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Breathing underwater has become a reality thanks to scuba equipment. If you’re just starting out and rely on dive centers for your equipment needs, these companies probably do a great job of choosing an effective scuba tank for you. However, when you finally decide to buy your own tank, you’ll have to do plenty of research, because not all scuba tanks are the same.
A scuba tank is one of the most important elements of your dive. Although you can freedive, staying underwater for a long period of time is something many people are not trained to do. This is why a scuba tank is the ultimate tool of choice for divers. To determine the best scuba tank for you, you have to take into account what best suits your needs. A top-of-the-line scuba tank will be very easy to operate and will give you the oxygen you need when you are underwater.
Everything You Need to Know About a Scuba Tank
So, you’re ready to buy your own scuba tank. Scuba stands for “self-contained underwater breathing apparatus.” A scuba tank comes in a variety of styles and sizes. Just like your other gear, you should consider essential factors, such as your diving style, air consumption, and size when buying a tank.
When buying a scuba tank, people face two main choices of materials — aluminum or steel. Here are a few factors to keep in mind when choosing the right tank for you.
Pressure and capacity
Its pressure rating determines the ability of the scuba tank to keep you underwater. There are tanks that range from 50 cubic feet (cf) to 120cf, with varying compressed air pressures of 2,400 to 2,650 pound per square inch (psi), standard pressure of 3,000 psi, and high pressure ranging from 3,300 to 3,500 psi.
Most aluminum tanks have an 80cf capacity and 3,000 psi, but not higher than 3,300 psi. This is because you will need thicker tank walls for higher pressure tanks so that the gas will be safely sealed. For those who prefer a tank that contains higher pressure, they should stick to steel tanks. A high-pressure steel tank can contain more air than their lower-pressure counterpart, is more compact, and weighs less.
Despite this, you also have to take into consideration that there are many advantages of using a low-pressure tank. Most tank filling stations are not equipped to refill high-pressure tanks. Furthermore, high-pressure tanks can damage valve components and the regulator.
For those who are still undecided, a good option is to get a high-pressure tank and underfill it to prevent its components from becoming too stressed. This will still give you the gas that you will need for your dive. However, if a more thorough dive requires a higher amount of psi, you can also fill it accordingly.
For those deciding on their tank material of steel or aluminum, it’s important to note that aluminum is softer than its counterpart. This means that compared to steel, aluminum can easily get cracked, scratched, or dented when coming into contact with other materials. However, some people prefer aluminum because it is cheaper to maintain.
Steel containers can last longer than aluminum tanks if properly maintained. Because steel has a denser composition than aluminum, a steel scuba tank is more resistant to damage. Despite this advantage, a steel scuba tank is more prone to corrosion, especially when it’s always in contact with saltwater. Furthermore, you should make sure that it doesn’t get exposed to moisture when you fill it up because moisture can cause oxidation.
Whether you are planning to buy an aluminum or a steel tank, this piece of equipment needs regular inspection. Make sure to check the requirements posted by the local authorities so you can determine how frequently you should have your scuba tank checked. This is vital so that you can assess if there are defects in your scuba tank that might cause problems while diving and possibly endanger your life.
The dry weight of your scuba tank can affect the buoyancy and your comfort during the dive. Dry weight refers to how much your scuba tank weighs when it is on land, and this is something that you should keep in mind if you’re planning to travel with your tank. Since steel is more durable than its counterpart, aluminum compensates by having thicker walls. This is why some models are heavier than steel tanks. For example, a steel tank with 80cf will weigh 30 pounds, while its aluminum counterpart will weigh up to 35 pounds.
Divers should also note the size when purchasing a scuba tank. This is especially true for shorter people. For some divers, a large cylinder tank can be too big for them to move effectively. Because of this, divers may hit their legs or head on the tank when they’re underwater.
All scuba tanks significantly affect your buoyancy and weight. This is essential to know because poor buoyancy control is one of the most common factors of diver fatalities. When full, scuba tanks made from aluminum are negatively buoyant. However, it becomes positively buoyant when you use it more. In other words, when an aluminum tank gets emptied, it will float. It is also important to note that whether you have a steel or aluminum tank, it is more buoyant in saltwater than freshwater.
For most dives, steel tanks are negatively buoyant. Although it becomes neutrally buoyant as it gets emptied, it would not float like an aluminum tank once you have consumed all its air. Regardless of which tank material you use, you may need to add weight upon finishing your dive. This is important so you can achieve neutral buoyancy during your dive and complete your required decompression stops when you come back to the surface.
How We Reviewed
There are many factors to consider when evaluating a scuba tank. For this review, we took into consideration the tank capacity, its measurements, its weight, the buoyancy, the maximum fill pressure, and its material.
Overall Price of a Scuba Tank
Scuba tanks require a substantial investment. There are some models priced as high as $500. However, there are greater budget options available for under $200. The most important thing to remember when purchasing a scuba tank is that you must take great care of it so it will last a long time.
Our Favorite Scuba Tanks
We turn our attention to the best scuba tanks on the market. To compile this list, we analyzed and compared various reviews and user reports from the web. We examined consumer feedback on various websites, particularly on Amazon. Also, we looked at the company websites for exact product specifications. So, here is what we have found to help with your next scuba tank purchase.
Catalina aluminum scuba tank
The Catalina aluminum scuba tank is an excellent choice for divers, especially those who are constantly lugging their tanks around. Thanks to its small size, this scuba tank is very easy to carry when you’re not in the water. This tank also has enough oxygen for users to dive for an extended period. Furthermore, the tank comes in different colors. This tank measures 25.8 inches by 7.8 inches, weighs 31.6 pounds, has a buoyancy of -5.8 pounds, and is made from high-strength aluminum alloy. The Catalina aluminum scuba tank also has a max fill pressure of 4,000 psi. The tank features an average rating of 4.2 out of 5 stars on Amazon and costs between $210 and $260.
XS Scuba Sea Pearls 80 diving tank
This particular scuba tank is the perfect choice for divers who are just starting out. It allows them to dive for up to 30 minutes. If you control your breathing, you can even get as much as 2 hours in just a single tank filling. This tank weighs 32 pounds, is 30 inches by 9 inches, has an 80cf capacity, and is made from high strength aluminum alloy. It has a max fill pressure of 3000 psi. This scuba tank comes in a wide array of colors and is very easy to use. The XS Scuba Sea Pearls diving tank got an average rating of 5.0 out of 5 stars on Amazon. It costs $180 to $230.
Luxfer compact aluminum 80cf tank
This compact scuba tank is one of the best pieces of equipment you can get on the market. This tank was designed to have a slightly negative buoyancy underwater, even when you have used up all the gas. This tank contains aluminum alloy and meets the U.S. Department of Transportation 3Al and Transport Canada 3ALM standards.
This scuba tank has been prefilled to 500 psi. It features a Nitrox tank wrap, a VIP inspection sticker, pro-valve, and fresh hydro. It measures 25 inches by 7.25 inches and weighs 34.7 pounds. Additionally, this tank has a buoyancy of -5.8 pounds and 0 pounds when it is empty. Furthermore, it has a 3,300 psi maximum fill pressure. The Luxfer compact aluminum 80cf tank got an average rating of 5.0 out of 5 stars on Amazon. It costs between $240 to $300.
XS Scuba Faber diving tank
This scuba tank is perfect whether you are an advanced or a recreational diver. And this tank is suitable for all kinds of diving. This tank is Nitrox-ready and features a pro valve. This tank has a buoyancy of -1.2 pounds when empty and measures 20.8 inches by 7.25 inches. Additionally, it only weighs 28.3 pounds. This tank contains deep drawn chromium molybdenum steel, and is triple protected zinc sprayed, epoxy and polyurethane painted, and also has a round bottom cylinder. You can choose to fill up this scuba tank up to 3,442 psi. The XS Scuba Faber garnered an average rating of 4.8 out of 5 stars on Leisurepro and costs between $230 and $290.
Sherwood aluminum 100cf diving tank
The Sherwood 100cf aluminum tank is common in valve diving. It has a slightly neutral buoyancy. This tank also has a pro-valve standard yoke and is DIN compatible, which functions with any regulator. Furthermore, it is Nitrox-ready up to 40 percent. It weighs 46.2 pounds and has a maximum fill pressure of 3,300 psi. This tank measures 30.3 inches in total. The Sherwood 100cf aluminum tank managed to get an average rating of 5.0 out of 5 stars on Amazon. This tank costs between $260 and $300.
Iorman Universal carbon fiber air tank
This tank is perfect if you are looking for something small, but that still holds sufficient oxygen for your dive. If you double up on this equipment, you can stay underwater for an extended period. Carbon and glass fiber wraps this tank, which makes it one of the most durable on the market. The construction materials are also corrosion resistant.
This tank has a buoyancy of -5.8 pounds, measures 22.8 inches by 5.8 inches, and weighs only 12.4 pounds. This model has a maximum full pressure of 4,000 psi and contains aluminum composite. The Iorman Universal carbon fiber air tank got an average rating of 4.3 out of 5 stars on Amazon, and it costs between $260 and $320.
Faber high pressure scuba tank
Because of this tank’s large capacity and progressive functions, it’s perfect for cave diving, night diving, wreck diving, and open water diving. This tank is durable enough to withstand extreme underwater adventures and lasts a long time because of its durability. It is also Nitrox-ready for up for 40 percent. This tank has a buoyancy of -1.2 pounds to 2.35 pounds when empty. This tank measures 3.94 inches to 8.02 inches by 14.17 inches by 29.53 inches. It can also be filled up to 3,442 psi. The Faber High-Pressure tank features an average rating of 4.9 out of 5 stars on Leisurepro. It costs from $260 to $320.
Faber FX Series 100cf diving tank
This one of a kind 100cf tank is one of the best high-pressure steel tanks on the market. It is suitable for Nitrox use and has a height of 25.39 inches by 7.24 inches. It weighs 34.3 pounds. This tank has a maximum fill pressure of 3,442 psi. The Faber FX Series is an excellent choice if you want a heavy-duty tank that you can use for long dives. The Faber FX Series 100cf tank got a rating of 5.0 out of 5 stars on Amazon and costs between $350 and $420.
Diving has become a popular sport in America. In fact, there are between 2.7 to 3.5 million active scuba divers in the country. Whether you’re a seasoned diver or a novice, you should understand that there are only a few things that are more important than your scuba tank. Although choosing the best tank to suit your needs may be quite overwhelming, finding the ideal tank is extremely rewarding.
Depending on your needs, any of the tanks in this article would make excellent choices. So rest assured that there is a perfect tank waiting for you.