Camping with CPAP: How to Keep Your Machine Running in Off-Grid Locations
In an increasingly fast-paced and frenetic world, camping gives us the opportunity to leave city life behind and get back to our roots; to throw off the shackles of our hectic lives and ground ourselves in the ebb and flow of nature. For lovers of the outdoors, technology has given us the perfect balance between being connected and being cut adrift—but we also face a very modern dilemma: which devices should we take with us, and which should we leave behind?
Some technology we just cannot do without. Sleep is the great equalizer, and those of us who rely on a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine to treat sleep apnea are probably unwilling to go without it.
For the uninitiated, sleep apnea is a disorder that affects as many as 1 billion people worldwide and causes sporadic interruptions in breathing throughout the night. This leads to poor quality and fragmented sleep cycles. A CPAP device treats this condition by providing constant circulating air administered to the user through a mask, which helps to keep their airways open.
The good news is that there are now portable power options capable of running this machine for far longer than what CPAP batteries are able to do. In this article we explore the practicalities of camping with a CPAP machine and the best way to power it, allowing you to enjoy your time outdoors without ever worrying about running out of juice or losing sleep.
Power Options for Taking Your CPAP Off-Grid
If you suffer from sleep apnea, you will be well-acquainted with the trusty CPAP machine - an essential tool for getting consistent, restful sleep. However, the limitations of CPAP equipment are exposed when we need to travel. Traditional methods for powering CPAP machines can be challenging, and many of these are linked with the limitations of their battery life.
Anker PowerHouse 535
Anker PowerHouse 555
Anker PowerHouse 757
Anker PowerHouse 767
(4096Wh with Expansion Battery)
Number of Ports
4× AC Ports
1× Car Outlet
6× AC Ports
1× Car Outlet
6× AC Ports
1× Car Outlet
4× AC Ports
1× TT-30 RV Plug
2× Car Outlets
CPAP Runtime (60Wh)
(66hrs with Expansion Battery)
The Problem with CPAP Batteries
CPAP battery packs are often used as an alternative power source for those on the go. These are essentially small power banks that are marketed specifically towards CPAP users, and while they may seem like a convenient solution at first glance, there are several drawbacks that make them less than ideal for long-term use—or when using power-hungry humidifier settings on your CPAP machine.
Limited Battery Life
One of the biggest issues with CPAP batteries is their limited charge. Depending on the type of battery you have and how much energy your device requires to run, you may only get 4-6 hours out of a single charge before needing to recharge again. This makes them impractical for extended trips away from home where access to electricity isn’t available. With the average person needing 7 hours of sleep, the obvious drawback here is that this won’t even power the device for one full night's sleep.
Difficult to Recharge Off-Grid
CPAP batteries can also be difficult to recharge off-grid without access to AC power outlets or solar panels. Even if you do manage to find some sort of charging station in remote areas, you still won’t have enough juice for more than one night's worth of use (see point above). This makes it impossible to keep your device powered up over multiple days away from home.
If you can find ways around these limitations and keep your device charged throughout your trip, most standard CPAP batteries aren't capable enough to support higher output settings such as those required by humidifiers, which draw significantly more energy than regular air pressure machines. This means that without adequate power, you'll probably have no choice but to leave the humidifier feature turned off while away from home, limiting the machine's effectiveness.
RV Electrical Hookups and Their Limitations
The popularity of RVs in the States continues to surge, and what better way to explore the great wilderness of U.S. National Parks than in the comfort of your own vehicle? At first glance, linking your RV to a campsite's electrical hookups to power a CPAP machine seems like a perfect solution, but this too has several limitations.
Not all campsites offer electrical hookups for RVs, and those that do may have limited availability. As an example, only 13 US national parks actually offer RV hookups. This means you could be stuck without access to electricity if the campground is full or doesn’t offer a charge source, which you may not find out until it’s too late.
Depending on where you stay, it can be expensive to use these electrical hookups, as many campgrounds charge extra for their use. If you plan on staying in one place for a longer period of time, these costs can add up quickly.
If your campsite isn’t near an outlet or has limited outlets available, then plugging in your CPAP machine may not be practical. Electrical cables need to stretch from the outlet back to your tent or camper van, which may not be possible. Depending on the rating of the electrical output, it might not be possible to run multiple appliances at once, meaning that other devices—such as lights, phones, or cooking appliances—may have to go without charge.
The Downsides of Gas Generators
Another possible source of power for camping trips are gas generators, but they too come with significant drawbacks for powering a CPAP machine. Let’s dig into these in more detail.
Gasoline is highly flammable and can be dangerous if not handled properly. There is also the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning when using a gas generator in an enclosed space without ventilation, like inside a tent or RV.
It goes without saying that the emissions from gas generators are harmful to humans and the environment, so it’s not exactly a green solution to bring along to the great outdoors.
Gas generators are significantly louder than other types of portable power sources, with some generating more than 75dB of volume. This makes them unsuitable for use in campgrounds and other public areas where noise levels should be respectfully low. This can have the dual problem of actually disrupting your own sleep, meaning the CPAP machine’s work is all for nothing!
Size and Weight
On a purely practical level, most gas generators are bulky and heavy, making them difficult to transport from place to place. Using them means you will probably need access to a large vehicle to haul them around, which makes the whole trip more logistically difficult.
Gas engines require regular maintenance such as oil changes, spark plug replacements, and air filter cleaning/replacement, which can add up over time depending on how often you use them.
Depending on how much electricity your CPAP needs (many have power outputs of between 30 and 60 watts), running a gas generator could become quite expensive due to fuel costs associated with powering it up each time you need it.
The Best Way to Power Your CPAP On The Go: Portable Power Stations
We’ve looked at some of the alternatives, but the reality is that portable power stations are the most effective way to keep a CPAP machine powered while on the move. These devices offer convenience and reliability while having the versatility to power other devices you may need to use on your travels.
You've probably encountered smaller battery packs, used for charging phones and laptops on the move. Portable power stations are basically larger versions of these power banks, incorporating a more robust design, and with more output options, allowing them to be used on a wider range of devices. Let’s dig into why portable power stations are the leader in portable charging technology.
Why Portable Power Stations are King
Portable power stations can be easily transported from place to place and require no external hookups or fuel sources like generators do. This makes them ideal for campers who want to take their CPAP with them on their trip without having to worry about finding power sources or carrying around fuel.
Portable power stations are designed specifically for use outdoors and in remote locations, where there may not be access to alternative energy sources. They are tough and durable, and capable of withstanding the elements. Plus, one of the many benefits of LFP batteries inside a portable power station is the incredible lifespan they offer—10 years or more of everyday use!
The best portable power stations feature advanced safety protocols to protect against overcharging and short circuits. This means your device will stay safe even when exposed to harsh weather conditions or extreme temperatures. As well as safety, portable power stations produce zero emissions, making them an environmentally friendly alternative that won’t damage our planet.
Portable power stations can be used to charge not only your CPAP machine, but multiple electronic devices at once, including laptops, cameras, and phones. This means you don’t have to worry about bringing along separate chargers – you can just plug them all into the power station and let it do its thing.
Portable power stations are virtually silent compared to gas generators, as they are not full of moving parts. This makes them ideal for enjoying the peace and quiet of nature while still staying connected to your essential devices.
How to Use a CPAP Machine While Camping
Using a CPAP machine while you’re away from home can be challenging for first timers, but with the right portable power station, it doesn’t have to be. Here we run through how to optimize the use of a CPAP machine while camping, with some useful hints and tips.
Assessing Your Power Needs
Before you go on your next outdoor adventure, try to work out how much power you will need for all of your devices, and use this as a basis to choose the right portable power station for you.
The power consumption of a CPAP machine can vary depending on factors such as the specific model, the pressure setting, and the use of a humidifier. On average, most CPAP machines use between 30 watts to 60 watts per hour, but some can use as much as 100W. This means that a typical machine that runs for 8 hours would use between 240 watts to 800 watts of power, which gives an average of 480W per full night.
It's important to check the power consumption specifications of your specific CPAP machine model and also take into consideration the usage of additional features, such as a humidifier and heated tubing, that may increase power consumption.
Using a Humidifier
As we’ve already touched upon, using the humidifier function will increase the power consumption of the CPAP machine, as well as add to the weight and size of the device. The amount of power that a humidifier will add to a CPAP machine's power consumption will depend on several factors, including the type of humidifier and the humidity settings.
A heated humidifier, which uses a heating element to warm water in order to produce humidity, will consume more power than a passover humidifier, which uses the airflow from the CPAP machine to pass over a wet wick or sponge to produce humidity.
On average, a heated humidifier will consume an additional 25 watts to 35 watts per hour. This means that if a CPAP machine uses 80 watts per hour, a heated humidifier will increase the power consumption to between 105 and 110 watts per hour. Reducing this power output is key to being able to use your CPAP for longer trips.
Choosing the Best Portable Power Station for Your CPAP
Now that we have a better understanding of your power needs, let’s think about which portable power station is right for you. The size of your battery will determine how long your CPAP machine will stay powered, which is the key to a successful night’s sleep!
Don’t forget that there may be other devices you intend to keep powered while camping, so your best choice will be one that keeps all your devices powered at once. One power station helps to minimize your gear, giving you a more streamlined trip. Anker offers several models at different price points and battery capacities, so there is something available for any budget.
Anker PowerHouse Options
To reliably power a CPAP machine through an entire night, you will need a power station with at least a 500Wh capacity. The Anker PowerHouse 535 should serve you perfectly in this case. Going up from there, something like the Anker PowerHouse 757 will keep your CPAP running for extended off-grid trips and with a humidifier – or power more devices at once and for longer periods of time. For off-grid adventures in an RV with power-hungry appliances, the Anker PowerHouse 767 is the ultimate solution.
Conserving Power While Camping
With the right portable power station and some simple planning, you can enjoy quality sleep in any environment. Here are some of our top tips for reducing the power consumption of your CPAP machine while camping.
Adjust Your Pressure Settings
The higher the pressure setting of the machine, the more power it will consume. To conserve energy, adjust the pressure settings on your CPAP machine to lower than what you would typically use at home. This will reduce the amount of electricity needed to run your device and extend battery life.
Monitor Power Usage
Keep an eye on how much power you’re using with the informative LED screen on your Anker PowerHouse. Knowing exactly how much juice is left in the battery helps you plan accordingly so you don’t run out of charge in the middle of the night.
Choose Your Devices Carefully
Try not to leave any electronics plugged in overnight, as this will drain the battery’s energy and leave you with less runtime during the day to charge devices.
When using an Anker PowerHouse, it is recommended to disengage Power Saving Mode to ensure continuous power when running your CPAP overnight.
Use Solar Panels
If you’re lucky to have sunny weather on your camping trip, you can double up with a portable solar panel to provide an alternative energy source for your CPAP machine. This means it will always be charged up and ready for use when needed. The sun is a great source of renewable energy; when harnessed, it will ensure you’re never stranded without power if all else fails.
The Future of Camping is Now
Whether you’re a full-time RVer, or you’re just a weekend lover of the great outdoors, the impact of devices on our lives is inescapable. For those who rely on using CPAP equipment, giving up this device when traveling is just not an option. Having access to reliable power is therefore essential for comfortable sleep—but luckily, you no longer have to choose between technology and tranquillity.
It's clear that portable power stations are the best way to power your CPAP machine while camping. They offer a reliable, mobile supply of energy without the noise and fumes of gas generators, or the hassle of constantly sourcing elusive electrical hookups for RVs.
For sleeping soundly under the stars, check out Anker PowerHouse and grab the perfect power solution for your next camping trip.
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