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How to Power CPAP Machine While Camping in Easy Steps

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When undergoing CPAP therapy, the last thing people want to think about is a camping trip, as they hate the idea of not being able to have a peaceful night’s sleep when away from home. For some people, skipping the therapy for even a few nights can harbor hazardous results.

But thanks to the advances of modern technology and innovation, going camping with a CPAP machine is now easier than it has ever been. Campers and outdoor goers nowadays have a wide range of options when it comes to transporting their CPAP equipment, due to lightweight designs, varying power sources, and an almost unlimited number of power converters.

There’s no secret to this. Simply put, various manufacturers, such as ResMed, have made more of an effort to make this type of equipment portable, in order to allow many of their customers to have a guaranteed good night’s sleep wherever they go. And for those who like to camp far and wide, this can be anywhere!

Top CPAP Supplies Required for Camping

You’ll need the right things beforehand. Here’s the list of those things:

1. CPAP Machine

Picking the correct CPAP machine for you is crucial. For most, a travel-specific CPAP machine would probably work best, due to how light and small they are in comparison to ordinary machines.

You can bring an ordinary machine instead, but the process of setting it up will be slightly more complicated, and it’s likely to be harder to carry around or store in your RV or car. There are a few portable CPAP machines available to purchase, so give the reviews a good read, and pick the one that’s right for you.

2. CPAP Mask

When choosing a mask, you’ll likely want one that’s lightweight, and easy to use. Getting some camping or travel-specific accessories would probably be a good idea too.

3. CPAP Accessories

Having certain accessories can make using your CPAP machine away from home a lot easier and more pleasant. It’s also a good idea to carry spares of some things, just in case they got lost or broken whilst you’re away, as replacing them while on the road might prove to be difficult.

As well as this, bring some CPAP-appropriate cleaning products, like wipes and cleaning solution, to make sure your equipment stays clean and safe to use while you’re away.

How to Power CPAP Machine While Camping

Thanks to these great, portable CPAP models, those with trouble sleeping no longer have to worry about losing out on sleep when they’re away, allowing them to really make the most of their excursion. When planning to use your CPAP during a trip, there are two options available to you:

You can either:

  • Make sure wherever you stay has a compatible electrical outlet
  • Bring a CPAP battery for unrestricted use anywhere

Each of these options has its own advantages and disadvantages, so we’ll go over these for each one to help you choose which is best for you:

1. Find a Campsite with Power

Only staying at campsites with power ensures that you’ll have no issues in using your CPAP machine, and therefore won’t have to worry about any equipment issues or hiccups. Just use it as you normally would! Although not every campsite has electrical hookups, the vast majority do. So, as long as you double-check this beforehand, you should be fine once you get there.

One of the main advantages of using mains power is that you’ll be able to use humidification. Using a humidifier from the CPAP’s battery will often drastically drain the battery’s power in a short amount of time, and therefore prevent the CPAP machine from working for as long as it needs to. When running off mains power, you don’t have to worry about this.

Pros

Although you’ll only be able to stay in campsites with power, these are usually the better campsites, that are maintained to a better quality, as well as having good showers, toilets, and Internet access.

Cons

Because of other people only wanting to stay in campsites with power, they can often get booked up early, or come with a higher price tag than other campsites.

They’re also less likely to have the peace and quiet that unpowered campsites have, as they’re not usually based in those remote, tranquil places.

So, if you’re looking to venture far away from others and enjoy the peace and quiet of the great outdoors, you may struggle to get this by only staying in powered campsites. And if that’s the case, then perhaps running off battery power might be the best option for you.

2. Do Your Therapy Off-Grid

CPAP batteries are ideal for those who want absolutely no restrictions on where they can go with their equipment. But although you can go as far as possible, there’s a limit to how long you can use your machine. Batteries don’t last forever, after all.

If you pick the right mode, your CPAP machine should be good to use for at least a couple of nights, but if you’re unable to charge it after this point, then you’ll want to pick up at least 1 or 2 spare batteries, just to ensure that your machine will last the trip.

Although you might be thinking that a night or two without the therapy won’t make a difference, it certainly can, so we seriously wouldn’t recommend that.

Pros

Batteries give you complete, unlimited access to go wherever you want, whilst still being able to use your CPAP machine. Some batteries are even flight-approved, so you can travel all the way across the world with them.

Cons

The main downside to batteries is the fact that they don’t have the unlimited power that mains power can offer, meaning that you’ll have to keep a wary eye on your battery levels to make sure they don’t run out. To add to this, these batteries aren’t cheap, with most coming in at over $200, and some well over $500!

How to Power CPAP Machine Off-Grid

There are two ways in which you can provide power to your CPAP machine whilst camping:

1. Use a Car Battery

Although many people don’t know this, you can actually use a car battery in order to power many CPAP machines. Although you won’t find these from CPAP retailers, you can buy car batteries online, or from your local large retail store.

Because of their usage and nature, car batteries have excellent life spans, and much larger power capacities than various other battery types, and are guaranteed to be able to provide you with long-lasting power for your CPAP machine.

You’ll need to do one of two things for this to work:

DC Adapter Cable

DC cables connect to both the positive and the negative terminals of a battery, which then outputs to the in-car power port (usually used for the cigarette lighter). You can actually plug your CPAP machine into this outlet, and it’ll provide ample power.

Inverter

By using an inverter, you can convert the DC power of the battery into AC power, which can be used to power your machine.

For this to work, you’ll need to ensure than your inverter includes alligator clips to connect it to the battery. When this is done, you can plug your CPAP machine into the inverter as you would normally at home.

Despite them being a great option, car batteries also have their disadvantages:

  • Car Batteries Are Heavy: Unlike the batteries in your other electronic or technological devices, car batteries aren’t the kind of thing you’ll be happy to lug around for hours on end. Some of them weigh a lot, and would only be suitable to transport via vehicle.
  • Deep Cycle Batteries Are Not Approved by the FAA: These types of batteries aren’t permitted to be taken on a flight – even in your check-in luggage. So, if you’re planning to travel to your destination with air transport, you’ll have to leave your battery at home.

2. Use a CPAP Battery Pack

CPAP battery packs are much more popular than they used to be, due to them being cheaper, lighter and much more versatile than they were years ago. But be aware, not all batteries will work with all CPAP machines, so you’ll need to check if yours is compatible before taking them on the trip.

You can also go to CPAP.com to check this if you’re unsure, as you don’t want to find this out when it’s too late. Although you can get non-compatible batteries to work with machines by using converters and inverters, it’s much easier and more reliable to just buy the correct battery in the first place – which is what we would recommend.

Why You Should Use a Travel CPAP Machine?

If you’re planning to take yours on the go, having a travel-sized or travel-specific CPAP machine is ideal, as this can fit into smaller spaces, and also won’t weigh you down if you have to carry it on your person. This also saves valuable space and weight for taking all your other equipment and gear as well.

These are the key advantages that travel CPAPs hold over ordinary home-use CPAP machines:

  • You can use it at home or when you’re traveling
  • Travel machines tend to have more advanced features
  • You can take it in the car or on a plane with ease

Although no current models have built-in batteries, having a decent battery separate from the machine isn’t an issue.

Disadvantages of Inverters

An inverter might be necessary if you’re using a CPAP machine that isn’t as new as some of the more recent models, as the inverter is used as a bridge in order to make the machine and the battery compatible with each other.

But as the inverter has to use battery power as well as the machine, sometimes this can drain down the battery quicker. You can overcome this by purchasing a battery that’s suited specifically for your machine, as it will definitely be compatible, and an inverter won’t be necessary.

How to Clean Your CPAP Machine

When taking your CPAP machine out of your clean home, especially when taking it camping, it’s likely to encounter a lot more dust and dirt, so it’s crucial that you clean it and replace the filter when you get home. This will keep your machine efficient and safe to use.

The same should be done if you’re using a humidifier. Be sure to keep the machine well away from any campfire or smoke, and if it does get exposed to this, wash it thoroughly with an appropriate solution.

How to Store a CPAP Machine

Packing everything you need into an RV can be a challenge in the first place, so if there’s a way for you to downsize some items in order to free up space, then it’s always a good idea. That’s why we recommend getting hold of a smaller, travel-sized CPAP, as these do exactly that.

If your CPAP can only fit when stuffed into a small space, perhaps consider getting a travel or hard case to protect it in this type of scenario. This also means you can stuff it in airplane overhead lockers or in-car boots without the worry that it’ll get damaged.

Some people even try and use a hook or strap, to hang or hold the CPAP machine out of place, but in an easy-to-access area so you can set it up quick before bedtime.

Command strips, suction cups, and baskets all work to do this, as they can hang or store the CPAP machine out of the way, yet make it easy to access when required. Get creative with it, and see what you can come up with!

How to Prevent CPAP Condensation

Condensation can come about in cold environments when the temperature drops significantly lower, so if using your CPAP in winter then you’re likely to encounter this. If condensation appears on the mask, this can affect breathing and have an undesired wet effect during the night, which can ultimately affect your sleep.

You can overcome this by heating the CPAP tube before, or even during use, as if this is kept warm, it will prevent condensation from accumulating, and keep it dry and comfortable. A CPAP humidifier can also do this, as this will absorb the moisture out of the mask, and keep it dry and suitable for use.

Just bear in mind that humidifiers also require their own power, so when using them on a battery, you’ll likely need to charge or replace it after a night. If you’re using CPAP in summer, you’re unlikely to encounter this problem.

Final Thoughts

For those who use a CPAP machine on a regular basis, camping – or sleeping anywhere away from home – is always going to come with some issues. But thanks to portable CPAP machines, as well as an array of options to pick from, you can still get a great night’s sleep when you’re away from home!

David Miller

My name is David and I have been an outdoor guy for as long as I can remember. I have a strong passion for the great outdoors in general and specifically camping. I am the kind of person who spends more time outdoors than indoors. I am a staunch believer in the fact that outdoor life should be well lived because it's in the natural, serene, and untamed wild that we find out who we truly are. Let’s take the journey together.

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