Scuba Diving Regulators
There is a lot of technology involved in many scuba gear components, but diving computer and regulator are the most technologically advanced parts. We will talk about the regulators in detail here.
Experts suggest buying the regulator at the beginning of your diving career. The reason for that is very simple – this piece of equipment goes in the mouth or in a rental case, many different mouths. Yes, it gets cleaned and all, but still…
This is an essential part of your gear because it enables you to breathe under water and thus should be acquired right away after an extensive research. Don’t try to save on it and don’t neglect it after you do spend the money on it, keep it clean and serviced.
In this article we will talk about different components of regulator: the first and second stages, the octo and the hoses.
First and second stage regulators usually come as a package and have to match to work perfectly together.
The first stage of the regulator adjusts and reduces the air pressure from the tank to become smaller and work with flexible hoses. This is called intermediate pressure. This part is attached directly to the tank. The air in the tank is highly pressurized and has to be reduced before entering the hose. This stage is also a place where you attach you pressure gauge or wireless transmitter to your computer.
DIN versus Yoke
These two are different methods of first stage attachment to the tank. Most regulators are either DIN or Yoke.
A DIN first stage screws directly to the tank valve. This is the safest way to attach this regulator stage because it sits very tight and prevents any air movement through O-ring seal, so there is no gas loss. Technical divers love this type of attachment.
The Yoke system is simpler and used mainly for recreational dives. In this system the regulator is slipped over the valve and then secured with a large bolt. It is easier to handle for less experienced divers.
Most rental shops will have Yoke systems. DIN requires special pressure tank, so not all shops see a need to have those for non-professional divers. If you have DIN regulator, but can’t find the special tank, you can purchase a simple adapter that converts DIN into Yoke. Such adapter is really recommended if you want to rent tanks in dive shops.
Balanced versus Unbalanced
These two types used to be very different, but thanks to technological advancements it is almost impossible to see any difference between them now. Most recreational divers will not be able to tell them apart.
A balanced regulator delivers stable pressure air from the tank to the second stage regulator and the diver. The pressure of surrounding water and the pressure in the tank does not affect it in any way.
Unbalanced regulator depends on the pressure of water and the air in the tank. Modern systems make this fluctuation barely noticeable, so the diver barely feels anything.
Despite the technological improvements, most divers prefer the balanced regulator. If they can afford it, that is.
Diaphragm versus Piston
This is two types of ways to connect the high pressure air to lower pressure for the second stage regulator and different attachments.
Piston regulators are simpler and have fewer parts. This extends the lifespan and reduces the need for maintenance. The drawback – most of these regulators allow some air in, so you will have to work harder to keep them clean.
Diaphragm regulators have more moving parts and so don’t last as long. They cost a lot less to buy. They can be environmentally sealed or unsealed. Tropic dives can use unsealed, while if you want to dive in different environments, consider getting the sealed kind.
Experts suggest getting environmentally sealed first stage diaphragm regulator from a reputable manufacturer and with a good warranty.
Number of Connection Ports
Most modern regulators will have many connection ports. You will need to connect your diving computer, gauge, BCD, and optional octopus regulator.
The second stage is the piece that goes into your mouth and allows you to breathe. This part is often called a regulator. It takes air from the first stage and reduces the pressure even further, so that you can breathe comfortably.
Just like the first stage, you can have a diaphragm or piston type. This piece has a purge button, a mouth piece, and an exhaust valve.
This button allows you to clear the water form the entire setup. The water is forced out of the second stage and you can breathe easily. Make sure the button is big enough for you to find it and press it while wearing gloves.
There are many various controls on the regulator. You can adjust the air flow, and chose to activate the “dive mode” while diving or turn it off while at the surface to save the oxygen. These controls are optional, but nice to have.
The weight is important because you hold this piece in your mouth and if it’s very heavy, you can experience jaw fatigue during long dives. Water helps reduce the weight, but it becomes a concern when you are closer to the surface.
The comfort is very important at this stage. Most modern mouth pieces have ergonomic design and are very comfortable. Make sure that your mouth piece is replaceable when you need it to be changed.
This regulator is an alternative second stage regulator. It allows you to help your diving partner to use your air if he or she runs out of their own. They are needed for back up, and are simpler. Hopefully you will never have to use it.
Your regulator system comes with many different hoses. They are used to connect both regulator stages to each other, the tank valve, and your mouth piece.
Back in the day most hoses were rubber. Today braided ones are becoming more popular. They are lighter and more flexible, but most divers still prefer rubber.
Inflation hoses are used to connect the first stage to BCD. They can be rubber or braided.
Hoses for gauges and dive computer are usually high pressure.
In conclusion, most reputable firms will have setups that are great for any recreational divers. Invest some money to get a really good quality setup – your lungs will thank you.