How to Buy Pulse Oximeter for Home Use

Buying a pulse oximeter has became much easier in the past few years as more and more products are available on the market. In general, the two factors that affect your decision are budget and need. As a guideline, more features mean higher cost; higher demand for quality and support mean higher cost also. You need to decide the features you needed and the level of quality/support you wanted. For most oximeters on the market, regardless of their prices, they have comparable accuracy except in some rare situations, where you would need to consider oximeters made for these situations. Quality does not include accuracy here, but things liked how readable is the display, how long it takes to get a stable reading, how long would the unit lasted, how much abuse can the unit withstand before quitting...

How are you going to use the pulse oximeter

The type of pulse oximeter you would need depends on how are you going to use the oximeter. In general, it falls under the following categories:
  1. Spot check occasionally
  2. Continuous monitoring
  3. Sleep study

For spot checking, any pulse oximeter is fine. However finger pulse oximeter, where the sensor is integrated with the unit, is recommended because of its lower cost.

For continuous monitoring, a probe is needed as the integrated finger oximeter would slip off the finger when it moves. All handheld oximeters come with probes. Furthermore, with different probes, the handheld oximeters can be used for infants, children and adults. Almost all handheld pulse oximeters can record data for at least 24 hours and the data can be archived to a computer for analysis.

For sleep study, a handheld oximeter would do the work. Some people may prefer to wear the oximeter on the wrist to avoid tangling with the cable during sleep.

The following table summarizes our recommendations on finger pulse oximeter.

RequirementsOur Recommendations
Basic - pulse rate and SpO2CMS50DL, MD300C11, MD300C1
Children or people small handsMD300C54
Oximeter with PlethMD300C21, MD300C23, MD300C54 (children), MD300C316, MD300C318T, MD300C63, MD300631
Oximeter with Pleth and alarmMD300C316, MD300C318T, CMS50EW
Oximeter with BluetoothMD300C318T, CMS50EW
Recording oximeterAll sleep monitors, MD300C316, MD300C318T, all handheld oximeters
Oximeter with blood pressure monitorMD500B, CONTEC08C-ADT
Patient with extremely low blood perfusionMasimo SET, Nonin Onyx 9500