- The pressure for scuba tanks is measured in psi (Pounds per Square Inch). Low pressure tanks have 2400 or 2640 psi, while high pressure tanks have 3300, 3442, or 3500 psi. 3000 psi is considered a standard pressure.
- Low pressure tanks hold less air and take up more space than high pressure tanks. However, they also experience less wear and tear and take less time to fill.
- High pressure tanks are more compact and can be filled with more air.
- High pressure steel tanks are more negatively buoyant than aluminum tanks, allowing divers to wear less weight on their belt or BCD.
- Generally high pressure tanks are recommended for divers on longer and deeper dives. Santa Barbara Aquatics sells a wide range of high-quality tanks at various pressures and can help you find the best option for your needs.
The term “scuba diving tank” is actually a bit of a misnomer, since “tank” is technically a term used to describe unpressurized containers (think of the gas tank in your car or truck). Scuba tanks, on the other hand, might more accurately be termed “pressure vessels” or “compressed gas cylinders”, since they hold purified air that’s been pressurized to various degrees, depending on the kind you’re buying—but of course, “scuba tank” is a lot easier to say.
More important than what you call your scuba tank, however, is the fact that different tanks have different levels of pressure. If you want to have the best possible experience next time you’re underwater, it’s important to know the differences between high pressure and low pressure tanks so you can choose the kind that will serve you best. Below, our pro divers at Santa Barbara Aquatics explain the pros and cons of these different options so you can shop for the gear you need with confidence. Let’s dive in!
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Why Do Scuba Tanks Have Different Pressure Levels?Scuba tanks are available at a variety of different pressure levels (measured in psi, which stands for Pounds per Square Inch), but the most common pressure levels you’ll find when you go shopping for equipment are:
- 2400 psi
- 2640 psi
- 3000 psi
- 3300 psi
- 3442 psi
- 3500 psi
Generally, divers will select higher pressure tanks for more technically-demanding expeditions, whereas lower pressure tanks are often chosen for their comparative reliability and ease of use. Next, we’ll dive into the specifics of each type so you can see their advantages and potential drawbacks.
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What Are Low Pressure Scuba Diving Tanks?
2400 psi and 2640 psi scuba tanks are considered “low pressure”. Lower pressure tanks experience less strain on regulators and valve components, which means that these tanks are likely to last the longest and need less maintenance than high pressure tanks. Filling a tank to 2400 or 2640 psi also takes less time and puts less strain on your compressor.
Of course, there’s no such thing as a “zero maintenance” scuba tank, and checking your equipment before diving is an absolute must to ensure your safety. It’s also vital not to overfill your tanks—lower pressure tanks do not hold as much air as high pressure versions, but trying to fit more air in your tank than it is rated for can be dangerous. Contact us to learn more about how to properly fill your tank before diving.
- Faster to fill with compressed air
- Puts less strain on air compressor
- Puts less strain on valves & regulators
- Can last longer than high-pressure tanks
- Less air capacity
- Bulkier than high pressure tanks
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What Are High Pressure Scuba Diving Tanks?
Anything from 3300 psi to 3500 psi is considered a high pressure scuba tank. These tanks can be filled with a larger volume of compressed air, and are typically smaller than low-pressure tanks—making them popular choices for more experienced divers (including many technical divers).
The higher pressure of the air inside can cause more wear and tear on components, even in high-quality tanks, but one handy trick you can use to get around this is to strategically underfill the tank. For example, a 3442 psi tank will still hold 89 cubic feet of air at 3000 psi—enough for the vast majority of recreational dives. This will help your tank last longer, and you’ll still have the option to fill it to the maximum pressure for dives when you really need the extra amount.
- More compact
- Can hold more air
- Can be strategically underfilled to reduce wear and tear
- More time required to fill completely
- Regulators can experience wear and tear at max pressure
- Filling to maximum can strain some air compressors
When to Choose Low Pressure vs. High Pressure Scuba Diving Tanks
Newer and more casual divers will likely want to begin with lower pressure scuba tanks, whereas experienced divers who need the extra breathing room for longer and deeper dives may benefit from purchasing tanks rated for higher pressures.
To learn more about finding the best tank for your needs and pick up tips for using it most effectively, reach out to us and speak with one of our experienced divers—we sell a wide range of high-quality scuba tanks with different pressure levels, and we’ll also show you how to fill your tank and take care of it so you can always count on it during your dives.
Take the Pressure Out of Scuba Tank Shopping
Knowing you have the right scuba gear gives you the confidence to truly immerse yourself in your next underwater excursion. Use what you’ve learned above to start shopping for your next scuba tank, and contact us with your questions so you can make sure you’re getting the best equipment for your needs.