in 2000 a European normative standard was published specifying the minimum requirements for testing and marking respiratory equipment.
The purpose of EN250:2000 was to ensure a minimum level of safe operation for 'Open Circuit Self Contained Compressed Air Diving Apparatus' down to a maximum depth of 50 metres / 164 feet. This European Standard also specified that regulators must be independently tested to ensure they meet these minimum requirements.
Stating the design criteria
Manufacturers and consumers alike expect regulators to perform to certain specifications. If you purchase a travel regulator, you expect it to deliver good performance under the conditions it was created for - in warmer water.
However, most travel regulators are not designed to dive in all conditions; there are temperature limitations on many of them that would keep you from using them in Great Lake diving or under ice. Conversely, there are regulators that are diveable in more difficult situations such as high current or ice diving. But what exists to objectively test these regulators to ensure that they all perform under these specifications and conditions?
In 2014 the European standards (EN250) specifying how cold water regulators should be manufactured, were updated. In this instance 'cold water' regulators are classed as those "intended for use in waters colder than 10°C / 50°F."
Alternative air sources
The main change that recreational divers ought to be aware of relates to the fitting of auxiliary / alternative air source such as an octopus. A number of the training agencies advocate that when you are diving beyond 30 metres you should augment your gear with an independent alternative air source. (An octopus is not recommended for use below 30m.
This is consistent with existing advice in BSAC Safe Diving Guidance where an independent source is strongly recommended.
British Sub Aqua Club:
Manufacturers will in the future need to clearly mark their regulator port with an ‘A’ if it is considered suitable for connecting an Octopus (or other ABS). Manufacturers are also required to provide clear guidance on the suitability of their equipment for any relevant use (temperature, depth etc). The changes impact the regulator manufacturers but they do not immediately need to comply with the new standards for the equipment they are already manufacturing to the previous EN250 standard.
There is currently no indication that existing equipment on the market is not suitable for continued use in the configurations commonly used as long as divers follow the precautions advised in BSAC Safe Diving.
BSAC will continue to monitor the situation and update guidance as appropriate but strongly recommends the use of an independent gas source for dives below 30 metres and that divers ensure that any regulator sets (first stage, second stage and octopus) they are purchasing are suitable for their intended use buy checking the manufacturer’s guidance on the use of the equipment.