Question on CO2 regulator types - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-18-2017, 04:37 PM Thread Starter
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Question on CO2 regulator types

As I have been searching auction sites, I see a LOT of different models - I know Matheson/Harris/Victor/Airgas/Concoa/Praxair are all good names to keep an eye out for.

But the fittings... most CGA320 are expensive, but I've seen a bunch with CGA580 or CGA350 - I know the Mathesons (like the 8- or 81- series) are the same body, just with different fittings, but does it matter what gas it was originally used for? Are the seals sometimes different, or can we just muscle the old stem off, and put on a CGA320... Reason I ask is that I've seen a few Matheson single-stage 3320's and dual stage 8- models *real* cheap.

Does it make much difference, or is it really just input psi range, and output psi range, and the rest is fittings?

I'm upgrading to a regulator, and something like an Aquatek would be real easy to setup, but if I can source the all parts for $30-40 more than the aquatek and build my own, that'd be more fun, and a better regulator, no?

Last edited by ice9; 05-18-2017 at 04:38 PM. Reason: fixed
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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-18-2017, 06:41 PM
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Well, it mainly depends on what you're looking for. If you want a regulator that's fully customized with quality parts, it will cost way more than an aquatek but it'll last longer probably. I have an aquatek regulator right now and it was really easy to setup and it's reliable. It keeps a constant pressure and it's no hassle, which I like. If you decide to go with custom parts, there will be more connections which could result in more leaks. Co2 is a pressurized gas and it's hard to keep contained without properly installed parts.


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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-18-2017, 07:14 PM
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Since our use is so simple, most any reg will do the trick so if you can find a good looking two stage and are willing to buy some parts to do the DIY, that would be my best bet. And it is a bet because there are times when used is not what we first think. A new/ old stock item is great? One small point that can bite is that some nipples are really hard to get out of the reg to install the new. But then that depends on you how much trouble that might be. I feel it worth the effort.
The real difference in off the shelf standard and DIY is that you can really get far better if you DIY the parts to add to the reg. Regulators are really the simple part of the whole. Where we often find fault with the normal set is the added details like needle valves and solenoid. They tend to be "okay" for a while but get under our skin so that folks often do wish they had better. The black box type solenoid is semi-famous for sticking, either open or closed as they produce a lot of heat when we leave them pulled for long periods. They spec for continuous use but then specs are not always what happens in the real world. Buying twice costs more!
I go for cheap regs, add quality where the fine control comes in. The needle valve is a good place to buy quality but there are lots of choices on that. I find the Fabco NV-55-18 ( uses 1/8") or the NV-55 (uses 10-32 fitting) are fine enough for me and work well. I like the Clippard mouse series but study which model carefully as there are many which do not work.
I like these as they are a totally different design and the design is what matters to me.


Simple to screw together but it may make your head hurt to figure out which of the many options you want to use!!
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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-18-2017, 07:56 PM Thread Starter
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Hmm... my plan was originally to get the Aquatek, and get used to the tech first....

I can always upgrade the post-body parts of even an Aquatek, right? If the solenoid fails, or I want a different needle valve. I'm assuming the threads are NPT or something else common.

Maybe I'll save the custom DIY reg for when I need the 20lb tank and 3- or 4-way manifold

And a new house to put in all the new tanks I want.
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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-18-2017, 08:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ice9 View Post

Does it make much difference, or is it really just input psi range, and output psi range, and the rest is fittings?
Yes and no, Some regulators do have "different" materials inside for different gasses inc. CO2.
how much impacts our use is arguable.

See pg 3 for part differences depending on gas..
O2 seat assembly 0740-0004
CO2 seat assembly 0740-0019
https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=...jjiTtQ&cad=rja

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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-18-2017, 08:06 PM
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Your thinking is correct... the previous use for the Reg you're looking at isn't of much importance. You can swap on a cga-320 nipple for under $10 (eBay). Like Rich said, sometimes they're a pain to get out, other times I held the reg in one hand and spun it out with a Crescent wrench in the other.

I felt the same way when I got into CO2. Spend a few $$ more and have a quality setup. Most of the regulators you're looking at used on eBay under $100, were originally $4-500+ new. Deals always pop up. I've purchased new in the box airgas regs for under $40 at times. Somewhere I had a thread started on building a quality component CO2 system for under $100 all parts included except cylinder.
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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-18-2017, 08:12 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jeffkrol View Post
O2 seat assembly 0740-0004
CO2 seat assembly 0740-0019
interesting... makes sense, given how CO2 reacts with certain materials - I didn't see anything like this for Matheson - same body, same model no - just different stem options. But that might be why Victors are so good, from what I've read.
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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-18-2017, 08:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ice9 View Post
interesting... makes sense, given how CO2 reacts with certain materials - I didn't see anything like this for Matheson - same body, same model no - just different stem options. But that might be why Victors are so good, from what I've read.
Yea.. about the best guess is to keep the reg innards dry and things should be fine..
Regulator Life Expectancy | The Harris Products Group

Quote:
Gas Service. Know the properties of the gas being regulated and contact a manufacturer or gas distributor for help in correctly selecting regulators for specific gases. Argon, helium and nitrogen regulators (CGA 580) will, under a given set of conditions, have a longer service life than regulators used for hydrogen chloride and hydrogen sulfide (CGA 330) simply because the gas service is more severe (corrosive).
Some non-corrosive gases can be reactive in certain environments. For example, carbon dioxide can react with moisture or condensation inside a regulator to form carbonic acid. This is a relatively weak acid, but it can attack certain elastomeric components over time and reduce the service life of a CO2 regulator. To insure that the gas service will not adversely affect the expected life of a regulator, contact the manufacturer to discuss the application as well as the regulatorís metallic and non-metallic materials of construction.
There is always a new one..
https://www.shopcross.com/product/ha...FRi4wAodTRUGcw

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Last edited by Darkblade48; 05-19-2017 at 02:14 AM. Reason: Please use the edit function for back to back posts
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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-19-2017, 03:03 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by awesometim1 View Post
If you want a regulator that's fully customized with quality parts, it will cost way more than an aquatek
not really - you can get post-body kits with all the fittings, minus a bubble counter for around $80-90 - if you shop around, maybe even less. If lucky and timed right, find a used dual-stage reg for $40-50.

$120-$140 (most of which is new and better quality) for dual stage custom vs $90 for single-stage Aquatek... not *that* much more.
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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-19-2017, 03:05 PM
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I got my aquatek regulator hardly used for 75 bucks on eBay and it came with co2 tubing and bubble counter. Real Deal


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post #11 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-26-2017, 07:11 PM Thread Starter
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So evidently eBay made my decision for me..... found an essentially new VWR 55850-416 Dual Stage Reg for $20 + shipping! The one thing I should have noticed in the picture before I bought it was that the gauges aren't zeroing. It works fine, they are just "off" a bit - High side is 400psi @ closed tank valve, 1250 psi @ open tank valve = 850psi. Right on the money.

Low side range is 1-125psi (a little high, but workable - I might replace with a 1-50psi if it annoys me).

Now to buy the post body kit... Clippard solenoid + Fabco valve. Should make for a nice reg.

Also in the pic is the reactor I built


Last edited by ice9; 05-26-2017 at 07:21 PM. Reason: pic
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