Last Updated on September 5, 2021
EDITOR’S NOTE: Updated in September 2021 with new price information.
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COVID-19 has spurred an uptick in demand for certain products: face masks, cleaning products, hand sanitizer, and toilet paper. Another product that has seen a surge is the pulse oximeter.
A pulse oximeter is an inexpensive medical device that clips painlessly to your finger and tells you what your pulse rate and blood oxygen level are. Hospitals and clinics often use them, but pulse oximeters can also be purchased from most drugstores or other retailers, and people with lung or heart conditions may use them at home to monitor their health under the supervision of their doctor.
Because COVID-19 can affect oxygen levels, some people feel a pulse oximeter is a good thing to have at home to monitor their blood oxygen level. This device does not diagnose COVID-19, but if you are already diagnosed and are isolating at home, if your blood oxygen level dips below a certain number, it may be a sign that you need to seek medical treatment. (It’s obviously not a substitute for seeing a doctor, though.)
Aldi rotates a small selection of medical products into its stores for limited periods at different times of year, many of them under the Welby private label. I purchased a blood pressure monitor from Aldi a few years ago that has worked well. Other items I’ve seen over the years include special pillows, walking canes, squatting stools (the Aldi version of a Squatty Potty), pill splitters, essential oils, and more.
Also, Aldi sometimes sells a pulse oximeter.
The Welby Pulse Oximeter (product code 53497) cost $19.99 at the time of publication. Other pulse oximeters on Amazon start at around $17 and go up from there, with most costing less than $25 or $30. So while the Aldi pulse oximeter is competitively priced, you might be able to find a similar device for a couple dollars less, but it won’t likely be a large price difference.
UPDATE (September 2021): Aldi had been selling this product for $19.99 going back to at least 2017. However, when Aldi sold the same oximeter in stores in September 2021 — just six months after this review — the price had jumped to $29.99. Given that pulse oximeters on Amazon are still selling for about the same price they were when this review was written — $17-25 in many cases — this Aldi price is no longer as competitive as it once was.
The Welby Pulse Oximeter is an Aldi Find (Special Buy), which means it’s only in stores for a short time. Aldi does not offer online ordering for its specials, so once this sells out at your local store, it’s gone.
When I saw Aldi selling this pulse oximeter in 2021, I wondered if the grocer was trying to get in on the recent trend, but it turns out Aldi has sold this device in pre-COVID-19 years as well, including in October of 2017, August of 2018, and August of 2019.
The 2021 model comes with the following:
- pulse oximeter
- carrying case
- AAA batteries
- user manual
- fast results
- soft silicone padding
- one-button operation
- non-invasive, with no pricking
- multi-directional screen with automatic rotation
- automatic power off
- a two-year warranty
This device was made in China and requires two AAA batteries, which are included, so once you pop the batteries in this is ready to use right out of the box.
The Welby Pulse Oximeter comes with a two-year warranty serviced by Veridian Healthcare, which produces diagnostic medical products for home use, including blood glucose monitors and test strips, blood pressure monitors, nebulizers, thermometers, and more. Veridian products can be purchased at a variety of retailers such as Walmart and Walgreens. For warranty service for the Welby Pulse Oximeter, call Veridian at 886-326-1313 or email [email protected]
Using the Welby Pulse Oximeter
Using the pulse oximeter is pretty easy. You open the battery case on the back (no tools required) and insert the two AAA batteries that come with the device. Then clip the pulse oximeter onto your finger with your fingernail side up until resistance is felt. Then let the unit gently close on your finger. Press the white power button, and wait a few seconds to see your oxygen saturation rate, displayed as the %SpO2, and your pulse rate, displayed as your PR bpm.
The digital display rotates automatically depending on how your finger is angled or positioned, so you don’t have to strain to read numbers that are sideways or upside down. The manual recommends not moving excessively during monitoring. The device can be used on any finger except for the thumb, but the index finger or middle finger are recommended.
When I brought the Welby Pulse Oximeter home from Aldi, my family passed it around to check it out. I noticed this pulse oximeter seems to start with higher pulse rate readings that settle a lot lower after waiting a few seconds, so it may be worth sitting quietly for a minute or two while using it to get a better reading.
One person in my family remarked, “How does it know my blood oxygen level?”
That’s a great question. The answer, according to the manual, is that a pulse oximeter works by shining two small light beams into the small vessels or capillaries of the finger. Healthline reports that pulse oximeters measure “changes of light absorption in oxygenated or deoxygenated blood.”
The manual includes a few care tips, including keeping the sensors inside the device clean by carefully swabbing with a soft cloth or cotton swab with rubbing alcohol before and after each use. Do not pour the alcohol directly on or in the unit. Dirty hands or nail polish (especially dark colors) can also affect reading accuracy.
I wasn’t quite sure how to fasten the lanyard onto the device, but I found some small holes on the end opposite of where your finger goes in where I was able to thread the lanyard through and secure it.
I don’t own any other pulse oximeters that I can use to determine how accurate this one is. It also remains to be seen how well this will perform and hold up over time, since I have only had it for a short time; I’ll update later if I have any significant new observations. But overall, my initial impression is that this is an easy-to-use device that can be used in consultation with your doctor.
The Welby Pulse Oximeter measures blood oxygen levels and pulse rate by clipping painlessly onto a finger. It is priced near or below many other pulse oximeters on the market, and it features a quick digital display and comes with a lanyard and soft storage case. Remember that medical devices like this should always be used with guidance from your doctor.
Did you find it to be consistently accurate? We got one but it will vary wildly within seconds. Finger A showing 99% then immediately taken again on Finger A and it shows 85%. Tried on Finger B immediately after these readings and got 95%. So I don’t know how I can trust it or if mine’s just faulty.
For the most part it seems to be consistent. I tried taking readings on two different fingers one after another like you did, and there was one time the blood oxygen level read low. Other than that one instance, though, the readings for me are pretty much the same no matter what finger it goes on.
Mine doesn’t work!
Mine won’t even turn on!