%), oxygen (20-21%), and other gases like argon and carbon dioxide. The precise mix of gases depends on your environment, how high up you live, where you live (town and country), and airflow.
Oxygen concentration takes ordinary room air and removes as much of the nitrogen as possible to produce a filtered, purified air that is as much as 95% oxygen. The home oxygen concentrator is a neat, compact device that creates medical-grade oxygen-rich air.
Oxygen Concentration Process
The Home Oxygen Concentrator (HOC) houses filters, a compressor motor, molecular sieves, and a reservoir tank. A circuit board controls the whole process, and four-way valves direct the gases through the machine.
1. Incoming air is dirty – dust, pollen, pet hair, bacteria, and other particles. The incoming air passes through two filters to clean it up. The first filter removes the bigger particles, and the second HEPA filter takes out the finer allergens.
2. The air is pushed into the molecular sieves (cylinders filled with zeolite crystals) and compressed. As the air flows through the zeolite, it traps the nitrogen molecules, and the oxygen goes into a small reservoir tank. The nitrogen is released back into the room, and the process begins again. It takes about 12 seconds, and it sounds like breathing.
3. Before you breathe the oxygen, it passes through a final inline bacteria filter to purify it, so you get clean, fresh, oxygen-rich therapy air.
How Do You Choose a Home Oxygen Concentrator?
A Home Oxygen Concentrator (HOC) is a medical device that you use at home, some work 24/7. It operates from a mains outlet; some have a battery back-up in case of power cuts. If you need a HOC, it is a vital piece of kit, and you want one that suits your budget, lifestyle and gives you all the features you need.
1. Prescription Dose
Primarily you need a HOC that delivers your prescription does of oxygen now and in the future. Before setting out to get a home oxygen concentrator, talk to your physician to make sure you get a home oxygen concentrator that delivers for current and future needs.
The HOC delivers a continuous flow of oxygen in liters per minute (LPM). A machine with an output of 5LPM needs less energy than one providing 10LPM. But if you are going to progress to a higher LPM a year down the road, you don’t want to be buying a new home oxygen concentrator.
You need an oxygen concentrator that delivers the right level of oxygen for your needs.
The HOC has an upfront cost, running cost, and regular maintenance cost. It makes sense to get the most affordable and energy-efficient machine that delivers the therapy you need with all the features to make your life easier.
Most people have a budget, and knowing your budget helps you select a home oxygen concentrator that is affordable for you, but still delivers everything you need.
A home oxygen concentrator is not portable -but you may want to move it around your home. Most models have wheels or accessories like a cart to help you move it between rooms.
Your choice of HOC needs to take your lifestyle into account, especially if you need to use it all day and night. Essential factors are weight, bulk, does it blend into your décor, and how much space does it take up. Some people prefer not to advertise their oxygen therapy or are space limited by living in a small apartment. There’s plenty of choices so you will find a home oxygen concentrator that suits your lifestyle.
When you get your HOC, you are going to need to study the instructions so you know how to set up and monitor it. New developments mean new features and more control, but from your viewpoint, you want a panel that is easy to understand and straightforward warning systems. No one needs a light flashing or an alarm sounding if it is not apparent what you need to do in response.
5. Quiet Running
The noise level varies between devices, typically 40-60dB. People’s tolerance for noise varies, so how important this feature is to you is a personal preference. It’s not like you have roadworks going on in your bedroom overnight. As the gases come in and go out, the noise resembles breathing, and many people find that soft noise is reassuring – it tells them everything is running correctly.
Some home oxygen concentrators are quieter than others.
Manufacturers offer different warranties – the industry standard is three years for the device and less for accessories. You expect the HOC run for many years past the warranty, but in case you end up with an issue, it is helpful to have the warranty in place as a safety net. You are going to invest a decent amount in oxygen therapy, and you want the reassurance of prompt action.
7. Extra Features
Everyone likes to get a bit extra, and some of the features that are a plus are:
· Battery back-up option – when you rely on oxygen therapy, a power cut is an issue; the ability to use battery power for a short period is useful.
· Humidifier – cool, dry air can irritate your nasal tissues; adding moisture makes this less of an issue.
· Accessories – some accessories like nasal cannulas and face masks fit different machines equally well. Others, like a carrying case or cart, may be device-specific.
The first filter that traps the big particles may be washable. Others need regular replacement. The tubing and facemask need regular cleaning. If you need 24/7 oxygen therapy, you need a spare set of accessories so you can clean and dry one set while another is in use.
The maintenance cost is a small factor in the overall decision of which oxygen concentrator for home use to buy, but it is worth checking out filter and accessory availability and price. Plus, you need to know the arrangement for servicing the machine. Do you need to send it away, or is it maintained locally?
Maintenance and servicing may impact on your running costs and need special arrangements to be in place.
Buying a Home Oxygen Concentrator
1. The first step in buying a oxygen concentrator for home is to check your prescription and to have a chat with your physician and your provider. The prescription, with its recommended LPM dosage, tells you what range of HOC meets your needs. Most people fall into the 2-5LPM range, but you may need a higher dosage either permanently or during exercise.
2. Next, you decide on your “must-have” and desirable features. It helps if you can have a look at some display models and perhaps have a demonstration of how the display panel works. Your home oxygen concentrator is going to play a significant role in enabling a high quality of life with more energy. It’s worth the effort to make the right decision for you.
3. Finally, you need to check the affordability and finance methods. There are a few stages and people to consult. You need to check with your insurer what they are going to cover and what paperwork they need from you. You need to talk to your provider about the models they stock and support.
4. Your DME provider can provide you with help and advice for the best model for you because they have experience of dealing with other people who face the same issues. You can also get a competitive quote on a number o different models to help with the decision making.
Top Benefits of a Home Oxygen Concentrator:
Compared with the old oxygen tank model of oxygen therapy, and the lighter portable oxygen concentrator (POC), a reliable oxygen concentrator for home use has many plus points.
1. No Tanks
Oxygen tanks need regular refilling and are a pressurized gas tank with health and safety concerns. There is the risk that you can run out of oxygen because you get a limited supply at any time – interruption to delivery gives you have an issue.
A home oxygen concentrator creates oxygen on demand and is safer to store and use. It is straightforward to wheel the oxygen concentrator into a different room, and it fits neatly into most spaces.
2. Mains Power
The Home Oxygen Concentrator plugs into an electrical outlet, and you don’t need to worry about having expensive batteries, recharging issues, or running out of power in the middle of the night.
POC’s have their uses in portability, but a oxygen concentrator for home use gives you a consistent, reliable flow of oxygen with less energy cost.
3. Continuous Flow
Pulse flow and intermittent flow benefit some people but are mainly for battery saving convenience. A continuous flow helps if you need a higher dosage or if you are an occasional mouth breather.
A home oxygen concentrator gives years of use and comes in a neat, compact, robust case. It is easy to keep clean and move from room to room for flexible living.
The settings and maintenance are straightforward to understand and operate. It is not complicated for you to stay in control of your oxygen therapy treatment. You benefit from increased oxygen in your blood, keeping you mentally and physically active.