What equipment do I need to Scuba dive on Enriched Air Nitrox?
Diving Nitrox is almost like diving regular air. These days, most gear is made with considerations for Recreational Nitrox diving in mind. There are two perspectives in relation to Nitrox equipment needs. The first is pre-dive (planning) equipment. The second is your "breathing loop" equipment. Of course, this assumes you have the knowledge, training, and certification to dive Nitrox. If not, you can start your certification process now!
Pre-dive or planning equipment is essentially what you use as a Nitrox diver to plan your dive. The first thing you want to know is your blend (or the amount of Oxygen compared to Nitrogen in your mix). The only way to do this is with an Oxygen (O2) Analyzer. Either you must have one, or the shop/boat that you are diving with needs to provide you one. If you do not have an Analyzer, you cannot accurately analyze your blend. YOU CANNOT DIVE NITROX. Assuming you have analyzed your Nitrox mix, you need to plan your dive. Using the mix and your planned dive time and depth, you can determine your no decompression limits. You can do this, most reliably with a dive computer in simulator mode or use enriched air dive decompression tables provided by your training agency. These planning tools will help you determine your Maximum Depth and No Decompression Limits for dive time.
Stake your claim; Mark your tank! Once you have analyzed your tank of Nitrox, you must label it appropriately. Some folks use masking tape... Not very cool! Dive professionals use Personalized Nitrox Tank tags. These pre-preprinted tags are available to help remind you of your diving air mix and what your maximum operating depth should be.
Be safe and show the world you are qualified to dive Nitrox! Check out our Nitrox Tags.
Breathing Loop equipment is your regulator and your tank. Most regulators are manufactured with use of Nitrox mixes up to 40%. If you have any question as to whether or not your regulator is Nitrox compatible, you should research your manufacturer's guide. Please note, some titanium regulators cannot use enriched air blends because Titanium oxidizes at lower levels than other metals. If you own a titanium regulator, you should definitely check with your manufacturer.
If you own a tank, you can make it a Nitrox tank. No special tank is needed. However, the valve and tank must be O2 Compliant and they must be O2 Clean. Additionally, a Nitrox tank needs to have special markings on the outside to warn other divers that it may contain enriched air nitrox. Tanks and other equipment are discussed in-depth in the Academy of Scuba Enriched Air Nitrox Courses.
Lastly, we haven't mentioned computers as they are not a requirement for diving recreational Nitrox. However, we at Nitrox.com and the Academy of Scuba, highly suggest the use of a computer. If you have one, please check the manufacturer’s guide to see if it is Nitrox enabled. If you do not own a good Nitrox computer, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org and ask us to help you find one.