Years ago it was known as Enriched Air, but today’s it’s more commonly referred to as Nitrox and a growing percentage of divers are using it when they scuba dive. The benefits are many to diving with Nitrox but it does require a few extra steps, the most prominent requirement of Nitrox diving is that you must check your tank before every dive. That means having the right tools and equipment including a Nitrox Analyzer.
For beginners, analysis is important because of the actual gas a diver is breathing. “Nitrox” is short of “Enriched Air” as we’ve mentioned. Regular air we breath is a mixture of O2 (oxygen) and nitrogen. During a scuba dive, divers bodies absorb nitrogen into their bodies. “Nitrox” is a special mixture of gas that increases the percentage of air and reduces the percentage of nitrogen, making it safer for divers to spend time underwater. Excess nitrogen in the body can result in decompression sickness (or more commonly known as ‘the bends’).
When scuba diving with nitrox, it’s important to know the exact “mixture” or percentage of air/gas a diver breathes. That’s why it’s standard procedure to check the air in a scuba tank before every “Nitrox” dive.
While some dive operations may try and tell you they “have a gas analzers that everyone uses”, there are many reasons prudent scuba divers should consider owning their own. DiverWire.com spoke with Patti Clarkson of Analox Sensor Technology about Nitrox Analyzers and she helped provide some insight that every diver can use.
Why Do Divers Need Their Own?
- You Don’t Share A Regulator or Computer: The more you dive Nitrox, the more you will want your own unit. According to Clarkson, “All Oxygen analyzers require maintenance. Do you want to trust your life to a unit you don’t know anything about?” For many of the same reasons you don’t share a computer or regulator, having your own analyzer provides peace of mind and an added level of safety.
- No Waiting in Line or “Unforeseen Disappointments”: It’s human nature to wait until the last minute – this is especially true of scuba divers. Since every tank must be checked and verified before every dive, a single analyzer could cause a bottleneck that isn’t necessary. Clarkson adds, “I’ve seen it before – if there’s only a single analyzer on a boat or at the dock and it breaks, that shouldn’t mean that everyone can’t dive Nitrox. For many divers, they have added an analyzer to their ‘save a dive’ kit and it’s paid off.”
- It’s YOUR dive, YOUR responsibility and ultimately, YOUR life: Nitrox is a safe and enjoyable way to scuba dive – provided you know what is in your tank. Any diver who doesn’t check each and every tank is not only being irresponsible, but also careless. All divers are taught to be “self-reliant” and having a working analyzer today is almost as important as a dive computer.
What To Look For in a Nitrox Analyzer:
- Simple, Easy to Use: Today’s divers have enough accessories and equipment, so a Nitrox Analyzer should be simple to use, provide fast readings and deliver accurate numbers – every time. “It’s just like any other piece of scuba diving equipment,” Clarkson says. “You want reliability, performance and ease of use on a pitching boat. We recommend divers try a variety of units before selecting one for their gear bag.”
- A full-range of analysis: Enriched Air (Nitrox) can come in many different mixtures. Divers should look for a unit that can handle everything from 1% to 100% O2, although most divers will never need the full range. Additionally, a quality analyzer should be able to handle enriched air as well as hypoxic mixes – something common for technical divers.
- Durability: Most analyzers are designed with divers in mind, but not all units deliver the same amount of durability Clarkson points out. “Is it made to withstand being dropped? Will it quit working if it falls in the rinse tank? How easy is the unit to operate? How does the warranty compare?” These are all factors to consider when making a purchase.
- Finally, how long will the unit last?: Virtually all Nitrox Analyzers operate with an oxygen sensor that “reads” the O2/Nitrogen mixture in a tank. Quality Analyzers have sensors that can last up to three years and that enable users to easily replace old sensors or batteries. Clarkson suggests doing some homework that will answer these questions prior to making a purchase.