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Question Of The Week

CPAP Solutions For the Road

Now with the camper, power has not been a problem with two group 24 batteries and a 95 watt solar panel.  The 300 watt inverter draws extra power due to the fan, which also adds an extra level of noise, so I purchased a second CPAP machine for travel that allows me to eliminate the inverter.  I still do not use the heat function, but the IntelliPAP travel CPAP machine can run on either 110 volt or 12 volt power with the optional 12 volt cord, so the inverter is no longer needed.

We have yet to camp for more than a few nights without hook-ups, so I can’t address how long this 12 volt setup might last before we would need to bring along our portable generator.” – Greg Chambers, 2015 GMC 3500, 2015 Lance 855s

“A friend we camp with has one and he uses his Honda EU3000i to power it.  He has the external gas tank kit so it can run all night.  We always boondock, so there are no generator hours to worry about.  This set-up wouldn’t work in a campground without shore power.  I’ll be interested to see the responses as I am looking for a power source for my laptop when off grid.” – Chuck Johnson, 2006 Ford F350, 2008 Okanagan 10.6

“I have a Repironics.  I have used it with the Honda 2000 generator, but leave the generator home for the most part.  I would like to run solar, two AGM batteries, and an inverter in the future.” – Winston Gotte, 2003 GMC Sierra 2500, 2015 Four Wheel Hawk

“I have successfully operated my CPAP for about ten years in my RVs.  My CPAP is a Respironics System One, IP22, Ref 561CA.

This unit runs on 110 volt or 12 volt.  The manufacturer makes two power supply units, one for 110 volt and the other for 12 volt.  The name plate says that it’s made in USA.

When the camper is plugged into shore power, I use the 110 volt adapter.  When not on shore power, I use the 12 volt adapter that plugs into an ordinary cigarette lighter plug.  The 12 volt operation comes with a manufacturer’s warning about the quality of DC required.  The CPAP contains sensitive electronic parts that do not like the ripple on the DC from battery chargers, and auto alternators.

In my camper I have both 110 volt and a special 12 volt plug I installed for the CPAP in the bunk area.  The special plug is on a dedicated feed directly from the battery using 8 guage wire to get the smoothest DC possible and minimize voltage fluctuations from other electrical loads going on and off.  I have run the CPAP from the 12 volt television plug successfully, but that plug is subject to more voltage fluctuation caused by other loads and the voltage drops in the camper wiring system.  It’s not as good for the CPAP as a dedicated feed.

I regularly dry camp for three or four days and the batteries still show full.  I have two 230 AH 6 volt batteries and a 160 watt solar panel.  I could go indefinitely if the sun shines.

The manufacturer recommends using an isolated battery, but with the lack of room in a camper, charging and venting are solved using the camper’s batteries.  This is the fourth RV I have successfully rigged for a CPAP.” – John Hallett, 2011 Dodge 3500, 2014 Bigfoot 25C96

“I’ve been using a CPAP machine for years.  As a retired medical scientist who has studied sleep medicine at the graduate level, I can tell you that these things can have a tremendously positive impact on your health, as it has on mine.  I own two CPAP machines, a larger one that lives at home on my bedside table, and another portable XT Fit unit, available online for about $200, that lives in my truck camper.

To save power, I do not use the humidifier attachment that is available for the portable unit.  The humidifiers in CPAP machines work by heating a reservoir of water to a fairly warm temperature, and they then pass the breathing air over the warm water to humidify it and prevent the drying of your throat during the night.  I haven’t measured the power consumption with versus without the humidifiers running, but I just assumed that running a 110 volt electrical heating element all night on batteries wouldn’t make a lot of sense, so I don’t do it.  As a practical matter, humidification is most important and necessary for comfort when CPAPs are used in dry winter air.  Most camping is done during more humid, warmer times of the year.

I drive the CPAP using a 300 watt inverter plugged into my 12 volt outlet in the camper, which in turn is fed by two Group 27 12 volt Interstate deep cycle batteries.  I have had absolutely no problem running the CPAP for eight straight hours overnight for several nights in a row while boondocking without needing a battery recharge.  Again, this is without the humidifier accessory attached.  Given my history with the unit, I suspect a single battery may even be sufficient for at least one full night’s sleep.

The bottom line is to buy a portable CPAP unit online.  This should be cheaper than the main unit your doctor or hospital will supply for you through your insurer and/or home health care company.  Have the unit set by the shipper to the prescribed pressure set by your sleep physician (specified in centimeters of pressure in water height).  Actually, you may need to have that prescription provided directly to the supplier by your doctor anyway to comply with applicable laws.

Can you just take your tabletop home CPAP unit with you in the truck?  I don’t know.  Mine is too big and inconvenient for me to carry around, so I’ve never tried it.  Also, my large home Respironics unit has the humidifier unit fully self-contained, and I’m not sure how effectively I could shut that off.” – Reed Prior, 2007 GMC 2500 HD, 2000 Travel Lite

“I don’t use a CPAP, but my wife does.  She has four different machines to chose from as our insurance replaces them every other year.  The one we use in our travels is a 110 volt and 12 volt model.  The unit name is Philips Respironics RemStar Model 200M.

When we are in a campground she uses it on AC, but when we dry camp we have a Lithium Ion battery.  The battery is very small and it will run her CPAP for two and a half days without being recharged.  Then when we drive we just plug the battery into the truck’s 12 volt outlet and charge it while driving.

At that time we had a 2012 Northern Lite 10-2 CD Special Edition.   We took the unit to Alaska with us two years ago.  They have different models now as this is an older unit.

The lithium ion battery was not cheap at $259.99 dollars, but when you look at what it does it is worth it.  We purchased the battery at CPAP Battery, Inc.” – Butch Evaans, 2015 Winnebago View 24V, still a truck camper at heart

“I have a ResMed S9 Autoset, and my wife has a Resmed S9 Escape.  Resmed sells a 12 volt plug for the units.  They were about $150 each.  We run them without the humidity thing, which would use a lot more electricity.  It works fine.  They do run the battery down, which is why are adding 300 watts of solar panels.” – David Bybee, 2004 Dodge Ram, 1998 Alaskan

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