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Should I buy a regulator?

Discussion in 'Regulators' started by radsman, Jul 24, 2010.

  1. radsman

    radsman Garibaldi

    I'm relatively new to diving and am SLOWLY buying equipment. This year I was trying to decide between a computer or a regulator. Since I have been renting my BCD and reg up to this point, I figured the computer would come first. But the guy at my LDS began to sell me on the virtues of owning your own reg. Due to my current location and situation, I only do 15-20 dives/year :depressed:. The logic for NOT buying my own reg at this point has been that the rental price for the number of dives a year that I do would range between $50-100 while it would cost me at least $50/year to have my own reg serviced... Seems like a wash (and I'm not interested in servicing my own at this point). Soooo this leads me to a series of questions...

    Which should come first, the computer or the reg?

    Is it true that for most new regulators, they require you to have your reg serviced annually IF you want to have the parts warranty stay intact? Some articles I've read suggest that if you are not diving a ton you may only need to service your regulator every 2-3 years.

    Is it hard on your regulator to dive it only once or twice a year (ie. One or two dive trips a year) and have it sitting dormant the rest of the time?

    How fast does this equipment become obselete? (Will parts not be available in 5-10 years?) It seems that regulator technology is pretty basic.

    Would it be better to buy now when I'm not diving as much or wait a few years when I will be diving more and just get it then?

    Thanks for your input.
  2. halocline

    halocline Solo Diver

    Actually, to me the best thing to get first is a good exposure suit that fits and is appropriate for your diving. After that I would get a BC, my favorite type of which is a rigid backplate and wing set up.

    Then I guess I'd go for a regulator, but I would not buy a new one under warranty and get it serviced every year. Buy a good used one, have it serviced by an expert once, take care of it, and you can use it for years, maybe 3 or 4 before getting it serviced again, based on the number of dives you do. The computer issue is kind of two sided IMO; I do think that computers are very useful especially for new divers; the ascent rate alarm alone is a nice safety feature. But, if you're mostly diving on guided trips where the profiles are shallow and/or conservative, you don't really need one, you can use tables, maybe if you still find the PADI wheel, that's not bad for planning multi level dives. Further, I would definitely skimp on a computer; IMO all you need is time/depth/ascent rate/N2 loading bar/NDL info, and they all do that. It's getting to the point where it's almost difficult to find a air-only computer.

    There are so many extra features, bells and whistles, etc... on lots of dive computers it can get pretty silly. As far as safety goes, remember that dive behavior, not computer algorithm or features, determines dive safety, and the conservative computers have no better track record in preventing DCS than the liberal ones. Single tank recreational diving is very safe from DCS if you dive intelligently.

    So, to summarize my totally opinionated advice:
    1. Wetsuit
    2. BC (preferably BP/W)
    3. Used reg and cheap computer, maybe splurge on these at the same time just to make it an extra nice day.

    An edit, to answer some your specific questions:

    1. It's not hard on your reg to only use it a few times/year if you rinse it well, and store it well. It's nice to take the pressure off the 2nd stage seat by slightly depressing the purge in storage. There is no wear on the 1st stage seat in storage. Quality regs treated this way can go years between servicing; don't let anyone scare you into thinking otherwise.

    2. I like scubapro regs because I can still get parts for 20-25 year old regs. I prefer these regs; MK 5, MK10, balanced adjustable, G250, D300, and my current favorite which is also one of the oldest, the pilot. (Don't get one of those unless you know a real reg guru). If you bought a MK10(or MK20)/G250, it's likely you'll be able to give it to your kids and they could get parts.
  3. LeadTurn_SD

    LeadTurn_SD Solo Diver

    Terrific reply by mattboy.

    If you are diving 15-20 times a year, you certainly dive enough to buy the items that need to "fit" you well (mask, fins, exposure suit).

    I started diving in 1976... but bought my very first computer in 2008 (for a whopping $139.00).

    Computers are great, I enjoy diving with one now; but you can dive without one (using a dive watch, a depth gauge, and tables).... But most folks find a regulator is pretty vital :D

    I agree 200% with mattboy in that you should strongly consider buying a well-maintained used regulator. You'll get much more bang for the buck since regulators last almost forever if maintained properly, but they simply do NOT retain their monetary value.... A lightly-used, six month old regulator often sells for about half of what it sold for new.

    Have fun with whatever you decide to do!

    Best wishes.
  4. spectrum

    spectrum Dive Bum Wannabe ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: The Atlantic Northeast (Maine)
    I agree with1 & 2 wholeheartedly. You need to be comfortably warm and the BC is the true center of everything you are trying to master.

    Normally I'd say hold off on the computer and go for the regulator. Since you seem to be stating that the dives will be concentrated in several trips I will assume intensive repetitive diving. for that the computer is highly desirable.

    mattboy suggested buying both if you can splurge, that makes it easy.

    If you must decide between the computer and regulator then how comfortable have you been with random rental regulators? If not pleased then buy the regulator set and rent the computer. That will as you note keep you from sinking $$ into maintenance.

    You may not be totally proficient with the rental computer and that is a downside. The good news is that most of what you need to know is pretty self evident, especially if you are diving air.

  5. radsman

    radsman Garibaldi

    Thanks for the advice guys!

    I neglected to mention that I have a wetsuit already... #1 down.

    Also, I will be diving 2-3 times/day sometimes with nitrox.

    As far as buying a used regulator goes, I've heard the argument that by the time you buy it and have it serviced/looked at before I use it the first time, it is almost as expensive as buying new plus its not necessarily under warranty. If the difference after initial servicing is less than $100, I'd rather have it new ;).

    My big concern is the servicing I suppose. I appreciate what mattboy had to say about servicing. Again, my big worry is that if I do only service it say every three years that the parts warranty is expired and I will pay more for the service parts. I will need to do a little more research in this area. Do others feel that if I'm only diving 15-20 times a year that I would only need to have it serviced every 3-4 years?

    I agree that for the diving I will be doing in the NEAR future is within recreational limits, so the computer isn't that necessary... but its fun! I would end up buying both if I do this.

    The regulator I'm looking at is the MK25/S600. Any thoughts on this? Maybe a bit more expensive than what I need. But I would rather buy what I want (or think I want) now rather than in 5 years wishing I had bought something else. If these things truly have the longevity that you all are telling me, I would probably use it for many years and give them to my son when he starts diving.

    I haven't even started looking at BCs yet. Any quick suggestions?

    Thanks again!
  6. LeadTurn_SD

    LeadTurn_SD Solo Diver

    If you are doing 2 or 3 dives a day over multiple days, using nitrox, then yes, a computer makes sense.

    If you buy a good, used but well-maintained complete regulator set (1st stage, primary and backup second stage, with spg/depth gauge console) for say $325, spend maybe $150-175 for a complete rebuild, you are out a total of $500 max. With a complete service, the regulator is essentially "as good as new". True, you do not have a warranty, but by the same token, you do not need to take the reg in for service each year either to maintain the warranty (this service is not free, by the way, you will be charged for labor.... only parts are free).

    If you buy a new regulator, expect to spend about $500 - 700 for the same regulator, plus maybe $150 for the backup 2nd stage, plus maybe $150 for the spg/depth gauge.... total is $800 - $1,000. You will be required in most cases to bring the regulator in each year for service, and keep all receipts in order to qualify for the "free parts" warranty. As already mentioned, the service is not free, just the parts.

    If you want to buy a new Scubapro regulator, you might want to take a look at the Mk-25 / G250V at Leisurepro:

    Scubapro MK25/G250V Regulator

    My understanding is that even though they are not an authorized dealer, they will service and support the products they sell.

    Edit: For BC's, decide whether you want a traditional jacket, back inflate, or backplate / wing (BP/W) style. A lot of us have switched from "traditional" BC's to BP/W's, and you can find long threads on this topic.... if I were to go back to a jacket-style BC, I would choose the most basic design that gets the job done. In other words, skip all the silly bells and whistles, and if it were me, I skip the weight integration too.

    You can get "package" BP/W's that are very reasonably priced. Here is a very nice package from Scubatoys for $375.00:


    Best wishes.
  7. ZenDiver.3D

    ZenDiver.3D Rejecting Reality ScubaBoard Sponsor ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives:
    Location: Kuwait, but home is Savannah, Georgia
    Computer first, then reg. But if you are diving that much, what about the rest of you gear? Where are you getting it from? If you have the bc and reg loaned to you for now, buy the computor first. If you are renting... Think about how much money you are piddling away. Youd be better off spending it all at once on your own good stuff.
  8. SangP

    SangP Loggerhead Turtle

    Here's my 2 cents:

    Get the reg first & you really can't do much better than a Hog reg, the performance of an Apeks DST the price of a 2nd hand reg.

    The best thing about owning your own reg is you're sure it'll work when and how you want it to and no one else puked in it b4 :eyebrow:!

    A first & 2nd stage for $245... cheap!
    HOG D1 1st stage with 2nd stage regulator [HOGregset] - $244.98 : Cave Adventurers!, We will NOT be undersold!!!

    Best thing is you can get service kits, 2nd stage easily and the basic design is pretty similar to a high performance Apeks DST/XTX50

    So let's see...

    Reg set :
    HOG D1 1st stage with 2nd stage regulator
    HOG 2nd stage regulator
    Dive Rite Compact Brass SPG

    AL back plate w/ Oxycheq Hog Harness & Oxycheq Mach V wing

    Get it as a package from Edd & you can get a really good discount with free shipping.

    As for comps you really don't need much more than a bottom timer or something affordable like a Suunto D4 or Uwatec Tec 2G.

    As the others have said, you don't need a computer to dive with but nothing much beats a really smooth breathing reg.

  9. halocline

    halocline Solo Diver

    A new MK25/S600 with octo will cost (a guess) about $600-700. Jeez, I thought you were trying to save money...anyhow, I bought a MK10/D300 for $64 in excellent condition, I just saw a MK10/G250 on ebay for less than $100, and these are fairly representative. If you have to have a newer 1st stage, go for a MK20; the difference between that and the MK25 is minimal, 90% of it is the piston, and that can be re-fitted into the MK20. You'll pay more, but probably still around $100 for the 1st stage.

    The two best 2nd stages that SP makes now are the G250V and the A700 (IMO). Each of these is basically a re-invention of earlier 2nd stages; in the case of the G250V it's more or less a straight re-issue. In the A700, it's a metal case reg inspired by the 109/balanced adjustable, one of the great 2nd stages of the last few decades and still widely available on ebay.

    In some ways I shouldn't be advising new divers to buy used regs; who else is going to keep SP in business? Seriously, I understand that you might feel uncomfortable buying used, and believe me the dive shop sales pitch and attitude is extremely un-helpful in this regard.

    What you should do, if you're not in a hurry, is find someone in your area that has an older reg and try it in a pool. That might increase your comfort level, and of course finding someone to work on the regs without feeding you a bunch of BS about life support, old gear, and "free" parts can be a challenge.
  10. Stu S.

    Stu S. Loggerhead Turtle

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Florida
    Hey, Radsman. Where do you live? Cold water requires gear designed for it. If the water temperature is above 50 degrees, you need not spend a fortune on a regulator. Below is one that a I borrowed from a friend, and it breathed great at 120 feet.

    MARES PRESTIGE 12 Scuba Diving REGULATOR for Scuba Gear

    Oceanic makes an Alpha series regulator that is meets the Navy spec at 198 feet. We've had a couple of these in the family, and they are excellent. Those can be found for around $200, too.

    The demand regulator is now a mature product, so all the bad ones left the market decades ago. No make or model is uniquely superior. As dive season closes across the US, you'll find some excellent gear at discount prices from the larger retailers.

    Have fun with it.
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2010

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