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Diving Air Tanks: The Complete Buying Guide

A diver using an air tank underwater

Choosing diving air tanks is almost as personal as getting new underwear. What works for one person will not work for another, no matter how hard consumers try. But the good part is that once sellers know what kind of diving consumers will be doing, choosing the right tank to offer them will be a breeze.

Keep reading to explore various factors businesses must consider before purchasing this critical diving equipment. But before that, let’s look at the state of the diving air tank market.

Table of Contents
Should sellers invest in the diving equipment market?
Top factors businesses should consider when selecting diving air tanks
Summing up

Should sellers invest in the diving equipment market?

Person equipped with an air tank ready to dive

In 2023, the scuba diving equipment market was around US $991.78 million. Fast forward to 2024, and it climbed up to US $1.047 billion. And guess what? The market is projected to grow at a 6.10% compound annual growth rate (CAGR), hitting an impressive US $1.501 billion by 2030. What’s fueling this growth? Well, folks worldwide are finding themselves with more cash to spare, which means they are splurging more on hobbies like scuba diving.

With such impressive potential for growth, sellers shouldn’t hesitate to invest. In 2022, the recreational segment was the big deal, accounting for a huge global market share. North America is also leading the charge, snagging over 40% of the scuba diving equipment market in 2022, according to the above report statistics.

Top factors businesses should consider when selecting diving air tanks

Tank type

A big air tank strapped to a person's back

Once consumers have made the call to get themselves diving tanks rather than renting one, the next thing they will decide is the type that’s right for them. Dive tanks generally come in two builds: aluminum or steel. And they both have their perks.

Aluminum dive tanks

If consumers are just average recreational divers looking for a trusty tank, aluminum is the preferred choice. With the popular aluminum 80 tank, consumers will get about an hour’s worth of air. And get this: it weighs in at around 31 pounds when it’s empty. But when it’s filled up, it’s got about 5 pounds of negative buoyancy, meaning it’ll keep divers nicely grounded during their dive.

Speaking more of buoyancy, aluminum dive tanks take on a neutral or slightly positive state when empty, which is perfect for a smooth ascent when consumers are ready to go back up. Now, here’s the thing—if the aluminum tank leans more towards positive buoyancy, consumers may need to throw on a bit of extra weight to keep things balanced during their safety stop. But other than that, this tank’s the go-to for a solid, controlled dive experience.

Pros:

These tanks have a flat bottom, allowing them to stand upright without assistance. Aluminum tanks are also better suited for warm-water diving. Even better, these tanks are the global standard, so consumers will find it easier to get parts regardless of their location. Finally, aluminum tanks are almost immune to moisture-induced oxidation and require less care than steel cylinders.

Cons:

Unfortunately, most consumers complain about aluminum 80’s poor buoyancy characteristics. Also, the extra metal at the bottom (for the flat bottom) can make most divers feel tail-heavy.

Steel dive tanks

When consumers start delving into the nitty-gritty of technical and advanced diving, steel might fit their style more. Here’s why: steel tanks come with rounded bottoms, offering a more balanced buoyancy. Although consumers will need a tank boot to keep these diving tanks standing upright, many swear by steel dive tanks that the trouble is worth it.

Compared to an aluminum 80 tank, steel 80 diving air tanks weigh around 28 pounds when empty. But when consumers fill them up with compressed air, they will have about negative 8 pounds of buoyancy. And when these tanks are empty underwater, their buoyancy will sit at negative 1.7 pounds. Now, here’s where it gets interesting—technical divers are often cruising horizontally underwater. So, many of them opt for steel tanks because they provide the balanced buoyancy they need to ace deep dives.

Pros:

While aluminum handles warmer waters, steel tanks are the supreme option for cold-water diving. They offer more size options than aluminum variants, allowing consumers to choose one according to their height and weight. Steel tanks also have better buoyancy and balance than aluminum variants.

Cons:

However, steel tanks are more expensive than aluminum. They are also not immune to oxidation damage from moisture, meaning they will need extra care and maintenance.

Size and capacity

A diver using a white air tank

Scuba tanks come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. There are tall and skinny ones, short and stubby variants, and models with flat or round bottoms. Now, for the shorter divers or the ladies who don’t want to feel like they’re wrestling with their tank underwater, shorter tanks are available that are a bit wider. These babies help such consumers steer clear of any unwanted head or butt collisions while they are exploring the depths.

Nevertheless, picking the right tank size has a golden rule: the consumer’s air consumption. If consumers tend to go through their stored air quickly, they may lean toward a larger tank for more breathing time. Aluminum 80 tanks are the most common and effective options available. They are good enough to allow most divers to reach depths without pushing the limits of decompression.

However, if consumers are on the larger side or spend a lot of time hanging out in the deep end, they will want something bigger than aluminum 80 tanks. Larger divers typically consume more air, so a bigger tank on their back would be a game-changer. Plus, consumers who enjoy exploring the depths for a little longer will appreciate the extra safety cushion that large tanks provide. Check out the sizing chart below for more information on diving tank sizes and capacities.

Capacity (volume in cubic feet)Length/height (inches)Diameter (inches)Weight (when empty in pounds)
3.013.42.252.2
6.011.12.202.5
19.017.74.387.8
40.014.65.2515.3
77.525.97.2531.3
80.020.97.2428.6
98.826.28.0041.1
105.026.17.4033.8
12.029.17.2539.2

Pressure rating

A diver holding multiple air tanks

So, every tank has its own pressure rating, but tanks of different sizes and capacities can have the same pressure rating. So, what does that pressure rating mean if tanks have similar ratings? Well, it indicates the air pressure inside the tank when users fill it up. And there’s a range of ratings available: low pressure (2,000 to 2,400 psi), standard pressure (3,000 psi), and high pressure (3,300 to 3,500 psi).

Some steel tanks have a pressure rating followed by a plus sign, like 2,400+. What does that mean? It means users have some wiggle room, allowing them to fill such tanks up to 10% over the stated pressure. So instead of topping out at 2,400 psi, they can go up to 2,640 psi, or 188 bars.

High-pressure steel tanks for scuba diving are smaller and more compact, which some divers like. However, they need higher pressure to fill up fully, making it hard to get a complete fill. Why? During the filling process, these tanks will get hot due to the compressed air molecules. But as they cool, high-pressure tanks will drop the pressure and potentially lose some air. Getting a full fill on a high-pressure tank is tough, which is a downside of using them for scuba diving.

Summing up

Since diving involves going deep into bodies of water, consumers need air tanks to breathe in such conditions. And, while many rental services are available, some consumers prefer owning their gear. In fact, the number of consumers looking to buy diving air tanks jumped from 18,100 in January to 22,000 searches in February 2024. Ready to grab a share of this market? Leverage the three tips discussed in this article to pick the best diving air tanks for 2024.

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