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What Do We Need To Know About Using An Oxygen Concentrator In Our Motorhome

by Rob Taylor

Hope you can help.

My wife and I are taking my sister in law on a trip for her to go to a wedding. Sadly she has cancer and she needs to be on an oxygen concentrator all the time.

We plan an 8 hour trip in our itasca sundancer rv. It has a 30 amp panel. The medical company states the concentrator pulls 3.8 amps. We plan on running the a/c for her comfort. I have 2 12volt batteries. When I unhook and plug into rv.
Can I run a/c unit without running generator (aon) type, or do I need to run generator going down the road.

Will I have enough power in rv to run a/c and the concentrator on generator power. THe frig is plugged in as well as microwave. We do not plan on running anything else. When I get to our destination, I am worried about plugging into shore power. The house we will be parked at has outside outlet. They state only thing on this outlet is landscape lighting. I have purchased a heavy duty 50' extension cord from local rv place to get me close to house. With cord of rv plus 50' cord should have about 60' extension. I have bought adapter to reduce plug down for home outlet. If you could help on all of this I really would appreciate it very much. As you probably can tell, I am not an experienced rv person. Only want the comfort for my sister in law. Do not want a disaster when I get on the road.

Look forward to hearing from you.

Rob Taylor

ANSWER Greetings Rob thanks for submitting your question on our Ask An RV Question Page.

Before I answer your question let me take a moment to let our visitors know what an Oxygen Concentrator is. An Oxygen Concentrator is used by people who have a lung disorder that requires them to have a constant supply of supplemental oxygen. Rather than using bottled oxygen which requires changing bottles to keep the oxygen flow going, an Oxygen Concentrator is an electrical machine that takes the normal air we breathe which contains about 21% oxygen and scrubs out Nitrogen, moisture, etc. and concentrates it to over 94% pure oxygen. The Oxygen Generator supplies a constant flow of oxygen without the need of changing out or switching bottles.

Oxygen Concentrators can be used safely in the home as well as an RV. Now to your questions:

1. While going down the road you are going to have to have the generator running to operate the Oxygen Concentrator as most Concentrators run off of 120 volt electricity. The generator is also required to run your RV's air conditioner. You do not say what size generator you have, but you should be able to run the Oxygen Concentrator and 1 RV Air Conditioner at the same time. Depending on the wattage of the microwave it may also be used going down the road. Most RV fridges only draw 1 to 4 amps when operating on electric, so you should be OK there.

2. When you arrive at your destination is where you are going to have problems. Plugging your RV into a house's normal electrical outlet is going to limit you on what you can run in the RV. Most household electric outlets are going to be 15 amps, if you are lucky 20 amps. You say that there is already landscape lighting plugged into this outlet. Depending on the type of landscape lighting that is being used, you may not have many amps left for the RV. You should be able to run the Oxygen Concentrator, but the A/C and microwave will be iffy at best. The only thing I can suggest is that you temporarily turn off the landscape lighting, even if that is done, you still will not be able to run the A/C and Microwave at the same time without tripping the house's circuit breaker. If that happens the Oxygen Generator will stop working.

I would also suggest that you get with the medical supply company that is supplying the Oxygen Concentrator and get them to supply you with a couple of extra oxygen bottles, that can be used in case the Oxygen Concentrator loses power or malfunctions. This is especially important since you will be on a 9 hour trip and it may take a while to get to where you are going.

Since you will be dealing with oxygen either from the Concentrator or bottles it is important that you follow the proper precautions. Oxygen is not flammable, but it does make any fire burn faster and hotter. You need to keep flammable items away from the oxygen supply such as aerosol sprays, alcohol, petroleum products, solvents, etc. The Concentrator and oxygen bottles should be kept away from open flames, such as stoves, gas lanterns, water heaters, campfires, etc.

When transporting oxygen bottles you need to make sure that they are secured during travel, so they are not just banging around in the RV. They also should not be stored in areas where the temperature is above 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

I hope that this information has been helpful to you. If any of our visitors have suggestions for you they can add them by clicking on the add a comment link located near the bottom of this page.

I wish you a safe trip.

RVing Al

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Using Oxygen while RVing
by: Anonymous

I have traveled crosscountry while on oxygen. One important factor is the flow rate your family member needs which limits your options. I had both bottles and my concentrator with me. Since I only needed 2 liter flow rate I could go the day on one tank and use the concentrator at night while hooked up to shore power. Obviously a higher flow uses oxygen faster. At 2 liters a "B" tank (@ 30" tall) would handle @ 8+ hours. Remeber to keep the tanks vertical and SECURE! You can get them refilled or exchanged on the road via oxygen suppliers (especially local offices of the same supplier). Check with her oxygen supplier first. As to oxygen at your destination you should be able to use both the AC and the concentrator at the same time depending on their power useage. Using other appliances at the same time would be a problem Check about running a separate cord from a separate house circuit/outlet just for the concentrator to distribute the load.

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Need to hit the road...need air all the time..what to do ?
by: jim b

My concentrater uses 3.0 amps......can I buy a plug-into-the-cig-lighter while drivng ? and what is the best way to use it with a CPAP machine at night ?

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Portable Oxygen Concentrators
by: been there done that

My wife also requires oxygen 24/7. Our Oxygen provider also carries a portable unit that runs straight off the 12 volt system from our RV, plugs right into the cig lighter.

Depending on how much oxy you need (constant/pulse) the portable unit provides a battery pack as well as both AC and DC plugs. Check with your provider, or Doctor, he can prescribe a portable. You can also purchase an concentrator brand name Eclipe. kind of pricy but very nice unit, both as a portable or a permanent unit.

Good luck and happy traveling.

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)2
by: Anonymous

there is another way...you can purchase a converter, changes 12V-DC to 115V AC--it plugs into the cigarette lither of the RV...we use it to run the wifes CPAf..Just be sure the converter is rated at more amps than the concentrator...an 8 amp converter should do it..and as long as your battery is good the concentrator should work...good luck

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Thank you!
by: Justin

Wow. That's a very useful article. Thank you. That will definitely help my grandpa. He was concerned about traveling in his RV with his Portable Oxygen Concentrator.

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