The SMACO Mini Scuba Tank has been getting a lot of attention both from seasoned divers and non-divers.
Whereas a scuba pony bottle is used as a backup, the SMACO tank is intended as a primary scuba tank for short, shallow diving.
But there’s an endless debate going on about whether it’s safe to use or if this is the worst invention in the modern scuba diving era.
The DIVEIN team tested to see for ourselves.
⚠️ We stress the need to use caution and recommend anyone using this be a certified diver who knows the risks involved with scuba.
The SMACO S700 2L Scuba Tank is a portable system with almost everything you need to breathe underwater:
- There’s a 1st and 2nd stage regulator and a small pressure gauge to measure how much air is left in the tank.
- Then there’s a tank vest to help you strap this to your back while diving.
Note this is not a buoyancy device (BCD), but only a vest that holds the tank.
- And then of course there is the tank itself.
According to SMACO, this mini scuba tank will provide 20-25 minutes of dive time for a total of approximately 540 breaths. The surface air consumption rate (SAC) for new divers, sits between 25 to 27 liters/minute.
If we follow the 0.5L/breath that SMACO suggests, meaning a couple of breaths/liter, that’s 50 breaths/min. That would be 540/50=10.8 minutes. That’s only about half of what the company promises.
This dive time is for shallow depths and doesn’t consider the high pressure you’ll face as you go deeper. As your depth increases, so does the SAC rate, cutting your dive time even shorter.
In other words, to be clear and unequivocal, the SMACO system is not suitable for scuba diving beyond depths that require any decompression. Limiting a dive to no more than 10 feet is probably wise too. A thoughtful, certified diver will recognize this safety issue.
That means its utility lies in shallow water activities. Inspecting and repairing the hull of a boat is one useful application. Another is examing your anchor, as long as it’s not too deep.
For anyone with diving experience, submerging and getting down can be a bit of a struggle. Compensating for this might make swimmers use weights for an easier descent. That comes with its own challenges. Scuba divers with a BCD can use weights to descend and inflate their vest for a controlled, gradual ascent. Swimmers using a weight belt or rocks in pockets will be able to achieve this as long as they can drop the weights if necessary.
Although SMACO disclaims that its unit shouldn’t go past 32 feet (10 meters) deep and that you ought to be certified, this mini scuba tank also appeals to non-certified divers. But without assistance from a dive computer–something that divers are more like to have–knowing your depth isn’t that clear cut.
Suddenly running out of air will require an emergency ascent. That poses a critical danger too, if not done properly: barotrauma or decompression sickness.
The SMACO S700 2L Mini Scuba Tank must be used with extreme caution and only for shallow, short dives.
Never use it as your central unit for deep diving. Whatever you saw in Baywatch is unrealistic and very dangerous. It will do just fine to replace the zinc blocks on your boat or for some casual, short underwater swimming at 6 feet.
There are three options to fill it up: direct refill from a dive shop, from a normal scuba tank using an adaptor from a manual pump, or from a compressor. The easiest is the first one, but some shops might not fill it up without presenting certification. The current SMACO is an upgraded tank with both a DOT and CE stamp that should get them filled.
Pumping manually will take some serious effort. Anywhere between 400-600 pumps using SMACO’s manual pump. Filling it from another scuba tank using an adaptor seems to be the best solution, but not all non-divers have access to a tank.
That’s where the SMACO HEAP 1 PCP Air Compressor comes in. It will take roughly 40 minutes to fill the 2L mini scuba tank. There are other mini-compressors that have been used by divers for years. The MaxAir 35 is one such compressor. But the HEAP 1 is by far more portable.
A big note of caution…
The filtration system of the compressor from SMACO doesn’t properly filter out air. The best option is refilling from a dive shop or if you have existing bigger tanks. It’s not worth risking your health, by inhaling dirty compressed air. It’s excellent for airsoft guns, but not for scuba tanks.
Leading to our conclusion…
Overall, the SMACO System does have a quality build in its units. However, it poses more danger than the fun it promises. It’s alarming how it’s advertised as safe equipment anyone can use on the go. Performance-wise, it has good use potential for boat owners. It might work for casual swimmers at shallow depths too. But it should in no way be viewed (or marketed) as a cheap alternative to proper scuba gear.
Your best safety equipment is gearing up with knowledge and getting certified. There is a lot of scuba equipment being sold online and it’s not all approved by recognized diving bodies for a reason. It’s not all to be disregarded. But, rather, it should be approached with skepticism and a healthy respect for your own safety and those that will have to save you.