How to Use a CPAP Machine in Your Motorhome

How to Use a CPAP Machine in Your Motorhome


A CPAP machine


If you suffer from sleep apnea, you’ll know how important it is to use a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine every night. But what about when you’re away from home — on the road or in the backcountry on motorhome adventures?


In this blog, we explain how a CPAP machine can help you sleep in your motorhome when you’re hooked up to mains power and while you’re off the grid. We look at what you need to run a CPAP machine and how much power it may use.


We also review some commonly held beliefs about the extra equipment you need, like an inverter, solar panel and portable backup battery — and determine whether they stack up.


Finally, we outline how to set up a CPAP machine in your motorhome and offer some top tips for using one during your RV travels.



How a CPAP machine can help you sleep

Using a CPAP machine with access to mains power

Running a CPAP machine while off-the-grid

Calculating the power requirements of a CPAP machine

Backup power to freedom camp for longer

Considering a travel CPAP machine

Does your CPAP machine need an inverter?

Utilising a portable battery

Using two CPAP machines at the same time

Setting up a CPAP machine in your motorhome

Top tips for preparing to travel with a CPAP machine



If you need to use a CPAP machine while sleeping, you’re probably familiar with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and how it can interrupt your sleeping pattern.


The snoring-silence-snort-snoring cycle of OSA occurs up to 40 times per hour. It can have a significant impact on your health — such as increased chances of high blood pressure and stroke.


Then, there’s the potential damage to your relationships. If you’re sharing a bed with your partner, and you suffer from OSA, imagine listening to a cracked record playing a loud foghorn on an endless loop. That’s more or less the sound your partner will be enjoying.




How a CPAP machine can help you sleep


CPAP machines assist people with respiratory issues like OSA in getting restful sleep. They’re like mini-leaf blowers that blow air into the airway to prevent it from blocking.


If you regularly use a CPAP machine at home, or you’re considering getting one, the good news is that you can also use it in your motorhome. 


Even when you’re parked independently away from a mains hookup, you can still easily power your CPAP machine overnight.




Using a CPAP machine with access to mains power

Access to 240v main power


The easiest way to use a CPAP machine in your motorhome is when you’re connected to mains power at a holiday park or commercial campground. Simply:


  1. Park up your motorhome on your allotted site
  2. Connect your power cable to the power outlet
  3. Set up your CPAP machine as you usually would
  4. Plug your machine into one of your onboard sockets
  5. Enjoy a comfortable night’s sleep.

While using mains power, you won’t have to worry about complicated setups or alternative power sources.


Find out more about how motorhome power works.




Running a CPAP machine while off-the-grid

Camping off-the-grid


If you intend to motorhome in the backcountry, you’ll need to carefully plan how you’re going to source enough power to reliably run a CPAP machine each night.


Some brand-new motorhomes can run CPAP machines all night when off the grid. They use the onboard 12 volt (V) battery storage and an inverter to convert the stored power into 240V.


Connecting your CPAP machine to your motorhome’s inverter while freedom camping will harness the power of your house batteries. However, to avoid running your batteries too low, only one CPAP machine should be used at a time.


After one night camping off-the-grid, you’ll need to recharge your house batteries by:


  • Driving for at least a few hours — to your next destination
  • Staying at a commercial campground — where you can plug into mains power.


Find out more about 12V batteries and motorhome power.



The power of an inverter


Motorhome house batteries alone won’t solve the power issue of using a CPAP machine while off-grid. You’ll also need an inverter onboard.

An inverter is necessary for converting the 12V direct current (DC) from your battery into the 240V alternating current (AC) that your CPAP machine will likely need.

Be sure to choose a high-quality inverter that will handle your CPAP machine's power demands.




Calculating the power requirements of a CPAP machine


Most CPAP machines use motors that produce between 30 and 60 watts (W) of power — although models with a humidifier have a higher wattage.


The 30W variety will draw roughly 2.7 amps (A) of current from your battery every hour. The more powerful 60W devices will take about 5.5A.


Let’s assume you go motorhome freedom camping with your CPAP machine and you:


  • Travel with twin 95Ah absorbent glass mat (AGM) house batteries
  • Average eight hours of sleep per night
  • Have an inverter onboard — which runs on ten percent of the total battery drain.


Total overnight battery drain (A) from your CPAP machine


30W CPAP machine

60W CPAP machine

Hours of sleep per night



Battery drain per hour (A)






Power to run the inverter (A)



Total overnight battery drain (A)





Will you have enough power?


Looking further into our assumptions, the AGM house batteries can safely discharge up to 50 percent of their total capacity — without getting damaged or significantly reducing their lifespan. This means that you potentially have a total of 95A of stored current available to use.


The 30W CPAP machine will use 23.76A battery power overnight — leaving 71.24A still available.


The 60W CPAP machine will use 48.4A battery power with 46.6A remaining in the morning.


We can therefore determine that both machines leave enough battery power available for other demands, like your:


  • Fridge — which may average around 2.8A overnight
  • TV — using about 1.5A over an hour or two.


Learn all about charging a motorhome battery.




Our VW Grand California doesn't have much battery storage at 95Ah. However, there’s enough to operate the fridge, run the CPAP and wake up to a battery at 50 percent charge.

If it’s a sunny morning, the 100W solar panel will fully charge the battery by 10am — so we can enjoy another night of freedom camping at that site.


Paul Owen — Award-winning motoring journalist



Backup power to freedom camp for longer


Your motorhome will either have a single house battery or dual batteries. Ideally, you’ll want them to be deep-cycle 12V batteries — capable of powering your CPAP machine all night.


Charging a motorhome with Solar Panel


But what about when you want to freedom camp off-the-grid for multiple nights? You’ll need a source of backup power, such as:


  • Solar panels — which offer a sustainable way of creating energy to use for recharging your battery during the day
  • A generator — a quiet and efficient generator can give your CPAP machine the backup power it needs if your battery gets low
  • Power banks — ones that are specifically designed for CPAP machines.


Depending on how many consecutive nights you plan to stay off-grid, you may need one or more of these additional items.


A solar example


Bürstner’s Lyseo Harmony Line models come with a 100W solar panel fitted at the factory. It will top up the motorhome’s pair of linked 95 amp hour (Ah) leisure batteries during the day which is important if you haven’t done much driving.


By nighttime, the 1000W inverter will be able to power up the 240V sockets in the cabin — if you don’t have access to mains power. It’s a system that’s robust enough to:


Keep your CPAP machine running, and

Charge your device — or power the TV and the fridge simultaneously.



Upgrading to a lithium battery


Many new motorhomes and campervans come equipped with a solar panel that can store 100W and an AGM reserve battery with around 100Ah capacity.


You’ll easily upgrade your off-grid power by adding a 1000W inverter and swapping the 100Ah AGM unit for a lithium-ion battery. This will ensure that your CPAP machine can be used for longer periods of freedom camping in your motorhome.


A HYMER motorhome battery panel


Lithium-ion batteries can be safely discharged to 20 percent of their total capacity. As a result, you’ll have a usable reservoir totalling 80A of stored current in a 100Ah unit — rather than the 50A in an equivalent AGM battery.


A bonus is that lithium-ion batteries can sustain four times the number of discharge and recharge cycles than AGM types.


Discover how you can freedom camp for longer with lithium batteries.



Considering a travel CPAP machine


Your home CPAP machine may not be the most suitable for coming on vacation. It may weigh too much and take up too much space — plus its power requirements may be more than your house batteries can handle while you’re off-grid.


Is it worth buying a new CPAP machine specifically designed for travel?


CPAP machines come in different shapes and sizes. Some models are intended for travel — as they pack away more compactly, have smaller lighter motors, and use slimline hoses and masks.


Travel CPAP machine


These types will draw less power from your motorhome battery as they almost universally use 30W motors and mostly don’t have humidifiers. A humidifier makes CPAP use slightly more comfortable as it keeps the air that circulates inside your airway, moist.


If your motorhome doesn’t have an onboard electrical system that can power a heavier larger 60W machine with a humidifier, one of these simpler CPAP models could work with your motorhome’s existing 12V network.


The only real drawback is that they’re quite expensive — usually costing as much as home bedside models, which are user-friendly and more sophisticated and offer more tech for your dollar.


Investing in a new travel CPAP machine may come down to whether you prefer to spend multiple days off-the-grid. However, you’ll need to be able to source more energy via a solar panel system or portable battery power banks.



Space inside a recreational vehicle is always at a premium. The compact design of a simpler travel CPAP machine is an ideal alternative to constantly reinstalling your home CPAP device in your motorhome before you go touring.


Paul Owen



Does your CPAP machine need an inverter?


Many CPAP manufacturers offer DC to DC converters for their machines, which convert a source of direct current from one voltage to another. This allows your CPAP machine to be powered directly from a deep-cycle 12V battery — negating the need for an inverter.


An inverter plug point


CPAP makers have information on their websites showing the minimum sizes of deep-cycle batteries needed to power their models, accounting for:


  • The size of the tubing that connects the machine to the user, and
  • The preferred humidifier and air pressure settings.


For example, the AirSense 10 range from ResMed requires a battery with at least 50Ah of current — when used with slimline tubing at the highest pressure setting and the humidifier set to four.


The same machine with ClimateLine tubing at 30 degrees Celsius and the humidifier set to eight needs at least a 68Ah battery — when using the CPAP at its highest pressure.


Like many CPAP machines, the AirSense 10 runs on 24V DC power — and the DC to DC converter doubles the voltage of the current supplied by your motorhome battery. This seems like a more practical solution than inverting 12V of direct current into 240V alternating current — then, converting it back to 24V direct current.


Installing a solar panel and an inverter can be pricey. A couple of cost-effective solutions might involve:


  • Hiring an auto electrician to install a bayonet plug into your motorhome’s 12V network — near the side of your main bed
  • Utilising an adapter lead from a USB port — to connect the DC to DC converter.


Ultimately, whether you need an inverter depends on the power requirements of your CPAP machine and the electrical system in your motorhome.


You won’t need an inverter if your CPAP machine is designed to operate directly on 12V DC power. You will need an inverter if your CPAP machine works on 240V AC power.


Get to know motorhome inverters and how they work.



Never connect your CPAP machine to an automotive battery. These use internal chemistries that are intended for short term shallow-cycle use. The auto battery will quickly degrade and may even catch fire.


Paul Owen



Utilising a portable battery


Operating a large CPAP machine with its comfort-enhancing humidifier will draw as much power out of your motorhome battery reserves as running a second fridge.


Extended periods of freedom camping may include nights when there isn’t enough juice left to run your CPAP machine. The solution is to give your motorhome’s batteries the night off CPAP duty by running your machine on a portable lithium-ion battery instead.


The AirSense 10 is compatible with the Power Station II Battery Pack from ResMed, which:


  • Can deliver 3.75A of current for your CPAP machine
  • Weighs less than one kilogram
  • Is the same size as a slim paperback book.


If your CPAP is configured for economic power usage, the portable battery will allow the machine to run for eight hours. However, using the auto pressure mode with the humidifier on a high setting will drop the power supply period to six hours.


If those two comfort-enhancing settings are must-haves, you could buy two power station battery packs and connect them together for a complete night’s sleep.




Using two CPAP machines at the same time


If you and your travel companion both require CPAP machines for sleeping, it’s important to know whether you have sufficient battery capacity before venturing into the backcountry.


Consider upgrading to deep-cycle batteries and installing a battery monitoring system to prevent over-discharging and to keep track of how much charge you have.


Look at how your CPAP machines may be able to save power — by setting them to a lower pressure, choosing a battery-saving mode and switching off any unnecessary features. 


Invest in a backup energy source like a portable power bank and consider whether you need a solar system.




Setting up a CPAP machine in your motorhome

CPAP machine


After ensuring you have all the necessary equipment to address sleep apnea while on the road, it’s time to set up your CPAP machine — to be ready for motorhome travel. Go over the following steps.


  1. Prepare space by your sleeping area for the CPAP machine — then connect it to an internal power outlet.
  2. Attach your CPAP hose and mask to the machine — ensuring the connections are well-sealed to prevent air leaks.
  3. Test your mask until it fits comfortably.
  4. Turn on your CPAP machine — adjusting the settings to suit.
  5. Lie down in a comfortable position — checking that the CPAP hose has clear airflow without any kinks or twists.
  6. Take a test nap to ensure your CPAP machine works as you need.


Reduce condensation and increase comfort 


Consider packing a CPAP hose cover with all your CPAP equipment, as it will help:


Cut down on condensation build-up inside the hose

Ensure that the air you’re breathing stays warm

Keep the air that circulates moist — if you don’t want to use a CPAP humidifier because of the additional power required.





Top tips for preparing to travel with a CPAP machine


Before you take your motorhome or campervan on the road with your CPAP machine, be sure to:


  • Check that your inverter is compatible — with enough power to run your CPAP machine
  • Fully charge your motorhome batteries — so they’re ready to power the CPAP machine on your first night
  • Invest in solar power or a portable battery power bank — if you believe you’ll need a backup power source
  • Adjust your CPAP machine’s altitude setting — if you’re intending to travel to a higher elevation
  • Pack extra mask cushions and filters.


When you’re camped in the backcountry and dawn arrives, you’ll rise with a spring in your step after a good night’s rest with the help of your CPAP machine. Even better, the rest of your family will too.


Charging a motorhome at a campsite



Check out our buyers’ guide to motorhome bed types and layouts.



Paul Owen uses an AirSense 10 Autoset and a pair of Power Station II batteries regularly on trips in his motorhome. CPAP machines and accessories from other manufacturers are potentially just as capable of providing similar satisfaction and service.


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