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Positive airway pressure (PAP) therapy is one of the most common treatments for sleep apnea, a breathing disorder that affects millions of Americans. While continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) treatment is the most common form, there are other types of PAP machines. Automatic positive airway pressure (APAP) machines automatically adjust the amount of air pressure depending on the user’s needs, while bi-level positive airway pressure (BiPAP or BPAP) machines have separate air pressure settings for inhalation and exhalation.
BiPAP treatment, like all PAP treatment, uses pressurized air to keep the airway open during sleep and help users maintain healthy oxygen levels. Because the air pressure lowers for exhalation, many people find BiPAP machines easier to use than CPAP machines. The difference in air pressure also encourages the user to breathe, so a BiPAP machine can be used much like a ventilator for conditions other than sleep apnea. All BiPAP machines can be used at home, but some models are also travel-friendly due to their lightweight and compact designs.
Purchasing the right BiPAP machine is important for a user’s health, but its cost and complexity can make buying one both stressful and confusing. Thankfully, all the factors one should consider before purchase can be broken down into several straightforward categories. There are also several BiPAP machines on the market that stand above the rest. By educating yourself about what to look for in a BiPAP machine, it’s far easier to find the right one for your needs.
Are you looking for a CPAP machine? Check out our list of the best CPAP machines we tested.
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The ResMed AirCurve 10 Vauto BiPAP Machine Card-to-Cloud checks a lot of boxes for people who rely on nightly therapy for sleep apnea. Defining features include an integrated humidifier and an AutoSet algorithm that adjusts pressure settings throughout the night.
The ResMed AirCurve 10 Vauto BiPAP Machine Card-to-Cloud combines solid performance with advanced features like data tracking, a heated humidifier, and differentiated pressure settings. With its easy-to-use design, the AirCurve 10 should appeal to a broad range of BiPAP users.
What Does It Do?
The machine is equipped with an AutoSet algorithm that provides different pressure levels for inhalation and exhalation throughout the night, while Easy-Breathe technology allows the machine to emulate normal breathing patterns to further enhance comfort and efficiency. An integrated humidifier heats the water prior to air delivery. This reduces condensation within the connective tube and helps prevent uncomfortable rainout that can leave you feeling congested.
The machine tracks and stores your therapy data, which you can then download onto an SD card to share with your medical provider. Note that the AirCurve 10 is not equipped with cellular technology for data sharing with ResMed’s app.
Who It’s Best for
The AirCurve 10 is ideal for sleepers who need a machine that offers different pressure settings for inhalation and exhalation. The pressure automatically adjusts to your breathing to make for an overall more comfortable experience. Some BiPAP machines can cause dry or scratchy throats. If this is a concern, you may benefit from the integrated humidifier to moisten the pressurized air that you’re breathing in.
The AirCurve 10 qualifies for free shipping, and it includes a 30-night trial. You may return unused machines during this timeframe for a refund, though you will be charged a 15% restocking fee.
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The Luna BiPAP Machine is chock-full of helpful features to keep you comfortable at night. The built-in heated humidifier is an especially nice touch, as this can reduce the potential for rainout and help you avoid feeling congested.
The Luna BiPAP Machine from 3B Medical has several advanced features to keep you as comfortable as possible. Heated tubing, an integrated humidifier, preheat settings, automatic ramp features, and a user-friendly interface make the device an accessible and convenient choice for sleepers who need BiPAP therapy.
What Does It Do?
The device measures roughly 60 square inches. A slim profile of 4.5 inches and stable base allow you to place it on any flat surface. The humidifier has a water capacity of 360 milliliters. At less than 4 pounds with the humidifier attached, the machine is fairly lightweight and portable. The interface features a built-in modem, as well as controls for adjusting various settings and accessing sleep reports. All orders include the machine, tubing, an air filter, and a power supply.
Who It’s Best for
We consider the Luna travel-friendly due to its compact design, so we recommend this device for frequent travelers. The built-in humidifier also caters to sleepers who experience dry or scratchy throats during CPAP therapy. You can preheat the humidifier to ensure optimal breathing as your therapy begins, and heated tubing with adjustable humidity control helps prevent condensation and rainout that can cause you to feel congested. An auto-ramp feature gradually increases the pressure from a low level to your prescribed inhalation and exhalation settings, allowing you to breathe with ease.
The Luna never exceeds 26 decibels, making it relatively quiet compared to other BiPAP machines. The user-friendly interface provides regular sleep reports and allows you to adjust heat, humidity, and other device settings.
While the Luna is somewhat expensive, its price-point is on par with other advanced BiPAP machines on the market today. The Luna also qualifies for free shipping if you place your order through Singular Sleep. The device is backed by a 2-year manufacturer’s warranty.
Given their cost and importance to a user’s health, BiPAP machines can be a significant purchase for many people. However, buying one is far less stressful when you understand how they function and know what to look for.
Learning about BiPAP machines can be overwhelming regardless of whether or not you’re new to PAP treatment. We’ll break down the most important considerations in order to streamline the information and make it easier for you to find the right BiPAP machine. Individual categories might be more or less important to you depending on your needs, but each deserves your consideration before you make a purchase.
BiPAP therapy is a medical treatment, and your doctor’s recommendations and prescription are the most important factors when choosing a BiPAP machine. Doctors may recommend a specific machine, provide guidelines about features your treatment requires, or otherwise guide you towards what will work best for you. If you have questions about which BiPAP machine you should buy, your doctor is in the best position to provide you with personalized answers.
While climate control options are considered a non-essential feature, they can eliminate some of the most common BiPAP side effects. Humidifiers add moisture to the pressurized air, which prevents it from drying out your airway. Some BiPAP machines have an integrated humidifier, but aftermarket humidifier accessories are available if your chosen machine does not come with one. Heated tubing warms the air, making it more comfortable and improving its ability to stay humidified. Like humidifiers, heated tubing can also be purchased as a separate accessory.
Unlike CPAP machines, which tend to range from 4 to 20 cm H2O (a measure of air pressure based on centimeters of water pressure), BiPAP machines usually have a pressure range of 4 to 25 cm H2O. Your doctor will advise you of the best pressure setting for your treatment.
PAP treatment is only required when you are asleep, and using a BiPAP machine can be uncomfortable while you are trying to fall asleep. Ramp settings slowly increase the air pressure over a set period, providing you with plenty of time to fall asleep before reaching its final pressure setting.
While PAP machines have a reputation for being noisy, modern models can be “whisper quiet.” Each BiPAP machine has an average sound level measured in decibels, and the best range is from 25 to 30 dB — around the level of a whisper. Since even mild snoring is 40 to 50 dB, most BiPAP machines are relatively quiet and unlikely to bother all but the lightest of sleepers.
Data tracking serves two purposes for BiPAP users. Not only does it allow you and your healthcare team to chart the effectiveness of your treatment, but many insurance providers require you to prove that you are using your BiPAP machine and adhering to treatment. Most BiPAP machines have some degree of data tracking built in, but you can purchase a data tracking accessory if you choose a machine without this feature.
BiPAP machines do not come with everything you need to use them. At a minimum, BiPAP users must purchase a mask and headgear that are replaced on a regular basis. BiPAP filters must also be replaced several times a year. Whether or not you have to buy other accessories depends on your needs and your BiPAP machine’s integrated features.
BiPAP manufacturers differentiate their machines with a range of unique features. These are usually non-essential but may improve your treatment experience by automatically lowering the screen brightness when you turn your lights off, or by automatically starting when you breathe into your mask. While unique features are rarely the deciding factor in choosing a BiPAP machine, they are worth keeping in mind.
Running between $800 and $3,000, BiPAP machines are significantly more expensive than CPAP machines (which usually cost between $350 and $1,000). BiPAP machines require sensors so that the machine can time the two pressure settings to your breath, and the quick change in pressure also requires a more intricate design. As with all medical devices, it is crucial to purchase the BiPAP machine that fits your needs rather than a less-suitable model that may be less expensive.
The vast majority of BiPAP machines come with a warranty that covers manufacturing defects or other flaws. Most have a 2-year term, though some manufacturers back their product with a 3-year — or even a 5-year — warranty. In addition to their term length, warranty terms and conditions also vary between manufacturers. Before choosing a machine, double-check the warranty’s fine print to make sure it works for you. For example, the best warranties will immediately provide you with a replacement so that you do not have to go without your BiPAP machine while they investigate the claim.
Just as choosing a BiPAP machine has both similarities and marked differences to choosing any other expensive device, the purchase process is likely to be both familiar and unfamiliar in many ways. There are four stages you must go through: receiving your prescription, choosing a machine and retailer, providing your prescription to the retailer, and making your purchase. You must also navigate other considerations, like insurance coverage and whether or not you need BiPAP accessories.
All PAP machines, including BiPAP machines, require a formal prescription from a member of your healthcare team. This is true of all PAP retailers, whether brick-and-mortar or online. Purchasing at a brick-and-mortar retailer only requires handing over your prescription like at a pharmacy, while online retailers will have you upload or fax them your prescription before making a purchase.
CPAP, BiPAP, and APAP (automatic positive airway pressure) machines have many similarities, but their differences make choosing between them a job for your healthcare team. If your doctor has prescribed CPAP treatment, you should not use a BiPAP machine unless you have spoken to them and they have changed your prescription. Your doctor may also recommend a specific model, accessories, or features. If you have concerns or questions about your prescription or the products your doctor has recommended, it is important to speak to them about these issues rather than make a decision on your own.
Insurance coverage of BiPAP machines can be a complicated topic. Not all insurers cover PAP machines, and those that cover BiPAP machines often require patients to prove that CPAP therapy is ineffective (or contraindicated) for them before they will provide coverage. Most insurance providers also require users to enter into a kind of rental contract with them rather than owning their machine outright, paying monthly towards their machine and providing data proving that they are adhering to treatment. Depending on your insurance provider, financial situation, and needs, it may be easier and more cost-effective to purchase your BiPAP machine out-of-pocket. To learn more about your insurance provider’s BiPAP coverage, look under the “durable medical equipment” category in your insurance benefits literature.
CPAP accessories are usually compatible with BiPAP machines, and BiPAP accessories may be sold as CPAP accessories. All BiPAP users must purchase their mask and headgear separately from their machine, though both items are bought together. Masks and headgear can range dramatically in price, but most people can find a good choice that works well with their budget. Users should also replace their BiPAP machine’s filter regularly, as covered by its instructions. Other accessories may be more or less critical depending on your needs, your BiPAP machine’s features, and your lifestyle. When deciding on accessories, keep in mind that some require regular replacement or daily cleaning.
Where to Buy
Most people buy their BiPAP machine from a sleep specialist, a brick-and-mortar shop, or an online PAP device retailer. All require a formal prescription from your doctor, and each has its own upsides and downsides. Sleep specialists tend to have the highest prices and smallest selection, but buying from your healthcare team may allow for better treatment oversight. Brick-and-mortar retailers allow you to bring your new BiPAP machine home immediately, but their prices and selection are unlikely to be as good as online retailers. In turn, online retailers are a great choice for comparison shoppers, but some people may be put off by the extra steps of submitting their prescription and waiting for their machine to be delivered.
A vast array of accessories are available for BiPAP machines. Some of these are essential, such as the mask and headgear you must purchase in order to use your BiPAP. Other accessories, like climate control items or external batteries, are non-essential purchases that can dramatically improve your treatment experience. This category also includes replacement parts, such as filters and hoses, and external items like mask-friendly pillows and cleaning devices.
Deciding on what accessories to purchase should involve considering your needs and budget. If you have any questions about what accessories might work best for you, your healthcare team is in the best position to provide answers and advice.
|BiPAP Accessory||Description||Cost (est.)|
|Masks||All BiPAP users must purchase a mask to use with their machine. Choosing the right mask depends on your treatment needs, face shape, preferred sleep position, and other factors. For more information on what mask is right for you, speak to your healthcare team. Masks must also be replaced every 3 to 6 months depending on the model.||$30-$150|
|Headgear||Most BiPAP masks come with headgear, but other types of headgear — including chinstraps to keep the mouth closed — are available to purchase. You may need to experiment with different types of headgear before finding one that is comfortable and effective. Headgear must also be replaced when it loses its elasticity, usually every 6 months.||$20-$100|
|Hosing||BiPAP machines come with the hosing used to deliver pressurized air to your mask. These hoses may need to be replaced over time, and some people choose to buy a new hose that has a more convenient shape or length. Heated hoses, which warm air before it is delivered through your mask, are also available.||$5-$70|
|Humidifier||Many BiPAP machines now have integrated humidifiers to help users avoid drying out their airway. If your machine does not have a humidifier, you can purchase one as an accessory. Humidifiers can be heated or unheated, though heated models are usually more expensive and may be larger.||$100-$250|
|Filters||BiPAP filters catch the dust, pet dander, pollen, and other particles that would otherwise be sent into your airway all night. Filters can be reusable or disposable, though even reusable filters must be replaced regularly. Disposable filters should be replaced monthly, and most reusable filters should be cleaned on a similar schedule.||$5-$25|
|External Battery||External batteries allow you to use your BiPAP machine in places without outlet access. They can also function as backup power sources in case of a power outage. Not all BiPAP machines are compatible with an external battery, so double-check with your machine’s manufacturer before buying a battery.||$200-$900|
|Cleaners||PAP machines require very regular cleaning to remain hygienic and effective. Products marketed as CPAP cleaners promise to make cleaning easy through the use of UV light or ozone (activated oxygen). However, the FDA has not approved any devices for this purpose and has shared concerns about the safety and efficacy of CPAP cleaners.||$300-$400|
|CPAP Pillows||Despite their name, CPAP pillows are equally useful for BiPAP users. These pillows are designed to provide supportive comfort while providing room for a mask, making them an excellent choice for many people who struggle to get comfortable while using a mask. Different designs are available for different styles of mask and a variety of sleeping positions.||$50-$200|
Purchasing a BiPAP machine can be a confusing process, and you may have additional questions about choosing the right model for your needs. As with all medical decisions, your healthcare team should be able to answer your questions and address your concerns.
Bi-level positive airway pressure (BiPAP or BPAP) machines keep a user’s airways open during sleep through the use of pressurized air, with higher pressure levels for inhalation and a lower level for exhalation. The difference between the two settings can improve comfort, but it can also be used to encourage normal breathing in much the same way as a ventilator. BiPAP machines are primarily used for sleep apnea, but can be effective for treating other conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) and BiPAP machines both offer forms of PAP therapy, but CPAP machines have only one air pressure setting instead of the two pressure settings used by a BiPAP machine. CPAP is the frontline treatment for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), whereas BiPAP is used as a treatment for OSA patients only when CPAP treatment has proven ineffective or is contraindicated. If your doctor has prescribed a specific type of PAP treatment, it is critical to follow their prescription and only change your PAP type under their direct advice.
In the U.S., most BiPAP machines cost between $800 and $3,000. Prices vary worldwide, but the cost of a BiPAP is significantly higher than a comparable CPAP machine, as BiPAP machines have a more complex design with additional sensors and settings. Some insurance providers provide coverage for BiPAP machines, but those that do often restrict coverage to certain patients and may require users to lease their machine rather than purchase it outright. If your insurance provider covers BiPAP machines, the terms are usually found under “durable medical equipment” in their coverage literature.
Almost all BiPAP machines come with a manufacturer’s warranty that covers manufacturing defects and other flaws. The most common term length is for 2 years, though some manufacturers offer 3-year and even 5-year terms. It is important to read the fine print of your BiPAP machine’s warranty, as some manufacturers will require you to send your faulty machine in for inspection before they provide you with a replacement.
BiPAP machines can be purchased from online retailers in much the same way as any other product, but customers must first submit their prescription either by fax or by uploading it to the retailer’s website. Each retailer has its own system, but most are easy to navigate even for people who do not consider themselves tech savvy. You should always double-check a retailer’s prescription-acceptance system, as well as their privacy policies, before deciding to purchase from them.
The components of your BiPAP machine should be cleaned regularly — daily is best, though weekly is also acceptable for most people — with mild soap and warm water. This is a relatively simple process that ensures your machine is free from mold, harmful microbes, and contaminants. It is important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for your specific machine, but most components can be cleaned by removing them from the unplugged machine, cleaning them with a mild soap, rinsing them, and leaving them to air-dry. Cleaning your humidifier tank may also require the use of vinegar to dissolve residue.
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