What Is a Dive Computer, How Do They Work and Why Do You Need One?

dive computerDive computers are a fantastic piece of diving equipment that provide divers with an easy-to-read display that helps monitor information such as depth and time. Put simply, a dive computer provides all the real-time information divers need to be able to dive well. A dive computer also tells you how much dive time you have left to enjoy diving safely.

About Dive Computer Displays

Dive computers have easy-to-read displays (also available in colour) that provide divers with the following essential information:

  • No stop limits
  • Dive depth
  • Time
  • Ascent rate
  • No stop time remaining
  • Emergency decompression
  • Previous dive information
  • Low battery warning
  • Enriched air compatible

How to Choose the Best Dive Computer

Choosing the right dive computer can be the difference between a good dive and a great one. After all, dive computers are one of the most essential pieces of dive equipment you can buy – they do keep you alive and that is pretty important.

Let’s take some time breaking down the different aspects of dive computers, what they do, and what they mean for you.

Provide Decompression Times

Dive computers provide you with decompression times which basically means they tell you how long you can stay at a particular depth without increasing your chance of decompression sickness (where nitrogen bubbles appear in your body after a dive). If you go into decompression accidentally, having a dive computer will tell you which steps you need to take to ascend to a particular depth and how long you need to stay there to adjust.

Record Diving Depth

Dive computers are also fantastic at telling you how deep you’re diving so that you don’t exceed the maximum depths or dive to unsafe depths that put you at risk. Having a dive computer also helps you avoid any payouts to insurance companies as they provide evidence that you haven’t dived below the recommended safe depth.

You Can Upload all the Information

Another beneficial aspect of dive computers is that you can upload all of the information you gather on a dive onto your computer. This allows you to keep a comprehensive online log of all your dive activities. Additionally, you can also upload photos and maps alongside each dive for your records, as well as leaving notes. This is not only useful for if and when you return to the dive site again, but it also means you’re able to share your trip with other divers on your various social media accounts.

Air Transmitter

An extra feature of dive computers is the air transmitter. This feature allows you to easily monitor your current air pressure. It also tells you how long the air in your tank will last, taking into your average breathing rate, at your current depth.

Monitors Multiple Gases

As you become a more experienced diver, you may move to more technical diving trips that require more than one cylinder of oxygens. Dive computers can have an additional feature that is able to monitor each separate cylinder and the different levels of oxygen, keeping you informed throughout your dive.

Rechargeable Batteries

As we all take steps to be more environmentally friendly in our daily lives and activities, it is now possible to enjoy dive computers that come with rechargeable batteries. All you have to do is plug your dive computer into a USB port and it will recharge for you. Once charged, dive computers tend to last for around 20 dives.

The Three Types of Dive Computer

Once you’ve made the decision to buy a dive computer and figured out the functions that are most important to you, there are three main styles you can choose from:

  • Wrist style: perhaps the most popular choice, the wrist style dive computer is lightweight, convenient, and easy to read as it sits right on your wrist.
  • Watch Style: Great for diving holidays, the watch style dive computer can be used just like a watch when you’re not in the water and then specifically for diving when you’re under the water. It has most of the functions of other dive computers, but does tend to be a bit more expensive.
  • Console Computer: the console computer replaces your current pressure and depth gauge that is attached via hose to your regulators. Very popular in America, the console computer is less convenient to take with you on a dive but does a great job at monitoring your oxygen levels, depth, and safety.

In addition to deciphering between the three main dive computer styles, it is important to consider your budget, the material you’d prefer, and whether you’d like a light-weight strap. As with many things in life, choosing the right dive computer really does come down to personal preference. You can find all the dive equipment we sell in our online dive shop, where you will find everything you need for the ultimate diving adventure!

If you would like to find out more about dive computers and how to find the best one for your dive, check out our article on dive computers for scuba diving here. Alternatively, get in touch with our team at Oyster Diving on 01273 420790 and we can advise you on the best dive computer for your next diving trip.

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