Scuba diving requires some essential equipment, but one of the most important pieces of equipment is the regulator. A regulator takes highly pressurized air from your scuba tank and depressurizes it to the correct pressure needed for breathing. Rather than receiving a constant supply of air and depleting the air from your tank, a regulator only supplies air each time you inhale. It also directs the breath from your exhale into the water and routes the air from your tank into your instruments, BCD, and dry suit if you happen to be using one.
Required Features of a Regulator
Most modern regulators come with everything a diver needs to safely and comfortably breathe underwater, such as:
andbull; First Stage andndash; The first stage attaches to the valve of the scuba tank to depressurize the air to an intermediate level while routing the air to several hoses.
andbull; Second Stage andndash; In addition to being the mouthpiece that you use to inhale and exhale air from, the second stage also decreases the intermediate air pressure to the pressure needed to breathe comfortably.
andbull; Alternate Second Stage andndash; This is exactly like the second stage that you use to breathe from, except it also allows you to easily share air with a fellow diver if they need a little help. In some cases, it is built directly into the inflator located on your BCD.
andbull; Low Pressure Hoses andndash; These hoses are used to provide your BCD and dry suit with air, allowing you to inflate it for increased buoyancy.
andbull; Submersible Pressure Gauge Hose andndash; The SPG hose directs air to your SPG, offering you the ability to know exactly how much air is left in your scuba tank.
Desirable Features of a Regulator
Most modern regulators will perform up to par as long as they are properly maintained. However, the high-end models provide the highest level of performance and allow for much easier breathing. Here are some optional features you may want to invest in:
andbull; Adjustable Second Stage andndash; This optional feature allows you to fine-tune the breathing apparatus to experience the best breathing possible.
andbull; Dive/Pre-Dive Switch andndash; This switch keeps your regulator from free-flowing air whenever it is not in your mouth.
andbull; Extra Flexible Hoses andndash; Upgraded hoses allow you to easily fit your regulator inside of your gear bag.
Choosing a Regulator
The dive professionals at your local Key West dive shop will help you choose the right regulator for you. However, you should take the performance aspects of the regulator and the availability of service into consideration, which is important because your regulator must be serviced by your dive shop every year or two. Thankfully, most local or resort dive shops service the regulator brands that they sell. Most avid divers agree that a DIN regulator with a yoke adapter is ideal, because it will allow you to dive at any resort around the world. Most local dive shops will recommend this type of set-up, so you can enjoy diving in Key West, Belize, Cozumel, or any other famed diving locale.