Regulator is a mechanism which reduces the pressure of the supply of breathing gas and provides it to the diver at approximately ambient pressure. The gas may be supplied on demand, when the diver inhales, or as a constant flow past the diver inside the helmet or mask, from which the diver uses what is necessary, while the remainder goes to waste.
The gas may be provided directly to the diver, or to a rebreather circuit, to make up for used gas and volume changes due to depth variations. Gas supply may be from a high-pressure scuba cylinder carried by the diver, or from a surface supply through a hose connected to a compressor or high pressure storage system.
If you look at them in cutaway drawings regulators may seem technical and complicated, but all modern first and second stages are actually very sound and straightforward devices, specifically designed to be tough and trustworthy.
Modern regulators come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, materials, and technologies, as well as a wide range of prices. If you’ve ever shopped for a regulator before, you’ll find there are many choices available. Your professional dive retailer and your professional instructor can help you understand the different features and benefits of the various models and styles. A great way to start is to look to the type of regulator your instructor uses.
If you are going to do primarily the sort of diving that the typical newly certified divers usually enjoys – relaxing dives on vacation in warm-water locations, and at recreational depths – you’ll do fine with literally any regulator on the market today. If it’s sold in your local dive center, it will be a high-quality piece of gear that will serve you well for vacation diving for many, many years to come.
If you’re planning on traveling a lot, for instance, and you need to conserve weight and space in your baggage, it will probably interest you to know that many manufacturers offer regulators for the traveling diver that are both lighter in weight than, and pack more compactly than, your average regulator. These light weight regulators may, for instance, replace the marine-grade plated brass used in many regulator components with strong, lighter-weight alternatives, such as titanium.