July 14, 2021 by PrimeClean
In 2020, there were over 94 million camping households (people who like to camp but hadn’t necessarily camped that year) in North America. And that number is expected to increase in 2021.
With five times more new campers than in previous years, many beginner campers wonder what to do about using their CPAP machine while camping. Some simply choose to skip using it, but that can make the camping experience significantly less enjoyable for some. And for some it can be outright dangerous.
A CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure)machine helps people with sleep apnea breathe better while sleeping. The National Sleep Foundation estimates there are over 18 million Americans with this disorder, which can significantly disrupt sleep and cause oxygen levels to drop. The CPAP machine improves sleep by keeping the user’s airway open while they sleep.
Like any medical device, it requires a source of power to work. Thankfully, modern camping solutions make it possible to still enjoy the great outdoor adventure without sacrificing your sleep at night.
The easiest and least stressful solution is to stay at campgrounds that offer electricity. Some campgrounds provide electricity to RVs, motor homes, and camper trailers only, while others make it available at tent spaces too. Not all campgrounds are alike, however. Most privately owned campgrounds offer electrical hookups.
The most popular national parks and state parks have campgrounds with hookups, but it’s good to check in advance because no tall do.
If you’re camping at a location which provides electricity to your camper or tent, then there is no problem. You simply plug your CPAP into an outlet just as you would at home.
However, at times it can be challenging to find an open campsite unless you reserve one significantly in advance. The massive influx of new campers on the road have made it difficult, if not impossible in some cases, to find an available spot open at a campground. That’s where boondocking,or dry camping, comes in.
Boondocking is the process of camping in the wild, completely self-contained. This means there is no water hook up, no electricity to plug into, and no dump stations for waste or trash. Boondocking is also known as dry camping. On Federal lands it is also called dispersed camping, and in town it’s sometimes called lot docking.
Whether you are in a remote wilderness area with no one else around, or you’re parked overnight at a rest area, the one similarity is that you must supply your own power. The most common ways to do this are with small battery packs and portable generators. Small battery packs are popular because they contain everything you need in one portable package.
These battery packs can be plugged in and fully charged at home before you begin your trip. They can also be plugged into the cigarette lighter in your vehicle and charged while driving. When fully charged, you simply plug your CPAP machine into the power outlet on the battery pack, and it will provide power just as a wall plug at home does.
A standard CPAP machine uses an average of between 40 - 80 watts of power, depending upon whether the humidifier function is being used.
The important number to know about battery packs is how many watts it stores. You can buy them in varying sizes ranging from 200 watts to 1000 watts and beyond. The more watts it provides, the higher the cost will be. How much power you need depends upon the amount of power your CPAP machine uses, and if you plan to power other devices as well.
Since battery packs provide regular 120 volt electric plugs, you can use them to power laptops, charge camera batteries, run a TV, and more. Obviously, the more you plug in, the more power you will use.
You also have the option of buying a battery designed specifically for CPAP machines. When you do this, you know exactly how long the battery will last before you need to recharge it. For example, the EXP48 Pro Lithium Ion Battery Bank provides up to four nights of power for your CPAP before needing to be recharged.
Generators are another popular power option for when you’re camping off grid. Modern generators range from small, gas-powered devices, to flexible solar panels that can recharge batteries.
Motor homes and campers often come with a built-in gas or propane generator. Those that don’t, however, can be easily equipped with an inexpensive one such as the Honda 663510 EU1000i.
These units are relatively lightweight while supplying enough power for the entire camping trip. Those with pull behind campers often put these into the bed of a pickup truck, for easily powering a CPAP and other devices while communing with nature.
If the idea of running a motorized generator doesn’t appeal to you while camping (they are loud after all), you might try one of the numerous solar options available. Jackery makes the Solar Saga 100W Portable Solar Panel specifically for use with their portable power stations.The solar panel recharges the battery pack so you’re able to have a prolonged camping stay without running out of power for the CPAP.
Many other portable solar panels provide excellent power solutions. A panel can be used to keep your vehicle’s battery charged, or it can be used to keep a portable battery charged. Either approach gives you options for keeping your CPAP powered in the wilderness.
Backpacking and off-grid tent camping is similar to boondocking, with a couple of primary distinctions: space and load.
Tent campers may or may not have their vehicle right next to them while camping. Sometimes it’s easy to set up the tent in the same location, and other times you must hike into the tent site away from your vehicle. In these circumstances, space and load are key considerations.
Most small cars don’t have room for a Honda generator, and it’s not something that you could carry down the trail to a tent site either. Battery packs can be good solutions when they’re not too large or heavy. Flexible or fold able solar panels are often ideal as well.
When you go backpacking, the goal is to keep your load as light as possible. You need to be able to carry everything all the way in and all the way back out. Backpacking trips frequently last multiple day sand can involve 10-20 miles or more of trekking. Obviously carrying a large generator or battery pack is not likely going to be feasible.
Let’s face it, camping is sometimes grimy. Even when you’re at a posh campground with all the amenities, there is plenty of activity outside. Most of us have a revolving front door with everyone constantly going in and out. Even when it’s just you, there is always dirt,mud, dust, pollen, and other things that get brought inside.
When you use a CPAP machine, it brings air in from your environment. It also passes your exhaled air back out into the same space. This process provides ample opportunity for dust, viruses, and germs to multiply. That’s why it’s critical to keep your CPAP machine clean,particularly when you’re camping.
An excellent tool for this is the PrimeClean® CPAP Sanitizer. It can be powered from a simple USB plug, and takes just 30 minutes to fully sterilize your CPAP machine and attachments.
Devices that use USB for power are extremely low powered. This means they can easily be plugged into a car outlet, or to one of the USB outlets on a portable battery unit. Some flexible or folding solar panels are equipped with built-in USB plugs as well, for charging a phone or a device such as the PrimeClean® Sanitizer.
Your best bet for backpacking is to carry flexible solar panels that can be attached to your hiking pack. This lets them absorb sun while you’re hiking, charging a small battery inside your pack. That battery can then be used to power your CPAP at night while you’re sleeping.
Battery power is a tried-and-true method of providing portable power. It has been so for generations, and technology advances make solutions smaller and safer each year. The portable battery packs mentioned above are sometimes referred to as power stations. Regardless of how they’re referred to, they contain a battery, often a lithium ion one.
These modern marvels are lighter weight than standard lead batteries and are generally much safer to move around. Lithium batteries can sometimes be risky in extreme heat, however, so be sure to follow manufacturer recommendations about exposure and operating temperature ranges.
Generators are also a long standing power option for campers. They are reliable and provide large amounts of power for sustained periods of time. Modern versions are quieter but they can still be bother some to campers who want peace and quiet.
Most campgrounds do not allow generators to be used during certain hours because of the desire for quiet. Be sure to follow all safety recommendations for ventilation with generators as well.
Since they are an engine, they emit exhaust that can be deadly.
Yes, You Can Use Your CPAP While Camping
A CPAP machine doesn’t have to limit you while camping. Whether you’re sleeping at a campsite with electricity and running water or hiking deep into the wilderness, there are power options for your CPAP machine.
So get out there into the great outdoors!