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Portable Oxygen Concentrator Resource Center

Continuous Flow vs. Pulse Flow Oxygen Therapy

Posted by Caleb Umstead on May 29, 2014 4:14:00 PM



Continuous Flow vs Pulse Flow Portable Oxygen Concentrators

Today's oxygen therapy patients need to decide what kind of oxygen concentrator is best for them based on their individual needs and lifestyles. To help them, they should look to a respiratory specialist who can advise them on the available models to suit their oxygen requirements.

When patients are considering which concentrator is best, the first thing they need to determine is whether they need a continuous flow of oxygen or if a pulse flow is enough.

Pulse Flow

Pulse flow, as the name suggests, is based on the breathing rate of the user. It is used most when patients are awake and active during the day.

Pulse flow delivers oxygen every time the patient takes a breath. If their breathing rate increases, the machine will react and release a bolus, or pulse dosage size, with each inhalation. The flow rate is based off the bolus.

The concentrator then rests while the patient is exhaling. The concentrator is able to do this through the use of a built-in oxygen conserver, much like those used on oxygen tanks.

Pulse dose POCs are able to deliver anywhere from 450 ml per minute to 1250 ml per minute of oxygen in short pulses. Pulse dose portable oxygen concentrators are typically recommended for low oxygen requirement patients who require up to 2 LPM of oxygen.

Although there are pulse flow units that can be used 24/7, it should be noted that pulse dose units are not compatible with CPAP or BiPAP machines. Here is a list of pulse flow portable oxygen concentrators that can be used 24/7:

  • AirSep Focus
  • AirSep FreeStyle 3
  • AirSep Freestyle 5
  • DeVlibiss iGo
  • GCE Zen-O
  • GCE Zen-O Lite
  • Inogen One G3
  • Inogen One G4
  • Invacare Platinum
  • Invacare SOLO2
  • LifeChoice Activox Pro
  • LifeChoice Activox Sport
  • LifeChoice Activox 4L
  • Oxlife Freedom
  • OxLife Independence
  • ResMed Mobi
  • Respironics EverGo
  • Respironics SimplyGo 
  • Respironics SimplyGo Mini
  • SeQual Eclipse 3
  • SeQual Eclipse 5
  • SeQual eQuinox

Continuous Flow

For some, pulse flow oxygen does not provide enough oxygen throughout the day. Many individuals rely on continuous flow concentrators, which provides a constant stream of oxygen.

A continuous flow oxygen concentrator does not change as a breath is taken, and will only remain on the setting you chose to use.

Continuous flow POCs provide anywhere from 2 LPM to 5 LPM depending on your personal needs. These units can also be used 24/7 depending on the instructions from your doctor.

There are some units that are both pulse and continuous flow, and some that are only continuous flow. Many of these units are continuous flow, but the ones that are bold are also pulse flow:

  • AirSep Visionaire
  • AirSep Intensity 10
  • DeVlibiss 5 Liter
  • DeVlibiss iGo
  • GCE Zen-O
  • Inogen at Home
  • Invacare Perfect O2
  • Invacare SOLO2
  • Oxlife Independence
  • Respironics EverFloQ
  • Respironics Millenium 10
  • Respironics SimplyGo
  • SeQual eQuinox
  • SeQual Eclipse 3
  • SeQual Eclipse 5


Depending on your oxygen needs will determine if you can get a pulse flow or continuous flow POC.

Give us a call at 1-800-520-5726 if you have questions about which unit is best for you and want to know more about the units you're interested in.

Topics: oxygen therapy, portable oxygen concentrators, portable oxygen, continuous flow, pulse flow

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