How to Buy Home Pulse Oximeter

5 Tips for Buying Finger Pulse Oximeters


Excellent pulse oximeters are available at different price points. You should not base your decision on prices and brand names only. When we selected pulse oximeters for sale, we discovered some high quality units at significantly reduced prices. Finger pulse oximeters for under $40 are for sale online.

The technology of pulse oximeter has come a long way. When it was first available commercially in the 1970's, it weighed about 35 lbs., and had a bulky and clumsy earpiece. The cord attached to the sensor alone weighed 3 lbs. It looked like a C clamp and was very uncomfortable when attached to a patient's ear. A unit was very expensive (~$10,000). Now, a pulse oximeter only weights a few ounces for a fingertip model.

There are several types of pulse oximeters: from sophisticated models used in operating rooms to simple fingertip models. The fingertip models are widely used at homes, emergency rooms, and hospitals for spot checks. This article focuses on the fingertip models from the home-use perspective.


Select the oximeter best for your needs, not the most expensive. The following table shows our recommendations.

Budget solution CMS50DL, MD300C11, MD300C17
Best value MD300C1, MD300C13
Children or patient with small hand MD300C54
Oximeter with pleth graph MD300C21, MD300C54 (children), CMS50EW
Oximeter with pleth graph and alarm CMS50EW
Wearable oximeter with continuous recording (sleep study, exercise) CMS50EW, CMS50FW
Patient with very low blood perfusion Nonin Onyx 9500
Computer Interface MD300I2, CMS50EW, CMS50FW

Common features

FDA Certified : Pulse oximeter is a class II device and FDA registration is required before selling in US. Although almost all oximeters for sale on the market are now certified, this was not the case a few years ago. You can verify the certification by going to the FDA Medical Device Data Base and enter the manufacturer name in the search field to find out for sure.

Accuracy and reliability : The primary purpose of a pulse oximeter is to measure your oxygen saturation (SpO2) and pulse rate. So the key selection criterion is to find one that produce accurate results within its operating range consistently and reliability. Pulse oximeters generally use similar mechanisms for reading data and differ in how they are manufactured.

If you need an accurate reading, you should validate your pulse oximeter by comparing it with others, such as those in your doctor's office or medical clinics. Most oximeters can take a reading within a few seconds and have an accuracy of �3%.

When selecting pulse oximeters for sale on our website, we sampled 5 to 20 units from each model and made sure that their readings were within their tolerances. We would reject the model if we found one outlier. Our customers are important to us.

The accuracy is often affected by motion. If your hand trembles, find a model that is more tolerant to hand movements or hold your hand still while taking readings.

Ease of use : Fingertip pulse oximeters operate by inserting your finger into the sensor and then pressing one button. They are easy to operate. Make sure the display is large enough for you to read. Some can display the data in different ways making them easier to read.

Sensor size: Make sure you can insert your finger comfortably in the sensor. This is normally not an issue for clip-on type. For children and persons with small hands, consider a pediatric pulse oximeter.

Other features : There are other features, non-essential, but will assist you in using the oximeter:

  • Memory: Save previous readings and timestamps; generate various statistics.
  • Multi-person memory: Save readings for more than one person.
  • Computer interface: Save readings to a computer for further analysis by you or your doctor.
  • Software program: Analyze the data.
  • Appearance
  • Ease of storage
  • Accessories: storage case, log book, battery