While the cost of purchasing a portable oxygen concentrator has come down over the past five years, it is still a big investment and often beyond the financial reach of those who need a portable unit. Purchasing a used portable concentrator can be an economical option and not terribly risky if you do your homework.
As with the purchase of any portable oxygen concentrator, the most important decision is determining which one is best for you. My series on choosing the best portable concentrator is a great place to start to help you think through the choices you must make when choosing a portable oxygen concentrator. In additional to oxygen output, size and weight, battery power and sound level, it is also very important to consider the warranty and service you will receive from the dealer.
The Warranty Is King
When purchasing a used portable oxygen concentrator the warranty can be a deal-maker or deal-breaker. While many tend to overlook the warranty on used concentrators, the warranty is essential and actually gives the unit its value. Without a warranty, an oxygen concentrator has very little value because the minimum cost to repair a portable concentrator is usually between $500 and $900 and manufacturer repairs include only a 90-day warranty. You may think you’re getting a bargain up front and then find that repair costs eat up the difference you saved and then some.
The Dealer Holds the Warranty Keys
Be aware that the warranty for a portable concentrator is issued to the original purchaser, which is the authorized dealer that purchased the unit from the manufacturer. When you are purchasing a used concentrator from an authorized dealer be sure to ask about the warranty that comes with the unit. You should receive a warranty of about one year and never settle for less than ninety days. Also ask if the warranty can be longer than one year. Since manufacturers issue a 3-year warranty on new units, there may be more than one year remaining on the unit you are purchasing. Reputable companies will gladly increase the warranty from one year to the length of the original warranty.
When you are purchasing a used concentrator from an individual then doing your homework is even more important. Ask the seller the model and serial number of the unit, as well as information on the dealer from which they purchased it. Then contact the dealer and ask them about the warranty for the unit for a second-hand purchase. I have found only one dealer, OxiMedical, who will transfer the warranty internally from their original customer to another person. Without this internal warranty transfer, the warranty on the unit is essentially lost because the manufacturer will not do a warranty repair unless the original authorized dealer makes the request. There are exceptions to this, but only reputable dealers are willing to go the extra mile.
Try Before You Buy
If purchasing a used portable concentrator from an individual, request to try the unit before committing to purchase. You’ll want to make sure it is capable of producing the oxygen you’ll need and whether it meets your mobility and travel needs. I recommend using a fingertip pulse oximeter to check to your blood oxygen levels while sitting and walking.
If you are purchasing from an authorized dealer, you will first have to complete the purchase, but you should receive a trial period during which you can exchange the unit or pay a minimum restocking fee. Again, use a fingertip pulse oximeter to give the unit a good test.
Also be sure to test the batteries. If the unit is more than two years old the batteries may charge to only 50-80% of the original capacity. Depending on the model of the unit, new replacement batteries will cost between $200 and $500 each, so be prepared to have an additional expense at the time of purchase or within a year or two of purchase.
With a little homework up front, you can enjoy the benefit of a portable oxygen concentrator without paying full price. Enjoy!