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Hydroponic systems have been revolutionizing the indoor gardening market for quite some time now. Widely used for commercial growth, they’re taking over residential indoor gardens as well. They’re very fast and effective as well as energy- and labor-efficient, which is why hydroponic systems are ideal for gardening with minimal resources and maximum output.
There are many hydroponic systems on the market to choose from. Some are from big and reputable brands while others are hand-constructed by local producers. They’re all available in various models and types too, but the key thing you always want to focus on is the quality.
A good hydroponic system will supply you with large quantities of produce for years and even decades to come at minimum costs and with minimal effort. A sub-par quality system, on the other hand, will be mostly a waste of money, time and effort, which is why a lot of people are hesitant to try them in the first place. Let’s take a look at some of the best hydroponic systems available on the market right now:
Best Hydroponic Systems on the Market Right Now
1. TopoLite Grow Tent Hydroponic Growing System
If you’re looking for a combination of large size and easy mobility, the TopoLite grow tents are a great option. They’re available in four different sizes:
You also have the freedom to either buy the full tent kits which include 300 Watt LED lights, a filter and fan, or you can just buy the tents separately.
The tents themselves are made out of a heavy-duty 600D lightproof Oxford cloth with large heavy-duty zippers. This gives the TopoLite grow tents amazing longevity and makes them a true long-term growing partner for your indoor garden.
The 4” and 190 CFM inline duct ventilation fan is also excellent which is why we’d recommend getting the entire kit.
2. VegeBox Hydroponics Growing System
The VegeBox hydroponic system comes in three basic variants – smaller or bigger black growing pots as well as a small V-basket-G model that also serves as a nice decoration.
The two basic growing pots are equipped with 21W LED growing lights for soft but effective grow light. The LED lights offer both red and blue spectrum lights, ensuring fast growth and rich yield.
The VegeBox water tank has 1.2 liter capacity on the smaller model and 2 liters on the larger model. Either way, the VegeBox hydroponic growing systems are easy to use, lightweight and portable, offering excellent results. Plus, they are all highly affordable, making them great for novice indoor gardeners.
3. AeroGarden Bounty Basic Indoor Hydroponic Herb Garden
4 used from $148.48
The AeroGarden Bounty hydroponic herb garden is available in several different variants, including a basic variant that’s relatively affordable and quite versatile. If you’re looking for something more advanced, the two black and white variants come with a few more features. Lastly, there’s the AeroGarden Bounty Elite model with enabled WiFi and Alexa support.
The AeroGarden Bounty Basic is perfect for a range of gardening functions, and is probably the best option if you’re getting started with hydroponics. It’s great for anything from herbs to larger harvests such as salads and tomatoes. It also utilizes energy-efficient 30 watts LED grow lights for both fast growth and big harvests. The entire appliance is 24” tall and can fit up to 9 average-sized plants in it.
4. Hydrofarm OX20SYS oxyCLONE 20/40 Site
For something compact and easy to store, as well as very affordable, check out the Hydrofarm OxyClone. It’s available as both a 20-site and 40-site recirculating cloning system and is designed to offer maximum oxygenation as well as prevent any leaks or clogging.
The entire system is designed out of a BPA-free food-grade black plastic which is safe for growing any herb or plant. The two systems are powered by Active Aqua premium pumps making them both effective and energy-efficient. The evaporative cooling also means less retained heat so the system requires near-zero maintenance.
Just pop your OxyClone hydroponic system on the window or terrace and enjoy the fast and rich yield.
5. AeroGarden Harvest Indoor Hydroponic Garden
4 used from $79.11
For another cool but even more affordable option by AeroGarden, check out their Harvest indoor hydroponic system. Available in white, black and sage, this hydroponic garden includes 6 growing pods and allows for 12 inches of growth height.
It’s great for herbs such as curly parsley, Genovese basil, thyme, dill and mint, to name a few. It also works great for various other veggies – anything that grows up to 12 inches high. All this is enabled by the high-performance and full-spectrum 20W LED lights and the practical and easy-to-use growing pods.
The AeroGarden Harvest system also has a user-friendly control panel with indicators and reminders for when you need to add water or plant nutrients and it turns the lights on and off automatically as programmed.
As a bonus, the AeroGarden Harvest hydroponic system comes with a 3oz bottle of AeroGarden’s own and patented natural plant nutrients solution to get you started.
6. Giraffe-X Hydroponic 108-plant Grow Kit
This Giraffe-X hydroponic system is both large in scale and simple in its operation. That simplicity comes with the added bonus of being very affordable given the large scale of production it enables.
This 108-plant kit is 40.6” tall and 38.5” by 17.7” large. It’s made out of food-grade PVC-U pipes that deliver the water and nutrient solution through the whole system. The pipes go through three stories along the height of the kit, circling 4 times per floor. That makes for 36 plant holes per floor and 9 holes per pipe on each floor. The lower two stores are 15” tall each so you should keep that in mind when you decide what to grow in them.
The system offers effective 45-day yields on all locations depending on what you’re growing in it. You can use the Giraffe-X grow kit for anything from herbs to vegetables, berries, and even melons.
7. Moistenland Hydroponics Growing System
This hydroponic growing kit from Moistenland is equipped with 12 plant pots and 22W LED lights that offer both blue and red spectrum lights for optimum growth and yield. The pots are made out of Biochar mud for non-toxic and no-soil growth. Seeds and nutrient solution are not included but once you get them, this hydroponic kitchen grower is easy to operate.
The system has an automatic control panel, an 18-hour auto shut-off function for a 6-hour pause, and comfortable manual controls. There’s also a unique Dual Growing mode for more effective growth of multiple types of plants at once.
You can use the Moistenland hydroponic system for anything from herbs, berries and fruits to veggies. The system has a 4-liter tank that’s easy to fill, as well as a built-in water pump and fan.
8. Kingro Grand 5 in 1 Indoor Gardening Hydroponic Ecosystem
Last on our list, the Kingro Grand hydroponic ecosystem offers something most others don’t, which is style. This 5-in-1 ecosystem has 2 powerful LED lights and a beautiful design. It also allows for near-unlimited height which is great if you want to grow taller plants.
The Kingro Grand can grow and take care of your plants for days without you even needing to add water. The system waters your plants through microfiber strip carriers with 120cc of water daily.
What’s more, the Kingro Grand also supports soil growing if you want to switch to that at some point or to just have the option. The clear subsystem water container can be used as an aquaponics system or even to raise fish.
What to consider when choosing a hydroponics system?
Hydroponic systems are simple devices, at least in principle, but they come in various types and models. We’ve talked about the basic types of hydroponic systems here and familiarizing yourself with them is probably the best first step you can take.
Once you’ve figured out which system you want, here are the other main considerations you’d want to take into account:
As with any long-term purchase, the budget is an important factor to consider when making your decision. Good hydroponic systems can be used for years and there’s a major difference in their energy and water consumption. Nevertheless, most hydroponic systems also have considerable starting prices, especially if you want something larger. So, starting with your budget is usually a good way to go about it and you’re also likely to find good quality systems that are affordable and fit in your budget.
Another key thing to consider is where you want to place your system and how much space you have to use. If you’re going for a system with a separate water tank it’s going to take up some space so keep that in mind when shopping for a system.
Some hydroponic systems come with their own grow lights and are meant for 100% indoor growth. Some, like the TopoLite grow tent we started with, cut out all external light sources completely. Other hydroponic systems are meant to work with sunlight, meaning that you’ll have to place them on a terrace, a window, or even outdoors if the weather permits it.
Going only by the brand name is usually a bad choice with hydroponic systems as with most other commercial products. Even reputable brands can make and sell sub-par products and some sell only such products, relying mostly on their marketing. Therefore, it’s important to look for a good brand while focusing on the features of the product.
How to start up a hydroponics system?
When it comes to growing plants as quickly, effectively and efficiently as possible, there are some important steps you wouldn’t want to skip.
- Choose a type of hydroponic system. Ebb and Flow? Wick? Drip? Aeroponics or NFT? Each system is better suited for different plants and yields, so familiarize yourself with the different types as best you can.
- Pick your plants and desired yield. As you’ve likely noticed from our suggestions above, different hydroponic machines offer different yield potentials, height restrictions, number of plant pots/slots and so on. Before you start, you’ll need to decide what you want and how much of it you want to grow. If you want to feed a family of four you won’t be able to manage with one hydroponic system, so you’ll most probably have to go for several. On the other hand, if you only want it for herbs and/or as a hobby one small kitchen model can be great.
- Choose between seeds and cuttings or sprouts. These are the two possible starting points for hydroponic growth. Some systems work with seeds only, others with cuttings/sprouts. Still others work with both. The general rule of thumb is that seeds are more affordable but cuttings are easier to grow If you’re just starting, getting used to cuttings first might be a good idea.
- Don’t ignore the side equipment. In many ways, the side equipment and consumables are as or even more important than the machine itself. For example, using the right nutrient solution for the particular plants you’re growing is crucial for your success. The quality of the pump and the fan of your system is also important and a lot of hydroponic systems won’t come with these features included. Then, there are also the thermostat, humidistats and other measuring equipment which can help you find the perfect environment for your plants.
- Maintain perfect conditions at all times. The main benefit of hydroponic systems isn’t so much that they offer faster growth than soil gardens. It’s that they allow you to customize every single aspect of your plants’ growth – that’s what actually makes hydroponic systems faster and more effective. Take out your thermostat and humidistat, do some research on the ideal conditions for your plants-of-choice and make sure you maintain them carefully. Luckily, most modern and good hydroponic systems will be able to help with that by offering pre-programmable watering and lighting functions.
The Bottom Line
Hydroponics is all about research and control. Yes, you can toy and experiment with them, but when you’re ready to start producing decent quantities of veggies and fruits, you’ll need to have a good idea of how to handle them.
Before you buy anything, read as much as you can about what you want to grow, which type of hydroponic system is best for it and how to operate it. Hopefully the above reviews will help you find the right system for your needs. To learn more about hydroponics, check out our guide here.