Scuba diving would not be possible without regulators as this essential diving equipment allows divers to breathe underwater by reducing the pressure of the gas in the scuba tank. Gases are compressed into the tank under high pressure and will be totally unsafe for breathing without a regulator to reduce them to ambient pressure.
Regulators come in a wide variety of styles, materials, sizes, and technology. The reason for these diverse types of regulators is to meet the specific needs generated by specialized types of diving.
Buying a regulator can be overwhelming for new divers as they need to understand the different features of regulators to help them choose one that meets their needs. Here, I’ll be providing information about dive computers after which the factors to consider when buying a dive computer will be discussed.
What Does a Scuba Regulator Do?
A scuba regulator is a piece of diving gear that allows you to breathe underwater by delivering air from the scuba tank. However, a regulator doesn’t just deliver air to you as it reduces the high pressure of the air to a pressure that’s comfortable for breathing.
Scuba regulators can also be said to be the hub of your diving gear as they link other pieces of gear like your scuba tank to your BCD, submersible pressure gauge (SPG), and alternate air source.
What are First Stage and Second Stage Regulators?
There are two parts to a regulator namely the first stage and the second stage.
First stage regulators attach to the scuba tank valve, take air from the tank and route it through several hoses to reduce the air to an intermediate pressure.
The second stage regulator delivers air to you for breathing through the mouthpiece after further reduction of the air pressure to the pressure you need for breathing comfortably.
DIN vs. Yoke
The valve of your regulator that attaches to the scuba tank valve comes in two different designs namely DIN and Yoke. The yoke valve, also called international (INT) and “A” clamps, is clamp-type mounting that is placed over the tank valve and then tightened into place. On the other hand, the DIN valve is a threaded valve and you attach it to the tank by screwing the regulator into the tank valve.
The tank valve and regulator valve are connected by an O-ring and the location of this O-ring differs in DIN and Yoke valves. DIN valves have this O-ring on the regulator first stage while the O-ring is on the tank valve for yoke.
DIN style is more common among technical divers because the connection is stronger and can withstand higher gas pressure. Yoke valves are more common among recreational activities divers in the United States and the Caribbean.
You can convert a DIN valve to a yoke valve by using a DIN/yoke adapter that can be picked up at a dive shop.
Balanced vs. Unbalanced
The difference between a balanced and unbalanced regulator is that a balanced regulator has more precision parts which lessen the impact of pressure and makes breathing easier.
As the air pressure in the gas decreases, a balanced regulator will continue to supply air at an even rate while this will not happen for an unbalanced regulator making breathing slightly difficult. The emphasis here is on ‘slightly’ and chances are you won’t notice the change in air pressure/supply rate especially if you are a recreational diver with a moderate workload.
Other Aspects To Consider When Choosing Your Regulator
While any regulator you buy will function well in warm water, not all regulators are designed to perform in cold water. This makes it important for divers diving in cold waters to pick regulators that can function at low temperatures.
Number of Ports
Remember that your regulator connects to other scuba gear? It does this through ports and the more ports there are, the easier it will be to set up your scuba gear. Usually, quality regulators come with a minimum of 4 low-pressure (LP) ports and 1 or 2 high-pressure (HP) ports.
Sealed regulators feature gaskets or some other technology to keep sand or debris out of the airway while preventing the regulator from being frozen at low temperatures. So by design, sealed regulators are more durable than unsealed ones.
Piston or Diaphragm
The first stage of your regulator can come in two different construction types namely piston and diaphragm. Piston construction is more expensive and reliable and is recommended for people diving to great depths or going cave or wreck diving.
The diaphragm construction is cheaper but not as reliable as pistons and is common among recreational divers.
That’s it for this basic guide about scuba diving regulators. Like most scuba diving gear, things are a little technical but hopefully, after reading this article, you are able to see clearer in all the jargon. If you intend to buy a scuba regulator, I hope that this information was useful to you. Got more questions? Ask me in the comment section!