CPAP Machine and CPAP Mask Recommendations for 2011
By Andrew Senske, President CPAP-Supply.com
Last Updated 09/21/2011 10:31:00 PM



The following is one of the most important things we do: We recommend CPAP machines and CPAP masks to the CPAP users who are looking for help selecting CPAP equipment. That's a lot of CPAP in one sentence. But we can handle it. We're professionals.

We get asked all the time every day which mask to use and which machine to buy, and we've definitely got our favorites. We're going to share them with you here. Not because we don't want to talk to you, or email you, or live chat with you. But because we want to help in any way we can 24/7. We fully expect the phone call, or the email, or the live chat. It's what we do. And we know that our recommendations here won't necessarily be the right choices for everyone. We'll focus on what's popular, and what's been generally accepted by the CPAP community. In the end that's usually the best gauge for separating the good from the... not as good.

I wasn't quite sure what to write just there up above in that last sentence, because we truly feel that each product we sell is good. We specifically decline to sell items we don't believe in. For example, a particular CPAP mask manufacturer has been trying to get us to sell their mask for the last 9 years or so. We won't do it. Simply because we don't like the mask. Another mask manufacturer wanted us to sell their super duper CPAP mask, too. We said to ourselves, "marginally silly idea, and way, way too expensive." Then we let some customers try it out. The feedback wasn't positive, so we decided we wouldn't bother with that particular device. In other words, we saved you a lot of trouble and expense. Don't get me wrong, we fully believe in giving you choices. That's why we stock so many different CPAP masks and CPAP machines. However, I can't imagine how difficult it would be for customers if we offered everything under the sun. As it is, many customers feel they have an almost dizzying assortment of CPAP equipment from which to choose on our website.

So, when you look through our website, you can be sure we've already weeded out some of the bad stuff, and that we're showing you what we actually like.

General Assessment Questions
When you call, email or live chat about a CPAP machine, we'll usually ask you many or all of the standard questions, like:

  1. What's your prescribed pressure setting?
  2. Have you used CPAP therapy before, and if so what CPAP equipment have you used?
  3. What type of equipment did you use in the sleep lab, and did you like it?
  4. Do you have any breathing issues like a deviated septum, allergies which block your nasal passage, etc.
  5. Do you breathe mostly through your mouth?
  6. Has your doctor recommended any specific equipment based on information he knows about you?
  7. Are you a particularly active sleeper, moving from one side to the other frequently throughout the night?
  8. Do you think you want a machine with a humidifier?
  9. Will you ever want to run your CPAP machine on a battery?

Once we get a few answers from you we can begin to make some very tailored recommendations so you'll get exactly what you need.

CPAP Machines - Low Pressure
If your prescribed pressure setting is low - in the 4 to 7 cmH2O range - then a basic CPAP machine would be a great choice for you. The Zzz-PAP CPAP Machine by PMI Probasics, or the PR System One REMstar would be excellent choices. The Zzz-PAP is the smallest and lightest CPAP machine available. Both machines have two-year warranties, but the REMstar has what we call a convenient warranty (see more on that in our article about CPAP warranties).

The Zzz-PAP has an internal power supply, meaning the power cord doesn't have a transformer in it. It's just a simple power cord that you can likely buy at Radio Shack in a pinch. The REMstar has a transformer in the two-piece power cord, much like a typical laptop computer. People who travel a lot tend to dislike two-piece cords with dangling transformers. A lot of people just don't care about the power cord. Sort of an "out of sight, out of mind" issue for them.

If you expect to run your CPAP from a battery every now and then, the REMstar would be a better choice, because it's a 12V machine with a 12V DC input jack on the back. This means that you can connect the REMstar to a battery with a simple and inexpensive 12V cord. You can connect the Zzz-PAP to a battery, but to do so you'd have to use an inverter. This isn't an efficient way to use your battery.

Either unit can be configured with an optional heated humidifier.

So, while there are definitely some things to consider when deciding between these two CPAP machines, either one will work extremely well as a basic CPAP machine.

CPAP Machines - Average to High Pressure
If your prescribed pressure is 8 cm H2O or up, I'd encourage you to look at a slightly more advanced CPAP unit with an exhalation pressure relief feature (more on that here), or even an automatic CPAP machine.

The DeVilbiss IntelliPAP Standard Plus is the first machine that comes to mind. The second is the DeVilbiss IntelliPAP AutoAdjust. DeVilbiss makes excellent CPAP machines. DeVilbiss is also a fine company to work with. We enjoy selling DeVilbiss machines as much as our customers enjoy using them (they're currently rated 5 stars by our customers).

The IntelliPAP Standard Plus likely gives you the most bang for the buck out of any CPAP machine we sell. It's a standard, constant-pressure CPAP machine, but it has a lot of features that most "standard" machines don't have, like SmartFlex (DeVilbiss' exhalation pressure relief feature), SmartCode (their built-in compliance reporting feature), auto on/off, super quiet motor. It's a very compelling machine especially considering the price.

The IntelliPAP AutoAdjust is an auto-titrating machine, meaning it'll give you exactly the pressure you need throughout the night. Like it's sibling, the IntelliPAP AutoAdjust is an excellent value and offers all the same features of the Standard Plus unit. It's not quite the least expensive automatic machine we sell, but it's close. Check out the Zzz-PAP Auto if you want the least expensive and smallest automatic CPAP machine available.

Both of these IntelliPAP machines boast the longest warranty in the industry, and they're both extremely quiet at about 26 decibels. The optional IntelliPAP heated humidifier fits on the bottom of the CPAP machine, hardly increasing the footprint. This is a nice, space-saving design, and it also helps to prevent water spillage into the delicate insides of the CPAP machine itself. Bottom line: you can't go wrong with an IntelliPAP.

You should definitely consider the System One REMstar Plus C-Flex and the System One REMstar Auto A-Flex. Respironics continues to develop top-notch CPAP machines, and they continuously update their current models with new features, making them the most up-to-date CPAP machines available. This shows Philips Respironics' commitment to leading the sleep therapy industry. They're #1 in CPAP machines for a reason. Check out our video comparing the different REMstar models to get a better understanding of the differences between them.

If your budget allows, the S9 AutoSet is a sweet machine. It's just that many budgets don't allow. :(

If you go the S9 route, skip the S9 Elite and just get the AutoSet unit for a few bucks more.

BiLevel Machines
If you have a relatively high prescribed pressure setting, you may need a bilevel machine in order to breathe comfortably during exhalation. Machines with exhalation pressure relief can reduce pressure up to about 3 units on exhalation, but that's it. Bilevel machines make their mark when the pressure drop needs to be more than 3 units. For example, if you have a prescribed inhalation pressure of 18 (which is quite high), you might also have a prescribed exhalation pressure of 8. If this is you, you need a bilevel machine.

People often call bilevel machines bipap machines. It's sort of like calling any tissue Kleenex. BiPAP is actually Philips Respironics' trade name for their particular bilevel units. The term has pretty much become a general term, just like Kleenex. Sort of gives you a clue about which units would be a safe bet, right?

Check out the System One BiPAP Auto, and don't forget to use our discount code if you'll be ordering on the website. (Discounts for Philips Respironics products are automatic when ordering over the phone.)

CPAP Masks
I believe that for the most part, your CPAP mask is the key to successful CPAP therapy. The major concern with CPAP masks revolves around getting a good fit and minimizing or eliminating leaks. A common leak area is around the bridge of the nose, so I generally recommend nasal pillows masks. Nasal pillows masks are very popular now because they're generally lighter weight, most of them come with all sizes of pillows, they don't obstruct vision, and they're pretty easy to fit without leaks. Nasal pillows masks are what we call "minimal contact CPAP masks".

The most popular minimal contact CPAP mask is the ResMed Swift FX. The Swift FX has a simple, comfortable headgear strap made of silicone, and it has unique dual-wall cushions which improve the sealing and the comfort of the cushions.

If you're looking for a more traditional over-the-nose mask then I'd recommend the Philips Respironics TrueBlue nasal mask, with it's ingenious articulating silicone spring which effectively maintains the cushion seal while you sleep.

If you breathe with your mouth or if you have any sort of problem with your nasal passage, then a full face mask may be more suitable for you. I tend to recommend the RespCare Hybrid, since this is a full face mask that incorporates nasal pillows for the nose portion. If you like the idea of a more traditional full face mask, then the ResMed Mirage Quattro is the best choice. The Quattro covers both your nose and mouth.

Like I mentioned before, we believe in all of the CPAP equipment we sell. In fact, we don't sell equipment we don't like or that we wouldn't use ourselves. My recommendations above are based on my own personal preferences as well as feedback we've received directly from customers. Please keep the feedback coming. It's extremely helpful for us and for all our customers!

As always, if you need assistance selecting CPAP equipment, feel free to give us a call, send us an email, or fire up a live chat through our website. We'd be happy to help.

Andrew Senske
President
www.cpap-supply.com

CPAP-Supply.com is a leading online retailer of CPAP equipment. Located in Spokane, WA CPAP-Supply.com has been serving thousands of customers around the world since 2001. Founded on a belief that patients are their own best primary care providers, CPAP-Supply.com understands the importance of educating patients and customers on both the effects of and treatment for obstructive sleep apnea. For more information visit CPAP-Supply.com or call toll free 1-888-955-2727.