Where should I start to approach the rebreather world

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Nico-ITA

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Hi everyone,

I am a diver with about twenty years of dives on my back and I am starting to consider a future step towards the rebreather.
For several years I have been certified for diving at 60mt with 2 decompression gases and I stopped at this level (GUE and CMAS certifications).
I would like to go further, not so much in terms of depth (even that, why not) but in terms of knowledge, I would like to explore and learn about the rebreather world and then evaluate this leap. In the recent years, with the current prices of helium, the cost of technical dives has increased a lot, at least where I am diving (Italy, Croatia) and certainly this is an aspect that makes me think.
For a serious dive at 60m, considering everything, we are now talking about 200/250 € (dive+boat+gasses+bottles)

I am aware of the fact that an objective saving on gas is obtained with the reb, but at the same time there are new costs to consider for maintenance, etc.
The first question I would like to ask therefore is whether with the transition to the reb we can actually speak of an economic saving compared to the open circuit, considering the same range of depth and frequency of dives. This minus the cost of the rebreather, which I consider to be an (expensive) investment to continue my passion.

I realize that in recent years I reduced the number of dives because of the cost of gas and I feel very limited and stopped by this.
What I think is that rebreather could therefore give new imputs and goals to my diving career.

I know several people who have switched to the reb, but I rarely dive with them due to the difference in equipment and the groups / interests that inevitably arise.
In my area, but I think almost everywhere, marrying a type / model of reb means marrying an agency, which I ideally don't like, even if I can understand.
Where I live for the most part I see JJ (GUE) and Tres Presidentes (UTR), along with some groups with SF2 (I ignore the agency). Other rebreathers very rarely (maybe there are, but I don't the people/ groups).

The second question I ask myself is therefore how much importance you give to the team (a team of divers with the same reb) rather than to the rebreather itself due to its technical / constructive characteristics. Practical example: in your opinion the Revo is the best rebreather, but all your friends have the JJ. Would you still rate the Revo? Why? It's not a simple question, but I'm curious to have points of view.

I also have many doubts about the type of reb, for example if in my case a PSCR is convenient, rather than a CCR (that I see as the future), with much higher and important costs from what I understand, which for my pockets would not be exactly painless.
I mainly dive in lakes, to find a good sea with interesting depths and wrecks I have about 4 hours by car, so I usually stop all weekend with my buddies, when possible, but I cannot do it all weekends.

I am definitely ignorant in terms of rebreathers, types and pros and cons of the various models, so I ask you how in your opinion I should start deepening this world to understand the choice to make. The feeling is that if I involve instructors now, they will push for the agency more than the rest.

Thanks for all your comments
N
 

Wibble

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Nice one. A lot of similarities to my background and I chose a Revo too.

Dive costs for a 60m dive would be about €20 for gas and €10 for absorbent plus €3 for a catheter ;-)

Moving to CCR is a serious comment, not just for the box + bits, but a big commitment for training, for practice time and the love and attention the unit demands in preparation before diving. You must have the right attitude to master these complex machines and the diving techniques required to safely operate them.

Then it’s fun. The silent world of long dives and cheap gas.


Think of it as moving from a bicycle to a motorcycle. Costs about the same too.

It helps to have access to people diving the same unit as yourself, but it isn’t essential as you’ll be following what you learned on your MOD1 course. You will need to have other CCR divers to play with, definitely for practice.

Selecting a unit is simple, just get a Revo. Don’t listen to all the others recommending their units as they’re wrong :cool:

Actually the selection is quite important as you need to do a lot of research according to your needs, access to other people, budget and selecting your trainer. A shortlist is made and you spend time finding out which suits you best. Mine was Revo, JJ, X-CCR. Did I say I got a Revo?

Have fun
 

tbone1004

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@Nico-ITA will try to address these as points
Point 1-Cost of CCR vs OC. For a normal 2hr dive that's probably about $20 for gas, about the same for Sorb, and that's it. Fixed costs of about $300/yr for sensors and will say you do 30 dives to get to $50 even for the dive. If that same dive is $100 of gas, then you are saving 50*30=$1500/yr by using the rebreather and assuming all costs stay the same, you'll have a ~6yr ROI for the unit. You obviously have to do the math on how many dives/yr you are going to do, but you can pretty safely assume the rebreather is going to cost you about $25/hr regardless of depth. You still have all of the costs of boat/bottles so the only savings is in the gas.
Cost savings is one of the benefits if you dive deep on the regular, but the real benefit when you are that deep is the safety improvements associated with not having a ticking clock of gas reserves in an emergency.

Point 2-I've said this many times and I believe as recently as last week in a thread discussing that most rebreathers are basically the same and there is a huge benefit of having parts that are the same. The Revo and JJ are very different beasts, same with the SF2, but if you're going between say a JJ and a Liberty, the differences really aren't significant enought o bother.

PSCR is only useful if you have predictable depths which is why they work with the WKPP for cave diving, but for open water diving they really aren't the best option.
 

lermontov

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i dont think trying to justify a ccr for cost savings is the main focus - get a ccr because theyre awesome!
if you are the sort of person who doesn't like to tinker or spend time checking over your equipment, then ccr is probably not for you. They demand attention both in and out of the water.

if you have some idea where you want go with your diving then it will help make that decision but by your post it sounds like technical ccr diving is your thing. I wrestled with it for a year before making the move and only regret is waiting that year.

You will hear a few voices saying a ccr is trying to kill you etc. I can tell you a ccr has saved my life (long story - got disoriented on a wreck penetration, couldn't find my way out - unlikely to have made it on OC) but you will find that having a lot of time to sort problems out on a ccr is a HUGE psychological factor when things go wrong.

Ive found i enjoy my diving as lot more because i dont need to rush as you slowly let go of that time restraint - if you want to spend 10 minutes at 30 m looking at a fish then you can (within reason of course)

My buddies all dive JJ and AP im the only one with a revo- they do have an advantage of parts sharing but so far it hasn't been a deal breaker
 

broncobowsher

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What they are saying. Copy, paste, repeat. Right down to get a rEvo:coffee:

The up front costs are huge. Economical operation will pretty rarely pay for the costs.

But they do open a lot of doors. Very adaptable to changing plans. 60M spot isn't accessible today, but a 30M is? Go ahead and dive it, the excess helium you are using will cost about what that Expresso did while deciding to change plans. Something goes wrong and the dive runs overtime, a lot, you can probably still finish your deco and come out alive and unhurt. Normal technical dives typically don't max out the capabilities of a rebreather leaving more buffer for screwing up without dying. Warm moist air is so much nicer to breath when you are into hours of diving. Travel to places with limited Helium, you can still dive it. I'm thinking of places like Truk or Bikini where it is so rare that they only let rebreather divers use it. And the cost is mind blowing (if you thought it was expensive at home, check the prices at remote locations). Yes, I know you said you typically dive at lakes near home, but a rebreather does open travel possibilities in the future.

Of course all the cool kids have one.
 

lermontov

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What they are saying. Copy, paste, repeat. Right down to get a rEvo:coffee:

The up front costs are huge. Economical operation will pretty rarely pay for the costs.

But they do open a lot of doors. Very adaptable to changing plans. 60M spot isn't accessible today, but a 30M is? Go ahead and dive it, the excess helium you are using will cost about what that Expresso did while deciding to change plans. Something goes wrong and the dive runs overtime, a lot, you can probably still finish your deco and come out alive and unhurt. Normal technical dives typically don't max out the capabilities of a rebreather leaving more buffer for screwing up without dying. Warm moist air is so much nicer to breath when you are into hours of diving. Travel to places with limited Helium, you can still dive it. I'm thinking of places like Truk or Bikini where it is so rare that they only let rebreather divers use it. And the cost is mind blowing (if you thought it was expensive at home, check the prices at remote locations). Yes, I know you said you typically dive at lakes near home, but a rebreather does open travel possibilities in the future.

Of course all the cool kids have one.
yes bikini is a good example mod 2 territory without getting a mortgage to pay for helium -and depending on where you dive youll need to negotiate run times if you have OC divers on board - our dive group all tend to dive together with ccr so when we charter or plan a trip we make sure we can do long run times before we book - we nearly had a mutiny on one trip but it worked out
 

Wibble

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For the savings on, say ten 60m dives a year totalling $2k for gas on OC, $300 for gas and sorb on CCR, you have to factor in the purchase cost inc. training and extra kit, say $20k plus the annual maintenence, say $500, plus the ~2 hours pre-dive prep time on CCR per day of diving.

For your dive profiles, you dive CCR because you want to, not because you have to.

It's a heart not head decision.

Do it, you know you want to 🤡
 

tbone1004

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For the savings on, say ten 60m dives a year totalling $2k for gas on OC, $300 for gas and sorb on CCR, you have to factor in the purchase cost inc. training and extra kit, say $20k plus the annual maintenence, say $500, plus the ~2 hours pre-dive prep time on CCR per day of diving.

For your dive profiles, you dive CCR because you want to, not because you have to.

It's a heart not head decision.

Do it, you know
Your costs for the unit are like double what they should be. $10k ish for unit and training and about $300/yr for maintenance.
Also the initial build shouldn’t take more than 30mins.
10x 60m dive numbers are pretty close though.
 

Wibble

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Your costs for the unit are like double what they should be. $10k ish for unit and training and about $300/yr for maintenance.
Also the initial build shouldn’t take more than 30mins.
10x 60m dive numbers are pretty close though.

Revo R19 rebreather current price: €9k6 (inc 3x cylinders). Various options (travel tank bands, stand) €400. Spares ~€100 = €10,100 + 20% tax
Total €12,120 / ~$14k / ~£10k3.

Additional cylinders: Pair of Ali80s for bailout, pair of ali7s/45's for bailout (easier for 35m to 50m), single ali7/45 for shallow bailout (filled with 32%).
Will definitely need another pair of 3 litre tins for O2 and Bailout.

2 tubs of 'sorb = £140 / €160 / $180
2 spare sensors = £140 / €160 / $180

Assume diver has appropriate lights, heater, drysuit regulator, bailout regulators, etc.

Shall we say Total €13k / ~$15k / ~£11.5k.

Add the MOD1 training fees (exclude travel, accommodation, etc.) = £800 / €900 / $1100

Following training and lots of practice, there's the MOD2 to get back down to 60m.


I budgeted £15k / €17k / $20k. Didn't buy the BOV. Did buy AI transmitters, more banking cylinders to mix my own, 5x cells and other spares, handed valves for the bailouts (sidemount bungeed). I was also exceedingly lucky in scoring myself a twice used Revo R19 that was 2 years old and as-new condition for a good discount (the poor sod who'd bought it broke his knee in an accident and couldn't dive; the two dives was him trying to dive). With the training the budget was used.

Just checked the JJ site; cheaper than the Revo but without the Nerd (circa €2k) -- €7200 + tax

As I said earlier; like buying a motorbike.


Time. I always allow 2 hours for preparation. A lot of that's mixing gas and being very thorough about checking, analysing, marking up, running checklists, etc. It is possible to take less time but there be dragons I tell ye. Every "few" weeks the unit's fully washed out with antiseptic. After every dive day the loop's removed and rinsed, the unit's opened, wiped clean internally and left open to dry. Cloths and loop are rinsed with a Chemgene spray.
 

Nico-ITA

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Thanks everyone for the comments, I didn't think I would get so much feedback.

From your words I understood that the savings on the single tech dive is considerable, then based on the number of dives per year we can also talk about "recovering" the cost of the reb, but that's another story.
A final question about costs is this: assuming that the main CCR models have a similar average annual maintenance cost (I don't know, but I guess so), what is the amount we are talking about according to your experience and how often you dive?

My main doubt at the moment, however, is that of the choice of the machine and what this implies/ should I expect if I choose a non-popular reb in my area.

To put it very simply, most of the people I know have the JJ (GUE).
Since I am also GUE certified, this would be the most obvious choice in order to give continuity to a path, but I don't want to limit myself to evaluating the path, I want to try to understand the pros and cons of all the main Rebs, so as to also have other elements to base the decision.

In my first post I also mentioned the rEvo as it seems to me an excellent machine, very versatile, and I would have some interesting contacts to do the reb course with SSI.
The thing that gives me to think is that I don't know anyone with the rEvo around, maybe there are people who use it here, but I don't know.
Nothing takes away from the fact that Meg or others are equally eligible candidates anyway.

I would therefore like to understand how you see the fact of diving with a reb that is not popular within your local buddies-groups and therefore inevitably with different methods and procedures.
Is this well contemplated and accepted in the reb world? (I am thinking about GUE for example).
Above al, is it easy to manage underwater this difference (procedures, emergencies, dive profiles, etc ...)?
How much weight would you give to this in the reb choice?

Thanks!
 
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