Comparing ALL the Insulin Pumps!

I've used almost all of the insulin pumps on the market (that's a long and winding story itself) over the last 14 years of pumping, so when people want my opinion on a pump, I ask them to pull up a chair and grab a cup of coffee. I'll drop some knowledge.

As Tech Editor for, I recently published the most massive pump comparison analysis you've ever had the pleasure of perusing. I hope you'll click over and show me some love there.

And if I could go back and add things, I'd probably do so every 10 minutes. I keep thinking of more I could have said to help you choose the right one for you. These devices power our wimpy pancrei and we need them to fit into our lives the way WE use the products. As I often say, we're lucky to have choice at all (and not all of us do) where diabetes devices are concerned. Not every insurance plan covers every pump and not everyone can afford the expense of upkeep for these products.

But for the savvy shopper, I want you to know that I spent hours upon hours going through user manuals and websites and reaching out to friends on each device (even the pumps I've used myself) to check my own bias and answer the little things - what could they have done better? what gets in your way? what's your biggest complaint about the device?

Special thanks to Karen Graffeo, Mike Hoskins, Christel Aprigliano, Mike Lawson, Alecia Wesner, Marie B, and Alanna Swartz for letting me reach out to them with my user questions! (The Accu-Chek user guide was just not giving up what increment of time it used for Duration of Insulin Action.)

If you want to know what a pump can do - from it’s waterpoofability to its max bolus to its clunkiest human factor mistake, click on over to ASweetLife and bring a notepad. It’s almost 2015 and it’s time to shop for your next insulin pump.

Thanks, really good comparison of all the pumps on the market with pros and cons.

Very thorough, concise, and thoughtful. Well done! Are you going to keep it current?

Are there any pump screens that can be read in the sunlight? That's important to me but I don't know if there even any out there.

Terry, I can read all but the Omnipod screen in bright sunlight, personally. I think the dark color screens with colored text (Animas, Asante, Tandem) are necessarily worse to read in bright sunlight than a low res option (Medtronic, AccuChek). But I never had a hard time with Tandem's screen in sunlight.

As far as keeping it current, I don't have editing rights to the piece once it's published (they're an online magazine), but I am committeed to keeping others informed about what's out there. I'm working on a piece right now about what we're likely to see submitted in 2015.

ooops! The link appears to be broken - snap!

Melissa, thanks for sending me the information, that must have been quite an effort!

It is a nice compilation of the various pros and cons of the vast array of pumps available. There were a few things that bothered me about it. When you write "a number of users report" there is no indication of how many users actually report that the pump alarms are hard to hear, or the CGM is inaccurate, or "high alarm/failure rate" we are left to guess was it 10 people or 100 people who reported these problems. From the Tandem T Slim advertising prominently displayed at the top and side of the page it's really hard to view this as a completely unbiased review of all pumps. Thorough yes, concise yes, thoughtful absolutely, unbiased ? I really have no idea.

I really appreciate your pump analyses, but, the one big question that I have is: what's the least conspicuous, easiest-to-keep-attached-to-you-but-out-of-your-way pump for exercise? I've worn a Medtronic for years, but it's a Paradigm 522, long out of warranty, with cracks in the case on the insulin cartridge side. (By the way, I just love the linking Bayer Contour Next Meter.) I'm not really looking to add a CGMS, since I'm on Medicare (which doesn't yet cover it), and, also, because I tend to develop site problems, and having a site at least for the infusion set certainly takes precedence over a CGMS site. Is there a small, light-weight pump that clips on easily, that's not required to be paired with a CGMS? A full-system remote would be a plus! I play tennis and golf, dance, do yoga, pilates etc., etc. I don't need a large reservoir, since I generally re-fuel every 6 days with the 1.8ML size. Also, rhe Omnipod wouldn't suit me because of my site issues. Is there anything out there or in the pipeline?

Gamin, I would strongly urge you to consider the Animas Ping - which I didn't go into detail on in this piece. The Ping will still be available and popular. It's not going anywhere. It's fully operational via the linked remote meter, it's covered by Medicare (whereas Omnipod - another remote, discreet option - would not be), and it is a small, lightweight 200u reservoir pump. It sounds like it would be a really good choice for you if you didn't want to stay with Medtronic, which would be your other option.

Clare, I have no control over which ads appear on their magazine's site or here on TuDiabetes, so I can't speak to which company's ads you saw. And by a number of users, I mean to indicate that I and many others I know have the same complaints about specific pumps. Having used most of the pumps myself, I didn't report an issue unless I could confirm that others who use that pump have said the same things to me in person, in private, in forums, on my personal blog, on Facebook, etc. I have no way to report on how many of the thousands of users report one feature or another because you're not going to hear about what people don't like about pumps from the pump manufacturer or their sales reps - which is why I find hearing from others who have used the product to be so important.

Thanks Melissa when I joined here in June 2012 my very first discussion was this:
I asked the question because I wanted the information pump companies won't tell you. I got a lot of great information in the replies and ultimately ended up getting a Dexcom first and then an Omnipod after the smaller, sleeker, lighter ones came out. Both devices have markedly improved my blood sugar control and my life. To be able to hop on my bike and go for a ride, get into bed and go to sleep, get on the court to play tennis or racquetball and not worry about going low is very liberating. With the Omnipod there was a pretty steep learning curve in the beginning and I lost a few pods to user error or poor placement but since then I can count on 1 hand the number of errors or pod alarms I have had. Please feel free to add me to "the number of users" who report being very happy with their pods :).

Melissa, going today to endo to try and figure out which pump would work best for me. I've been comparing pumps for over a month and have come up with none of the above. I have extremely brittle diabetes will go from 285 to 40 in 30-40 minutes after a bolus with food eaten. Will go from 35 to 318 with a treatment of a low in a very short time. I need a pump that can keep up with the roller coaster and help me turn it into a straight (or relatively) line. Currently I'm using the Medronic (not the CGMS, the older one.) and I have already determined that I want to switch to the DEXCOM sensor for accuracy. Have about ruled out Medtronic because of the slow delivery effectiveness, but I'm just overwhelmed and can't decide which feature I should focus on in order to get my blood sugar regulated.(last A1C 9.5, yes I need to do something.) Really want a CGMS, but I don't want to give up a better pump delivery to get that feature. I'm not very tech savvy so I'm a little afraid of all the button pushing on the Animas although it seems like the best choice. Really wish the Omnipod was compatible with Dexcom. I can create my own system in my head, but unfortunately the FDA hasn't approve it. A little guidance please.

Lorrie, I use a Dexcom CGM and an Omnipod pump and they have both helped me to tame the "beast". I do not find it inconvenient to carry the PDM in my purse and the Dexcom receiver in a tallygear pouch on my belt. The PDM is only needed to bolus and set a temporary basal beyond that I don't need to touch it. I wear my pods for 80 hours and my sensors for 3-4 weeks. I'm not extremely tech savvy but with the Diasend program I can easily download both devices and get excellent compilations to see what is and isn't working. My last A1C was 5.8 and it was not the result of roller coasters averaging out well, it was the result of pretty steady between the lines blood sugars. I have been using the Dexcom since Nov. 2012 and Omnipod since May 2013 and I honestly wouldn't trade either. Good luck in your decision, I know it's a difficult one.

Thank you Clare for your feedback on the Dexcom CGM with the Omnipod. I was afraid it would be too many devices to manage. I'm not very diligent with record keeping so I need the equipment to do that for me. What type monitor do you use? Does the Omnipod have one that communicates with it or do you have to enter all your glucose levels?

I have used a standalone Dexcom (and before that, the now defunct Freestyle Navigator) with all the pumps, Medtronic included. Omnipod WILL integrate with Dexcom in their next generation (as will Tandem tslim and Asante Snap). As long as you jump in with one company, you will be eligible for upgrades at a reduced price. But honestly, it is not cumbersome for me to have a separate receiver from my pump. In fact, I actually prefer having the data on the receiver without having to dig a pump out of my clothing. None of the (non-Medtronic) pumps on the market today (or within the next year) will "close the loop" and actually act on the data from your CGM, so really, the integration isn't integration so much as it is a shared screen.

Lorrie, the PDM functions as a blood glucose meter. So it stores all your data and there is no need to carry a separate meter. I stick a strip in the PDM get my blood sugar program in my carbs and let the bolus calculator figure it out for me.