Motorcycle Camping with Sleep Apnea

In preparation for a motorcycle camping trip, I had some new considerations to accommodate my recent diagnosis of Sleep Apnea. 

It had been awhile since I last went backpacking and a thorough inventory of my equipment was a must.  Proper storage, good equipment and care has kept my equipment in nice condition over the past 8 years. Digging through my camping storage bin revealed most all the equipment I would need. Much of what I found in that bin will cover most of my needs however, being recently diagnosed with Sleep Apnea has put some constraints on the sleeping freedom I had taken for granted.

Every night since my Sleep Apnea diagnosis I have had a ResMed S9 Auto CPAP machine clung to my face like an alien face hugger from the movie Alien. With a sleep dependency as my top concern, finding an alternative power source that could run my CPAP machine while I slept at night was my top priority. 

While my riding group were still in the trip planning phase, I stopped into my local medical supplier to acquire a power adapter and battery that would give me some independence from the AC power outlet I'm currently chained to. Unfortunately, the medical supplier had only the necessary attachments to run my CPAP machine from a 12-volt power source but not a 12v battery.

The accessories I was given had some large alligator clips to attach to the terminals on a 12 or 24-volt battery. On the other end of the clips was a car lighter receptacle. The power supply provided for the CPAP machine had a male car socket that attached to the receptacle leading from the battery. My next problem was finding a battery that was light enough to carry on the motorcycle and backpacking, durable, and could power a the machine for a a minimum of 8 hours.

Several options came to mind ranging from RC battery packs, car batteries, even power wheel batteries. After doing a bit of research I decided the best option would be an Absorption Glass Mat battery. An AGM would provide the benefits of a deep cycle battery while keeping the battery light and leak free.

MagnaPower AGM Battery with ResMed Power Supply
Confident that the CPAP would run for the amount of time I needed it to, I charged the MagnaPower battery using a automobile battery charger and began packing the bike for the trip.

Stopping into the local auto part store, I found was a small 12-volt ATV battery with 180 cold cranking amps which would provide a 10amp hour run time. Produced by MagnaPower. Sealed and rugged, these batteries can take a beating and can out perform a deep cycle battery on discharge and charging. The price of the battery was around $75.

Eager as I am to try new things, I attached the accessories to the battery and ran my CPAP machine for 1 night at home. When I woke the next morning the machine was still running. The battery came pre-charged with a voltage reading of 12.45v. After running the CPAP for 7 hours from the better the voltage indicated 11.45v. Given that the machine was still running I would presume that at a certain voltage the power supply will cut off.

Unpacking and assembling the CPAP machine was a breeze. At night I protected the battery leads, using the box, just in case I kicked the battery over in my sleep. The machine ran a full 6-8 hours and in the morning I was able to charge my phone from it as well. 

More recently I've been doing research on this particular battery and the power consumption of the CPAP machine. ResMed provides a nice guide that explores each model, the amp draw at different power settings and a recommendation for the size of battery. According to the chart I would need to use a 12 amp hours per  8 hours of continuous power and ruining a treatment pressure of 10 on my ResMed S9 Auto CPAP. Here is a link to ResMed's Battery Guide

Though this battery worked for a single night, a daily charging solution will need to be considered. I will be looking into a solar charging option that will also work as a tender for the battery. The solar charging option will give me the ability to charge during the day with out the need to tap into my alternator and risk over taxing it. Overall though, I would recommend purchasing a larger battery that at minimum would last 2 days or if weight isn't a concern, a more traditional sized battery.


red said...

Is the 7.62x39 part of your regular camping kit?

McMark said...

I try to keep some in all my survival kits. Mainly they're used for misdirection from my real valuables such as my Alien patterned camping pillow, something I couldn't live without.

kirk iverson said...

found your blog in a search of motorcycle camping & Apnea. I'm getting ready to do do the same. i have tried camping with out my cpap, but just can't sleep. I have looked at the deep cycle & lithium ion battery's. I was advised that the Lithium battery's we not a good choice. not sure why, as that is what the supply company's sell. I'm planing on a 14ah deep cycle. did you ever determine how many nights you could get on a single charge with your battery? i need several nights, and plan on charging while riding the motorcycle.

McMark said...

WIth the small battery I used, I was only able to get one night out of it. I'm not sure if the power system on the bike has the output power needed to charge the cpap machine and keep the bike's battery charged. I may look into a solar system such as the one Goal Zero offers. In the meantime, for longer trips, I'll be carrying as large of a battery I can manage within weight constraints.

Adding a solar panel to your unit that you could attached to a top case while riding and when camping might be a great option for topping your battery off during your trip.

I hope you get some great trips in this year. Keep me posted on the solution that works best for you.

Kevin Petter said...

I have looked at the deep cycle & lithium ion battery's. I was advised that the Lithium battery's we not a good choice. not sure why, as that is what the supply company's sell. I'm getting ready to do do the same,
Malakoff Diggin
California campground

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