Should I get a CPAP battery?

Now is the perfect time to talk about flying with CPAP. There are some frequently asked questions about batteries, adapters, insurance, etc. So this week, we’ve brought in ResMed Clinical Education Specialist Susie Justus to help answer a few.

ResMed: Susie, lots of people ask us why they need a CPAP battery.

Susie: Well not everyone does necessarily. First and foremost, we encourage everyone to use CPAP whenever they sleep. If you’re going to be sleeping on an airplane or boat, camping or otherwise, you should talk to your equipment provider about the battery that best fits your needs. Also, if you live in an area that experiences power outages due to storms, etc., you may want to have one just in case.

ResMed: Speaking of power outages, what exactly happens to your CPAP when the power goes out?

Susie: In a power outage, your CPAP simply shuts off. The machine can only plug into the wall or a battery, not both at the same time. So to use the battery, you have to manually unplug the CPAP from the wall outlet and into your battery. Oftentimes, a power outage will wake you up. But if you don’t wake, don’t worry! You can still breathe room air if your machine stops working. Nasal and nasal pillows mask users will naturally breathe through their mouth to get room air. And full face masks have what’s called an anti-asphyxia valve in the front that automatically opens to let room air into your mask if your CPAP shuts off. Of course if you can wake up and reconnect your CPAP to your battery, you should do it to avoid apneas the rest of the night.

ResMed: So how do CPAP batteries work?

Susie: Each is a bit different. But ResMed’s battery, the ResMed Power Station II (RPS II), comes with a unit adapter that plugs into the battery itself and your CPAP machine. It plugs into any Air10™, S9™ or Stellar™ ventilator (The Astral™ life support ventilator has its own external battery). The RPS II also has output cables that plug into the wall so you can charge it: 4 hours of charging gets you up to 13 hours of battery life.

ResMed: Can I use my CPAP and battery on an airplane?

Susie: Yes! But before you travel, be sure to:

  • Ask your airline what type of power cord or adapter you need to plug into the plane, and talk to your equipment provider if you need one.
  • Ask your airline if you can sit close to a power source so you can plug your CPAP into the plane rather than use your battery.
  • Get a doctor’s letter stating that you need CPAP and a copy of your machine’s FAA compliance letter.
  • If you’re traveling to another country, call your airline at least 2 weeks before your flight and get their approval to use CPAP onboard.
  • Also for international flyers, find out what power adapter your destination country requires. You should be able to find one in large department stores or online.

Also, make sure to empty your humidifier before flying with it. Water can spill out during the flight.

ResMed: Great tips! The last question we get most often is “Will my insurance cover a battery?”

Susie: Most insurance companies unfortunately will not cover a battery for CPAP machines, since they consider it a convenience. Definitely ask your provider if your plan covers one. But either way, if you travel for business or pleasure and need a battery in order to use CPAP, the battery is worth every penny to ensure you get the most out of your trip.

For all you outdoor campers, using CPAP with a battery is a bit different than flying. We discuss more about camping and CPAP here!

This blog post contains general information about medical conditions and potential treatments. It is not medical advice. If you have any medical questions, please consult your doctor.

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