Selecting the right hydroponics system for growing your own indoor garden can be a difficult job considering the sheer number of systems available. In hopes of making this process a bit easier for you, we’ve compiled a list of the best hydroponic systems and kits on the market today.
Top 5 Best Hydroponics Systems & Kits Comparison Chart
Reviews of the Best Hydroponics Systems & Kits
The 706721 EcoGrower Drip Hydroponic System is a single-structure hydroponics system that offers users the ability to grow multiple crops simultaneously, thanks to the use of 6 grow pots. Those grow sites are each built into the lid inserts which you can find on top of the kit’s reservoir, which happens to be a 17-gal reservoir, large enough to provide water for 6 different growing plants.
If you’ve always wondered how the nutrients are delivered to the plants, this system offers you a great chance to observe how this process takes place. Basically, the system is equipped with an air-driven, spider drip system that’s operated by an Elite 800 air pump. The nutrient-rich water is pumped with the aid of the system to reach each one of the 6 growing pots, providing nurture.
As far as the size of the pots themselves, each pot measures at 6 inches in diameter, which is a large enough size to accommodate the full growth of plants. In addition to all of that, the 706721 EcoGrower package includes clay pebbles for use as a growing medium. This is pretty much an integrated hydroponics system that’s ready for use right from the get-go.
The only things you’ll need to purchase separately are the grow lights and seedlings. Moreover, you must keep in mind that a reservoir that large will need regular maintenance. The installation process couldn’t be any more straightforward with this system, as it has few moving parts. All in all, this is a remarkable system for intermediate farmers that are looking for an upgrade.
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This is an extremely space-saving hydroponic kit that’s designed to be placed in gardens or tight balconies. The reason behind its remarkable space efficiency is its elevated, square design. The system features NFT technology with 8 pipes that are equipped to provide nutrition for the plants. Each one of these pipes is connected to 9 growth cups, so you get 72 grow cups in total.
The thing, however, is that the growth cups aren’t included with the product’s package, so you’ll have to purchase them separately. This can be looked at as a negative, but if you think about it, it’s not really a negative at all because you’ll get to but the cups that suit your requirements best. And don’t worry about expenses, growth cups aren’t that expensive and they’re easy to find.
Keep in mind that this hydroponics system is different from most products available today as it’s not equipped with its own nutrient reservoir, which is the place where the solution of nutrients is placed until it’s pumped throughout the system to provide the nutrients the plants need. It’s also the point where excess water is drained from the growth cups/beds.
What exactly comes in the package? Well, it features the PVC pipe assembly, planting sponges, 110-volt water pump, and a stand. Further, it includes a hose that’s used to connect the pump to the PVC assembly. Setting up the system is pretty easy. Simply, put the separately-bought basin underneath the assembly, place the pump inside the water, and connect it to the PVC setup.
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If the above-mentioned products sound like too much of a hassle to handle and you just want a compact unit that doesn’t only allow you to grow plants but also passes a means of decoration for your balcony or countertop, then you’ll definitely love the AeroGarden Classic 9 Elite. Thanks to its inclusive design, you can literally place this pod almost anywhere in your house.
This hydroponic pod is capable of growing up to 9 different plants at a time, which is impressive for a pod of its size. And the great thing about having this pod is that it’s energy-efficient, so you don’t have to worry about paying a whole lot of money on your utility bills. The compact size and automatic functionality of this system make it an ideal pick for beginner farmers.
The kit also features its own lighting solution. It comes with a 45-watt LED light that can provide the spectrum of light that the plants require for their photosynthesis process. Further, the lighting is placed right above the plants, so you won’t need intense HID lighting for your plan to grow. In addition, it’s equipped with a touchscreen panel that grants you ultimate control.
The package also includes basil, parsley, thyme, mint, dill, and chives seeds so that you can get to growing your first project right off the gate. Moreover, it includes 3 ounces of nutrients that are enough for an entire season. The Classic 9 Elite also allows you to switch the light on and off in order to replicate the natural effect of the day and night cycle.
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The Deep Water Culture Hydroponic Bucket Kit from PowerGrow System stands out because of its remarkable design. While most hydroponic systems on the market tend to go for the chamber design, the DWC system utilizes plastic buckets of rugged construction instead. This hydroponic system is available in various models that vary when it comes to the number of buckets.
But if most products on the market opt for that traditional setup, why should you pursue a model that has a completely different design? Well, each plant in this system is submerged in a bucket filled with the nutrient solution, so you don’t really need a recirculating system that relies mainly on a reservoir and water pump to deliver nutrients to the plants.
Rather than a water pump, the DWC system is equipped with an air pump that helps oxygenate the roots of your plants. And to help provide dissolved oxygen to the water, the system relies on an airstone, which is also something that we don’t get to see in a lot of products nowadays, and it’s pretty sad because it’s a highly effective method for keeping the water oxygenated.
You may have some concerns with how you’ll be able to monitor the buckets on a regular basis, but don’t worry, you don’t really have to. Each bucket is designed in a way that helps indicate its water level. Further, each one of these buckets features a drain, so no need to worry about how you’ll be able to change the water. All in all, the DWC system is definitely worth checking out.
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The Back to the Roots Water Garden is one of the most popular hydroponics products available today, and you can probably tell why just by reading its name. This is an ideal product for people that are looking to keep a pet while learning how to garden at the same time. It’s also a fantastic gift to give to a child on a special occasion, as it’ll help teach them responsibility.
The package includes microgreen seeds that are guaranteed to grow by the company. The thing that’s so great about this product is that any waste produced by the fish is going to be used as a fertilizer for the plants. On the other hand, the presence of the plants will help keep the water in the tank clean for the fish, so it’s a win-win-win for you, the fish, and the plants.
The awesome thing about microgreen seeds is that they’ll only take about 10 days to grow. Not only that, but you can use them in your salads or to make some green smoothies. Another great thing about this product is that it comes with a fish coupon, so you won’t even have to buy your fish, simply walk into your local pet store and exchange the coupon for a fish.
But that’s not it, the package also includes all of the necessary supplements that the fish needs, from vitamins and proteins to an appropriate diet. This tank relies on grow stones as its growing medium, which is great because it allows for easy access to the nutrients in the water. All things considered, this truly a fantastic product that people of all ages will appreciate.
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Pros and Cons of Hydroponic Gardening
Before dipping your toes into hydroponics, you need to ask yourself whether this is the right way for you to go or not. We highly suggest reading the following as it’ll provide you with a full picture of what hydroponic gardening is all about and whether it’s right for you or not.
Things to Consider Before Buying a Hydroponic System
When shopping for a hydroponic system, there are a bundle of factors that you need to take into consideration if you wish to get the most value for your money. These factors include:
Before heading outside to buy a hydroponic system, first, you need to assess the growing site to find out how much available space you can dedicate to the system. The more commodious the growing site is, the more pots and buckets you can have. The more pots or buckets you can get, the more crops you’ll be able to grow using your hydroponic system.
And don’t worry, no matter the available space you have you’re sure to find a hydroponic system that can fit within that space. Generally speaking, small hydroponic systems tend to need about 16 square feet worth of space. But you need to keep in mind that you’ll need to dedicate a bit of space for the water reservoir, coolers, light sources, water pump, and such.
While mother nature tends to take care of most things when it comes to soil gardening, it’s your job to ensure that your hydroponically-grown plants are put in the appropriate conditions. And by conditions, we mean temperature, lighting, humidity, air circulation, water quality, and CO2 levels in the system. Some of these factors require technical knowledge to get them right.
For instance, the level of humidity in your hydroponics system should be somewhere from 40 to 60 percent of the relative humidity. You should keep in mind that if the humidity level gets higher than 60 percent, it can be the cause of fungal problems and powdery mildew, especially if you’re not providing proper air circulation in the room where the hydroponic system is placed.
Moreover, you want to make sure that the temperature of the room at which you placed your system is somewhere between 68 to 70 degrees. Going beyond that range can be the cause of stunted plants or root rot, especially of the temperature of the water gets too high. As far as the levels of CO2, you can have an effective supply of CO2 simply by maintaining good air flow.
Water for hydroponic gardening is like soil for regular gardening, it helps deliver the nutrients the plants need. However, there are a couple of factors that can affect that process: PPM level and pH level. PPM is the measurement for the level of mineral salts present in the water, while pH is a figure that expresses the alkalinity or acidity of the water or any solution for that matter.
If the water is rich in mineral content, which in this case we call “hard water”, the nutrients you’re trying to provide for your plants will not be delivered that effectively, in contrast to water that has a low mineral content. If all you have access to is high-mineral water, then you need to get your hands on a quality filer. Ideally, the pH for water should be between 5.8 and 6.2
The nutrients that you’re to provide for your hydroponic system come in different forms, namely dry and liquid forms. Not only that, but they’re also available in synthetic and organic types. But the one thing in common between both forms and types is that they can be dissolved into water in order to give the plants the mixture required for them to grow hydroponically.
When shopping for nutrients, you should for a product that features some main macronutrients and micronutrients. For macronutrients, look for nitrogen, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, and magnesium. As far as micronutrients, you want a product that has a good combination of boron, iron, chlorine, zinc, manganese, and molybdenum, but not in large quantities.
Generally speaking, if you follow the directions provided for the specific product you buy, you’re going to get great results. One thing you need to keep in mind is that standard fertilizers that are used in soil gardens shouldn’t be used in a hydroponic system. Such products are designed for soil, not water. Lastly, always shop for the nutrients that are designed for exactly what you need.
Type of Crops
What exactly is it that you're trying to grow? Based on your answer, your choice of a hydroponic system will change. For instance, there are plants such as tomatoes that won’t grow to their full potential in an NFT hydroponic system. Also, how many different crops do you want to grow? If a lot, then consider a large system rather than having to buy another one further down the line.
We’re well-aware that some of you reading this might be new to this whole hydroponics topic, so here are a few plants that are easy to grow and that can help you learn the basics of hydroponic gardening. Herbs: mint, parsley, and basil. Greens: lettuce, kale, and spinach. Further, consider growing tomatoes, hot peppers, and strawberries. These plants should help you get started.
Hydroponic systems rely heavily on electricity in order to support their lightning, air conditioning, and pumping. You want to make sure that the system you’re using doesn’t use up a lot of power so that the cost of electricity doesn’t put a serious dent in your wallet. For lightning, consider the use of LED bulbs since they’re more energy-efficient than fluorescent and incandescent units.
And just like plants growing in the outdoors with the aid of the sun’s light, indoor plants require a full-spectrum lighting system in order to grow ideally. The use of full-spectrum light helps give an ideal balance of warm and cool light, which helps replicate the natural spectrum of the sun. You must make sure that your system offers these features in order to get optimal results.
When shopping for hydroponics, you’ll find both manual and automatic systems, and depending on your level of experience, you should choose the system that grants you the desired results. It may be a better idea if you’re a beginner to go for an automatic system because it’ll give you an easier time throughout the entire process as it’ll manage everything automatically.
Now that you have your hydroponics system ready, it’s time to run outside and grab a few other pieces of equipment that will help make the process of growing plants hydroponically way easier for you, especially if you’re a beginner. The first thing you need to get is meters so that you can measure the pH and PPM levels of the water inside your hydroponic system.
You may also want to consider buying meters that can help you find out the humidity in the tank to make sure that your plants are growing in ideal conditions. There are also meters that can be used to read temperatures. Depending on the humidity value, you may need a dehumidifier or a humidifier to adjust the humidity to an appropriate level.
Last but not least, you need to invest in an air-circulating instrument so that you can provide the plants with proper air flow. You don’t have to go far and beyond with this, you can simply use an oscillating fan, especially if you’re just starting out. As you get more experienced, you may want to consider investing in a more advanced air circulation system.
There you have it, five of the best hydroponic systems and kits on the market today. Did you like our list? If so, let us know which one of the above-mentioned hydroponics systems have met your requirements. If we were to pick a winner, we’d go for the AeroGarden Classic 9 Elite-Stainless Gourmet Herb Garden because it’s a complete and integrated system that features everything you may need in one package, from automatic functionality to seeds and lights.