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What Are CPAP Machines and Portable Oxygen Concentrators? A Guide to Sleep Apnea Treatments

Our CPAP Education Center is dedicated to helping you find the CPAP Machine that is right for you.

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What is a CPAP Machine and Which CPAP Machine is Right For Me? offers a wide variety of different types of CPAP machines. These machines vary from standard fixed pressure CPAP machines and Auto Adjusting CPAPs to BiLevels and BiPAPs. We make shopping for CPAP easy as 1-2-3 and offer complete packages of CPAP Machine and Mask Bundles. When new models of CPAPs come onto the market, check out our selection of Discount CPAP Machines and Travel CPAP machines to find a top of the line CPAP at a low price. For more information to determine which CPAP machine is right for you, feel free to contact customer service to speak with one of our qualified sleep specialist.

CPAP is an acronym for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure. CPAP has been proved to be the most effective treatment for Obstructive Sleep Apnea and sleep disordered breathing events. Those sleep disordered breathing events include: Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), Hypopnea, Snoring, Upper Airway Resistance Syndrome (UARS). In some disorders such as Central Sleep Apnea (CSA), Complex Sleep Apnea (CompSA), Cheyne-Stokes Respiration and Mixed Sleep Apnea (MA), more complex devices like BiPAP/BiLevel and Adaptive Pressure Support Servo-Ventilators (ASV) may be required.

CPAP machines are prescription devices that provide air at a constant pressure through a tube and into a CPAP mask. This pressurized air provides a constant flow which acts as a pneumatic splint to the airway so that uninterrupted breathing is maintained during sleep. Three main goals of CPAP are to (1) eliminate sleep apnea events, (2) eliminate residual snoring (3) keep oxygen levels above 90%, allowing you to get a restful night’s sleep.

CPAP pressures are typically determined during a sleep study and by your doctor. Your doctor will write a prescription for a CPAP machine at the pressure used to eliminate your sleep disordered breathing events.

One of the most important components of CPAP therapy is the interface (CPAP mask). Most traditional CPAP masks are of the nasal variety. Nasal CPAP masks are masks that seals around the nose, typically triangular shaped. In recent years more innovative and comfortable CPAP mask options are available and advances in technology of CPAP therapy continues to grow making adherence to PAP therapy easier.

For example: CPAP and BiPAP/Bilevel machines offer FLEX , EPR (Expiratory Pressure Relief) or SenseAwake technology that offer users a more comfortable exhale relief setting.  Likewise, CPAP therapy devices such as APAP (auto adjusting CPAP machines), BiPAP and BiLevel (2 pressure setting CPAP machines, one for inhalation and a second, lower pressure for exhalation) machines offer various levels of pressure throughout the night and exhalation relief.

What is Included with a CPAP Machine Purchase?

CPAP machines come with a standard 6 ft CPAP tube, power cord and power supply, filter(s), and user's manual. Most CPAP manufacturers include a travel case which is designed specifically for the transportation of their equipment. CPAP / BiPAP /Bi-Level and Auto CPAP machines do not come with a CPAP mask. CPAP Masks must be purchased separately unless otherwise stated with the product.


All CPAP machines use a filter, either a type of foam material and washable filter or disposable pollen filter. CPAP machines are pulling room air and filtering this air of dust, debris, and particles before its delivered to you. Some CPAPs offer finer filters and hypo-allergenic filters for those with allergies.

CPAP filters are usually located at the back of the CPAP machine at the air intake point.

CPAP machine filters

How Often Should I Clean or Replace My CPAP Machine Filters?

Cleaning and changing CPAP machine filters should be done routinely based on the recommended replacement or cleaning schedule of the manufacturer of the CPAP machine.

Washable foam filters should be cleaned as soon as they become noticeably discolored. Areas of heavy construction or desert area states, depending on your environment that may mean weekly cleaning.

Disposable filters should never be cleaned and reused, they should be disposed of.

What Type of Routine Maintenance is Required for CPAP Machines?

Required maintenance responsibility is to clean or change the filters at the air intake of the machine to keep the internal parts from accumulating dust and debris.

Other Notable CPAP Machine Care Suggestions:

  • Keep the area around your CPAP machine free of any dust to improve the air quality delivered to your CPAP machine.
  • Keep the air intake of the CPAP machine free of things that may restrict airflow to the blower. Curtains, bedding, and papers can easily block the air intake of your CPAP machine, reducing the airflow to your CPAP machine.
  • If you have a humidifier, it is suggested that you remove the humidifier water reservoir before you move your CPAP machine

What is an Auto CPAP Machine (APAP)?

An Auto CPAP or APAP (Automatic Positive Airway Pressure) machine automatically increases and decreases CPAP pressures on a breath by breath basis to provide the optimum pressure needed to keep your airway open during sleep. This allows your machine to provide you with your necessary CPAP pressure on a night by night basis.

Auto CPAP or APAP technology is typically more advanced than fixed pressure CPAP machines because they offer more detailed therapy compliance information and more comfort features

Auto CPAPs or APAPs can be used in both fixed pressure CPAP mode to blow one continuous fixed pressure like a CPAP or in auto adjusting mode with variable CPAP pressures. However, standard fixed pressure CPAP machines do not have functionality to operate in both Auto mode and fixed mode (in simple language, an Auto CPAP can be a CPAP or and Auto CPAP while a CPAP can ONLY be a CPAP). An example of an Auto CPAP (APAP) machine is the ResMed S9 AutoSet™; with H5i™; Humidifier that comes with built in therapy monitoring software.

Newest Auto CPAP technology comes from Philips Respironics with the System One RemStar Pro CPAP Machine with AutoIQ. The AutoIQ technology feature offers up to 30 nights of auto adjusting capability, during which time the system works as an Auto CPAP delivering an adaptive pressure on a breath by breath basis. An Auto-Trial phase must be a minimum of 3 nights in length. After an initial Auto-Trial period as set the system switches to Auto-Check Phase and functions as a CPAP delivering the pressure that the user was at or below 90% of the time.

Are Auto CPAP (APAP) Machines Better Than Regular CPAP Machines?

It has been a long standing debate about which is better, Auto CPAP or CPAP. Some CPAP users find it easier to breathe with an Auto CPAP machine than with CPAP because the pressure automatically changes as needed to deliver the minimal pressure needed. With a fixed pressure CPAP machine, the CPAP pressure is set at the highest necessary to keep the airway open, even though the high pressure may only be needed for a smaller portion of the total sleep time.

What is a BiPAP or BiLevel Machine?

A BiLevel machine, also referred to as BiPAP machine or VPAP™; machine, delivers two separate positive pressure settings; a higher inspiratory pressure when the user breathes in and a lower expiratory pressure when they breathe out. These pressure separation settings are usually separated between 3-6 cm/h2O (example 12 cm/h2O IPAP and 8 cm/h2O EPAP.)

IPAP (Inspiratory Positive Airway Pressure), means the pressure delivered when the user inhales. EPAP (Expiratory Positive Airway Pressure) means the pressure delivered when the user exhales. The EPAP pressure is the CPAP pressure used to stabilize and open the airway, eliminating obstructive apnea events, while the IPAP pressure setting is used to eliminate upper airway resistance and snoring.

What are CPAP, BiPAP and Auto CPAP Machines with Compliance Monitoring?

Some models of CPAP machines offer compliance monitoring to track your therapy progress and performance over certain time periods. Therapy data can be analyzed to find potential issues with your therapy and see how changes to your CPAP setup effects your overall therapy. Your doctor can use the therapy information to make changes to your therapy settings, like changing your mask, or increasing or decreasing your CPAP pressure or change therapy modes.

These CPAP machines that track data, not only let you know how many therapy hours the machine was used, like pure compliance tracking machines, but also tracks advanced information such as AHI (apnea hypopnea index-the number of times per hour that you quit breathing), Mask Leak Rate, and Median CPAP Pressure (if using an Auto CPAP).

Depending on the machine, the information can be reviewed or accessed.

  • On Screen Display. CPAP machines that offer on screen display settings and data viewing display allow for fast review of therapy information. This technology allows CPAP users the capability to check data from last night's sleep. In the morning, CPAP users can see what their AHI , Mask fitting, and used hours were through the previous night. The information provided on the on the CPAP screen can be adjusted to view collective data from different time frames such as 1 day (last night), 1 week, 1 month, 3 months, 6 months and 1 year.
  • Mask Fit.View data information about your mask fit from the previous night. If a high leak was detected, it will be noted in the mask fit feature. If noticeable air is not leaking from the mask, it may indicate that you are mouth breathing and need a full face CPAP mask or a chin strap.
  • AHI.Some CPAP manufacturers have technology to detect and report the AHI (Apnea Hypopnea Index) of the CPAP user from the previous night. This information may be checked the morning after and is a valuable tool in therapy monitoring.
  • Usage.The amount of time used on the therapy device is monitored and recorded. This is typically helpful in reporting to the insurance company or physician to establish documentation of therapy use. CPAP Machine usage for 1 night, 1 week, 1 month, 3 months, 6 months, and 1 year can be monitored.
ResMed S9 CPAP machine Display Setting

Some of The Best CPAP Machines That Offer Compliance Monitoring?

CPAP Machines Which Display Full Data (AHI and Leak, ETC):

AUTO CPAP (APAP) Machines Which Display Full Data (AHI and Leak, ETC):

Bi-Level ("BiPAP") Machines Which Display Full Data (AHI and Leak, ETC):

I am new to CPAP; how do I choose the machine that is right for me?

We provide our customers with many tools to make informed decisions about their machine purchases. Options include:

  • Call Our Expert CPAP Staff Toll Free. 1-800-274-1366
  • Email Us Or Chat Live online now!
  • Comparison Charts. likes to publish the annual comparison charts highlighting the top CPAP and BiLevel machines on the market as compared to competitors.
  • Browse Our CPAP Machine Product Categories.These categories show each machine our company offers, the specifications are listed on the details tab of the product page.

What is the CPAP Ramp Feature?

Most CPAP and BiPAP/BiLevel machines are equipped with a feature called ramp. The ramp feature on a CPAP machine is a feature that starts the CPAP pressure at a low and tolerable setting that allows for a gradual pressure build-up to prescribed therapy pressure. The feature is great for people just starting out on CPAP or those with high pressures.

What is CPAP Pressure Relief?

CPAP pressure relief features reduce the pressure on exhalation, allowing the CPAP user to breathe against a lesser pressure and then resuming therapy pressure when inhalation begins again. Currently, 2 major CPAP manufacturers offer this pressure relief technology, ResMed and Philips Respironics.

  • Philips Respironics C-Flex, C-Flex+, A-Flex and Bi-Flex
  • ResMed = EPR (Expiratory Pressure Relief)

What is C-Flex Technology?

C-Flex is a pressure relief feature that makes breathing against CPAP pressure easier to do by reducing the pressure at the beginning of exhalation and returning to therapeutic pressure just before inhalation. Independent studies conducted by leading universities indicate that patient comfort, and therefore, patient CPAP compliance, is higher with machines that use C-Flex. C-Flex is a technology invented by Philips Respironics, is proprietary, and is not available on other brands of CPAP Machines.

What is A-Flex Technology?

A-Flex is a form of exhalation relief which helps the air pressure from an Auto CPAP machine mirror a person's breathing. Like C-Flex, A-Flex provides flow-based pressure relief at the beginning of exhalation. Like Bi-Flex, A-Flex softens the pressure transition from inhalation to exhalation to provide additional comfort in an auto-CPAP mode.

What is Bi-Flex Technology?

Philips Respironics Bi-Flex is a feature that makes breathing back against CPAP pressure easier to do. Bi-Flex pressure relief technology offers pressure relief at the transition from exhalation to inhalation, at the transition from inhalation to exhalation, and during exhalation to make BiPAP therapy more like normal breathing.

C-Flex versus A-flex

C-flex technology decreases the pressure on exhalation only. A-flex technology decreases the pressure on the exhale breathes but also helps with the transition from inhale to exhale.

Bi-Flex versus C-flex

C-Flex is a CPAP machine technology while Bi-Flex is used during BiPAP therapy. C-Flex only works at the start of an exhale breath. Bi-Flex works during the transition from exhale to inhale, the transition from inhalation to exhalation and during exhalation.

What is EPR (Expiratory Pressure Relief)?

EPR (Expiratory Pressure Relief) is a pressure relief feature developed by ResMed. EPR reduces the CPAP pressure during exhalation to make breathing against the pressure more comfortable. Easy-Breathe technology applies a smooth waveform that helps make breathing feel more natural.

What is SensAwake?

SensAwake is Fisher and Paykel's CPAP machine technology that responds to waking moments during sleep. SensAwake™ provides fast and effective pressure relief when the CPAP user needs it the most; the transition from sleep to wake. This allows the CPAP user to experience a more comfortable and restful night's sleep. The CPAP machine realizes when the CPAP user wakes up and drops the pressure from therapy pressure to a lower baseline pressure.

Do All CPAP Masks Work With All CPAP Machines?

All CPAP masks are universal to CPAP, BiPAP/BiLevel and Auto CPAP machines. For example, a Philips Respironics CPAP mask will work with a Fisher and Paykel CPAP machine and vice versa.

I am Traveling with My CPAP; What Should I Know?

Helpful Hints and Tips for CPAP and Travel:

  • Always Remove Water From The Humidifier Chamber.If you will be transporting your CPAP machine with humidifier, remove ALL water from the humidifier chamber. Water left in the humidifier chamber might accidentally leak into your machine and cause damage. This damage may not be covered under the warranty of the CPAP manufacturer.
  • Take Your CPAP Machine As a Carry-On.Keep your CPAP machine with you at all times.Most airlines are very familiar with CPAP machines and understand their use. It is very similar to traveling with a lap top and any many cases will not count against your carry on items (please consult your airline company prior to arrival).
  • Understand What Type of Power Sources You Will Need.Know what type of power supply and needs your CPAP will require, especially if leaving the United States. If you are going to use a battery pack option, make sure you have all the parts needed to safely run the CPAP on battery power. If you are traveling outside of the continental United States, make sure you have an international power adapter. Most CPAP machines are self converting but still require a power plug adapter.
  • Create a Checklist of Your CPAP Supplies.Ever get that feeling that you are forgetting something after you have packed? Make a checklist to insure you have everything you brought with you.
  • Pack Extra CPAP Machine Parts and Supplies.CPAP masks can break and nothing is more nerve racking with your CPAP therapy then being stranded out of town and needing CPAP supplies. Trying to find a local store may help but often they need a copy of your prescription before they can dispense equipment. If you have an extra mask take it with you, if not, consider purchasing one before you leave.
  • Contact if You Need Something ships CPAP products to just about anywhere, including hotels and resorts. We also offer overnight shipping options on CPAP machines, masks and supplies. If you find yourself in a situation where you need CPAP supplies fast, give us a call 1-800-274-1366.

I am traveling internationally; what should I know about international travel with CPAP?

  • Check the power requirements (voltage) of the place(s) you are traveling to. You may need a plug adapter for your CPAP machine.
  • Pack spare parts to your CPAP equipment (i.e. CPAP masks), can ship to most destinations around the world, but there may be an additional waiting period because of customs
  • Read CPAP travel Tips (posted above).

What Type Of Power Requirements Does My CPAP Machine Need?

Most CPAP and BiPAP/BiLevel machines are designed to operate on both AC (Alternating Current) and DC (Direct Current). In the United States, the AC current from wall outlets is 110 volt and most batteries produce 12 volt DC current. Overseas, the AC current is usually 220 or 240 volt.

Will my CPAP Machine Work Outside of the United States?

A power adapter may be required to plug a US power cord into a wall outlet in a foreign country.

All the CPAP machine models contain power converters that enable the machine to operate on any AC current from 100 to 240 volts without any adjustment. Check with your dealer or manufacturer to see if your machine needs an external converter that lowers the voltage from 240 to 120 VAC.

Will my CPAP Machine Run On Battery Power (DC)?

All CPAPs will work on DC power with the use of an inverter to change the power current from DC to AC before it reaches the machine. However, many brands of CPAP will operate on DC power without the need for an inverter, just a power cord that plugs into the CPAP and ends in a cigarette lighter plug.

Inverters will require the use of a lot of power. If you need to use an inverter to run your machine on battery power, the inverter may use about half the battery life.

To find out if your CPAP machine will operate without an inverter, look for a DC outlet on the CPAP machine (usually located in the back of the machine or on the side) it will have a single opening directly in the center. It might be labeled "DC Power" or a term that is similar sting that.

I Need A Battery Operated CPAP Machine; Who Makes Them?

There are external battery sources that are used to operate CPAP, BiPAP, BiLevel and Auto CPAP machines. These batteries typically range in price of $329.00-$459.00. You may contact a company representative to find out more about battery options for you. External battery sources are available for Philips Respironics, ResMed, and Fisher and Paykel CPAP machines.

Many CPAP and BiPAP/BiLevel machines operate from 12 volt DC power source. If your PAP machine has a DC outlet then you should be able to operate it from a 12 volt DC power source with only the use of a DC power cord; an inverter is not necessary. Typically, the DC power cords plugs into the CPAP and end in a cigarette lighter plug. To connect a CPAP directly to a battery, you would need a DC adapter cable that fits over the cigarette lighter plug on the DC power cord and ends in alligator clips.

Tips for Using A CPAP Machine on Battery Power?

  • Using a heated humidifier will typically drain the life cycle of the battery in about half of the time. CPAP machines or BiPAP/BiLevel machines that require the use of inverters reduce the power time even more.
  • Please note that some heated humidifiers are not capable of being operated on 12volt battery power sources.
  • For optimum performance of your battery, plan to use your CPAP without the heated humidifier. You may also have the humidifier connected and filled with water, but without the power turned on. This changes a typical heated humidifier into a passive humidifier.

How Do I Prepare for Power Outages with CPAP?

CPAP machines can operate with the use of battery options and preparing for power outages may require the use of these batteries. There are a lot of back up battery options out there that can give you peace of mind in case of a power outage. Some machines offer the option of an integrated battery which will automatically fail over to battery power if the power goes out. Many people will keep a marine battery charged and ready for these power outages (the use of “alligator clips” may be required).  To extend the life of the battery or for situations where power outage may last a long time, please consider not activating the heated humidifier setting of the CPAP machine.

I Want To Change My CPAP Machine Pressure(s); How Can I do This?

CPAP pressure settings are a prescription setting, similar to a dosage.  For this reason, CPAP users are ”locked out” of the machine setting controls to prevent them from adjusting this prescribed setting. CPAP pressure adjustments that are made too low may result in lack of therapeutic benefit and thus apneas may still present as well as the return of symptoms that lead the CPAP user to have a sleep study to begin with. Oxygen levels could still remain at low and unsafe levels and sleep architecture disrupted. CPAP pressure adjustment that are too high may result in adverse side effects like being bloated and gassy to more extreme effects of Co2 retention and lung damage. can make the necessary pressure adjustments at the request and order of the physician we have the original prescription from. These changes can be done either via email or return the equipment to our services department. will not provide instruction to the CPAP user on accessing the clinical menu to changes prescription settings. We are also more than happy to assist your physician or local DME company to access data records through CPAP machine download (when applicable) or by phone instruction.

It is advised that you operate all sleep disorder devices at the prescribed settings. If you think your prescribed pressure is too high or too low, talk to your physician or we can help you get in touch with a physician or sleep center that can help.

List of Sleep Centers in the  database.

What are the prescription requirements for CPAP mask, CPAP machine and CPAP humidifiers?

FDA requires valid prescriptions for the following products. However, replacement parts for CPAPs and masks do not require a prescription.

RX Required Items

  • CPAP Machines (including all Positive Airway Pressure Devices)
  • Oxygen Concentrators
  • CPAP masks
  • CPAP Machine Humidifiers

Non RX Required Items

  • CPAP Mask Cushions
  • CPAP Mask Frames
  • CPAP Mask Headgear
  • CPAP Tubing
  • CPAP Machine Filter
  • CPAP Humidifier Water Chamber
  • CPAP Comfort Items

Trouble getting a prescription for CPAP?

  • Let us request your prescription for you.Contact one of our customer service representatives at (800) 274-1366
  • Fax: Toll Free fax number: 1-888-290-6188
  • Email:
  • Mail:2908 W US 22-3 Maineville, OH 45039 attention RX Department