What is a Portable Oxygen Concentrator?

A portable oxygen concentrator is a medical device that helps deliver oxygen therapy to people who have low levels of oxygen in their blood. These individuals require higher oxygen concentration than available in ambient air. You can simply plug in the portable oxygen concentrator to an electrical source or portable battery which will allow you to use it comfortably. In case your battery has run out, you can simply charge it. You can also find several adapters that can help you to use the POC device while driving or taking a ride in a vehicle. 

Portable oxygen concentrators are smaller in size than stationary home oxygen concentrator units and are therefore more mobile. They are small enough to carry around, most are FAA-approved for air travel, and can operate on a battery for added flexibility.

what is a portable oxygen concentratorwhat is a portable oxygen concentrator

What is the Use of a Portable Oxygen Concentrator?

Typically, oxygen concentrators are used by individuals who have trouble breathing or suffer from breathing disorders, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). COPD is an umbrella condition to include bronchitis, and emphysema. An oxygen concentrator provides a concentrated flow of oxygen so a person can breathe.

Provide Oxygen Therapy

Typically, the senior citizen age group needs supplemental oxygen the most. That's because they are more susceptible to experiencing breathing problems and may have lower oxygen blood levels. As a person gets older, their organs begin to decrease function, and supplemental oxygen may be required to continue living their normal lifestyle. Oxygen therapy will increase a patient's mood, alertness, and more. 

Help with Breathing Problems

Oxygen concentrators provide the extra oxygen a person needs, especially if they have breathing problems. Providing supplemental oxygen can open the airways so that a person can breathe easier. 

Manage Blood Oxygen Levels

A healthy person's blood oxygen level is considered to be within 95%-100%. Anything lower than that can indicate that a person may need extra oxygen to continue living normally. Proper blood oxygen levels contribute to how healthy a person's heart, lungs, and circulatory system are.

How Does a Portable Oxygen Concentrator Work?

An oxygen concentrator uses a five-step process to work.

  1. A portable oxygen concentrator takes in air from the room and purifies it.
  2. The oxygen is then compressed.
  3. Nitrogen is removed from the air. Before air goes into the concentrator, it contains 80 percent nitrogen and only 20 percent oxygen.
  4. The portable oxygen concentrator converts the air to 90-95 percent pure oxygen and just 5-10 percent nitrogen.
  5. Nitrogen is then separated to make sure you get the highest dose of oxygen possible.

Continuous Flow Dose and Pulse Mode Delivery

There are two types of oxygen delivery for portable oxygen concentrators.

  • Continuous Flow does exactly as it sounds and provides a constant flow of oxygen to the user, regardless of inhalation or exhalation. A portable continuous-flow oxygen concentrator requires larger parts, so these devices tend to be over 10 lbs. Not all portable oxygen concentrators have continuous mode.
  • Pulse Dose Mode delivers oxygen only when the patient inhales. There is less effort on the machine since it stops during exhalation, which in turn reduces battery use. These portable oxygen concentrators are smaller in size and typically weigh around 6 lbs. Note: Your prescription would need to indicate your pulse dose settings.

Advantages of Portable Oxygen Concentrator

Portable oxygen concentrators are far less dangerous than traditional oxygen concentrators, which can rupture. The main benefit of a portable oxygen concentrator is that it makes its own air, so you do not have to worry about replacing an oxygen tank. This increased mobility means that just because you need oxygen, you are not forced to cart around an oxygen tank. As they continue to become smaller and smaller, they gain in popularity.

Here are some exclusive benefits of using an oxygen portable unit:

Easy to Use

Almost all oxygen concentrators can be confusing during set up. However most portable oxygen concentrator settings are extremely user-friendly with digital display and alerts. As an example, if your POC is not functioning properly, the machine will alert you of the issue with a beeping sound.

Better Sleep

A POC allows you to carry your oxygen supply with you everywhere. If you are a COPD patient, you might suffer from transient nocturnal oxygen desaturation which can interrupt your good night’s sleep. A POC allows you a steady flow of oxygen ensuring a steady blood oxygen level.

Mobility and Independence

While home oxygen concentrators can supply you with a steady flow of oxygen, a portable oxygen concentrator, as the name suggests, allows you to move around freely. You can easily carry a POC anywhere and participate in all events or activities.

Moreover, once you start using a portable oxygen concentrator, you will no longer be dependent on your family members or friends. You can participate in all your normal activities and receive constant oxygen therapy from the POC. 

Increases Your Stamina

A lack of oxygen results in a lack of energy. A portable oxygen concentrator allows you to continue your oxygen therapy during the day while you perform all your normal activities including cooking, cleaning, taking a walk in the park, etc. 

Customizing Options

Depending on the illness, each patient has a different requirement of oxygen. A portable oxygen concentrator is a one-size-fits-all type of device that has extensive settings allowing both pulse-flow and continuous flow delivery for the patients. 


Most portable oxygen concentrators weigh less than 5 pounds, making them easy to carry. With a compact design, they fit easily and discreetly into a shoulder bag.

Easy Traveling

Smaller, lighter portable oxygen concentrators pack comfortably into any suitcase. Most units are FAA approved, so they can be used on domestic and international flights.

High Oxygen Output

Both pulse dose and continuous dose options are available in portable oxygen concentrators. The high oxygen output makes them just as effective as home units in meeting medical standards for oxygen therapy. 

Battery Life

When no power source is available away from home, portable oxygen concentrators can run on batteries. Many units offer up to 5 hours of power before your device will need another charge. Extended battery packs offer even more power duration, often up to 9 hours of operation. 

Quiet Operation

Most portable oxygen concentrators are designed to perform quietly, so they can be used on airplanes, in public, and even on long road trips without disturbing others. 

Decreased Anxiety

If a person isn't getting enough oxygen, their brain may be the first affected and can cause symptoms like depression and anxiety. Having the proper amount of oxygen in your blood and body certainly reduces stress and anxiety. 

exercising with POCexercising with POC

Increased Exercise Ability

POCs help oxygen patients breathe better when they partake in any kind of physical activity. Since exercise is important to overall health and well-being, using a portable oxygen concentrator consistently will help them be more physically active easier. 

How Long Does a Portable Oxygen Concentrator Last?

When you require a reliable supply of oxygen while away from home, you need a dependable portable oxygen concentrator. Fortunately, most portable oxygen concentrators offer long-lasting batteries for hours of oxygen delivery. If you’re planning a long road trip or are traveling internationally, here are some tips for selecting a portable oxygen concentrator that provides battery endurance during your journey.

Oxygen Concentrator Prescription

Some types of portable oxygen concentrators drain energy faster from batteries. It all depends on your prescription. Pulse dose concentrators deliver oxygen only when you inhale. They stop when you exhale. The reduced demand for power saps less energy from the battery as compared to continuous flow mode concentrators.

Continuous flow oxygen concentrators provide a constant rate of oxygen regardless of inhalation or exhalation. Because oxygen is continually flowing, this type of POC will require more battery power. If your doctor prescribed a high pulse dose or a continuous flow oxygen requirement, then you will want a POC designed for longer battery life on higher pulse settings and continuous flow.  A reliable model like the Inogen One G4 Portable Concentrator offers two different battery types, 8 cells, and 16 cells, to meet your different oxygen supply requirements.  

Add Extended Battery Life

For peace of mind when you travel, you can choose an oxygen concentrator with extended battery life. Units like the Philips Respironics SimplyGo Mini Portable Oxygen Concentrator offer up to 12 hours of additional battery power on a setting of 1 pulse.

Also, taking along extra external batteries helps ensure your POC always has a power supply in times of high demand. External battery chargers are also a great accessory because they allow you to charge extra batteries while you use your POC separately.

As you compare the best oxygen concentrators for battery power, keep in mind that more power means more weight. The key is to find the right balance between a lightweight, compact model for travel and a lasting battery life that meets your travel needs.

How Much Battery Life Will You Need for a Trip?

If you are planning a trip by air, the rule of thumb is to have enough battery power for at least 1.5 times the expected duration of the flight. This will accommodate for any flight delays.

Also, be sure to bring your AC or DC power source to run your POC and keep the external battery charged while you wait at the airport. Only use your battery supply when no other power is available.

The Best Models of Portable Oxygen Concentrators

Philips Respironics SimplyGo Mini Portable Oxygen ConcentratorPhilips Respironics SimplyGo Mini Portable Oxygen Concentrator

Philips Respironics SimplyGo offers both continuous flow and pulse dose delivery options, so you can choose the delivery method that suits you best. The lightweight and compact device also offers a sleep mode. At 10 lbs with a battery, this device is FAA-approved for use during flights.

inogen One G4 Portable Oxygen Concentratoinogen One G4 Portable Oxygen Concentrato
inogen One G4 Portable Oxygen Concentrator

Inogen One G4 is a 1-3 pulse dose-setting device that uses Inogen’s standard Intelligent Delivery Technology to detect oxygen in every breath. It is the smallest and lightest unit in its class. The G4 uses a single battery system. The machine is FAA-approved for use in flight.

DeVilbiss iGo 2 Portable Oxygen ConcentratorDeVilbiss iGo 2 Portable Oxygen Concentrator

DeVilbiss iGo 2 is designed to maintain an active lifestyle. Offering both pulse dose and continuous flow settings, the machine works on increasing efficiency and comfort. The machine weighs 20 lbs and can be powered through AC, DC, or battery.

How to Buy an Affordable Portable Oxygen Concentrator Online 

Most medical supply stores offer portable oxygen concentrators. Search online for a new unit from the comfort of your own home. You can find all of the leading portable oxygen concentrator manufacturers at The Oxygen Concentrator Supplies Shop. Our knowledgeable staff is ready to answer any questions and help you make the best choice. 

Accessories for a Portable Oxygen Concentrator

To transport your POC easily, consider getting a backpack or carrying a bag. Even the smallest and most lightweight portable oxygen concentrator should have a carrying pack to go with it. Make sure your unit is functioning properly and avoid bumping it on hard surfaces when you protect it with a bag. Check out all of the accessories available for your oxygen concentrator as well. At The Oxygen Concentrator Supplies Shop, our team is trained to operate each of these portable oxygen concentrators. We can help you pick the right machine that fits your needs. Give us a call at 888-941-1688.

Chris Vasta

Chris Vasta is the president of The CPAP Shop and an expert in sleep and respiratory therapy. He often provides insights on product design and functionality on various manufacturers’ prototypes and is frequently tapped to provide reviews on new releases.