Powering CPAP Machines In Power Outages

I don’t shy from talking about using a CPAP machine. I was noticing over a few years that my sleep wasn’t very good anymore, and that I was waking up out of intense nightmares where I felt as if I was choking, my heart racing in fear. Suffice to say a simple sleep study confirmed it: I had Sleep Apena. The joys of getting older I suppose. (I used Easy Breathe’s at home test, which was affordable and easy to do. A family relative was given the same test by their doctor, using the same appliance type to test.)

I sleep using my ResMed AirSense 10 machine, which is great right up until there is no power. So far in 2020 we have lost power twice overnight. The windstorms have been good this winter, and we still have a couple more months of howlers, including one predicted for tonight with 40 mph winds.

I am not going to sleep without my CPAP if I can help it, because sleep isn’t healthy then. So we have built a system for using the machines off-grid and can have 1 to 3 nights use ready, before we need to hook up our battery to the solar panel to charge (how many nights depends on the battery used and if we plug right in, or use a DC plugin). Outside of the initial cost, it is quite easy to power your machine.

The first part is getting a good battery. We have a couple types of deep cycle batteries we use in various ways on the homestead, but what is of utter importance is the battery is sealed. DO NOT use a battery from a car inside your home to power equipment, they can produce toxic gases. It can be tempting as car batteries are affordable.

We use a Goal Zero Yeti 400 Portable Power Station. The Goal Zero battery is user friendly and easy to set up. I won’t lie. They are not cheap. The alternative is you cannot use your machine, and if the power outage is long, you face issues. You are worth a battery that costs $400 to 1,000 (this one is less, in the $550 range, because it isn’t Lithium). Lithium batteries cost more, but can be worth the extra cost. Goal Zero does Costco road shows as well, so if you shop there, keep an eye out. Goal Zero is also friendly to those who don’t have experience with the big batteries. You can plug in regular plus, DC car plugs and USB cords. They show where your battery is for how much juice is left and what your watt output is as well.

And also a Bioenno Power battery, which isn’t made anymore (it was more powerful than the Yeti above) (Which if you want to get into solar panels, and storing of power, visit their website for a lot to check out):

CPAP machines come with a standard AC plug in that disconnects for packing the machine. You can source a DC power cord for your machine in most cases, so they can be used in vehicles (on a side note our RV has a dedicated CPAP plugin in the bedroom, and this is becoming standard in modern RV’s and trailers).

We picked up this DC cord.

By using the dedicated DC power cord you can use the battery’s power direct, without it going DC to AC to DC. You will get a longer battery life by using a dedicated cord, instead of plugging in your machine’s regular cord  due to being more efficient. This can mean an extra night before charging the battery, and in the dark winter days this is very helpful when running solar to charge batteries.

Other tips: If your machine has a humidifier, consider not running that, which will save battery life. You will wake up dry mouthed and thirsty, but it won’t be a big issue for most people. And if your machine uses wifi to send info, turn that off as well. That is a huge battery drain.

This system works great for tent camping, trailer camping, sleeping in vehicles while traveling and whenever you need portable power.

On the solar panels and collecting power? I will cover that topic soon. 

Disclaimer: This is not intended to be medical advice, but what works for me, and my own experiences. The links to the company EasyBreathe are not affiliate links – I am a happy customer of theirs, and they work with insurance, but also offer the ability to buy needed gear at a fair price and you can use HSA/FSA accounts to pay.