Now that we’ve looked at the different equipment needed for hydroponic systems, we can go over what equipment hydroponics systems need, based on their type. Consider this your quick reference guide for hydroponic equipment by system type.
Ebb and Flow
Ebb and flow, or flood and drain, systems need the basics: nutrient solution, lighting, a reservoir, plant tray, pump, and testing equipment. Growing medium is frequently used in these systems, although there are some exceptions. The main extra item you need for an ebb and flow system is a timer. The timer will work alongside the pump to flood the plant tray (also called a flood tray), at specific intervals throughout the day.
Deep Water Culture systems need the basic equipment that every hydroponic system needs. They’re fairly low maintenance systems, that need very little to work. However, you will need an air pump, tubing (for the air line), and an airstone. You can often purchase these as set. Many air pumps include tubing and at least one airstone to get you started.
Nutrient Film Technique systems need very little special equipment. Of course, you need to have a special tray. There are trays made with small channels, and these channels are where the roots sit. The channels also ensure that nutrient solution is efficiently distributed to plant roots. You can create your own grow tray with channels out of foam if you prefer. Plant clips are often used to keep the plants in place above the tray. The tray should be placed at a slight incline, to allow water to flow through the channels to all the plants.
Drip systems work slowly, so a lower powered pump is ideal. The plant tray should be filled with growing medium, and the tubing needs to be perforated to deliver drops of nutrient solution to each plant. You can use regular tubing and place the holes yourself, if you prefer. Ideally, the drip tubing you use should be long enough to drain nutrient solution that doesn’t escape the holes, and deposit it back into the reservoir.
Wick systems are another type of hydroponic system that need very little other components outside of the basics. You’ll need growing medium and a plant tray with a few holes drilled into the bottom. Then, you need the ‘wick’ itself. That’s basically string or rope, ideally made out of a cotton-based material. Get enough wick material to place one end of the string in the nutrient solution, and the other end in the growing medium. Remember, you’ll need at least two or three different wicks. You may need more if you have a larger system.
Aeroponic systems are a more advanced hydroponic set up, and they require special equipment. You’ll need a pump with a timer, and nozzles, or sprinklers, that can produce a fine mist. Plants need to be suspended so that their roots are exposed. If you’re not using a specially designed aeroponic chamber, you need plant clips to keep the plants in place. The pump you use also needs to be able to handle high velocity, high pressure delivery to create mist properly.