Oxygen Cylinder Capacity: Understanding Different Sizes and Their Uses

Mar 10, 2023

Oxygen Cylinder Capacity: Understanding Different Sizes and Their Uses

Oxygen cylinders come in a variety of different sizes — but not every size applies to every scenario. If you’ve ever wondered what the different sizes of oxygen cylinders are and when to use them, this guide is for you. Wondering how long a C-size oxygen cylinder will last? Concerned about storage safety for your cylinders? We answer all these questions and more below.

What are the sizes of oxygen cylinders?

Oxygen cylinders come in a variety of sizes and may differ slightly from supplier to supplier. Each one is differentiated by a letter and contains a different volume of gas which is measured in litres or M3 (meters cubed). Some of the most common cylinder sizes include:

Size B

The smallest oxygen cylinders available, size B cylinders contain 250 L (0.25 m3) of oxygen, weigh approximately 1kg and stand less than 500 mm tall. This is one of the most common sizes of cylinders and is often used when administering oxygen therapy treatments at home or when travelling.

Size C

There are several different types of C cylinders depending on which supplier you use however typically they can hold approximately 570 L (0.57 m3) of oxygen. Though larger than B oxygen cylinders, size C oxygen cylinders are still easily portable when using medical trolleys or carry bags weighing in at around 6kg when full.

Size D

Size D cylinders contain around 1,900L (1.9 m3) of oxygen and weigh roughly 16kgs when full. These cylinders are some of the largest options that are still easily portable, making them ideal for home use, in ambulances, or in hospitals and clinics. When oxygen is administered at a 5LPM flow rate, the cylinder contents can last for about 2 hour 30 minutes.

Size E

E cylinders are on the larger end of the scale, standing over 1,000mm tall and holding up to 4,300L (4.3 m3). As a result, they can weigh up to 40kg when full. Due to their size, E cylinders are not considered easily portable but can make ideal emergency backup tanks when needed.

Size G

G cylinders are among the largest oxygen cylinders available holding a capacity of 10,000L (10 m3). They are roughly the height of an average person and can weigh up to 74kg when full. These cylinders are commonly found on in hospitals, veterinary practices, dental practices and medical facilities which have a high demand for oxygen. These cylinders would be typically connected to a fixed medical gas manifold system which would run the gas via copper pipes in to the facility to the medical gas outlets.

To determine which size is the most useful in a certain scenario, consider the following factors:

  • The patient’s location
  • Whether or not any movement is necessary
  • The prescribed flow rate (LPM)
  • The capacity of the tank
  • Any additional accessories, such as an oxygen conserver or regulator

Oxygen cylinders are also commonly used in conjunction with oxygen concentrators. Learn more about the differences between tanks and concentrators here.

Different sizes, same safety considerations

No matter what size your oxygen cylinder is, it’s important to use and store oxygen tanks safely. Improperly stored cylinders can easily become dangerous — even deadly. To avoid harming yourself, others, or your property, follow these safe storage tips.

1. Employ proper signage

If located in a medical facility, post warning notices around the storage site, including No Smoking signs. If storing oxygen at home, you may wish to post No Smoking signs or Oxygen In Use signs.

2. Secure your tanks

Keep tanks in an upright position and secured snuggly in a cylinder holder, cylinder bracket, trolley, or — if travelling —in an oxygen cylinder backpack.

3. Store in a protected, well-ventilated area

Keep unauthorised people away from oxygen cylinders to prevent accidents or tampering. Store cylinders in a cool, dark, and well-ventilated area for best results.

4. Keep away from heat and combustible materials

Never store oxygen cylinders near heat sources, open flames, flammable liquids, or non-medical gases. Never use oxygen around oil, grease, petroleum-based products, aerosols, or other potentially flammable materials.

5. Rotate cylinders to use older ones first

Ensure that you rotate your stock and use the older cylinders first.

6. Transport appropriately

Only move cylinders with the help of a trolley. Never roll or drag a cylinder over the ground. Use a dedicated trolley such as a tri-cylinder trolley or another appropriately sized trolley to transport cylinders (for example, transport E-sized cylinders using medical trolleys designed for cylinders in the E class, etc.).

Shop cylinder accessories and more at Mega Medical

Whether you’re searching for sturdy wall brackets and cylinder wall mounts or you need to restock oxygen consumables, you’ll find what you need at Mega Medical. As one of Australia’s largest online medical supply providers, we carry an impressive range of medical supplies and equipment.

View our complete collection online today or get in touch with our team for assistance with volume pricing, product information, or any other questions you may have.