The scuba regulator is arguably the single most important piece of equipment in a diver’s kit. While there are other honorable mentions, the scuba regulator is your lifeline underwater; without one, you wouldn’t even be able to breathe.
Since the regulator is an essential part of your gear, you need to be very selective. There are myriad options and considerations to keep in mind when searching for the best scuba regulator, and it can be very overwhelming for first-time buyers.
In this article, we will go over current popular regulator options, as well as the considerations that will help you make the most informed decision before buying. At the end of our review, we have also included a buyer’s guide to help you understand the criteria we used in our selection.
- The Most Reliable Scuba Regulators Reviewed
- Best Scuba Regulators Under $300
- Mid-Range Scuba Regulators
- High-End Scuba Regulators
- Best Scuba Regulator Buyer’s Guide
- Frequently Asked Questions
- How Do Scuba Regulators Work?
- Which Fitting is Better: DIN or Yoke (A-clamps, INT, International)?
- Can a Yoke reg be used with a DIN tank?
- What is the difference between a Piston and a Diaphragm regulator?
- Should I use Piston or Diaphragm regulators?
- How do you assemble a scuba regulator?
- How do you perform proper maintenance on a regulator?
- When should regulators be serviced?
- What is an ‘octopus’?
- Are there regulators for children?
- How much do scuba regulators cost?
- Best Scuba Regulators Review: Parting Words
The Most Reliable Scuba Regulators Reviewed
There are many scuba regulators at various price points. Depending on your skill level, a scuba regulator under $300 may be sufficient for your diving needs. As your needs get more specific – cold water diving, balanced first stage, lightweight, etc. – then the cost will increase with each additional feature.
Best Scuba Regulators Under $300
If you are in the market for your first scuba regulator, then you can’t go wrong with the Cressi C2 first stage and XS2 second stage. This regulator is straightforward to use, easy to take care of and affordable, making it a fantastic regulator for beginners.
Affordable is often a code word for low-quality, but when it is from a reputable brand like Cressi, you know that you are buying quality. The AC2/XS2 is built using high-quality materials, and if you are keeping up with maintenance, it will last you a long time before it needs replacement.
The AC2 is both lightweight and durable, making it ideal for travel. It uses a yoke connection and is intended for use in tropical waters.
- Made from durable materials and can withstand heavy use.
- Highly affordable.
- Lightweight, perfect for travel.
- Unbalanced airflow.
- Not suitable for cold water dives.
- Purge button is small and can be hard to press.
Yet another budget scuba regulator that is safe and reliable, the Palantic AS103 is a great regulator to dip your toes into the waters of the scuba regulator market so to speak. When you consider the features that it provides and its low price, the AS103 provides one of the price to performance ratio on the market. Let’s look at what it does.
First, you are buying both the first and second stage at this price. The AS103 is a Yoke regulator and comes with environmental sealing so that it can be used in cold waters. Next, the Nitrox compatible silicon mouthpiece is super comfortable and will prevent jaw fatigue. It has a chromium-plated brass body which is relatively durable.
Furthermore, the over-balanced first stage ensures that as the pressure gradually increases, it will continue to reduce it down to intermediate pressure for the second stage. This means that under even extreme conditions, the airflow should remain unaffected.
Though the AS103 is not as lightweight or durable compared to its more expensive counterparts, in terms of airflow, the Palantic AS103 is comparable to higher-end models. If you are in the market for an entry level scuba regulator that can get the job done, look no further than the Palantic AS103.
- Incredible price to performance ratio; budget-friendly.
- Works well under numerous conditions, including cold water.
- Breathing remains consistent even at great depths.
- Built-in swivels.
- Cannot be used in freezing conditions.
- Not as durable or lightweight as expensive models.
Mid-Range Scuba Regulators
ScubaPro MK2 EVO R195
The ScubaPro MK2 is another excellent option for beginning scuba divers; it is something you will often find in dive schools and rental centers, so chances are you may have already used one.
The MK2 has a downstream piston design that provides adjustable flow and lets divers precisely regulate the amount of air they receive with each breath. For surface diving, this regulator includes a pre-dive switch that reduces airflow to conserve air while swimming by the surface.
Beginners who plan on diving in a variety of conditions will be pleased to know that the MK2 is highly versatile. It weighs less than 2.5 pounds, making it ideal for frequent traveling and can be used in most conditions.
Unlike other budget regulators, the MK2 is rated for cold water thanks to ScubaPro’s proprietary Extended Thermal Insulating System (XTIS) that keeps the components from freezing in frigid waters.
Despite being lightweight, the MK2 is resilient. It can withstand the wear and tear of travel and frequent use. Since there are few pieces or moving parts on this regulator, the chances of any mechanical malfunctions are extremely low. It has a much higher price compared to traditional budget regulators, however the ScubaPro MK2 justifies it with more functionality.
- The first stage features a classic downstream piston that lets divers adjust airflow.
- Extended Thermal Insulating System (XTIS) keeps parts from freezing so that it remains fully functional in freezing water.
- Large diaphragm improves breathing sensitivity.
- Alternate second stage not included which must be purchased separately.
Mares Rover 2S
The Mares Rover 2S is well-known among divers and sold/rented out in dive shops worldwide for good reason. It is arguably Mares’ best-performing entry-level regulator.
The Rover 2S uses Mares’ unique Fluid Dynamic Deflector System as well as its Vortex Assist Design (VAD). What these fancy systems do is make this unbalanced airflow regulator perform much in the same way as higher-end balanced regulators at deep depths. All of this can be yours at a lower price.
Additionally, the Rover 2S is reliable and resilient; it can take a few knocks like a champ and keep trucking along. Yet this regulator manages to remain lightweight. With both the first and second stage installed, it only weighs 2.5 pounds (1.1 kg). For divers looking for a quality regulator at a low price, then the Mares Rover 2S is a good choice.
- This unbalanced regulator breathes like a balanced airflow regulator.
- Very lightweight, great for travel.
- Durable and affordable.
- Flow adjustment knob.
- Sometimes water can trickle if you turn it upside down.
- Technically unbalanced.
Next up, we have the Apeks XTX50 Yoke Regulator which features a balanced airflow design and can be used for cold water diving. The first stage has an over-balanced diaphragm which helps make breathing easier at great depths.
Apeks have put an environmental dry system in the first stage to prevent contamination and ice buildup during cold water diving. The second stage uses pneumatic-balancing for more consistent breathing, and the Comfo-bite mouthpiece ensures that you will not experience jaw fatigue.
What makes the XTX50 stand out is its degree of modularity; divers can customize or upgrade this system in a variety of ways so that it will continue to meet your needs as you improve your diving skills. For instance, the Diver Changeable Exhaust System (DCE) lets users swap from a small exhaust tee to a large one.
If you plan on doing some underwater photography, then you may opt for a wider exhaust tee to reduce bubble interference to get the best picture quality. Both tees come with the regulator; it’s just a matter of swapping between them as you see fit.
This system, like most regulators, is designed for a right-handed configuration. However, a key feature of the XTX50 is that it can be configured from a right-handed setup to a left-handed one, though you will need to get it serviced by an APEKS authorized technician to get this benefit.
- Balanced airflow and diaphragm design in the first stage keeps airflow consistent even at deep depths.
- Prevent jaw fatigue with the Comfo-bite mouthpiece.
- The option to change from a right-handed configuration to left-handed one.
- Comes with two exhaust tee options.
- Some useful parts are sold separately, such as the swivel hose connection.
Oceanic Alpha 10 SPX
If you want a regulator that is high-performance, durable, and beautifully designed, then the Oceanic Alpha 10 with SPX first stage fits that bill nicely. It is constructed from high-grade marine chrome which is resilient and sleek; as long as you regularly maintain it, it should last for years.
What’s more, Oceanic regulators have a lifetime warranty and free spare parts so if you should ever encounter any problems, you don’t have to worry about spending extra cash on getting it serviced or replaced.
Next, the Oceanic SPX first stage includes 4 low pressure and 2 high pressure ports. Each port is optimally angled for ease of configuration and comfort when diving. Furthermore, this regulator weighs an incredibly light weight of 2.5 lbs (1.1 kg). It is compact and will not take up much luggage space when traveling.
- Lifetime warranty and free spare parts means you can buy this regulator risk-free.
- Balanced second stage.
- Large purge button; easy to press.
- Flow adjustment knob.
- Excellent value.
- Cannot be used for cold water diving.
- Unbalanced first stage.
Aqua Lung Mikron
The Aqua Lung Mikron is both high performing and stylish so you can dive safely in style. This streamlined regulator combines performance with aesthetics all in one product. Though the Mikron is the most compact and lightest regulator from Aqua Lung’s lineup of regulators, it is durable and provides excellent durability.
With its environmentally sealed, balanced first and second stage, the Mikron will ensure you can get the air you need even at deep depths. On the first stage you will find 2 HP ports (7/16) and 4 MP ports (⅜). On the second stage, you can find an adjustment knob to customize the opening effort.
The Mikron uses Aqua Lung’s Auto Closure Device system which keeps corrosive water out of the first stage by automatically sealing the Core as it is detached from the cylinder valve. This also preserves the internal lubrication and makes it safe for divers to use enriched oxygen.
Furthermore, the Mikron includes two different sizes of Aqua Lung’s Comfo-Bite mouthpiece and reusable mouthpiece clamp. You can use this in two ways: 1) To ensure a good fit for you, or 2) To let you share the Mikron with your kids. That’s right.
- Extremely lightweight and compact; can be used by kids.
- Beautiful design that will turn heads.
- Balanced first and second stages.
- Can use either DIN or Yoke fitting.
- Mouthpiece comes in two sizes for the best fit.
- Narrow design can cause bubbles to obstruct view when diving.
High-End Scuba Regulators
The Mares Abyss 22 Navy II is a tech diving regulator that is approved by the U.S. Navy and can be used for long periods of time in harsh conditions. It is for divers that are searching for a high-quality tech regulator at a mid-range price.
The Navy II is a seriously tough regulator thanks to its all-metal design. It has an oil-filled environmental seal that keeps it from freezing in frigid conditions. This combination makes it an ideal choice for dives in extremely cold waters thanks to its thermal transfer properties.
Additionally, the Navy II has a fluoropolymer resin finish with a mesh grid and rubber hose. In layman’s terms, this means that breathing with this regulator always remains consistent; no amount of external conditions will affect how smooth and effortless it is to breath with this piece of kit.
For those looking for a regulator that can take some serious abuse and versatile enough for harsh conditions, and also carries the U.S. Navy seal of approval, then the Abyss 22 Navy II from Mares is a solid choice.
- Performs consistently in all conditions.
- All-metal design is built to last.
- Specifically designed for use in cold water.
- Approved by the U.S. Navy.
- Heavy and bulky; will cause problems for travel.
Oceanic Delta 5 EDX
For divers who want to get the most out of their investment, the Oceanic Delta 5 EDX is popular and praised for its incredibly smooth breathing performance and overall reliability. Here’s how it works.
First, the pneumatically balanced all metal valve ensures that breathing is consistent whether you are at great depths or in cold water; you will never struggle for air. This is further enhanced by Oceanic’s proprietary dynamic adjustment technology which will ensure each breath is as full as the last.
As for the technology in the Delta 5, there are plenty of pre- and post-dive controls. For instance, the mechanical purge button optimizes the air flow pressure while purging. Furthermore, the balanced diaphragm in the first stage of the EDX is environmentally sealed so that it can be used for cold water diving.
Overall, the Delta 5 EDX combines durability with advanced technology to perform well in a variety of conditions. With all of these features, it sports a relatively low price tag. We honestly feel like Oceanic can charge more for a regulator this versatile, but we aren’t going to complain. While the controls can be confusing for beginners, experienced divers will find the Oceanic Delta 5 EDX suitable for their needs.
- Usable in nearly all conditions.
- Balanced airflow at all depths.
- Durable and high-quality.
- Nitrox compatible.
- Not intended for beginners.
- A little on the heavier side.
Atomic T3 Titanium
For the most extreme diver, few other regulators can keep up with you but the Atomic T3 surely can. This scuba octopus setup is expensive and is only meant for divers that are looking for the absolute best scuba regulator money can get.
Its most notable feature is how durable it is while also being lightweight. Since it is constructed from titanium, this regulator is both resilient enough to last you for many years and lightweight enough for air travel.
As one would expect from a regulator of this caliber (and price), you can use the Atomic T3 in basically every single environment: warm water, cold water, deep dives, you name it, it can handle it. The T3 is fully equipped with a perfect seal system which imbues it with anti-freezing properties. It is also corrosion resistant.
Next, the automatic flow control included in the T3 provides easy, unobstructed airflow for which Atomic is well-known for. This is perhaps the best regulator that money can buy and is designed for the most serious divers. Beginners should probably look elsewhere. If you have the budget for this, then you should know where your money is going.
- Can be used in virtually any environment and all types of diving.
- Compact and lightweight for easy air travel.
- Freeze and corrosion resistant, durable, long-lasting.
- Don’t have to worry about service locations.
- One of the most expensive regulators on the market.
Best Scuba Regulator Buyer’s Guide
Regulators can vary drastically from model to model even within the same brand. Many configurations and features are possible and as you wade through all the options, here are some considerations to keep in mind to help you select the best scuba regulator for your diving needs.
Obviously you would like your scuba gear to fit you well and be comfortable to wear for hours at a time. It would be a shame for a dive to end because your equipment is causing you some irritation. When it comes to the regulator, what are some things you should look out for?
For one, the mouthpiece needs to fit your mouth such that you can easily breathe with it and keep jaw fatigue to a minimum. Too large or too small, and your jaw muscles will have to work extra hard just to keep the mouthpiece in your mouth. If you aren’t comfortable with bubbles floating past your face when you exhale, find a regulator with a side exhaust.
The size of your house shouldn’t be too long or short. Too long, and it can get in the way or easily get tangled up. Too short, and it restricts your movement and makes breathing more difficult. There is also the matter of weight which affects your buoyancy level and how much energy you spend carrying it.
Unfortunately, we cannot give exact numbers for what is the “perfect” fit because that varies from individual to individual. You will have to find out exact measurements of each product and figure out roughly what measurements suit you. The takeaway here is that comfort level is extremely important when shopping for scuba equipment, and regulators are no exception.
To that end, look for regulators that have an ergonomic design (designed with the shape and function of the human body in mind) and are constructed with high quality materials. Materials such as elastomers, techno-polymers and ultra-light alloys contribute to a comfortable, durable and lightweight design.
Temperature: Cold or Warm Water Diving?
Scuba regulators have a temperature rating like most other diving equipment. Generally speaking, the optimal water temperature is 50°F or warmer for standard regulators. Any colder than that, and you will have to buy a cold water regulator.
Whether you buy a cold water or warm water regulator, divers need to consider thermoclines that may run through the area you will be diving in. Thermoclines are regions where both warm and cold waters meet. Thermoclines are a distinct boundary, and the temperature difference from the cold water side to the warm water side of this boundary can be significant.
If you don’t have a regulator intended for cold water diving, you will have to stay above the thermocline, however this does mean that you miss out on a great diving experience.
The cold water beneath a thermocline is generally clearer than the water above because there is less plankton, debris, and algae in it. The cold water also causes a lens effect that drastically improves the water’s clarity. You will also be exposed to a variety of life that is quite different than above the line.
Cold water regulators are designed to withstand freezing temperatures and prevent free-flowing. Free-flowing is when gas continuously leaks which is obviously very dangerous and nerve-wracking. To prevent free-flowing, cold water regulators have two stages: a balanced diaphragm stage, and an environmental seal as a failsafe.
Additionally, cold water regulators can be used in both cold and warm water, whereas warm water regulators will not function optimally outside of its rated temperature range
Divers can swim gracefully even while loaded down with lots of equipment thanks to the buoyancy of water. With that said, careful consideration needs to be made in regards to staying beneath their BCD’s lift capacity, and that is when weight becomes an important factor.
Another reason to consider a regulator’s weight is air travel. If you are a frequent flier and bring your own scuba equipment each time, you need to keep weight to a minimum. Airline baggage weight regulations have only gotten stricter over the years, and prices keep increasing for checked baggage. It’s no wonder that lightweight regulators have become very popular the last few years.
Travel regulators are lighter than traditional regulators as you’d expect. They often weigh 2.5 lbs (1.1 kg) or less and are designed to be very compact in order to fit carry-on bags. With that said, do not sacrifice quality for convenience. Some regulators are lightweight because they are made of cheap materials.
Look for regulators that are both lightweight and sturdy. They should not have any flimsy parts or components that are suspiciously flexible because you can bet it’s going to break off. Regulators made of carbon fiber or titanium are excellent options because they are both durable and lightweight.
Balanced vs. Unbalanced Air Flow
Regulators can either be balanced or unbalanced, and this refers to the amount of air it provides in a single breath.
Balanced regulators are very consistent and provide the same amount of air with each inhale. No matter how deep one dives, a balanced regulator will provide a fixed amount of air with each breath. Even under extreme pressure, a balanced regulator is designed to neither assist nor resist the flow of air. Thus, balanced regulators are best suited for deep dives where the water pressure is higher.
Unbalanced regulators provide a variable amount of air flow depending on the remaining air pressure in the tank as well as the pressure at the current depth. As the air pressure in the tank decreases, it gets harder to breathe the same amount of air compared to your first breath. The difference is more pronounced from a depth of 20m and onwards as the pressure increases. As such, an unbalanced regulator should only be used for shallow dives.
An unbalanced system is often less expensive than its balanced counterpart. The benefit is that in an unbalanced system, it is very clear when the remaining air is running low which signals an end to the current dive. However, sometimes beginners panic when they find it harder to breathe and ascend too quickly. This can lead to decompression sickness or loss of consciousness which is fatal without a dive buddy around.
Due to the consistency of balanced regulators, beginners feel at ease with how easy it is to breathe. It keeps their nerves calm and keeps their heart rate low which ultimately conserves energy and decreases mistakes caused by panic. With that said, divers need to pay close attention to their remaining air time, otherwise they may be in for a nasty surprise.
Ease of Breathing
No matter which type of regulator you are looking into, the most important factor above all is whether or not it is easy for you to breathe from without exerting yourself too much. Since it is not always possible for you to try out a regulator before buying, we recommend sticking with trusted brands until you have more experience. You can also check out reviews or scuba forums for an idea of a regulator’s quality.
Lately, there has been a sudden influx of cheap knock-off products that appear to be carbon copies of reputable models, but are they really the same thing? Quality can be hit-or-miss, and more often than not they fail to meet the same stringent safety standards that regulators from trusted brands would pass. If you have never heard of a brand before and the price seems too good to be true, we recommend staying away from it.
Number of Ports
At a minimum, the first stage should have three low pressure ports for recreational diving. They may be marked as MP or medium pressure. One port is for the primary second stage, another for the alternate second stage, and the last for the inflator hose. When diving with a dry suit, an additional port is required to fill your suit with air from the tank.
There should be at least one or two high-pressure ports (marked HP) for the SGP or console. Some divers use an air integrated dive computer with an air transmitter and forgo the SPG, thinking that they no longer need it. That’s not true; dive computers and air transmitters can malfunction and having an SPG around as a failsafe is crucial.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Do Scuba Regulators Work?
On a very basic level, the average person understands that scuba divers breathe air from a scuba tank and that the breathing apparatus used is the regulator. What people might not realize is that the air in a scuba tank is highly pressurized in order to cram as much air as possible inside. The air is compressed to 3,000 pounds per square inch (PSI), which is a dangerously high level that humans cannot handle.
Enter the scuba regulator. The regulator is what “converts” the high pressure air to an ambient (or surrounding) pressure that you can safely handle. This is done through two different stages.
The first stage of the regulator is essentially a valve that attaches to the air tank. It opens and closes to allow air to flow into the hose; when you inhale, it opens, otherwise it remains tightly sealed on the tank between breaths. The first stage starts the normalization process of the pressure from higher pressure to intermediate pressure (~150 PSI or 10 BAR).
This pressure is still too dangerous for humans to breathe from which is where the second stage comes in. But before we get to that, here a few more points about the first stage.
- Scuba regulators use either a diaphragm or piston mechanism to adjust to the change in pressure as one descends to regulate how much air is released from the cylinder.
- The first stage can be either balanced or unbalanced which affects how easy it is to breathe from the regulator at depth.
- The regulator will connect to the tank either with a DIN or Yoke fitting.
The second stage of a regulator is typically what people imagine when they think of a regulator. It is the part that you place in your mouth and actually breathe from. There are two second stages: the primary second stage and the alternate second stage (the octopus).
Their purpose is to further normalize the air pressure in the hose so that you can finally breathe the air from the tank. It reduces the intermediate pressure from the first stage into ambient pressure (pressure at the depth you are currently at) so you can safely breathe the air.
The second stage consists of an exhaust valve, mouthpiece, and a purge button. There is also an adjustable knob that lets divers control the air flow so it is harder or easier to breathe from.
Just like the first stage, the second stage can also be balanced or unbalanced, which affects how easy it is to breathe from the regulator at depth.
The alternate second stage, commonly referred to as the octopus, is identical to the primary second stage. Its purpose is to be a backup just in case there is an issue with the primary second stage or if you need to give your buddy some air during an emergency. Ideally, you never have to use the second stage, but it’s good to have it there in the off chance something goes awry.
Alternate second stages are generally brightly colored so that it is highly visible and easy to find when you need it.
The Low-Pressure Inflator Hose (LPI) attaches to your first stage and the inflator on your buoyancy compensator so you can fill the BCD’s air bladder to regulate your buoyancy.
When diving in a drysuit, a second low-pressure inflator hose can be used to add air to equalize your dry suit.
Lastly, the Submersible Pressure Gauge (SPG) is attached to the first stage with a hose and it measures how much air pressure is in the tank so you can have an idea of how much air is remaining. The first stage will allow the exact pressure to flow through the gauge to get an accurate reading before reducing it to an intermediate level for the second stage.
You may also find scuba diving regulators with a depth gauge, compass, and dive computer all in one, forming what is referred to as an instrument console.
Now that you know the different parts of the scuba regulator and what they are commonly referred to, let’s go into some more specifics.
Which Fitting is Better: DIN or Yoke (A-clamps, INT, International)?
There are two valve types that can be used in a diving regulator.
To start, if you’re confused about which is which, know that a DIN fitting screws directly onto an air tank, whereas a Yoke sits over the tank’s opening valve. DIN valves are commonly used in Europe for cold water diving and technical diving. Yoke valves, on the other hand, are popular in North America for warm water diving.
Next, the general consensus nowadays is that DIN is the superior option. There are many reasons for this. One is that DIN can handle greater pressure capacity, up to 300 bar, which means divers can fit more air into their tank compared to a Yoke reg which can only handle 232 bar.
Another argument for using DIN is its superior seal integrity. In a DIN setup, the O-ring is inside the regulator itself whereas the O-ring is part of the tank in a Yoke setup. What this means is that the first stage of the regulator is less likely to experience pinching. Furthermore, the first stage will be better protected from dust, grit, or any other contaminants.
For the above reasons, DIN has become the standard fitting for technical diving. Another reason is that DIN fittings are generally lighter than Yoke by about 200g, which is a surprising amount of weight for such a small component.
Lastly, a large reason why a diver might select one type over another is just due to simple reasons such as availability or personal preference. As we mentioned, DIN is used in European destinations and availability will be higher there. With that said, divers with a DIN setup can use a yoke adapter or regulator so compatibility isn’t an issue with any setup. There’s not much reason why one would pick a yoke fitting over a DIN.
Can a Yoke reg be used with a DIN tank?
We mentioned above that DIN regs can be fitted with an adapter to work with a yoke tank, but how about the other way around? The answer is technically yes, but you have to know what you are doing. Since a DIN tank can handle 300 bar of pressure, whereas the yoke reg can only handle a maximum of 232 bar.
In other words, if using a DIN tank with a yoke reg, you must make sure the tank pressure never exceeds 232 bar. Afterwards, you need an insert and allen/hex key to ensure a tight fit. If you don’t have one with you, check if the local dive center has any.
What is the difference between a Piston and a Diaphragm regulator?
A piston regulator lets water enter the first stage which pushes on a piston that controls the airflow. The deeper one dives, the greater the water pressure acting on the piston which increases the air flow.
A diaphragm regulator has a lever inside an air space. As the air space contracts due to the increased water pressure at depth, it pulls the lever inwards, increasing air flow.
Should I use Piston or Diaphragm regulators?
When there is more than one option to select from, people want to know which one is the best. In this case, both types of regulators are comparably good at delivering breathable air. The choice then comes down to personal preference. Both types have unique features that may help fence-sitters favor one side type the other.
Diaphragm Regulator Pros and Cons
Though diaphragm regulators seem more complicated, they are actually easier to manufacture which means their cost is generally lower. Furthermore, since diaphragm regulators don’t let any water inside the first stage, there are less issues related to contaminants or debris buildup.
Additionally, a diaphragm regulator has less issues with freeflow in cold waters. For this reason, divers who tend to dive in cold waters should probably stick with a diaphragm regulator.
Piston Regulator Pros and Cons
Since a piston regulator has less moving parts, they are more durable, reliable, and cheaper to fix than a diaphragm regulator. With that said, it has a higher initial cost because it requires delicate machining in the manufacturing process.
Since piston regulators allow water to enter the first stage, they are more susceptible to wear and tear and require extra diligence to maintain. As such, piston regulators are not ideal for diving in murky water or in near-freezing temperatures because extreme environments may cause the piston to stick and the regulator to freeflow.
Although a piston regulator can technically deliver more air than a comparable diaphragm regulator, both can be used for recreational diving. Only when one is diving in extreme conditions where higher airflow is necessary can one begin to notice that the piston regulator delivers slightly more air.
How do you assemble a scuba regulator?
Regulators don’t come assembled; you have to do it yourself. Don’t worry, it’s actually really easy! You don’t need any fancy tools, either.
Of course if your equipment comes with an instruction manual then you should start there. But generally, you just need to screw the second stages (primary and alternate), inflator hose, and pressure gauge into the first stage. Then you just need a wrench to tighten each hose. That’s it.
You can also check out this video by 50ft Below to get a visual of what we are talking about.
How do you perform proper maintenance on a regulator?
If you want to keep your regulator in tip-top shape and save money in the long run, then you need to know how to properly clean your scuba equipment. This means thoroughly rinsing your regulator after each dive or at the end of each diving day.
Rinse your regulator and make sure no salt deposits or debris remain on the apparatus. Even if you are diving in freshwater or a swimming pool, they also contain contaminants that will damage your regulator over time if it is not removed.
Here are some general tips for cleaning your scuba regulators. First, use fresh, clean, and ideally warm water to rinse your equipment.
When rinsing, make sure not to soak the first stage. Either rinse it with a hose or quickly dunk it in water to clear it of contaminants. For the second stage, wiggle it around in clean water but do not press the purge button. After rinsing for a few minutes, leave the second stage, LPI, and pressure gauge to soak for 5 minutes.
Your dive equipment should be cleaned immediately after a dive session and completely air dried before storing it. Make sure the dust cap is completely dry before putting it back and screw it on tightly.
When should regulators be serviced?
A general rule of thumb is to get your regulator serviced every 100 dives or after one year, whichever comes first. Although this is a safe rule to follow, we recommend reading your regulator’s manual to see what the manufacturer recommends.
If you choose not to follow the directions on the manual then you may void your warranty. Servicing your product with an unauthorized technician may also void your warranty.
Even if you rarely use your scuba equipment, they should still get serviced once a year. You need to ensure the seals in your regulator are tight and that the O-rings haven’t hardened and cracked.
Your regulator is your lifeline when diving. You cannot be lackadaisical about its maintenance and repair. A malfunction deep underwater may be the last mistake you ever make. The longer you neglect maintaining your regulator, the more likely a problem will arise. And like many things in life, taking proper care of it is cheaper than replacing it.
What is an ‘octopus’?
You may have heard the term ‘octopus’ being used when talking about scuba equipment. It is not referring to the animal, rather to the alternative second stage of a regulator.
Are there regulators for children?
Yes, there are. When shopping for a kid’s scuba regulator, one needs to look for a shorter hose length and smaller mouthpiece to accommodate a child’s smaller body.
How much do scuba regulators cost?
Since a scuba regulator is an essential piece of equipment for diving, they carry a hefty and unavoidable price tag compared to other parts of a kit. As such, you should expect to invest around $200 on the low end to upwards of $1000 or even more for the best scuba regulators.
Best Scuba Regulators Review: Parting Words
Scuba regulators: love them or hate them, you can’t dive without them. They are an essential part of your scuba diving kit and they are your lifeline underwater. The most important “feature” of a scuba regulator is whether you are able to easily breathe from it or not. It doesn’t matter how fancy it looks or how many useful subfeatures it has if you aren’t able to breathe from it.
To summarize, these are the top questions to ask yourself and answering them can help you to find the best scuba regulator for your diving needs:
- Is it easy to breathe with?
- Is it comfortable?
- Does the first stage use a DIN or Yoke fitting? Is it compatible with your air tank?
- Is it balanced or unbalanced? (Balanced is better for deep dives, unbalanced for shallow dives).
- How much does it weigh? (Affects travel and buoyancy).
- Will you be diving in warm or cold water?
- How many ports do you need?
- What gas will you be diving with?
Whether you are just starting out with scuba diving or are a professional diver, something that all divers need is properly fitting scuba equipment, and the diving regulator is arguably the most important piece that you have to get right. It will not only dramatically improve your diving experience, it can keep you breathing if anything goes wrong.
You need to find a regulator that is reliable, high-performing, and constructed with durable materials to help you perform and breathe better. If, after answering all of the above questions, you find a scuba regulator that satisfies all of the requirements at an acceptable price, then you will no doubt have found the best scuba regulator for your diving needs.