Oxygen concentrator for COVID-19: How it works, when should you buy it, prices, best models, and more details

The second wave of COVID-19 pandemic has hit India hard. The country has witnessed over 4 lakh new COVID-19 cases and close to 4,000 deaths due to coronavirus several times in the last week. In this crisis, oxygen plays an important role as the infected patients struggle to breathe. When an individual gets affected by the COVID-19 virus, the most common symptom that they witness is a drop in their blood oxygen level. In such a situation, a patient needs an additional supply of oxygen to keep the oxygen level maintained. They can either breathe with the help of an oxygen cylinder or get an oxygen concentrator.

If the patient has severe symptoms, they need to get hospitalised and breathe with the help of an oxygen cylinder. However, if the symptoms are mild, a patient can breathe with the help of an oxygen concentrator at their home. However, many people are puzzled about oxygen concentrators. They are confused about what do oxygen concentrators actually do and do they help them. In this article, we will talk about what is an oxygen concentrator, when should you buy it, which model should you buy, from where should you make the purchase, and the prices of oxygen concentrators.

Also read: How to download vaccination certificate online

What is an oxygen concentrator?

Only 21 percent of the air that we inhale in our body is oxygen. The rest is nitrogen and other gases. This 21 percent of oxygen concentration is enough for humans to breathe properly, but only under normal circumstances. When a person is suffering from COVID-19 and their oxygen level drops, they need air with a higher concentration of oxygen to maintain the oxygen level in their body. According to health professionals, the air that the COVID-19 patients inhale should have around 90 percent of oxygen.

Well, this is what oxygen concentrators help you to achieve. Oxygen concentrators suck the air from the environment, remove unwanted gases by purifying the air, and provide you with air that has an oxygen concentration of 90 percent or more.

When should you get an oxygen concentrator?

According to health experts, you can breathe with the help of an oxygen concentrator when your oxygen level is between 90 percent and 94 percent. If your oxygen level goes below that, you need to get hospitalised. An oxygen concentrator won’t help you enough if your oxygen level drops below 90 percent. So, if you are someone who is affected by COVID-19 and your oxygen level is hovering between 90 percent and 94 percent, you can get yourself an oxygen concentrator and breathe with its help. This should get you through the situation.

However, keep in mind that oxygen concentration isn’t the only thing to consider. If your oxygen level is between 90 percent and 94 percent but you are facing severe symptoms, you need to immediately get to a hospital.

Types of oxygen concentrators

There are broadly two types of oxygen concentrators:

    Home oxygen concentrators

    As the name suggests, home oxygen concentrators are meant to be used at home. These types of oxygen concentrators work on electricity. They require power from your wall socket to work. Home oxygen concentrators can provide a significantly higher amount of oxygen compared to a portable oxygen concentrator. If you have COVID-19 infection, you have to get a home oxygen concentrator. Portable oxygen concentrators won’t help you enough for the COVID-19 situation. 

    Portable oxygen concentrators

    Portable oxygen concentrators can be carried around easily. These types of oxygen concentrators don’t need a continuous supply of power from a wall socket to work and have a battery built into them. Once charged fully, portable oxygen concentrators can provide oxygen for 5-10 hours, depending on the model.

    However, as we said earlier, portable oxygen concentrators offer a limited flow of oxygen and, therefore, are not suitable for someone who is suffering from COVID-19.

    Things to look out for in an oxygen concentrator

    Oxygen concentrator capacity

    The capacity of an oxygen concentrator is the amount (litres) of oxygen that it can provide in a single minute. Generally, home oxygen concentrators are available in 5L and 10L capacities. A 5L oxygen concentrator can provide you 5 liters of oxygen in a minute. Similarly, a 10L oxygen concentrator can provide 10 liters of oxygen every minute.

    So, what capacity should you go for? Well, according to health professionals, a 5L oxygen concentrator will be enough for patients suffering from COVID-19 whose oxygen level is between 90 percent and 94 percent. A 10L oxygen concentrator can provide enough oxygen to two COVID-19 patients. But again, you should consult with a doctor before making a purchase.

    Oxygen concentration level

    Not every oxygen concentrator is the same. A few oxygen concentrators can provide you with air that has 87 percent oxygen and the other few can provide you with 93 percent oxygen, it really just varies with the model. So, which one should you get? If you have a choice, just go with an oxygen concentrator that offers the highest level of oxygen concentration. Avoid buying oxygen concentrators that have less than 87 percent oxygen concentration.

    Oxygen concentrator prices online

    As the number of COVID-19 patients is increasing in India every day, there has been a shortage of oxygen concentrators in the country. Therefore, the available stock is being sold at high prices. Since the prices that you see online are mostly inflated, we reached out to a few dealers to confirm the actual prices of the oxygen concentrators.

    According to the information that we have gathered, oxygen concentrators from popular brands like Philips and BPL with 5L capacity cost between Rs 45,000 and Rs 65,000, depending upon the model and region. However, these oxygen concentrators are being sold for as high as Rs 1,00,000 in the market.

    We suggest that you directly reach out to the oxygen concentrator company through their website, get a number for the dealer in your region, and buy an oxygen cylinder from them. If you buy from third-party sellers, they will most probably charge you up to twice the amount as the MRP of the oxygen concentrator.

    Best oxygen concentrator models

    There are a ton of oxygen concentrator models available in the market right now. So, how should you decide which oxygen concentrator to go for?

    Well, we recommend that you go with an oxygen concentrator from a reputed brand like Philips, BPL, and Acer BioMedicals. Buying an oxygen concentrator from a trusted brand will ensure that it will deliver the advertised oxygen capacity and concentration. Since many knockoffs are circulating in the market, make sure that you buy an oxygen concentrator from an authorised retailer. Below are a few oxygen concentrators that you can consider.

    • Philips EverFlo – Capacity: 5L; Oxygen concentration: 93%; Price: Rs 45,000
    • BPL Oxy 5 Neo – Capacity: 5L; Oxygen concentration: 93%; Price: Rs 65,000
    • BPL Oxy 5 Neo Dual (two oxygen outlets) - Capacity: 5L; Oxygen concentration: 93%; Price: Rs 65,000
    • Acer Biomedicals (ABM) Oxicon 11 – Capacity: 5L; Oxygen concentration: 93%; Price: Rs 35,000