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Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines are one of the most common treatments for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). People who suffer from OSA experience a blockage or collapse of their airway during sleep, which causes them to stop breathing for short periods multiple times throughout the night. CPAP machines treat this by delivering a continuous stream of pressurized air through a sealed mask, opening the airway and normalizing breathing.
While CPAP machines can be an exceptionally effective treatment for OSA, their success depends on how well the machine works and how often it is used. Some people require features like humidifiers and heating tubes to comfortably and effectively use their CPAP machine, while others find a more basic option works well for them.
The importance and complexity of choosing the right CPAP machine can make shopping for one a stressful experience, whether you’re buying for the first time or purchasing a replacement machine. To make the process easier, we’ve put together both a list of our favorite CPAP models and an in-depth buying guide that covers everything you need to know before making a purchase.
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The ResMed AirSense 10 CPAP machine offers customers high-quality performance combined with useful data tracking. With its integrated humidification and additional features like breathe-to-start functionality, it offers an all-in-one option that is likely to satisfy most CPAP users.
The AirSense 10 is a sleek black machine with a clear, integrated humidifier tank and an LCD screen that adjusts its brightness to match the ambient light in your room. It offers a range of features, such as a breathe-to-start system and pressure relief for exhalation, but first-time CPAP users may be most interested in its sleep onset detection system. Instead of relying on a user-set ramp time, the machine waits until you have fallen asleep before comfortably ramping up the air pressure.
Data tracking is important to many customers for a variety of reasons, and the AirSense 10 allows for detailed tracking via its myAir app an hour after the user wakes up. Users are provided with a nightly score, sleep data broken into four different metrics, and customized coaching. Pulse oximetry monitoring is also available.
The integrated humidifier is easy to use, refill, and clean. While it is not heated, the AirSense 10 is compatible with heated tubing. Sound levels for the AirSense 10 fall below average at 26.6 dB at 10 cm H2O, and it has a standard operating range of 4 to 20 cm H2O. ResMed supplies it with a 2-year limited warranty.
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DeVilbiss has integrated an array of features into its affordable IntelliPAP Standard CPAP machine. For less than the price of many other CPAP machines, the IntelliPAP Standard offers integrated heated humidification, automatic pressure adjustment for improved comfort, and compliance reports that are available online.
The IntelliPAP Standard has a durable white plastic body with a blue humidifier tray that is easy to remove for refilling and cleaning. It comes with an 8-foot power cable without a power brick, as well a cigarette lighter adapter for use on the road. While not travel-sized due to its humidifier, this feature makes the machine a good choice for people who travel by RV.
The machine’s settings are easily operated, allowing users to titrate as needed and control features as necessary. Ramp settings are available, with a starting pressure of 3 cm H2O and a 0 to 45 minute ramp time that can be adjusted in 5 minute segments. The automatic pressure adjustment (which the manufacturer calls SmartFlex) can be turned on or off as desired.
The IntelliPAP Standard has an operating range of 3 to 20 cm H2O, with ultra-quiet sound levels of 26 dB at 10 cm H2O. DeVilbiss offers customers a 5-year limited warranty, one of the longest on the market. Any replacement device also has its own 2-year warranty.
Best Travel CPAP Machine
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Travel CPAP machines often lack the features of bedside models, but the Dreamstation Go by Phillips Respironics offers both a compact, portable design and a wide array of integrated or optional features. It has a USB port for charging your smartphone or other devices, as well as an optional integrated lithium-ion battery that runs for approximately 13 hours at 10 cm H2O. Customers can also purchase the machine with a compact, 0.76 lb heated humidifier.
The Dreamstation Go is FAA-compliant for use on airplanes, making this compact machine a practical choice for anyone who travels frequently or for long distances. The ultra-slim 12mm tubing takes up minimal room when packing and comes with an adapter to use with 15mm or 22mm connections, though it can also be used as-is with Phillips’ DreamWear or Pico masks.
Tracking is available through the DreamMapper app, which also offers a seamless transition between travel and at-home data for customers who own other Phillips Respironics machines. There is also a port for a MicroSD card (sold separately) should your doctor or insurance provider require this format to check for treatment compliance.
The Dreamstation Go has an operating range of 4 to 20 cm H2O and runs at 30.7 dB while at 10 cm H2O. Ramp settings are available in 5 minute increments, up to 45 minutes. Phillips offers customers a 2-year limited warranty on the Dreamstation Go, with an additional 2-year warranty on any replacement machine.
Quietest CPAP Machine
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The Dreamstation Pro by Phillips Respironics is “whisper-quiet”, with sound levels of under 26 dB at 10 cm H2O. These levels are among the lowest on the market, making the Dreamstation Pro an excellent choice for many people who are easily disturbed by even ultra-quiet CPAP machines. Customers are likely to be impressed by the Dreamstation Pro even aside from its quiet operation, as this slim machine also offers high-quality performance and a number of integrated and optional features.
Two features that make the Dreamstation Pro attractive to first-time CPAP users are its “EZ-start” algorithm and smart ramp settings. “EZ-start” allows users to program a new pressure level and slowly adjust to it over 30 days, making for a more comfortable process that may improve compliance. The smart ramp settings, on the other hand, improve nightly comfort by automatically waiting until the user falls asleep before increasing the air pressure. The Dreamstation Pro also has user-friendly details like a USB charging port for your smartphone.
Detailed data tracking, as well as mask fit and CPAP pressure checks, is available through the device or the Phillips DreamMapper app. Optional features include heated tubing and heated humidification.
The Dreamstation Pro has an operating range of 4 to 20 cm H2O and comes with a 2-year limited warranty. Machines replaced under the warranty will have their own 2-year warranty against defects.
CPAP machines are a remarkably effective treatment for OSA, but their complexity can make buying one a stressful experience. To make this process easier for our readers, we’ve put together a guide which walks you through each step. Keep reading to better understand what to look for in a CPAP machine and what to consider before making a purchase.
The differences among CPAP machines can be broken down into ten essential categories, with the additional consideration of your doctor’s advice and recommendations. The ideal CPAP machine differs between individuals, so consider your unique needs and preferences when analyzing each of the following factors.
Depending on the specifics of your sleep apnea and other factors, your doctor may make recommendations about what CPAP machine will work best for you. They may recommend a specific model, or provide advice on machine type, pressure range, data tracking, or other features. It is always advisable to follow these suggestions, and to speak to your doctor if you have questions or concerns rather than make a purchase contrary to their advice.
While continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines are the most common type of positive airway pressure (PAP) machines, there are other varieties with different effects. Automatic positive airway pressure (APAP) machines automatically adjust to your body’s needs from breath to breath, while BiPAP (bi-level positive airway pressure) machines change the pressure levels between inhale and exhale. CPAP machines are an effective choice for most people, but your doctor or specialist should direct you to a type that will match your needs.
Few people enjoy the feeling of breathing cold, dry air even at the best of times, so CPAP climate control is a popular feature that can make using your machine far more comfortable. Humidifiers — which can be integrated into the machine or installed after purchase — add moisture to the pressurized air, while heated tubing ensures the air is a comfortable temperature. Not all machines are compatible with humidifiers or heated tubing.
The pressurized air generated by a CPAP machine should be strong enough to open your airway without discomfort, so it’s crucial to select the right amount of pressure for your needs. Most CPAP machines have settings ranging from 4 to 20 cm H2O (a measure of air pressure), and the average user requires 10 cm H2O. Your doctor or specialist will advise you about your own needs — if these exceed 20 cm H2O, you may require a specialized machine capable of delivering 25 to 30 cm H2O.
CPAP machines are most uncomfortable to use when you don’t need them: just as you are falling asleep. Ramp features help mitigate this discomfort by slowly increasing the air pressure levels, allowing users to fall asleep before the machine reaches the correct pressure. Most — but not all — modern CPAP machines offer this setting.
Modern CPAP machines tend to run very quietly, with an average sound level of 30 dB — about the level of rustling leaves. All the same, light sleepers or those with a partner may still find this to be too loud. For these people, “whisper-quiet” models that run at approximately 25 dB may be easier to sleep next to.
Many new CPAP machines offer smart capabilities to track your sleep and machine usage data. This data is useful in two ways: to help you and your healthcare team ensure that the treatment is effective, and to offer your insurer should they require this data before reimbursement. Wi-fi enabled machines with smartphone integration are the easiest form of data tracking, but you can also purchase external data tracking accessories.
Different CPAP machines offer different accessories. Most offer disposable or reusable air filters, while more specific accessories include removable humidifiers, adapters to use with vehicle cigarette lighters, and rechargeable batteries. Before making a purchase, ensure that the machine includes or is compatible with all accessories that are important to you.
Many CPAP machines differentiate themselves with unique selling points that may improve your usage experience but are not critical factors. Most are usage-based, such as automatically starting the device by breathing into the mask, or reducing pressure during exhale without being a fully Bi-PAP machine. Other options are for ease-of-use, like automatically adjusting screen brightness to match your room’s ambient light.
Most CPAP machines range from $350 to $1000, though specialized machines or those with high-end features may reach up to $3000. While the most expensive machine is not automatically the best choice for your needs, it’s important to focus on your requirements and the machine’s performance rather than hunting for the cheapest option.
Nearly all CPAP machines come with a warranty. A 2-year length is the most common, but some offer 3-year or even 5-year warranties. In addition to the warranty’s length, it’s important to look into its terms — some require users to ship their defective product to the company before it is replaced, leaving them without a machine in the meantime.
Buying and setting up a CPAP machine is unlike most purchases you have made before. To begin with, sellers will require a prescription from your doctor or specialist before allowing you to make a purchase. Once you have bought your machine, you will need to set it up with the correct pressure, purchase and attach the required accessories, and possibly communicate with your insurer for a reimbursement.
CPAP machines are a medical device and require a formal prescription from your doctor or your sleep specialist. If you purchase your CPAP machine from a brick-and-mortar store, they will accept your prescription in much the same way as a pharmacist does for medication. Buying online is only slightly more complex, with most sellers requiring you to upload your prescription before making a purchase. Many retailers allow you to do this online, or via fax. Given the wider selection and better prices available online, this extra step is worthwhile.
Just as you would not casually change your doctor’s prescription for medication, it’s important to adhere to recommendations your doctor has made about your sleep apnea treatment. CPAP machines are right for most PAP users, but your doctor may steer you towards a BiPAP or APAP machine depending on your needs. If your doctor has advised that you need an air pressure setting above 20 cm H2O, it’s also critical to ensure you purchase a machine capable of functioning in this range.
Not all insurers cover CPAP machines. For those that do, the coverage information is usually available under the “durable medical equipment” category in your benefits. Insurance around CPAP machines is complex, with most insurers entering into a “rental” condition where CPAP users pay monthly towards their portion of the cost rather than owning it outright. Insurers may also require usage data to ensure you are using your machine regularly and correctly. Depending on the terms required, it may be easier and more cost-effective to purchase your machine with cash and without the help of your insurance provider. It is crucial to look into your coverage to discover what routes are open to you and what option will work best for you.
There are many accessories available for CPAP machine users, some of which are necessary and some of which improve comfort or ease-of-use. At a minimum, you will need to purchase a mask and headgear to use with your CPAP machine, as machines do not typically include these components. These range in price from $30 to over $150, and many users try more than one type before finding what works for their needs. Masks also need to be replaced regularly, usually every 3 to 6 months. Other accessories include optional additions to the machine itself (such as external humidifiers, data collection systems, and power sources) and sleep accessories like specialized pillows.
Where to Buy
Once you have a prescription for a CPAP machine, you have several options for where to purchase your new machine. Retailers, both online and in brick-and-mortar stores, usually offer the best prices and selection. Your doctor or sleep specialist may also offer CPAP machines for sale, which may help you coordinate your treatment with your healthcare team. Finally, some sleep clinics provide CPAP machine rentals for those who want to try one out before committing, or who cannot afford to buy their machine outright.
While “CPAP machine” is often — and incorrectly — used as a blanket term for all positive airway pressure (PAP) machines, continuous positive airway pressure is only one type of PAP therapy used for sleep apnea treatment. While it is the most common variety, there are two other types of PAP machine: automatic positive airway pressure, or APAP, and bi-level positive airway pressure, or BiPAP. Different types of PAP machines are more suited to different people and their unique health needs, so it’s critical to follow the recommendations of your doctor about which is best for you.
CPAP: Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines deliver a single, but adjustable, amount of air pressure throughout the night. This keeps the airway open during both inhale and exhale, providing excellent treatment for most obstructive sleep apnea sufferers. CPAP is also the least expensive of the PAP treatments, as it does not require sensors for pressure adjustment. However, some people may find the continuous pressure uncomfortable, particularly during exhalation. The majority of CPAP users adjust to this feeling over time, or by adjusting pressure settings under the advice of their doctor, but some may need to switch to an APAP or BiPAP machine.
BiPAP: Bi-level positive airway pressure (BiPAP) machines offer two pressure levels: inhale pressure, also known as IPAP, and pressure, also known as EPAP. These machines usually have higher air pressure ranges, often ranging from 4 to 25 cm H2O. Sleep apnea sufferers who cannot tolerate CPAP machines sometimes use BiPAP machines, as do people who need structured airway support. This latter group includes those with COPD, congestive heart failure, Parkinson’s disease, and ALS. BiPAP machines do have downsides, including a higher price, the need to start on CPAP before moving to BiPAP, and the potential for the development of central sleep apnea (CSA) in OSA patients.
APAP: Automatic positive airway pressure (APAP) machines have sensors that adjust pressure levels depending on a user’s needs throughout the night. These needs may differ due to a wide range of factors, which may include sleep position, sleep stage, or the use of sedative medication. Adjustments are made by measuring a user’s breath resistance during each breathing cycle, allowing it to lessen pressure during periods of stability and increase pressure to prevent breathing difficulty. APAP machines are used by a wide range of people, but their high cost may be prohibitive, and they aren’t the right choice for patients with some heart or breathing conditions. Some people also find the automatic adjustments more disruptive than the continuous pressure of a CPAP machine.
Travel CPAP: Travel CPAP machines offer the same functionality as a standard CPAP device, as well as additional features that make them ideal for use away from home. Their small size makes them easy to carry, and additional power source options (usually in the form of a rechargeable battery) allow for use while camping, or during travel. Those intended for use on a plane must be FAA-approved.
CPAP machines are complex machines with many accessory options. Some, such as masks and headgear, must be purchased separately from your machine in order to use it at all. Others, like humidifiers and external batteries, can be integrated into the machine or purchased separately to install after purchase if you choose to use them. Some machine components, like hosing and filters, need occasional replacing. Finally, some accessories — like specialized pillows and cleaners — make using and caring for your machine easier but are not required for use.
|CPAP Accessory||Description||Cost (est.)|
|Masks||Choosing the right mask is one of the most important steps in successfully using your CPAP machine. Different mask types include nasal masks, nasal cushions, and full-face masks. Each has its own upsides and downsides, so patients should speak to their healthcare team about which type is best for their unique needs. Masks must be replaced every 3 to 6 months, and many CPAP users need to try more than one mask before finding what works for them.||$30-$150|
|Headgear||CPAP masks are held onto the face with headgear that usually consists of straps, velcro, and foam. Different masks require different headgear, and users may need to experiment with different configurations before finding one that is comfortable. Some masks come with headgear, while others require you to purchase it separately. Headgear must be replaced every 6 months or so, as it loses its elasticity over time.||$20-$100|
|Hosing||Pressurized air is delivered from the machine to the mask via a plastic hose. These hoses usually come with the CPAP machine itself, but they may need replacing over time. Other reasons for buying a replacement hose include hose length or shape, as well as special features like air heating or venting options.||$5-$70|
|Humidifier||Some CPAP machines without integrated humidifiers can be bought with an accessory humidifier, or can be fitted with a humidifier after purchase. Humidifiers add moisture to the pressurized air for greater comfort and relief of CPAP side effects like throat irritation.||$100-$250|
|External Battery||Most CPAP machines are designed to be plugged into a wall socket, but some can use an external battery for use when camping or traveling. Deep cycle batteries are not portable but have a longer battery life and are great for camping in place, while lithium-ion batteries (like those found in phones) are slim, lightweight, and charge quickly. Not all CPAP machines are compatible with external batteries.||$200-$900|
|Filters||Even “clean” air has plenty of dust, pollen, pet dander, and other particles that can irritate your airway or clog your machine. Most machines come with some kind of filter, whether reusable or disposable, but even reusable filters must be eventually replaced. Reusable filters should be cleaned and disposable filters replaced every 30 days.||$5-$25|
|Cleaners||Most CPAP machines and accessories can be cleaned using a gentle dish soap and some elbow grease, but specialized sanitizers are also available. These are usually water-free options that use UV light or activated oxygen to clean your machine and accessories on a daily basis. However, water-free CPAP cleaners are not approved by the FDA, which has spoken out about these products due to concerns about their safety and effectiveness.
While some still chose to use them for their convenience despite the risks, the cost of these cleaners can be prohibitive to many CPAP users.
|CPAP Pillows||While not an essential purchase for CPAP users, pillows designed for use with a CPAP machine can make treatment more comfortable and effective. Different types of pillows are available depending on your mask type and preferred sleep position, though most are made from polyfoam or memory foam.||$50-$200|
CPAP machines are complicated, and so is the process of buying one.
Most CPAP machines cost between $350 and $1000, though higher-end or specialized models may cost upwards of $3000. Other types of PAP therapy, such as APAP and BiPAP devices, cost more than APAP machines due to the advanced sensors required for their additional pressure settings. Travel APAP machines tend to cost the same as a standard APAP model, or even more, because their small size requires more delicate construction.
Most CPAP machines last 3 to 5 years before they must be replaced. Some machines have longer or shorter lifespans depending on the quality of their construction and the durability of any integrated accessories. Components like hoses usually need replacing at some point during the machine’s lifespan. You can help your CPAP machine last longer by using only compatible external accessories, as well as cleaning it regularly and correctly.
Almost all CPAP machines come with a warranty. Most are 2-year warranties, though some manufacturers provide a 3-year or 5-year warranty for their products. Depending on your warranty’s terms, you may be required to ship your defective machine in for inspection before a replacement machine is sent to you. Other manufacturers allow for immediate replacement, which prevents you from going without your machine during the inspection process.
Online CPAP retailers require you to submit your prescription, either by upload or via fax, before making a purchase. Beyond this step, the process is similar to buying any other item online. Customers should look into a retailer’s policies, particularly their shipping and return policies, before choosing whether or not to buy from them.
Different components of a CPAP machine require different methods of cleaning, but all you need to clean all the components are warm water, mild soap, and vinegar. Your machine will come with cleaning instructions, but as a general rule most CPAP machine components can be cleaned by taking them off the unplugged machine, washing gently with mild soap, rinsing twice, and leaving to dry. Humidifiers should also be cleaned with a 50-50 water and vinegar mix at least once a week.
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