About Medical Oxygen Regulators
Medical oxygen regulators are pressure regulators used to control the PSI (pounds per square inch) or flow of compressed medical oxygen from a tank to a medical device such as a flowmeter, hose, or humidifier. The compressed oxygen passes from the cylinder through the oxygen regulator where the gas PSI is scaled down to a usable and safe level which will allow the user to connect the regulator to an oxygen delivering device. Oxygen regulators are most commonly used for Oxygen Therapy.
Types of Oxygen Regulators
Oxygen regulators come in a variety of types and selecting the right one depends on your application. The most common types of oxygen regulators are: standard, adjustable, flow control, regulator & flowmeter combos, pediatric, and laboratory.
- Standard regulators are the most commonly used and come with a preset PSI (pound per square inch) setting of 50 PSI. This preset helps to keep the oxygen PSI output at a constant and consistent level. With standard regulators, the user is not able to adjust the delivery pressure or control the flow rate.
- Adjustable regulators let the user control the desired PSI output between a certain range, usually 0-100 PSI or 0-50 PSI. These regulators have two gauges, one to measure the amount of oxygen left in the tank and the other to display the PSI output level. The delivery pressure is easily adjusted using the knob on the front of the regulator. It is important to note that adjustable regulators only control the delivery pressure of the oxygen, they do not control the flow rate.
- Flow Control regulators are designed to control the flow rate, or LPM (liter per minute), of oxygen being used. These regulators have two gauges, one that displays the level of compressed oxygen left in the tank and the other for the LPM reading. Flow control regulators typically come with a preset output of 50 PSI. The flow range on the LPM gauge can vary depending on application.
- Regulator & Flowmeter Combos function similarly to the flow control regulators mentioned above with the primary difference being that instead of a gauge to measure the LPM reading, there is an oxygen flowmeter attached to monitor the LPM. A flowmeter is typically preferred to a gauge in many medical applications as it is much more precise and allows the user to have better control over the LPM rate.
- Pediatric regulators are specialty regulators used for neonatal or low flow applications. These regulators are flow control regulators with an LPM gauge that can read flow rates as low as 1/32 – 1/2 LPM or 1/8 – 1 LPM.
- Laboratory regulators are adjustable regulators that come in varying PSI options ranging from 0-15 PSI up to 0-450 PSI.. They are used to create controlled environments and should not be used for patient applications.
Connection & Fitting Types
- Inlet Connection – refers to the CGA fitting size standards. When choosing a medical oxygen regulator you’ll need to ensure that you have the proper CGA inlet connection. Oxygen regulators come with two main inlet connections (CGA 540 and CGA 870) which will connect directly to the oxygen tank. These CGA connections are specific to oxygen and eliminate the possibility of connecting the wrong type of gas tank to the regulator. Depending on your application, you may see various different CGA inlet connection sizes.
- Outlet Connection – The outlet connections available for oxygen regulators include DISS 1240, ¼” NPT, ⅛” Needle Valve Hose Barb, and Tapered Hose Barb. These outlet connections allow for flowmeters, hoses, gas lines, or manifolds to be connected for proper oxygen distribution.
How To Use an Oxygen Regulator
Make sure the CGA/inlet connection on the oxygen regulator matches the CGA connection on the oxygen tank. Once connected to the tank, you will be able to see the PSI reading and LPM/flow reading if applicable. On adjustable regulators, the PSI output can be adjusted via a knob or valve. Similarly, the LPM on flow control regulators can also be adjusted to the desired rate. The LPM rate on flowmeter and regulator combos is adjusted using the knob on the attached flowmeter.
Quality is important when choosing an oxygen regulator, a good manufacturer will provide 3-5 year warranties on their regulators. Quality brands that include great warranties include Harris and Western Medica.