AirBuddy is a tankless diving system. In other words, AirBuddy is a compact battery-powered surface supplied dive gear (also known as a “hookah”). Designed specifically for self-guided shallow water diving, such as exploring reefs, hull cleaning, boat maintenance, lobster diving or underwater photography, the floating dive compressor provides fresh air from the surface for 55 min (+reserve) to one or two divers. No air tanks or bulky gear. Just recharge the battery and dive.
AirBuddy is a quality product, developed and manufactured in Australia from the finest materials and components. It has important safety features that are not available with other hookahs.
We encourage you to compare the specifications and read user reviews. Please do your research and evaluate the various models available on the market with respect to performance, value and safety features. A short summary is also available on our website, in the “Features” section.
Yes, any AirBuddy can either be used with one 12m (40ft) hose for a single diver or with two 6m (20ft) hoses for buddy divers. There is no difference between the units. All AirBuddies are fitted with two self-sealing air couplers for breathing hoses. The difference between the packs is just what hoses and how many harnesses with regulator are included in the price. If you like, add a single diver hose to the buddy diver pack and you have both options.
You can upgrade from the single diver pack to the buddy diver pack at a later stage by simply purchasing the two buddy diver hoses and one additional harness with regulator.
Regrettably, you can’t connect two 6m (20ft) hoses to build one 12m (40ft) long hose due to the added air flow resistance, weight of the coupling and potentially other safety concerns.
The overall runtime is about 65 minutes. But you should only plan to dive for maximum 55 minutes. After about 55 minutes when the battery voltage drops below a certain threshold, AirBuddy triggers an underwater siren to notify you of depleting battery. With the siren on, AirBuddy continues to run for another approx. 10 minutes before the battery depletes and the compressor stops. The “siren” gives you sufficient time to do a safety stop (3min at 5m/ 15 ft) and slowly ascend.
Note: Above times are with a new, fully charged battery. The times may slightly change as your battery ages.
This may surprise you, but the dive time doesn’t get shorter if you use AirBuddy for 2 buddy divers. AirBuddy runs constantly for about 55min (+10 min reserve) regardless of whether you connect 1 or 2 divers.
But the maximum dive depth of 2 divers is one half of the maximum dive depth of a single diver, i.e. 6m (20 ft) instead of 12m (40 ft). Put simply, two people breathe twice as much as one.
No, not really. The compressor of AirBuddy runs constantly. It doesn’t cycle on and off. Any excess pressure is released through an internal pressure relief valve. There is just a very slight (barely noticeable) improvement of the runtime if you dive deeper, therefore consume more air, which in turn lowers the average system pressure and therefore decrease current draw from the battery.
AirBuddy enables diving to a maximum depth of 12m (40 ft) with the single diver set-up or maximum 6m (20 ft) with the buddy diver set-up. Our rating is based on 24 l/min RMV (Respiratory Minute Volume).
In general, humans breathe between 6 l/min of air when relaxed to about 90 l/min during a very exhaustive exercise. Experienced divers typically consume somewhere between 12-18 l/ min of air when diving in normal conditions (relaxed dive).
Your diving depth depends on your personal air consumption (breathing rate X tidal volume), which in turn is influenced by various factors, such as:
- diving experience (relaxed vs. panic breathing)
- activity level (normal swimming vs. fighting current or other demanding activity)
- lung size (your body size, age, gender, …)
- water temperature (cold water shock, shiver, …)
Note: It’s important to let AirBuddy fully pressurise at the beginning of your dive. I.e. do not breathe (or otherwise release air by e.g. holding the regulator’s purge button) for the first 45-50 seconds after you turn AirBuddy on. Only then start breathing and descend.
Note: Correct breathing is relaxed, taking in slow and deep breaths (as opposed to quick shallow breaths). Take 4 seconds to breathe in and 4 seconds to breathe out.
Of course! This is one of the best features of AirBuddy. Additional dives with SCUBA require additional tanks, hence some 17kg (37.5 lbs) extra weight for each tank to carry. For an additional dive with AirBuddy, you only need to carry a battery that weighs 2.9kg (6.4 lbs). AirBuddy comes with one battery included, but you can purchase additional batteries from our e-shop. To change the battery, simply remove (or just lower) the float, open the lid, disconnect the wires, replace the battery, reconnect the wires and close the lid again.
Note: If you dive with AirBuddy more than twice in a row or with some residual nitrogen from previous diving, please use a dive computer or dive tables to make sure you don’t exceed the NDL (No Decompression Limit). NDL is the maximum allowable dive time at a specific depth that the scientists believe is safe enough to ascend from directly to the surface without decompression stops. As a pre-caution, if possible, you should always do a safety stop at 5m (15 ft) for 3-5 minutes.
One option is to recharge the battery with a standard charger from a 100 – 240 Vac (50/60 Hz) wall outlet. With the right plug (or a travel adapter) the charger works anywhere in the world.
Another option is to recharge the battery on the go (on your boat or car) from the “cigarette lighter socket” using our optional charger for 10 – 24 Vdc input. The recharge of a depleted battery normally takes about 5 – 5.5 hours.
Note: The boat/car charger draws 80W from the source, i.e. about 6.7A at 12 Vdc or 3.4A at 24Vdc. Your DC system must be fused to higher load than that. Please also note that if your system can’t deliver 80W, the charging will take proportionally longer.
Transportation of lithium batteries is subject to dangerous goods regulations. You should always check the instructions in the Dangerous Goods brochure of your airline and present the battery for inspection and approval at the check-in. Expect that you will be required to transport the battery in your cabin bag and asked to prevent short circuit by taping over the exposed battery terminals or placing the battery in the neoprene transport case provided with the purchase of your AirBuddy. We designed the battery to comply with the IATA DGR, but some airlines may decide to apply additional rules. Please check with your airline.
Unfortunately, you can’t use just any battery with AirBuddy. There are many criteria that the battery must meet, such as: voltage, max current load, discharge curve, overcurrent protection, temperature protection, charging current and cycle, physical dimensions, materials used, certifications, … etc.
We invested a significant time into R&D of the battery and the electronic circuitry and opted for a custom battery that meets all our criteria. During the production, we thoroughly test each AirBuddy with its battery(-ies) for over an hour using our “RoboDiver” – a device that simulates breathing of a diver and logs various data every second for the duration of the test.
Among other problems, the use of a non-original battery could cause:
- failure, interruptions, or insufficient performance
- premature or late trigger point of the low-battery warning
- overheating and possibly fire
- issues during transport
Besides, any unauthorised modification or use of unapproved components (battery including) would void the warranty.
No, we don’t recommend using AirBuddy in rough sea, although AirBuddy is balanced so that the center of gravity is as low as possible. The weight in the lower section acts like a keel on a boat. To capsize AirBuddy you’d need to tilt the ~9kg device over ~110 degrees.
In general, small swell or chop is OK. Rolling waves are not. The shape of the wave is more important for the stability of AirBuddy on the surface than the height of the wave. For example, 50cm tumbling shore wash is worse than 1.5m swell on open sea that gently moves AirBuddy up and down. Please be cautious and assess the sea conditions to prevent any accident that could result in water ingress.
AirBuddy makes a gentle buzzing sound when the compressor operates. Measured in a laboratory – outside of water (!), the sound pressure level was 69.1 DbA. In real conditions – underwater, it sounds like a small boat passing by in distance. Below some 5-6 meters you will hardly hear the compressor. On the surface, the sound fades with the background noise (wind, waves, …) and is typically hard to hear from more than 10-15 meters. A second, louder noise is your breathing – the sipping sound of the regulator when you breathe in and the cracking sound of the bubbles when you breathe out. A third sound, the low battery siren, will not be present most of the time, just during the last approx. 10 minutes. None of these sounds disturbs the underwater life.
This is how our customers felt about the compressor noise:
- “The noise is not a problem. Even 5 m away its already quite silent. Motorboats are way louder. (Peter VH)”.
- “It has a hum, but not loud. No one has ever mentioned an issue, or complained. It’s not a gas motor, and most of the pump noise is muffled by being in the water and surrounded by the air pressure ring. (Kris H)”.
- “I dive the rivers at 0600 and there are houses on either side. Nobody has ever complained. To me, the hum of the motor is reassuring that I’m getting compressed air delivered. The low battery warning is higher pitched and much more audible and may be bothersome to those close by. (Pete D)”.
Any full-face mask that can be used with the AirBuddy regulator should work. For example, the use of the OTS Spectrum mask has been tested by one of our customers in a YouTube video <www.youtube.com/watch?v=FjjINFwSOZ8>.
Please bear in mind that the use of full-face mask requires some advanced skills. FFM can be more difficult:
- to seal on your face
- to defog
- to clear from water
- to pinch your nose to equalise your ears
Note: Please also consider that you lose both vision and breathing at the same time if you need to remove the FFM from your face underwater, e.g. to switch to a bailout system.
Note: You should use a FFM fitted with a surface valve so that you can keep it on your face on the surface when you switch off AirBuddy.
The lever on the regulator does not adjust the spring tension, but turns so called “deflector” which does 2 things:
- Turn towards (+) it creates venturi effect which assists pressing the diaphragm and thus increased breathing comfort. On the flip side, it increases the chances of free flow. Turn to (-) on the surface.
- The deflector helps to prevent splashing of any water that may get inside your regulator. This can be helpful in some situations. For example, if you work on your boat in an upside-down position, the water tends to drip towards the valve opening and water splash occurs. Turn the lever towards (-) to partially cover the valve opening and minimise the splashing.
The hose is made from strong polyurethane and is abrasion and kink resistant. It’s operated at just 1/8 of its rated burst pressure.
A recoil (spiral) hose has the advantage over a straight hose that it tends to stay organised, keeps AirBuddy at a closer perimeter from you and acts like a suspension to smoothen out any potential tugging caused by swell or your swimming. It’s positively buoyant, so it points upward from the diver’s back. When diving together with your buddy, you can link 2 AirBuddies together. They will float in a formation to lower the risk of entanglement of the hoses. Even if the two hoses crossed, it shouldn’t stop the air flow as you need substantial force to kink the hose.
Note: Since you are tethered to the surface, do not dive with AirBuddy in obstructed environments such as caves, wrecks, or kelp forests.
No, the air couplers are self-sealing.
The float (“air reservoir’) is not foldable. It’s manufactured from solid (hollow) plastic with 16L internal volume because it stores the pressurised breathing air – for several reasons:
- It balances the air (“linear” air flow from the compressor vs. your “sinusoidal” breathing pattern).
- It stores emergency air, i.e. if the compressor stopped for any reason, you don’t lose the air immediately, but gradually, providing you few more breaths to either surface of switch to an egressor (“Spare Air”).
- It silences the vibrating (loud) air that comes out of the compressor and prevents the vibration/ noise from traveling through the hose all the way into your mouth and thus perceive the noise by bone conduction of your skull. (Who would have thought that?).
- And of course, provides floatation to the device.
Unfortunately, it’s not as compact as a foldable reservoir, but that’s a trade-off for all those features mentioned above.
Neither PADI, nor DAN inspects, tests, or certifies dive equipment. PADI is a dive training association and DAN is a health research organisation/ insurance company.
AirBuddy holds the CE, FCC, C-Tick, UN38.3 (battery), EN250 (regulator), various IEC, EMC, RoHS, C-Tick, UL (charger) and UN Packaging Approval (packaging). The air quality meets AS/NZ2299.1-1999, AS1715 and AS1716. Plastics used in the airways are FDA approved.