Camping With CPAP or BiPAP

As a portable power guy, I get asked quite frequently about power for camping with CPAP or BiPAP machines. My former business partner uses a ventilator in managing his Duchenne’s Muscular Dystrophy, so this application is important to me.
It is actually a fairly simple process. Many CPAP & BiPAP machines are designed to be portable. Many have built-in back-up batteries. All you need is a solar panel to keep up with your needs, and a solar storage battery to match.

First Things First… What is a Watt?

It’s difficult to have any discussion of electricity without some basic math. But, I will try to keep it to a minimum. All you really need to know is that I have done some calculations to know how fast your CPAP or BiPAP machine will be taking power out of a battery pack, so that I can estimate how many hours you can operate your machine while camping away from a power source before the battery needs to be recharged.

Powering the Machine…

What I have found in my research, is that a typical machine (Respironics, ResMed, and the like), will draw between 20 & 30 Watts (2-2.5Amps) when not using the humidifier. What this means is that you can use fairly standard battery packs to support your machine through several nights out in a tent.
For example, I have had clients use a battery pack with 150 Watt-Hour capacity to get a full night’s sleep of 8 hours with plenty of room to spare. Others have been able to get two 6-hour nights using the same battery & minimized CPAP machine settings.
Here are a few battery pack options to consider…
Lithium-Based (light, primarily DC-based)…
Voltaic V72 : 72 Watt-Hours : up to 1 night (no humidifier)
Kicker EnergyBar 100 : 100 Watt-Hours : up to 1 night
Enerplex Generatr 100 : 100 Watt-Hours : up to 1 night
Goal Zero Sherpa 100 : 100 Watt-Hours : up to 1 night
Kicker EnergyBar 250 : 250 Watt-Hours : up to 2+ nights
Goal Zero Yeti 400 Lithium : 400 Watt-Hours : up to 3+ nights
P3 Dynamo AC 600 : 480 Watt-Hours : up to 4 nights
Enerplex Generatr 1200 : 1200 Watt-Hours : 5-7 nights

Goal Zero Yeti 150 : 75 Watt-Hours usable : up to 1 night
Goal Zero Yeti 400 : 200 Watt-Hours usable : up to 2 nights
Goal Zero Yeti 1250 : 600 Watt-Hours : 3-4 nights
Why SLA? They are heavier, but usually offer better solar integration (MPPT controllers), offer more powerful AC inverters, & certainly cheaper replacement batteries.

Making Connections…

Most CPAP & BiPAP machines either come with a car adaptor, or have one available as an option from the manufacturer. This is a key piece of equipment, because all battery packs are DC, and this “CLA” connector will let you plug your CPAP into the battery pack exactly as you would plug it into the dashboard of your car. All the battery packs listed above come equipped with this ‘CLA’ socket just like in your car, and are plug-n-play with your CPAP machine.
What about portable AC power?
It can be done, but it is NOT recommended for several reasons.
First, you would need to use an AC inverter to convert 12V DC power into 120V AC household power. Inverters also waste 20-30% of your battery power in making AC power which your CPAP will be turning back into DC power anyway. So don’t waste this power if you don’t need to… use the DC car plug for your CPAP.
Secondly, most Lithium batteries do not support AC inverters. The Enerplex & Goal Zero models listed above are able to handle small 60W-100W inverters, but save them the stress and stick to DC.
Lastly, using an inverter just adds one more piece of equipment to carry, so use only when no DC option exists.


One of the most important aspects of camping with CPAP or BiPAP machines is to be able to go into remote areas. To do this comfortably means NOT packing anything too heavy, so it becomes a balancing act between weight and the amount of power you need each night.
The lightest battery packs are lithium-based, such as the Voltaic, and Enerplex models listed above. In a battery that weighs only 2-4 pounds, you can store enough power for up to 1 night.
A lightweight lithium battery pack capable of up to 5 nights will still weigh-in around 4-12kg (10-25lbs)

Recharging In The Wild…

What do you do if you need more than 1-2 nights’ support for your CPAP or BiPAP machine?
In the absence of a vehicle to act as a generator for recharging your CPAP camping battery, one of the most logical solutions is to use portable solar panels. For example, a 20 Watt panel will offset approx 50% of your CPAP power usage, while a 60 Watt panel will completely replace the power you use each night for most lower-latitude areas of Canada (April-September)
Here are a few examples of such panels I recommend. The thinfilms perform best in partial shade (ie under trees), and in low-light conditions (ie overcast), because you never know what you might get out there…
Thinfilm (Canadian high latitudes, shading/trees, variable weather)
Powerfilm R-21 : Waterproof, rollable, tough (my leading option for Canadians)
Powerfilm R-28 : Waterproof, rollable, tough (my leading option for Canadians)
Powerfilm R-42 : Waterproof, rollable, tough (use with the larger battery packs)
Powerfilm R-60 : Waterproof, rollable, tough (use with the larger battery packs)
Powerfilm F20 : Folding, lightweight, effective (best for Canadian latitudes)
Powerfilm F30 : Folding, lightweight, effective (best for Canadian latitudes)
Powerfilm F60 : Folding, lightweight, effective (use with the larger battery packs)
P3 21W Folding : Folding, lightweight, effective (CIGS thinfilm)
Crystalline (Canadian lower latitude summers, altitude, & tropics)
Voltaic 17W : Easily packable, high-efficiency frameless rigid module.
Voltaic Arc 20W : Folding, high efficiency, & best packable
Goal Zero Nomad 20 : Folding high efficiency
Goal Zero Nomad 28 Plus : Folding high efficiency (posting soon)
… Many more solar options are available, including larger panels to offset heavier CPAP use.

Affording A Portable Power System…

At this point, you might be thinking that these products are rather expensive for someone who might only be going camping with their CPAP or BiPAP machine a couple of times each summer. To help, Modern Outpost has introduced a power system rental program. Now you can save the expense of owning a portable solar power system, and be sure of getting the latest & greatest equipment for supporting your CPAP while camping. Contact me for details.
Please make arrangements well in advance of your trip to ensure availability.
I hope this helps.
If you have any comments, questions, suggestions, or experience that will add to this discussion, please share it with me.
Out here, things have to be tougher, smarter, and more responsible.
Welcome to the Modern Outpost.

3 thoughts on “Camping With CPAP or BiPAP

  1. Anonymous

    If you are not backpacking there is a better battery system that provides 5 to 8 NIGHTS of power to a Cpap between recharges. It can be seen at It weights more but IT COSTS 1/2 the price as the lightweight systems.

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