What Is the Best CPAP Machine for Sleep Apnea? Here’s the Lowdown (Top 5 Tested)

Have breathing difficulties while sleeping? Sleep apnea machines can help. Here’s our rundown of the best CPAP machines in 2020.

Updated: July 19, 2020

A few months ago, my partner started complaining that I was snoring heavily at night. And I couldn’t get enough sleep no matter how hard I tried. I always found myself sleepy and exhausted during the day. A visit to the doctor showed that I was suffering from sleep apnea.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is a sleep condition where the upper airway collapses, making it difficult to breathe. I was shocked to find that more than 25 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea.

Most doctors recommend CPAP treatment for sleep apnea. It is one of the most effective OSA treatments. The Continuous Positive Air Pressure (CPAP) feeds you with pressurized and humidified air through a hose while you sleep.

If you are interested in getting one of these devices for yourself, read our buying guide below regarding the top CPAP machines.


What is the Best CPAP Machine?

The high connectivity options make it great for monitoring your sleep apnea therapy. The DreamMapper app is quite useful for monitoring your sleep patterns. You can do a Performance Check and monitor daily progress.

DreamStation auto is an inbuilt automatic pressure adjusts itself to match your regular breathing pattern. It delivers personalized therapy that is highly accurate, so you can enjoy your therapy sessions and sleep better.

You don’t have to worry about traveling with your Philips Respironics DreamStation. We found it super lightweight and compact. There aren’t a lot of external parts as the power brick is internal.

Plus, it ticks all the flight compliance checkboxes so you can use it on an airplane. Although it doesn’t come with a humidifier, the DreamStation Go has a handy built-in port.

Who’s it for?

The DreamStation Go is extremely compact and very light, making it perfect for home use or on the go. And it’s in-flight compliance makes it great for air travel.

Pros

  • Touch screen with swipe support
  • Built-in power eliminating the need for a power brick
  • Light and compact design
  • Air pressure adjusts automatically
  • Comes with super-flexible 12mm tube

Cons

  • Doesn’t come with a humidifier
  • High price, including the accessories

The unit comes with an automatic humidifier as well as heated tubing. Also, Expiratory Pressure Relief makes it easy to breathe. It is quite easy to configure your setting using the MyOption colored LCD screen. You can change the ramp time, adjust the humidity, SmartStart, and many other features.

Many people struggle to fall asleep with any lights on. The ResMed AirSense 10 Autoset has a light sensor that detects any adjacent light and adjusts the brightness of the screen to compensate. At night, it will dim the screen before completely going dark after a screen timeout.

ResMed provides a ton of useful data such as events per hour, usage data, leak rate, AHI, and average usage. Such data tracking helps monitor your therapy and progress.

Who’s it for?

The ResMed AirSense 10 Autoset is a great machine for home. It offers everything an Obstructive Sleep Apnea patient may need for therapy.

Pros

  • Comes with a built-in humidifier for uninterrupted sleeping
  • Silent EasyBreathe motor
  • Auto ramp functionality
  • Easy-to-use LCD screen and controls
  • SmartStart feature that turns on the CPAP when you put the mask on
  • Smart light sensor

Cons

  • Has a loud motor
  • Doesn’t support battery power
  • Not easy to clean

With ResMed AirStart 10, you won’t have to worry about noise disturbance. The Whisper Quiet technology does an excellent job of keeping the noise level at only twenty-six decibels and making it the quietest CPAP machine around.

In fact, it is one of the most silent CPAP machines in the market. The space-saving size and the quiet motor make it a great addition to your bedroom.

The MicroSD card slot allows for convenient monitoring and storage of progress data. Despite having a single pressure setting, it does an excellent job of filling in the gaps during an event.

The AirStart 10 System allows you to breathe normally without waking up. You’ll get better sleep thanks to its built-in humidifier.

Who’s it for?

The RedMed AirStart is best for anyone on a tight budget. Though small, it offers almost all the features of a premium apparatus without the hefty price tag.

Pros

  • It has an in-built humidifier with heating
  • Simple to use thanks to its intuitive LCD
  • Has an impressive pressure release system
  • Unbelievably quiet thanks to its Whisper Quiet Technology

Cons

  • It only has one pressure unit
  • It has occasional pressure bursts that might wake you up

It has several different AC adaptors with a universal cable. You can literally check into any hotel without worrying about your CPAP equipment not working.

Apex Medical’s CPAP comes with support for a humidifier. However, you have to buy the humidifier separately. The humidifier adds comfort to your sleep apnea therapy, eliminating the soreness, headaches, and dry mouth or throat that are common without a humidifier.

Another incredible feature is the Ramp functionality that automatically adjusts the pressure while you are sleeping. It makes sleeping with apnea comfortable.

Thanks to its backlit LCD, reading the information on the display is simple. You can check the Ramp setting or sleep hours at night (or during the day) without any problems.

Who’s it for?

The Apex Medical iCH II Auto is perfect when you want to travel. It has universal AC support with adapters for any international power connection. It is also super compact.

Pros

  • Very affordable pricing
  • It works silently
  • Simple and easy-to-use interface and controls
  • A compact design ideal for traveling
  • Highly readable LCD screen

Cons

  • It doesn’t come with an inbuilt humidifier
  • There is no data card

The SmartFlex system lets you enjoy uninterrupted sleep thanks to the configurable transitions between inhaling and exhaling. You can also adjust the humidifier to the levels you want with the straightforward controls.

It also comes with Bluetooth support, an external SD card slot, spare filler packs, and auto start and stop functions. It is one of the best budget-friendly options out there.

This machine has a lot of performance options and metrics such as snore detection, SmartCode therapy tracker, auto altitude adjustment, and flow rounding technology, among many others. The heated humidifier is another great feature as it makes sleeping more comfortable.

What’s it for?

The DeVilbiss is an excellent choice for someone who is looking for a highly configurable CPAP machine. Its simple controls and the user-friendly interface let you adjust your options quickly.

Pros

  • Reliable and safe auto-adjust system
  • Comes with a SmartLink for monitoring your health
  • Easy-to-use and configure
  • Features SmartCode to check and monitor data remotely

Cons

  • Has no battery, making unsuitable for travel
  • SmartLink app only supports new Android and iOS devices

Buyer’s guide (what to look for when buying a CPAP machine)

What is the best CPAP machine?

With all the options available, it’s a daunting task. Modern designs come with all sorts of features and technologies that can be confusing.

Review the following features and options before buying.

First things first…

What Sleep Apnea Do You Have?

The first step is understanding the type of sleep apnea condition you have. Only a licensed doctor can make this diagnosis.

There are two types of sleep apnea: Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) and Central Sleep Apnea (CSA). CSA is a brain condition that requires a BiPAP machine, a device with different pressure settings for breathing in and breathing out. OSA is, however, a collapse of the airway while you are sleeping.

When CPAP therapy fails, your doctor may advise you to try BiPAP.

Ok, now the biggest question has been answered, let’s move onto the specifics:

These appliances aren’t cheap. Part of the reason they are so expensive is their long lifespan. Investing in the right model ensures you get a product that serves you well for many years.

These appliances aren’t cheap. Part of the reason they are so expensive is their long lifespan. Investing in the right model ensures you get a product that serves you well for many years.

The Standard models are cheaper than the auto ones. However, you might have to trade-off a few comfort features. The travel CPAP is lighter and more compact with fewer features than standard and premium machines. Some models are quite affordable and a better option when you have a tight budget.

Before you buy a CPAP machine, decide how much you are willing to spend. Most units cost between two hundred and eight hundred dollars.

Unlike most bulky medical devices and equipment, CPAP machines are relatively light, meaning you can carry yours easily.

However, they do vary in size and weight, depending on the model and features. If you have a small bedroom space, you might want to look for smaller models that do not have a humidifier.

If you’re traveling, a lighter, compact model will do the trick. Some models are made specifically for travel. You will have to decide whether you get separate machines for home and travel or buy one that is appropriate for both.

You need to know how long it takes for your device to be ready for use after you turn it on. Ramp times vary from thirty minutes to one hour. Aim for a lower ramp time to enjoy quick airflow pressure.

The operating pressure for many apnea patients lies between six and fourteen cmH2O. Before buying a machine for your sleep apnea, ask your doctor what’s the right operating pressure for you. Typically, operating pressure falls between four and twenty cmH2O.

These machines are often loud. The fan and the motor pressuring the air can be a bit noisy. If you are the kind of person that reacts to noise when you are asleep, you should get a silent model.

Generally, they will range anywhere from twenty-four to thirty decibels. Most machines are rated at thirty decibels. Get yourself a silent one and enjoy a peaceful night.

A common problem with a CPAP device is throat irritation and soreness. This occurs when pressurized dry air gets forced through your airways.

Most manufacturers solve this problem by adding a humidifier, which makes using these devices more comfortable and natural. You can also opt for heated hoses to make the therapy even more comfortable.

Sleep therapy reports are important in gauging your progress. Most CPAP machines offer several connectivity options, and they will even allow you to view the reports in various formats. Some come bundled with Bluetooth, a smartphone app, or SD cards.

You can read your sleep data on your smartphone or the CPAP LCD screen.

If you want your device further away from the bed because you toss and turn frequently at night, you should look for a longer hose length than the standard six feet.

You can expect up to eight years of good use. Get a CPAP device with a warranty against any manufacturer’s defects. Typical warranties last two years.

Many machines have automatic on and off controls, and they also adapt to your breathing patterns and any changes in altitude.

CPAP chin straps are designed to hold your mouth closed while using a machine, helping to reduce or eliminate leaks. They also reduce or eliminate snoring.

Nasal masks have a smaller design that fits over the nose, but not the mouth. They are intended for people who breathe through their nose while sleeping.

Every device has an optimal operational altitude for it to pressurize the air. Confirm whether the unit you are buying fits your altitude.

CPAP alerts are important when it comes to safety. You should get a CPAP machine that issues audible or on-screen alerts whenever there is a problem such as pressurized air or when your mask comes off while you are asleep.


What does a CPAP machine do?

Obstructive Sleep Apnea is when the airway collapses either wholly or partially during sleep. This collapse makes breathing difficult, leaving you gasping for air while asleep. These machines use pressurized air to keep the airway open, known as “positive airway pressure”.

They work by drawing air into its chamber using a fan, and then it will pressurize it. The pressurized air is fed to the patient through a mask covering the nose or mouth.

The steady supply of air allows the patient to sleep soundly throughout the night. Many CPAP units come equipped with a humidifier that makes it comfortable to use.

Can I just buy a CPAP machine?

CPAP machines fall under the category of medical devices that are regulated by the FDA. You can’t sell CPAP devices, CPAP humidifiers, or CPAP masks without getting an FDA license.

The same case applies when buying CPAP devices. Since they are medical devices, the FDA regulates their sale and use. You will need a prescription to purchase CPAP machines. It is possible to get a CPAP from a private dealer. However, the best thing to do is get an OSA examination and a prescription from a licensed medical practitioner.

How long does a CPAP machine last?

Just like any other machine or electronic equipment, the lifespan of your CPAP depends on the quality of care. A well-maintained unit may last for more than twenty thousand hours. When you translate this to years, it comes to around two years.

With regular servicing and cleaning, it could cross the fifty thousand hours mark. That is more than twice the average lifespan. If your CPAP machine has a humidifier, be sure to use clean water. Most experts recommend using distilled water.

It’s important to look for a high-quality machine from a reputable brand to get the most out of it.


Pros and cons of using a CPAP machine

Let’s look at some of the benefits of using CPAP machines for your obstructive sleep apnea sleep therapy:

  • Ultra-lightweight and portable – Many are designed to be lightweight and compact. You can easily fit your one in a suitcase when you need to travel.
  • Easy to use – The configurations are straightforward and are simple enough for a layperson to use.
  • Highly effective – CPAP therapy is the most effective treatment of sleep apnea. You can quickly lower your risk of high blood pressure.
  • Readily available – Various brands and models are available at different prices.

Some of the cons of using a CPAP machine include:

  • High price – The majority of devices on the market are expensive. The cheapest unit costs two hundred dollars, with some going up to eight hundred dollars.
  • Noise – CPAP units are usually noisy, meaning they can obstruct sleep. However, some models are silent models, and these are the ones you should look for.
  • Limited movement during sleep – Tossing and turning with the connective hose attached to a CPAP machine is impossible. You would need a longer tube if you toss and turn at night.
  • Discomfort – Wearing a full face mask while sleeping is not the most comfortable way to sleep. It can irritate the eyes as well.

Types of CPAP machines

CPAP machines are, without a doubt, the most popular and effective therapy for sleep apnea. Different machines exist on the market. They include:

Illustration of a CPAP mask.

Standard – The standard CPAP machines come with one setting for the air pressure. A doctor conducts a sleep study and determines the right air pressure for your machine. Anytime you want the air pressure changed, you will need to visit a doctor.

Auto – During your sleep, you may need more or less pressure than the one your doctor sets in a standard machine.

An auto air pressure adjusts itself throughout the night to control your breathing pattern. You get to experience deeper and uninterrupted sleep.

Travel – They are lighter and more compact than your standard CPAP. Most of them will come with only a single pressure setting and may not include a humidifier. However, some premium models come with all the features of an auto CPAP machine, with only a slight difference in size.

Extra features that may differentiate one CPAP machine from another include the presence of a humidifier, connectivity, communication, and an LCD screen with or without touch functionality, among others.


Keeping Your CPAP Machine Clean

Regular cleaning can help keep your CPAP functional for a long time. While most devices come with cleaning instructions, it’s good to learn about the cleaning basics:

  • Use mild soap or dishwashing liquid – If you use a CPAP machine, you will need to clean it every morning. Use mild soap or dishwashing liquid on your humidifier. And refill the humidifier with distilled water to keep it clean and healthy. Air-dry it whenever you wash it.
  • Get a mask cleaner – CPAP masks are made from a delicate material that can easily be destroyed by regular soap. Get a custom mask cleaner to clean your CPAP mask
    Get a sanitizer – With time, your machine might have a buildup of bacteria and other germs. Get a sanitizer that will fit the entire CPAP machine without taking it apart.
  • Unscented mask wipes – Cleaning your CPAP face mask every day is a lot of work. A simple wipe every day is enough.
  • Tube cleaning brush – You will need to clean your machine tubes at least once every week. You only need to soak them in soapy water for a couple of minutes before cleaning them out with a brush.

Conclusion: What Machine Is Right For You?

Choosing the right device is the key to getting the most out of your sleep apnea therapy. Because of their hefty price tags, CPAP machines are more of a long-term investment. Numerous models and options are available today, each with different features.

Illustration of a CPAP mask.

The Philips Respironics DreamStation Go ticks all the right boxes when it comes to a perfect device.

It is light and compact, making it suitable for travel while at the same time maintaining almost all the features of a traditional CPAP machine. Since it is an auto-machine, you will get uninterrupted sleep.

The Dreamstation Go also features a USB port, Bluetooth functionality, and a MicroSD card slot. The DreamMapper app is useful for monitoring your sleeping patterns and Sleep Apnea treatments. The fact that it supports universal masks, as well as micro tubing, makes it excellent for both home and travel.