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Low, mid, or high range regulator?

Discussion in 'Regulators' started by filmguy123, Jun 27, 2016.

  1. filmguy123

    filmguy123 Professional Photographer

    # of Dives: 0 - 24
    Location: Pacific Northwest
    New to diving. Should I target an entry level regulator, mid, or high?

    I can be a bit of a stickler for quality... I do plan to go deeper to 100-130 feet for dives. I do dive in cold water PNW. I do plan to dive in Alaska at some point in the not terribly distant future. I also plan to do plenty of warm water dives in tropical, which I think will be my favorite... but the cold water is whats local, so there will be a good mix.

    What should I expect to pay for a full kit (1st + 2nd stage, second reg, octopus, SPG) at each level, NEW vs USED?

    Is it really worth going used by the time you factor in the need for getting a service on the gear initially?

    Is it realistic to expect $500 for a full *GOOD* setup for my needs (either used after service, or new on a discount or expo?)
  2. Do some browsing on Ebay and you'll get an idea of how much $ buys what level of reg set.
  3. filmguy123

    filmguy123 Professional Photographer

    # of Dives: 0 - 24
    Location: Pacific Northwest
    This is a big part of the question

    Not sure what the (summarized in laymans terms) differences are between those different levels and which I need or should target and why.
  4. CptTightPants21

    CptTightPants21 Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: NY/NC/FL
    Used regs can be good deals, but you want to avoid service if you can.

    When i buy used, I tend to target units that have been recently dove or recently serviced and look great in the pictures. Ideally, you would like to get one locally used so you can look at it and have the LDS check it out before you pull the trigger (use paypal if it needs to be shipped). The basic test the shop will do is a simple IP test to make sure it is steady with no creap and a 2nd stage cracking pressure test.

    I tend to stick with the brands that have a wide service network and are universally popular


    Atomic, Hog, DiveRite will also get mentioned on this forum and from my experience are moe popular with florida caves/warm water diving crowd. I was on a boat this weekend in the Northeast, 15 divers, mostly on doubles. There was 13 Scubapro/Apeks setups, 1 single tank Hog set up, and 1 Atomic.

    My view on price range would be (for 1st and 2nd stage)
    <300 Entry Level
    300-750 Mid Level
    >750 High End

    Best value is in the mid level. High End is full of stuff that is superfluous for most people like titanium or "special editions".

    Used prices:
    Full single tank set up with spg, 2 2nd stages, and 1st stage ~$400

    New Prices: Generally you can pick up regulators for between 20-30% off list price. Would expect to pay $750-900 for a brand new single tank set up depending on regulator and quality of octo.
  5. tbone1004

    tbone1004 Technical Instructor ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: Greenville, South Carolina, United States
    so you have a couple things to look at and unfortunately brands don't mean anything when it comes to where you classify regulators.

    These are two important factors
    Piston vs. Diaphragm-you are diving cold salt water, I would avoid pistons at all costs because they are expensive to environmentally seal
    Rotating turret vs. fixed port-rotating turret offers superior hose routing for ALL regulator configurations *doubles, singles, sidemount*

    Now, after you have narrowed that down *which for reference is the Apeks DST and all of the copies of that basic design* you have to make a couple of other decisions that may or may not impact your final purchase. Apeks is easy to service anywhere in the world because they are owned by Aqualung, same with Hollis, HOWEVER they are impossible to get official parts and parts kits for unless you are a certified tech working for an authorized dealer. This is why you don't see many of them in cave country any more. We can't afford to not be able to service our own regulators, so you don't see a lot of Scubapro or Apeks down there anymore. The ones you do see usually have people tied to a shop where they can get the parts for them. Dive Rite, HOG, Deep6, etc are less easy to get service for while travelling *in that order btw of easy to impossible*, but you can DIY your service which saves a lot of money, and the warranty is not tied to getting them serviced at regular intervals. Dive Rite is my current favorite to recommend

    Diving in the PNW, and to that depth means you will be going to at least a pony bottle, if not a set of doubles.
    Cave Adventurers - Dive Rite XT Sidemount Regulator Package - Marianna, Florida USA - Never Undersold!
    this package if you call and ask for one of the HP hoses to be a normal length HP hose, you have 2 firsts, 2 seconds, 2 SPG's and appropriate hose lengths, with a reg bag. $700 and you're done with regulators. Hard to beat that. Now, you can find doubles sets of regs for $400-$500, but if you have to pay for service, you are in for at least $150 but likely $200 for service.
  6. kr2y5

    kr2y5 Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Seattle
    +1 for HOG D3, I've never heard of anyone being unhappy with HOG regulators for cold or deep diving. There are instructors in both Seattle and Vancouver area if you want to take the class to service them yourself, and you can take the class 1:1 at your convenience. For the money you save initially and in the long run, compared to the more expensive brands, you can take the class, buy a bunch of service kits, and a backup regulator or two, so you never have to miss a dive.

    IMO, the "easy to get service for while travelling" card is being overplayed. Even if a shop in some remote area services the brand, how likely is it that a reg can be fixed at a moment's notice, and how much will it cost? If you seriously don't want to miss a dive, just carry a spare with you...
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2016
  7. dlofting

    dlofting DIR Practitioner

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Vancouver, BC, Canada
    The key question for me, other than piston vs diaphragm (which for a cold water diver is already answered), is do you want to service your own regs or have a shop do it. After you've made that decision reread tbone's post.
    Lorenzoid likes this.
  8. Macan

    Macan Tech Instructor

    # of Dives: 5,000 - ∞
    Location: Anilao PH & New York USA
    I teach at Anilao Philippines and I supply my students with Apeks Regs for their training. These are the same Regs I use for Tec dives in doubles and deco bottles.

    Since you dive in cold water, get an Apeks that's environmentally sealed. The DS4 first stage will serve you well even if you decide to do Tec in the future. The equivalent for warm water is the US4.

    Whatever reg you decide on, get DIN. Then use a yoke adapter.
  9. Lorenzoid

    Lorenzoid idling in neutral buoyancy ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: Atlanta, USA
    There are some considerations in addition to the size of one's budget that ought to go into choosing a reg set (see, e.g., @TBone's comments), but "quality" as we tend to think of it in the context of being consumers of everyday goods isn't one of them. Sadly, today's consumers are used to our stuff falling apart or not working well. Unlike a lot of consumer goods produced these days, none of the major regulator manufacturers produces junkie regs that are difficult to breathe or that break or fail after a while. IP creep, maybe, but fail--no. I'm sure someone can point out an exception, but based on everything I have read and heard from recreational divers over the years, they are all "good." Essentially ALL reg brands work just fine for the vast majority of us, even on deep dives and in cold water, and they last for years, even decades, with proper maintenance. If you're a cold water diver, a sealed or cold-water reg is a simple matter. Nothing exotic needed. As far as performance, I'm not sure who among us is capable of noticing those differences in, say, work of breathing, etc., that we see reported in Scuba Diving magazine's Scubalab tests for ordinary recreational depths. Not me. If you're really talking the extremes of deep and/or cold, that's different.
    2airishuman likes this.
  10. runsongas

    runsongas Great White

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: California - Bay Area
    zeagle is another brand that sells dry sealed diaphragm regs you should look at as they have a larger dealer network than DR/Hog and you can get parts fairly easily.

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