Unless you really rely on medical devices, you may not understand how vital for your survival some of them are. Especially, if you don’t have any major respiration issues, or they’re largely under control, you’ll not give a lot of thought at all to oxygen concentrators.
Until you need them… That’s the moment you understand you must have read and learned a lot of about them. Including how to provide power to them in case of a serious emergency in which typical electricity may not be available for days or longer. That’s the article you need to read to get this knowledge!
How much power do concentrators take?
The amount of electricity required for each unit depends mostly on the size of the compressor and the manufacturer ratings. In most cases, the devices will run on batteries, but there’s also considerable variance on how efficient the unit is and how much oxygen it will actually produce.
As a general guide, older, home oxygen concentrator units required about as much electricity as refrigerator. Trendy devices may take as little as a low wattage microwave, while others may still require quite a bit more.
There some things to be aware of before buying a concentrator for survival needs, and here are some of them:
- Amperage required by the device
- Voltage output from the emergency battery pack
- How long the concentrator will run on the battery pack at different oxygen output amounts
- How long the batteries are expected to last and what they are made from
How many batteries you need to buy?
When it comes to buying batteries, most people will buy one for charging and another for using any given device, but this is not always the simplest route to take, because not having enough batteries for charging and powering will spell disaster.
Buying a lot of batteries than needed can take up excess space and also create a situation where rechargeable batteries aren’t used at best loads and rotations. At the very least, consider the following:
- Find out how long a totally charged battery will power the concentrator at its highest setting. Take that number of hours and divide by two (just in case you can’t fully charge a battery up before it’s to be rotated back into service.) In this example, allow us to say that a fully charged battery will last twelve hours at full charge. Instead of buying just two batteries, you’d purchase four for use during one day.
- Next, verify how much power you can generate each day, and how much of it can be used for charging up the concentrator batteries. If it takes eight hours to fully charge a single battery, then you should be able to charge one – three batteries per day. Add that number of batteries to the ones that you expect to use in a day. In this example, you’d need three batteries for charging plus four for regular use; meaning that you would need seven batteries.
- Finally, it’s also very important to consider long term wear and tear on the batteries. Even if you purchase batteries that can be deep cycled one thousand times, they’ll become useless in three – five years. During this particular example, add at least three batteries in case some of them go bad. Just make sure that you also set up on rotating them into the system so that the internal elements remain active and don’t corrode or become destroyed by lack of use.
What is the best way to power an oxygen concentrator off grid?
Many people wrongfully assume that power for essential medical devices such as concentrators can come from any supply, and think they’ll just put up some windmills and solar panels, then expect that combination to produce enough power.
When must run a concentrator around the clock or charge up batteries to run that concentrator, there’s no such issue as waiting for the sun to come back out or for a wind to kick up. What you need could be a reliable system of renewable energy that will never run out, and will not be dependent on the vagaries of the weather.
Here are some systems that might work, but keep in mind that you will need access to a number of resources that may take a while and effort to develop. While you can still get started with solar and wind power, don’t overlook these systems.
Above ground and underground water wheels
If you’re lucky enough to live near a stream or river, there’s no reason why you can’t set up a water wheel and generating motor. Take the time now to calculate the rate of flow of water and also the scale of the wheel that you will need to generate the necessary amount of current.
As may be expected, if you live in colder climates where rivers and streams routinely freeze, you’ll need to see if the lower levels of water will remain fluid enough to push the wheel.
Today, so much too many people place water wheels where they’ll be partially seen above the water level instead of taking the time to immerse them near the center of the water flow. While it takes considerably a lot of work to build a fully immersed wheel that will still turn, it’s well worth the effort in colder climates.
If water never freezes in your local space, then it may still be safe to build a more typical water wheel.
Underground water pipe systems
When it comes to new innovations in using water for generating electricity, underground water pipes are truly some of the simplest and most innovative. As long as you have a constant source of water flowing through these pipes, water wheels placed within the pipes can be used to generate electricity.
Many people don’t think about this feature because they do not live close to a pond, stream, or other supply of water that can be used for underground irrigation. That being said, even extremely dry or cold regions have all types of underground streams and rivers that can be tapped for this purpose.
As long as you know where they run through your land, you might drill down to their level and install both pipes and suitable equipment for generating electricity: you won’t have to worry about freezing temperatures, there’ll be only a few, if any ways for the equipment to be stolen.
This system does have some drawbacks if you’re in an earthquake zone or any other area where shifting underground geographies can crush the pipes.
Sink drain power generation
As long as you have water, you will also have electricity with this system. Basically, all you need to do is install mini water wheels in the outgoing pipe drains of your home. They’ll be cleanable as garbage disposals, and different drain systems.
Even though there aren’t any devices of this type on the market, you should be able to make your own. Unlike a number of other power generation systems, this one can work for you in a town setting as long as municipal water continues to flow through the tap.
Just keep in mind that if you have to rely on this system for generating electricity, the supply of the water must be energy neutral. For instance, you’ll need either a ram pump to draw water from a pond, or maybe an archimedes screw from some other surface body of water. If you’re lucky enough to have a well, then you will be one step ahead.
How reliable are oxygen concentrators and can they be repaired?
The most vulnerable part of the concentrator is the compressor that draws air into the unit and then packs it into a smaller amount of space before pushing it into the chamber housing the zeolite crystals. Like several other things, modern compressors aren’t as well built as older ones.
If you can, carefully study the compressor systems in different concentrators, and then find out if there are working vintage models that can be substituted into the system. Even though you’ll have to adapt some of the fittings, it’s well worth the effort. Being able to replace the compressor can simply extend the life of the concentrator from just a year or two to well over a decade without much need for other kinds of repair.
It may be said that concentrator reliability also comes down to good maintenance and being aware of the kinds of issues that can occur. When it comes to survival situations, fuses and IC circuits will continually be a haul if an EMP happens. Since several of those circuits management the gap and closing of strictly mechanical valves, it should be possible to use gravity based levers or pulley systems to manually open an close the valves at proper intervals.
In Classical Greece, there was a “robot” that was ready to mix proper concentrations of wine and water without using any kind of electricity, and if you do some experimenting, you’ll find a way to realize this goal.
If you do not want to ruin a perfectly good concentrator, buy an old one that’s no longer useful. You’ll learn lots about how the system works, as well as how to improvise and develop work arounds for areas which may be weak points during a survival situation.
What to do when the concentrator stops working
If you already have concentrator or have seen one in use for any length of time, then you already know that there are times when they can fail. Like any other machine, there are easy causes for these failures as well as a lot of complex ones. Here are a range of issues that you could encounter as well as how to handle them:
- If the concentrator is running, but you do not feel air coming out, one or a lot of airline tubes is also kinked. Depending on how the air tubing leaves the unit, there may also be a kink behind the unit where you won’t always see it quickly. Ensure that you will simply get around each part of the concentrator so you can find any loose or crimped tubes.
- The concentrator goes offline and refuses to start. Any number of issues could cause the unit to stop or refuse to start at all. If you’re running the unit on batteries, you’ll start off by ensuring that the battery has enough power and that it’s hooked up properly. Some manufacturers also offer trouble shooting guides which will assist you determine other easy things that may be causing the fault.
- If the unit fails finally of the simple things have been eliminated, there may be a blown fuse inside the unit, or the compressor could have failed. This kind of repair can be sophisticated. Unless you actually know how to repair a concentrator, or have enough background in electronics, you should not try to do this during a crisis situation. That being said, there’s no harm in getting the schematics for the model concentrator that you own and making sure that you know how to handle a variety of issues. While this method will take time and effort to find out, it’ll be worth your while. In a crisis, there may be no such thing as a qualified repair person to assist put your concentrator back into service. If you do not feel assured regarding delving into repairing these devices, then make it a point to find friends among your neighbors that might be ready to assist you in time of need. If you’re in a survivor community, there’s sure to be at least one or two people who will do this job on your behalf.
Do you know enough now to make an oxygen concentrator work for you? Use the comment form below to share you thoughts and ask your question about these lifesaving devices!