Dive computers have become an essential piece of gear for divers, providing crucial information to help plan dives and avoid decompression sickness.
A key feature that differentiates dive computers is whether they have air integration capabilities.
Air-integrated dive computers offer additional functionalities related to monitoring the remaining air supply that provide significant advantages over standard non-air-integrated models.
In this article, I will discuss how air-integrated dive computers work, their features, pros and cons, key factors to consider, and a comparison of the top models.
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Air integration is a vital feature for monitoring your air supply during a dive. To ensure you have the most accurate information, consider using a dive computer with air integration from this curated list.
Why Air Integration Matters
Understanding your remaining air supply is critical for safe diving. Air integration provides a way for your dive computer to monitor tank pressure in real time, rather than relying on the diver to check their submersible pressure gauge.
This enables more accurate tracking of air consumption rates and smarter planning regarding turn pressures and ascent rates. For technical divers carrying multiple tanks, air integration simplifies monitoring gas supplies across different mixes.
Overall, air integration gives divers enhanced situational awareness and safety.
How Air-Integrated Dive Computers Work
Air-integrated dive computers connect to a diver’s first-stage regulator via a high-pressure hose. This allows a pressure sensor in the dive computer to monitor tank pressure and transmit data via a wireless connection.
The diver can view the pressure of all connected tanks on the dive computer display.
Advanced air integration dive computers use this pressure data in conjunction with depth, time, and breathing rates to estimate remaining bottom time and make ascent rate recommendations.
Key Features of Air-Integrated Dive Computers
Air-integrated dive computers also provide a number of advanced functions and capabilities not possible with standard non-air-integrated models.
Here are some of the most important features:
Precise Tank Pressure Readings
- The pressure sensor integrated into the high-pressure hose provides real-time monitoring of tank pressure rather than relying on periodic checks by the diver.
- This enables the computer to give warnings when tank pressure reaches critical thresholds, such as reaching turn pressure and reserve pressure.
- The continuous stream of pressure data is accurate to within a few psi, versus periodic checks that may miss pressure swings.
- The pressure data is transmitted wirelessly from the high-pressure sensor to the dive computer display.
- This gives flexibility in positioning equipment rather than needing to mount the dive computer on the regulator.
- Wireless transmission eliminates hoses going to the dive computer. Most systems have a range of 6 feet or more.
Air Time Remaining Estimates
- The computer uses real-time pressure data along with the diver’s breathing rate to estimate the remaining bottom time.
- As the breathing rate increases due to exertion, the computer dynamically updates the estimates, unlike manual systems.
- This allows the diver to monitor no-decompression limits based on the air supply.
- Warnings can be given when reaching the minimum air reserves needed for ascent.
Ascent Rate Monitoring
- Knowing the remaining air supply, the computer can recommend safe ascent rates.
- If air is limited, the computer may suggest faster ascents to the first stop compared to dives with abundant air.
- This balances decompression needs and air requirements.
Multiple Tank Monitoring
- For technical divers, air integration allows easy monitoring of multiple tanks.
- The pressure levels of all tanks are displayed in a consolidated view, rather than needing to check SPGs.
- If tanks have different gas mixes, the computer keeps track of which supply is in use during different phases.
Pros and Cons of Non-Air-Integrated Dive Computers
Non-air-integrated dive computers rely solely on the diver manually inputting changes in tank pressure. The diver must periodically check their submersible pressure gauge (SPG) and input this data into the dive computer.
- Lower cost than air-integrated models
- Simpler setup without hoses
- Universal compatibility with any regulator system
- Tank pressure must be checked manually
- Does not automatically factor air supply into dive planning
- Higher risk of running out of air if not monitoring SPG
How Air Integration Improves Dive Planning
One of the biggest advantages of air integration is that it allows dive computers to incorporate real-time remaining air supply information into their dive planning algorithms and warnings.
This provides major improvements in situational awareness and safety.
Precise Turn Pressure Warnings
- The computer can give turn pressure alerts based on the real-time tank pressure data rather than relying on the diver’s periodic checks of their SPG.
- This reduces the risk of unintentionally descending below planned depths due to not checking pressure as frequently.
- The warnings can factor in the remaining no-decompression time and ascent rate to optimize turn pressures.
Dynamic Time Remaining Countdowns
- The computer displays the estimated bottom time remaining based on real-time breathing rate and tank pressure data.
- As the exertion level changes, the computer dynamically recalculates the time remaining, providing a countdown that is more accurate than manual systems.
- This allows the diver to more precisely monitor no-decompression limits based on up-to-date situational data.
Optimized Decompression Ascent Rates
- Knowing the precise remaining air supply in real-time, the computer can recommend ascent rates that balance decompression needs and air requirements.
- This may involve slightly faster ascents to the first stop compared to dives with more air supply.
- The result is decompression schedules customized based on your tank status rather than generic ascent rates.
Emergency Air Supply Management
- If air supply becomes critically low for any reason, the computer can provide emergency ascent rates and stop depth recommendations to get the diver to the surface safely with minimal air.
- For situations like a bad SPG reading or regulator failure, air integration data improves decision-making.
- It allows computers to adapt emergency recommendations based on real-time pressure trends.
Are Air-Integrated Dive Computers Necessary?
While air integration clearly provides significant advantages, non-air-integrated dive computers can still be completely adequate for some divers’ needs if proper protocols are followed.
Here is a closer look at when air integration is most beneficial versus situations where it may be less essential.
Recreational No-Decompression Diving
- For single-tank, no-decompression recreational dives within no-decompression limits, periodically checking SPG and manually inputting pressure changes into the computer is generally reasonable.
- The need for real-time air data is reduced when staying well within limits and maintaining reserves for ascent.
- Following the good practice of checking SPG every few minutes can sufficiently supplement a non-air-integrated computer.
Technical, Multi-Gas Diving
- For technical divers carrying multiple tanks, making decompression stops, and managing multiple gas mixes, air integration is highly recommended.
- The complexity of this diving requires constant monitoring of supply across different tanks, and real-time data enables this level of awareness.
- Air integration greatly reduces task loading for these divers by consolidating pressure data.
Infrequent or Inexperienced Divers
- Divers who only go out a few times a year may find air integration useful but have difficulty justifying the cost for the limited number of dives.
- Inexperienced divers who struggle with situational awareness can benefit from air integration but likely need to improve their fundamentals first.
- Air integration provides significant advantages but should not replace developing core dive skills.
Addressing Technology Complacency Concerns
- Over-reliance on technology can lead to dangerous complacency, where divers forget to perform basic self-checks.
- Even with air-integrated computers, divers should maintain the habit of periodically checking their SPG as a redundant safety protocol.
- Air integration provides more data but should not be an excuse for losing dive awareness.
Key Factors in Choosing the Best Air Integrated Dive Computer
With different models on the market, how do you pick the right air-integrated dive computer for your needs? Here are the key factors to consider:
- Wireless integration – Uses wireless transmitters rather than hoses for air integration. This streamlines your gear and reduces drag.
- Transmitter compatibility – Works with different transmitter models and brands. Allows pairing existing transmitters you may already own.
- Gas mixing – Supports diving with nitrox and/or trimix gas blends. Computes adjustments to no-deco limits for proper dive planning.
- Decompression features – Includes decompression stops and tissue loading calculations for technical diving.
- Multiple gas integration – Pairs with up to 4 transmitters to monitor more than one tank during a dive. Ideal for technical divers and instructors.
- Display and interface – Choose an intuitive display layout and a large screen that is easy to read. Makes monitoring air integration seamless, even with gloves on.
- Log downloads – syncs air consumption data and graphs to a desktop or smartphone after the dive. Helps analyze breathing gas usage during each dive.
Top Air-Integrated Dive Computers
The best air-integrated dive computers will excel in these areas discussed above while also fitting your budget.
Next, let’s look at the top air-integrated computer models available.
Shearwater Teric – Feature-Packed Top Pick
In my opinion, the Shearwater Teric stands out as the top overall choice for an air-integrated dive computer. It packs an excellent balance of features, functionality, and display into a compact design.
Here are my main reasons why the Teric is the top choice:
- Streamlined wireless air integration with auto-pairing transmitters
- Compatible with a wide range of transmitter brands
- Supports up to 3 transmitters for monitoring multiple tanks
- Full mixed gas, rebreather, and technical diving modes
- A vibrant OLED color screen is visible in all conditions
- Dive log and air consumption data sync wirelessly to desktop/mobile
- Excellent Shearwater UI makes monitoring air seamless
The Teric hits all the right notes for an advanced, air-integrated computer. Its compact size makes it comfortable on the wrist while still providing a generous display.
Shearwater’s excellent interface and software make tracking your air supply effortless.
Technical divers will also appreciate Teric’s deco planning features and support for Trimix. While pricey, the Teric delivers performance and reliability worthy of the investment.
It’s the top choice for those who want the best all-around air-integrated dive computer.
Suunto EON Core – Great Air Integration for Recreational Divers
The Suunto EON Core is an excellent air-integrated dive computer option for recreational scuba divers. It provides excellent air integration and a user-friendly design.
What I like about this air-integrated dive computer is:
- Streamlined wireless air integration from up to 3 transmitters
- Suunto’s intelligent algorithm adjusts no-deco limits based on your diving
- Clear negative LCD display readable in all conditions
- Automatic stopwatch tracks your surface interval time
- Air integration syncs wirelessly to Suunto app after each dive
While designed with recreational divers in mind, the Suunto EON Core still has many of the key features you want in a dive computer with air integration.
This dive computer also comes with wireless monitoring of multiple gas mixes, adjustable settings for conservatism, and downloadable logs.
At a more affordable price point than the Teric, the EON Core hits a nice sweet spot for recreational divers who want air integration without all the advanced tech features.
Suunto’s excellent software and usability make air monitoring intuitive.
Trust me, this is a great choice if you want an air-integrated computer on a budget.
Shearwater Perdix 2 – Ideal for Travel-Friendly Air Integration
The svelte Shearwater Perdix 2 puts air integration data into an ultra-compact package perfect for travel. Its crisp display and intuitive software make it easy to keep tabs on your air while diving.
Here you have the key features of the Perdix 2 air-integrated wrist dive computer:
- Pairs with one integrated transmitter to display air pressure/usage
- A streamlined design with vivid color display is readable in all conditions
- Logs dives to 100m and tracks gas consumption after each dive
- Syncs wirelessly with desktop and smartphone for analyzing air time
- An optional strap extends battery life to 60 hours for extended diving
The Perdix 2 shines when you want air integration capabilities without the bulk. Its low-profile design is comfortable to use. Shearwater’s excellent software makes monitoring your air seamless.
While it lacks some of the advanced tech diving features of the Teric, the Perdix 2 focuses on delivering a simple yet powerful air integration experience.
If you want the essential features in a travel-friendly package, the Perdix 2 hits the mark.
Summary – Main Points About Air Integration
- Air integration improves monitoring of the remaining gas supply for better dive planning and safety
- Real-time wireless tank pressure data enables advanced features not possible with manual input
- The benefits are most pronounced for technical divers using multiple tanks and gas mixes
- Air integration has limitations – SPG should still be checked periodically as a redundant check
- While not essential for recreational diving, air integration does provide a significant safety advantage
- Choosing an air-integrated computer depends on diving needs, reliability, display quality, and algorithm robustness
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Q: What is an air integrated dive computer?
A: An air integrated dive computer is a type of scuba diving computer that is designed to monitor your air supply while scuba diving. It measures the air pressure in your tank and provides real-time information about your remaining air time.
Q: Why should I choose a dive computer with air integration?
A: Choosing a dive computer with air integration allows you to have a more accurate and convenient way of monitoring your air supply. It eliminates the need for a separate pressure gauge and provides you with real-time information right on your wrist.
Q: What are the benefits of using an air integrated dive computer?
A: Using an air integrated dive computer offers several benefits. It provides accurate and real-time information on your remaining air supply, allowing you to plan your dive accordingly.
It also helps you avoid running out of air unexpectedly and improves your overall dive safety.
Q: Can I use a dive computer without air integration?
A: Yes, you can use a dive computer without air integration. Dive computers without air integration rely on user input to estimate remaining air time based on average consumption rates.
Q: What are some popular brands of air integrated dive computers?
A: Some popular brands of air integrated dive computers include:
- Shearwater dive computers
- Suunto dive computers
- Oceanic dive computers
Q: Which brand offers the best air-integrated dive computers?
A: Shearwater is often regarded as one of the best brands for air-integrated dive computers, with models like the Shearwater Teric and the Shearwater Perdix 2.
Q: What features should I look for in an air integrated dive computer?
A: When choosing an air integrated dive computer, look for features such as an easy-to-read display, an integrated compass, advanced diving capabilities, and compatibility with dive log software.
Q: Are air integrated dive computers suitable for entry-level divers?
A: Yes, there are air integrated dive computer models that are suitable for entry-level divers. These dive computers offer user-friendly interfaces and are designed to enhance the diving experience for beginners.
Q: Can air integrated dive computers be used for decompression diving?
A: Yes, air integrated dive computers can be used for decompression diving. However, it is important to choose a dive computer that is specifically designed for decompression diving and has the necessary features to support it.
Q: What is the difference between a dive computer with air integration and one without?
A: The main difference between a dive computer with air integration and one without is the ability to monitor your air supply in real time.
Dive computers with air integration provide you with more accurate and up-to-date information about your remaining airtime.
Q: How do air integrated dive computers work?
A: Air integrated dive computers work by connecting to a pressure sensor on your scuba tank. The computer receives data from the pressure sensor and calculates your remaining air supply based on your depth and breathing rate.
Q: What are the features of air integrated dive computers?
A: Air integrated dive computers have multiple features, including:
- Displaying your remaining air supply
- Calculating your dive time and decompression stops
- Providing a digital compass
- Recording your dive log and profile
- Supporting multiple gas mixes
- Alerting you to ascent rate violations
- Providing a backlight for easy reading underwater
Q: What are some popular models of air integrated dive computers?
A: Some popular models of air integrated dive computers include:
- Shearwater Teric
- Shearwater Perdix
- Suunto Vyper Novo
- Suunto D5
Q: Are air integrated dive computers suitable for all scuba divers?
A: Air integrated dive computers are suitable for both recreational and technical advanced divers. They offer advanced features for experienced divers while also being user-friendly for entry-level divers.
Q: How do I use an air integrated dive computer?
A: Using an air integrated dive computer is simple. Just connect your scuba tank to the computer, turn it on, and follow the prompts on the screen.
The computer will display your remaining air supply and other important information throughout your dive.
Q: Can air integrated dive computers track my heart rate?
A: Some advanced models of air integrated dive computers, such as the Shearwater Teric, have the ability to track your heart rate if you use a compatible heart rate monitor.
Q: What are the benefits of using air integrated computers?
A: Some benefits of using an air integrated dive computer include:
- Knowing your remaining air supply at all times
- Calculating your dive time and decompression stops accurately
- Reducing the risk of running out of air underwater
- Monitoring your ascent rate to prevent decompression sickness
Q: How accurate are air integrated dive computers?
A: Air integrated dive computers are very accurate in calculating your remaining air supply. However, it is always recommended to have a backup pressure gauge as a safety measure.
Q: Can I use an air integrated dive computer with different gas mixtures?
A: Yes, most air integrated dive computers support multiple gas mixes, including air and nitrox.
Q: Which dive computer with air integration is considered the best?
A: The Shearwater Teric is widely regarded as one of the best air integrated dive computers on the market.
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