This small air container holds the air divers breathe while they are under water. Most scuba cylinders are very similar in features, regardless of which company makes them. This is understandable since there really isn’t much room for variation of features and styles with these cylinders. For the most part, the only real choice divers have is whether to go with a steel or aluminum tank. In addition, they have different size options to choose from as well. This can cause some divers to become confused. Which brand should they go with? Should they go with a steel cylinder or is aluminum better? Which capacity or pressure rating should they choose? It’s no wonder scuba cylinders can often be such a confusing issue.
A lot of scuba tank shoppers have trouble deciding whether to go with one made from steel or aluminum. It’s important to remember that either metal can corrode, especially if you will be diving in salt water. So, it’s really not possible to choose a unit that won’t corrode. When it comes to weight, most people think that aluminum tanks are lighter. This is an incorrect assumption. The steel units are actually lighter because steel is a stronger metal than aluminum. The aluminum cylinders have thicker walls to compensate for the weaker metal, thus making them heavier. As an example, the average 80 cubic foot tank in still will be about 30 pounds while an aluminum tank that holds the same amount of air will be about 35 pounds.
Another thing to consider is that steel cylinders usually last longer than aluminum ones. A steel unit will have a service life of around 40 years while 15 years is usually the max for aluminum tanks. Really, the only advantage aluminum tanks seem to have is price. They are usually cheaper than steel tanks.
The pony tank is a newer type of scuba cylinder that many divers take with them while scuba diving. This tiny tank is used as a secondary tank in the event of an emergency. Pony tanks don’t hold much air though, usually it’s just enough air to get you safely to the surface.
The conclusion we can draw from our analysis is that a steel scuba cylinder is superior to aluminum in every area except price. But since they last more than twice as long than aluminum, you will realize a much better return on your investment.