Oxygen Cylinders Vs Oxygen Concentrators: Which One Should You Choose ?

As India battles the COVID-19 crisis, the demand and supply of oxygen have taken precedence. Aid is pouring in from across the world. Apart from medical supplies, oxygen-related medical items are high in demand. Ireland is sending 700 oxygen concentrators from its stockpile to back India’s Covid-19 response, joining the growing list of countries that are rushing aid to help health facilities tackle a severe shortage of oxygen. Singapore deployed two of its Air Force aircraft to transport oxygen cylinders. This article seeks to explain why is medical oxygen important and the difference between oxygen cylinders and oxygen concentrators for COVID-19 patients.

How is Oxygen Used For COVID-19 Patients?

Oxygen is one of the most important, life-saving gases used in medical science.

Medical oxygen comes from the air we breathe. The air gets separated into its component—nitrogen (78%), oxygen (21%)—in an air separation unit.

In this pandemic, oxygen is being used in its most critical form in the medical sector. These are respiration, incident response and life support.

The main reason for being admitted to the hospital with COVID-19 is to receive supplemental oxygen, to increase the amount of oxygen in the lungs and blood, which will be sufficient treatment before recovery in most cases.

This can be administered in a number of ways, including into the nose using plastic tubing, or via a loose-fitting face mask.

Oxygen Concentrators Vs Oxygen Cylinders: What Is The Difference?

Oxygen tanks and oxygen concentrators are both medical devices that offer oxygen therapy to patients unable to get enough oxygen into their bodies on their own.

Oxygen tanks or oxygen cylinders are metal tanks containing pressurized oxygen. In an oxygen tank, a line of tubing is connected to the tank at one end and then to a nasal cannula or oxygen mask at the other. This allows the oxygen to be delivered directly into the patient’s nose.

Oxygen concentrators dispense oxygen in almost exactly the same way that oxygen tanks do, delivering oxygen directly to the patient via the same nasal cannula or oxygen masks. However, where oxygen tanks contain a fixed amount of pressurized oxygen, concentrators collect oxygen from the surrounding air, concentrate it, and then deliver it to the patient, removing the need for replacement or refilling.

Oxygen Cylinders: Pros & Cons


No power required: Oxygen tanks take advantage of the pressurized oxygen within them to operate.

Silent: There are no beeps or loud sounds associated with using them.

Lower initial cost: Oxygen tanks are often the most inexpensive, featuring the lowest initial price tag of all the different oxygen devices on the market.


Heavy: One of the most commonly noted disadvantages of oxygen tanks is their weight.

Limited to their contents. Once the tank has been depleted, it has to be refilled or replaced with a new tank.

Greater cost over time. Oxygen tanks need to be refilled or replaced frequently so their initial low price adds up over time.

Oxygen Cylinders

Oxygen Concentrators: Pros & Cons


Unlimited oxygen: Oxygen concentrators can continuously draw in and treat air ensuring that the concentrator will never run out of oxygen.

Lightweight: Because they do not rely on pressurized oxygen, concentrators do not require a dense metal tank.

Greater versatility: Oxygen concentrators are available in a wide selection of sizes, models, and styles.

Up-front cost: While oxygen tanks frequently need to be refilled or replaced, oxygen concentrators use ambient air.


Batteries required: Oxygen concentrators rely on battery or electric power to perform their air filtering and oxygen flow.

Noisy: Oxygen concentrators collect oxygen from the air and then filter and compress it for the user.

Expensive: Because of the complex mechanisms, oxygen concentrators are often quite expensive up-front.

Oxygen Concentrator


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