For some people, the frustration of using CPAP has nothing to do with the actual application of the therapy. They may truly love using their mask and enjoy its benefits. However, they may have a different problem: unreliable access to electricity to run their machines.
For some, it's due to a busy travel schedule that takes them across multiple time zones or into areas where power sources may be hard to tap into consistently.
For others, living remotely, or even in populated regions where weather can bring down the power grid, can lead to many sleepless nights.
If either of these scenarios describes you, keep reading for some factors to consider if you wish to solve your CPAP usage problem.
Consider your options
If you have some form of sleep apnea, you know that you must treat it, as the risks of untreated sleep apnea are unacceptable if you want to live a long and healthy life.
For people with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), the options for treatment extend beyond positive airway pressure (PAP) therapy, but most aren't nearly as effective in the long term. (The exception is oral appliance therapy, which can be a good option; you can learn about dental sleep medicine here).
The other option for ensuring uninterrupted therapy, night after night, is to invest in a battery backup.
For people with central sleep apnea (CSA), an oral appliance is not going to work. Its purpose is to help reshape the upper airway to eliminate obstructions. When you have respiratory events with a central origin, the problem is caused by a miscommunication between your brain and breathing apparatus. This can't be fixed with a mechanical option like oral appliance therapy. For these users, a battery backup is essential.
Do your research
You no doubt wonder what makes for a good CPAP battery backup. Here are some features you may wish to consider while researching different products:
You travel. A lot.
Do you need a portable, lightweight battery pack? Some integrated models hold enough power for a night or more and are easy to pack and carry. (Find out more about traveling with CPAP here.)
You like gadgets. Or you don't.
Are you comfortable with devices that require some user setup? Would you prefer the convenience and simplicity of an integrated backup solution that is simply "plug and play?"
You just lose power a lot at home.
Is your problem mostly due to frequent power outages in one location? A stand-alone CPAP backup battery can be kept charged at all times and doesn't need to be portable, just reliable. Size matters less.
You have overseas voltage concerns.
Will you need your CPAP power supply in the US or overseas? Voltages matter. Most PAP devices today use both AC and DC voltage, but wall outlet AC current in the US provides 110 volts, while the AC current used overseas runs between 220 and 240 volts.
Battery backups typically offer 12 volts of DC, which requires an inverter to switch the current from DC to AC before it reaches your machine.
Other kinds of adapters and converters may also be required depending upon what features you use while running your machine. Typically, these are all provided by the battery and/or machine manufacturer, but you can also order them if they aren't.
You just want to pitch a tent.
Do you go camping a lot and want to find the best solution for running your CPAP? Some backup batteries don't need an inverter and can be hooked up using an ordinary power cord that connects to the machine on one end and has a cigarette lighter plug on the other end that connects to the battery backup.
Some people choose larger marine batteries over smaller backups. This is because the larger ones stay charged longer (for up to 3 nights), whereas powering CPAP can quickly drain smaller batteries.
You rarely need backup. But you still need backup.
Do you only need a power supply for the very rare occasion of a power outage at home? A marine battery arrangement may also be your least expensive option. However, keep in mind the size of the battery and your mechanical ability to operate it.
While there are kits that help simplify hooking up CPAP to these batteries, they aren't nearly as convenient as integrated systems that basically "plug and play."
You prefer warm, moist air pressure.
Do you use CPAP humidification? It's likely you do, and nearly every new machine available offers it... and for good reason. Humidified air really improves the overall CPAP therapy experience for most people. However, it will also consume a lot of battery power—maybe too much!—to run your machine with heated humidity if it's coming from a battery.
If heated humidity is not a must-have on those nights when the power goes out, you can simply turn off the heater and save power that way.
Consult your benefits
Especially at this time of year, it's important to see if your insurance coverage for CPAP will pay for a battery backup. Later in the year, many patients have already used up their deductible and insurance will cover most or all of the cost of a battery backup kit.
You'll want to review your options either way to ensure they have a policy that covers the use of an additional power supply. They may also stipulate what kind of system they will reimburse you for. You don't want to order one only to discover it's not covered by your carrier.
If after taking into consideration all of these questions and factors, you still aren't sure what your best option is, it's worth a phone call to your durable medical equipment (DME) provider to ask their advice. They are well versed in power supply options to suit the wide variety of patient needs.