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April 28 2013 The Humble Wye Connector

Posted Apr 29 2013 4:54am
The Humble Wye Connector(or, Making Big Ones Out of Little Ones)

  byLucius B. Day, Jr.

           One of the most useful oxygen fittings that hardly ever “gets any respect” is the humble little Wye (or “Y”) connector.   I don’t think anyone ever told us about it and I doubt that we read about it, but my wife hadn’t been on oxygen very long before I began thinking it would be useful to be able to Y-connectany two , or more, continuous flow oxygen sources[compressed O2,   liquid O2, or the concentrator flow] together. . 


  Some would ask, “Why on earth would you want to do that?”   My short answer is to “To make big ones out of little ones”.   I’ll give you three examples.   Maybe these examples and the included pictures will you some ideas for other uses of the Humble Wye Connector. 


   Greater Flow.  Suppose you have a concentrator that would provide a maximum of only 5 Lpm and you really need 7 Lpm for exercise and your provider can’t get you a high flow concentrator right away.  Solution: Y‑connect your concentrator (set to 5 Lpm) and an E-tank of compressed oxygen ((with a continuous flow regulator) set to 2 Lpm).   Five plus two; there you have 7 Liters per minute.   In this way, you can add the flow of any number of continuous flow oxygen sources.   Or, you could Y-connect two low flow concentrators to get double the flow of one.   Or, you could Y-connect two low flow (6 Lpm) LOX constant flow portables to get a total flow of 12 Lpm  


           Longer Duration.  Suppose you need 3.0 Lpm for sleeping eight hours in a hotel.   You have a travel reservoir of liquid oxygen in your car, but don’t want to carry it in.   You have two continuous flow portables (Companion or Stroller), but each of them will last only a little over 5.0 hours on 3.0 Lpm.  Solution:  Y-connect the two portables together and set each for half the flow you need and the pair will last twice as long.   In this case two units each set for 1.5 Lpm and Y-connected together will provide a total flow of 3.0 Lpm for over 10 hours.   You don’t have to stop with two tanks.   You can connect three or four together this way, for much longer duration without changing hoses. [Y combine E tanks together for longer duration too].        


    Save the Evaporation: This idea is “pretty far-out”, but it works.   Suppose you have three liquid reservoirs and your supplier comes only once a month and most of the time you are breathing from a hose connected directly to one reservoir at a time.   When it runs out you switch to the next one, etc. While you are using up the first tank, the other two are venting perfectly good oxygen to the atmosphere at the rate of about 1.5 lbs (of liquid) per day.   (That’s called NER (Normal Evaporation Rate) in the specifications.) This is approximately equal to ¼ liter per minute (of gaseous flow).   

 By the time you get around to using the third tank it has vented a considerable amount to the atmosphere. However, if you are using as little as ¼ to ½ Lpm from a liquid oxygen source, it will probably never have a chance to vent.     Instead of wasting it, you can Y-connect all three tanks together and adjust the controls so that each tank supplies at least ¼ Lpm and the combination adds up to the flow you need.   That way you keep two of them from venting while you are using up the first tank.  


When the first one runs out, you turn up the flow on the second one and so forth until refill time.   Then you start over.   It takes two Y-connectors and some short extensions to “gang” three tanks together.   (If you do this sort of thing, it is a very good idea to keep a flow meter or “liter-meter” in the line to measure and monitor flow rate and not depend upon the selector settings.)(rev. 4-28-13) 


Always check with your medical team or oxygen supplier to decide if this would be appropriate for you.   Ask your doctor to prescribe a higher flow rate for you for exercise and they need to give it to your oxygen provider.   Provider/suppliers need this to give you what you need. 

  more oxygen for harder exertion & exercise  = maintain good O2 sats














Guage shows oxygen delivered with two Liquid oxygen tanks y combined/connected to provide higher flow for higher oxygen needs for hard exertion. 

 "Lyn" (Roxlyn G. Cole) Littleton, CO
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