Understanding how the regulator works gives you better insight on how to dive safely and what to look for when you are purchasing your own dive gear. Read on to learn the mechanics of this essential piece of diving gear.
The 5 Main Parts of a Scuba Dive Regulator
There are five basic elements in a scuba regulator: the first stage, second stage, alternate second stage, gauge console, and the low-pressure inflator hose. Each of these parts is described below.
1. First Stage
This is the connection to the pressure tank. As air comes out of the pressurized air tank, the first stage changes this high-pressure air into intermediate pressure air.
From the first stage, the air travels on as intermediate pressure air into the low-pressure hoses of the scuba regulator.
2. (Primary) Second Stage
There are two parts in the scuba regulator that can function as the second stage but what is usually referred to as the second stage is actually the primary second stage. The primary second stage is the part connected to the mouthpiece.
The primary second stage takes the intermediate pressure air flowing through the hose and transforms it into ambient pressure air that is safe for the diver to breathe in.
Ambient pressure air means that it has the same air pressure as the water pressure surrounding the diver at that point in the water.
3. Gauge Console
The gauge console is also called the submersible pressure gauge or SPG. The latter describes exactly what it does. The SPG measures how much pressure is still left in the pressurized air tank. On more advanced scuba regulators the gauge console can also have other monitors on it like a dive computer or depth gauge.
4. Low-Pressure Inflator Hose
The low-pressure inflator hose is the connection between the first stage and the buoyancy compensator or BC. This is the part that lets the diver add air to the BC.
5. Alternate Second Stage
The alternate second stage is an additional part to the scuba regulator that is actually meant for a second diver. So, if the dive went smoothly, there is no need to use this part.
The alternate second stage has an extra mouthpiece and a longer low-pressure hose so that another diver is able to share air with the primary diver. This is only to be used during emergencies when another diver isn’t able to use their own scuba regulator anymore.
There are other secondary parts like the mouthpieces, valves and purge buttons but these five parts are the main components. To understand the mechanics of a scuba regulator, knowing what these five parts do is enough basic knowledge.
How Does a Scuba Regulator Work?
Now that you have the basic understanding of the main parts of a scuba regulator, you can understand how the air flows through it and lets you breathe normally underwater.
As your regulator is a vital piece of diving equipment, it’s a good idea to know how it works. If you’re looking into investing in your own scuba regulator, you might also want to learn how to assemble it and how to clean a regulator to make sure it stays in good shape ready for your many dives to come.
The water pressure changes as you move to different depths during your dive. This means that how the air flows also changes. Humans can only breathe comfortably within a certain range of air pressure. It is the job of the scuba regulator to ensure that the diver can breathe comfortably from the pressurized air tank, no matter at what depth the dive is.
Every time you inhale through the mouthpiece, air from the tank is released into the scuba regulator. The first phase it passes through is the first stage, then through the low-pressure hose to the primary second stage where you are breathing through the mouthpiece.
The low-pressure hose connects to the primary second stage. In the primary second stage, the intermediate pressure air is again changed but this time into the same pressure as the water pressure surrounding the diver, or into ambient pressure air that is safe to breathe in.