Therapy Equipment

Comparing the Best CPAP Machines (Updated in September 2018)

This article features side-by-side comparisons for the best CPAP machines on the market today. We look at noise, cost, warranties, portability, ramp features, pressure relief features, data tracking, and humidification.
 

How to Choose the Best CPAP Machine?

Deciding on a new CPAP machine? Trying to find the best CPAP machine? A CPAP unit can be a lifesaver if you suffer from Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) or other sleep disorders1.

How do you find out if you have OSA? A sleep study is used to diagnose Sleep Apnea and can be done at home or in a sleep lab. CPAP stands for “Continuous Positive Airway Pressure” and is a form of treatment for Obstructive Sleep Apnea. It is also sometimes referred to as “PAP therapy”. In PAP therapy, the machine connects to a mask, which delivers air pressure near the mouth and nose using an elongated tube known as a hose. The CPAP unit works by pressurizing the outside air so that when you breathe in, it’s able to open your blocked airway.

Deciding which machine to buy boils down to more than a simple cost analysis. You’ll want to ask yourself several questions. How quiet are these units? What are the costs involved, including long-term maintenance issues? And, what type of luck have other patients had with the various Sleep Apnea machines on the market today? We answer all of these questions for the best PAP devices on the market today.

best cpap machines

Buying a CPAP machine can be a big investment, and even if your insurance covers the cost of a new CPAP unit, you still want to make sure you’re choosing a device that will work over the long-run. Let’s discuss several of today’s best CPAP machines: ResMed AirSense 10 AutoSet, ResMed AirSense 10 AutoSet for Her, ResMed AirMini AutoSet Travel CPAP, Philips Respironics DreamStation Auto CPAP, Somnetics Transcend Auto. We’ll hone in on eight key points of comparison: noise, price, warranty, portability factor, ramp, pressure relief, data management, and humidification options.

 

How to Find a Quiet CPAP Machine

The good news? All the leading manufacturers of the best CPAP machines have figured out that it is tough to get a good night’s sleep when you’re lying next to a noisy, vibrating, obtrusive device – which means today’s modern devices are generally pretty quiet. The standard benchmark noise level for quiet machines is under 30 dB.

ResMed AirSense 10 AutoSet

26.6 dB

AirSense 10 CPAP Equipment
ResMed AirSense 10 AutoSet

ResMed AirSense 10 AutoSet for Her

26.6 dB

ResMed AirMini AutoSet

30 dB

Philips Respironics DreamStation Auto

25.8 dB

Somnetics Transcend Auto

26.6 dB

The Verdict? The DreamStation Auto treads the lightest – registering around 25 dB without the use of its optional humidifier.
 
graphic showing CPAP machines and price tags
 

How Much Does a CPAP Device Cost?

Prices can vary by machine model and manufacturer. CPAP.com offers lower-priced machines, ranging from $300 to $900 depending on the manufacturer. You can also choose the CPAP version of these machines for an additional cost reduction.

ResMed AirSense 10 Auto

Around $800-900

ResMed AirSense 10 AutoSet for Her

Around $800-900

ResMed AirMini AutoSet

Around $800-900

Philips Respironics DreamStation Auto

Around $600-700

Somnetics Transcend Auto

Around $500

The Verdict? While the Somnetics Transcend Auto & the PR DreamStation Auto occupy the lower end of the price scale, it’s important to also consider the features and overall value, aside from cost alone.

What Kind of Warranties do CPAP Brands Offer?

Plan on replacing some components of your CPAP unit as the months go on – that’s just part of the ownership experience. But, you shouldn’t have to worry about major repairs for years when you opt for one of these leading CPAP models. While a more extended warranty doesn’t guarantee a better product, having peace of mind is worth considering.

ResMed AirMini AutoSet Travel CPAP Machine
ResMed AirMini AutoSet Travel CPAP Machine

ResMed AirSense 10 Auto

2 years

ResMed AirSense 10 AutoSet for Her

2 years

ResMed AirMini AutoSet

2 years

Philips Respironics DreamStation Auto

2 years

Somnetics Transcend Auto

3 years

The Verdict? 2 years is common for most manufacturers, with Somnetics offering 3-year warranties.

Are the Best CPAP Machines Portable?

Your CPAP unit is designed for use anytime you’re asleep, which means you must take it with you when you travel away from home. Look at the weight and size of each CPAP model. See if your desired unit is battery-compatible for even greater convenience. If you travel a lot, this is an important consideration that you’ll want to keep in mind.

ResMed AirSense 10 Auto

2.75 lbs without any accessories, power cord, or humidifier

ResMed AirSense 10 AutoSet for Her

2.75 lbs without any accessories, power cord, or humidifier

ResMed AirMini AutoSet

0.66 lbs without any accessories (Note: This is a travel mini CPAP)

Philips Respironics DreamStation Auto

1.56 lbs without any accessories, power cord, or humidifier

Somnetics Transcend Auto

0.9 lbs without any accessories, power cord, or humidifier (Note: This is a travel mini CPAP)

The Verdict? For the regular sized machines, the PR DreamStation tips the scales right below 2 pounds. For the travel CPAP machines, the ResMed AirMini is the lightest machine.

Do the Best CPAP Machines Have Ramp Features?

Simply defined as a gradual increase in flow and pressure delivered over a specified time, the ramp feature can help you more comfortably acclimate to the sensation of constant air pressure at night. The more extended the ramp period, the more gradual the pressure increase. Conversely, a shorter ramp may deliver maximum airflow before the user has had a chance to fall asleep.

Philips Respironics DreamStation Auto
Philips Respironics DreamStation Auto

ResMed AirSense 10 Auto

30-minute ramp, also includes AutoRamp

ResMed AirSense 10 AutoSet for Her

30-minute ramp, also includes AutoRamp

ResMed AirMini AutoSet

0-45 minute ramp

Philips Respironics DreamStation Auto

The device has two ramp modes: The standard ramp mode increases pressure at a steady rate. The SmartRamp mode maintains a constant lower pressure until the device detects the need for more pressure.

Somnetics Transcend Auto

45-minute ramp

The Verdict? Ramp time varies between 30-45 minutes for each machine. Choosing which ramp is right for you can depend on your sleeping preferences. Each model offers a 5-minute ramp interval, which means the pressure is increased every five minutes until reaching the maximum operating pressure.
 

Do the Best CPAP Machines Have Some Form of Pressure Relief?

Anticipating that many patients using CPAP and APAP devices may have trouble exhaling against a constant stream of pressurized air, most manufacturers include some form of pressure relief to make it more comfortable to exhale. Pressure relief is not the same thing as a BiPAP, and it shouldn’t be seen as a potential BiPAP alternative. Exhalation relief should be thought of as a comfort feature and the best CPAP and APAP machines have it. Here’s how our list shakes out:

ResMed AirSense 10 Auto

Has an exhale pressure relief system called EPR. EPR is a pressure relief system patented by ResMed. Machines from other manufacturers will usually have their own version.

ResMed AirSense 10 AutoSet for Her

Has an exhale pressure relief system called EPR.

ResMed AirMini AutoSet

Has a pressure relief system called EPR.

Respironics DreamStation Auto

Has a pressure relief system called A-Flex. A-Flex is Philips Respironics’ version of pressure relief for some of its machines.

Somnetics Transcend Auto

Has a pressure relief system Somnetics calls EZEX.

The Verdict? As these are all modern devices, they all come with a form of pressure relief. There’s no one brand of pressure relief that works better or worse than another, and you can’t go wrong with any of these options.

Showing a photo of a man holding a cellphone
 

Do the Best CPAP Machines Have Therapy Data Tracking?

Being able to track relevant data points throughout the night is important, as it creates mini “nightly sleep studies” that can provide clues as to how the individual is breathing and resting throughout the night. All four machines offer standard data management capabilities, with SD card data storage built-in to each device. The type of data varies by machine model and manufacturer.

ResMed AirSense 10 Auto

Includes Usage Data, Events Per Hour, Average Usage, Leak Rate, and Apnea/Hypopnea Index (AHI).

ResMed AirSense 10 AutoSet for Her

Algorithm developed specifically for women. Includes Usage Data, Events Per Hour, Average Usage, Leak Rate, and Apnea/Hypopnea Index (AHI).

ResMed AirMini AutoSet

Includes 30-day Sleep Score, Usage Hours, Events per Hour, Leak Rate (all accessible through the app).

Philips Respironics DreamStation Auto

Includes Apnea/Hypopnea Index (AHI), Periodic Breathing, Leak Rate, and Therapy Hours.

Somnetics Transcend Auto

Includes Minimum and Maximum Therapy Pressure, Starting Therapy Pressure, Apnea/Hypopnea Index (AHI), Leak Detection, Total Therapy Hours, Number of Therapy Sessions, and Total Hours the Blower Has Operated.

The Verdict? The available data varies by the machine model and manufacturer, so be sure to consider which data points are most important for your specific needs.
 

Do the Best CPAP Units Have Built-In or Integrated Humidification?

Humidification is a very important part of CPAP therapy. What is humidification? Humidification is the process of adding moisture to the therapy air by using a specially designed humidifier. The humidifier chamber is filled with water, and as the air passes over it picks up moisture. Some manufacturers make heated humidifiers. A heated humidifier will warm the water used in humidification. Without using a humidifier, your nightly therapy can dry out the nasal passages or the mouth and throat (depending on if you’re using a nasal mask or a full face mask). By using a humidifier, you’re moisturizing the air you breathe in so that you wake up feeling refreshed instead of dried out.

Humidifiers are either built-in (included as part of the design, and not an add-on), integrated (meaning it’s a humidifier that only works with one specific machine, offered as an add-on to the original design), or stand-alone. Stand-alone humidifiers are entirely separate from the model and work with multiple devices. Here’s how our featured machines break down in terms of humidification options:

ResMed AirSense 10 Auto

Features a built-in humidifier

ResMed AirSense 10 AutoSet for Her

Features a built-in humidifier

ResMed AirMini AutoSet

Features a waterless humidification system, but no traditional humidifier.

Philips Respironics DreamStation Auto

Integrated heated humidifier offered as an add-on

Somnetics Transcend Auto

Integrated humidifier offered as an add-on

The Verdict? All of these machines have humidification options, but only the AirSense series has a built-in humidifier. Even though the AirMini doesn’t use a traditional humidifier, many of our customers enjoy the waterless humidification that is used by the AirMini.

Customer Product Reviews:

ResMed AirSense 10 Auto

“I usually study purchases to death, but pulled the trigger on this guy the 1st day. Boy, am I glad I did. This machine is awesome. It is extremely quiet. In fact, on startup and before ramp up it is almost completely silent. You can’t even tell it is on.”

ResMed AirSense 10 AutoSet for Her

“This is my fourth CPAP machine. Until now I thought they were pretty similar and this one would be quieter. Boy was I wrong!! I am so grateful that my doctor recommended this machine. It is very quiet more importantly I have never had this quality sleep in years!!”

ResMed AirMini AutoSet

“Such a nice size, after years of lugging around the full-size machine, the mini was a pleasure to travel with. A little louder but didn’t bother my wife and I at all, worth the trade-off and therapy felt great too, resulting in typical AHI.”

Philips Respironics DreamStation Auto

“Auto CPAP clearly more effective than regular CPAP. I had to spend the cash out of pocket because insurance would not cover, and I am glad I did. Not sure how comprehensive compliance reports will be, but it really works better than regular CPAP for me. Worth the upgrade.”

Somnetics Transcend Auto

“Works great with my mask. No problems with it sliding off the nightstand that others have reported and I did not find it noisy. The little buttons did take a little getting used to but that was not a big deal for me. Very happy with my purchase.”

Conclusion

 

Transcend auto best cpap machines
Somnetics Transcend Auto

You may have noticed that the machines we listed are Auto Adjusting machines, and did not mention CPAP and BiPAP machines. There’s a reason for that. Auto Adjusting (APAP) machines can automatically adjust therapy pressure to exactly match what your body needs during the night. On the other hand, CPAP machines only have one set pressure (the prescribed pressure set by the physician), and cannot adjust as your needs change. APAP machines are considered by many users to be a better, more comfortable way to CPAP.

BiPAP machines are a form of Sleep Apnea treatment that delivers two set pressures: one for inhale and then a lower pressure for exhaling. Some BiPAP machines can even prompt breathing, which is why they are sometimes used to treat Central or Complex Sleep Apnea.

If you like one of these APAP machines, but want to get the price point down, many of these machines have a CPAP counterpart. The CPAP versions of these machines are generally less expensive than the APAP models listed here.

The five models compared here are winning examples of today’s modern CPAP machine designs. Each offers robust construction, comprehensive data management capabilities, and the ability to custom tailor related accessories to create the healthiest and most comfortable night of sleep imaginable.

To learn more about the different types of CPAP machines, contact the CPAP experts at CPAP.com for professional advice that recognizes your individual needs.

For more information on this and other topics, please see the following comprehensive resource on: CPAP machines. There you’ll find more information about CPAP devices and how they work to treat Sleep Apnea. Hopefully, you will find this resource useful as you travel on your journey to CPAP success.

Helpful Resources:

To do your own comparisons of today’s best CPAP machines, you can use the following comparison charts for CPAP machines and APAP machines. You can select your favorite machines from our product list and compare them head-to-head with other machines you’re interested in.

CPAP Checklist

When you’re ready to get your first or next CPAP device, you’ll want to make sure you have everything you need. Here’s a checklist to go by as you get ready to start CPAP-ing

  • Select your machine
    • You’ll want to make sure it comes with a hose. If it doesn’t, you can order one here.
    • Make sure you have enough filters. Filters can be disposable or reusable. Some machines use both. If you need extra filters, you can find them here.
    • Does your machine come with humidification? Sometimes you can select it as an add-on when you purchase your machine. Some machines come with a built-in humidifier. If it doesn’t, you should consider getting one.
  • Select your CPAP mask. There are three main types of CPAP masks, and you should consider purchasing the one matches how you actually sleep, not how you’d like to sleep. The three main types of CPAP masks are:
  • Consider choosing a CPAP battery, especially if you’re going to be doing any traveling.

Did we miss a machine you consider exceptional? Which machines would make your “best CPAP machines” list? Let us know in the comments below!

 

References

1. Tipton, John W, M.D. What are the Benefits of Treating Sleep Apnea?. Published in the medical journal the “Journal of Family Practice” in December 2001. Accessed on August 31, 2018.

Daniela has researched and published over 60 articles covering topics that aim to inform and empower people living with Sleep Apnea. As an avid reader and researcher, Daniela continues to grow her knowledge about Sleep Apnea and CPAP therapy everyday with the help of coworkers, CPAP.com customers, and members of other CPAP communities online.

1 Comment

  1. carolyn costa Reply

    Can this ever make one feel light headed — especially if the settings are too high– And how to correct accordingly ????

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