Mobile Power solutions
There are many families who struggle with the Mobile Power options. By Mobile Power, I mean providing enough power to run your equipment away from a dedicated power source (outlet).
One of the biggest factors for families going mobile is this question: how will we run our devices? Speaking from experience, we became too frightened to enter a building without being able to clearly see a power outlet. It became a handicap of its own to be so dependent on power for our machines. We no longer enjoyed outings because instead of enjoying a trip to the zoo, for instance, we would spend so much time worrying that it completely detracted from the experience. Finding a solution to this issue became a small obsession. We spent a great deal of time and money purchasing and returning equipment until we found the right combination - along the way we talked with some experts and learned some really helpful information which we can share with you.
Myth about Remote power: You need a deep-cycle Marine battery. False. Maybe 10 years ago this was true, but now with mid-sized devices that are battery-operated, such as scooters, the market has developed new "rechargeable" batteries that are less expensive, smaller, and hold a longer charge.
Liquid vs Gel filled batteries. There are some marketing terms that call Sealed Lead Acid batteries "gel" filled - they may even change extra for that "gel" word. Older batteries were filled with liquid so they could only work if the top of the battery was UP or else the liquid would shift and no longer contact the grid inside the battery. Gel and AGM filled came out and allowed the battery to run in any position because the gel doesn't move like a liquid. True liquid batteries in this small class are next to impossible to find since they are almost all AGM (Absorbed Glass Mat) batteries now. It is safe to assume any battery you buy today will by able to run in any position. All batteries however are not created equal. The parts and pieces that make up the battery interior can be thicker or thinner depending on the quality of the battery itself. For this reason, it is important to do your research before buying a battery.... or rely on the research we've done.
The SMA Battery Buyers' Guide
The Cough Assist (CA) machine is probably the most power hungry device in your mobile arsenal. So selecting mobile power equipment that can handle the requirements for CA ensures it can also handle most other equipment. Let's go over a few key points:
First, you need to make sure whatever you purchase runs on 12 volts. 12V volts is more common, and the battery you select and power inverter both need to run on the same voltage settings (12V).
The second, and this is a big one: The amp hour rating will determine how long the battery will run under a load or how long it will deliver power. The amp hour rating is also what determines the battery's overall size and weight as well. So, an 18 amp hour battery will be larger then a 7 amp hour battery. The best rule of thumb for the battery you choose is to get the highest amp hour until size becomes a hindrance. So, if you only have a 5 inch space, you will have to find an amp hour rating that is smaller and runs for less time in order to make it fit your stroller or wheelchair.
We recommend the 18-20 amp hour battery because of its capacity and size and the type of connectors it has (which is important for connecting your power inverter). Most 20 Amp hour batteries will be around 13 lbs and 7 inches wide, 6 inches high, and 3 inches thick so it's much smaller than a deep cycle marine battery. There are smaller sizes but they may only power the equipment for a few minutes.
The brand of battery we recommend today is Shuriken, however, we are always looking at other brands. Shuriken batteries are black with a small red logo design (picture coming). This is a high-end car audio battery that has proven to run the cough assist for more then 45 minutes straight. (We have links below to purchase these online)
The 18-20 amp hour battery runs the CA for more then 30 minutes when we test it (on a new battery). If you feel like you would be comfortable with a 30+ minute battery, then look into the 13lbs 20 Amp Hour - SK-BT20. It's up to you and your needs. The good thing about these batteries as well is that they are inexpensive (usually $20-$60), so you could have a few sizes on hand.
Another great thing about the Shuriken batteries is their shelf life. They can hold nearly 100% of their charge when unused for 3 months (if it's stored indoors with a consistent temperature). At 6 months of shelf life there is still 80% of the charge left in the battery. So the battery is ready when you need it and you don't have to constantly leave it on a battery charger/maintainer.
Pure Sine Wave or True Sine Wave Inverters
The key here is to be sure the device is a pure sine wave or true sine wave. All others will be a modified sine wave. Generally the way to tell is the price. Pure sine wave inverters are usually $100-$300, depending on brand. Modified sine wave are always very inexpensive: $35-50. The minimum power needed to run the cough assist guaranteed is 300 watts. For a mobile solution, this is really all you need. We recommend something below if you are looking for a stationary permanent solution such as your house or your car. As far as the 300 watt pure sine wave devices are concerned, we purchased the one in the image to the right. It's built to be AIMS but we need to test it for a few months before we recommend it. It is 6x6x2 which makes it one of the smaller 300 watt inverters.
Product Links - Inverters
1000 Watt Sunforce. Stationary - Great for car to use as an alternative to a backup generator for all equipment with extension cord
Best overall 350 WATT Samlex- mobile. Branded as Cotek. built to UL standard but not UL listed. As close to medical grade as an inverter can come. Very small size 11in x 7in x 2.5in. Prices range between $180-$250 They will not manufacture these in a large quantity so getting your hands on one may be difficult. I will try and keep the link updated to a website that has stock available.
Spec Sheet for the Samlex 350 Watt (SK350) - download PDF
3000 Watt Powerbright. Stationary - Great, home unit to be used with a generator
650 Watt SunForce. Mobile - company I trust. At around $166 it's a great option with plenty of power
300 WATT Power Bright. Mobile - Many families use it. I however do NOT recommend this.
600 Watt Power Bright. Mobile - tested and approved. Power Bright recommends. Inverter is pretty large 9.3 x 13.2 x 3.3 inches
300 Watt AIMS inverter - Mobile, smallest in it's class but has been known break after 1st use.
180 Watt AIMS invertor - Mobile - WILL NOT RUN COUGH ASSIST
Product Links - Batteries
Kinetik HC 600 - 13lbs - $64
Product Links - Battery Charger
CTEK 3300 - 12V charger and maintainer (recommended)
Parents/caregivers who helped contribute to this article: