Hydroponic growing is a way of gardening and growing crops that do not require soil.
Instead, seedlings derive their nutrients from water that has been enriched to suit the distinct needs of the plant.
Hydroponic systems are popular for growing vegetables such as tomatoes and chilies as well as berries, and herbs.
More and more houseplant owners are starting out using the benefits of hydroponic growing as well.
But how much does hydroponics cost?
In this article, I am going to look at some of the 6 main hydroponic systems and will highlight how much each of these hydroponic systems costs.
But let’s start with answering the big general question first.
How Much Does Hydroponics Cost?
Hydroponics costs from $10 up to $100’000. A simple wick system consisting of a pot, a water reservoir, and a wick will cost you from $10-$50 dollars. A professional nutrient film technique (NFT) system can easily cost you $10’000 upwards.
Wondering how expensive it is to set up a hydroponic grow system? Keep reading to learn more!
Hydroponic Grow Systems And Their Cost
The benefits of this are multifold, including fewer pests and conservation, as you reuse and re-enrich the water in your system frequently.
The plants are delivered their nutrients through their exposed roots via water, and some systems may use a medium like aggregate or substrate.
It is important to test the water of your hydroponic system often to ensure your plants are getting the right amount of nutrients, which are usually purchased in a liquid form.
If plants get too few nutrients, they will be underfed and could suffer, but too many nutrients will result in overfeeding, which also jeopardizes your crop and overall yield.
Hydroponic systems use special equipment and supplies, which are easily and widely found at home and garden centers, as well as tractor supply stores in most regions.
But how much does hydroponics cost is a common question given its many benefits.
How Much Does Hydroponics Cost By Type of Hydroponic System
There are 6 main types of hydroponic setups for you to choose from. These dictate how the plants get their nutrients from the water and also the cost range of these systems varies greatly.
Here are the 6 hydroponic setups and their associated costs:
- Wick systems are a very basic and simple method of hydroponic growing that is often used by the novice. This is a means of using a wick to deliver water and nutrients to the plants, which means that it is not best for plants that drink a lot of water- like tomatoes. Instead, use wick systems for herbs and plants that don’t need much water to thrive. Price range $10-$120
- Drip systems are also called fertigation systems and they are more often used in commercial growing productions. This method feeds the plants from the top, rather than the bottom as in other methods of hydroponic growing. The water is stretched and conserved- even tropical varieties that like a lot of water. This is a great system for tomatoes, peppers, cukes, zucchini, and eggplant. Price range $40-$150
- Deep water culture systems (DWC) are a method of hydroponic growing where you submerge the roots of the plant in water that contains the nutrients that the plant needs. These systems typically utilize an air pump, and you must replace the water every couple of weeks, ideally. These systems work best for tomatoes, cucumbers, and leafy plants, like greens. Price range $30-$2’000
- Aeroponics is what it sounds like- it uses air. The roots of your plants are exposed to the air and the nutrients are delivered via a water mist. This works effectively with cucumbers, strawberries, mint, basil, and tomatoes. Price range $150-$1’000
- Ebb and flow systems (Flood and Drain) are an approach to hydroponic growing that floods the plants with nutrient-enriched water- and then dries them out. This gives the plants time to absorb the minerals that they need while making them hungry for more between watering. This creates a hardy plant and works well with tomatoes and cucumbers, especially. Price range $200-$500
- Nutrient film technique systems (NFT) are a method that recirculates and reuses the water that you provide through a shallow stream of nutrient-enriched water. The roots are bare and you use a pump to keep the water circulating. This method works well with lettuce. Price range $75-$100’000
Depending on the hydroponic method that you choose, your system will fall into one of these three categories.
Here is what you need to know about how much does hydroponics cost by category.
How much do Low-, Middle- and High-Tech Hydroponic Systems Cost?
How Much Does Hydroponics Cost: Low-Tech Hydroponic Systems Cost $10 – $300
Low-tech hydroponic systems are generally a version of a do-it-yourself technique that may have mixed results and outcomes. It is quite budget-friendly, often costing only a couple of dollars to get started.
For instance, if you want to make your foray into hydroponics with a small herb garden, it could cost as low as $10 to grow your own herbs!
However, if you want to include features that enhance the likelihood of a decent crop and that make the system more effective, it may cost up to $300 to set up.
A good example of a low-tech system is a wick system as well as drip systems.
The best approach is to visit a supply retail venue and talk to a qualified industry professional who can point out your best options.
How Much Does Hydroponics Cost: Middle-Tech Hydroponic Systems Cost $300-$1’000
Middle-tech hydroponic systems are a bit more advanced with features that you purchase for installation rather than making them all on your own.
These are typically prefabricated hydroponic systems that you just plug in and fill with nutrient solution, as instructed, which may be an easier approach for some gardening enthusiasts.
To start, you will probably spend a few hundred dollars, perhaps as much as $1,000 by the time you are done with your first crop and harvest, though you may need to buy lights and mechanisms to control the water flow in your hydroponic system.
Some examples of middle-tech systems include deep water culture systems (DWC) and aeroponics systems.
How Much Does Hydroponics Cost: High-Tech Hydroponic Systems Cost $1’000-$100’000 (or even more)
High-tech hydroponic systems are usually for a larger yield crop, like a commercial farm may implement.
Generally, these gardeners are looking for more volume to turn a profit.
This may involve some level of aeroponics or a Nutrient film technique (NFT) that is used in a commercial operation.
These systems can cost tens of thousands of dollars and are very high-tech.
These are most often programmable, so they practically run on their own, though they require monitoring and water testing periodically for best results.
The amount of money you plan to spend on your system may dictate the type of hydroponic setup that you end up with!
Frequently Asked Questions About How Much Does Hydroponics Cost
How much light do you need for hydroponics?
Depending on what you are growing, it is important to provide ample artificial light to compensate for indoor planting. For instance, in a hydroponic system, you should plan for around 14 hours of light a day, followed by a 10-hour period of darkness, which gives the plant time to rest.
What grow lights are best for hydroponics?
The best grow lights for hydroponic grow systems include T5 fluorescent bulbs or lamps. Also, HID lamps are lauded for hydroponic use, although nothing compares to natural sunlight when growing plants and gardening.
Do hydroponics need sunlight?
Hydroponic grow systems do require sunlight for hardy plants. Depending on what you grow, the lighting in your home surrounding the indoor grow system may be sufficient, but most plants require specific lights to induce flowering and to bear fruit and yield your crop.
How much does Hydroponics cost?
Hydroponics costs from $10-100’000 depending on the system your want to buy. There are wick systems for $10 and professional nutrient film technique (NFT) systems for several $10’000s.
Conclusion About How Much Does Hydroponics Cost
Wondering how much does hydroponics cost? Depending on what you grow, a hydroponics system costs from a couple of dollars- all the way up to several thousand bucks. The cheapest system is a whick system that will cost between $60-$130 dollars. In the high end range, you will find Nutrient film technique systems (NFT) systems that can cost anywhere from $70-$100’000 depending on the size and the level of automation.
Taking care of houseplants and gardening are my greatest passions. I am transforming my apartment into an urban jungle and am growing veggies in my indoor and outdoor garden year-round.