Do you use steel or aluminum scuba tanks?

+4 votes
asked Feb 24, 2017 in Scuba Diving by A_WakeSkate (70 points)
Steel or aluminum scuba tanks? Why do you like one over the other?

9 Answers

+2 votes
answered Feb 24, 2017 by revgramza (1,095 points)
Great question

Steel and Aluminum tank work equally well.  But there are some important considerations.

Aluminum tank are lighter, therefore easier to move on land and boat.  Aluminum is a softer metal so the tanks are more easily damaged (extremely rare).

Steel tanks are heavier.  Steel tanks are more susceptible to rust/corrosion.  Steel tanks can be filled with more air.  For example, most people dive with Aluminum 80’s.  But dive shops will also offer you a steel tank that is 100 or 120.  They are a beast to handle on the boat, but offer significantly more dive time.

Here’s the big one to remember.  Aluminum tanks are positively buoyant-they float.  So you need more weight for your whole dive to compensate for the end of the dive when you tank is empty.  Steel tanks are negatively buoyant-they sink.  So you need to carry less weight on the dive and you don’t have to worry about not have enough weight at the end.
+1 vote
answered Feb 24, 2017 by ricom (175 points)
I personally have never been offered a choice when diving.  I think all the scuba shops I've visited have used aluminum tanks.  I suspect they use them because they are the cheaper of the two when you consider initial price and maintenance.  I don't have my own boat or dive regularly enough to own a tank, but if I ever get my own tank, I would probably buy a steel tank.  My understanding is that they are lighter and more durable.  You also apparently don't have to use as much weight because the steel tanks do not become positively buoyant like the aluminum ones do as they have less air in them.
commented May 26, 2017 by Ratfish (455 points)
I literally don't need any added weight when I dive with steel (unless I'm wearing more than a 3mm wetsuit)
+1 vote
answered Mar 17, 2017 by George1224 (5,147 points)
I like aluminum. No rust issues. They are easier to handle when side mount diving. I add 5 lbs to my weight check to account for weight of air in the tank at the end of the dive, If I dont my safety stop is more difficult.
+1 vote
answered Mar 23, 2017 by Cvet (3,369 points)
Both, depending on the Dive and how much the Dive boats compressor can pump too. If the compressor only pumps to 2200 then your better off with steel.
+1 vote
answered May 17, 2017 by hurfish (3,024 points)
I like and use steel HP100. It would also depend on location, suit or no suit and bouyancy
+1 vote
answered May 26, 2017 by NinjaShark (3,775 points)
I typically use aluminum 80s and my husband tries to use steel when he can, if we do this, we are pretty close in air consumption by the time we need to ascend. If we are both on alum 80s then I gotta go up when he does, even if i still have 1500psi left (ugh) - but I'm a good buddy :)

I have used steel once and loved it because I didn't need to carry any weight, but at the same time... what would I ditch if I needed too lol
0 votes
answered Mar 20, 2017 by SCUBATomWetzel (55 points)
I use both, pending on dive profile,  considering also your buddies setup.
0 votes
answered May 17, 2017 by Mangomankw (45 points)
I use aluminum but steel definitely have a place in the sport.
0 votes
answered Jul 9, 2018 by Scubachuck (1,093 points)
I like steel because I can get 100’s.
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