There are two main types of supplemental oxygen, also called “modalities:” gaseous and liquid. These systems work differently. There are pros and cons with each system.
In the past, many oxygen users were given both a home concentrator (for use while at home) and an “E” tank (for going out). One problem with this arrangement was that a user had to pull the tank on a cart when going outside their home. Inside the home a user could move only as far as the tubing would go.
A newer type of oxygen system is the “trans-fill” unit. In this system gaseous oxygen can be produced in the home by a concentrator and stored in a refillable tank. These “M” tanks are small and light. They can be easily carried in a shoulder case. The length of time these smaller tanks last varies on your liter flow and the pressure with which the tanks are filled. Note: some trans-fill units will fill at 2000 psi (pounds per square inch) while others fill at 3000 psi. The higher pressure provides more capacity. This system helps you move around easier outside and inside your home. You don’t have to rely on the home care supplier to replace tanks when you need them. This type of system puts you in control of filling your own tanks for increased mobility. The entire system can be moved if you need to leave your home for extended periods like relocating to a summer home.
The other modality is liquid oxygen, a popular option with high liter flow users. In this system the oxygen is stored in liquid form in a home reservoir which must be filled on a regular basis. You can use the reservoir to fill smaller containers. These smaller oxygen containers offer longer use times even at high liter flows. The other advantage of this system is that it does not depend on electricity like a home concentrator. This means that oxygen use will not add to your utility bills and you will continue to have oxygen if the power goes out.
The main disadvantage of liquid oxygen is that the reservoir is not portable with travel (unless your oxygen provider allows you the use of a travel reservoir). You must make arrangements to have a different reservoir in place at your destination.
In some areas it is very difficult to obtain liquid oxygen. Check with suppliers in your area before deciding on liquid oxygen to make sure it is available. Be sure to discuss all of these options with your doctor!