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Thread: Buying your first CCR unit

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    Buying your first CCR unit

    Background: I have OC tech background. Caves and wrecks are my thing. I recently completed Mod 1 & 2 on a unit and also did a crossover to another. Both units are fairly well-known in the community. I did a lot of googling before my courses (especially on the topic of unit choices) and found that info was all over. So here’s my attempt at consolidating them. I hope it helps if you are thinking about getting a unit.

    This post is unit-agnostic. CCR choices are very personal and people do tend to defend their choices remarkably well. Hence, instead of listing the pros and cons of the various units I have researched and dived with, I would like to share some “learning points” – from my courses, online research and limited experience diving the units. Remember that this is coming from a freshly minted CCR diver though.

    (1) Calculate your ROI
    • There are one time and recurrent costs.
    • Up-front cost goes to training, the CCR (of course) and other add-ons or modifications you intend to make to the unit. You might (or might not) want to factor in the cost for supporting equipment (eg: extra tanks, gas booster, whip).
    • Recurrent costs are for sensors, spares, etc. You should also include servicing for the regs and even the unit itself.
    • [Debatable] If you are in “transition” – aka require additional OC equipment to do the dives you plan on doing vs jumping into CCR, you might want to calculate what this figure would be (if you were to procure these OC equipment vs buying a CCR). So in a small little way, one might argue that this money would be spent regardless if you went with a CCR or not.
    • You can estimate the length of time you would be diving the unit (eg: 3 or 5 years). This will help determine the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) over the specified period.
    • So here is what we have so far: TCO = up-front cost + recurrent cost x number of years.
    • One key CCR benefit is saving on gas fees (especially on Helium).
    • You can profile the type of dives you project to do in the coming years. I divided mine up into 3 categories (<45m, 45-60m, >60m). For each category, you can estimate the cost of these dives in both OC and CCR. Do include the cost for scrubber material. Note that you need Mod 3 and Mod 4 to dive to 60m and beyond 60m respectively (if you do the TDI route). Essentially, what you are doing here is to work out the cost savings on a per dive basis for each kind of dive.
    • You can multiply the cost savings with the number of dives you intend to make in the coming years for each category.
    • Ideally, TCO - Total Cost Savings < 0. If that’s the situation, you have a very solid case.
    • If it is more than 0, don’t fret. Using the same method above, you can work out the cost per dive. Aka the extra cost of making those dives on a CCR on a per dive basis.
    • Apart from gas savings, there are other benefits in diving CCR. You should know some of these already (if you read till this point). Hence, if you are willing to pay the extra cost (on a per dive basis) to enjoy these benefits, then I would say go with it as well. If not, you might want to re-evaluate your decision to go CCR.
    • This actually is a lot easier to work out than it sounds. I did something up in Excel when I was calculating my own ROI and will be glad to share this with you if you want to use/modify it. Just drop me a PM!

    (2) Outline your decision factors
    • What sort of diving do you intend to do with the CCR?
    • For example, if most of your diving involves significant traveling, weight and size would be a key decision factor.
    • Start by listing down all the factors which matters to you. If you are reading this, you would have likely went through countless other online posts where others have outlined the factors which made them chose their units. If those factors resonate with you, add them to your list.
    • Once your list starts to grow, you might want to group things up.
    • If you want to be extremely objective about this, you might even want to assign weightages to them. You can then score the units accordingly. I did not do this but I did note down qualitative remarks for each factor after I dived the units. Eg: Unit A’s WOB was better.
    • Here’s the list I used and some of the key factors:
      1. Reliability (Water Tolerance, Build Quality, Design, User Reviews)
      2. Diving (WOB, Trim, Access to Equipment, Controller/HUD, Flood Recovery)
      3. Travel (Weight, Size, Tank Flexibility)
      4. Supportability (Friends, Local Shop aka Unit Availability, No. of Divers, Brand Reputation, Repair)
      5. Ease of Use (Setup, Pre-dive, Post-dive, Tear-down, Maintenance)
    • Here are other considerations which other forum members have raised. They are very valid points and hence, I have included them in a different list below:
      • Availability of Instruction

    (3) Get training & actually dive the units
    • Do some research and populate the list you have from above. Narrow down your choices to a few units.
    • It would be good to share the list you made above with your instructor(s) and seek their insights. Speak to people! Talk to instructors and owners of the other units as well. They might come up with some factors you did not think about or share an interesting perspective. In all my interactions, everyone was friendly and ever willing to share their feedback and experiences. Update your list accordingly.
    • Get training on the unit you think you would get and do cross-overs for the rest if possible.
    • Having done the courses, I don’t think try-dives in pools are good enough especially for new CCR divers starting out as we do not really know what to look and feel for yet.
    • During actual diving, test the units for the factors which matters to you. WOB, trim, weight, ease of flood recovery, etc. Update the list you have made. Maybe some factors now matter more, maybe there are new factors you discovered, etc.

    (4) Understand the trade-offs
    • As you already discovered, technical diving is all about making trade-offs.
    • The different CCR manufacturers have made trade-offs in the design and development of their units. Owners/users of these units chose them because they too value some factor over others. It’s good to find out what these are. There are some online info. Otherwise, speak to your instructor.
    • IMO, this is a key aspect in the whole process of choosing a unit so set aside some time to do this. At the end of the day, chances are extremely high that you picked a unit because the manufacturer had applied the same value system you had.
    • This article is meant as a guide to aid in your first CCR purchase. Hence, the other trade-offs (eg: CCR risk vs the kind of dives you are doing) will not be discussed here.

    (5) Make a pragmatic decision
    • Buy a unit for the kind of diving you will be doing in the next 3 years and not the kind of diving you would like to do beyond the 3 year mark. Or worse, the kind of diving you have been daydreaming about. I know. Daydreaming is fun. I’m guilty as charged.
    • We can be ambitious. Yes, I would love to do exploration type CCR diving but I know it’s not going to happen in the next 3 years. At least not the very serious sort.
    • Yes, I too have plans to do course X, Y, Z and so on in the next year or so but as we all know, plans usually change. And most often, stuff gets postponed and delayed.
    • I would love a large radial scrubber. Longer duration. Lower WOB. But I have traded that with lower water tolerance (generally in most units) and likely a bigger/heavier unit. Be realistic, know your trade-offs (I can’t state this enough).
    • Understand that you are still starting out. In a few years, once you have picked up the skills and experience, you will likely want a different unit. Remember that cool jacket BCD you picked up after your OW course? I know CCR units are a lot more expensive but with technology advances these days, who knows what the next 5 years will bring?
    • Most units are very capable beyond the type of dives we usually do. Buy the unit which brings a smile on your face and not the unit with all the bells and whistles you think you might need.

    I hope this helps someone. Thanks for reading.
    Last edited by RaptorTan; 6th May 2016 at 02:21.

  2. #2
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    Re: Buying your first CCR unit

    Nice well-rounded snapshot covering all the bases from A to Z.

    Thanks for taking the time and care as I am sure this will help others in their decision-making process.




    Best regards,
    Chett. L

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    RBW Member nex_86 is an unknown quantity at this point nex_86's Avatar
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    Re: Buying your first CCR unit

    I have done the same summary for my own part, back in 2012.

    Result was: "Do not buy a CCR, yet. You know you want to!, but the dive objectives, cost, and the ability to get many hours on the unit is not there..." (Familie man)

    I will do the same summary again in 1 or 2 years time. Will see If something changes.

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    RBW Member yoink is an unknown quantity at this point yoink's Avatar
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    Re: Buying your first CCR unit

    Impressive roundup! And here I am - just looking for a way to get rid of some salt build-up on my inflator hose.

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    RBW Member EngelenD is a jewel in the rough EngelenD is a jewel in the rough EngelenD is a jewel in the rough EngelenD is a jewel in the rough EngelenD is a jewel in the rough EngelenD is a jewel in the rough EngelenD is a jewel in the rough EngelenD is a jewel in the rough EngelenD's Avatar
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    Re: Buying your first CCR unit

    Very nice write Up . Good for Some people....i'm with the stupid part of the population: I looked at a rEvo Ccr ....liked it....bought it !!!
    Still having fun with it.



    Sent by my rEvo scrubber using a shearwater Nerd

  6. #6
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    Re: Buying your first CCR unit

    I don't think you can cost justify a CCR, its all to emotive to start with.

    A good rule of thumb is that you need long arms and deep pockets to own a unit.

    Roughly if a air dive costs you $5 on OC then it will cost you $10 on a CCR, if a mix dive costs you $250 on OC then it will cost you $25 on the CCR after you have your bail out mix(s) sorted away.

    The number of variables are just to big and wide ranging to come up with a figure, I feel it is better to approach this from the "tool for the job" angle .. Look at what you want to do and then pick the unit that best does it and bugger the dosh.

    regards Baz

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    Re: Buying your first CCR unit

    ^^ this.

    I reckon only valid and justifiable reason for owning a CCR is:

    I want one!

    Anything else is just trying to rationalise a decision you've already made. They're expensive to buy, expensive to train on and expensive to dive. And you'll never know whether they're worth the expense until you've dived one for a while.

    The answer is "yes", by the way :)

  8. #8
    Chett Lehrer Chett.L has much to be proud of Chett.L has much to be proud of Chett.L has much to be proud of Chett.L has much to be proud of Chett.L has much to be proud of Chett.L has much to be proud of Chett.L has much to be proud of Chett.L has much to be proud of Chett.L has much to be proud of Chett.L has much to be proud of Chett.L has much to be proud of Chett.L's Avatar
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    Re: Buying your first CCR unit

    Quote Originally Posted by Captain Starfish  View Original Post
    ^^ this.

    I reckon only valid and justifiable reason for owning a CCR is:

    I want one!

    Anything else is just trying to rationalise a decision you've already made. They're expensive to buy, expensive to train on and expensive to dive. And you'll never know whether they're worth the expense until you've dived one for a while.

    The answer is "yes", by the way :)
    Very well said!

    Best regards,
    Chett. L

  9. #9

    Re: Buying your first CCR unit

    @Bazza @Captain Starfish

    I can't agree more. You pretty much covered it with one sentence. It really is a lot more emotional than what I have outlined. Just that I tried to set that aside as best as I could, both in writing the article and in the process of making up my own mind, in a somewhat feeble attempt to be more objective. Yes, there is that much emotion involved. And what we all do thereafter is really just try to justify them.
    Last edited by RaptorTan; 6th May 2016 at 03:10.

  10. #10
    Chett Lehrer Chett.L has much to be proud of Chett.L has much to be proud of Chett.L has much to be proud of Chett.L has much to be proud of Chett.L has much to be proud of Chett.L has much to be proud of Chett.L has much to be proud of Chett.L has much to be proud of Chett.L has much to be proud of Chett.L has much to be proud of Chett.L has much to be proud of Chett.L's Avatar
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    Re: Buying your first CCR unit

    Quote Originally Posted by RaptorTan  View Original Post
    @Bazza @Captain Starfish

    I can't agree more. You pretty much covered it with one sentence. It really is a lot more emotional than what I have outlined. Just that I tried to set that aside as best as I could, both in writing the article and in the process of making up my own mind, in a somewhat feeble attempt to be more objective. Yes, there is that much emotion involved. And what we all do thereafter is really just try to justify them.
    Your first post is one of the best I've seen in a long time regarding buying your first unit as I have seen this topic come up so many times before.

    Best regards,
    Chett. L

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