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Oxygen Delivery Systems: Conventional ‘Tank Oxygen’ vs New Oxygen Machines

Oxygen delivery systems distribute a steady supply of pure oxygen to people with respiratory issues and breathing difficulties. However, there are different types of oxygen machines, each with unique features and benefits.

Oxygen concentrators and oxygen cylinders are both oxygen delivery devices, yet they differ in how they deliver it. Oxygen cylinders merely dispense stored oxygen from a finite supply, whereas oxygen concentrators filter and concentrate oxygen from the ambient air to provide a continuous supply.

Here at Main Clinic Supply, we have years of experience in the development and use of oxygen concentrator machines. No matter the type you need, we’ve got you covered. We also offer parts and accessories that make life as an oxygen user easier.

But before you invest in one, you need to know which oxygen delivery system best suits your needs. To help you make your choice, we examined the various oxygen delivery systems - conventional ‘tank oxygen’ vs new oxygen machines. 

Types of Oxygen Concentrators

forced oxygen machine

Unlike the high-flow oxygen devices, oxygen hoods, and oxygen masks found in a hospital setting, there are oxygen delivery devices that can easily be used in the home. 

Before we get to the specific factors to consider when choosing your oxygen delivery system, let’s look at the different types of oxygen concentrator machines. 

Traditional Liquid Oxygen Tanks

A traditional liquid oxygen cylinder is a device that most people are already familiar with. This is a special tank that stores compressed liquid oxygen. The oxygen is delivered to the user through either an oxygen mask or a nasal cannula.

Oxygen providers fill these tanks, and have to be refilled regularly. Liquid oxygen can be more expensive than compressed gas, and it’s one of the heaviest oxygen machines to carry around. That makes it unsuitable for oxygen users on the move.

Compressed Oxygen Tanks

Oxygen can be stored in compressed gas form in "compressed oxygen tanks." They merely store oxygen and don’t draw it in from ambient air, nor do they filter it, like oxygen concentrator machines do (see more below). 

types of oxygen concentrators

Compressed oxygen tanks are reliable and easy to use. They’re a handy backup source of oxygen if your oxygen concentrator isn’t available or operational. But they, too, need to be filled and refilled by an oxygen provider. They don’t offer the many advantages that an oxygen concentrator does, either. 

Stationary Oxygen Concentrator Machine

An oxygen concentrator does the same job as a traditional ‘oxygen tank’ yet differs in the way it does so. Unlike the finite supply of oxygen available in an oxygen cylinder, an oxygen concentrator’s supply is continuous and thus infinite. 

That’s because it operates similarly to an air-conditioning unit by drawing in ambient air and filtering it. And it goes a step further, though, by concentrating the oxygen and supplying oxygen-rich air to the user. 

Stationary oxygen concentrator machines are used in hospitals, nursing homes, or users’ homes. They remove the nitrogen from the ambient air and supply oxygen-rich air through a nasal cannula or face mask. In many modern oxygen concentrator machines, like the ones here at Main Clinic Supply, a nasal  cannula is included.

different types of oxygen machines

Stationary oxygen concentrators are suitable for people with a constant need for oxygen. They provide a steady flow of oxygen and are thus ideal for use while the user is sitting watching tv or at night while in bed, asleep. But even these oxygen concentrators can be further divided into two categories. 

Your particular respiratory issue will usually determine the best oxygen concentrator for you. 

Continuous Flow Oxygen Concentrator Machines 

Continuous flow concentrators, true to their name, provide the same flow of continuous oxygen. Unless you switch them off, the oxygen flow will be steady and continuous. This is usually ideal for sleeping or conditions where the patient needs a regular and consistent flow of oxygen. 

Pulse Flow Oxygen Concentrator Machines

Pulse concentrators, on the other hand, work with the individual breathing patterns of the user. They don’t supply oxygen at a steady and continuous rate. These machines supply oxygen only when they detect that the user’s breathing has halted.

Portable Oxygen Concentrator Machines

The great thing about oxygen concentrators is that they can also be portable. There are several portable models available right here on our site, and they are becoming more and more popular. 

What is a portable oxygen concentrator? It’s a smaller, compact, and lightweight oxygen concentrator machine designed for moving about while still having access to an oxygen supply. However, portable models often don’t have the high flow rates of stationary machines.

While it performs the same function as stationary oxygen machines, a portable oxygen concentrator can run off both AC mains power and a rechargeable battery. The battery charges while the machine is plugged in and operating. Many of our models can charge off DC power (like in a car) too!

types of portable oxygen concentrators

Positive Airway Pressure Devices (CPAP & Bipaps) Machines

These devises work to open airways.  Some people have a condition called Sleep Apnea. Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts during sleep. This can happen hundreds of times a night, and each episode can last from a few seconds to a few minutes. Sleep apnea can interrupt your sleep and leave you feeling tired and exhausted during the day.

There are two main types of sleep apnea: obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and central sleep apnea (CSA).

  • Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is the most common type of sleep apnea. It occurs when the muscles in the back of your throat relax and block your airway during sleep. This can happen if you are overweight or obese, have a large neck, or have a narrow airway.
  • Central sleep apnea (CSA) is less common than OSA. It occurs when your brain does not send the signals needed to breathe during sleep. This can happen if you have a heart condition, a neurological disorder, or take certain medications.

Many people who have both sleep apnea and other respiratory conditions that require supplemental oxygen find that using the two together can improve their sleep quality and overall health. 

Using supplemental oxygen with a CPAP machine can be a great way to improve your sleep quality and overall health. However, it is essential to talk to your doctor before starting this treatment. Your doctor can help you determine if supplemental oxygen is right for you


low flow oxygen concentrator


Factors to Consider when Choosing an Oxygen Machine

With so many options available, we understand that selecting the right oxygen machine may be daunting. But it doesn’t have to be. Here are three factors to consider to make your choice easier:

Oxygen Flow Rate 

Oxygen flow rate is an important factor when choosing an oxygen machine. Your particular health condition will dictate the airflow and the flow rate that you require. 

Each machine will list the oxygen flow rate (per minute) in the product specs. This is usually expressed as LPM, which is an abbreviation of "liters per minute." 

The type of oxygen flow - continuous or pulse, will also be listed. Perhaps the best oxygen flow feature is Inogen’s Intelligent Delivery Technology. It senses when oxygen is needed and supplies the necessary measured dose.

Oxygen Concentrators: Weight and Portability

Oxygen concentrators come in a variety of sizes and weights. Some are small enough to be carried in a backpack, while others are larger and more cumbersome. The weight and portability of a oxygen concentrator will depend on a number of factors, including the size of the device, the amount of oxygen it delivers, and the features it has.


portable oxygen concentrator types


When choosing a oxygen concentrator, it is important to consider your individual needs and lifestyle. If you need to be able to move around easily, you will want to choose a lightweight and portable model. If you need a higher flow of oxygen, you will need to choose a larger and more powerful model, typically a stationary model.

Here are some factors to consider when choosing a oxygen concentrator:

  • Weight: The weight of an oxygen concentrator is important if you need to be able to move around easily. Look for a model that is lightweight and easy to carry.
  • Portability: The portability of a oxygen concentrator is also important. Look for a model that is small enough to fit in a backpack or shoulder bag.
  • Flow rate: The flow rate of a oxygen concentrator is the amount of oxygen it delivers per minute. Choose a model with a flow rate that meets your individual needs.
  • Features: Some oxygen concentrators have additional features, such as a built-in alarm or a battery backup. For example, different Inogen models will have different features from one another. Consider which features are important to you when choosing a model.

Once you have considered your individual needs and lifestyle, you can start shopping for a portable oxygen concentrator. Talk to your doctor or a respiratory therapist to get recommendations. You can also search online or in medical supply stores.

Machine Maintenance Requirements 

The future maintenance requirements should not be overlooked when choosing between different types of oxygen machines. Anyone oxygen machine will require more maintenance than another one. This usually involves replacing the air filters or similar parts.

different oxygen machines

When you purchase an oxygen concentrator machine from us, you have access to these replacement parts, as well as 24/7 tech support. We also offer lifetime warranties that cover the maintenance and service of your oxygen concentrator.  These lifetime coverages also cover the machine if you drop it. (Not Covered under Inogen’s factory warranty.) Here at Main Clinic Supply, you can have “Worry-Free Dropi-It coverage!


With so many types of oxygen machines to choose from, you’ll find one that fits both your health needs and your lifestyle. And a modern oxygen concentrator, or portable oxygen machine, might be your best bet.

Wondering where to actually buy an oxygen concentrator? It depends on the one you’ve chosen. Main Clinic Supply is one of only two authorized resellers of Inogen medical-grade oxygen concentrator machines.

We also stock a range of parts and accessories for various other oxygen concentrator machine brands. 

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