Scuba regulator is a pressure regulator that supplies air. It lets you breathe underwater.To ensure a delightful diving, it is important to choose the best scuba regulator alongside other scuba diving equipment.
If you are just starting Scuba Diving and are wondering which regulator to buy, this information on Best Scuba Regulator can help you!
Main Regulator Components
Regulator design has changed little over the last 30 years, and the main components are still the 1st stage and the 2nd stage.
- 1st stage - the part that attaches directly to the tank.
- 2nd stage - the part that goes in your mouth and helps you to breathe.
There have been numerous improvements in the technology and quality of the two principal components. These improvements in design have made regulators more reliable, more durable, comfortable, easier breathing and less heavy.
If you are new to Scuba diving, you will find that, sometimes, it is hard to decide which improvements and features of the Scuba Regulator are necessary and which are just extra. Take a look at the features we think are important for you.
Secondary Regulator Components
When purchasing regulators for Scuba Diving keep in mind that the 1st and 2nd stages are not the only components you will be attaching to your regulator. It is considered a standard requirement that your regulator has the following other elements:
- Backup or Secondary 2nd stage for emergency buddy breathing or primary 2nd stage failure.
- Pressure Gauge Console which normally includes the pressure gauge, depth gauge or Dive Computer and compas
- Inflator Hose for your Buoyancy Control Device (BCD).
All of these components can be purchased separately. Let’s start with the 1st stage and Primary 2nd stage and discuss the features that are considered standard requirements for Open Water Scuba Diving and then cover the other components.
Starting at the tank
The 1st Stage of your regulator is the real air regulating part of the regulator. It attaches to your tank and provides you with both low and high-pressure ports for you to connect hoses to your 2nd Stage and components like your pressure gauge and BCD Inflator hose.
The scuba regulators 1st stage primary function is to take High Pressure from the tank and provide an Intermediate pressure to your 2nd Stage.
Important Features of the Regulator First Stage
- Diaphragm Vs Piston
- Unbalanced Vs Balanced
- Yoke Connection Vs DIN Connection
- Environmental Sealing Vs Non- Environmental Sealing
- Number of ports and shape of the Scuba regulator
Diaphragm Vs Piston
In Diaphragm first stages, water pressure pushes on the diaphragm to open the valve. On the other hand, in Piston first stages, water pressure pushes on the piston to open the valve.
- Internal parts are separated from water.
- Reduce water corrosion and other contamination.
- Easier to adjust in the field.
- Have fewer ports.
- Have more moving parts than a Piston first stage.
- Easier to repair.
- Makes breathing comfortable and with less effort.
- Have fewer moving parts.
- Have more ports and swivel to make it fit on the tank valve more ergonomically.
- Must be environmentally sealed to keep water away from some moving parts.
- Have to be disassembled to adjust.
Getting in the Cold Water
If you are going to dive in the icy water, you need to pay attention to the type of 1st Stage regulator you buy.
I recommend a diaphragm over a piston 1st Stage in water colder than 50-degree Fahrenheit (10 degree Celsius). If you are planning any ice diving, you need to read the reviews for best scuba regulator choice for that Scuba specialty.
Unbalanced Vs Balanced
The big difference between balanced and unbalanced are: How pressure and direction of pressure from the tank act on the valve and ease of breathing at low tank pressure.
With an Unbalanced first stage, the pressure from the tank assists the opening of the valve as breathing occurs. Balanced first stages do not use the tank pressure to help open the valve while you breathe and this makes them easier to breathe with when tank pressure is lower.
Most scuba regulators use the balanced first stage, but some cheaper models do use unbalanced designs. I recommend balanced first stages because their performance in most situations are outstanding.
Yoke Vs DIN
The majority of regulators use the Yoke style connection to the tank valve. Yoke style uses a yoke clamp on the method to connect the first stage to the tank valve with an O-ring to seal the valve from leaking.
However, some areas of the world (Europe) and Tec divers using doubles do use the DIN or screw in the first stage of the tank valve connection method.
If you want, you have to order the DIN style regulator specially, and if you are just starting to dive, Yoke will be the best connection method to buy.
Environmentally Sealed First Stages
Sealing the first stage from the environment keeps away contaminates and other wear causing junks from affecting the operation of your first stage. However, most importantly, it prevents freezing water from locking up the moving parts of your first stage on cold/freezing water dives.
The seal is a barrier between the piston style or diaphragm style scuba regulators that will keep parts from interacting with water. If you plan to Ice Dive, sealed first stage will be best for you.
Number of Ports and the shape of the first stage
The standard first stage scuba regulator has: 2 High-pressure ports (HP)4 Low-pressure ports (LP).
Some 1st stages will have more low and high-pressure ports but unless you are doing technical or specialty diving, the standard 2 High, and 4 Low-pressure ports is the way to start.
Using the Ports
You will use 3 Low pressures ports and 1 High-pressure port for a standard Open Water regulator configuration.
- 2nd Stage Primary (LP)
- 2nd Stage Secondary (LP)
- BCD inflator hose (LP)
- Pressure gauge console (HP)
If you dive in cold water and want to use a dry suit, the fourth Low-pressure port will come in handy. I always like to have a backup, and you will never regret having an extra port for both High and Low pressure.
Some Scuba regulators have swivels that can make hose orientation more ergonomic and more comfortable to use when diving. when you have more hoses, This becomes more important for other items like drysuit inflators or even a third backup regulator.
2nd Stage Primary
Things that I consider vital with the 2nd Stage Primary:
- Downstream or Pilot Valve
- Manual Adjustment Air Flow Knob
- Custom molded or the least quality Mouthpiece
- The Downstream advantag
Downstream or Pilot Valve
Most scuba regulators second stages are the downstream type. They are a simpler design, have less moving parts and if they fail them free flow or are in the open position so you can at least get air in the event of failure.
Pilot valve designs have more parts, free flow easier, have more to go wrong and are not as failsafe as the downstream types.
Manual Adjustable Flow
If you are looking at a regulator that does not have a Manual Adjustment system, don't buy It! After many years of diving, I consider the ability to adjust air flow in the middle of my dive a must have an option.
There will be a day, if you dive long enough, where your regulator will free flow air or be supplying too little or too much air at depth, with the manual adjustment problem will be solved.
The LightWeight Advantage
When I first started diving in the 80's, the 2nd Stage of the regulator weighed a ton. It was made of steel and heavy brass parts. If you were in the cold water and your face was near a frostbite stage, a heavy 2nd Stage was hard to hold in your mouth.
Today's lightweight materials and plastics along with smaller designs are excellent at half the weight. Lightweight second stages also reduce jaw and mouth fatigue
Finally, a good custom or quality mouthpiece will make holding the 2nd Stage in your mouth a lot comfortable and can make your dive much more enjoyable.
A wrong mouthpiece can rub your mouth and gums and cause sores that can last for days. This can be something you can add after you buy the best scuba regulator but, should be one of the first customizations you make to your regulator.
Break out the spreadsheet when you are pricing all of the parts you will be adding to your regulator. Sometimes the best deals are combo scuba regulator packages that include everything including: scuba pressure gauge, scuba depth gauge, scuba computer and scuba compass, all needed for basic open water diving.