Deciding on a Regulator setup to go for first off can be all a little bewildering, will you get what you pay for spending a little extra? Does the cheap regulator actually work? What is a venturi or balanced regulator even mean? One things for sure and that we can assure you is that they supply with that all important air while underwater, but….
Since the underwater demand valve was introduced to recreational scuba diving in the 20th century, there have been many advancements on performance and features one top of the introduction of a downstream valve. Still confused? Now days any new scuba regulator set will breath comfortably and reliably at 10m and require minimal maintenance other than the occasional mouthpiece, hose and routine servicing. The options and functions of different brands and setups make a difference usually where claimed but sometimes more noticeably in the wary divers confidence.
Regulators boasting greater reliability are often backed with service recommendations to meet in order for this to happen so most, if not all, of the “reliability” comes from the regular attention by a professional technician. Moderately improved or refined manufacturing methods increase the aesthetic appearance rather than the function in most cases, but that’s not to say a good regulator set cannot be something of a showpiece.
Your higher performance regulators and extra features come into play more when you’re entering Advanced Recreational, Deep or Technical diving. As these are often aspirations of the new and experienced scuba diver then their necessity become validated and a worthy investment although in some cases still not completely necessary.
What is a balanced first stage regulator?
A balanced first stage regulator delivers a more (if not completely) consistent intermediate pressure to the second stage as the tank pressure decreases. Still sound like mad science? Okay, so when you are diving and using air from your tank, the pressure decreases in the tank therefore making it a little more difficult to extract air from. Also add depth to the equation and the increased ambient pressure can affect this as well. A balanced first stage (the part of your regulator that attaches to the tank and hoses come out of) makes the diving more comfortable, requires less effort to breath from and therefore increasing your dive time and enjoyment.
Venturi second stages for your regulator setup
Your second stage is essentially the mouthpiece or the part you use to breath from. This “guy” is another marvelous piece of engineering which delivers air when you breath in, at a similar pressure to the ambient pressure underwater, affected also by the first stage as above. What a Venturi does, which is usually a small lever on the… part your breath from? Allows the air to flow easier through this second stage once engaged when you start to breath in. The other thing it does is prevent the regulator from free-flowing at the surface when on the opposite setting. This also allows the second stage to be tuned better for easier breathing which leads us to the next common feature…
Diver adjustable second stages
This feature is the small knob on the end of your mouthpiece regulator “Second Stage” which allows the diver to tune, just the second stage, but at will above or below the water. Unlike the venturi, this feature does not affect how the air flows through the second stage regulator directly but rather how easily it begins or stops delivering air. With adjustment beyond the diver adjustable knob, it does noticeably make it easier or more difficult to breath from but more so with the beginning or ending of each breath when properly tuned.
When operated correctly these features make a difference to ease of breathing at any depth but at worst, a high performance regulator set with all these features will still match a cheaper lower performance regulator when incorrectly set or used. A cheaper or lower performance regulator will be simple to operate and still allow you to do all types of Recreational diving but without the same level of comfort, style sometimes or ease of breathing. Getting the right regulator setup can be down to personal preference as well.
These are just a few of the features and exterior components that often affect your immediate situation when deciding on a regulator setup but a qualified technician should be consulted in most cases or a reputable sales representative at your friendly local dive store. Your PADI Equipment Specialty has more information and valuable learning tools plus Service technician qualifications for specific brands. We hope you enjoyed the article.