While there are several items that make up scuba diving gear, one of the most important is the scubaregulator. The scuba regulator is the main piece of scuba equipment that supplies breathable air to the diver. As of such, it is important to choose the right kind of scuba regulator, as otherwise if the scuba regulator fails to perform adequately, it could cause trouble to the diver. This guide will explain the basics every diver needs to know about scuba regulators and how to choose the right one.
Parts of a Scuba Regulator
A scuba regulator is a piece of equipment that regulates the pressure from the scuba tank and reduces the high pressure of the scuba tank air to ambient pressure, as well as delivers it to the diver, so that breathing can take place easily underwater. Ambient pressure refers to the pressure of the water against the diver’s chest as he or she descents and remains in the water, and the same amount of pressure needs to be delivered by the scuba regulator to the diver so that respiration can take place. Since the scuba tank contains highly pressurized air that isn’t at ambient pressure, a scuba regulator is needed bring that pressure down to the required level. A scuba regulator, regardless of its size, shape, or features, contains three main parts: the first stage, the second stage, and the connecting air hose.
The First Stage
The firststage is the part of the regulator that is attached to the cylinder valve by a yoke or DIN fitting. It functions to reduce the high pressure inside the scuba tank to an intermediate pressure that is usually about 150 pressurized square inch (psi) higher than ambient pressure. The first stage has several ports that connect to other parts of the regulator. Some of these ports are low pressure ports (which connect to the second stage, secondary demand valve, and so on) while others are high pressure ports (which connect to the pressure gauge and so on).
The first stage usually comes in two types: piston and diaphragm. Piston type first stages have a simpler design than diaphragm ones, but careful maintenance is needed for the former as they have more internal parts that are exposed to the water. Diaphragm type first stages are more complex in design and have fewer moving parts, making them less reliable for inexperienced divers, but are suitable for cold water and salt water scuba diving since they have fewer or no internal parts that are exposed to the water. There is no conclusive evidence that one type is better than the other especially for recreational scuba diving; however, many divers seem to favor the piston type first stage for its simplicity of use.
First stages are also categorized into the type that offers unbalanced air flow and the type that offers balanced air flow. Unbalanced air flow types require the diver to breathe harder as he or she descends deeper into the water and/or as the tank pressure decreases. Balanced air flow types will provide consistent air flow regardless of the tank pressure or how deep the diver is in the water. It is highly recommended that the diver purchases a balanced type regulator as it is more convenient and comfortable to use.
The Second Stage
The secondstage of a scuba regulator is also known as the demand valve, as it supplies air to the diver as required by the diver’s breathing. It further reduces the intermediate-level pressure of the air sent by the first stage to ambient pressure so that the diver can breathe comfortably. The second stage is also where the mouthpiece for the diver is located, as well as the location for the purge valve that releases the used air into the water which is where the bubbles come out.
This part of the regulator also contains the emergency button that the diver can push to force air continuously out of the tank and into the second stage where air is constantly let out through the mouthpiece or through the purge valve. Also, some regulators come with an octopus, or a secondary demand valve that can be used as a backup second stage in case the primary one fails, or be used to supply air to a diving buddy that has run out of air.
The hose that connects the first and second stage. Sometimes multiple hoses are used when more than one demand valve/accessory is used.
A Simplified Look at How Scuba Regulators Work
The first stage reduces the pressure of the air from the scuba tank to an intermediate level and forwards this intermediate pressure air to the hose that connects to the second stage of the regulator. When the diver is not inhaling, the valve between the first stage and the hose closes to prevent further outflow of air. When the diver does take a breath, the intermediate pressure air get pushed through a diaphragm in the second stage that reduces its pressure to match the ambient pressure around the diver, and this ambient pressure air gets pushed through the mouthpiece into the diver’s mouth. The first stage then detects that the air in the connecting hose has been used by the diver, and pushes more intermediate pressure air into the hose. This way, every time the diver takes a breath, there is always a continuous supply of air.
Tips for Buying the Right Scuba Regulator
From the sections above, the diver would have learned the basic parts of a scuba regulator and how these parts work together to help the diver breathe underwater. In this section, some extra tips for purchasing a good scuba regulator is mentioned.
Breathing should be comfortable when using the scuba regulator. The diver should not feel like he or she has to struggle to breathe. This is why balanced type regulators are recommended.
Make sure that the mouthpiece of the second stage is comfortable enough to bite down lightly on without having post-dive jaw pain. Also, the second stage should be easy to hold underwater.
The emergency push button on the second stage should be easy to push even if the diver’s hands are gloved as they will be underwater.
Purchase a regulator with a second stage that can be manually adjusted to decrease or increase air flow to the mouthpiece when required: regulators tend to lose their optimum ability with frequent use.
Ideally, the connecting hoses of the regulator should be flexible so that the regulator can be packed up easily. Hoseprotectors to prevent deterioration of the connecting points of the hoses can elongating their life.
It’s preferable to buy a scuba regulator with a sealed system (where water cannot enter the first stage), so that the regulator does not freeze up during cold water diving.
Purchase a scuba regulator that comes with a good, reliable warranty.
Whenever possible, the diver should buy a brand new scuba regulator. Reconditioned or used regulators have a higher chance of being faulty.
Attempt to purchase regulators that are made of non-corroding materials such as chromed brass or titanium that increase the durability of the regulator.
Get attachments or clips for accessories of the scuba regulator such as the octopus and pressure gauge so that they don’t get in the way while diving.
If the diver keeps in mind the tips above when browsing for a scuba regulator, he or she should be able to buy a long lasting and good quality scuba regulator that will enhance, instead of ruin, his or her diving experience.
Scuba regulators can be purchased from any diving gear store, online business platforms like eBay, and individual online businesses that sell scuba equipment. They can also be sold by individuals who are scuba divers themselves, but since buying a regulator second-hand is not recommended, this option is best left out.
A Short Guide to Purchasing Scuba Regulators on eBay
eBay is one place to buy just about anything, as thousands of listings on various products are available for your viewing from one single place. You get to view listings not just from your local area, but from all over the world, and if you purchase an item, it will be shipped directly to you. This makes shopping very convenient.
To view listings on scuba regulators, all you have to do is look them up through category SportingGoods. Then select WaterSports, SCUBAandSnorkeling, and finally Regulators. Or you can type a search term regarding a desired regulator into the search box available at the top of the eBay page. Once you’ve done this, you will see all the scuba regulators available for sale. Following this, you can scroll through the listings and click on the ones that interest you.
When looking at a listing, take a good look at the description, provided images, the price, and the seller’s feedback rating. If the item meets your needs and the seller has received good feedback on sales of similar items, in this case, scuba regulators, you should have no issues makingthepurchase and getting the item delivered to you. Whenever possible, do try to use PayPal to pay for your item as doing this will ensure you are covered under the eBayBuyerProtectionProgram.
Scuba regulators are an important part of any scuba diver’s equipment, and it’s because of this that the diver must ensure that he or she chooses the right one. Ensuring that the first stage, second stage, and connecting hose of a regulator are suitable for the diver’s needs is crucial to avoid annoyances or even possible air supply issues when in the water. If the diver implements the tips provided in this guide when shopping for a scuba regulator, the diver can rest assured that a good purchase decision can be made.