Choosing the best regulator

Choosing the best regulator

What are they and how do they work?

Regulators are the key to diving…. We would be pretty lost without them since they allow us to breathe high pressure, compressed air at depth.  How do they work? Regulators do what they say on the label, they regulate the high pressure from the tank. They regulate the air pressure to match our surrounding pressure at any depth. So it’s safe to say they are very important to use divers!

Top tips

When it comes to buying any regulator our advice is always safety first! A regulator is an important investment as it is a crucial piece of diving equipment that ultimately keeps you alive under the water.  Make sure when choosing a regulator that you use a reputable manufacturer. The very best regulator is one from a trustworthy manufacturer and one that makes breathing as easy and natural as possible for you under the water. A great regulator should feel comfortable and easy at any depth and in any condition.

Remember to invest in a model that is durable and reliable. This may seem like an upfront expense but it’s important to consider since regulators have to be serviced regularly and a slightly more expensive, high quality regulator turns out cheaper in the long run!  When it comes to the service make sure you choose a manufacturer that has an authorized dealer locally, this way you don’t have to send it off to be serviced.  Finally, don't be afraid to ask experts for help when choosing a regulator. At Blue Ocean we are happy to advise our guests on any equipment.

When buying a regulator they often come with 2 separate parts called 1st stage and second stage. The additional parts such as the ‘octopus’ and any gauges are sold separately.  

First stage

Make sure your first stage can attach all the accessory hoses that you need in a streamlined manner. Make sure it  has a comfortable set up to avoid hoses getting tangled under the water. You may want to invest in a smaller or lighter first stage if you will travel with it a lot. Your first stage will have LP (low pressure) and HP (High Pressure) ports.  If you plan to use a dive computer with an air transmitter make sure your stage 1 has 2 HP ports.

Piston vs Diaphragm

There are 2 operational designs to the 1st stage; piston and diaphragm. Both mechanisms are equally good. In a piston regulator the external pressure acts on a piston that moves within the first stage. In a diaphragm regulator the external pressure acts on a flexible diaphragm and transmits the movement to a push rod and then to the valve.  This is what allows the regulator to regulate the pressure to equal the pressure in your surroundings.

The biggest difference between these two designs is that since a piston regulator has fewer moving parts it is easier and faster to service, however diaphragm regulators are less prone to build up or corrosion since they have separate internal compartments.

Environmental sealing

First stage regulators should include something called environmental sealing. This is a silicone or alcohol based fluid that seals a watertight barrier within the first stage.  This is very important as it prevents salt or other debris from contaminating the first stage. It also prevents any freezing issues in colder temperatures. The only downside is that this environmental seal makes the service of the regulator more expensive.  For us it is worth the expense especially if you are thinking of diving in colder water!

Din vs Yoke

There are two types of configuration systems found in regulators. These systems allow you to connect them to the tank. Yoke configuration is common for recreational diving in certain areas of the world, whereas DIN configuration is more commonly used by technical divers as it is more future proof and considered safer. In the past it was important to choose the best configuration system for where you will dive, however nowadays we have conversion adapters that let you attach a DIN regulator to any tank, this makes the DIN system more popular today. 

Second stage and additions

The second stage of your regulator is the part located directly at the diver’s mouth. This stage further reduces the pressure of the gas you are breathing. Choose one that is comfortable and lets you breathe easily.  

Other parts of the regulator have to be bought separately. This includes:

  • The octopus – alternative air source.
  • Pressure gauge or console – this allows you to control the supply of air
  • Hose to inflator – connects the regulator to the BCD
  • Dry suit hose – If you need to connect a dry suit for cold water dives.