The 4 Best Portable Defibrillators in 2019

Automated External Portable Defibrillator or AED for sale

If you look around you'll see them everywhere. They usually hang on the walls in airports, lobbies, schools, and other public places, but automated external defibrillators (AEDs) are becoming more and more prevalent in people's homes, cars, and offices.

Thanks to some companies pushing the envelope to make defibrillators safer and easier to use, they are now available over the counter without a prescription.

Contents

What is a Portable Defibrillator?

Portable defibrillators, also known as automated external defibrillators or AEDs, are devices meant for quick and simple treatment of sudden cardiac arrest. Portable defibrillators can shock an erratic heart back to a regular rhythm.

AEDs can be used by bystanders before medical professionals arrive, though AED training is recommended before use.

Buying a Portable Defibrillator

Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) kills more people than traffic accidents, handguns, house fires, prostate cancer, breast cancer, and AIDS combined, about 350,000 per year.

It can happen to seemingly healthy people, but those with coronary heart disease and the elderly are at high risk. A family history of arrhythmias or heart related problems can also indicate higher risk.

While portable defibrillators have been conclusively shown to save lives, keeping one at home will far from guarantee a positive outcome after an SCA.

Although SCAs can happen anytime, anywhere, 75% of them occur at home[2]. Therefore portable defibrillators for those at high risk should save lives, but it’s not quite that simple.

AED Considerations

Cardiac Science aed at an airport in South AmericaPortable defibrillators are very efficient in high traffic areas such as airports.
  1. AEDs cannot be used by the person in cardiac arrest, so there must be another person nearby to see it happen. SCAs aren’t a common occurrence and may not happen to everyone who is at high risk, so it’s usually impractical to keep tabs on a high risk family member 24/7, especially considering at least 6-8 hours of each day are spent sleeping. In fact less than half of SCAs at home are witnessed[2].
  2. When an AED isn’t kept at home and the first shock comes from arriving paramedics, the victim’s chance of survival is only 2%. One study found the survival rate of SCAs at home increased from 2% to 12% when an AED was kept in the house, but those numbers might not be completely accurate because the study didn’t have enough participants to accurately represent the whole population.
  3. SCAs usually happen so fast the person having one cannot notify anyone.
  4. Instead of having portable defibrillators in homes or targeting specific, high-risk patients, AEDs are most efficiently used in high traffic areas. For this reason many public places like airports, schools, and office buildings have defibrillators available in wall-mounted cases.

The bottom line is that portable defibrillators are expensive and only raise your chance of success from terrible to bad, but they do raise your chance of success. Taking a CPR course as a family along with having a portable defibrillator will also improve outcomes. Check out our article on CPR for more information.

Philips Heartstart OnSite/Home Defibrillator

Philips heartstart home defibrillatorThe Phillips Heartstart portable defibrillator: a high quality AED at a reasonable price.
  1. Voice instructions guide you through either adult or infant/child CPR.
  2. Daily automatic self-tests alert you when the defibrillator has a problem.
  3. The AED does not shock the patient by itself. It verifies that a shock is needed, then you push the button.
  4. Comes with a 5-year warranty.
  5. The Infant/Child pads cartridge is sold separately, and only available by prescription.

Specs

  • Weight: 3.3lbs (1.5kg)
  • Dimensions: 9.5˝ (24 cm) x 8.5˝ (21 cm) x 4.8˝ (12 cm)
  • 4 year standby battery life
  • Delivers 200 shocks minimum
  • Shocks within 8 seconds post CPR

Included Items

Philips Onsite AED
  • Defibrillator
  • Red carry case with 911/EMS card
  • Adult SMART Pads cartridge (lasts 2 years)
  • Battery (lasts 4 years)
  • Training video
  • Discount coupons for CPR training at American Heart Association, American Red Cross or Medic First Aid

Pros and Cons

  • Pros: No prescription needed, light weight, inexpensive
  • Cons: No CPR quality feedback

Note: If an AED does require a prescription, it will come with the device, but those that require a prescription are only available through authorized distributors.

Portability

  • Small and light enough to fit easily in a backpack or be carried by the handle.
  • No handle on device but carrying case has handle.
  • Accessories are available for rugged use including a hard waterproof carrying case.

AED Price

The Philips Heartstart Home defibrillator is the cheapest portable defibrillator I have found.

Despite having no functional differences, the Home defibrillator is sometimes offered at a significantly cheaper price compared to the OnSite defibrillator.

The products function exactly the same way; the only difference is their warranties: the warranty of the Philips Home version will only cover malfunctions that happen in the home, while the warranty of the Philips OnSite covers the portable defibrillator anywhere.

Philips Heartstart Business Package

Philips Hearstart AED with Cabinet

If you're buying a portable defibrillator for business, public, or commercial use, Philips offers a packaged bundle that includes everything you need to install a wall mounted kit.

The kit includes a Philips Heartstart Onsite device, a surface-mount alarmed AED cabinet, 3D wall sign, a carry case, CPR mask, AED/CPR responder kit, adult pads, user manual, quick reference card, 5-year warranty, medical prescription, AED inspection tag, and a decal sticker.

Although prices fluctuate, the business package usually adds a lot of value for the price. The wall mount case and the carry case can cost several hundred dollars when purchased separately.

This package also simplifies purchasing if you do not want to hunt down every separate piece you need. If you need a portable defibrillator for public use, follow this link to buy this Philips Hearstart bundle on Amazon.

Cardiac Science G3/G5

A Powerheart G3 AED device inside a cabinetA Cardiac Science Powerheart G3 Automatic.
  1. The G3 costs less but is less customizable and has fewer features than the G5.
  2. Voice instructions guide you through either adult or infant/child CPR.
  3. Daily, weekly, and monthly automatic self-tests alert you when the portable defibrillator has a problem.
  4. This portable AED can shock the patient by itself if the fully automatic option is purchased. Otherwise, it verifies that a shock is needed, then you push the button.
  5. Comes with a 7-year(G3) or 8-year(G5) warranty on the device and a 4-year warranty on the battery.
  6. The Infant/Child pads are sold separately.
Cardiac Science Portable Defibrillator

Specs

  • G3 weight: 6.6lbs (3.1kg) / G5 weight: 5.7lbs (2.6kg)
  • G3 dimensions: 3.3˝ (8 cm) x 12.4˝ (31 cm) x 10.6˝ (27 cm) / G5 dimensions: 3.4˝ (9 cm) x 9.0˝ (23 cm) x 11.8˝ (30 cm)
  • 4 year standby battery life

Included Items

  • Defibrillator
  • IntelliSense battery (9146) (4 year standby life)
  • Adult defibrillator pads (2 year expiration date)
  • Instructional CD and AED Manual
  • Training Video
  • Rescuelink and MDLink
  • Serial communication cable

Disclaimer: Included items may vary depending on the seller.

Pros and Cons

G5 Automatic AED Kit by Cardiac Science
  • Pros: Interchangeable pads
  • Cons: Heavier than some other models

Note: This portable defibrillator comes with a prescription.

Portability

  • Heavier than the lightest models
  • Built in handle on device
  • Accessories are available for rugged use including a hard waterproof carrying case.
  • Water and dust resistant but cannot be submerged

AED Price

Prices may vary based on location and time. To find out the current price, visit the product on Amazon.

The automatic version will be more expensive than the semi-automatic version for both the G3 and the G5.

The G5 costs more because it is more customizeable, has more features, and the warranty is 1 year longer.

Cardiac Science G3 Business Package

The Cardiac Science G3 is now available on Amazon as a bundled package for businesses. It comes with a mountable wall cabinet, a portable carry case, a 3D mountable sign, and a CPR kit. The CPR kit has a razor, gauze, trauma shears, and a 1-way valve mask for rescue breaths.

The G3 comes in two versions. The semi-automatic version requires that someone push a button when the portable defibrillator is ready to shock. The automatic version has no shock button, and it will shock the patient as necessary when it detects a shockable rhythm.

Zoll AED Plus

  1. Voice instructions guide you through either adult or infant/child CPR.
  2. Weekly automatic self-tests alert you when the defibrillator has a problem. Self-tests can be configured to occur every 1-7 days.
  3. This portable defibrillator can shock the patient by itself if the fully automatic option is purchased. Otherwise, it verifies that a shock is needed, then you push the button.
  4. The Infant/Child pads are sold separately
Zoll aed plus

Specs

  • Weight: 6.7lbs (3.1kg)
  • Dimensions: 5.25˝ (13.3 cm) x 9.50˝ (24.1 cm) x 11.50˝ (29.2 cm)
  • 5 year standby battery life
  • Delivers 225 shocks minimum
  • 13 hours of patient monitoring
  • Red X appears when battery is capable of about 9 more shocks

Included Items

  • Defibrillator (7 yr warranty)
  • Adult Pads (lasts 5 years)
  • Battery (lasts 5 years)

Disclaimer: Included items may vary depending on the seller.

Pros and Cons

  • Pros: Provides feedback on CPR quality, long battery and pad life
  • Cons: Heavier than other models

Note: The AED Plus comes with a prescription included in the package

Portability

  • Easy to carry but heavier and bulkier than other models
  • Built in handle
  • Limited accessories available for rugged use

AED Price

The Zoll AED Plus is more expensive than other portable defibrillators, but Zoll boasts a longer battery and pad shelf life than most other brands. This may bring them to be on par with other brands in the long term.

Zoll Accessories

If you already own a Zoll AED Plus, accessories are available including replacement adult pads and batteries.

The Zoll AED plus takes ten, 123a lithium batteries. Although they are sold specifically for the AED Plus in packs of 10, those are more expensive than a generic pack of 12 from a good brand. With the pack of 12, you also have two extras in case there are a couple duds.

Portable Defibrillator Accessories

When purchasing a portable AED you may also consider purchasing several other items that will be useful for a CPR scenario.

CPR training-05

CPR Pocket Mask

The mask has a 1-way valve to provide assisted breathing during CPR. It covers the patient's mouth and nose and provides a barrier to prevent the transfer of body fluids between you and the patient.

A smaller alternative to the pocket mask is a disposable plastic barrier with a 1-way valve. If you already have a portable defibrillator, the pocket mask will fit easily inside the AED case, so size shouldn't be an issue.

The disposable barrier comes in a little pouch that is small enough to fit on a keychain. When giving breaths with the disposable barrier you will need to hold the nose shut as the barrier only covers the mouth.

When providing CPR, having a barrier is a very good idea because patients often vomit due to the pre-existing heart condition that caused the heart attack or during chest compressions from pressure on the stomach.

Pediatric AED Pads

Pedriatic pads for an automated external defibrillator

The AED comes with pads that are sized for adults. Pediatric pads are designed for children under 8 years old or under 55 lbs (25 kg). If you are in a situation where a child has a heart attack and you only have adult pads, an AED CAN still be used.

For small children place the right-shoulder pad on the chest and the left-ribs pad on the back. The AED will decide whether or not to shock the patient.

When paramedics arrive on the scene they will remove the pads and replace them with their own. When using pediatric pads each one will have pictures that show where it goes.

AED Wall Cabinet

It is used to store an AED in a public space or a high traffic area. A wall cabinet keeps the automated external defibrillator visible and readily available at all times. They require an AED location plan for maximum efficiency. For more information, read our article: AED Wall Cabinet Recommendations and Regulations

Nitrile Gloves

Often times the patient will vomit during CPR. If something is stuck inside their mouth the first responder needs to swipe it out. The point is, gloves will protect you and the patient from exchanging body fluids.

Frequently Asked Questions about AEDs

Can a portable defibrillator kill you?

Death from a defibrillator shock is extremely unlikely, since they are designed to only deliver a shock when required. However, a direct shock to a healthy person can disrupt a normal heartbeat and lead to sudden death. This is one reason that nobody should be touching the patient when a shock is delivered. Automatic External Defibrillators (AEDs) will not shock if it’s not needed.

When should you use a defibrillator?

Portable defibrillators are meant to treat sudden cardiac arrest. To make sure defibrillation is required, check to see if the patient is conscious or not. If the victim is unconscious, check for breathing and heartbeat- no breathing, no pulse, or an irregular heartbeat means that defibrillation should be started as soon as possible. Victims should be treated fewer than 10 minutes after cardiac arrest.

What are the dangers of a defibrillator?

With a portable defibrillator is used, there is a very small risk of mild shock or burns for the AED operator. When used correctly, injury from AEDs is extremely rare. Defibrillators should not be used on healthy people, as they can disrupt regular heartbeats and cause injury.

What is the success rate of a portable defibrillator?

A portable AED becomes less effective the longer you wait after cardiac arrest. Immediate defibrillation is ~100% successful. From 10 to 14 minutes after defibrillation, the chance of success drops from 90% to 50%. Chance of survival is extremely low after 20 minutes.

Can a defibrillator hurt you?

Defibrillator shocks can be painful, but it’s very rare that the patient is conscious to feel the shock.

Should I have a portable defibrillator at home?

75% of cardiac arrests happen at home, so a home AED is definitely a safe choice, but it doesn’t eliminate risk. Sudden cardiac arrest still needs to be witnessed for a portable AED to be effective because AEDs cannot be self-administered. Automatic external defibrillators are most useful in highly visible public areas.

Do you need a prescription for an AED?

Some portable AEDs require a physician’s prescription, while some can be purchased over the counter - check the product description for details. If a prescription is needed it will come with the AED; your own doctor does not need to give you one. Even without prescriptions, state laws require medical oversight for AED owners (a physician is responsible for training, etc.)

Can anyone use a portable defibrillator?

The American Heart Association cites studies showing that sixth-graders could operate portable defibrillators only 20 seconds slower than trained EMTs - essentially, anyone can use an AED. AED training is still recommended for users.

Do you need training to use a defibrillator?

Bystanders can easily operate a portable AED without training. AEDs are ideally used by medical professionals, but bystanders can step in before EMTs arrive and increase the chance of survival.

What does it feel like to be shocked by a defibrillator?

A defibrillator shock is not pleasant - it’s often described as a bomb going off, or a strong kick to the chest. The shock is only felt if the patient is conscious.

Is there a difference between a pacemaker and a portable defibrillator?

Yes. A pacemaker is implanted inside the body, and delivers small electrical shocks to help maintain a regular heartbeat.

The most well-known type of defibrillator is the AED, which operates outside of the body. However, some types of defibrillators can also be implanted inside the body- these are known as ICDs. They are different from pacemakers because they can also deliver large electrical shocks to help treat sudden cardiac arrest.

How much electricity does a defibrillator deliver?

Standard portable defibrillators have a voltage that can range from 150 volts to over 1000. The amount of current discharged depends on the person being treated.

Does a portable defibrillator require maintenance?

AEDs require regular maintenance to make sure they are always ready to operate at a moment’s notice. Common maintenance tasks include replacing dead batteries, changing defibrillator pads (every year), and fixing circuits. The FDA ensures that portable AEDs meet high quality standards, and recalls products if electrical components or software do not work properly.

What are the AED laws?

All US States have Good Samaritan Laws that apply to AED use. Sudden cardiac arrest is often fatal, and bystanders might decide not to intervene because they fear lawsuits. Good Samaritan Laws are meant to protect bystanders in these situations, and encourage them to aid victims. With regards to portable AEDs, bystanders should not have any second thoughts about using this potentially life-saving tool. State laws also require that AEDs are available in any and all “public gathering places”.

How often should a portable defibrillator be checked?

  • Most portable defibrillators self-monitor on a daily basis.
  • Monthly inspections are recommended.
  • Replace batteries every four years (or sooner, if user manual recommends)
  • Replace AED pads every one to two years.
  • Automated external defibrillators should be thoroughly checked after use.

Portable Defibrillator Tips

Resuscitace za použití AED (02)
  1. You CAN'T use this on yourself.
  2. A portable defibrillator CAN be used on a pregnant woman. In order to save the baby you have to save the mother.
  3. If a child goes into sudden cardiac arrest and you only have adult defibrillator pads, you SHOULD connect the pads regardless. The AED will decide whether to shock.
  4. When instructing bystanders to call 911 and/or get an AED it’s most effective to point at a single individual. Giving general commands to a crowd makes it confusing who is supposed to go.
  5. The use of an AED is covered under Good Samaritan laws. This means that if you use a portable defibrillator to help someone in good faith, you cannot be held responsible should something go wrong[3].
  6. New research shows that raising the legs during CPR causes increased blood flow to important organs like the brain, increasing the chance of survival[4].

Summary:

  • Portable defibrillators are extremely easy to use
  • The Philips Heartstart OnSite/Home Defibrillator and the Zoll AED Plus are the only non-prescription AEDs
  • The only difference between OnSite and Home defibrillators is the warranty
  • Coronary heart disease, family history, and old age increase risk of sudden cardiac arrest
  • Use CPR in conjunction with AED
  • If sudden cardiac arrest is witnessed, call 911, get AED, start CPR in that order

Additional Resources

  1. How to Place an AED in a Public Space Correctly
  2. Philips AEDs - A Comparison of Philips Defibrillators
  3. How to Choose CPR Dummies for Training Courses
  4. What is a Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA)
  5. What is an AED Defibrillator
  6. How the heart works
  7. Learn CPR
  8. Cardiovascular Resources
  9. Philips Heartstart Home Defibrillator Specifications
  10. Zoll Portable Defibrillator Additional Information
  11. Zoll AED Plus Battery Specs
  12. G3 Portable Defibrillator Specs
  13. G5 Full Technical Specifications

References

  1. U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration (2001). "Cardiac arrest a automated external defibrillators (AEDs)". OSHA Publication No. TIB 01-12-17.
  2. Bardy, Gust H., et al. "Home use of automated external defibrillators for sudden cardiac arrest." New England Journal of Medicine 358.17 (2008): 1793-1804.
  3. https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/42/238q
  4. Zhang, Yanru et al. "Not Bad: Passive Leg Raising In Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation-A New Modeling Study". Frontiers in Physiology 7 (2017): n. pag. Web. 14 Jan. 2017.

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Comments

use of AED

Can an AED be used in a pool area where the victim and / or the rescuer may be wet as the cement beneath them
What is known about Summit brand AED's?

Use of AED

Ruth,

AEDs are safe for use in wet conditions such as snow, rain, by the pool etc. In a wet environment, the rescuer or close bystanders may feel a slight tingle or sensation, but it is not enough to be dangerous as long as nobody touches the patient during the shock [1].  The real problem with the patient being in a wet environment is that the water will disperse the electricity across the patient's skin making it less effective [2].

When using an AED in a wet environment, pull the patient to the driest convenient place, and dry them off as much as possible. If they are lying in a small pool of water or in the snow, it is safe to use the AED without moving them [2].

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12879378

[2] https://www.nationalcprassociation.com/cpr-aed-study-guide-part-2/

Summit AED

Ruth,

I have never heard of Summit AEDs and couldn't find them online either. Do you have a link to their website, or could you provide some information on whom to contact about them?

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