One of the most important things to take to heart when living with a disability is to adapt it to suit your life whenever possible rather than the other way around. Every situation and everyone is different, and there are some instances where we have to bend to the whims of bodily or mental fate.
That being said, being differently-abled should never keep you from living life to the fullest and doing self-enriching things with those who enrich your life – like, say, camping.
But how can you go camping with a CPAP machine? It’s not the tiniest medical device in the world, after all, and it needs a battery to stay operating.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at CPAP batteries – how they work and how to test them.
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CPAP Battery 101
There isn’t much to a CPAP battery in and of itself. It is merely an external battery that attaches to your CPAP machine, either via an adapter or if you have a newer model, a port for direct connection.
How long will your CPAP battery last? That will depend on a variety of features ranging from type to how you’re using it, and we’ll discuss that more below. However, for now, suffice it to say that a good battery working without problems or extra strain should be able to provide you with about 18 hours of power.
Working with a substantial amount of hours-per-power like that can help you plan your life accordingly.
Testing a CPAP Battery
It isn’t that hard to test a CPAP battery. You would test it pretty much the same as you would any other battery – plug it in and check to see if the indicator light on your model shows that the battery is charging. If not, you likely have a problem with the battery, the connection, or both.
You don’t want a battery to quit on you while you’re camping, so be sure to test it before you head out. Also, if you are headed overseas, it is essential to note that not only do US, UK, and EU wall sockets require different connectors (so you’ll need an adapter), but they give different voltages.
A standard US AC wall socket gives about 110 volts. In the UK and EU, the AC current is often double that, around 220 to 240 volts. Many batteries listed here provide 12 volts DC.
You would want to check the power requirements for whatever CPAP you are using before you hit the trail.
Avoiding Common Lifestyle CPAP Battery Problems While Camping
One of the most important steps in solving your CPAP/battery problem is making sure you steer clear of some common issues that can crop up. These are issues that can relate either to the CPAP machine itself or the battery – and in some cases, both – but are essential for making sure your camping trip doesn’t go south in a hurry.
For example, let’s tackle probably the most significant looming issue – what if you have a battery failure or power outage? For this reason, it is always a good idea to have a backup. However, heated humidifiers, in conjunction with CPAP units, can sometimes run off a 12-volt battery. That said, the operational time will likely be drastically reduced – at least half that of the standard operational time – and some units may not work with a 12-volt battery at all.
As such, it is always a good idea to not just have extra batteries on hand, but to make sure you have a power supply solution that will fit your machine in particular. Don’t just pack a spare battery and think you’re covered. Consider the particulars of your case, what your specific device needs, and tailor your CPAP camping approach around it.
What if you don’t have an AC power outlet but DC power? Your battery and unit can still work, but you may need an inverter. Older units tend to require this, while newer units have a better chance of being compatible with both AC and DC. If you do require an inverter, be aware that this will take some of the power and, thus, drain the battery faster.
The amount of battery drain on the total energy produced will vary from unit to unit and inverter to inverter. Still, it’s something to be aware of, and you should shave a few hours off that aforementioned 18-hour maximum if you are using an inverter.
Make sure you dispose of any old ion, lithium, or other batteries following local regulations.
Finally, if you run out of battery and have no alternative, you may try using a deep cycle battery (the type found in your car) in a pinch. This isn’t a perfect solution, as they’re cumbersome, you’ll be tethered to your car (or whatever you’re using to power the deep cycle battery), but this does deliver a longer charge than with a standard lithium-ion battery.
To connect your CPAP to a deep cycle battery, you’ll need to join the AC power inverter to your car’s cigarette lighter.
Flying with CPAPs and Batteries
If you have tried to fly with a CPAP in the past, you may have faced difficulties over trying to get it onto the plane given battery and carry-on restrictions and screening for medical devices. If so, we’re sorry, but congratulations – this is no longer the case.
Current FAA regulations do not prohibit CPAPs and other MPEDs from being taken as carry-on luggage or used as necessary in flight. That said, you’ll still likely want to check with your airline to make sure that they are equipped to handle your model.
Meanwhile, if you are flying to the UK, it’s worth noting that even the notoriously-barebones Ryanair has allowed CPAPs to be taken on flights without it counting as one of your carry-on luggage items as long as it is kept in a separate case. While going through security at either US or UK airports, you’ll want to take the unit out of its case so it can be more easily and speedily checked.
Different countries have different checking procedures for both the CPAP and battery (for example, UK airports typically X-ray the unit and battery while swabbing the unit), so be prepared. You may be asked to turn the unit on for security personnel so they can inspect it working, so make sure you have enough battery power for that.
If you are a frequent flyer, you may want to consider a flight-friendly travel CPAP and battery combo.
Top Four Common CPAP Models and Batteries
With those factors in mind, let’s take a look at five top-tier CPAP battery options:
FREEDOM CPAP Battery Kit for DreamStation
This model by Respironics is reasonably light at 1.7 lbs and has a pretty fast charging time at four hours. It has a lifespan of between 400 and 500 charge-discharge cycles.
Also, it features an expansion port for a solar charger if you wish to try and charge your model that way, which can be a good alternative if you aren’t staying at a campsite with electricity, don’t want to be tethered to your car, and can count on a reliable source of sunlight.
Philips Respironics CPAP Battery Remstar System One
There are a few beautiful things about this machine, most notably that it is incredibly airplane-friendly, so if you are looking for a travel CPAP for flight purposes, this may be the one. Correspondingly, it is also quite lightweight at 1.4 lbs and, thus, easy to take with you to camping sites. What’s more, this unit only takes about three hours to charge and can last for several hundred cycles.
Check availability for this battery by clicking here.
Resmed Power Station II
This model is a bit heavier than other models at just under 2 lbs and can give you about 13 hours on a full charge, which takes about four hours, and several hundred cycles of use. While this unit is a bit bulkier and offers slightly less than that 18-hour figure, that latter figure is, again, the ideal maximum. For what it provides, this model is still among the better CPAP batteries on the market.
You can check availability for this battery by clicking here.
ResMed S9 & AirSense 10
Here, we have another slightly heavier unit at 1.8 lbs. However, it also charges faster, taking just three hours. It offers about 500 cycles of use. Notably, it has a USB port, making it that much easier to connect to your phone or laptop to charge.
Check availability by clicking here.
By keeping these factors in mind, you can find the CPAP machine for you while flying to and eventually arriving at your campsite, allowing you to live life your way.