How Does An Oxygen Generator Work?

An oxygen generator uses Pressure Swing Adsorption (PSA) technology to utilize adsorbent zeolite material to divide a stream of compressed air into its component gases. The PSA procedure generates high pure oxygen in the two-stage cycle, i.e., simultaneous adsorption and desorption activities discussed below in two-generation towers. 

Nowadays, they are several oxygen generators available at our disposal, and we keep asking ourselves, how do they work? Here we give answers to most questions asked regarding oxygen generators. Read on!

How PSA Procedure Generates Oxygen In A Generator


This oxygen production stage uses an adsorption tower filled with molecular zeolite pellets that particularly withhold nitrogen—in contrast, enabling oxygen to pass by into a collecting tank as output gas under pressure.

This selective adsorption procedure will continue until the adsorptive tower hits its maximum saturation spot. At that point, the zeolite filter can no longer take in more nitrogen gas, allowing the release of pure oxygen that drives various industrial and commercial manufacturing processes. 


In this second phase, the PSA oxygen production procedure is a reversal of the adsorption procedure. After the saturation spot for a tower in the adsorption stage is achieved, its functions are changed. The zeolites materials’ reproduction works by quickly depressurizing the cylinder to free the absorbed nitrogen gas into the atmosphere.

The whole PSA procedure is automated via a central regulatory unit exposing oxygen and nitrogen gas saturation proportion in both phases. The stage switch is done by opening and closing the required procedure valves and increasing or decreasing pressure in the zeolite-filled cylinders. 

What Are The Dissimilarities Between An Oxygen Concentrator And An Oxygen Generator?

The oxygen concentrator and oxygen generator are often used mutually to mean the same thing. Generally, an oxygen concentrator indicates a smaller scale medical oxygen generation system (portable/personal home concentrator), less expensive than an oxygen generator.

On the other hand, oxygen generator is a term regularly used to define equipment that processes huge quantities of oxygen for industrial manufacturing use. It is quite costly compared to concentrators mention earlier. Its benefit is the reservoir, which gives more oxygen when there is a power failure.

How Does A Portable Oxygen Generator Work?

Oxygen portable electrical devices give supplemental oxygen in several unique settings, whether at the home, office or traveling. It takes in regular air and purifies it up to 90-95% oxygen.  For this to happen, the oxygen generator uses a compressor that shifts air into the sieves bed filter while removing nitrogen.

Later it distributes the purified oxygen via the hoses interjected into one’s nostril. At the same time, nitrogen is discharged back into the air. Oxygen generator comes in two types; portable and home and only differ in weight, size, flow, power, and capacity.

Powering portable concentrators is quite simple; you only need to plug it into the wall socket depending on whether it has a continuous flow or pulse dose. 

Types Of Oxygen Generators 

Continuous Flow Portable Oxygen Generators

This type of generator delivers oxygen at a constant level without paying close attention to inhalation or exhalation. The said manner enables oxygen to be held up to a PAP machine. Nonetheless, considering oxygen is constant, the device uses a battery quite often than power. Please note all portable oxygen generators don’t have a continuous flow mode. A good example of such devices includes; Philips Respironics Go Portable Oxygen Concentrator, De Vilbiss iGo Portable Oxygen Concentrator with Wheeled Case.

Pulse Dose Portable Oxygen Concentrators

This type of concentrator delivers oxygen when the patient inhales and stops when they exhale. Compared to continuous flow mode, the pulse dose reduces battery usage and gives way for smaller devices. Even so, your prescription will need to specify a pulse dose setting. Bestseller machine in this category includes; Inogen One G4 Portable Concentrator, Philip Respironics SimplyGo Mini Portable Oxygen Concentrator to name a few.

How Many Hours Is An Oxygen Concentrator Good For?

On average, the older and heavier machines tend to last longer, around 15,000 to 20,000 hours. However, the newly built light machines can last you up to about 8,000 to 10,000 hours and are reliable. The portable concentrator’s life span is around 1,500 to 2000 hours of use. However, since people use their POC solely, they can last for many years before needing any repair.

Even though there are generator life estimates, their life span is still affected by multiple factors. The variable like the room’s cleanliness, temperatures, relative humidity, and how often it’s used affect the device’s durability. 

What Are The Side Effects Of Being On Oxygen?

While oxygen therapy supports life and inhaling, it has many benefits and side effects. The side effects include; morning headache, dry or bloody nose, tiredness, skin irritation, oxygen toxicity, and breathing suppression.

On top of that, oxygen poses a fire hazard, so never smoke while the oxygen device is used. Also, do not use oxygen near flammable materials or personal care products containing petroleum. Ensure your oxygen tank is secured and always stays upright while in use. If it falls accidentally and crack or the top breaks off, the tank will fly like a missile, and it might cause injuries or losses.

What Are The Signs That A Person Needs Oxygen?

When one is not getting enough oxygen, they will experience various symptoms like:

1. Shortness of breath

2. Sweeting

3. Coughing or wheezing

4. Rapid breathing

5. Fast heart rate

6. Confusion

7. Changes in the skin color 

But to determine if that person needs oxygen therapy, doctors will test the amount of oxygen in their blood veins. They can also check using a pulse oximeter that indirectly measures oxygen level without a blood sample. Low-level oxygen means that person needs immediate therapy. 

Because of various diseases such as lung disease, asthma, pneumonia, heart failure, some people cannot get enough oxygen. Hence, the use of concentrators. 

How Do You Know If An Oxygen Concentrator Is Working?

You should let your supplier asses the concentrators to know if it is working. He will conduct the test using an oxygen analyzer to check the outflow from your machine and determine if the output is correct versus a control measure. The device is highly dependable as it can detect deviations in oxygen purity to the least percentage.

It’s highly recommendable to have a reliable supplier who can come and regularly check if the device is working well. When you suspect any unusual problem, call them at once for a proper checkup. 

How Do I Stop My Oxygen Concentrator From Beeping?

The alarm is a safety feature in the concentrator that you should not ignore. The device will only beep due to the following reasons; loss of power, lack of oxygen flow, user error, system failing to produce enough oxygen, or the unity is overheated. There are little red, green, and yellow LED lights on the concentrator panel’s front. It will help you determine the problem, so you can fix it or call an expert person to help stop the beeping sound.

What Do Beep And Light Indicators Mean On The Oxygen Concentrator?

Alarm Sounding, And There Are No Lights On

It might mean there is a power loss, so you should unplug and re-plug the system. If it doesn’t work, check that the breaker switch on the unit’s front is not tripped. Consider plugin in something else to determine if there is power at that outlet. 

Suppose all of that suggestion is not the problem, then you may have a bad switch, bad power cord, or wiring problem. You should call a maintenance specialist to help fix the problem. 

The Alarm Is Sounding, And The Red Light Only Is On

This one is highly a power issue so try all the suggestions mentioned above.

If the issue doesn’t resolve, the generator might be overheated, and your cabinet filters are clogged. Suppose this is the case remove and clean the cabinet filters fixed on the oxygen concentrator’s side. Please wait for a few minutes until it cools down, and then attach it back.

The Alarm Is Beeping, And The Green Light Is On

If there is a lack of oxygen flow, the green indicator will light on, and the alarm starts beeping. Ensure the flow meter is turned enough, i.e., above 5l/min. Sometimes something is blocking your line, so be sure the line is not kinked or clogged with debris.

Yellow Or Red-Light Illuminates

If you have checked everything in the three steps mentioned above and you didn’t manage to clear the alarm, likely, the oxygen purity level is not enough, or there might be an internal leak.

The oxygen level production should be 92%, and the oxygen sensor can measure it. If the percentage is under 92%, the sieve beds need to be replaced. In this case, call a repair medical equipment company within your location for renovation.

The Green With The Yellow Light Flashing

When you see these two lights, there is a problem inside your machine, and only the service provider will help you.


There is a high demand for pure oxygen across numerous applications in today’s industrial manufacturing. Even so, these oxygen concentrators and tanks are regulated and tested to achieve a certain standard of purity. But now and then, some defective machine finds its way out to the shipping truck and our market. So, before purchasing an oxygen generator, have it checked with purity tools or request for an assessment from a professional.

Leave a Comment