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Types of Oxygen Therapy Systems

There are three different types of oxygen therapy systems:

  • Compressed oxygen cylinders, or "green tanks"
  • Oxygen concentrators
  • Liquid oxygen systems

The type of system your child gets depends on the amount of oxygen your child needs, what your insurance company will provide, and what activities will occur outside your home. Work with your case manager and home equipment provider to determine what will work best for your child.

Compressed Oxygen Cylinders

Green tanks, usually large tanks or "H tanks," are delivered to your house and must be secured in a safe corner of a room. Portable smaller units called "E" or "D" tanks are used for transport and will also be delivered. A key is required to turn the tank on and off. The portable tanks must be replaced when empty. Therefore, your family must plan ahead for trips outside of the home.

Oxygen Concentrators

These devices concentrate oxygen from the air and deliver it to your child. This is not portable and requires electricity to work. Portable E tanks are also delivered for transport and may be used for backup in case of power failure. Oxygen concentrators are often used for individuals who are on oxygen only at night, but they can be used 24-hours a day.

Liquid Oxygen Systems

These systems consist of a large silver main tank and one or two portable units. The portable units are used as needed for travel outside of the home. When they are empty, they can be refilled from the large tank. Portable units weigh 8 to 10 pounds and can be carried with a shoulder strap or cart. Liquid oxygen will evaporate if not used frequently, therefore portable units should be filled just prior to use. The liquid systems are often more costly.

Other Necessary Equipment

You will have a regulator/flow meter delivered with your home oxygen system. The amount of oxygen your child gets is measured in liters per minute and in some cases fractions of a liter per minute. Make sure you have the correct type of flow meter to deliver the prescribed amount of oxygen for both your main and portable systems.

Oxygen extension tubing is also available. However, for small children on small amounts of oxygen, it is recommended that no more than 14 feet of extension tubing be used.

Your oxygen supply company should supply written information to you on the set up, care, use, and trouble shooting of your child's oxygen system.


Oxygen supply companies usually charge a monthly rental fee for the system you use. If an oxygen concentrator is to be used for a long period of time, it may be purchased by your insurance company.