How to choose a diving regulator: All you want to know [Updated in 2023]
The best thing to have in mind before selecting the right regulator
Considering the many choices available, choosing the right regulator may seem difficult, but it is quite easy by following a few simple tips.
A regulator comprises different parts: the 1st stage, the main 2nd stage, the octopus, the instruments, and the inflator hose.
It is important to consider the number of low and high-pressure ports in your 1st stage depending on your needs and the accessories you want to plug into them, such as a dry suit inflator or computer transmitter.
You must therefore know your needs to choose the best regulator for you because it is possible to buy a set in which it includes everything or buy each part separately.
How its work? A Scuba Dive Regulators Balanced Diaphragm.
The best way to understand is with a simple explanation. Check how it works.
Choose your regulator
The choice of your regulator will depend on the diver you are. There are regulators for each category of divers. For example, people diving in warm waters may opt for a travel regulator, which is made to be lightweight when travelling by plane. Coldwater divers will instead opt for a more significant regulator designed specifically to not freeze during their excursions. There is the EN250A standard which guarantees the quality of the regulator in cold waters.
As with any purchase, you must define your budget to buy your regulator. Before you make that decision, remember that underwater, the regulator will be your best friend, and like many things, a higher price means higher quality. We recommend you to go for the best you can afford, as a good regulator is a long-term investment. A quality product can follow you for 10 or 20 years or more if you take good care of it. In addition, a good regulator can follow you in your diving evolution without limiting you if you go for more technical or deep diving than recreational diving.
The complete regulator set can be found at around 250 € for the cheapest depending on the different offers available, and go up to 1000 € or even more depending on the limited series or options you choose. For around 500 €, you can have a very good quality all-inclusive package.
A balanced regulator or not
An essential set of your regulator is whether the 1st stage is balanced. Nowadays, most regulators are balanced and even for high-end over-balanced.
But what is a balanced regulator?
The difference between the two models is in the internal mechanism of the 1st stage. In balanced models, there are additional parts inside the 1st stage that balance the increasing pressure at depth and allow breathing comfort to be maintained at any depth. On the overbalanced models, comfort gets even greater in-depth. From an external point of view, there is a difference between the two options. The 1st stage of unbalanced regulators is straight and aligned with the outlet of the cylinder, so the cylinder pressure influences the opening of the mechanism. It becomes more difficult to breathe when the pressure decreases in the tank, especially below 50 bars. Balanced or overbalanced regulators are built with a right angle. That means that the part screwed into the bottle is at a 90 degrees angle compared to the regulator body. Therefore, the internal pressure of the block does not affect the opening of the regulator and makes it possible not to feel the difference between a full tank and an almost empty tank. Besides the first stage, the 2nd stage can also be balanced for maximum performance.
The advantages of the unbalanced regulator are its price and its simplicity. They are very easy to maintain and sturdy due to their simpler design.
It is possible to have a balanced 1st stage and an unbalanced 2nd stage for an intermediate option. As the 1st stage does most of the work, this solution is an excellent way to keep costs down.
You can also buy the different parts separately or customize your set by modifying the included instruments. For the latter, there are several options ranging from single to triple instruments. The first choice will be a pressure gauge alone, which is the most usual. The double console will comprise a pressure gauge and a depth gauge or a compass. The last choice is the triple console which includes all three in one place.
There is the last version, the console, which includes a dive computer. It can be your main computer or a second computer for redundancy.
You can choose your backup regulator separately from your 1st stage and primary regulator. However, it is necessary to have the different parts of the same brand because a mix can lead to a loss of guarantee, but also, the intermediate pressure settings can be different for the 1st stage and the 2nd stage. There are primary and octopus regulators from the same range to make a choice easier.
The most common mistake when buying an octopus is trying to buy the cheapest regulator possible and telling yourself that you will never use it. But in case of an out-of-air situation with your buddy, giving them a regulator on which it is difficult to breathe when they are already in a panic can make the situation worse and push your buddy to throw himself at you and try to grab your primary regulator and create an additional issue. A quality octopus can solve these problems.
Primary and octopus regulators of the same range
New Update January 2022 and very important: Number of Port available
We recently had the chance to have our hands on many new Computers with Gages Bluetooth, and we faced a huge situation. We were not ABLE to connect them on our MK2 or even Calypso reg; only our MK25 and Legend could have an extra connection.
What is the Output setting exactly: it’s the place on the regulator where you can connect your manometer, inflator, octopus, and drysuit. All regulators on the market are using the same standards :
- 1 High-pressure port UNF 7:16″ thread. This is where we have an issue, a cheap or diving school regulator has only one for the gauge, so you can’t connect the wireless gauge to your computer.
- Three medium-pressure UNF 3/8 tread
- 1 Low-pressure UNF 1/2 tread. Not often present on cheap regulators
So now you understand it, if you are the owner of a Shearwater Teric, Suunto D5i, or Garmin Descent Mk1 / Mk2, you must have 2 HP ports.
As pro divers, we must NEVER exchange the manual manometer for an adapter for 10.000 reasons.
Nowadays, all regulators available on the market follow strict standards and even the cheapest to deliver high performance.
Contact us if you have questions regarding the regulators, and we will be happy to reply so you get the most out of your future dives.