Do you or your partner use a CPAP machine for sleep apnea?

CPAP machines provide an effective solution to obstructive sleep apnea, a potentially serious sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts.

We know many RVers use these devices, but we wonder how many. One concern with using the machine while RVing is maintaining a dependable source of electricity, which can be a problem. A few inexpensive RVs may not even have electric plugs near the bed, making it an extra challenge to use the machines.

What about you and/or your partner? Do you use a CPAP machine?

 

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32 Thoughts to “Do you or your partner use a CPAP machine for sleep apnea?”

  1. Marion Runcie

    I have received contradictory advice about batteries, so I don’t use my CPAP without an electrical hookup. We seldom travel for more than 2 weeks so we make sure we have electricity every second or third night. That is what my respiratory tech suggested because I faithfully use it every night at home. It is unpleasant to use without the water tank.
    There is no doubt that I have sleep apnea. I am in BC, Canada , my doctor sent me home with a tiny oxygen monitor that attaches to your finger. It didn’t rule out sleep apnea so I was referred to hospital sleep clinic for overnight testing. That testing is all free, and my extended health plan paid for the machine. I never snored much. It was the silences (no breathing) that worried my husband and sent me to get help.

  2. Steve Baker

    I use a ResMed AutoSense 10 CPAP with a their 12VDC power adapter. When on shore power, I effectively have a UPS without buying one. As a retired electrical engineer, I won’t use an inverter to power a CPAP in the RV. It wastes a lot of energy.

    It’s very inefficient to convert 12VDC from the house batteries to 120VAC and then convert it back down to the regulated DC CPAP voltage with an AC power adapter.

    Inverters also draw parasitic current from batteries when there’s nothing connected to the inverter output. When boondocking one has to be diligent to turn them off when not in use so why spend the money for less efficiency?

    I ran a fused 12V outlet (with USB) to the bedside by tapping into the hot side of the switch for the LED reading lamp in the bedroom. Without the heater and display running, the DC-DC power adapter cycles between 1 to 3 amp DC battery draw that varies in step with the inhale/exhale cycle.

    1. Wolfe

      I’ve found my A10 performs much the same, except I probably have more pressure and use the heater/humidifier more. It’s really hard to state average power draws for CPAPs when it changes nightly even for the same person.

      Totally agree running an DC2AC inverter back through the AC-DC brick is inefficient. I at least reduced it to a $3 12>24V step-up board, but the extra logic pin in the OEM cord was a PITA to mimic — it really is designed to prevent thrifty hackers like me.

      Watch out for that USB plug you mention — I did exactly the same thing, putting a splitter and built-in USB bedside, and found the USB was drawing a significant parasitic load all the time. I suspect it just has a resistive voltage splitter inside. I ultimately disconnected the built in USB, and just use 12V plug in adapters now.

  3. vanessa

    You can find the batteries and different types of cords online at many CPAP websites. Just google it. I get care from the VA and when I told them I was going full time they sent me the battery for my system.

  4. Sherry Dawson

    For my CPAP power, I have a portable Renogy Power Pack , which contains a 400 Amp hour lithium battery, and weighs only 12.3 lbs. I use it at night to run my CPAP and can simultaneously charge my phone and run my marvelous 12V Endless Breeze fan.

    It has 4 USB ports (two 1.0A & two 2.1A quick charge); 2 DC outlets; a 12 Volt outlet; and a jump starter for a car battery.

    I can recharge it via my 100W Renogy suitcase portable solar panel, an AC wall Outlet, or DC car charger (the solar panels provide the fastest charge on sunny days).

    When not in use for the CPAP, it can be carried anywhere by its top handle, and can power nearly anything. When boondocking, I use it indoors or outdoors for fans, electric kitchen equipment, computers, phones, etc. But I do have to be sure I save enough power for my CPAP if I can’t recharge before bedtime.

    I paid $400 for my 400 Amp Hour battery. You can find cheaper brands and lower amp hour ratings, but I consider Renogy the best quality for this battery and for solar panels, and I needed the high amp hours. Also, look for coupons and lower prices on this or other models, if you don’t need it right away. Today on Amazon, the 400 Ah model is priced at $419.

    If you want to consider this very simple power pack for your CPAP and other uses, check it out at Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0776LBL44/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o02_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

    1. Wolfe

      I think this unit has been advertised on here before, and I still hold the same opinion that it’s absurdly priced for what it actually is. 400Wh sounds like a lot, but it’s 1/3 the power of a single lead-acid RV battery. You might get a little extra credit for being able to use all 400Wh where you *should* only use 600Wh of a lead battery, but… you could use all 1200Wh if you needed to. So, $80 for 1200Wh or $420 for 400Wh??? My wallet says it’s a non-starter when I could spend $400 on five lead batteries and get 6,000Wh Lead instead of 400Wh Lithium.

      1. Sherry Dawson

        I’m currently traveling in a Volkswagen popup camper, Wolfe. It can’t take the weight of an extra AGM battery or two, so I choose to “waste” my money on one that weighs only 12.3 lbs and meets my needs. Plus no installation and no inverter is required. I can’t lift the size AGM battery I would need.

        The portable power packs are a niche market–they work beautifully for people who are older and arthritic, or don’t want to do a permanent installation!

    2. Steve Baker

      Hi Sherry. I think it’s 400 watt-hours. 400 amp hours would be twelve to thirteen times as much capacity (and weight). 🙂

      1. Sherry Dawson

        Thanks. The Amazon.com short description is: “Size: 400Wh Generator.”
        The detailed product description says it is: “A 500 Watt battery with a Peak Output of 600 Watts.” and it has “A capacity of 400wh for most of the family devices.”

  5. Paul Goldberg

    I have been a CPAP user for 26 years and an RVer for 17 years. I had a 12 vdc outlet installed near the head of the bed in each of three motorhomes. This allows me to void the 12 vdc-> 120vac->xvdc roundtrip when boondocking. My current CPAP requires 18v DC(!) so I had to buy a $125 power cord from Resmed to enable running off of 12vdc. There is a 120vac outlet next to the head of the bed should I choose to use it. There is also space under the edge of the slideout where the CPAP can sit even with the slideout pulled in. (2012 Phaeton). When we boondock in winter I run the furnace so gen and solar are needed to restore the battery bank in the morning.

  6. Tony Sauer

    I’ve been using a CPAP for over 20 years. Many are 12 volt with a 110 volt AC adapter, especially older ones. I leave an older model that is 12 volt (I purchased a 12 volt cigarette type adapter at Radio Shack but they’re also easy to find online). I found it refurbished online for $125 about ten years ago. I also take along my old one from home as a backup in case the $125 dies while on a long trip. Running in 12 volts DC directly, either one will run for four nights plus without charging the battery. They draw very few watts unless you had the water chamber and heater. I don’t use a water chamber on the road but I’d assume the heater would really suck a battery down.

    My insurance did purchase a new CPAP last year and I noticed it doesn’t have the same simple 12 volt DC plug. I went online and found the manufacturer does offer the 12 volt adapter, even an optional lithium battery back, but both were pricey.

    I always use mine plugged directly into 12 volt on the road in case there’s a power outage. I suppose having the lithium backup would be great at home for power outages as well.

  7. Gene Bjerke

    Snoring is not always “just snoring.” Heavy snoring is due to an obstruction in the airway, which can also stop breathing until your brain wakes you up due to lack of oxygen. My wife’s uncle died from sleep apnea.

    That said, my CPAP, uses 24vDC and consumes 3.75 amps (add a little more for losses in its transformer). When not plugged in, I run it off a 110VAC plug fed by inverter from my house batteries. Two golf cart batteries in series handle the load easily.

    We drive a Class B (Sprinter) and there is a counter right at the foot of the bed. The hose to the mask is long enough to reach my head at the other end of the bed. All told, no problems.

  8. George Sitek

    A bigger problem for CPAP users in RV’s is having a place to set the machine for use. After attending many RV shows, and touring the units on many dealer lots, we have found very few models that have large enough nightstands next to the bed for even one CPAP machine, let alone a stand on each side for two machines. Every salesman we questioned admitted this is not really an important issue to the manufacturers.

    1. Don Schneider

      Our 2008 Damon Challenger has 3 storage compartments above the bed. I use 1 for my Bi_Pap and its spare filters, etc. When we move I just close the door to that compartment. The UPS sits on the floor next to the bed.

  9. Tommy B

    My wife was tested and a phone call received that said you qualify for a cpap. She really didn’t want one and started using a foam wedge under her pillow. No more snoring or restless tossing. Just good uninterrupted sleep.
    Sometimes I wonder,how many are really needed or it because insurance Medicare pay for it?

    1. Wolfe

      Definitely share your concern. Among other things, a certain number of sleep apneas are TOTALLY NORMAL. It’s part of the standard sleep cycle for people to breath sporadically while transitioning sleep stages, nothing wrong.

      Where CPAP *is* called for is when you apnea long enough that you wake yourself back OUT of sleep, wake up actually gasping, have *significantly* higher blood pressure if you don’t use the machine, etc.

      Simply snoring is NOT a reason to use a CPAP, even though many are prescribed for that one convenience symptom.

      And yes, a BIG part of why many people can’t afford important healthcare is social resources being gobbled up by fraudulent high-profit industries like (mis-prescribed) CPAP. Insurance of ANY type drives up the costs for everyone (including driving up insurance costs in a self-feeding spiral, and “shedding” uninsured). On the flipside, many doctors give a 50% discount if you’ll pay cash and deal with insurance on your own time — think about why that’s even appealing to them.

    2. Pam

      It’s not always the snoring, it’s those of us that stop breathing for 2, 3 or many more minutes several times throughout the night. Wedges, extra pillows, etc. don’t always work.

      1. Wolfe

        My comment wasn’t meant to say all CPAP are over-prescribed. I myself am in the “definitely” category. Even conscious, I only breathe every few minutes, and asleep I pretty much just stop. A sleep test came up with “thousands” of 15 second apneas (so, if you do the math, pretty much constant?). I had BP steadily near stroke levels which dropped sub-normal in the week after starting CPAP. Now the question is whether brain damage caused the apnea or apnea caused the brain damage! 😛

    3. livingboondockingmexico

      I’m not saying that people don’t need them, but it was like the mobility scooter. With Medicare/caid part B they were paid for. Every builder jumped on the band wagon. Now you see used ones given away. Doctors receive kickbacks for recommending them. The used ones even made their way to Mexico and you can see a farmer checking his fields with the scooter. Corruption at its best.

  10. Tommy B

    My wife was tested and a phone call received that said you qualify for a cpap. She really didn’t want one and started using a foam wedge under her pillow. No more snoring or restless tossing. Just good uninterrupted sleep.
    Sometimes I wonder,how many are really needed or it because insurance Medicare pay for it?

  11. Terry Brown

    I have a dedicated RV/Marine deep cycle battery for my CPAP. If I dry camp I use a 12 volt cord that plugs into a socket on the side of the bed. The battery is stored next to my 2 six volt batteries in the front storage. It was easy to run wire up to and under the bed. I check it religiously and frequently. Recharge it when in a powered campsite. Nice thing is if at home I can bring the battery into the house if there’s a power failure. Not all CPAP machines are 12 volt but many are. If I calculated correctly I have about 67 hrs of usage until 50% charged. That 8 days of worry free nights of sleep. I don’t yet have any solar ability to recharge.

    1. Wolfe

      Your estimate might be “possible,” but I’m guessing it’s flawed if you don’t have a huge battery bank. I get about 10 hours on my machine before 50% discharged. I don’t turn off the humidifier because I’d wake up so dry I’d be gagging and having even MORE trouble breathing than without the CPAP, and maybe you have less pressure set on yours.

      Just for some quick RVing estimates for other readers, if you have a plug-in ammeter similar to KillAWatt, you can measure the power usage while plugged in to AC. Assume a standard 100Ah lead battery has about 600Wh usable. So, if your CPAP draws 60W for 10hrs of sleep, you’d get a single night per fully-charged RV battery. Since I’m also using my RV battery for all the OTHER things in the RV, I don’t expect more than a single night from each battery in my bank.

  12. Mark B

    People, keep it simple. CPAP machines have a 110 volt transformer that sits between the CPAP and wall plug. This indicates the CPAP isn’t really using 110 volts, it is being changed to a different current/voltage.

    The good news: almost all CPAPs can be plugged directly into your 12volt socket if you get the matching cord. Unless you sleep like Rip Van Winkle, your house or coach battery will run your CPAP all night (even two CPAPs).

    Unfortunately, because the little receptacle on your CPAP is not standard from one brand or model to another, you have to make sure you get the cord that was made for your model. Expect to pay $17 to $35 for this cord. Order today!

    Note: You may want to forego the heated humidifier when running off 12volt (if cord even supports) as that increases draw significantly.

    1. Mark B

      I’d better elaborate, to prevent confusion. 110 volts or 120 volts. US standard is 120 volts, but due to loss or supply fluctuations you may be getting 110 or 120 or something in between (especially in busy RV parks).

      Most CPAPs (like laptops) have a transformer that will handle wall input from 100 volts up to 240 volts, so you can travel the world (or they can sell to the world) with a single transformer. Those transformers bring voltage down from what the electric companies worldwide supply to what the device really needs, which is why you can replace that transformer with a simple 12 volt cord.

      1. Steve Baker

        If your CPAP takes 12VDC UNREGULATED input you can get away with a simple cord & plug. My old Respironics CPAP worked that way. If your CPAP requires REGULATED 12VDC or runs at a nonstandard voltage (my ResMed is 24VDC), then a common 12V plug and cord won’t cut it. You’ll need to buy their pricey DC adapter. My ResMed DC adapter is over $80 now. They don’t even care about costs now. Sheesh!

  13. Nanci

    As we boondock frequently and the CPAP machine is a medical necessity for my husband he uses an excellent battery system: BPS super Cpap battery pack, C-100. Turning off the humidifier system allows the 2 batteries to go up to 4 days, although we usually recharge every day from the house or RV batteries. It has proven extremely valuable during power outages when at campsites too.

  14. Tommy Molnar

    We were in a state park campground once (no hookups at all) and this ‘gentleman’ pulls in, sets up his tent, and he and his family settle in. Come nightfall, he fires up his construction grade generator and it runs all night. This campground had your typical quiet time (10 pm to 7 am) but this did not apply to him (or so he thought). There are 20 campsites in this park. When I went down to the ranger’s office to complain, I was third in line, and there had already been several more campers before US. The ranger ended up telling this guy he had to either get a battery system – OR MOVE ON. There was a KOA about 20 miles away, and it was suggested he try ‘camping’ there.

    Off the record, the ranger told me he didn’t care if you were on dialysis, you can’t keep the entire campground awake because you have a medical problem.

    1. Wolfe

      Here we go with the whole “generator noise war” again. Personally, I think there should be decibel requirements instead of set hours. I wouldn’t want to hear my (140db?) 10KW work generator running at a campground EVER, and I wouldn’t care if someone is running their 55db “hum” generator at night. I think if the temperature is over a certain dangerous point, “generator hours” should be lifted for *everyone* who needs to run AC to not be DEAD in the morning.

      I have been in situations where my quiet (55-60db) generator was medically necessary, been on a park loop *alone*, and still had park-nazis banging on my door and threatening. There has to be a level of SANITY over litigiousness, folks.

  15. Irene Booth

    My husband and I would love to boondock but how do we power our CPAPs? Becky mentions a battery. Where to find one? Thanks!

  16. Becky Nicholl

    My husband has used a CPAP for many years. When we do not have electrical power he uses a CPAP battery. We have found it wise to carry extra headgear so if a tear occurs we don’t have to hunt down and pay for new headgear. (Medicare pays for the equipment with a prescription.)

  17. Mike Burger

    Please check with Mike Sokol but they are electrical outlets, receptacles, or sockets you plug into. You don’t plug a plug/cord end into a plug. A plug is the male end. Sorry, just a pet peeve.

  18. Don Schneider

    A UPS for a computer system with a large battery capacity will keep my CPAP working even if we loose shore power. Turn OFF the alarm for power loss so it does not wake you up too.

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