Review: Faber FX Series 100 cu ft High Pressure Blue Steel Tank


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This article will review the Faber FX Series 100 cu ft High Pressure Blue Steel Tank, a scuba tank made by Faber, an Italian company, and sold in North America by Blue Steel.

We will look at this high-pressure steel tank and compare it to several other diving tanks on the market, looking at price, performance, and overall quality to see which tank offers the best overall value to buyers.

About the Faber FX Series 100 cu ft High Pressure Blue Steel Tank

Faber, a company highly respected for making quality diving cylinders, makes this steel tank whose model number is FX100DV. It is sold in the Western hemisphere by a company called Blue Steel.

Steel tanks are becoming more popular amongst divers at all experience levels. Before we discuss more details about this Faber tank, let’s take a look at the basic choice divers now have between selecting the standard aluminum-80 tank and new high-pressure steel tanks.

As we will see, it isn’t always either/or, but rather a situation where it depends a lot on the needs of the diver or even a particular dive.

Many years ago, steel tanks were the gear of choice for divers. They were strong and reliable and while not exactly trouble-free, they usually worked just fine.

But one key issue with steel tanks was they took a lot of care, because if you were neglectful with them and allowed moisture to get inside the tank, you would soon end up with a rust-bucket, a compromised cylinder you could no longer use.

Aluminum Takes Over

This is just one reason that, by the 1980s, steel tanks were being replaced by aluminum, and this is still the dominant material for building scuba diving cylinders.

Why?

The basic reasons are:

  • Aluminum is highly resistant to rust
  • Aluminum is lighter than steel
  • Aluminum is less expensive than steel
  • Aluminum is easier to rent than steel

Of all these, the first is the most important. It isn’t that aluminum doesn’t need care; it does. But if moisture does get into the tank it is much less likely that situation will wreck the tank beyond being useful. And that makes aluminum a much easier material to maintain, and everybody likes easier, don’t they?

In addition, the lighter weight, cheaper prices and the prevalence of aluminum tanks mean it’s a lot cheaper and easier to rent aluminum diving tanks in places where you either can’t or just don’t want to travel with your own tanks.

So, if aluminum is so great, why go back to steel?

Great question! And like so many questions about diving, it doesn’t have just one simple answer. The main reason, though, is that steel is just a lot stronger and more durable a metal than aluminum. This allows divers to have more air in their tank while not dramatically increasing its size.

With aluminum, you will run into a problem satisfying both of those demands, because any tank delivering on them would have to withstand higher pressure in the tank to pack more air into it. You would basically have to thicken the walls of the aluminum tank so much to do this it would violate your second requirement. An aluminum tank would have to be bigger and bulkier to achieve the desired result.

Back to Steel

Or, you could go back to steel with its superior strength that will require less mass in the cylinder to obtain the same high-pressure capacity. This means that while the steel tank may weigh a bit more than aluminum (because steel is denser than aluminum), it won’t be as bulky.

And, there are other advantages to steel. Steel is not as vulnerable to dings and dents as aluminum. Also, steel has more negative buoyancy, which means that a diver can reduce the amount of ballast weight they carry when they dive with steel tanks, especially in colder waters.

This is why a diving cylinder like the Faber FX Series 100 cu ft High Pressure Blue Steel Tank exists.

We will talk more about this below, but the key thing to remember about the Faber tank is that it can hold 20 cubic feet more air than aluminum-80 tanks, which as their name indicates, can hold 80 cubic feet of air. That extra 20 cubic feet can come in very handy in situations where longer dives may be required, or where a diver consumes more air than normal (say in a more physically demanding dive).

Now, let’s take a closer look at the Faber FX Series 100 cu ft High Pressure Blue Steel Tank and its features and specs.

Product Specs  

The Faber FX Series 100 cu ft High Pressure Blue Steel Tank provides 100 cubic feet of air under 3442psi pressure. As noted this is 25% more air than provided in aluminum-80 tanks.

The Faber cylinder is 25.39 inches in length, 7.24 inches in diameter, and it weighs (empty) 34.3lbs. The tank provides negative buoyancy whether filled or empty.

Additionally, it has a dual connection first stage, enabling the use of either yoke of DIN style regulators. It should be noted the 3442psi of the tank is kept just under the recommended pressure limit for yoke-style connectors so those can be safely used as well with this high-pressure tank.

Pricing  

Generally, pricing for steel tanks is higher than for aluminum. The main reason for this is that the demand for steel tanks is not yet at a point where discounting for volume is as effective as for aluminum tanks.

You can find the Faber FX Series 100 cu ft High Pressure Blue Steel Tank for around $330 to $430.

How It Compares

We picked a few similar products available on the market to see how they compare.     

Faber FX149 High Pressure Steel Tank

Sherwood Aluminum Scuba Diving Tank

Luxfer Compact Brushed Aluminum Tank

Faber FX Series 100 cu ft High Pressure Blue Steel Tank

This is a rugged and reliable high-pressure diving tank that delivers increased air capacity for divers and dives that need it.

Price                                 $$$

As noted above, the price of steel tanks can certainly vary, and it is worth shopping around, but usually you will pay a bit a of premium for steel. Again, the Faber FX100 is available for around $330 to $430.

Material                           4.0-Stars

Constructed of rolled chromium molybdenum steel, which is extremely tough and has more corrosion resistance than regular steel, the Faber tank is built to last. As always with steel tanks, you will need to provide proper care to ensure the interior of the tank stays moisture-free to avoid corrosion.

Performance                   4.5-Stars

This tank has been on the market for a while now, and is one of the most popular steel tanks available. The main reason for this is that the cylinder is reliable and durable. 

Design Quality                4.0-Stars

We mentioned already the construction material used for this tank. As noted, Faber is acknowledged for the high level or production quality they bring to the construction of all their products, including diving cylinders.

Pros

  • Strong and durable             
  • 25% more air capacity than average tanks
  • Good negative buoyancy

Cons

  • More vulnerable to corrosion
  • Heavier than aluminum tanks

Faber High Pressure Steel Tank

The Faber FX149 is in the same product line as the Faber FX Series 100 cu ft High Pressure Blue Steel Tank we just looked at. In fact the FX149 is the highest capacity steel tank sold by Blue Steel for Faber.

Price                               $$$

Available from around $400 to $450.

Material                         4.0-Stars

The construction materials and process with the FX149 are basically the same as for the FX100, so high-quality chrome-moly contributing exceptional toughness and durability plus improved corrosion resistance.

Performance                4.5-Stars

This tank supplies 149 cubic feet of air in a cylinder that is 29.53 inches long, 8.02 inches in diameter, and weighs 46.9 pounds empty. That makes the FX149 a bigger, heavier tank than the FX100. In fact, the tank might be a bit much to handle for smaller divers. But it delivers almost 90% more air capacity than average tanks and, depending on the variables of the diver and the dive, as much as 45 minutes to an hour more of air.

Design Quality             4.0-Stars

Again, this tank is made by Faber, whose reputation for building tough, reliable and durable diving cylinders we have mentioned above. The FX149 is, like the FX100, built to last, and is especially useful in long dives and in situations where the physical demands of the dive are much greater than normal.

Pros

  • Provides almost 90% more air than normal tanks
  • Durable and reliable

Cons

  • Bigger, heavier tank than most
  • Expensive

Sherwood Aluminum Scuba Diving Tank

If you refer above to our discussion about the merits of aluminum versus steel tanks, you’ll discover the main issue with this tank. Yes, it provides 100 cubic feet of air, just like the Faber FX Series 100 cu ft High Pressure Blue Steel Tank. But the Sherwood is bigger and weighs about twelve pounds more.

Price                                            $$

Around $270 to $300.

Material                          3.5-Stars

This tank is made of aluminum. This naturally gives the tank superior anti-corrosive properties and so makes it easier to care for than steel tanks. However, aluminum also introduces problems when making higher-pressure tanks such as this Sherwood 100CF.

Performance                  3.5-Stars

One of the key issues with aluminum tanks, along with the fact you have to build quite a heavy tank to handle higher air pressures, is that aluminum doesn’t take to being banged around all that much. It dings and dents pretty quickly. Since higher-pressure tanks are often chosen for more physically demanding dives, where the environment or the work involved may be part of the physical challenge (not just to the diver but the tank), steel would have the advantage in that situation.

Design Quality               3.0-Stars

As we have noted, this tank is bigger, and heavier than the Faber FX100. This is because aluminum requires a larger, bulkier tank to withstand the heavier psi (in this tank 3300psi) to obtain larger air capacities. On the other hand, the tank is less expensive than most steel tanks of comparable size and air capacity.

Pros

  • Aluminum is more resistant to corrosion
  • Extra air capacity with this tank
  • Tank is less expensive than steel tanks

Cons

  • The tank is bigger and heavier than comparable steel tanks
  • The tank is less durable than steel

Luxfer Compact Brushed Aluminum Tank

The Luxfer is a brushed aluminum 80 cubic feet tank. Luxfer offers this tank with an aluminum alloy it says is more durable than most other aluminum tanks.

Price                                        $

Around $270.

Material                          3.5-Stars

As noted, Luxfer employs a proprietary alloy, known as L6X, which the company says makes this aluminum tank tougher and more durable than other aluminum tanks. It does not, however, say the tank is tougher or more durable than steel, but the idea is to combine the superior anti-corrosive properties with aluminum with a tank that can hold up to higher pressures better.

Performance                  3.5-Stars

The fact the L6X is more durable, means the tank itself is not as large and heavy as other aluminum tanks built to handle more air pressure. On the other hand, this tank weighs almost as much as the Faber FX100. One good feature is that Luxfer built the tank to give slight negative buoyancy, which is much better than many aluminum tanks which can give problems because of positive buoyancy when they near empty.

Design Quality               4.0-Stars

This is a better constructed, more durable tank than most aluminum 80s. While the idea of finding a good middle ground between aluminum’s rust resistance and steel’s durability makes a lot of sense, once again if you really need the strength of a high-pressure tank, and especially a tank that can hold more air, steel still seems like the better choice. Once again, the price is usually right with an aluminum tank.

Pros

  • Special alloy improves durability
  • Less expensive

Cons

  • Still not as strong as steel
  • Still a little heavy to handle more air pressure

Conclusion

In any discussion of what is best among diving tanks, there are many variables to consider, not the least of which are the particular needs of a diver or even of a particular dive. One tank may work for this dive but maybe not be the tank of choice for another dive. And we have discussed some of the options available to buyers.

As for our comparison, the Faber FX Series 100 cu ft High Pressure Blue Steel Tank AKA the FX100 and the Faber FX149 both came out on top with 4.16 average Stars. While a bit expensive, both these tanks offer superior durability and craftsmanship plus more air! Always a welcome thing. Happy diving.

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