Your Scuba Diving Regulator
Your regulator takes high pressure air from your scuba tank and adjusts it to the pressure you need for breathing. It supplies air only when you inhale (on demand), and directs your breath into the water when you exhale. It also routes air to your BCD, instruments and dry suit if you’re using one.
Also known as: regulator, demand valve, open circuit scuba, first stage, second stage, mouthpiece
All modern scuba regulators have the following features as part of their design :
First stage – Attaches to the scuba tank valve. The first stage reduces cylinder air pressure to an intermediate pressure and routes it to several hoses.
Second stage – At the end of a hose is the mouthpiece you breathe through. The second stage reduces the intermediate pressure air to the exact pressure you need for breathing comfortably.
Alternate second stage – This is just like the one you breathe from, but provides an easy way to share air in case you need to help your buddy. Sometimes the alternate second stage is built into the inflator on your BCD
Low pressure hose(s) – These hoses supply air to your BCD (and dry suit if you’re using one) so you can inflate it to increase your buoyancy.
SPG (Submersible Pressure Gauge) hose – Sends air to your SPG so you always know how much air you have left in your tank.
Easy breathing – Modern regulators are reliable and durable provided you follow maintenance requirements. Investing in the upper end models gives you the easiest breathing and the highest performance. You’ll always remember your first breath underwater on your regulator.
- Adjustable second stage – Breathing characteristics change during a regulator’s maintenance cycle. This allows you to fine-tune breathing so it’s always at its best.
- Dive-predive switch – Some regulators are so sensitive that they can free-flow when they’re not in your mouth. This just means they have runaway air flow, which is easy to stop but annoying. This switch makes your regulator temporarily less sensitive so it doesn’t free-flow when you’re not using it.
- DIN or Yoke – Regulators and tank valves are either DIN (regulator screws into valve) or yoke (regulator bracket slides down over valve). You’ll choose this based on which is most common where you dive.
- Super Flexible Hoses—a nice option to easily pack and fit your regulator into your scuba gear bag.
How to choose a regulator
Your primary considerations in choosing a regulator are performance and availability of service. This is important because regulators require servicing by your dive shop at one to two year intervals. Your local PADI Dive Shop or Resort usually services the brands it sells, making this easy.
- Get your regulator as a package with all the accessory hoses, gauges, alternate second stage, etc.
- Your BCD choice may affect the regulator accessories if you choose an alternate second stage built into your BCD inflator.
- This is also a great time to choose your dive computer at the same time, since you can get one that’s integrated with your regulator, or one that’s independent.
- Obviously, your regulator and tank should both be DIN or yoke system.
- The highest wear point on a regulator is where the hoses attach to the first stage. Hose protectors pay for themselves by taking the strain off these areas.
- Don’t forget to get clips and attachment devices for your SPG and alternate second stage so they don’t dangle while diving. This helps you protect the coral reef from getting damage from your equipment dangling.
- Be sure to register your warranty immediately. Most manufacturers offer excellent warranties, but some aren’t valid if you don’t register.
- Ask your Dive Shop or Resort if it uses a computer system that will automatically notify you (usually email) when it’s time for scheduled servicing.
- Most resort areas use yoke cylinders (tanks), and DIN cylinders that adapt to yoke systems are common. But if in doubt, a DIN regulator with a yoke adapter sets you up to dive anywhere.