Lawn & Garden

The 12 Best Hydroponic Systems for your Home

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Much Needed
27 February, 2020 Updated 13 days ago
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Modern technology has changed and improved many aspects of our lives. One of those aspects is gardening, which today can be done efficiently and quickly in our homes and offices with the help of the advanced hydroponic systems.

A subset of hydroculture, hydroponics is the name given to the method of growing plants without soil, using only water and mineral nutrient solutions (like duck manure, chemical fertilizers, and others). Instead of the traditional gardening pots and containers, hydroponic systems typically use net pots and cups.

Most of the time, plants are grown with their roots submerged in the nutritious liquid or supported by perlite or gravel. Having a good hydroponic system allows you to grow herbs, vegetables, and flowers almost anywhere and anytime.

IN A HURRY? CHECK OUT OUR EDITOR’S CHOICE
AeroGarden Bounty Stainless Steel

If you’re interested in buying a hydroponic system but you’re unsure where to start your search, then you’re in the right place.

What You Need to Know About Hydroponic Systems

Before heeding our advice and equipping your home with the perfect hydroponic system, you should have a general idea of the features to pay attention to.

1. Type

There are several types of hydroponic systems to choose from. The best one for you will depend on the specific plant(s) you want to grow and their number.

Deep Water Culture (DWC): Requires placing the plants in containers and submerging the roots into the nutrient-rich water. An air pump provides oxygen. Not suitable for larger plants.

Ebb and Flow: Requires putting the plants in pots which are then placed into flood trays. The flood trays are filled with nutrient-enriched water pumped up from the storage. The water then travels up through the pots and in the roots. After a set time, the water is drained back into the storage, allowing plants to oxygenate and dry before the next flooding cycle.

Wick System: Requires that the plant roots are constantly submerged into the nutrient-rich liquid. The wick draws the nutrient liquid from the reservoir and into the growing medium. It is not suitable for plants that require a lot of water.

Drip Grow System: Includes a timed tap that supplies the needed amount of nutrient solution at the base of each of the plants. The system requires carefully monitoring the plants and timing the watering accordingly.

2. Level of Automation

Growing plants requires optimum levels of multiple factors, including the lighting, humidity, amount of water, and temperature of the nutritious liquid. Different hydroponic systems have different automation levels, alleviating some, if not all, of the burden of maintaining these conditions.

3. Size

When buying a permanent or semi-permanent installation for your house or apartment, you need to consider the garden’s size, i.e. how much space it will require. In general, most hydroponic systems will take up around 16 square feet or 1.5 square meters of floor space.

4. Scalability

If you’re just beginning to get involved in the hydroponics, you’ll probably want to start small. However, at some point, you might decide that you want to grow more plants, which will require more plant capacity. Instead of purchasing an entirely new hydroponics system, you might want to consider one that can be easily expanded.

Should You Buy a Hydroponic System?

If you prefer the traditional soil-plant growing, then by all means, stick with it. However, plants in a hydroponic environment have proven to grow faster (around 30%), bring a higher yield, as well as taking some workload off your shoulders. If they’re equipped with LED lighting, hydroponic systems can also facilitate the growing of seasonal plants during the entire year.

Due to its practicality and small space that it takes up, this gardening method is increasing in popularity in urban areas, hence the growing availability of plug-and-play hydroponic kits. It is ideal for a busy modern human, usually demanding extra time only when setting it up. Most of these kits are equipped with detailed instructions and nutrients necessary to sustain your plants for at least one season, while some have extras like a pH reducer or WiFi connectivity.

QUICK OVERVIEW

The Best Hydroponic Systems


Products
Features
EDITOR’S PICK
4.7
300+
300+
  • Nine seed pods
  • LCD touch screen control panel
  • PRICE RANGE: Under $500
  • Nine seed pods
  • LCD touch screen control panel
  • PRICE RANGE: Under $500
MOST REVIEWED
4.2
1,750+
1750+
  • 7 plant pods
  • 30W LED lighting
  • PRICE RANGE : Under $300
  • 7 plant pods
  • 30W LED lighting
  • PRICE RANGE : Under $300
TOP PICK
5
5+
5+
  • Up to 27 plants on only 10 square feet
  • X5 1500W COB LED panel and six 23W Tri-band LED bars
  • PRICE RANGE : Under $1500
  • Up to 27 plants on only 10 square feet
  • X5 1500W COB LED panel and six 23W Tri-band LED bars
  • PRICE RANGE : Under $1500
BUDGET PICK
4.1
60+
60+
  • 4 different plants at the same time
  • Plug-and-play
  • PRICE RANGE: Under $100
  • 4 different plants at the same time
  • Plug-and-play
  • PRICE RANGE: Under $100
BUDGET PICK
4
100+
100+
  • 6 plant buckets
  • Perfect for beginners
  • PRICE RANGE: Under $50
  • 6 plant buckets
  • Perfect for beginners
  • PRICE RANGE: Under $50
EDITOR’S PICK
AeroGarden Bounty Stainless Steel
Voice-first technology meets hydroponic gardening.

The AeroGarden Bounty Elite Stainless Steel hydroponic garden is small, WiFi and Alexa-enabled, and comes fully assembled. It allows you to grow up to nine different plants, a process made easy with the help of an LCD screen on its front.

4.7
300+
300+
  • 7 plant pods
  • 30W LED lighting
  • 24-inch (61cm) grow height
  • PRICE RANGE: Under $300

Best Hydroponic Systems Under $50

SavvyGrow DWC Hydroponic System Growing Kit

SavvyGrow DWC Hydroponic System Growing Kit

Features

  • Uses the DWC method for effective nutrient distribution
  • 6 plant buckets
  • Suitable for vegetables and herbs

One of the best budget hydroponic options is the SavvyGrow DWC Hydroponic System Growing Kit. It features a reliable airstone that fully oxygenates the water, a powerful air pump, Rockwool, and six plant growing sites placed in a polypropylene container.

Its precise dimensions are 16 x 10.8 inches (40.65 x 27.43 cm) with each hole 5.5 inches (14cm deep) and 2 inches (5.1cm) in diameter. This is considered a medium size and is ideal for beginners and school projects. The system does not come with a nutrient mix.

Pros
  • Perfect for beginners
  • Durable container
  • Very cheap
Cons
  • Not for larger plants
  • Doesn’t include nutrient mix

Best Hydroponic Systems Under $100

Back to the Roots Water Garden & Self-Cleaning Fish Tank

Back to the Roots Water Garden & Self-Cleaning Fish Tank

Features

  • Ideal for small plants
  • Includes a 3-gallon fish tank
  • D-Klor and Zym- Bac solutions
  • PRICE RANGE: Under $100

More expensive but packing more features is the Back to the Roots Water Garden and Self-Cleaning Fish Tank That Grows Food. The process is simple: the fish produces nutrient-rich waste, while the plants clean the water by taking the nutrients from the waste. The clean water is then brought back to the fish.

To get you started, you’ll get a package of organic microgreen seeds and some fish food. The included D-Klor solution removes chlorine from the water, while Zym-Bac facilitates nutrient cycling and maintains healthy ammonia and nitrite levels for the fish. Growstones are included in the kit as the ideal growing medium for your plants. The entire kit’s dimensions are 13.4 x 13.4 x 9.5 inches (34 x 34 x 24.13 cm) and it includes five plant pots.

Pros
  • Includes seeds and fish food
  • User-friendly
  • Low price
Cons
  • Small

PowerGrow Hydroponic Bubbler Bucket Kit

PowerGrow Hydroponic Bubbler Bucket Kit

Features

  • DWC system
  • Plug-and-play
  • PRICE RANGE: Under $100

At the top of the price range sits the PowerGrow Hydroponic Systems’ DWC Bubbler Bucket Kit with an air pump, air lines, air stones, 6-inch (15.24cm) basket lids, and four 5-gallon (18.90 liters) FDA buckets equipped with water level indicators. Each bucket has a footprint of about 1 square foot (929 sq.cm).

The system is exceptionally easy to install and has everything to get it up and running. That said, the buyer has to supply the nutrients and growing stones. You’ll need to manage some other things as well, such as the grow light and pH adjustment kit but the price is low considering its other features.

Pros
  • Allows you to grow 4 different plants at the same time
  • Water level indicators facilitate easier watering management
  • Easy to set up and manage
Cons
  • Small buckets
  • Doesn’t include nutrients and growing stones

Best Hydroponic Systems Under $150

GrowLED Height Adjustable, 10-Pod Indoor Garden Germination Kit

GrowLED Height Adjustable, 10-Pod Indoor Garden Germination Kit

Features

  • Ten pods for plants
  • Height-adjustable automatic LED light
  • Smart watering system
  • PRICE RANGE: Under $150

The main advantage of the LED-based height-adjustable indoor gardening system by GrowLED is that you don’t have to depend on natural light for the photosynthesis in periods of long winter nights and cloudy days. Its second advantage is that you can adjust its height, allowing your plants to grow bigger. The light balance is ensured by the automatic smart timer, pre-set for 16 hours on and 8 hours off.

This hydroponic system also features a visible water level indicator that tells you when and how much to water your plants. The smart self-watering feature reduces the watering schedule to weeks instead of days. Also, the 10 smart-soil pods are pre-filled with nutrients so there’s no need to buy additional liquid plant food. It doesn’t take up much space either, with dimensions of only 19.2 x 8 x 5.2 inches (48.77 x 20.32 x 13.21 cm).

Pros
  • Beginner-friendly
  • Lots of smart soil plant pods
  • No dependence on natural light
Cons
  • Seeds need to be purchased separately
  • Lighting time can’t be customized

Best Hydroponic Systems Under $200

Click and Grow Smart Garden 9

Click and Grow Smart Garden 9

Features

  • Automated system
  • Nine plant pods
  • Nine white and red LED lights
  • PRICE RANGE: Under $200

The Smart Garden 9 by Click and Grow features several advanced features that make it stand out, such as the automated system that takes care of all your gardening needs. The system keeps the soil pH balanced, provides enough breathing room for the plants, and ensures the perfect balance of nutrients, water, and air.

Along with the self-watering tank and water-level indicator, the kit includes nine LED grow lights with a built-in timer. To get you started immediately, your package will arrive with three mini tomato, three basil, and three green lettuce pods. The system’s dimensions are 23.8 x 7.3 x 15.8 inches (60.45 x 18.54 x 40.13 cm).

Pros
  • Supports a lot of different plants
  • Advanced features
  • Comes with a gratis seed pack for 3 plants
Cons
  • LED lights’ timing can’t be customized

Best Hydroponic Systems Under $300

Miracle-Gro Twelve Indoor Growing System & Side Table with LED Grow Light

Miracle-Gro Twelve Indoor Growing System & Side Table with LED Grow Light

Features

  • Four pods
  • Designed as a side table
  • Bluetooth connected
  • PRICE RANGE: Under $300

One of the most comprehensive hydroponic systems, Miracle-Gro Twelve provides the perfect conditions for a wide array of plants, such as kale, cilantro, and petunias the whole year. The system is very simple – just plant your leafy greens and/or herbs and feed them when the app reminds you. Miracle-Gro Twelve will take care of everything else, all the while serving as a stylish (and stackable) side table.

Its water-based growing system directs nutrients straight to the roots and, thanks to its app, you can monitor water levels, control the LED lighting, set a growing schedule, and receive important notifications. The package includes one transplanting kit, two packets of plant nutrition, as well as a seed starting kit. Its dimensions are the same as of a typical side table – 34.3 x 16.3 x 13.3 inches (87.12 x 41.40 x 33.78 cm).

Pros
  • App allows you to stay on top of things
  • Attractive design
  • Customizable lighting
  • Stackable
Cons
  • A bit pricey

AeroGarden 903100-1200 Ultra

AeroGarden 903100-1200 Ultra

Features

  • 7 plant pods
  • 30W LED lighting
  • 24-inch (61cm) grow height
  • PRICE RANGE: Under $300

Not only does it look stylish and gorgeous, but the AeroGarden Ultra allows you to grow seven different plants. Thanks to its full-spectrum 30-watt automatic LED grow light, your plants get enough light, regardless of the season or weather in your area. And it doesn’t stop there. The LCD on the garden’s front reminds you when it’s time to add water and ingredients.

You’ll also get a 3-ounce (89ml) bottle of nutrients and a rich seed starting pack that includes Genovese basil, thyme, curly parsley, Thai basil, dill, chives, and mint. The product will take up 17.25 x 11.25 inches (44 x 28.6 cm) of floor space, with a total height of 34 inches (86.4cm).

Pros
  • Includes seeds and nutrients
  • Supports up to seven different plants
  • LCD screen keeps you informed
Cons
  • Lighting timer can’t be customized

Best Hydroponic Systems Under $500

AeroGarden Bounty Stainless Steel (Alexa-Enabled)

AeroGarden Bounty Stainless Steel (Alexa-Enabled)

Features

  • WiFi and Alexa enabled
  • LCD touch screen control panel
  • Nine seed pods
  • 50-watt LED lighting
  • PRICE RANGE: Under $500

Attractive design is the common denominator of most AeroGarden kits and this is especially true for the superior Bounty Stainless Steel product with Alexa capabilities. It isn’t cumbersome either – taking only 16.5 x 11 inches (42 x 28cm) of your floor or desk space and around 30 inches (76.25cm) in height, allowing up to 24 inches (61cm) of plant growth.

The garden comes fully assembled and equipped with the “Quick Plant” LCD screen on its front, guiding you through all the steps to get it up and running in no time. To immediately fill out its nine pods, users also get a seed package containing Genovese basil (x2), Thai basil, curly parsley, Italian parsley, thyme, chives, dill, and mint, as well as the Miracle-Gro liquid plant food.

Its biggest selling point is the WiFi and Alexa capabilities. You only need to hook up your AeroGarden with Wi-Fi and you can control it via Alexa or an app on your smartphone.

Pros
  • Looks amazing
  • Can be controlled via Alexa
  • Very intuitive and easy to use
  • Doesn’t take up much space
Cons
  • Perhaps a bit pricey but it’s worth it

Best Hydroponic Systems Under $600

Aerospring Gardens Outdoor Hydroponic Tower – Vertical Herb & Vegetable Garden

Aerospring Gardens Outdoor Hydroponic Tower - Vertical Herb & Vegetable Garden

Features

  • Grows 27 plants
  • 9 hexagonal module sections
  • WiFi smart timer for power consumption
  • PRICE RANGE: Under $600

A slightly different approach to those we’ve seen so far is the hydroponic tower. One such solution is the Aerospring Vertical Herb & Vegetable Garden that saves space on your floor by allowing the plants to grow vertically.

In addition to supporting a staggering 27 plants on only 10 square feet (less than 1m) of space, this garden is also designed to be highly scalable, allowing you to add more planting extensions (up to 12 extensions are supported) if your space allows. It doesn’t have any LED lighting so it’s designed for balconies and sunny outdoor areas.

Pros
  • Can grow a lot of plants
  • Easily scalable
  • Effective power use
Cons
  • Needs sunshine and natural light
  • Not supplied with seeds

Gardener’s Supply Company 3-Tier Stand Sunlite Garden

Gardener’s Supply Company 3-Tier Stand Sunlite Garden

Features

  • Full-spectrum T-5 104W light bulbs
  • Three 18-square feet shelves
  • PRICE RANGE: Under $600

Those who want to grow a lot of plants but still want the advantages of hydroponic gardening can opt for the 3-Tier Sunlite Garden by Gardener’s Supply Company. With dimensions of 51 x 14-⅝ x 68-⅝ inches (130 x 37 x 174cm), it will require more space than most other types but each of the three shelves will provide 18 square feet (1.67 sq.m) of growing space.

The trays are equipped with three watertight plant trays from preventing water and soil spillage. The full-spectrum T-5 104-watt bulbs (two for each shelf) at adjustable heights provide an ideal level of light even in the darkest of spaces. That said, setting it up, providing pots, seeds, nutrients, taking care of watering, and everything else is your responsibility. Overall, this product provides a great storage space with excellent lighting for your plants.

Pros
  • Energy-saving adjustable lights
  • Lot of space for plants
  • Waterproof trays
Cons
  • Requires more effort from user

Best Hydroponic Systems Under $700

AeroGarden Farm XL

AeroGarden Farm XL

Features

  • WiFi and Alexa enabled
  • 60W LED lighting
  • 24 plant pods
  • Touchscreen display
  • PRICE RANGE: Under $700

At the top of its line of products, AeroGarden Farm XL provides the ultimate gardening experience you’d expect for its price and name. First, it provides more grow height space than its predecessors – up to 36 inches (91.44), allowing for some taller plants. The full-spectrum 60-watt LED lighting ensures the plants in all of its 24 pods receive an equal amount of bright light.

Like all other products in this vendor’s range, this one as well features a handy touchscreen display which allows you to monitor everything. It is also Wi-Fi and Alexa enabled so you can manage all features from setup through harvest, as well as receive reminders on your smart device for adding water and nutrients.

The package includes the Salad Bar Seed Kit with a choice of heirloom greens, flavor-packed herbs, and juicy cherry tomatoes, along with a 3-ounce (89ml) bottle of the company’s patented, all-natural nutrients for the full growth season.

Pros
  • Has lot of planting space
  • Can be controlled via voice
  • Includes a large seed pack
  • 30-inch grow height
Cons
  • Price

Best Hydroponic Systems Under $1500

Aerospring Indoor Hydroponic System (Growers Edition): Tower, Tent, LEDs, and Fan

Aerospring Gardens’ Indoor Hydroponic System

Features

  • X5 1500W COB LED panel and six 23W Tri-band LED bars
  • Oxford D600 tent material
  • Two Wi-Fi timers
  • PRICE RANGE: Under $1500

Aerospring Gardens’ Indoor Hydroponic System is the indoor version of its cheaper cousin, the Aerospring Outdoor Hydroponic Tower which, despite all its advantages, is still only suitable for spaces with a lot of natural light. The indoor version solves this problem and gives you even more bang for your buck.

In addition to being able to grow up to 27 plants on only 10 square feet (under 1sq.m), the garden includes a 200mm quiet exhaust fan, full-spectrum X5 1500W COB LED panel, six 23W foldable full-spectrum Tri-band LED bars covering 400-700nm.

The Oxford D600 tent with highly reflective white interior panels and six zipper-equipped side panels maximizes the light and temperature conditions. Two Wi-Fi timers automate and schedule lights and pump settings.

Pros
  • No need for any natural light
  • Easily movable
  • Superior quality and features
Cons
  • Expensive

Conclusion

Whether you want to have a reliable stash of herbs, access to yummy seasonal veggies all year long, or simply beautiful flowers to decorate your space, hydroponic options are available for everyone’s pocket.

Budget options are perfect for beginners and children, while the high-end, expensive (and expansive) hydroponic kits are for those truly dedicated to having their own little farm filled with choice plants. So don’t wait, start growing now.

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