As the element that transports air from the tank to your mouth and adjusts the pressure along the way, a scuba regulator is one of the most important pieces of diving equipment. It must be well-made and reliable because your well-being underwater can depend on it.
While covered in more detail in the section after the reviews, keep these definitions in mind. The first stage is the part that attaches to the dive cylinder. Its function is to lower the tank’s high pressure to an intermediate pressure. It has several ports both high and low. Low is the intermediate pressure. The second stage is the part that you breathe from. It takes the intermediate pressure from the first stage by a hose and converts it to an ambient pressure you can breathe.
However, choosing the best scuba regulator isn’t always easy, especially if you’re a beginner diver. A lot of technical terms and different design solutions are involved, so you should pay close attention to what each of them adds to your dive. To help you with this, our buying guide will explain everything in detail. But first, we’ll take a look at the best scuba regulators currently available, tried and tested on both recreational and technical divers.
- If you plan to cave dive with your regulator in the future, be sure to buy a regulator that is compatible with a DIN valve, as it’s the standard for cave diving.
- Multiple regulator ports can confuse you when you or your dive buddy sets up or checks your equipment pre-dive. If you need extra functionality, you might want a specialized regulator.
- Moldable mouthpieces allow maximum comfort underwater. One of the most common issues with standard mouthpieces is that divers bite through them frequently, eventually making for an uncomfortable dive.
Scuba Diving Expert
How To Choose A Scuba Regulator – Buying Guide
Type Of Diving
The type of diving you enjoy most will determine the type of regulator that you should buy. If you prefer tropical destinations and warm water, any travel regulator will work for you. However, if you want to tackle the challenge of diving in cold water, you’ll need a more robust option that regulates the pressure better and doesn’t freeze in low temperatures.
Sealed Or Unsealed?
This essentially describes the build quality of the scuba regulator. Sealed regulators for diving incorporate gaskets and technology that prevents the airway from getting blocked or frozen in extreme conditions. Besides, they won’t let saltwater or debris damage the inner workings.
Unsealed dive regulators are a less expensive option when compared to the sealed ones. They are used by dive shops in warmer climates where they don’t have to worry about freezing. However, they are also less durable than their sealed counterparts. Durable, however, is a relative term. A properly maintained unsealed regulator not used in extreme conditions can still be expected to last decades.
Balanced Or Unbalanced?
In most situations, a balanced divers regulator is the better option because it makes breathing a lot easier. Regardless of the water depth or the remaining air in your tank, a balanced piston regulator will give you an even airflow. On the other hand, an unbalanced regulator will make it tougher to breathe as you dive deeper. Most recreational divers doing a modest workload will most likely not notice the difference.
Piston Or Diaphragm?
The first stage of your regulator has two different construction types. The Piston construction is more simple and known to be more reliable. While this is more expensive, its reliability makes it ideal for those traveling into deeper waters or people who are into cave diving. On the flip side, the Diaphragm is much cheaper but less reliable in adverse conditions. This is more frequently found in dive shop rentals as it is the ideal choice for recreational divers.
Yoke Or DIN Valve?
There are two different types of valves found on a scuba regulator. A Yoke, also known as an A-clamp, is the one where the scuba regulator screws over the tank. This is the most common type of valve. It’s pretty reliable and incredibly user-friendly. It is limited to 200 bars.
On the other hand, the DIN valve screws directly into the tank. This type of valve provides a stronger seal, which is why it’s the best diving regulator for cold water divers. They can be used on both 200 and 300 bar tanks. If you are someone who enjoys changing diving locations and often go from warm water to cooler conditions, you should opt for a DIN system. Furthermore, you can even get a Yoke valve adapter for your DIN system and make it even more versatile.
DIN valves are more common in Europe, while the Yoke is used almost everywhere else. Some manufacturers are now creating what is being called a “Pro” valve. This type of valve has both connectors.
Number Of Ports
The best scuba diving regulators will likely be equipped with a minimum of 4 low-pressure (LP) ports as well as 1 or 2 high-pressure (HP) ports. As a general rule, the more ports that you have, the easier it will be to set up all of your dive gear.
If the mouthpiece of the second stage feels uncomfortable in your mouth, you will not be able to enjoy your dive. Because of this, the best regulator for diving doesn’t require a firm bite to keep it in place. Most of the best diving regulators featured in our scuba diving regulator reviews come with silicone mouthpieces that sit comfortably between the teeth and don’t cause jaw fatigue.
Other factors that impact the comfort are the hose length and exhaust position. The hose length should be just right – if it’s too long it will float and get in your way, while a short air delivery system will reduce your freedom of movement. As for the exhaust, it should direct the bubbles away from your face so your vision isn’t blocked when exhaling.
The Five Parts Of A Scuba Regulator
Five Parts Of A Scuba Regulator
Scuba regulators work to regulate airflow when you are underwater, making them the life support on your dive. Five different parts make up this vital piece of equipment, and understanding the different parts will help you in purchasing and maintaining your regulator.
First Stage: This is the primary connector that attaches to your scuba tank. In the first stage, the high tank pressure is reduced to an intermediate pressure and the air is transferred to the hoses.
Primary Second Stage: This is the stage located at the mouthpiece. Here, the intermediate air pressure is again reduced to the ambient pressure that is surrounding the scuba diver which makes it safe to be inhaled.
Alternate Second Stage: Also known as the octopus, it’s an alternative air source that works the same way as the primary second stage. It’s a crucial piece of equipment in the case of an emergency and in the event where you need to share the gas with a buddy. These usually have bright yellow colors to make them easy to identify in your scuba regulator setup.
Submersible Pressure Gauge And Gauge Console: This piece of gear will measure how much air you have in your scuba tank. Knowing this information will help you calculate the time you have under the water.
The Submersible Pressure Gauge (SPG) is used with the first stage and connects to a high-pressure line. Furthermore, some systems use a gauge console which gives you even more accurate readings.
Low-Pressure Inflator Hose: This is the line that connects to your Buoyancy Compensator (BC) which allows you to inflate and deflate your vest.
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Caring For Your Dive Regulator
Like other scuba gear, scuba dive regulators are expensive and delicate so you want them to last as long as possible. The most important thing is rinsing your regulator with fresh water to remove the salt and prevent corrosion. Also, you should have the regulator serviced every year so it doesn’t malfunction underwater.
Q: How Do I Choose A Scuba Regulator?
Several factors come into play when choosing the best regulator for scuba diving – first and second stage design, valve fittings (yoke or DIN), number of high and low-pressure ports, and how it performs at different depths and water temperatures. We suggest that you pay close attention to every detail and find the best regulators for scuba diving for your driving style.
Q: What Is A Balanced Regulator?
A balanced scuba regulator is a type of regulator that can compensate for the increased ambient pressure as you go deeper. The advantage of this type of regulator is that it makes it equally easy to breathe whether you’re 10 or 100 feet under the water surface.
Q: How Long Does A Dive Regulator Last?
While the lifespan of a scuba regulator varies from one model to the other, all professional divers agree that you should service them every year regardless of the number of dives. With proper maintenance, the best scuba diving regulator can last for decades.
Q: What Is The Most Important Feature Of A Scuba Regulator?
The most important feature of any regulator is the ease of breathing. Regardless of the depth, you’re at, the best regulators for diving need to balance the pressure and make inhaling and exhaling easy and comfortable.
Q: What Is The Difference Between A First And Second Stage Regulator?
The first stage regulator is the part that connects to the scuba tank and does the initial pressure regulation (reduces it from high to intermediate pressure). The second stage is the part that goes in your mouth and further reduces the air pressure to make it comfortable to breathe.
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Safe breathing underwater is essential when diving and having one of the best scuba diving regulators will ensure that you have peace of mind in this regard. Whether you need a balanced or unbalanced regulator with DIN or yoke compatibility, we hope that our scuba regulators review helped you choose a model that will improve your diving experience.