WellAwareSystems.com

Best CPAP Machine Buying Guide 2021

Reviewed + Fact Checked by Dr. Shane McKeown, July 12, 2021

CPAP ramp time is a very useful feature that is relatively new to the CPAP space. If you are using this type of machine for the first time this will gently introduce you to the effects and feelings of CPAP.

Continuous Positive Airway Pressure is just that, air pressure kept at a certain level. This is how the treatment is effetive at improving respiration in those with airway pathology. However it is a rather sharp gradient to transition from normal outdoor air pressure to medical treatment levels.

CPAP machines with a built in ramp time will start at a sub therapeutic level and then slowly work their way up to the full therapeutic pressure, sometimes taking from 45 minutes to an hour to achieve this.

The idea is that you will have relaxed and fallen asleep by the time that the machine is starting to hit higher levels. This should make it easier to adjust to the treatment and make it more like you are compliant (stick with it) over the months and years to come.

Be aware that this function is not available on all machines currently, so make sure if you’re not buying a recommended product that it includes this vital feature.

If you do invest in using the ramp feature you will be able to choose both the starting pressure and the time duration of the pressure ramp. We recommend keeping the starting pressure as low as possible and the duration as long as possible in the first instance. As you get used to it you will then be able to increase starting pressure or shorten the ramp duration to ensure you are getting sufficient treatment as you fall asleep.

While CPAP humdidifiers may not seem like the most important part of a CPAP machine, in practice they vastly improve the quality of life experience that users will have.

For first time users the sudden change in air pressure and movement every day or night can leave your body struggling to catch up. If you live in a dry environment, using air conditioning for example, then there is a chance that CPAP machines will exacerbate your living conditions.

This is where humidifiers are so valuable, not only do they restore water content to dreid out air, but they will also warm the air you are breathing in every night, soothing dried and stressed nasal skin.

We would advise that if you use a full face mask or experience symptoms like chapped lips or nose bleeds then you should invest in a CPAP machine with humidifier at the earliest opportunity. Our nasal passages are our own humidifiers but with the speed and force of pressurised air support is needed with long term CPAP use.

Another feature that is great for veteran users and those new to CPAP, pressure relief systems improve the experience for everyone adjusting to feelings of breathlessness.

Otherwise known as EPR, exhalation pressure relief works via an in-built pressure sensor that tracks the user’s air pressure on breathing out. As this pressure changes throughout the breath, the machine can make adjustments on the fly. Rather than feeling breathless most users report that this gives them a much improved breathing experience with the machine.

BEST OVERALL PICK:

DreamStation CPAP Pro with Humidifier and Heated Tube

As the company that introduced the first CPAP machine into the market, this product is a well-known brand that is recognized for its high quality and innovative products. The DreamStation CPAP Pro with Humidifier and Heated Tube does not disappoint and is the perfect machine for those who want all the necessary features to ensure a good night’s rest.

dreamstation cpap

One of the most impressive features of this device is SmartRamp which monitors your breathing and automatically increases the pressure once conditions are optimal for doing so. This way, easing into sleep is a lot easier for the user as the machine knows just when to act. Another useful feature is its heated dehumidifier as it eliminates the dryness or irritation in your mouth and nasal passages caused by cold, dry air.

Interestingly, it has a 30-day Auto Trial period where byusing advanced event detection, it monitors your breathing pattern and adjusts the pressure accordingly. The purpose of this period is to assess the right pressure level for you and to allow your physiology to adjust to the machine as well. The auto-adjusting feature will finish after the 30-day period is over and the optimal pressure has been determined.

You’ll also be able to monitor your progress daily, weekly or even monthly via its Daily Progress Feedback summary and link the machine to a mobile device via an app. This will give your clinician and yourself greater insight into how the treatment is progressing. One downside, however, is that this product might not be the right fit for everyone due to the high CPAP machine cost. But buyers who have tried out the product will probably agree that, after experiencing a restful sleep at night, it is definitely worth its price.

BEST TRAVEL PICK:

Transcend 365 Mini CPAP

If you travel a lot, regularly sized machines are too inconvenient to bring with you due to their bulk and weight. But with Transcend EZEX CPAP Machine’s compact size and lightweight, you now have the perfect travel buddy which means you can continue with your sleep apnea machine wherever you go.

This portable CPAP machine measures just 15.5cm x 8.9cm x 7.1cm making it compact enough to fit at the palm of your hand. It weighs in at just 426 gram which is a significant reduction from the usual 1.5 – 2.0 kilograms weight of regular CPAP machines. This is even perfect for campers as it has a solar battery charger option so you can continue with your treatment even if you spend some time in the great outdoors.

Despite its compact size, this mini CPAP is packed with features to ensure an effective yet comfortable treatment session. It has EZEX pressure relief which provides pressure relief when you exhale as well as a feature that automatically adjusts the pressure to compensate for the effects of elevation.

In most portable CPAP machine reviews, this is one of the highly rated products by customers so complaints are minimal. Some users say that the unit’s operating noise is loud enough to hear at nighttime. However, most owners feel that the advantages of its portability and multiple power options far outweigh the minor noise issue.

Read our full review of  Transcend EZEX CPAP Machine 

BEST PICK W/OUT A HEATING FEATURE:

DreamStation CPAP Pro with Humidifier

Sometimes, you don’t really need all the features that top-of-the-line CPAP machines offer. If you’re not really keen on getting a heating feature for your device, then the DreamStation CPAP Pro with Humidifier is perfect for you.

dreamstation cpap pro with humidifier and heated tube

Despite the absence of a heating feature, it comes fully-loaded with all the necessary functionality you need to treat your sleep apnea. For instance, it has SmartRamp technology to help you adjust to the increasing pressure more comfortably. Speaking of comfort, it also sports the C-Flex+, which decreases pressure as you exhale so you don’t have to strain as you breathe out.

It also monitors your therapy’s progress by storing your sleep data. You can generate reports or save the data on a memory card that you can send to your therapist for further evaluation. This device is Bluetooth, Cellular and WiFi compatible and you can download the accompanying app for better treatment management.

The downside is that this is more expensive compared to other brands and is only roughly $40 dollars cheaper compared to the model with a heater. Moreover, the auto-adjustment functionality used to determine your optimal pressure level will cease after 30 days and it becomes a fixed-pressure machine.

BEST W/OUT HUMIDIFIER PICK:

DreamStation CPAP Pro

For sleep apnea sufferers who do not really need a humidifier, Philips Respironics has a model for them as well. Called the DreamStation CPAP Pro, it is packed with advanced features to treat your OSA effectively so you can finally get a good night’s rest.

dreamstation cpap machine

This apena machine features the EZ Start Technology where it functions as an auto CPAP therapy for the first 30 days to determine the optimal pressure level for your treatment. Patient comfort is also assured with its high-quality technology features that detect breathing patterns and eases air pressure during exhalation. The SmartRamp feature is intelligent enough to know when to increase the pressure level based on airway resistance it detects as you breathe in and out..

Without the humidifier and heater, this is the cheapest variant of the DreamStation CPAP Pro model. However, the absence of these features also makes this machine unsuitable to patients who tend to experience dry throat and irritation due to cold and dry air. Another drawback is that the Auto-Trial feature is good only for 30 days which means that if another user tries to use the sleep apnea machine or your physiology changes over time it won’t be able to determine the perfect pressure level.

DreamStation CPAP with Humidifier and Heated Tube

As a market leader, Phillips Respironics has an extensive lineup of machines to suit the different needs of sleep apnea patients. For those who do not need the features found in the Pro series and are looking for cheaper alternatives, the brand has another set of products to suit these patients’ needs such as the DreamStation CPAP with Humidifier and Heated Tube.

This machine has all the features needed to treat sleep apnea effectively. It has SmartRamp technology which automatically increases the pressure based on your breathing during ramp time. If it takes you a bit longer to ease into sleep, you can adjust the ramp time to its maximum of 45 minutes. With its humidifier and heated tube, it’s ideal for use in colder and drier regions, especially for patients who are sensitive to such conditions.

With some CPAP machines patients have to exert more effort when breathing out as they have to work against the existing air pressure. But that’s not an issue at all with this device. With its C-Flex technology, exhaling is a lot easier since it tracks the patient’s breathing pattern and eases the pressure during exhalation. It is very quiet and has an accompanying app to help you stay engaged in your therapy.

Unlike the Pro version, however, this model has its limitations. For instance, it does not have a mask off alert and no leak compensation, which means your treatment won’t be as effective if a pressure leak happens because the mask is moved while you are sleeping. It also does not have the 30-day Auto Trial to help you determine the correct pressure level for you.

BEST PICK FOR USE IN THE TROPICS:

DreamStation CPAP with Humidifier

With plenty of sunlight and a warm climate all year round, most patients living in the tropics or near the equator won’t really need a heater feature. As such, the DreamStation CPAP with Humidifier is the perfect choice for them.

dreamstation cpap pro with humidifier and heated tube

It still has a humidifier so your mouth and throat won’t feel as dry as the desert in the mornings. It also comes with all the features offered in the previous model such as the SmartRamp, C-Flex, Bluetooth, cellular and Wi-Fi connectivity as well as very quiet operation at below 30dB noise level. Compared to the model with a heater feature, this is roughly $40 cheaper as well.

Again, this has no mask off detection and leak compensation so better not move around too much when you sleep. Without a heater feature, it might not be suitable for people living in colder areas especially for those sensitive to cold air from their CPAP machine.

Read our full review of DreamStation CPAP with Humidifier 

BEST VALUE PICK:

DreamStation CPAP Machine

If you want the high quality of Phillips Respironics products but have a limited budget, then the DreamStation CPAP Machine might be the perfect device for you. This machine is still packed with all the great features that will help you deal with sleep apnea and get a good night’s rest but it is the lowest priced package in the DreamStation lineup.

dreamstation cpap machine

The DreamStation CPAP machine features the C-Flex technology to ensure you are comfortable while using the device throughout the night. It is super quiet and produces noise of less than 30 dB during operation, a level of noise that is hardly noticeable even to your partner. It is the perfect machine for use in fixed pressure CPAP therapy as it can provide one pressure setting for the entire night.

Unfortunately, it has no heated humidifier (probably the reason for its low price) which could mean that you might experience some discomfort due to dry throat if you live in cold and dry areas. However, it is fully compatible with the DreamStation Heated Humidifier so you can purchase it separately later if you need to.

Read our full review of DreamStation CPAP Machine 

BEST BUDGET OPTION:

IntelliPAP Standard with Heated Humidifier

In this buying guide, we try to include similar devices but with different price levels to give options for different kinds of buyers. If you are looking for an affordable CPAP machine for sale, then the IntelliPAP Standard with Heated Humidifier is the perfect choice for you as it is currently offered below $400, the lowest-priced device in this guide.

intellipap standard with heated humidifier

This machine has a delay pressure ramp which gradually changes the pressure to the level to the prescribed by your physician. This is more comfortable for the patient as it eases them into the therapy’s prescribed pressure and helps them fall asleep more comfortably. It boasts of a whisper-quiet noise level during operation so staying asleep should not be a problem even for anyone else sleeping with you.

The IntelliPAP also has a SmartCode® compliance tracking feature which allows you to store into a memory card all data gathered during its use so your therapist may go over them to gauge your therapy’s progress. However, there were some complaints about the water chamber leaking while in use. Fortunately, this product is covered by a 3-year warranty in case of any breakage or leaking.

Read our full review of IntelliPAP Standard with Heated Humidifier 

BEST DIAGNOSTIC FEATURES PICK:

ResMed AirSense 10 Elite with HumidAir Humidifier

Another well-recognized manufacturer in the CPAP market is the San Diego, California-based ResMed. The company is known for its innovation and has been producing products of the highest quality, though they are also among the most expensive in this niche. If you want only one of the best CPAP equipment to treat your sleep apnea, then the ResMed AirSense 10 Elite with HumidAir Humidifier is the perfect device for you.

resmed cpap machine

It is one of the most high-tech CPAP machines available today and is capable of automatically detecting a number of specific issues such as Cheyne-Stokes respiration (CSR), central sleep apnea (CSA) and respiratory effort related arousal (RERA). The data obtained can then be wirelessly sent to your doctor so you’ll get a custom-made treatment for your condition that would have otherwise been missed. It is very comfortable to use as it has a built-in heated humidifier and an auto ramp that gradually increases pressure to the prescribed level so you’ll be able to acclimatize to the change.

ResMed knows how to make high-quality sleep apnea machines and there are no complaints (so far) about its features at all. The only negative we stumbled upon through our research is that the ResMed AirSense 10 Elite with HumidAir Humidifier is priced way higher than other brand’s comparable models. But as buyers found out, this machine may be on the pricey side but you really get what you pay for in terms of quality and performance. And another thing, which may be unrelated to the machine itself but will definitely affect some buyers, is that there are complaints about the company’s poor customer service.

Which Is The Best CPAP Machine For You?

If you travel a lot, it makes sense to buy a mini CPAP machine – also known as travel CPAP machine – due to their smaller size and lower weight. Read a few travel cpap reviews and select one that is battery powered one so you can use it even if there is no outlet in your location.

There is no straight answer to this question as different patients have different therapy needs, as well as different budgets. Sleep apnea patients come in all shapes and sizes. While a particular model might work for one patient, it may not be suitable for another. When choosing machine, always bear in mind that the goal of the treatment is to treat the condition so you’ll be able to sleep uninterrupted at night. 

If money is not an issue for you and you want all the high tech features available, then the DreamStation CPAP Pro with Humidifier and Heated Tube or the ResMed AirSense 10 Elite with HumidAir Humidifier are perfect options for you.

Of course, there might be a few features that you don’t really need, some have cleaning functions, but if you have already checked out our reviews, then you will know this isn’t the only option.

For those shopping on a limited budget, we’ve also made it a point to include models at different price levels in this best CPAP machine buying guide as well. If you find BiPAP is better for you, then check out our BiPAP machine reviews

The National Sleep Foundation estimates that more than 18 million American adults suffer from sleep apnea. Left untreated, it increases a person’s risk of developing health issues such as heart attacks, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, and even depression.

Thankfully, the condition can be easily managed with the use of modern CPAP machines with features adjusted to your personal needs. We hope this Best CPAP Machine Buying Guide will help you arrive at a well-informed buying decision and a CPAP machine that serves you well

If you earn through affiliate commission, perhaps this sentence should be removed?