Why Buy Your Own Scuba Tanks?


In our previous post, we talked about the advantages of renting scuba tanks — primarily for convenience — but you might want to consider owning your own cylinders, the actual term for what we generally refer to as tanks. Today we’re going to talk about buying tanks for the sport diver.

Consider Buying Your Own Tanks If:

  • You are lucky enough to be able to drive to your dive sites or to meet dive boats
  • You are shorter and lighter than most divers, e.g., female, teenager, etc.
  • You tend to consume more air than most because of physique or diving conditions
  • Your nearest rental shop is inconveniently located, adding extra rental fees and time

However, even if you have to fly to dive, you should still consider owning your own tanks if you own your other gear to spare you the hassle of having to rent anything. And if properly maintained, you’ll know your tank is likely in better shape than almost anything you can rent.

Here’s what to Consider When Buying a Scuba Tank

Tank Capacity

Tank capacity, meaning how much air it can hold, is measured in cubic feet of air (cf). The standard tank you see in every dive shop around the world is an aluminum 80, meaning it can hold 80 cubic feet of air (which technically becomes about 77 cf when filled to 3000 psi).

  • While this size is great for many divers, these tanks can be a little too tall for shorter divers, making them uncomfortable, either banging the back of your head if too high or being unable to sit down if too low.
  • If that sounds like you, you have a couple of choices: you can try an aluminum 63 or an aluminum 50, which are a few inches shorter and lighter than the 80s. Steel tanks are also smaller in length, another option to consider.

On the flip side, if you need more capacity, consider an aluminum 100.

Another option to explore is high-pressure tanks, which can be either aluminum or steel but can be filled to 3442 psi or 3500 psi, which is more than the standard 3000 psi. Just know these tend to be harder on regulators and valves, increasing the likelihood of a failure. Some dive boats may not be able to fill them beyond 3000 psi as well.

Aluminum or Steel Tanks

scuba tanks, bright colorsMost tanks are made of aluminum because it’s less expensive than steel and it doesn’t rust.

There are some other differences as well:

  • Steel tanks weigh a little less, which sounds ironic but it’s because steel is more durable than aluminum so the walls can be thinner.
  • Steel tanks are less buoyant, meaning you don’t need to wear as much weight as you would with an aluminum tank — they can be anywhere from neutral to 3 pounds negative buoyancy underwater (empty). This is the primary reason divers choose steel tanks.
  • Aluminum tanks (empty) will be 2 – 4 pounds positively buoyant, so you need to wear more weight.
  • Steel tanks tend to be a little smaller and less prone to exterior dents and dings.
  • Steel tanks are more expensive, costing about twice as much as aluminum.

The biggest concern for steel is cost and rust, so that’s why most divers choose aluminum. However, aluminum can corrode too, which can damage the tank, and due to its buoyant tendencies, some divers prefer steel.

Inspections Are Still Required

Regardless of the tanks you choose, and yes, you should consider buying two since a typical day of diving involves at least two dives, you will need to have them inspected and maintained properly.

Most dive shops will not fill tanks that don’t have current visual inspection and hydro stickers.

Still not sure? Give us a call at 972-820-7667 or stop by our Scuba Toys in Carrollton, Texas and we can help. Check out our online inventory of tanks too!

Do you own your own tanks? If so, let us know what choice you made in the comments section below!

Next up, we’ll delve into what you need to know about diving with Nitrox, so stay tuned!

Image attribution: https://www.flickr.com/photos/elzey/

Article Name
Why Buy Your Own Scuba Tanks?
Owning your own scuba tanks has some advantages, such as a better size and capacity for your needs and the peace of mind in knowing your tank is safe to use.

3 responses to “Why Buy Your Own Scuba Tanks?”

  1. Isaac says:

    I’ve actually contemplated buying my own, but we typically fly to dive and it seems like such a hassle.

  2. Carmen S. says:

    I bought my wife and I tanks a couple of years ago and am glad that I did it. Sure, we have more to haul, but we dive often enough that it makes it worthwhile.

  3. C. Lewis says:

    I’m content renting for now. I can see it being nice to have your own though.

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