If you or someone in your home is at an elevated risk of cardiac arrest, you’ll want to have an automated external defibrillator (AED) close at hand. When AED treatment is quickly administered along with CPR, a patient’s odds of survival can more than double.
Most AEDs are designed with the layperson in mind, but certain features are especially important for home use. For example, ease of use is paramount as most civilians don’t have medical training; the best home AED should provide not only defibrillation coaching but also CPR coaching.
Price is another important factor, as you may not be able to invest as much money as a CEO seeking a portable defibrillator for the office.
Additionally, you want a compact home defibrillator device that doesn’t take up a lot of space. Because AEDs provide alerts for issues like low battery and functional errors, the device should be visible at all times—i.e. on public display. You don’t want to dig for it in an emergency and suddenly discover that the device isn’t operational. Having a compact model means that you can keep it out in the open without the AED drawing a lot of unwanted attention to itself.
The good news is that there are a number of automated external defibrillators that satisfy all of these requirements and more.
Top Home AED #1: Philips HeartStart OnSite
The Philips HeartStart OnSite AED is one of the best home AED models available. It is one of the easiest portable defibrillators to use, and the 8-year manufacturer’s warranty makes it an excellent investment. Philips is a world-renowned medical device innovator, and the OnSite is one of their most user-friendly defibrillators.
Why This AED is Ideal for the Home
The ease of use is unparalleled. Just pull the green tab and let the OnSite guide you step by step, beginning with coaching you through pulling out and applying the defibrillator pads and talking you through their placement on the patient. The CPR guidance includes a metronome so you know the precise pace for delivering chest compressions, and instructions for rescue breathing are provided as well. The AED and pads are both designed with clear diagrams for pad placement, so there’s no guesswork on your part.
The pads come pre-installed, so you don’t even have to connect anything to the defibrillator. If you want to prepare yourself for a potential emergency situation, you can purchase an OnSite training cartridge and run through the process without actually delivering a shock.
If you have children in the home, you can also purchase a set of OnSite child pads. These types of pads should always be used on patients under 8 years old and 55 pounds. Only use adult pads in an emergency if child pads are unavailable.
The Onsite is compact and weighs just 3.3 pounds with the cartridge and battery installed. Best of all, it’s available for under $1,300, making it one of the most cost-effective AEDs from a major, FDA-approved manufacturer.
The included SMART Pads set the OnSite apart from other AEDs. The intuitive pads automatically detect when they’ve been placed on the patient’s chest, and the OnSite’s coaching is optimized based on signals provided by the pads. The pads can determine if CPR is being performed and at what pace, and they automatically determine whether a shockable rhythm is present. It’s like having a medically trained coach on the scene with you.
Top Home AED #2: Samaritan PAD 360P
The HeartSine PAD 360P is another AED device that’s great for home use. It is intuitive, affordable, and lightweight. The Samaritan PAD series includes three popular AEDs: the 350P, the 450P, and the aforementioned 360P. All three are excellent portable defibrillators, but we recommend the 360P for home use because it’s more affordable than 450P and slightly more user-friendly than the 350P.
Why This AED is Ideal for the Home
The 350P and 360P are nearly identical, but the 360P is fully automatic. In other words, you don’t have to make the decision to administer shock if an emergency occurs. The AED automatically searches for a shockable rhythm and treats the patient accordingly. The device is even capable of detecting motion and determining if someone is touching the patient, which is important as shock should never be delivered while someone’s hands are on the patient.
Much like the OnSite, the 360P provides audible coaching throughout the entire process, including CPR. The on-screen display provides real-time visual assistance to aid you in applying the pads and administering chest compressions. When a shock is required, the device will alert you to stand clear of the patient.
At just 2.4 pounds and measuring just 8 x 7.25 x 1.9 inches, the 360P is among the lightest AEDs available. It hardly takes up any space at all, but don’t let the size fool you; it meets military standards for shock and vibration protection. And with an IP56 rating, it boasts a high level of protection against dust and water.
When it comes to cost, the 360P is still on the low end of the price scale for advanced AEDs. You can buy it for $1,395 with an industry-leading 10-year manufacturer’s warranty. For $100 less, you can opt for the 350P, which has the same construction and most of the same features—but the key difference is that you’ll be required to administer shock when instructed.
One nice feature is the Pad-Pak, a cartridge that contains your battery and your pads. Pads and batteries usually expire separately and require individual replacement. But with the Pad-Pak, you only have to keep track of one expiration date and replace one component. Child’s Pad-Paks are also available.
Top Home AED #3: Defibtech Lifeline
The Defibtech Lifeline AED is easily one of the best AED models for home use. It’s designed to bridge the gap between the layperson and the emergency professional, offering guidance that’s easy to follow as well as enhanced features for more experienced users. There are four models in the series, but the original Lifeline AED machine remains the most cost-effective and easiest to operate.
Why This AED is Ideal for the Home
The two-button operation ensures maximum simplicity. Just hit the green “On” button to get started, and the Lifeline will coach you through the process until emergency services arrive. If prompted, you’ll need to press the red “Shock” button to administer shock to an unconscious patient. Thankfully, the intuitive biphasic technology analyzes the patient to determine if shock is needed. The AED will alert you if and when you need to press the “Shock” button. If you want fully automatic capabilities, you can purchase an upgraded device for just $50 more.
For even more clarity, the device contains three indicator lights that provide important alerts. If you need to check your pads, stand clear of the patient, or wait for analysis completion, the appropriate indicator light will notify you.
For more advanced users, this device includes a data card that holds up to 100 minutes of audio and ECG information. The device actually records all cardiovascular activity and provides detailed readings of the patient’s heart rhythms. Even if you’re not a medical professional yourself, you can provide this data to emergency responders when they arrive.
The Lifeline weighs just 4.2 pounds and measures 8.5 x 11.8 x 2.7 inches. Best of all, it costs just $1,295 for the standard semi-automatic model. It also includes a long-lasting battery that’s capable of functioning for a full five years. So you can set your home AED aside and know that it will be emergency-ready when you need it.
The biphasic waveform technology uses state-of-the-art algorithms to detect ventricular fibrillation, the most common cause of sudden cardiac arrest. By detecting this type of heart abnormality, the device is able to customize treatment and reduce the odds of requiring multiple shocks. As a result, the patient has a higher chance of survival. If you’re purchasing an AED for someone with a history of ventricular fibrillation, this is the ideal model to purchase.
Choosing the Right Home AED for Your Needs
Each of these automated external defibrillators is excellent for home use, but choosing the right model will ultimately boil down to your personal preferences.
- Go with the Philips OnSite if you seek ease of use coupled with the lowest price point.
- Go with the HeartStart Samaritan PAD 360P if size and simplicity are your top concerns.
- Go with the Defibtech Lifeline if you’re looking for more advanced features or you’re purchasing on behalf of someone with a history of ventricular fibrillation.
No matter which home AED machine you choose, you’ll be one step closer to saving a life in the event that a sudden cardiac arrest occurs in your home.