Putting together your own hydroponic grow system can feel like a daunting task if you’ve never done it before. There are a variety of options for each part that you need, and it can be hard to know which is best for your particular setup. Luckily, once you know what purpose each part serves it becomes incredibly easy to piece together a system that is correctly sized for your garden.
This is the part of the system that holds your actual plants. It is typically some type of bucket with a lid that has a hole designed to hold the net pot. This is easily the most important part of your setup as it is what holds your plants and houses their roots. When deciding on a type of grow module you have the option of either individual modules for each plant, or a larger module that can house multiple plants.
Individual modules, such as the Current Culture UC 4 pictured above, each hold a single plant. These types of modules can range from sizes as low as 5 gallons, and all the way up to 13 gallons. These are great for growing large plants independently of one another, while still being fed from the same reservoir. When choosing a size of individual module to go with, keep in mind that the larger the module you get the more space your plant’s roots will have to grow, and your plant will be larger as a result of this.
Larger all-in-one modules, such as the Current Culture Solo Pro pictured above, are really only used in DWC setups. These modules hold more water in them and their lids have multiple spots for net pots. This gives you the option of growing many plants in a single module, which is excellent for vegging many small plants before transplanting them to a larger module for flower. You can even grow several plants in these types of modules all the way to harvest if you keep them small. This is great if you are interested in doing a SCROG type of grow.
Trays & Stands
Trays are used for holding your plants that are either in pots, or being grown in a medium like rockwool. Stands are the tables that are used to hold these trays, which makes your plants easier to work on, and helps save some floor space in your grow room. Trays and stands can be used for many purposes, but they are most commonly needed for ebb & flow setups.
You can find both trays and stands in a wide variety of sizes, so it is easy to find the right ones for your particular needs. You will see the initials ID and OD when reading specs for trays, this simply refers to "Inner Dimensions", and "Outer Dimensions". While the ID is helpful when determining the total volume of your tray, OD is useful for knowing if your tray will fit in your space and what size stand to purchase for it as well. When choosing a tray it is important to choose one that will not only fit into your grow space, but that it will fit while still giving the ability to access and work on your plants from all angles.
If you purchase a tray that fits, but doesn’t leave you with space to work around it, even basic plant maintenance can become a frustrating task. When choosing a stand for the tray it is equally important to consider the vertical height, especially if you are growing in a confined area such as a tent or closet. Your plant’s height will increase substantially and quickly throughout its life cycle, if the tray that it sits in is raised too high by the stand, you will find yourself running out of room. Not only is that frustrating in and of itself, but you will also find yourself having to work around the issue of your lights being too close to your plants and burning them.
Reservoirs are an extremely critical part of any setup as it is what stores the water, or food, for your plants. It is important to choose your reservoir correctly as being stuck with one that is too small for your needs can lead to frustration and a lot more work for you as it will require more frequent maintenance. Just as with trays and stands it is also important to be mindful of the dimensions of the reservoir you choose as it is easy to focus solely on the volume of water that it can hold, rather than also taking into account whether or not it will even fit into your grow space.
Sizing a reservoir can be tricky, and it is better to be safe than sorry. While your plants may not require much water initially as they grow they will consume more and more, and the amount of water they will require near harvest will be much more than when you first started them. When choosing a reservoir that you will be using for a drip or dwc system, it is safe to assume that your plants may be consuming at least around 2 gallons of water each, per day.
When sizing a reservoir for an ebb & flow system there is a simple equation you can use to estimate the minimum size you will need. Simply find the volume of your flood tray by multiplying the length by the width, and by the height, then multiply the volume you find by .0043 to convert it to gallons.
We can use this 4x4 Botanicare grow tray as an example. It has inner dimensions of 48” x 48” x 7.375”, which would equal a volume of 16,992 cubic inches, this is then multiplied by 0.0043 to convert to gallons which would equal 73 gallons. So to flood this tray you would want a reservoir capable of holding at least 73 gallons.
You can find all of the reservoirs that we carry here.
While we hope that this guide helped you understand the basics of choosing and sizing different aspects of your hydro setup, there are so many different options and combinations possible you may find yourself needing more specific help.
If this is the case, you can always call us at 888-815-9763 and speak with one of our experienced professionals! We can help you piece together a custom setup specifically for your grow so that you easily obtain all of the necessary equipment for an efficient hydroponic system.