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View Full Version : Why do most Caribbean shops use AL80s?



scubadiver888
03-09-2009, 22:38
I've been learning a lot about cylinders (thanks everyone) and I'm wondering why all the Caribbean shops I've been to use AL80s.

I suspect they are cheap and the dive shops like to keep the dives short.

Am I right?

CompuDude
03-09-2009, 22:43
Yes. They also don't need a lot of care... they won't rust if you leave them half-covered in salt water most of their lives.

ektess1
03-09-2009, 23:57
I've been learning a lot about cylinders (thanks everyone) and I'm wondering why all the Caribbean shops I've been to use AL80s.

I suspect they are cheap and the dive shops like to keep the dives short.

Am I right?

Bingo. Exactly right. More dives more money. Not enough time to see everything; see you next year.

Rainer
03-10-2009, 00:01
In WW, I can get pretty long dives off an AL80. Capacity is not really an issue.

The AL80 is cheap and needs little care. I suspect those two reasons alone account for most of their popularity.

acamato
03-10-2009, 06:44
If water does get inside the tank, an AL80 will fare a lot better thank a steel tank. The AL80 will probably just have some surface oxidation.

baywatch106
03-10-2009, 09:18
cost $$$

mike_s
03-10-2009, 10:41
Larger tanks (than AL80) mean the boat is gone longer and you have to pay employees more. (more $$$)

larger tanks take longer to fill, or require a heavier output compressor system. (more $$$)

Larger tanks or steel tanks cost more to purchase, and more duty/tax to import into their country. (more $$$)

Steel tanks require more care and maintenance, rust prevention issues, etc.... (more $$$)

more $$$ in costs = less profits for shops.

awap
03-10-2009, 10:51
I don't find the capacity of an Al80 to be a significant limiting factor in enjoyable dive times. Many of our Caribbean dives will last about an hour which is plenty long for my wife even in her 5mm suit. Better ops also offer Al63s for the sippers and Al100 for those who need a bit more gas (at an extra charge). The biggest factor in dive durations seems to be how the profile is managed when multi-level diving is afforded by the reef conditions.

gNats
03-10-2009, 11:36
I don't see capacity as being a factor, myself.

I was in Bonaire in January and all the dive boats had a rule: 55 minutes / 500lbs., which ever comes first. I was ending my dive at 55 minutes with over 1200 lbs in my tank.

Also, I really couldn't increase my time uw any longer. I was off the dive table charts by dive 3 each day. I had such long dives, my computer was threatening to go into deco if I maintained too great a depth or increased my bottom times.

I agree air hogs would have less time during their dive, but I don't see the charters as trying to maximize profits or move people back and forth quickly. As long as you have diver like me, taking all of the 55 minutes, the people who hit the 500 lb mark at 30 minutes are sitting on the boat. The dive ops have to wait for me afterall.

I think the tank issue has to do with cost and standardization. Also, maintenance, i.e. the rust.

I believe the AL80 is standard for all dive charters, nationwide. I don't know for certain, but I wonder if non-Caribe charters offer tanks that are different from the AL80?

3rdEye
03-10-2009, 11:38
I
Also, I really couldn't increase my time uw any longer. I was off the dive table charts by dive 3 each day. I had such long dives, my computer was threatening to go into deco if I maintained too great a depth or increased my bottom times.



are you diving nitrox?

gNats
03-10-2009, 11:40
I
Also, I really couldn't increase my time uw any longer. I was off the dive table charts by dive 3 each day. I had such long dives, my computer was threatening to go into deco if I maintained too great a depth or increased my bottom times.



are you diving nitrox?

No, not yet. I will probably move to Nitrox this summer after I finish my AOW.

Skred
03-10-2009, 11:42
I don't see capacity as being a factor, myself.

I was in Bonaire in January and all the dive boats had a rule: 55 minutes / 500lbs., which ever comes first. I was ending my dive at 55 minutes with over 1200 lbs in my tank.

Also, I really couldn't increase my time uw any longer. I was off the dive table charts by dive 3 each day. I had such long dives, my computer was threatening to go into deco if I maintained too great a depth or increased my bottom times.

I agree air hogs would have less time during their dive, but I don't see the charters as trying to maximize profits or move people back and forth quickly. As long as you have diver like me, taking all of the 55 minutes, the people who hit the 500 lb mark at 30 minutes are sitting on the boat. The dive ops have to wait for me afterall.

I think the tank issue has to do with cost and standardization. Also, maintenance, i.e. the rust.

I believe the AL80 is standard for all dive charters, nationwide. I don't know for certain, but I wonder if non-Caribe charters offer tanks that are different from the AL80?

I've seen more than 1 shop in the FL Keys that use AL80s by default but have limited inventory of AL63s, AL100s as well as steel tanks available on request. Just a smart customer service move, IMO.

3rdEye
03-10-2009, 11:45
I don't see capacity as being a factor, myself.

I was in Bonaire in January and all the dive boats had a rule: 55 minutes / 500lbs., which ever comes first. I was ending my dive at 55 minutes with over 1200 lbs in my tank.

Also, I really couldn't increase my time uw any longer. I was off the dive table charts by dive 3 each day. I had such long dives, my computer was threatening to go into deco if I maintained too great a depth or increased my bottom times.

I agree air hogs would have less time during their dive, but I don't see the charters as trying to maximize profits or move people back and forth quickly. As long as you have diver like me, taking all of the 55 minutes, the people who hit the 500 lb mark at 30 minutes are sitting on the boat. The dive ops have to wait for me afterall.

I think the tank issue has to do with cost and standardization. Also, maintenance, i.e. the rust.

I believe the AL80 is standard for all dive charters, nationwide. I don't know for certain, but I wonder if non-Caribe charters offer tanks that are different from the AL80?

I've seen more than 1 shop in the FL Keys that use AL80s by default but have limited inventory of AL63s, AL100s as well as steel tanks available on request. Just a smart customer service move, IMO.

of the places I've been in the caribbean, they usually had some 63's and some had a 100 laying around.

scubadiver888
03-10-2009, 14:07
I don't find the capacity of an Al80 to be a significant limiting factor in enjoyable dive times. Many of our Caribbean dives will last about an hour which is plenty long for my wife even in her 5mm suit. Better ops also offer Al63s for the sippers and Al100 for those who need a bit more gas (at an extra charge). The biggest factor in dive durations seems to be how the profile is managed when multi-level diving is afforded by the reef conditions.

I've never seen an AL100. I know they exist but so far 100% of the dive ops I've used in the Caribbean have provided AL80s.

Are these are found over near Mexico or the western Caribbean? So far I've been to 80% of the islands east of Jamaica but nothing west of Jamaica (unless Curacao is west of Jamaica). Never been diving in Florida. Actually haven't been to Florida since I was a kid.

h2odragon1
03-12-2009, 10:54
When th US was more of an agrarian economy, almost all of the Barns were painted red. When someone asked why, the response from the farmers was; 'Red was cheaper than the other colors' the sellers were asked why red was cheaper and the said 'we sell more red that the other colors so we can keep the price lower'.
The same could be said of Al 80's. You don't see many DIN connectors do you? The din connector is a better valve connector than the yoke, but the yoke is more popular because it's an older design, and easier to use for the mechanically challenged.
If a dive operation offered 100's, they could charge more because of the increased capacity. There is no need to change compressors, since all current compressors will still give 3,000 lbs/ft3 just leave on for a few minutes longer. Most compressors can also handle HP tanks, but you generally don't see them offered either.
So many variables for the dive opperators, so few options for the consumer at these operators.
$$$$$$

Damselfish
03-12-2009, 11:44
Cheap with easy maintenance, pure and simple. I doubt any operator chooses AL80s with the express goal of cutting dives short. There's plenty of other ways to do that for the ops that want to, like simply set a too short time for a dive. Anyway, it's not even true for lots of people, many people get plenty long enough dives from an 80. I tend to come up with 1500 after an hour and I actually see most people last an hour or close enough - granted not usually the newer divers. (As far as steel tanks, if someone gave me a steel 100 in the Caribbean, I'd be overweighted w/ no ditchable weight anyway.)

There's always a bigger tank. If they all had 100s, someone would be complaining they didn't have 120s.

WD8CDH
03-16-2009, 11:31
When th US was more of an agrarian economy, almost all of the Barns were painted red. When someone asked why, the response from the farmers was; 'Red was cheaper than the other colors' the sellers were asked why red was cheaper and the said 'we sell more red that the other colors so we can keep the price lower'.

"Barn Red" paint comes from the iron oxide pigment. At the time, nothing came even close to the same durability at similar prices. It was a case of cheaper AND better.

russp
03-19-2009, 12:19
The original question about Caribbean dive shops leads me to the question of what type and size tank are most divers diving with? I currently own two AL80 and it seems to be what I see the most at the lakes. Do ocean divers typically use larger tanks or are the shops just carrying the tank most popular with divers?

CompuDude
03-19-2009, 14:21
The original question about Caribbean dive shops leads me to the question of what type and size tank are most divers diving with? I currently own two AL80 and it seems to be what I see the most at the lakes. Do ocean divers typically use larger tanks or are the shops just carrying the tank most popular with divers?

The shops are carrying the cheap tanks, again, here just as in the Caribbean. Most divers don't know the difference.

Al.80s are common in the ocean as well, but the more you dive here and the more experienced you get, the more you see the benefits of going with steel. Bigger tanks give longer bottom times, as long as you're diving profiles where NDLs allow it.

I see lots of newer divers diving with rental Al.80s they were given by the shop that certified them. I see most instructors diving the same tanks, since it's free to them. Some shops do have a supply of steel tanks for rent, others don't.

I see a majority of hard core, frequent and experienced divers, locally, using HP100s or bigger. I dive HP130s or doubles from boats, and anywhere from HP100 to HP130 for shore dives, depending on the dive plan and how far the walk is.

RoyN
03-19-2009, 16:05
I came back to the dive boat with only 1400 PSI on an AL40 tank. used, no pounds of weight because I was using my harness with a backplate. :D

Just my 2 cents.

mitsuguy
03-19-2009, 17:35
cost vs profit...

if every dive shop used al100's, it would cost X amount of dollars more for everything - break it down - you have more cost for the tank itself, more cost for the shipping of the tank, more cost for the extra time spent on the dive to the dive op (keep in mind even a bare bones boat has a captain and a DM), more cost for compressor/filter/drier maintenance (even though it's still 3000 psi, it's 20 more cu ft of air that has to be run through it)...

I think you might see that if you were to upgrade (or even start with) every tank in the shop to an AL100, that the additional costs required to still make the same profit per dive/diver would price that shop out of proportion to the other shops. Since many divers don't care about the size of the tank, they wouldn't see the additional size of tank as a benefit worth the extra cost needed to make it worthwhile... Because of this, many divers would go with the less expensive operation... The way that makes good sense is as some have mentioned, to have larger tanks available for rent at slightly higher prices. Thus you advertise the Al80's, but give the option for 100's or 120's...

Not to mention, the only time most people would be able to make use of the added capacity would be if they were diving nitrox or had bad air consumption... most of my dives here in Utila have been decided based on the NDL's or the fact that we try to get everyone back on the boat before an hour is up per dive rather than air capacity...

Aluminum is definitely superior to steel in terms of corrosion resistance, so that is just one more benefit... Honestly, I'd love to have a couple steel HP80's or 100's as it makes my weighting and balance a little better, but I cope just fine either way... I always dove steel HP80's back in the states, but here Aluminum is just so much more common...

Largo
03-19-2009, 21:44
MitsuGuy;

Hi. A lot of the forum have been following your new career with great interest. You are going through a learning process that most of us will never get to experience. I would love it if you could get an area of the ST forum to log the journey.

mitsuguy
03-20-2009, 07:35
MitsuGuy;

Hi. A lot of the forum have been following your new career with great interest. You are going through a learning process that most of us will never get to experience. I would love it if you could get an area of the ST forum to log the journey.

From the US to Honduras... From Open Water to Instructor... (http://www.divethewholeworld.********.com/)

Check it out! I haven't updated it lately, that's coming as soon as IDC is done... (today and tomorrow are mock exams)

CPTOZZY
03-20-2009, 20:31
On my last boat trip in the florida Keys the guy I buddied up with was diving his own HP Steel tanks (I think Worthington 120's).

1) They didn't fit well in the tank wells, so they ended up taking up space on the deck

2) They were so heavy I thought the female DM that tried to schlep them was going to kill herself. My Insta-buddy and I loaded them one at a time

3) I'm not sure how much gas he had left in each one after each dive, but we dove together, and I dove an AL80. Routine Fl. Key 40-80 ft reef diving, about 45-55 minutes per dive.

The HP tanks in this situation seemed to me to be more trouble than they were worth. For dives like this the AL80 or an AL100 would be fine.

Rainer
03-20-2009, 20:40
For dives like this the AL80 or an AL100 would be fine.

A Luxfer AL100 weighs more than a Faber HP120...

But I agree, for those dives, an AL80 would be fine.

Techdiver
03-20-2009, 20:53
All three answers are correct, it sounds like you all are avid divers. Most of the divers that dive those places are not every week or even monthly diver, so there air consumption is not as good, maybe with the exception of girls who seem to just not use air. 1. Price 2. Maintenance 3. Time down

. :sunglasses:

CompuDude
03-20-2009, 23:08
On my last boat trip in the florida Keys the guy I buddied up with was diving his own HP Steel tanks (I think Worthington 120's).

1) They didn't fit well in the tank wells, so they ended up taking up space on the deck

2) They were so heavy I thought the female DM that tried to schlep them was going to kill herself. My Insta-buddy and I loaded them one at a time

3) I'm not sure how much gas he had left in each one after each dive, but we dove together, and I dove an AL80. Routine Fl. Key 40-80 ft reef diving, about 45-55 minutes per dive.

The HP tanks in this situation seemed to me to be more trouble than they were worth. For dives like this the AL80 or an AL100 would be fine.

Seems to me in that situation, LARGE tanks weren't necessarily needed. (unless the diver in question was an extreme air hog)

It has nothing to do with whether they were HP tanks, or whether they were aluminum or steel. The tanks in question were too big to fit on the boat in question... also, if you're going to bring big tanks like that, you should be prepared to schlep them yourself.

ReefHound
03-21-2009, 08:31
The HP tanks in this situation seemed to me to be more trouble than they were worth. For dives like this the AL80 or an AL100 would be fine.

Probably so in terms of air consumption but many guys I know try to dive their big steel tanks or even doubles when it would seem overkill, simply because it's their standard configuration. They've dialed in their weighting, balance, and trim for that gear configuration.

Nemrod
04-21-2009, 21:35
I've been learning a lot about cylinders (thanks everyone) and I'm wondering why all the Caribbean shops I've been to use AL80s.

I suspect they are cheap and the dive shops like to keep the dives short.

Am I right?

Low maintenance, cheap, buoyancy characteristics are suited to warm water bathing suit and minimal exposure attire diving.

I can go into deco on an aluminum 80 pretty easy so usually capacity is not the limiting factor for me.

N

mmakay
04-21-2009, 22:51
I can go into deco on an aluminum 80 pretty easy so usually capacity is not the limiting factor for me.

N


There's the real reason!

Most people will have a hard time getting into serious deco trouble with an 80. Hence, DM's don't have to baby sit divers who are diving tables or elect to ignore their computer. Give casual divers a 120 and you are asking for more trouble than it's worth. Bent soccer moms don't tip well.

kat
05-02-2009, 23:58
I've been learning a lot about cylinders (thanks everyone) and I'm wondering why all the Caribbean shops I've been to use AL80s.

I suspect they are cheap and the dive shops like to keep the dives short.

Am I right?

Low maintenance, cheap, buoyancy characteristics are suited to warm water bathing suit and minimal exposure attire diving.

I can go into deco on an aluminum 80 pretty easy so usually capacity is not the limiting factor for me.

N

I too generally cut a dive short because of the tables, not the air in my tank...and I use AL80's.

mitsuguy
05-24-2009, 21:36
Because in the Caribbean diver's use the Metric system of unit's and measure. And Aluminum is space graded for less weight as opposed to a Steel tank from the 1900's. Aluminum is a different type of metallic alloy with different properties.

I sure hope you are joking about the whole freaking thing...

First off, Caribbean = where I am and where I was before I was here (Utila and St. Croix), arguably Utila is Central America, but I still consider it Caribbean waters... anyways, neither used the metric system - St. Croix especially not (even though we drive on the wrong side of the road), and in Utila, certain things were in metric, but every pressure guage and depth gauge at all the dive shops I saw were definitely in imperial units...

Also, a HP Steel 80 weighs less than an Aluminum 80, and actually holds just a tad bit more air...

CompuDude
05-26-2009, 16:56
Also, a HP Steel 80 weighs less than an Aluminum 80, and actually holds just a tad bit more air...

True, although ONLY if you can actually get it filled to 3442 psi. Many shops won't put much more than 3k in a tank, since they're so used to Aluminum.