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Image of my System One CPAP machine on the bed inside our trailerHaving recently been diagnosed with Sleep Apnea the thought of camping with a CPAP machine was to say the least, daunting. The first thing that I did was to go to RV.net and do a search on ‘CPAP’.  Once my search results started rolling in I realized that there was a good chance of finding something that might work for me for a trip that was a bit longer than just a weekend.

The Trial Run…

My next move was to take my CPAP machine out to our Salem 21FBS, pull the little 400w inverter out of the cabinet, plug it into the cigarette lighter receptacle and then plug my Respironics System One CPAP machine into the inverter. At that point I just let it run for around 9 to 10 hours.

I know that you’re thinking, “Yah, but the machine wasn’t pumping any air”! I know, but I just wanted to see what kind of draw on the battery system the inverter would make. After doing this for a day or two, maybe three, I checked the batteries on the trailer and found that there was very, very little draw at all. At this point I started thinking that this was totally doable!

A Minimal Purchase…

Link to Amazon where you can purchase the 12 volt adapter for the System One CPAP machineMy next step was to order the Shielded DC Cord for PR System One 60 Series and the 10 Foot Long 19mm Diameter CPAP Hose with 22mm Rubber Ends. Once these two items arrived I set them up in the trailer and figured out the positioning as you might have seen in the video that we shot for YouTube, Camping With A CPAP Machine.

Link to Amazon where you can purchase a longer 10 foot hose for your CPAP machineA few weeks later we were up in the Eastern Sierras camping on Rock Creek just north of Bishop, Ca. around 35 miles or so and everything worked like a charm.

A Look At Our System…

Our equipment and system for maintaining and using the CPAP was the following:

The End Results…

At the end of five and a half weeks of camping in the Eastern Sierras we were still only using our generator for approximately 40 minutes per day to run our drip coffee maker and heat up Patty’s curling iron in the morning. As I stated in the video, once in awhile we would fire up the generator to use the microwave or run a laptop if it’s battery got too low.

Image of CPAP machine, 12 volt adapter, 10 foot hose and pillow mask with hose attached.So as you can see, camping with a CPAP machine can be relatively easy on you and on your pocket book. There are other small CPAP machines available that may be deemed ‘portable’ or ‘more suited for travel or camping’ but if you have a half way decent battery system on your trailer or RV there shouldn’t be a reason to spend the extra money on another machine or battery pack.

For You Tent Campers…

Likewise, if you’re camping in a tent the cost of a smaller solar panel, a deep cycle 12v battery and an adapter with alligator clips can be pretty inexpensive as opposed to buying a ‘portable’ CPAP machine and a battery pack designed by one of the CPAP manufacturers for traveling.

One thing that is pretty evident at this point is that if you like camping and especially for extended periods, you don’t have to be concerned about being a CPAP user… you have some great inexpensive options!

A Word of Caution…

As we wrap this up, there is one thing that I really want to caution everyone on! Upon some bad advice, I did not bring my humidifier with me and really had a tough time with my nasal passages drying out.

There were others camping nearby that were using their CPAP machines without humidifiers and they had absolutely no problem. But I highly recommend that you bring yours for the first trip if you’re used to using one at home.

If you have more information that you can share with us or you have a comment or question, I sure would appreciate hearing from you. I hope you’ll join us out there camping and fishing!

By R.C. Stude

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10 Comments

  1. Francis Donaghy

    Another interesting and informative article Randy. Having sleep apnea must be a curse. I wonder if Helen has that, as she snores like a Trooper. At least you know when she drifts off!!
    Your imagination regarding your gadgets is admirable. I would never think of the things that you do, but that’s what makes this whole process interesting, getting information from different sources and people.
    Keep it going buddy,
    Francis.

    Reply
    • Randy

      Hi there Francis, yah buddy, sleep apnea can be a real bugger. There can be two extreme dangers to it… the first is that someone with sleep apnea typically stops breathing many times during their sleep period. The other danger is the snoring aspect to it and that danger comes from sudden death occurring from lead poisoning if your spouse happens to sleep with a loaded gun nearby… which my wife most certainly does…LOL!

      But in reality once I quit dodging my doctor’s instructions for close to three years, I found that sleeping with a CPAP machine actually gives me a real restful night. I think I tend to dream a little more with it than I used to but that’s not a problem, I’ve always enjoyed dreamin’… (-: Yah, I reckon I do get a little squirrelly with things. Can’t wait to get back to some camping and see what kinda new material awaits me…LOL! Once again my friend, I sure do appreciate ya’ sharing in parts of my life on this side of the pond. Hopin’ this finds you two well!
      Randy

    • Francis Donaghy

      Randy, always a pleasure my friend to write to you about your site.

      Over here, loaded guns ain’t common. Pillows usually do the trick, or a good nudge when the breathing gets stuck. An icy cold glass of H2O helps as well, ha ha.

      In all seriousness, sleep apnea was not something that I would have vaguely considered as being an issue whilst camping out.

      Your knowledge, passion and personal experiences let readers, like me, be transported with you out on your travels.

      Always my pleasure, Your Irish Buddy, Francis.

    • Randy

      Ey I sure do appreciate ya’ checking in on me Francis. When I first started using the CPAP and actually started enjoying the results they can bring ya’, I was pretty concerned about how I was going to get it to work in the rig on a 12v system, seeing as we dry-camp about 95% of the time.

      But after finding a 12v adapter cord for it and a good portable solar panel, I realized how easy it was on the trailer batteries and how efficient the solar panel could be. The CPAP actually draws very little power and has almost no effect on the batteries. So indeed, taking the CPAP camping with ya’ is absolutely a non-issue for sure!

      Well thank you again for all the compliments my friend. I sure do enjoy them and appreciate ya’ very much! Talk to ya’ shortly,

      Randy

  2. Gary

    Hi there Randy, love your stories, I also have a CPAP machine, I have one in my house and one in my travel trailer, I plug it in to my DC receptacle in my travel trailer bedroom and it runs off the house batterys, so far so good, if i run low on power when dry camping i’ll run my generator….Thanks Gary

    Reply
    • Randy

      Thank ya’ so much Gary! So far I’ve had really good luck camping with my CPAP machine. Each morning after I manage to get the cobwebs out of my head I check my battery level and there’s doesn’t ever seem to be much of an extra drain put on by the batteries through the night. My portable solar panel always has my batteries topped off by 1 in the afternoon. About 95% of our camping in dry camping so this is a pretty important part of our camping experience!

      Thank ya’ for chiming in Gary… I really appreciate hearing from someone else in the same situation!!! Best wishes,

      Randy

  3. cass

    Thanks, Randy.
    I was thinking too that you could pick up a motorcycle/lawnmower battery for cheep. Well, at least cheaper than the big guys. I’m the type that likes to stretch a thumbtack into a dinner plate, so dollars always come to mind! They probably would charge real quick too, I would guess.
    I don’t have a machine yet, I’ll let the VA decide if I need one and let them buy it. If I end up with one and you haven’t tried out the little batteries I’ll give ti a go for ya!
    cass

    Reply
    • Randy

      Sounds good partner. Hopin’ you’re sleeping good at night. I was getting to where that little flapper thing was waking me up and I was getting a little noisy in the early hours of the morning. Patty LOVES my CPAP machine! I’m thinking that a motorcycle/lawnmower battery will run a CPAP at least as long as the batteries they’re selling for the Z1 for a fraction of the price. They’d probably be simple to charge up, like ya’ said, probably take a fraction of the time!!!

      Ey thanks Cass…

      Randy

  4. cass

    Hey Randy! I think I have sleep apnea and may need to get a rig like yours. Do you think one of those small (lawn mower/motorcycle)12v batteries would work thru the night? The thought of lugging around the kind that comes to mind makes me cringe. I see your link goes to the small ones, but are they workable?
    Thanks, cass

    Reply
    • Randy

      Heya there Cass, I actually just got off the chat box with support for the Z1 CPAP and they said that a deep cycle 12v would work fine… they have a lot of customers that go that route but support didn’t like the idea of the motorcycle battery. Personally, if you already have a 12v motorcycle battery, I’d give it a shot and just see how many nights one would last… can’t hurt to try! The amp hours would be a lot less so I’m guessing that you wouldn’t get as much usage out of the MC battery as you would the deep cycle but I bet that it would give ya’ a good night or two!

      If I had access to a MC battery I’d fire my CPAP up and see how long it would last! The battery that they sell with the Z1 unit is an 8 hour battery and only good for 45watt hours. So depending on how high the back pressure you have your machine set for, you may be able to get 9 or 10 hours out of it. But you do have to recharge it every day… not sure how long it would take to recharge it using a generator.

      A lot of hittin’ and missin’… I apologize for that. I reckon that it’s just going to take a little experimentation. Fortunately, I know you’re an adventurous kinda guy! My experience is that my regular home CPAP doesn’t really use that much battery power so it’s acceptable for me to just lug it around in the trailer using the solar panel to recharge each day.

      Sure do appreciate the questions Cass. If you’re not on a CPAP yet and I can help ya’ with anything, please don’t hesitate to ask!!!

      Randy

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