How to Choose a Pulse Oximeter for Home or Professional Use

Knowing how to choose a pulse oximeter for home or professional use is essential to quickly and effectively monitor heart rate and oxygen saturation levels.

A high-quality pulse oximeter ensures accurate and consistent readings.

It also allows you to make an informed buying decision, purchasing a device with the needed features.

This section covers various use cases for pulse oximeters and breaks down which devices are best for each situation.

At-Home Use

Most individuals purchasing an oximetry device want a reasonably priced model for at-home or recreational use.

Buyers can pay around $25 – $50 for a conventional finger pulse oximeter with standard monitoring and tracking features.

Finger pulse oximeters are excellent for performing standard assessments and periodic monitoring, especially if you’re on a budget.

High-end devices range from around $50 – $500 for those who want additional features and functionality.

These devices might include dedicated sleep trackers and health trackers like Garmin’s Vivosmart, the Fitbit Versa, or the Apple Watch.

The most important factors for choosing a pulse oximeter (regardless of design and features) are accuracy and consistency.

Without an accurate device, none of the other factors matter.

Sleep Tracking

Choose a high-quality pulse oximeter with continuous monitoring if you require a device for sleep tracking.

It’s essential for maintaining an accurate and consistent reading throughout the night.

Your sleep device should store a minimum of 30 days (preferably more) of your vital history.

Today, most sleep monitors can connect to smartphones to provide a historical sleep record.
These devices can easily store months or years of data. Your sleep tracker should also feature a rechargeable battery that can remain powered throughout your sleep cycle.

Most home-use sleep trackers are wrist monitors and health trackers.

It’s due to the device’s need for continuous, uninterrupted contact.

If the device uses a finger probe, ensure it is durable and has adequate wire length.

It will help you maintain a consistent connection when you move around in your sleep.

A device that struggles to stay connected will have issues sustaining a reliable reading.

The sleep monitor should have features and settings designed explicitly for sleep tracking.

It allows you to customize your sleep tracking and minimize insufficient and inconsistent readings.

If the device does not mention sleep monitoring, assume it will not provide adequate sleep-tracking performance.

Even if you can maintain a constant connection, it is unlikely that your readings will be reliable.

Sleep trackers are not a replacement or substitute for medical advice.

If you use an oximetry device for sleep monitoring, choose one with a proven track record for accuracy and performance.

Any disturbances in sleep monitoring can throw off an accurate reading.

Athletic Use

Choosing the correct pulse oximeter for athletic purposes will depend on the specific information you are interested in tracking.

A finger pulse oximeter may be fine for light exercise and recreational activities to measure blood oxygen levels and pulse rate.

High-level athletes prefer a device with constant monitoring, visual graphs, and historical tracking.

High-end models also offer improved technology for better accuracy and faster response times.

It can be invaluable for athletes that want to understand their recovery process and make better health decisions.

Continuous tracking features can help athletes understand how long their vitals take to return to normal after an intense workout.

This data is critical in situations where every second counts.

Finally, factors such as sweat and oximetry variation can impact overall performance.

Some devices account for this by remaining close to the skin and using high-quality tracking technology.

Popular devices include Garmin’s fitness tracker, Fitbit’s health tracker, and the Apple Watch.


When purchasing an infant pulse oximeter (beyond accuracy and consistency), the most important thing you need to consider is a reliable infant probe or wrap.

Due to their small size, these devices use tiny probes and wraps designed to accommodate infants.

Infant probes and wraps are commonly used on or around an infant’s fingers, toes, or feet, depending on the situation.

Probes and wraps should not restrict the child’s movement or blood flow in any harmful way.

Before purchasing an infant-friendly device, ensure that the device has numerous built-in safety components to protect the child.

The probes attach to a machine or a handheld pulse oximetry device in most cases.

It’s because devices such as a standard finger pulse or wrist oximeter are too large and restricting for instants.

Performing home health assessments on infants is not a substitute for professional monitoring, diagnosis, or treatment.

A licensed medical professional should perform medical testing to ensure an accurate assessment.

Pulse oximetry devices can be an essential early monitoring tool for various health issues.

If any concerns arise while using the device, you can seek medical treatment from a healthcare professional.

Any device that can give us insights into our vital health can guide us to a healthier and more informed lifestyle.


Pediatric pulse oximeters come in several designs.

The most common ones include finger pulse oximeters and handheld or machined oximetry devices.

Kid-friendly finger pulse oximeters are identical to those used by adults.

However, they’re smaller to accommodate children’s fingers.

Handheld or machined oximetry devices come with kid-friendly finger probes or wraps.

Pediatric units perform the same health monitoring functions as adult oximetry devices.

However, their modified size allows them ty monitor children’s vital signs accurately s with tiny fingers and limbs.

It’s essential because adult pulse oximeters require a large surface area.

Adult oximetry devices may not obtain accurate readings on individuals with small features.

Using an adult pulse oximeter can lead to inaccurate assessments, poor signal strength, and other issues.

If you plan on buying a pediatric pulse oximeter, determine the proper age range of the device.

It ensures better performance, so you get the most accurate readings possible.

Those using a pulse oximeter exclusively for infants or small children should choose a device to accommodate their needs.

Purchase a medical-grade pulse oximeter for the best results, as these devices have the best accuracy and performance.

Remember, home oximetry devices do not diagnose medical conditions. Seek out a pediatric specialist if you have any medical concerns.

Nurses and Healthcare Providers

The best pulse oximeters for a nurse vary depending on the nurse’s profession.

For nurses performing limited physical assessments in non-critical care settings, a reliable finger pulse oximeter or handheld device may be suitable.

These devices are a non-invasive and inexpensive way for healthcare providers to monitor pulse rate and oxygen saturation levels.

As a result, they are an essential part of a basic assessment for patients in stable condition.

Nurses who work with patients in severe conditions may require a hospital-grade pulse oximetry device.

Hospital-grade pulse oximeters include handheld devices, tabletop machines, or mobile units.

These devices provide highly accurate, continuous (24/7) monitoring during various stages of care.

Maintaining an accurate reading is crucial regardless of a patient’s condition.

Nurses use Hospital-grade pulse oximeters:

  • During or after surgery
  • While on anesthesia
  • During medication use
  • While undergoing recovery
  • In a critical care setting
  • In neonatal care
  • While being treated for various heart or lung conditions

And a variety of other medical situations that require continuous vital monitoring.

Hospital-grade pulse oximeters may provide features that extend well beyond a consumer-grade device’s capabilities.

When working as a nurse, seek your department head, colleagues, and the Human Resources department’s advice.

They can provide the appropriate pulse oximetry device for your given situation.

It ensures you provide the best patient care possible.