How to Choose a CPAP Machine in 2023
Whether you choose one of our recommendations or want to continue doing your own research, it’s important to know what to look for. A CPAP machine can be a rather significant purchase, so be sure to consider all of the following points before deciding which machine is best for you:
The most important thing to consider when shopping for a CPAP machine is what your healthcare provider has recommended or stated as a requirement for you in terms of the machine’s features. Your physician may have specific recommendations for comfort features, might want you to get an APAP or BiPAP machine, or may even tell you to seek out a machine with a humidifier. You should always make sure that whatever machine you purchase will meet the requirements of your healthcare provider, as they have the most intimate knowledge of your situation and medical needs.
Your CPAP therapy should be comfortable, and there are many industry-standard comfort features that will hopefully make your therapy more manageable and approachable. Here are some popular features to look for as well as a brief description of what each one does:
- Auto-Titration: Perhaps the single most important feature and highest recommendation we can give, auto-titration automatically adjusts your therapy pressure on a breath-by-breath basis instead of holding your prescribed pressure constant throughout the night like a traditional CPAP machine. Auto-adjusting CPAP machines, also referred to as APAPs, can adjust to your exact needs if you’re feeling congested or sick, or experience lifestyle changes that affect your therapy such as weight loss, smoking cessation, or dietary changes.
- Ramp: Instead of starting your therapy at your prescribed pressure, the Ramp feature will start at a lower pressure and incrementally increase over the course of 15, 30, 45, or 60 minutes, depending on the setting and machine.
- Auto Start/Stop: With this feature, your machine will detect when your mask is on and when you’re breathing to automatically begin administering your therapy pressure. It will also stop when you remove your mask, limiting how much you actually need to interact with your machine and eliminating the need to fumble around for buttons in the dark to start or stop your machine.
- Exhalation Relief: The continuous pressure of CPAP therapy can be too strong for some to exhale against, making breathing more difficult when exhaling. An exhalation relief feature will reduce the air pressure each time you exhale so that there’s less resistance acting against you. This feature typically has multiple settings and can be turned completely off.
Data Tracking Capabilities
Most CPAP machines will feature data tracking capabilities that allow you to record sleep data to an SD card, but many also have a smartphone app that will sync with your device for easier viewing and sharing of your sleep data. If you’re someone who needs to work closely with a healthcare provider to monitor your sleep health, you’ll want a machine with easily accessible and sharable data.
CPAP therapy can easily dry out the nasal passages and throat, leading to discomfort and lower sleep quality. This is especially true for people over 60, but analgesics, antihistamines, antidepressants, and many other types of medications can also have a drying effect on the body, which is made worse by CPAP therapy. Using a heated humidifier with your CPAP machine can negate these effects and make your therapy much more tolerable, improving your sleep quality, CPAP compliance, and indirectly, your overall quality of life.
Most modern CPAP machines have an integrated humidifier, so you won’t have to purchase any extra parts to add humidification to your therapy air.
While most machines on the market will advertise being “whisper-quiet,” some machines operate at distinctly different pitches than others despite being the same volume. This can be quite an issue for light sleepers, so it may be a good idea to seek out video or audio of the machine being used to see if it’s a sound you can easily sleep with every night for hours on end. If you’re someone who is very sensitive to CPAP machine noise, sleeping with a sound machine might help you get the rest you need.
In a perfect world, this isn’t something that will matter during the ownership of your machine. However, accidents happen, and manufacturer defects are an unfortunate reality we sometimes face, so you should make sure to educate yourself about the warranty of any machine you’re considering in case anything bad happens to the device. There are two main types of CPAP warranties: convenient and inconvenient.
If your machine has a convenient warranty, your device will be replaced with an identical or near-identical unit before your faulty machine is ever sent off for inspection. With an inconvenient warranty, you’ll have to send your machine in for inspection and repair before a replacement machine is sent to you. CPAP machine warranties typically cover a two-year period after the device is purchased, though some manufacturers also offer three-and five-year warranties as well.
Machine Weight and Size
Of course, you’ll also want to keep in mind how much nightstand space you have to work with, whether you’ll be frequently traveling with your machine, and how heavy of a machine you’ll be able to move on your own if necessary. You may want to consider a Travel CPAP Machine, which is ultra-portable and specifically designed for travelers.
How We Choose the Best CPAP Machines (Why You Should Trust Us)
At CPAP.com, we’ve been helping pair people with the best masks, machines, and therapy equipment for their needs since 1999. When reviewing CPAP machines, our team meticulously evaluates each therapy device based on its comfort features, noise level, humidification system, air filtration system, user interface, data tracking capabilities, value for price, and general design. We know that everyone has different needs and that not all CPAP machines are made for all people. We always aim to find a balance between affordability, functionality, and ease of use in recommending the best CPAP machine for you.
We hope this article has provided some clarity on some of the best CPAP machines available today. Keep in mind your doctor’s orders where features are concerned and where you might be traveling with your new CPAP machine. The AirSense 11 is an excellent choice for anyone, even frequent travelers, and the Luna II Auto CPAP is a close second for anyone looking for an alternative to some of the bigger names in the industry like ResMed and Philips Respironics.
We hope that our comprehensive research reflects our dedication to enhancing the lives of those with sleep apnea. We recognize that the machine you choose for your therapy will profoundly impact the next few years of your life, and we take this responsibility very seriously. Through leveraging our own hands-on experience, industry knowledge, customer reviews, and understanding of the latest research into therapy advancements, we aim to provide you with the most appropriate equipment recommendations tailored to your unique needs and lifestyle. Our perspective as seasoned CPAP experts enables us to navigate an ever-evolving product landscape so that we may continue to offer solutions that consistently deliver and make your life a little bit easier.