The time eventually comes when every serious diver decides to get their own tanks. Tanks are usually the last item on the list for a diver to purchase. They are expensive to buy new and used ones can have their own problems (more on that shortly).
It’s hard to beat having a couple tanks out in your garage, ready to go when a dive opportunity presents itself. This is especially the case if you do not live near a dive shop and most of the diving you do is remote.
The number one reason to have your own tanks is convenience. It’s nice not having to reserve rentals, pick them up and then get them back to the shop after the dive. You can refill your tanks when its convenient.
If you are looking for a deal, used is the way to go. That being said, there are some pitfalls you will need to avoid when buying pre-owned tanks. The best bet is to get your used tanks from a dive shop. For the deals, check craigslist or a local dive board.
The key to a successful buy is that the tanks have a current hydro and visual inspection. If you are buying from a shop, this should be included. If you are buying from an individual, you need to confirm that these are current. One tip for scoring a great deal is to start looking for used tanks around December. I have found some amazing deals in the dead of winter. I wonder why?
A visual inspection and hydro will cost you as much as $50 per tank. This expense alone may bring the total price up to what you would pay for a new tank. You may also need to replace the valve. Ensure the visual sticker is present and that there is a hydro stamp on the tank.
Some “older” tanks aluminum are considered suspect and your local shop may not fill them. A number of tanks manufactured in 1990 and earlier have been known to rupture (explode). Be sure to consult with your local shop before purchasing.
Steel or Aluminum? My preference is steel. Steel is durable and if properly cared for can last for decades. They are also more neutral during the course of a dive. There are not as many concerns with older steel tanks as there are with aluminum. For whatever reason there are deals to be had on used steel tanks.
Unlike aluminum, steel tanks are prone to rust and may need to be tumbled or brushed if there is any corrosion present. You may need to have this done annually. Aluminum is hard to beat from a maintenance perspective. It does oxidize but it’s not as big a deal as rust.
What about new tanks? New 80 CF tanks run about $250 with a valve, minus the inspection. Steel tanks will cost about $350. Get them at a shop and they will (most likely) include the inspection and a fill.
Whatever you decide, owning your tanks can take your diving to a new level.
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