AED Machine Buying Guide: What to Look for Before You Buy

AED machine buying guide

Each year in the U.S., more than 356,000 sudden cardiac arrests occur outside a hospital.

Cardiac arrest can happen to anyone, even a person who seems healthy. It’s the leading cause of death in people over age 40.

The survival rate is around 10%. Survival chances increase with an automated external defibrillator (AED).

Immediate cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and defibrillation with an AED can double survival rates. Often, defibrillation and CPR is the only way to return the victim’s heart rhythm to normal.

Each moment without CPR and defibrillation decreases the chance of survival by 7% to 10%.

Your patients count on you to help during a medical emergency. Surviving cardiac arrest often depends on the use of an AED machine. But, how do you know which AED machine you should buy?

Keep reading to learn the factors you should consider before you buy an AED machine.

AED Versus Defibrillator

There’s a difference between an AED and a defibrillator. They both shock the heart to return it to a normal heartbeat. 

If you’ve watched a medical drama on TV you’ve seen a defibrillator. First, doctors, nurses, and emergency professionals assess the patient. Then, they decide how much and how often to shock them.

An AED is automatic. It lets non-medical people give live-saving shocks. The AEDs have electrode sensors, visual instructions, and audible alerts. The machine informs the user.

Every minute is critical when someone is in cardiac arrest. Immediate intervention with an AED can save a life.

Which AED Machine Should You Buy?

There isn’t one AED model that saves more lives than another. All AEDs help save lives. Yet, there are differences in features and price.

The price of an AED depends on the size, accessories, and upgrade terms. Variables like water resistance and warranty also affect the final cost.

First, confirm AED approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). After that, your choice depends on the features you want and need.

Let’s take a closer look at budget, features, and the AED environment to help you make a buying decision.

Budget Considerations

Price always matters. The upfront cost of AEDs range in price. Yet, the total cost depends on other variables.

For starters, AED pads and batteries need replacement on a regular schedule. Find out how often you need replacements, and what they cost.


The two main kinds of AED pads are adult and pediatric. Will you need pediatric AED pads or spare pads?

Pediatric pads are often more expensive than adult AED pads. They’re for children under eight years of age, or who weigh less than 55 pounds.

Buy pediatric pads if you are in contact with children. Some machines are pediatric pad compatible. You must buy separate pediatric pads.


Battery life varies by manufacturer. Most batteries last between two and five years. It’s essential to know your AED battery replacement date.

Plan ahead so you have a new battery before it expires. An AED machine failure caused by a bad battery is tragic.

Buy new batteries, pads, and other accessories even if you buy a refurbished unit.

Other Expenses

Other expenses involve training, maintenance, and Medical Direction required by some states.

Ask about the warranty on the AED. How many years is the AED itself going to last? If it fails, how long is it under warranty?

Next, let’s look at features that can affect your choice.

CPR Feedback and Help

CPR is an important part of survival. Responders should use CPR in 10 out of 10 incidents of cardiac arrest.

Many AED machines include CPR assist features. Audible prompts guide responders on the frequency and depth of compressions.

The main function of every AED is to check a rhythm and provide a shock. Yet, a shock is not always needed. An AED with CPR feedback helps in non-Sudden Cardiac Arrest cases.

AED Machine Shocking Power

The amount of power an AED provides varies. There are limits to the maximum amount of joules provided in a single shock.

A common range is from 200 to 360 joules. Check the specific model to determine the range.

Escalating Power refers to the increase in power with consecutive shocks. An escalating power option lets responders increase the energy dose up to 360 joules. This is for patients who are hard to defibrillate. Re-fibrillation is common with ventricular fibrillation (VF) cardiac arrest patients.

Display Screen

The display screen may not be the first consideration when buying an AED, but it’s important.

Some AED screens show text on a screen that repeats what the audio prompts are telling you. Others have flashing lights or graphics. Some have audio prompts alone.

A visual display doesn’t affect the AED’s effectiveness, but it can help responders. Noisy situations make voice prompts alone hard to hear.

For example, the LIFEPAK 15 defibrillator gives EMS workers a dual-mode LCD screen. They can switch from full color to high contrast mode with one touch. This makes the screen readable in high glare situations.

A large screen and color display make it easier to see screen data from every angle.


There is an International Protection Rating system used for AED classification. It’s also known as Ingress Protection Rating or IP Code. The two-digit code indicates the level of protection against solids and liquids.

The first number indicates the level of protection against dirt, dust, gunk, and grime. The rating goes from 0 to 6 with 6 being the best protection.

The second number refers to protection from water. The AEDs rating is 0 to 8. A higher number means more protection against moisture.

If either digit is an X it means the machine wasn’t tested, or the rating wasn’t made.

For some users, water resistance or drop tests won’t matter. But, EMS workers need a unit that performs in every situation.

Choose an AED that’s tough inside and out. Buy a unit that keeps working in harsh elements and when it’s dropped. Some units have self-checking features that send an alert when it needs service.

Warranty and Service

Ask about the warranty for your AED. What’s covered and what isn’t? Remember, this warranty is for the AED, not the accessories. If you add pediatric pads or other items, inquire about those warranties, too.

Does the seller offer a service plan? Do they charge for each call? Manufacturers recommend calibrating equipment once a year for optimal performance and safety.

Preventive maintenance reduces the risk of damage and failure. Make sure replacement parts are from the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM).

Ask if the device tested and calibrated based on the newest OEM standards and AED guidelines.

Ask all these important questions before you buy. 

Use This Guide to Buy Your AED Machine 

All AEDs save lives. The best AED machine for your team depends on how and where it’s used. Review the features to find the model that matches your needs.

We hope the factors outlined here help you choose your AED. If you have questions, please contact the pros at Foremost Medical Equipment.

Our team is happy to provide quality equipment, repairs, and customer service.