Types of Regulators

how to choose your regulator There are a wide range of regulators to choose from. The ones you’ve most commonly heard of are the balanced and unbalanced regulators, and among those are diaphragm and piston regulator systems. There are several makes and models which produce variations of the same concept. The two main types of regulators are the ‘diaphragm’ and ‘piston’ regulator. There isn’t much difference in breathing effort, but there are some pros and cons to consider.

Piston Regulators (balanced and unbalanced)

  • Pro: fewer moving parts.
  • Con: the first stage is usually exposed to water for the system to work.

Diaphragm Regulators (usually balanced, as the unbalanced versions are not very common or have been discontinued)

  • Pro: the moving components in the regulator are not exposed to water
  • Con: more moving parts

Piston Regulators (unbalanced)

  • Entry-level regulators are usually unbalanced piston regulators
  • Commonly used for rental equipment as they are cost effective to purchase and maintain
  • Breathing effort is increased when tank pressure is low or when you go deeper. It will still provide air, but there will be more resistance. This being said, with some of the newer models you may not even notice any change in breathing effort.

Piston Regulators (balanced)

  • Mid range to high end
  • Breathing effort is consistent, regardless of depth or tank pressure
  • May have more ports for easier configuration of hoses

Diaphragm Regulator

  • Mid range to high end
  • Can be lightweight in construction (good for travelling)
  • Breathing effort is consistent does not matter depth or tank pressure

Our advice on choosing your next scuba regulator:

The best regulator for you is the one that suits your needs and the type of diving you intend to do. Bring the answers to these questions with you on your next visit to the ScubaStore:

  1. Are you diving in warm water or cold water?
  2. Is there a lot of sediment where you will be diving?
  3. Are you likely to be doing lots of deep diving?
  4. What’s your air consumption like?
  5. What is your budget or what price range are you looking at?

Orca Scuba Dive Shop in Singapore


  • Try out rental gear on your next dive trip and take note of make and model; see how it performs in terms of breathing effort and comfort.
  • We recommend that you speak to your local dive-shop technician to find out more about the regulators and their specifications.
  • Do some research online on the different brands and the regulator features.

If you want more in-depth information about our regulators, please feel free to contact us; we’d be happy to offer advice on which regulator would be the best choice for you. Contact us here.