Oxygen concentrators can cost from $700 for a stationary model, to over $4,000 for portable models. Units that deliver up to 10 liters of oxygen per minute (LPM) are more expensive than those that deliver 5 LPM. Oxygen concentrators can also cost over $300 on average in annual electricity bills.
According to the American Thoracic Society, more than 1.5 million adults in the US depend on supplemental oxygen therapy for survival. With the rising incidence of respiratory disorders, the need for concentrators is rapidly increasing, and before investing in one, it’s important to know the types, costs, and other details of oxygen concentrators.
This article takes you through the various types of oxygen concentrators. We will help you decide which one is suitable for your condition and why. You will then find an average cost chart for each type, along with the cheapest and most expensive concentrators falling in the range.
- Oxygen concentrators cost between $700 and $4,200, with the type (stationary or portable) and flow rate (LPM) the two factors that affect price the most.
- Stationary oxygen concentrators are more affordable than portable oxygen concentrators.
- Oxygen concentrators that can deliver up to 10 liters of oxygen per minute (LPM) are more expensive than units that deliver 5 LPM.
Oxygen Concentrators – Types, Flow rates and Cost
Oxygen concentrators are medical devices used by patients with chronic respiratory conditions, like obstructive pulmonary disease, pneumonia, bronchitis, asthma, Covid-19, etc.
Normal lungs inflate to draw in air. The air and blood then exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide at the alveolar (air sac) level. While the deoxygenated air is expelled out of the lungs, oxygen binds to hemoglobin (a red blood cell protein) and is supplied to all parts of the body for energy and nutrition.
Lung diseases negatively impact our lung’s ability to expand. Breathing issues cause oxygen depletion, which can manifest as severe signs and symptoms, like wheezing, discomfort, abnormal rhythms, shortness of breath, and confusion.
It may also progress to irreversible brain and heart injury.
If oxygen saturation falls below 95%, doctors typically recommend supplemental therapy through inhalers, cylinders, concentrators, etc. While inhalers are usually prescribed for conditions like asthma and emphysema attacks, the cylinders are preferred in more extreme cases.
For mild to moderate diseases, oxygen concentrators are a viable option.
There is not a lot of variation between the different types of oxygen concentrators and the way they work. Oxygen concentrators work through a series of simple steps:
- A compressor draws air inside the system and adjusts its pressure.
- The air passes through zeolite sieve filters. Zeolite is a nitrogen scrubber. It adsorbs nitrogen and other gases present in the air, allowing only oxygen to pass through.
- The oxygen is stored in a cylinder and is periodically supplied to the patient through the tubing and a mask or nasal cannula. The gases separated from the air (by the zeolite filter) are removed from the system.
There are two types of oxygen delivery in concentrators:
- Continuous flow
- Pulse dose.
Continuous flow concentrators release a fixed LPM (liter per minute) of oxygen every minute, whereas the pulse dose machines detect your breathing patterns and adjust the LPM accordingly.
There are two main types of oxygen concentrators, and both types are capable of delivering oxygen as a continuous flow or pulse dose:
1. Stationary Concentrator
Stationary concentrators are large and non-portable devices, generally used only for at-home oxygen therapy.
2. Portable Concentrator
Portable concentrators are small and lightweight, and you can carry them around on your shoulders with a strap. They are battery-operated, and each model has a different runtime.
Stationary and potable concentrators can also come as a humidifier-concentrator combination unit.
Zeolite is a powerful desiccant substance that extracts moisture from the air. This means that the concentrated oxygen is somewhat dehumidified.
The dry air can cause dry mouth and discomfort, which is why doctors might sometimes recommend using an accessory humidifier bottle with the concentrator.
A tube connects the cylinder to the bottle inlet. Concentrated oxygen absorbs mist produced in the humidifier bottle, and a second tube then transmits this humidified oxygen to the mask or nasal cannula.
Oxygen Concentrator Price Range
Portable oxygen concentrators are usually the most expensive type of concentrator, and can even cost double that of a stationary version. However, portable oxygen concentrators come with the clear advantage of being able to be moved easily around the home, and more importantly, outside your home.
Portable oxygen concentrators typically cost between $1,700 and $4,200, but can often be purchased for $1,300 to $2,500 when on sale.
Stationary oxygen concentrators usually sell between $740 and $2,000. The more expensive models are often on sale down to $1,600.
It is important to note that the reason there is such a large price range in both the portable and stationary units is because of the LPM (liters per minute). Some oxygen concentrators are limited to 5 LPM, and are usually the cheaper units, while others can deliver oxygen at 10 LPM and are usually more expensive.
Humidifier bottles are cheap and readily available, and often only cost between $5 and $20.
Here is a breakdown of the types of concentrators available, and an example of a model at the cheap and expensive ends of the scale.
|Concentrator Type||Cheapest Model||Expensive Model|
|Stationary Oxygen Concentrator||3B Medical Stratus 5 Stationary for $740||Philips Millennium M10 for $1,999|
|Portable Oxygen Concentrators||O2 Concepts Oxlife Freedom Portable for $1,700||Devilbiss iGo Portable for $4,200|
|Humidifier Bottle (to be paired with any concentrator)||Westmed 6 LPM Humidifier Bottle for $6||Diydeg Humidifier Bottle for $16|
You can also often get a good deal by buying second-hand concentrators.
Typically, oxygen concentrators run on 120 V. It has been estimated that a typical oxygen concentrator, on average, costs over $300 per year. Having an insurance plan that covers the cost of medical supplies can help big time.
Overall, oxygen concentrators generally do not cost a lot on maintenance. Cleaning the unit regularly and changing the filters and masks when need be is all you need to do to make the unit last longer.
Here’s some simple steps to help you clean and upkeep your concentrator:
- Clean the exterior part with a wet cloth, and then swipe a lint-free cloth on the surface to dry it.
- Refer to your user manual, locate and remove the sieve filter. Dust it with a dry cloth, then rinse it with mild dishwashing soap to remove hardened debris and clogs.
- If the manual does not advise against it, you may also disinfect the filter by immersing it in a vinegar solution (1:1 parts white vinegar and water) for 10 to 15 minutes.
- Check the inlet of the concentrator for any clogs that airborne contaminants might have formed. You can use a handheld vacuum to remove any debris.
- If you use a humidifier bottle, remember to rinse it thoroughly before each use. Don’t forget to change the water at least every two days. Ensure to only use clean, distilled water, as impurities and minerals in hard /unfiltered tap water form scales that enable microbial growth.
Also, dispose of the humidifier bottle regularly.
- Once everything’s dry, plug in the concentrator. If it does not start working or displays an error, you need to reset the device before using it again.
Here’s how to reset the concentrator:
- Turn it off, disconnect it from the power supply, and remove the battery pack.
- Place the battery back after half an hour.
- Reconnect the concentrator to the power supply, and switch it on.
If the filter appears swollen or too dirty, it is better to replace it, even if the system is working fine. You should also regularly check the mask and tubing for cracks and bends and replace them every two months to prevent possible leaks.
A good warranty policy will cover battery replacement and motor repair. All-in-all, an oxygen concentrator is not expensive maintenance-wise.
Unless you are on permanent bed rest, it is generally better to go for a portable oxygen concentrator as they are lightweight, easy to manage, and do not restrict mobility.
If you tend to experience dry mouth, discomfort, and other related issues due to dry oxygen, you may discuss using a humidifier bottle with your physician.
When buying a concentrator, apart from its type, several things factor in that determine its quality and cost.
If you are looking to purchase an oxygen concentrator, here’s a helpful buying guide:
Certain concentrators work only with high-flow or low-flow oxygen, so it is important to check the flow rate beforehand.
This is probably the single most important factor you need to consider when purchasing an oxygen concentrator. Your doctor will prescribe the amount of oxygen you need delivered, also known as the flow rate.
Flow rate plays a critical role in determining the efficiency of supplemental oxygen therapy. For people having mild discomfort during breathing, 1 to 2 LPM is usually recommended. On the contrary, for fluid buildup in the lungs, atelectasis (lung collapse), COPD, etc., more than 4 LPM (high-flow) is prescribed.
Oxygen concentrators are limited int the amount of oxygen they can deliver each minute. The cheaper models can often only deliver up to 5 LPM, while more expensive ones can deliver higher rates.
The LPM is always listed in the product information, and often even in the name of the concentrator. For example the Philips Millennium M10 can deliver up to 10 LPM.
Capacity refers to the amount of oxygen a concentrator can hold in the cylinder. Oxygen concentration continues in a loop, and the cylinder capacity must be enough to ensure a steady, uninterrupted oxygen supply.
The size and weight of the concentrator are crucial to consider for convenience. Even in the stationery category, a lot of modern concentrators are small and lightweight, which makes them easy to manage.
The compressor in oxygen concentrators is powered by a motor. In traditional models, the motor and internal vibration of the compressor produce a lot of noise.
However, these days we have a lot of quieter alternatives that won’t disrupt your sleep while ensuring highly effective oxygen therapy.
Oxygen concentrators are electrical devices, and the power consumption varies for each model. For energy conservation, it is better to go for a concentrator that is compatible with your oxygen flow requirements and does not cost a lot on your electricity bill.
Before buying a concentrator, it is essential to carefully go through the warranty policy offered by the manufacturer.
Oxygen concentrators run on 120V and can use more electricity per annum than the average refrigerator. On average the energy usage can cost over $300 per year on electricity bills.
Depending on the maintenance and quality of the equipment, oxygen concentrators generally last for 1,500 to 2000 hours. Oxygen concentrators generate pure oxygen from the air, and therefore, they can work as long as fresh air is available (and there is an adequate power supply and charged battery).
Strictly adhering to essential maintenance guidelines can help improve optimal lifespan and performance of your concentrator. Buying high-quality filters, cleaning the system regularly, and getting the device serviced by customer support of the original brand, are all crucial for its upkeep.