When it comes to finding a Home AED defibrillator, there are two extremely important things to consider. The first is whether the defibrillator is of sound quality, and the other is how to use a defibrillator correctly.
It could be life or death!
So, in our guide to the top 5 HeartStart Home AED Defibrillators, we’ve included 3 critically important things you should NEVER ignore, plus some essential tips from the FDA and Red Cross.
Keep reading to learn how to save a life with the best HeartStart defibrillators available in 2020.
3 Things NEVER to Ignore with Home AED Defibrillators
You’ve made the wise decision to buy an AED defibrillator, but unless you check these 3 things you may have made a mistake.
1. Check the device approvals
First of all, you should check that any at-home defibrillators you use are approved by the FDA. That means that the AED has been genuinely tested by the FDA and approved for use. They have a handy table with all the approved models listed at the end of their AED guide.
To purchase and use some AED devices, the manufacturers require further approvals from you. This might be a certificate to say you can operate the AED, depending on the type of AED you buy. Most of the consumer-operated AEDs are designed for complete beginners, so you don’t need to worry about this (see our top AED for untrained people below).
2. CPR training is essential
If you start CPR immediately after a cardiac arrest, you can double their chance of survival!
Use CPR when the person stops breathing and their heart stops beating. Your first action should be to call 911, start CPR (911 operators can guide you with this), and locate your AED defibrillator.
Even when you have an AED to hand, you should still be doing CPR compressions immediately before and after each shock. WebMD gives you an idea of how CPR and AED are used together.
But for the best preparation, you should…
3. Learn how to use your AED
Several of the best HeartStart Home AED Defibrillators on our list will guide you through how to operate the machine in real-time, with voice commands and a visual display. But in the moment, it can be hard trying to focus instead of panicking.
That’s why we recommend regularly reading the instructions, so you know what order to follow the steps in. If you aren’t provided with an instruction sheet when you go on your AED course (more details below), then print off this page from the Red Cross and pin it up next to the AED, so you read it every time you pass the machine.
How to Correctly Use an AED?
When you first get your AED, you should sign up for classes. The Red Cross has AED training classes in over 500 locations across the USA, and you can also take the class online, so you don’t even need to leave your home.
The main steps to using an AED are:
- Turn on the AED,
- Open/remove the persons shirt and wipe it clean,
- Attach AED pads and ensure no one is touching the person,
- Press the shock button as directed by the AED,
- Begin CPR and follow any further directions from the AED.
Taking a training course ensures you know how to do each step correctly. It will give you the confidence to use your AED to save a life – and don’t forget that the 911 operators can help guide you through using the AED and performing CPR, so don’t ever forget to call them!
Once you know how to use an AED and have your certificate from the Red Cross, you can even save lives in public, as there are AEDs located in airports, grocery stores, shopping malls and many other public places.
The 5 Best At-Home AEDs
When selecting the 5 best HeartStart home AED defibrillators, we checked them against criteria to make sure they really are the best.
- Brand – is the brand well-know and reliable? When people’s lives are at stake, you don’t want to buy a cheap AED from an unknown brand! This also applies to FDA approval. We only selected brands that have AEDs tested and approved by the FDA.
- Reliability – we thoroughly checked the online reputation and customer reviews of all these AEDs to ensure they won’t break down on you or are prone to malfunctions.
- Ease of use – all AEDs on our list are designed for beginners to use. You don’t need to be a paramedic (although the above-mentioned Red Cross training is certainly advisable) to work them.
- Recommended by healthcare professionals – we asked various professionals from the healthcare industry which AED devices they prefer and recommend to create our list.
Note: All 5 home AED defibrillators on our list have been checked and approved by the FDA. You can check the up-to-date list of approved AED models here. Always look for FDA approval when buying a defibrillator not on our list.
1. Philips HeartStart Home AED Defibrillator
Philips has quite a few AED devices on the market. The best way to check which one you’re looking at is to find the model number. This is the M5068A-C02 model (for home use), which has FDA approval along with the OnSite model here.
It’s designed to be used at home for sudden cardiac arrest. This model comes with a carry case, training DVD, maintenance booklet, quick set up guide, and owner’s manual. Be prepared to pay a hefty sum for this AED set.
The AED device comes with adult SMART Pads that are designed for use on adults over 25kg (55lbs). There are other SMART pads you can buy from Philips to use with this device. Infant pads are the right size and shape for children under 8 years and will lower the energy level of the shock so it’s more appropriate.
We like that you can also buy training pads for this defibrillator, so you can use it to train yourselves before you need to use it for real.
This was also the first AED defibrillator to be sold in the USA without needing a prescription to use it. Philips pride themselves on offering a device that is incredibly easy to use.
It comes with a battery already installed. When it comes to replacing it, make sure you buy a battery directly from Philips. It may be more expensive than other brands that claim to be compatible with this AED, but you are guaranteed that it will work correctly once installed.
The unit has an 8-year warranty but bear in mind that the battery only has 4 years on the warranty and pads have just 2 years.
2. Philips HeartStart OnSite AED Defibrillator
Just like the home model, this device is approved by the FDA (see product above for the link) and has many of the same features. But the OnSite AED defibrillator – model number M5066A-CO2 – is not designed for use at home. Instead, it’s designed for use in a business environment. For offices, gyms, shops, and other businesses, this device could save a life.
This Philips defibrillator works in exactly the same way as the model above. Once you’ve opened it up, you just need to pull the green tab to turn on the device and it will guide you with voice instructions. The intuitive SMART analysis detects the heart rhythm when attached, to give you guidance on whether a shock is needed, and when to perform CPR. Furthermore, it will also give you feedback on the depth and frequency of CPR compressions, plus the breathing rate of the person.
Despite being designed for business use, it’s completely accessible for anyone. You don’t need training or a prescription to use this AED in your home. Some people prefer to have the OnSite model over the Home model, even for personal use. The only real difference between the models is the kit that they come with and the price tag. This version is available with wall mounts, stickers for public visibility, and the same manuals as the at-home one.
If you are using this for a public space, make sure you check state regulations. You may need first aid training and CPR training besides the AED. Rules vary from state to state.
Just like the first Philips AED, you’ll need to buy separate SMART pads for using this machine on infants or for training practice.
3. Cardiac Science Corp. Powerheart G5 AED
Much like the Philips AEDs, the Powerheart G5 from Cardiac Science Corp. (owned by parent company ZOLL, with more AED models below) is very user-oriented. The pacemaker pulse detection that’s built-in will detect a heart rate if you can’t detect a pulse yourself, indicating whether AED shocks are needed or not. It has voice guidance and a text screen that prompts and guides you to use it correctly, plus it displays critical rescue information that can assist trained medics when they arrive on the scene.
You can set up the AED with French Canadian or Latin American Spanish languages too.
The UK version of Cardiac Science’s site actually recommends this exact model for use at home. They say that the G5 is easiest to use and the extensive daily self-tests ensure it’s always ready to come to the rescue. Reddit users are recommending it too, highlighting it as great for training students with its simple and intuitive interface.
Like the On-Site AED from Philips, this device self-checks on daily, weekly and monthly schedules. The defibrillation pads included with the AED when you buy it have a shelf life of 2 years, so don’t forget to set a reminder to replace them. As for warranty, the battery has a 4-year, full operational replacement guarantee, and the AED unit has an 8-year warranty.
If there was ever an AED designed for the layman, it would be the Powerheart G5. You can find it listed on the FDA page of certified AEDs, and you’ll need to contact Cardiac Science Corp. via their website to order the device for yourself.
4. ZOLL AED Plus
The ZOLL AED Plus is a high performance yet easy to use defibrillator that’s excellent for beginners to use. It has the voice and visual guidance that all entry-level AEDs offer, plus a fully automated setting to deliver a shock when a shockable heart rhythm is detected by the pads. We are especially impressed with the real-time feedback that the ZOLL AED Plus offers, which guides you through CPR with feedback on the rate and depth of your compressions. The device will confidently tell you when your compressions are good or when you need to press harder or faster, for example.
To make this device suitable for infants or training purposes, you’ll need to buy separate pediatric electrodes or an entirely separate training AED from ZOLL.
Not only are ZOLL AEDs approved by the FDA (you can find this model on the approved list using the link to the FDA AED guide above) but they’re also recommended by professional medics as they’re the brand used for hospital AEDs too. Others recommend this particular model for people with little AED experience, thanks to the real-time feedback.
When it comes to warranty, ZOLL offers something a bit different from most brands. The batteries and pads have a shelf life of 5 years, rather than the standard 4 and 2 years, which means fewer replacements and lower maintenance costs. However, the device only comes with a 5-year warranty (you can extend it to 7 years by registering your product online) which is lower than average.
Considering that ZOLL is known to be more expensive than other AED brands (like Philips), it would be nice if the warranty could reflect the price and quality of the device.
5. Physio-Control LIFEPAK CR Plus AED
The CR Plus AED by Physio-Control is notably different from the previous models on our list. Even though it doesn’t offer any guidance for CPR or prompts for when to shock, it is still perfect for anyone that hasn’t used an AED before.
The CR Plus will only deliver a shock if it detects that a heart needs it. This is just one of the ways that Physio-Control has designed this device specifically for the beginner. The device is fully automated. That means you don’t even need to press a button. Unlike the Philips devices, this AED detects when to administer a shock and will do it for you, rather than prompting you to operate it correctly.
Using the device is a 2-step process. Turn it on, then attach the pads. The AED does the rest.
You must have AED and CPR training to use this device. Physio-Control offers training programs, or you can use the Red Cross training we mentioned above. Make sure you contact Physio-Control for more info on the training and verification you need to operate this AED at home or in a business environment.
This defibrillator and battery charger that will recharge the AED battery are approved by the FDA. Furthermore, Physio-Control is often the brand of choice for large hospitals around the world. Medics have praised the LIFEPAK models designed for professional use on Reddit for being logically laid out and of a good size, so operating them is simple for everyone.
As for warranty, the AED device has an 8-year warranty, but the batteries only have 1 year. If you opt for the charging unit for the LIFEPAK CR Plus defibrillator, you only have a 90-day warranty for that.