Portable Oxygen Concentrator Rentals for Freedom and Convenience

Updated: Sep 13, 2022
Medically Reviewed by:

Key Takeaways

  • A portable oxygen concentrator can meet the needs of active individuals, travelers, and anyone who wants the freedom of mobility while using supplemental oxygen.
  • You will want to rent a portable oxygen concentrator if your supplemental oxygen needs are for less than 10–12 weeks.
  • There are many considerations when choosing a rental company and model, including type, rate/volume of output, size and weight, battery life and charging time, noise level, price, amount of wear, FAA approval, and level of support from the rental company.

In the past, individuals on supplemental oxygen were often stuck at home attached to a large, loud machine with replaceable oxygen gas canisters. This can be a disheartening and restricting experience, especially for someone who loves to be active and social. Portable oxygen concentrator rental offers supplemental oxygen users more mobility, which can be a game changer.

“I’ve watched older patients switch from stationary oxygen machines to portable oxygen concentrators and have a complete life turnaround. Getting that extra freedom is very emotionally and physically beneficial to anyone reliant on supplemental oxygen.”

Dr. Alan Lidsky, an internal medicine physician at Kaiser Permanente

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), physical activity is essential to healthy aging, and older adults should move more and sit less throughout the day. Being tied to a cumbersome oxygen machine could easily limit one’s movement. A portable oxygen concentrator can improve the quality of life of an older adult by allowing them to move around more and participate in the activities they love.

What is a Portable Oxygen Concentrator?

The invention of the portable oxygen concentrator has been one of the great medical advancements of the decade. It’s a streamlined, portable version of the traditional stationary oxygen concentrator, which is too large to easily move around. Unlike gaseous or liquid oxygen machines of the past, oxygen concentrators convert surrounding air into oxygen. These machines work by pulling in atmospheric air, containing 79% nitrogen and 21% oxygen, and filter out the nitrogen, expelling it back into the environment, leaving concentrated oxygen for breathing by the patient. The oxygen is stored within the device (storage volumes vary depending on the model) and distributed through plastic tubing into a cannula or mask to the patient. POCs deliver the oxygen as a continuous flow or intermittent (pulse) flow at a rate determined by the patient’s prescribing doctor. Intermittent-flow devices only deliver oxygen during inhalation whereas continuous flow machines deliver it steadily. Some machines only offer intermittent flow while others offer both types.

Who Needs a Portable Oxygen Concentrator?

According to the Annals of the American Thoracic Society, more than 1.5 million adults in the United States use supplemental oxygen for a variety of respiratory disorders to improve their quality of life and prolong survival. Oxygen may be prescribed for a number of reasons:

  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
  • Pulmonary Fibrosis
  • Pneumonia
  • Asthma
  • Sleep Apnea
  • Cystic Fibrosis
  • COVID-19
  • Heart failure
  • Sickle Cell Anemia
  • Recovery from illness or surgery
  • High altitude travel

You or your loved one’s oxygen needs may be temporary or permanent, depending on the circumstances. Your needs may also change over time, requiring more or less oxygen due to worsening or improving symptoms.

A POC can help you maintain your prescribed blood oxygen levels while remaining mobile and active. There’s little reason you can’t carry out normal day-to-day activities with a POC. The small size, low weight, multiple charging options, and long battery life make them indispensable to those who own them. POCs are a good choice for anyone seeking liberation from stationary machines, as long as they can meet your oxygen needs. If your prescription allows it, you may choose to only own a portable oxygen concentrator or have both types—a stationary unit for use while at home and a portable unit to take on the go. If you only require a portable unit in order to get to or from the hospital, take on a trip, or attend a special occasion, you might want to rent a POC rather than buy one.

Elizabeth Lyda, a licensed respiratory therapist and research quality improvement specialist at University of Rochester Medical Center, also suggested renting first to evaluate tolerance to the different delivery of pulse versus continuous flow.

Delano Chalez, a pulmonary diagnostics therapist at UC Health, considers POCs “luxury” items, and certainly not the norm for most of his patients. Not only are they more expensive than traditional machines, but some of his patients can’t use them because they don’t provide enough volume of oxygen needed, especially for those with high continuous supply needs. He believes that all patients should go through a “six-minute walking titration” to confirm that their prescribed levels actually maintain their oxygen blood saturation levels well before deciding on a particular model.

Buying vs. Renting Portable Oxygen Concentrators

Whether you rent or buy a POC will depend on a few factors:

Financial

Purchasing a POC may cost anywhere between about $2,000–$4,000, often with the option to finance. We found by talking to DME suppliers and through pricing posted online, a POC can generally be rented for around $250–$500 per week. Rental providers often offer specials on maintenance and accessories like spare batteries.

If a POC is your only oxygen machine, insurance will likely pay for it. If you want it in addition to an at-home machine, you can expect to pay out of pocket. Some insurance providers will pay rental but not purchase costs. Speak with your specific insurance provider about their POC coverage. Medicare may help cover the cost of a POC rental as “durable medical equipment” (DME) if a doctor deems it necessary for you.

For longer-term use, buying will always save money over renting. Let’s do some math: Hypothetically, if you pay $300 weekly to rent a $3,000 machine, you’ll start losing money by renting after only 10 weeks.

Duration of Need

If your oxygen supplementation needs are expected to be short-term and temporary, you will undoubtedly want to rent your machine rather than buy it. Health insurance may also help cover “rental” costs if you qualify under their guidelines. Renting is generally beneficial for any duration less than around 10–12 weeks. Some people only need machines for recovering from illness, vacation, high-altitude travel, getting to or from the hospital, or for a special event.

Type of Need (Will it Change?)

If you anticipate your oxygen needs may increase above the maximum capacity of your current machine, you’ll probably want to rent so you can easily switch to a different model in the future. If your need is for high-volume continuous supplemental oxygen, there may not be a portable rental model available that can support that need. Portable concentrators cannot produce enough output for high, continuous-need patients and, based on research, there are not very many continuous flow machines available for rent—you will have a much greater selection if you buy.

Certainty About Model

If you are new to the oxygen machine world and unsure about which model you prefer, you may want to rent. Renting allows you to easily switch units and try out a few different models before deciding on one in particular. It’s worth noting, however, that you will find more options when buying. Rental companies generally only offer four or five different models, sometimes less.

Availability

Because of the risk of transmission through machines, COVID forced a number of POC rental supply companies to cease their rental programs. Many of them still are not renting machines and won’t until 2023 at the earliest. You may be forced to buy a machine if you select a model that’s not available to rent. Some companies that are currently renting offer a larger selection of options for buyers than renters.

What to Look For When Renting a Portable Oxygen Concentrator

Consider the following features when choosing a POC for rent:

Oxygen flow type (continuous flow vs. pulse): There are two options for oxygen flow type: continuous flow and pulse flow. Pulse-flow devices deliver intermittent bursts of oxygen, triggered with each breath you take. This means they’re often more efficient, which equals less oxygen and battery waste.

However, Lyda noted: “Pulse flow is also affected by a person’s respiratory or breathing rate. If someone is very short of breath and breathing faster, they will use up battery life quicker.”

Continuous-flow devices deliver a steady stream of oxygen. Because they need to pump out oxygen continuously, they tend to have larger compressors, which makes them weigh more. Some units can also deliver oxygen via both continuous and pulse flow.

Rate/volume of output: How much oxygen a unit puts out will likely be your primary consideration. Your needs will vary depending on your condition and prescription. When discussing your oxygen prescription your health care provider will give you a more specific idea of what to look for.

Most units have multiple settings that allow adjustment of flow depending on need. Patients should only use oxygen at a prescribed level ordered by their doctor. The maximum output varies by model. It’s important to remember that, while continuous flow measurement is clearly stated, pulse flow settings can represent different flow rates from one model to the next.

For example, a pulse flow setting of “3” on one model may not represent the same output volume as the same setting on a different model. To make sure your portable oxygen concentrator meets your needs, your doctor will likely ask you to check your oxygen saturation levels while using supplemental oxygen with a pulse oximeter.

Size and weight: Portable oxygen concentrators are designed to be just that: portable. However, size and weight vary depending on the type of device. Most continuous-flow devices, even the portable ones, tend to be heavier, weighing in at from 10 to 20 pounds. Pulse-flow devices are usually lighter, weighing between 4 and 12 pounds. Some have handy carrying straps. If you’re in the market for a portable continuous flow unit, it’s worth noting that many feature rolling carts designed for easy transport. The weight of your portable oxygen concentrator will affect how mobile you can be while carrying it, and a machine that’s too heavy can even cause unnecessary exertion and increase breathing rate and demand for oxygen. A rolling cart can help alleviate this additional burden.

Battery life and charging time: Portable oxygen concentrator compressors feature rechargeable batteries that allow you to use the units when you’re away from a power source. To choose a model with sufficient battery life, start by making an honest assessment of your needs and lifestyle.

Models with the longest battery life are great options for people who want to travel, leave home for much of the day, or rely on their portable concentrator as their primary oxygen source at home.

On the other hand, models with shorter battery life are often smaller and lighter. These units are a great choice for people who need a compact device for short periods of time and who may frequently return home or elsewhere where charging is easy and accessible. Units capable of meeting high oxygen needs tend to have less battery life than those with lower oxygen output. Battery life varies depending on use, breathing rates, and selected settings, and maximum battery life values reflect use at the lowest settings. Pay special attention if you’re traveling. Airlines require that you have enough battery life for 1.5 times the length of the flights, which means multiple batteries may be needed.

Noise level: A benefit of portable oxygen concentrators is that they are quieter than their full-size counterparts. Most of them register under 50 decibels, and a few are even quieter. If you plan to use your portable concentrator to sleep, opt for the quietest unit that still fits your oxygen needs.

And only use a device for sleeping if it provides continuous flow, added Lyda. “It is still not recommended to sleep with a pulse device because of mouth breathing or apnea periods where the device cannot be triggered.”

Price: Weekly prices can vary from about $250 to $500, with the majority of rentals costing just over $300 per week.

Wear on the unit: Be sure to find out how much use the machine has already had. Most POCs have a lifespan of around five years, and you don’t want one close to the end of its life cycle. A portable oxygen concentrator should no longer be used after the oxygen purity goes below 80% on the dosage setting that you use. Of course, the lifespan of a particular concentrator will depend on the type of unit, the settings that were used, how often it was used, maintenance performed, and the environment.

Some customers have units for over 10 years before having any issues while others experience problems after only a few years. Many models will display the amount of hours used. Any machine used over 300 hours is considered used and cannot be sold as new. Batteries also wear out. After about 80 charges they will no longer charge to 100%. Any battery charging to only 80% needs to be replaced. Be sure to inquire about the machine and battery that you’re getting.

FAA approval: All newer models are FAA approved for commercial flights. You may visit the FAA website for a complete list of approved POCs. Regardless of your travel plans, you do not want to rent any machine that does not display a sticker like this:

Screenshot of FAA acceptance criteria for a POC device
Screenshot of FAA acceptance criteria for a POC device

Tech support: The thought of a malfunctioning machine is very worrisome to the user, of course. There can be issues with batteries not charging or machines not producing the preset output. Because you probably have not used the unit before, you may need some support beyond the user manual or explanation you got when picking it up from the rental company. Look for a rental company with 24-hour technical support and a reputation for excellent customer service.

Find a Portable Oxygen Concentrator Rental Near Me

A quick internet search will undoubtedly yield what looks like a plethora of options for renting a POC. But, upon calling several companies that state on their websites that they have rentals available, I was told that they no longer do so. Although Oxygen Concentrator Store’s site lists several POC models available for rent, I was informed by their sales rep that they stopped renting out machines due to COVID and do not plan to reinstate that program until 2023 at the earliest. The rep said they are selling used machines for about $1,800 and new machines for $2,500.

Vitality Medical lists a large selection of machines for rent and sale, but a phone call confirmed that they are no longer renting with no plan to do so in the future.

Respshop lists two POCs available for rent and confirmed their availability by phone. They rent out the Philips SimplyGo for $299 per month plus a one-time $79 setup fee, and the Philips SimplyGO Mini for $279 per month plus the setup fee. Fifteen-foot tubing and a nasal cannula are included with every rental. The entire rental process can be carried out on their website. Flat rate shipping is included and expedited shipping may be added for an additional charge.

OxygenToGo specializes in short-term POC rentals, generally around one to two weeks. You must call for pricing and to begin the rental process. They currently list five units available for rent. David Hughes, the store’s director of operations, said you can expect to pay $375 for the first week and $275 for subsequent weeks to rent any of their POCs with three batteries and all of the necessary accompanying accessories.

Liberty Medical rents and sells a multitude of POCs. You must speak with a representative in order to commence the rental process. When I dialed their number, it rang and rang with no answer. I filled out an information request form on their website and they got back to me by email later the same day. I was informed that they have 10 models available for rent or sale. Rentals start at $350 per week (regardless of model) plus shipping and include the concentrator, one rechargeable battery, a wall charger, a car charger, a carry bag and strap, a user manual, a cannula kit, and free 24/7 technical assistance. Extra batteries are $65–$100 per week. At the end of your rental, you have the option to return the unit or purchase it.

Despite many positive online customer reviews, I’m concerned about the ability to contact Liberty Medical if you need assistance, especially during your rental. I attempted calling several times again the following day and got a busy signal every time. I asked if there was an alternative phone number for technical support through our email correspondence and they did not respond to that question.

Additionally, several local companies will pop up on an internet search for portable oxygen concentrators. These are beneficial because you can visit a storefront and view the models in person. You may want to “try them on” to get a first-hand feel for weight, size, appearance, and maneuverability. You will also save shipping costs by choosing local.

Popular Portable Oxygen Concentrator Models Compared

Model
Belluscura X-PLOR *Best for Active Lifestyles
Weight 3.25 pounds with 4-cell battery 3.75 pounds with 8-cell battery
Maximum Output 800 ml/min pulse
Maximum Battery Life 2.5 hours with 4-cell battery 5 hours with 8-cell battery
Noise Level39 decibels
Charging Time 5 hours with 4-cell battery 6 hours with 8-cell battery
Maximum Altitude 10,000 feet
Mode of PortabilityCarry bag and strap
Caire Freestyle Comfort*Longest Battery Life
Weight 5 pounds with 8-cell battery 6 pounds with 16-cell battery
Maximum Output 1,050 ml/min pulse
Maximum Battery Life 8 hours with 8-cell battery 16 hours with 16-cell battery
Noise Level39.93 decibels
Charging Time 3.5 hours with 8-cell battery 6 hours with 16-cell battery
Maximum Altitude 10,000 fe
Mode of PortabilityCarry bag and strap
Caire SeQual Eclipse 5
Weight 18.4 pounds
Maximum Output 3,000 ml/min pulse 3 l/min continuous
Maximum Battery Life 5 hours, 24 minutes for pulse 3 hours, 42 minutes for continuous
Noise Level40 decibels
Charging Time 3 hours
Maximum Altitude 13,123 feet
Mode of PortabilityPullcart
GCE Zen-O
Weight 10.25 pounds
Maximum Output 1,050 ml/min pulse 2 l/min continuous
Maximum Battery Life 4 hours
Noise Level38 decibels
Charging Time 6 hours
Maximum Altitude 13,000 feet
Mode of PortabilityBag or pullcart
GCE Zen-O Lite
Weight 5.5 pounds
Maximum Output 1,050 ml/min pulse
Maximum Battery Life 4 hours
Noise Level37 decibels
Charging Time 6 hours
Maximum Altitude 13,000 feet
Mode of PortabilityBag or backpack
Inogen One G4
Weight 2.8 pounds with 4-cell battery 3.29 pounds with 8-cell battery
Maximum Output 630 ml/min pulse
Maximum Battery Life 3 hours with 4-cell battery 5 hours with 8-cell battery
Noise Level40 decibels
Charging Time 3 hours with 4-cell battery 6 hours with 8-cell battery
Maximum Altitude 10,000 feet
Mode of PortabilityCarry bag and strap
Inogen One G5 *Best for Travel
Weight 4.74 pounds with 8-cell battery 5.73 pounds with 16-cell battery
Maximum Output 1,260 ml/min pulse
Maximum Battery Life 6.5 hours with 8-cell battery 13.5 hours with 16-cell battery
Noise Level38 decibels
Charging Time 4 hours with 8-cell battery 8 hours with 16-cell battery
Maximum Altitude 10,000 feet
Mode of PortabilityCarry bag and strap
Oxlife Independence
Weight 18 pounds
Maximum Output 3,000 ml/min pulse 3 l/min continuous
Maximum Battery Life 6 hours for pulse
Noise Level40 decibels
Charging Time 1.5 hours
Maximum Altitude 13,123 feet
Mode of PortabilityPullcart
OxyGo Next *Best Value
Weight 4.74 pounds
Maximum Output 1,260 ml/min pulse
Maximum Battery Life 6.5 hours
Noise Level38 decibels
Charging Time 3 hours
Maximum Altitude 10,000 feet
Mode of PortabilityBag or backpack
Philips Respironics SimplyGo *Best Continuous Flow
Weight 10 pounds
Maximum Output 2,000 ml/min pulse 2 l/min continuous
Maximum Battery Life 3 hours 24 minutes for pulse 1 hour 36 minutes for continuous
Noise Level43 decibels
Charging Time 3 hours
Maximum Altitude 10,000 feet
Mode of PortabilityBag or pullcart
Respironics SimplyGo Mini
Weight 5 pounds with standard battery 6 pounds with extended battery
Maximum Output 1,000 ml/min pulse
Maximum Battery Life 4.5 hours with standard battery 9 hours with extended battery
Noise Level43 decibels
Charging Time 4 hours for standard battery 8 hours for extended battery
Maximum Altitude 10,000 feet
Mode of PortabilityCarry bag and strap

Bottom Line

Despite some companies discontinuing their rental programs for POCs, you still have a lot of options if you’re looking to rent a machine. Some companies are “rental only” while others offer POCs for rent or sale. You often have the choice of purchasing your machine at a reduced price after your rental term is over. If your oxygen need is anticipated to be less than 10–12 weeks, renting will make more sense than purchasing.

The machine and company that you choose will first depend on your needs. Every POC requires a doctor’s prescription detailing the amount and flow rate of supplemental oxygen required. This will determine whether you need a continuous-flow machine or not. This type of POC tends to be larger and somewhat less portable than pulse-rate machines. There are also fewer options available if you require continuous supplementation. Once that’s determined, you can use the above chart to investigate a model based on your personal needs and preferences.

Portable Oxygen Concentrators That We Recommend

See Best Portable Oxygen Concentrators In 2022 for a detailed discussion of our favorite POCs and why we chose them. 

Our top five picks are:

Why Trust Us?

The AgingInPlace.org team researches, analyzes, and tests health products to help older adults make better decisions as they age. We’re committed to bringing you the most accurate information, based on our in-depth research. Below you’ll find a description of our methodology for reviewing portable oxygen concentrators:

  • Spent hundreds of hours researching POC brands and models
  • Consulted medical experts and journals
  • Studied the user experience through insight from professionals, user reviews, and third-party research

To provide the most fair and objective reviews and comparisons, we use a mathematical formula to score each model based on the following considerations:

  • Unit weight
  • Battery life
  • Range of settings
  • Price
  • Battery recharge time
  • Warranty
  • Oxygen delivery method

Our team monitors and regularly updates information to ensure relevance and reliability throughout all of our content. Many products and services featured on AgingInPlace.org will play a crucial role in your daily life. As these products should help enhance aging at home, we work to uncover as much as possible about the products and services we review. We also consult occupational therapists, audiologists, geriatricians, respiratory therapists, professional adult caregivers, and other experts in the field to ensure we’re providing the most accurate, helpful information.

See a full explanation of our research methodology.

Frequently Asked Questions

Absolutely! You can purchase stationary or portable oxygen concentrators. Depending on your provider, insurance may pay for a portion of your purchase if it’s your only machine. If you are buying an additional unit, say, for taking on a trip, you can expect to pay out of pocket. You also have the option to rent a machine if your needs are temporary.

Pricing is accurate as of Sept. 1, 2022. Most pricing obtained by phone.

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WRITTEN BY

Lauren Sherman, M.S., is a health content writer with a master's degree in human genetics from the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Center, laboratory experience at National Jewish Health, and clinical experience at Children’s Hospital Colorado. She has extensively researched products to help those wanting to age in place such as medical alert systems, walk-in tubs, adjustable beds, and oxygen concentrators.

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MEDICALLY REVIEWED BY

Elizabeth has been a respiratory therapist since 1983 and remains licensed in the state of New York. Her experience in respiratory care includes routine and critical care in the hospital setting outpatient and at home equipment modalities and management and use of home ventilators, CPAP, BiPAP, apnea monitor, nebulizer, and other respiratory-related equipment.

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