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This article is a comprehensive review of mini CPAP options for portable treatment of sleep apnea by our board certified sleep physician.

Mini CPAP: A Guide to Portable CPAP Machines

plane train and car symbols

Are you in the market for a mini CPAP? If you have sleep apnea and are in one of the following groups, a travel CPAP might be of interest to you:

  • frequent travelers
  • hunters
  • backcountry campers
  • sailors
  • vacation home owners who don't want to lug their regular machines back and forth
  • those who don't want everyone to know that they have sleep apnea when they take a commercial flight

What CPAP travel machine options are available?

ResMed AirMini

airmini cpap

The AirMini entered the travel/portable CPAP market in 2017 and is touted as the world's smallest CPAP machine. The AirMini connects wirelessly with the AirMini app which enables you to see compliance and efficacy data. A major advantage of the AirMini over its competitors is that the settings can be modified remotely by your clinician. Comprehensive downloads to evaluate efficacy and troubleshoot issues can also be obtained remotely by your provider. 

In terms of humidification, ResMed offers their proprietary HumidX heat moisture exchange (HME) to help prevent dryness. The HumidX is also available in the "Plus" version that is recommended for extremely dry environments. Other currently available accessories include a mount system to secure the device during use while traveling and a padded travel bag. 

Advantages

  • Smallest product of its class on the market
  • Has ResMed's superior auto-adjusting algorithm
  • Settings can be adjusted and full downloads can be obtained remotely by your clinician
  • Can be set to three different settings: fixed pressure, AutoSet, and ResMed's proprietary "AutoSet for Her" algorithm which has been shown to enhance comfort and tolerability in women

Potential Disadvantages:

  • No battery option yet. ResMed promises that there is one in the works. 
  • Only compatible with the following masks:
    • F20 AirFit
    • N20 AirFit
    • P10 for AirMini (NOTE: this is different from the "regular P10")
    • AirTouch F20
      • NOTE: HumidX is not available with full face mask options. 

Specifications:

  • AirMini machine Dimensions: 5.4" (W) x 3.3" (D) x 2.1"(H) 136 mm (W) x 84 mm (D) x 52 mm (H) Weight: 10.6 oz (300 g) 
  • Automatic altitude adjustment up to 2591 meters (8500')
  • Warranty: 2 years
  • Ramp feature

Sound

  • Declared dual-number noise emission values in accordance with ISO 4871:1996 Pressure level measured according to ISO 80601-2-70:2015 (CPAP mode) 29 dBA with uncertainty of 2 dBA
  • Power level measured according to ISO 80601-2-70:2015 (CPAP mode) 37 dBA with uncertainty of 2 dBA 28
  • The A-weighted sound pressure level measured according to ISO 17510:2015:
    • Air tubing connected to AirMini F20 connector with mask 19 dBA with uncertainty of 3 dBA
    • Air tubing connected to AirMini N20 or P10 connectors with mask 15 dBA with uncertainty of 3 dBA
  • The A-weighted sound power level measured according to ISO 17510:2015:
    • Air tubing connected to AirMini F20 connector with mask 27 dBA with uncertainty of 3 dBA
    • Air tubing connected to the AirMini N20 or P10 connectors with mask 23 dBA with uncertainty of 3 dBA

Order an AirMini

Philips Respironics DreamStation Go

dreamstation go cpap

Not to be outdone by ResMed, Philips also introduced its travel CPAP model, the DreamStation Go, in 2017. 

Key Features:

  • Connects to the DreamMapper app so you can monitor your therapy.
  • Offers auto-adjusting and fixed-pressure therapy settings.
  • "Micro-flexible" tubing enhances portability. (Also supports standard-size tubing.)
  • Includes Philips' proprietary FLEX exhalation relief system for added breathing comfort on therapy. Optional integrated battery. 

Specifications:

  • Warranty: 2 years
  • Automatic pressure adjustment for altitude up to 7500'
  • Ramp of 0-45 minutes
  • Weight: 844 grams (1.86 lbs)
  • Dimensions: 15 cm L x 15 cm W x 5.8 cm H
  • Sound: dreamstation go sound

    Order a DreamStation Go

    Transcend CPAP Machines (Somnetics)

    transcend cpap with key for scale

    Transcend is the original small CPAP machine. There are three machine models:

    • Transcend miniCPAP: base model - fixed pressure machine only
    • Transcend EZEX: fixed pressure machine with exhalation pressure relief for added comfort
    • Transcend AUTO: auto CPAP machine; includes EZEX pressure relief; can also be set to fixed pressure

    Machine specifications:

    All three Transcend CPAP machine models have the following specifications:

    • Weight: 426 grams
    • Dimensions (L x W x H): 15.5cm x 8.9cm x 7.1cm
    • Adjustable ramp: 0-45 minutes
    • Automatic altitude adjustment: up to 2438 meters
    • Power supply: 100-240 VAC, 50-60Hz, 19VDC, 2.6 Amp
    • Warranty: 3 years

    Noise levels vary slightly. The Transcend AUTO and Transcend EZEX put generates 26.6 dB, while the base model Transcend produces 29 dB.

    Order a Transcend MiniCPAP

    Z1 CPAP (HDM) 

    z1 cpap held in palm of hand

    Z1 bills itself as the smallest CPAP machine in the world. It comes in four models: 

    • Z1 CPAP: fixed pressure machine
    • Z1 CPAP Unplugged: fixed pressure machine bundled with rechargeable battery for portable use
    • Z1 Auto: auto PAP machine
    • Z1 Auto Unplugged: auto PAP machine bundled with rechargeable battery for portable use 

    Machine specifications:

    All Z1 models have the following specifications: 

    • Weight: 263 g
    • Dimensions (L x W l x H): 16.5cm x 8.4cm x 5.1cm
    • Adjustable ramp: 0-45 minutes
    • Automatic altitude adjustment: up to 2591 meters
    • Power supply: 100-240 VAC, 50-60Hz, 19VDC, 2.6 Amp
    • Warranty: 3 years
    • Noise level: 26 dB 

    The Z1 also offers Bluetooth data transmission and a free data app so users can monitor their own compliance data. 

    Order a  Z1

    How well do the machines work? 

    The best scientific research paper to analyze the comparative effectiveness of autoCPAP machines was the 2015 Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine article entitled, "All APAPs Are Not Equivalent for the Treatment of Sleep Disordered Breathing: A Bench Evaluation of Eleven Commercially Available Devices," by Zhu et al. The Transcend AUTO was tested for efficacy in this article and scored a 96% rating, which placed it at the top of the group of eleven auto CPAP machines that were evaluated. The Z1 was not included in the study. The ResMed AirMini and the Philips Go are relatively new to the market and have not been included in any peer-reviewed journal articles yet. 

    Can I use a mini CPAP as my "everyday" machine? What are the typical complaints regarding travel CPAP reviews? 

    In theory, you could. But with portable sleep apnea machines, the reduced size comes with tradeoffs; the major one that might affect daily use is lack of robust heated humidification. This may take its toll on your throat, leading to significant dryness and negatively affecting your ability to tolerate therapy with the machine after a few days of use. Of course, if you have no problem using the mini CPAP machine all night, then it may be the only machine that you ever need.   

    Where can I purchase these machines? 

    The machines discussed above are available for purchase online from a number of Internet-based DME retailers, as well as brick-and-mortar DME shops. You can order the Z1 directly from HDM, the manufacturer.  If you prefer to buy locally, contact local DME stores in your area to find out if they carry the product line that you're interested in. 

    Another word of caution: If you suspect that you have sleep apnea, do not skip having a sleep apnea test and discussing the results with a sleep doctor prior to purchasing one of these machines from say Craigslist or Amazon. It's important to determine whether you have sleep apnea, as well as the type and degree of sleep disordered breathing, before you self-treat with one of these machines. You can now do a home sleep study to get the information that you need, which may be more palatable to a lot of people who would like to avoid spending an uncomfortable night in a sleep lab. 

    If I buy a travel cpap machine, will I need special tubing for it? Do only specific CPAP masks work with these small cpap machines? 

    The Transcend and Apex travel size CPAP machines are compatible with standard CPAP tubing and all CPAP masks so you can use your current interface with your new machine. The Z1 comes with HDM's SlimStyle tubing but is universally compatible with all hoses. 

    How much do mini CPAP machines cost? What about the accessories? 

    Cost comparison: Average prices in USD are approximately as follows - 

    ResMed AirMini Cost: $999

    ResMed AirMini Accessories Cost:

    • travel bag for machine only: $29
    • travel bag for machine and accessories: $59
    • travel case and premium carry bag: $83
    • mount: $35

    Philips Dreamstation Go Cost: $849

    Philips Dreamstation Go Accessories Cost: 

    • travel case: $30
    • battery: $299

    Transcend Cost: 

    Machines: 

    • Transend miniCPAP: $449
    • Transcend EZEX: $499
    • Transcend AUTO: $529 

    Accessories: 

    Z1 Cost: 

    Machine Cost: 

    Z1CPAP: $479

    Z1Auto: $549

    Z1CPAP Unplugged (includes battery pack): $828

    Z1Auto Unplugged (included battery pack): $898

    Accessories: 

    Powershell (battery pack): $445

    Z1 heat moisture exchanger: $6 - uses naturally-occurring moisture in  your breath to humidify CPAP air; requires replacement after seven days 

    How do I clean my equipment while traveling? 

    You will need to clean your mini machine, mask, and tubing daily. Follow the manufacturer's instructions to manually clean the machine or consider adding the SoClean 2 Go to your CPAP travel bag, which can save a lot of time over the long run. Remember, if you're traveling outside of the United States or using untreated water, like while backcountry camping, you will need to boil or otherwise treat (e.g., iodine tablets, portable water purification systems) the water before using it to clean your equipment. 

    Order a  SoClean 2 Go

    Note to international shoppers residing outside the United States: some of these product lines may not be available in all countries. 

    sleep apnea test home sleep study Joseph Krainin Joseph Krainin, M.D., FAASM is the founder of Singular Sleep, the world's first online sleep center.  He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and board-certified in both sleep  medicine and neurology. He has been practicing medicine for over 10 years.

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