Understanding the Difference Between Oxygen Concentrators and Oxygen Cylinders

Mar 23, 2022

Understanding the Difference Between Oxygen Concentrators and Oxygen Cylinders

While oxygen concentrators and oxygen tanks are both used to provide oxygen therapy, they are two very different devices. Therefore, if you’re deciding on oxygen cylinder vs oxygen concentrator devices, it’s important to consider the pros and cons of each option.

Below we’ve outlined several factors you should consider when contemplating an oxygen concentrator machine vs oxygen cylinder systems for your home or facility.

Oxygen concentrator vs oxygen cylinder: Which is better?

The main difference between an oxygen concentrator vs cylinder is how they provide oxygen. Both medical devices deliver medical oxygen to patients undergoing oxygen therapy. However, that doesn’t mean that what works for one patient will work for another. Therefore, it’s important to consider factors such as functionality, portability, cost and safety when deciding whether to use an oxygen tank or a concentrator.

Oxygen concentrator vs oxygen cylinder — how they work

An oxygen cylinder is a sturdy metal tank that contains a finite amount of liquid or compressed gas oxygen. These devices need a special valve (a regulator) and a flow meter to release oxygen safely. On the other hand, Oxygen concentrators take oxygen out of the surrounding air, purify it, and deliver it to the patient.

Both oxygen tanks and concentrators need additional oxygen equipment, including medical tubing and a nasal cannula or oxygen mask. You must also use oxygen tanks with the appropriate storage equipment to prevent them from becoming damaged.

Oxygen cylinder vs concentrator safety

When it comes to using an oxygen concentrator vs oxygen tank system, safety is one of the most important factors. Oxygen can be very dangerous, and each of these medical devices presents its own safety hazards.

Pressurised oxygen cylinders can become dangerous missiles and cause significant damage to property or people. A leaking tank can also increase the risk of fire, especially if used near combustible materials or open flames or sparks. Cylinders are also usually heavier and less portable than concentrators, which may increase the risk of injury when lifting or transporting the tank.

Oxygen concentrators present their own risks. These medical devices are more complex than a tank system and thus more prone to damage, which can present a danger if the patient doesn’t have a backup oxygen system. Concentrators also need a power source to work, which introduces a risk of electrical and tripping hazards.

Oxygen concentrator vs tank cost

Cylinder systems are often inexpensive upfront, while concentrators carry a heftier price tag. In addition, you will have to refill or replace tanks over time, which can cost you more in the long run, while it’s relatively inexpensive to operate a concentrator after you’ve purchased one.

Oxygen concentrator vs oxygen tank portability

Portability plays a key role in determining whether to use a concentrator or an oxygen cylinder. It’s important to use an oxygen device that allows the patient to maintain their lifestyle as much as possible. There are portable or ambulatory options available for both cylinders and concentrators.

Oxygen tanks are generally heavier and more dangerous to manoeuvre than concentrators. However, concentrators must have access to a power source, making them less useful for people on the go.

Other factors: Oxygen tank vs concentrator pros and cons

Is an oxygen concentrator better than an oxygen cylinder? Here are a few other pros and cons to consider.

Concentrators Cylinders
Requires consistent power to work No power required
Provides infinite oxygen while the machine is working Requires refills or replacement
Is readily available when you need it Requires transportation to your home or facility, resulting in potential delays
Can be loud and disruptive Provides a quiet source of oxygen
Easier transport and storage More regulations regarding transport and storage
Available in a wide range of sizes, styles and models Fewer options regarding size
May have additional features for greater control over oxygen flow Offers only continuous flow oxygen


Which is better: Oxygen tank or oxygen concentrator?

So, which is better — oxygen cylinder or oxygen concentrator systems? The answer often depends on the patient. However, one of the ideal setups is to include both medical devices by primarily using an oxygen concentrator and keeping oxygen cylinders as a backup in case of a power outage or mechanical failure.

Mega Medical: Providers of life-saving medical equipment

When deciding between concentrator vs. cylinder systems, it’s important to choose wisely. Our team at Mega Medical is here to help you find the best option — call us at 1300 881 824 today to speak to a staff member about our oxygen concentrators, medical gases, and medical gas equipment.