What is a Continuous Flow Oxygen Concentrator: Essential Guide for Users

A continuous flow oxygen concentrator is a medical device designed to provide a continuous supply of oxygen to patients who require higher levels of oxygen therapy. These devices play a crucial role in the treatment of various health conditions, particularly for individuals with respiratory disorders like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema, or pneumonia. Unlike pulse-dose oxygen concentrators which only deliver oxygen during inhalation, continuous flow concentrators deliver a constant flow of oxygen, which can be more suitable for patients with severe oxygen needs.

Oxygen concentrators work by taking in ambient air, removing nitrogen and other impurities, and delivering purified oxygen directly to the user. Continuous flow devices are adjustable, allowing the user to set the flow rate to match their specific oxygen requirements. These concentrators are available in both portable and stationary models, offering different features and capabilities depending on the user’s specific needs.

Key Takeaways

  • Continuous flow oxygen concentrators provide a constant supply of oxygen for patients with severe respiratory conditions
  • These devices can be adjusted to deliver the appropriate flow rate for individual patient needs
  • The variety of portable and stationary models offers flexibility in choosing the right oxygen concentrator for effective medical therapy

What is a Continuous Flow Oxygen Concentrator?

A continuous flow oxygen concentrator is a medical device designed to provide a constant and uninterrupted supply of oxygen to individuals who require supplemental oxygen therapy. These concentrators work by filtering ambient air, removing nitrogen, and delivering purified oxygen to the user at a fixed flow rate, measured in liters per minute (LPM).

Continuous flow oxygen concentrators are often used by individuals who lead more relaxed lifestyles, as they can deliver a dependable source of oxygen without any interruptions. All at-home or stationary machines typically operate in continuous flow delivery, making them suitable for people with low to moderate activity levels and relatively consistent breathing rates throughout the day. These concentrators can supply oxygen up to 3LPM and in some cases even provide pulse mode, delivering 6LPM or up to 9LPM for temporary bursts of activity.

One of the main advantages of continuous flow oxygen concentrators is their ability to provide 24/7 oxygen delivery, ensuring patients have a reliable source of oxygen when they need it. This dependable delivery mode is essential for individuals who require constant oxygen support, particularly during sleep or when experiencing respiratory distress.

There are various models of continuous flow portable oxygen concentrators (CPOCs) available, with some devices offering both continuous and pulse flow modes, allowing users to switch between the two modes depending on their oxygen needs at any given moment. These combination portable concentrators provide versatility and flexibility for users who may require different levels of oxygen support throughout the day or night.

In summary, continuous flow oxygen concentrators are a valuable solution for individuals with oxygen therapy needs that require a steady and uninterrupted supply of purified oxygen. These devices cater to people with low to moderate activity levels, ensuring their oxygen needs are consistently met in various situations, including sleep and periods of respiratory distress.

Types of Oxygen Concentrators

There are two main types of oxygen concentrators: portable oxygen concentrators and stationary oxygen concentrators. Both types function to provide patients with a reliable source of oxygen, but they cater to different needs and offer unique features.

Portable Oxygen Concentrators

Portable oxygen concentrators (POCs) are lightweight, compact devices designed for patients who require on-the-go oxygen therapy. These devices make it easy for patients to maintain their active lifestyles while receiving the oxygen they need. Most POCs are battery-operated, allowing patients to move freely without depending on a power outlet. Many come with carrying cases or are designed to be worn as a backpack for easy transportation.

Two popular POC models are the Inogen One G5 and the SimplyGo Mini. The Inogen One G5 is known for its lightweight design, weighing in at just 4.7 pounds, while the SimplyGo Mini offers a slightly higher oxygen flow, making it better suited for patients with higher oxygen requirements.

Stationary Oxygen Concentrators

Stationary oxygen concentrators, also known as home oxygen concentrators, are designed to provide a continuous flow of oxygen for patients within the home. These devices are typically larger and heavier than POCs but offer a higher oxygen flow, making them suitable for patients with more severe oxygen needs.

One popular stationary oxygen concentrator is the EverFlo, which provides a continuous flow of oxygen at a rate of up to 5 liters per minute. Stationary concentrators like the EverFlo provide a reliable home oxygen system, ensuring patients receive the necessary oxygen to maintain their health and well-being.

Both portable and stationary oxygen concentrators play a crucial role in oxygen therapy. While POCs cater to individuals who need a lightweight and portable device for on-the-go use, stationary concentrators provide a reliable oxygen supply for patients who require continuous therapy at home. It’s essential for patients to choose the form of an oxygen concentrator that best suits their specific needs for optimal results.

Understanding Flow Settings

Continuous flow oxygen concentrators are medical devices that provide a steady supply of oxygen to individuals who require supplemental oxygen. These concentrators are designed to deliver oxygen at a constant rate, typically measured in liters per minute (LPM). This section aims to provide a clear explanation of flow settings and their importance when using a continuous flow portable oxygen concentrator.

There are two main types of flow settings for oxygen concentrators: continuous flow and pulse dose. Continuous flow concentrators, as the name suggests, deliver a continuous stream of oxygen at a predetermined rate, regardless of the user’s breathing rate. This type of flow is suitable for those with low to moderate activity levels and consistent breathing rates throughout the day [1].

Pulse flow oxygen concentrators, on the other hand, release oxygen in intermittent bursts, triggered by the user’s inhalation. This mode of delivery, also known as pulse dose, aligns more closely with the user’s natural breathing pattern. Pulse flow concentrators offer greater flexibility for active users, as they respond to the user’s changing oxygen demands during physical activities [2].

Flow settings determine the volume of oxygen delivered per minute. In a continuous flow concentrator, the flow settings can typically be adjusted by the user, based on their specific needs. For example, a setting of 3 LPM provides 3 liters of oxygen per minute, which equates to 3,000 milliliters of actual oxygen output [3]. It is essential to consult with your healthcare provider to determine the appropriate flow rate to meet your specific medical requirements.

In summary, understanding the differences between continuous flow and pulse flow oxygen concentrators, as well as the concept of flow settings, is crucial for selecting the appropriate device to meet an individual’s oxygen needs. Flow settings are measured in liters per minute and should be adjusted according to the user’s medical requirements and activity levels. Users should consult with their healthcare providers to determine the optimal flow rate for their specific needs.

The Role of Oxygen Concentrators in Medical Therapy

Oxygen Therapy for Respiratory Conditions

Oxygen concentrators play a vital role in modern medical therapy, especially in the management of respiratory conditions. Various health problems such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, sleep apnea, pulmonary fibrosis, cystic fibrosis, pneumonia, and emphysema can lead to shortness of breath and hypoxemia, requiring oxygen therapy to maintain adequate blood oxygen levels 1.

Continuous flow oxygen concentrators administer a constant flow of oxygen to the respiratory patient, making it suitable for those with severe respiratory conditions like COPD, chronic pulmonary fibrosis, or pneumonia 2. Health care providers usually prescribe oxygen concentrators based on the specific needs of their patients. It’s essential to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines and your health care provider’s recommendation when using an oxygen concentrator.

Use in Active Lifestyle

One of the key benefits of oxygen concentrators is their adaptability to an active lifestyle. People diagnosed with respiratory conditions often find it challenging to maintain their usual activities, but the use of portable oxygen concentrators allows these patients to continue leading active and independent lives 3. For example, portable continuous flow oxygen concentrators can be carried on-the-go, ensuring that the user receives constant oxygen support even during exercise or daily activities.

Travel is also made easier thanks to portable concentrators that meet the requirements for air travel, complying with guidelines set by organizations like the American Lung Association. Patients should always contact their health care provider and the airline beforehand to ensure a seamless experience during their journey 4.

In conclusion, continuous flow oxygen concentrators have a crucial role in medical therapy for people with respiratory conditions, allowing them to maintain a healthy and active lifestyle. Work closely with your health care provider to determine the best course of action for your specific needs.

Considerations When Choosing an Oxygen Concentrator

When selecting a continuous flow oxygen concentrator, there are several factors to consider. These factors can help you find the right device for your needs. In this section, we will discuss three key aspects: battery life and power options, weight and portability, and noise level.

Battery Life and Power Options

The battery life of a continuous flow oxygen concentrator is critical, as it determines how long the device can be used without needing a recharge or an external power source. When comparing concentrators, it is important to check their battery life, recharge times, and availability of external power options like AC and DC adapters. Some devices may offer longer battery life, while others may have faster charging rates. The best continuous flow oxygen concentrators also often provide options for additional backup batteries, which can be useful during travel or power outages.

Weight and Portability

Weight and portability are essential considerations, especially for people who lead active lifestyles and require a continuous supply of oxygen on the go. Portable concentrators are generally more lightweight and compact, making them easier to carry and transport. Some models even come with carrying cases and straps for added convenience. When choosing a continuous flow oxygen concentrator, it’s essential to compare the device’s weight and overall portability to find the one that best suits your needs.

Noise Level

Finally, the noise level of a continuous flow oxygen concentrator can play a significant role in user comfort and overall satisfaction. Most concentrators produce some noise while in operation, but some models are quieter than others. Check the device’s noise level, usually measured in decibels (dB), when comparing concentrators. A lower noise level can contribute to a more comfortable and enjoyable experience for the user.

Overall, taking the time to compare factors like price, warranty, and reliability when choosing a continuous flow oxygen concentrator is an investment in your health and well-being. By carefully considering battery life, weight, portability, and noise level, you can find a device that meets your needs and enhances your quality of life.

Popular Oxygen Concentrator Brands

Philips Oxygen Concentrators

Philips is a well-known manufacturer of medical equipment, including oxygen concentrators. Their Philips Respironics brand offers a variety of models to suit different needs. Among their offerings is the Respironics SimplyGo, a continuous flow oxygen concentrator that provides patients with a reliable and efficient source of oxygen. Priced competitively, Philips Respironics concentrators are known for their quality and performance. The company also provides excellent customer support and warranty options to ensure users have a hassle-free experience.

Inogen Oxygen Concentrators

Inogen is another popular brand in the oxygen concentrator market. Their Inogen One G5 model offers a mix of portability and high performance. With a lightweight design and impressive battery life, the Inogen One G5 is ideal for users who require oxygen therapy on-the-go. In addition to its features, Inogen concentrators come with a strong warranty, ensuring that customers receive the best possible product support.

Other Brands

There are several other brands of continuous flow oxygen concentrators worth considering. The SeQual Eclipse 5 is a battery-operated model that is designed for portability and ease of use. Offering both pulse flow and continuous flow options, the SeQual Eclipse 5 provides flexibility for users with varying oxygen requirements.

The OxLife Independence is another notable choice, featuring impressive battery life and a range of pulse flow settings to accommodate different users. The concentrator also comes with a robust warranty to ensure customer satisfaction.

The market also offers other options worth mentioning, such as the Respironics SimplyGo Mini and the Everflo home oxygen concentrator. These models cater to a variety of needs, making them popular choices among patients and healthcare providers alike.

Accessories for Oxygen Concentrators

Oxygen concentrators are essential for individuals who rely on oxygen therapy. To ensure effective and convenient use, various accessories are available to enhance a patient’s experience. In this section, we will discuss the most common accessories, such as nasal cannula, face mask, rolling cart, and accessory bag, to make oxygen therapy more manageable.

The nasal cannula is a lightweight, comfortable tubing that is placed into the nostrils to deliver oxygen. These cannulas are designed to reduce soreness and rubbing by being soft and kink-resistant. They come in different lengths, and the correct size should be chosen to ensure the tubing connects the oxygen concentrator to the patient comfortably without obstructing their movement.

The face mask is another popular option for individuals who may need higher oxygen concentrations or cannot tolerate the nasal cannula. Face masks generally cover the mouth and nose, providing a more comprehensive and secure delivery of oxygen. Masks are available in various sizes and materials to cater to individual preferences and needs, ensuring comfort during extended use.

The rolling cart is an essential accessory for portable oxygen concentrators. It provides convenience and mobility, allowing patients to move around while receiving their oxygen therapy. Wheels and a pull handle make it easy to transport the concentrator from one location to another, increasing the patient’s independence and quality of life.

Finally, the accessory bag is a useful addition for anyone using an oxygen concentrator. It allows patients to store extra batteries, power cords, and other essential items while on the go. Accessory bags come in various sizes and designs to accommodate specific concentrator models, ensuring a secure and organized experience for users.

In conclusion, accessories play a crucial role in enhancing the overall experience of oxygen therapy. With the right combination of nasal cannula, face mask, rolling cart, and accessory bag, patients can effectively manage their therapy while maintaining comfort and convenience.

Maintenance and Care of Oxygen Concentrators

Continuous flow oxygen concentrators provide a steady stream of oxygen to individuals with chronic health conditions that compromise their blood oxygen concentration, such as pulmonary fibrosis or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) 1. To ensure optimal performance and longevity of these devices, proper maintenance and care are essential.

One crucial aspect of oxygen concentrator maintenance involves the periodic replacement of filters. These devices typically have two types of filters: external filters and internal filters. External filters prevent dust and other particles from entering the machine and can usually be cleaned every week, while internal filters help to maintain the purity of the oxygen output and should be replaced every year 2.

Another vital component of oxygen concentrator maintenance is compressor care. A compressor is responsible for compressing air and delivering it to the patient. It operates under immense pressure and requires regular servicing to maintain its efficiency. Typically, compressors need to be serviced or replaced every 5,000 to 7,000 hours of use, which equates to roughly 2 to 3 years of continuous usage 3.

Monitoring and responding to alarm signals is a part of proper care for oxygen concentrators. Many devices are equipped with alarms that alert the user if the concentrator isn’t working correctly, such as when it doesn’t detect the user’s breathing while in pulse mode4. These alarms help ensure the user’s safety and prompt timely troubleshooting and repair, thus preserving the overall health of the device.

By following a consistent maintenance schedule for your oxygen concentrator, you can prolong its lifespan and ensure a reliable, steady supply of oxygen to the user. This includes regularly cleaning and replacing filters, servicing the compressor, and addressing any alarms that may arise. With proper care, continuous flow oxygen concentrators can be a vital tool for maintaining the health and well-being of individuals with compromised blood oxygen levels.

Insurance and Medicare Coverage

A continuous flow oxygen concentrator is a crucial piece of equipment for patients with respiratory issues. It’s essential to understand the insurance and Medicare coverage options that can help with the costs associated with this equipment.

Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance) typically covers the rental of oxygen equipment and accessories as durable medical equipment (DME) if prescribed by your doctor for home use. However, Medicare coverage for portable oxygen concentrators can be complicated. To qualify for coverage, specific criteria must be met, including medical necessity to treat lung or respiratory conditions.

It is important to note that Medicare may not cover the cost of purchasing an oxygen concentrator outright. Nonetheless, in some instances, it might cover the rental costs for eligible patients approved for therapeutic oxygen use.

If covered by Medicare, you may still be responsible for some out-of-pocket costs. For example, patients with Original Medicare may need secondary coverage to help with up to 20% of the costs.

Aside from Medicare, private insurance companies may also provide coverage for continuous flow oxygen concentrators. It’s essential to check with your insurance provider for information on their specific coverage for oxygen therapy equipment.

One way to obtain a continuous flow oxygen concentrator is through specialized stores like the Oxygen Concentrator Store. These stores offer a variety of models and options, as well as guidance on insurance and financing options, ensuring patients have access to the right equipment for their needs. Keep in mind that the available coverage and payment options may vary between different providers and equipment.

In conclusion, it’s crucial for individuals requiring a continuous flow oxygen concentrator to research their insurance and Medicare coverage options, ensuring they receive the necessary financial assistance for this vital equipment.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do continuous flow concentrators compare to pulse dose?

Continuous flow oxygen concentrators deliver oxygen at a constant, predetermined rate, regardless of a user’s breathing pattern. In contrast, pulse dose concentrators deliver oxygen only when the user inhales, conserving oxygen and potentially providing a smaller, more portable device source. Continuous flow concentrators may be more suitable for individuals requiring a higher flow rate, while pulse dose devices can be ideal for those with lighter oxygen needs.

What are the top continuous flow portable concentrators?

The top continuous flow portable concentrators can vary depending on individual requirements. Forbes featured an article evaluating some of the best continuous flow oxygen concentrators in 2023, which can be a helpful starting point for determining the ideal device for specific needs and preferences.

Who benefits most from continuous flow oxygen therapy?

Individuals with chronic health conditions that compromise their blood oxygen concentration, such as pulmonary fibrosis or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), may benefit the most from continuous flow oxygen therapy. Since this type of therapy delivers a consistent flow of oxygen, it can be especially beneficial for patients requiring higher oxygen rates source.

Can continuous flow concentrators be used for travel?

Although continuous flow concentrators tend to be heavier and bulkier than pulse dose devices, some portable models are available for travel use. It’s important to determine the weight, size, and battery life of the device to ensure it meets individual travel needs. Additionally, it is recommended to check airline requirements for traveling with such devices, as guidelines may vary source.

What are the drawbacks of using continuous flow concentrators?

One of the primary drawbacks of using continuous flow concentrators is their size and weight. These devices tend to be heavier, which can make them less portable and more challenging to use while on-the-go source. Additionally, continuous flow models can be less efficient in terms of oxygen conservation, as they deliver oxygen at a constant rate regardless of the user’s breathing pattern.

How is the flow rate determined for continuous flow devices?

A healthcare provider, such as a pulmonologist, typically determines the appropriate flow rate for an individual undergoing continuous flow oxygen therapy. Some factors to consider include the severity of the oxygen deficit, the user’s specific medical condition, and the improvement of symptoms with supplemental oxygen therapy. It is crucial to follow healthcare providers’ recommendations to ensure optimal treatment and safety while using a continuous flow oxygen concentrator.


  1. https://www.lung.org/lung-health-diseases/lung-disease-lookup 2

  2. https://lptmedical.com/blogs/respiratory-resource-center/pulse-dose-vs-continuous-flow-oxygen-concentrators-the-ultimate-comparison-guide 2

  3. https://www.forbes.com/health/medical-supplies/best-continuous-flow-oxygen-concentrators/ 2

  4. https://www.faa.gov/about/office_org/headquarters_offices/avs/offices/aam/ame/guide/media/acceptance_criteria_for_portable_oxygen_concentrators.pdf 2

The team at www.oxygenconcentratoradvice.com are experts when it comes to oxygen concentrators. We are dedicated to providing as much help as we can for people who are undergoing oxygen therapy and need help with oxygen concentrators. We research and immerse ourselves in the industry and are assisted by our team of medical experts.

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

      Leave a reply

      Oxygen Concentrator Advice
      Enable registration in settings - general
      Compare items
      • Total (0)