If you keep up with our blog here at LPT Medical, you’ll know that last week we crowned the Inogen One G5 with the title “The Best Portable Oxygen Concentrator of 2020.” As you can imagine, we don’t take this title lightly.
With so many medical oxygen machines on the market these days, finding the right one for you may seem like a brain-bending puzzle. Even if you have all the information you need at your disposal, you may not have the experience with POCs to even know what’s important in a machine or what price you should be paying for it — that’s why we’re here to help.
As one of the premier oxygen concentrator distributors in the country, we take your search for the perfect oxygen delivery device seriously. Rather than trying to push the most expensive unit we have to offer, we prefer to start with the patient by asking questions like these:
- Are you someone that likes to get out and about or do you prefer to stay home?
- What level of oxygen delivery has your doctor prescribed for you?
- Are you currently using a CPAP or BiPAP machine at night?
- Have you used a portable oxygen concentrator in the past and what was your experience?
These are just a few of the questions we might ask you in order to better understand your point of view and your needs. Purchasing an oxygen therapy device is no small decision, so we’re here to make it as simple and pain-free as possible.
To add to the list of resources you have to help you pick an oxygen concentrator, we’re going to discuss the Inogen G5 and standard portable oxygen tanks. More specifically, we want to show you just how far portable concentrators have come and why you may need to consider upgrading that old oxygen tank. If you have any questions at all, please feel free to visit our oxygen FAQs page or get in touch with us.
Access to Replacement Parts
The first, and potentially most important reason for choosing an Inogen G5 over an oxygen tank is the reputability of the Inogen brand. Oxygen tank companies have been around for what seems like forever, but in this day and age, they’re being rapidly pushed out by portable oxygen concentrator companies. Why? Because oxygen tanks are an outdated technology.
One of the major concerns that oxygen tank users have is that they have trouble finding a place to buy oxygen accessories from and they have trouble finding someone to send the tank for maintenance or repair. Fortunately, since the Inogen One G5 is the newest and best rated portable oxygen concentrator by Inogen, you won’t have to worry about scouring the internet for parts.
The Inogen brand was founded in 2001 with the sole purpose of providing COPD patients with an alternative to oxygen tanks. During this time, many people used portable oxygen tanks which may sound fine, but oftentimes, the word “portable” was used loosely. What people got instead was a bulky and heavy tank that couldn’t be transported without a struggle.
While Inogen was one of the first companies to start producing high flow portable oxygen concentrators, it remains one of the top manufacturers 20 years later. They understand the needs of their customers perfectly and they consistently release top-rated portable oxygen concentrators on the market.
There’s nothing like the freedom that you get from working with a reputable brand. Inogen One oxygen closely tracks the amount of units they sell and they know how long each unit lasts meaning they’re able to provide support for older generations of machine and continue producing accessories like batteries, carrying cases, and filters.
Durability and Safety
One of the first things many people notice about portable oxygen concentrators is how durable and compact they feel — the g5 is no exception! The amount of technology that Inogen has been able to pack into such a small space is nothing short of revolutionary and you can rest easy knowing that it’s protected by a hard outer shell that keeps everything together.
Oxygen tanks stand in stark contrast to this in that they don’t feel durable whatsoever. If you’ve used a portable oxygen tank before, you know exactly what we’re talking about. Since these tanks are explosive and highly flammable, many patients report feeling insecure around their medical oxygen machines, especially when they take it in public.
While oxygen is an essential gas for humans, it only makes up about 21 percent of the atmosphere. If we lived on a planet with an atmosphere that was 100 percent oxygen, it would be very dangerous, not only because our bodies couldn’t handle it, but because it would be very easy to start a fire and keep it going. The oxygen tank that you wheel around is pure oxygen meaning it’s very dangerous unless it’s used correctly.
The thing that makes portable oxygen concentrators safer is that they don’t have any stored oxygen. They remove ambient air and remove the nitrogen allowing it to output pure oxygen. Even if you do end up bumping your POC or dropping it, you’ll never have to worry about it exploding or catching fire. If you would like more information on oxygen safety tips, check out this blog post.
When you think of freedom, the first thing that should come to mind is a portable oxygen concentrator like the Inogen G5. This medical oxygen machine weighs in at just 4.7 pounds making it the second lightest POC on the market behind the G4 and lighter than any portable oxygen tank out there. With an Inogen One G5, you’ll be able to go where you want and do what you want without worrying about your oxygen therapy device.
Alternatively, if you opt for a portable oxygen tank or portable oxygen cylinder, the lighter the device, the less oxygen you will have available to you. To put this into perspective, a continuous flow portable oxygen tank offers around 400 liters of oxygen. At a rate of 2 liters per minute (LPM), this will last you just over 3 hours. What’s more, they weigh about 8.5 pounds, about 4 pounds more than the Inogen One G5.
For most people, the weight of the device is the first thing they look at before making a purchase. The lighter the device is, the more personal belongings you will be able to carry with you comfortably and in the case of the G5, the more batteries you can carry with you. If you need extra time with your oxygen cylinder, you’re going to need to carry another one with you. That’s another 8.5 to carry around on your back or on a cart. Alternatively, with a G5, you can double your battery life by upgrading to a 16-cell battery or an additional 8-cell battery.
Intuitive and Easy to Use
Despite being a more complex and high-tech medical oxygen machine, the Inogen One G5 is far simpler to use than an oxygen tank. Oxygen tanks deliver continuous flow oxygen. What this means is that there is a constant flow of oxygen coming through the nasal cannula. Inogen concentrators like the G5, however, use something called pulse dose technology. This technology detects your breathing rate and only delivers oxygen when you’re inhaling.
It is possible to turn an oxygen tank into a pulse dose unit, but you need to purchase something called a pulse regulator and have it installed by a professional. Most oxygen tanks don’t come with pulse regulators and other accessories, so if you want them, you’re going to have to go out of your way in order to find them. What’s more, if something goes wrong with them while you’re out and about, you may not be able to remove it without the help of a professional. In other words, you could be left with a full tank and no way to access the oxygen.
The Inogen One G5 was designed to be intuitive from the control panel to the filters, sieve beds, and battery. Their goal with this line of machines was to offer more freedom by allowing patients to make quick changes to their oxygen delivery on the fly with no hassle. The control panel is easy to use, allowing you to change your flow rating up or down, adjust audio alerts, and check your battery level. If you’re in a poorly lit area, you can even tap the power button to activate the backlight on the screen.
Small Form Factor
While we probably could’ve mentioned form factor under the “lightweight” heading, this is important enough to have a category of its own. “Form factor” doesn’t just refer to the size of the unit, but also its shape and practicality. When you take a look at the G5 next to both portable and home oxygen tanks, it’s not hard to see the benefits the G5 offers.
The Inogen One G5 dimensions are 8.15" H x 7.19" L x 3.26" W. This is comparable to the size of a lunch box or a small portable cooler. But more importantly, it doesn’t have any jagged edges that can get caught on clothing or anything in your environment. The only part that protrudes from the device is the piece that you attach your cannula to. However, this is on the front and top of the device where it’s out of the way.
Oxygen tanks are a huge hassle when it comes to their form factor. The tank itself is long rather than compact meaning you’ll have a hard time fitting it into small areas. Since they’re bulky and heavy, they can be dangerous to store in a closet or in your car. And possibly the worst part about the design of oxygen tanks is that the valves protrude from the tank and they have a lot of jagged edges that can get caught on things. If it does get caught on something, there’s a chance of breaking it and causing a leak. What’s more, if you decide to add additional accessories to your oxygen tank like an oxygen conserver, pulse regulator, or humidifier, it will only add more bulk to it.
A Variety of Accessories
If you’ve owned an Inogen unit before, you know you can expect high-quality accessories with the release of a new concentrator — the G5 was no exception. Alongside the release of the Inogen One G5 portable oxygen concentrator, we got the custom carrying case, G5 backpack, single and double cell batteries, and the external battery charger.
The great thing about all of these Inogen One accessories is that you know they’re going to be of high quality. Every product Inogen puts out gets their quality seal of approval and if you have any problems with it, you can contact their support and get the issue fixed quickly and typically, with no extra cost to you.
The G5 custom carrying case is the best way to carry the Inogen One G5. This accessory is simple but offers some extra protection for your device and allows you to carry it on your shoulder without it getting in the way. The leather exterior will protect your POC from scratches, dents, and chips and has mesh material to prevent the device from overheating. If you need to go to the store or visit a friend, this may be the best carrying accessory for you.
The G5 backpack is for people who need a little extra space to carry personal belongings and even other G5 accessories. The G5 Backpack is great for anyone who’s going on vacation or taking an extended trip where they’ll need to carry extra batteries and the G5 AC adapter and DC adapter.
The external battery charger is another G5 accessory that offers you more freedom wherever you go. Normally, you can only charge your G5 batteries when they’re attached to the concentrator. However, thee external battery charger allows you to charge either the single or double cell battery separately. If you have two batteries, this means you’ll be able to charge them twice as fast!
No Recurring Costs
One of the biggest concerns people have about portable oxygen concentrators is their high upfront cost. While we certainly can’t blame anyone for feeling that way, you’ll be happy to know that there are no recurring costs like there are for portable oxygen tanks. With an oxygen tank, you have to pay every time that you want to refill the unit. This means that you’re going to need to have several backup tanks if you don’t want to go to a refill station every day.
Since a portable oxygen concentrator draws ambient air instead of storing it, you’ll never have to pay to refill it. You may have to replace the sieve bed which removes nitrogen from the air, however, these can last as long as the system itself as long as you take good care of it and wash the filter regularly. Over time, the cost of an oxygen tank will outweigh the initial upfront cost of a portable oxygen concentrator and the high quality and reliability of concentrators is unmatched as well.
Approved For In-Flight Use
As we age, it’s important to make sure we’re able to do all the things we once did. Many people with COPD and other chronic respiratory diseases believe that they need to give up flying if they want to use oxygen therapy. While you cannot, under any circumstances, take an oxygen tank on a plan, most portable oxygen concentrators are approved by the FFA for in-flight use including the Inogen One G5.
The reason oxygen concentrators are safe on a plane and other portable medical oxygen devices aren’t is that they don’t have compressed air. At high altitude, a compressed air tank could explode, injuring anyone near it. What’s more, the Inogen One G5 is small and light enough that it can be stored under the seat during takeoff and landing. The one stipulation is that most airlines require you to have at least 1.5 times the duration of the flight in battery life. This is to account for potential delays in the flight.
The idea of “connectivity” is a fairly new concept, not just when it comes to concentrators but in general. Essentially what this means is being able to connect your electronic devices such as your laptop, cell phone, or tablet so that they can work together.
Inogen One Oxygen was the first company to apply this concept to oxygen therapy via the Inogen Connect App. This is an easy-to-use app that you can get on any smartphone or tablet device. It allows you to track crucial information about your portable oxygen concentrator without even looking at it. The best part of all? It’s 100% FREE to use!
These are a few of the things you can track through the app:
- Battery status
- Software updates
- cannula and filter maintenance updates
- Column life
- Troubleshooting tips, FAQS, and the user manual
- Oxygen purity status
If you’re someone who’s on the go a lot, there’s no understating the convenience of this app. Instead of having to constantly stop and mess with your concentrator, you can just take a peek at your phone and view this important information. This is especially useful for people with the G5 backpack because the unit will be stowed away out of reach.
Unfortunately, oxygen tanks don’t provide the same connectivity that portable oxygen concentrators do. Since there are no electrical components on these tanks, there’s no way to relay any information to your smartphone or another device. And if there’s something wrong with the tank or the regulator, you won’t know until a professional can inspect it.
Another one of the major problems associated with oxygen tanks is how notoriously difficult they are to ship. We already mentioned that they’re not approved for in-flight use, so if you’re planning on going on vacation, you either need to get a portable oxygen concentrator or find an O2 tank at your destination. However, what about when you’re purchasing the unit?
With the G5, you can purchase a unit anywhere in the country and have it shipped to you, no problem. Since it’s such a small and light device, you won’t be paying a hefty fee to have it shipped. On the other hand, many oxygen tank distributors don’t ship their product because of how hazardous it can be. This means you’ll have to drive someplace to purchase an oxygen tank from a local distributor.
Most couriers don’t allow people to ship a full oxygen tank, so if you choose to go that route, you’ll have to go out of your way to get the tank filled up when it arrives. What’s more, since oxygen tanks are so heavy and have such an unusual shape, you may be paying a pretty penny to get it to where you need it to be.
High Oxygen Output
Some oxygen tank owners are anxious when it comes to upgrading to a portable oxygen concentrator because they believe it won’t provide them with the high oxygen output that they’re used to. This is not the case as the Inogen One G5 can go up to a flow setting of 6. That’s the highest flow rate of any POC on the market, and the large majority of COPD patients don’t need that much oxygen.
Since oxygen tanks are measured in liters per minute (LPM) and pulse dose concentrators are measured in flow settings, it’s difficult to compare the two. Ultimately, it will be up to you and your doctor which one will be best for you, but be aware that if a flow setting of 6 isn’t high enough, there are other POCs on the market that go up to a 9.
Were you surprised by a few of the things you read on this list? We are too! It’s amazing how far portable medical oxygen has come in the past decade, and it can only get better from here! We chose to take a look at the Inogen One G5 for this list because it’s one of the most advanced and best rated portable oxygen concentrators on the market. However, there are plenty of great POCs out there to choose from so be sure to shop around a bit before making a decision.
You may be wary to invest in an older generation of POC like the Inogen One G3 or G4, but these units have plenty to offer as well. The Inogen One G4, for example, is the lightest portable oxygen concentrator ever produced and the G3 is our pick for the best budget POC on the market. If these are qualities that you’re interested in, take a look and see what else is out there!
If you’re more interested in a device that offers you high flexibility above weight and battery life, you may want to consider continuous flow portable oxygen concentrators. Most continuous flow machines like the SeQual Equinox, SeQual Eclipse 5, and the Respironics SimplyGo also offer pulse flow settings in addition to a higher overall oxygen output. If you’re looking for the full Inogen G5 specs, you can find them here. Otherwise, if you have any questions for us, don’t hesitate to get in touch.