Best Hydroponic Systems of 2020

by | May 30, 2020 | Hydroponics

If you are considering a hydroponic system to grow plants with minimal maintenance, then look no further. We will take a closer look at the best hydroponic systems that will make your indoor garden dreams come true. 

A complete hydroponic system will allow you to grow plants without the need for soil. In fact, most small hydroponic systems will only require a regular supply of running water (less water than traditional growing systems) and liquid plant food. This nutrient-rich water paired with LED grow lights will ensure faster plant growth that use fewer natural resources. With that, it is one of the best low maintenance ways to grow plants in your home. You won’t even need to worry about your plants when you leave town, the hydroponics system will keep the plants happy and healthy while you are away. 

Let’s take a closer look at the top options for home hydroponic systems.

1. AeroGarden Bounty

With the AeroGarden Bounty, you’ll be able to grow up to 9 plants. The countertop system can accommodate plants up to 24 inches tall. That leaves plenty of room to grow a towering garden full of fresh herbs and veggies or beautiful flowers. 

The setup time for this system is minimal. You will only need to fill it with water and plant food before plugging it in. Next, you can add seed pods to grow whatever your heart desires. The seeds should germinate within a few days or a few weeks, depending on the seeds being germinated, and the roots of the plants then hang down into the reservoir . 

The AeroGarden Bounty offers several useful features to keep your garden growing steadily – with the plant’s roots growing freely in the base. First, the water bowl is the largest available for countertop models. Second, its control panel offers a dimmer setting on the grow lights which can be useful if you live in a small space. The Bounty also has a touchscreen with high resolution to help you monitor the health of your plants easily. Plus, Wi-Fi and Alexa compatibility to help you manage your garden system. The final feature worth noting is the Vacation Mode that will automatically care for your plants even if you aren’t home. 

2. Miracle-Gro Twelve

The Miracle-Gro Twelve houses up to 4 seed pods. The system is designed to stay on the floor with a functional design that can double as a small accent table. You can even stack two Miracle-Grow Twelve units on top of each other to optimize the use of your space.

In the base of the system, you’ll find a large gallon reservoir that can hold two gallons of water, with four sprayers and a water pump that maintain your plants with minimal effort on your part. It also has a water level indicator that causes the lights to flash when the reservoir needs to be refilled.

After you add the water and plant the seeds, you’ll be able to control your garden from your smartphone via the Bluetooth capabilities. You can monitor the watering system and control it without getting your hands dirty. 

The end result is an endless supply of fresh herbs and veggies contained within a classic accent table. 

3. Mr. Stacky Smart Farm

If space is tight in your home, then a vertical gardening system might be a good solution. With a Mr. Stacky Smart Farm, you can grow up to 20 plants with a relatively small footprint. The tradeoff is that you’ll need a space where height is not a problem.

You’ll also notice that this hydroponic system doesn’t come with a lighting system. With that, you’ll need to find a sunny spot for this system. Luckily, the plants are able to rotate around the center pipe, so you can choose a corner spot and rotate the plants on a regular basis. 

When you set up this system, the process will require that you fill each pot with coco peat and perlite. The initial set up can be somewhat messy, but once you plug in the system you won’t have to worry about it anymore. The reservoir can hold up to 16 gallons of water and sustain your plants for two to three weeks at a time. 

4. AeroGarden Farm XL

If you are looking for a large hydroponic system without any soil, the AeroGarden Farm XL is a great option. The large system can grow up to 24 plants and allow each plant to grow up to 36 inches high!

The system is able to accommodate a large number of plants, but it will require a substantial amount of space in your home. Once you find a good spot, it will only take a few minutes to set up. On each side of the garden, you’ll find two separate light panels that you can adjust to grow plants easily at different levels. 

After you get the system set up, you will be able to connect it to the app to manage the plants’ needs. The Farm XL can also be connected to the Amazon Echo or controlled via the touchscreen for convenience. 

5. AreoGarden Sprout

If space is a major issue in your home, then buying a large hydroponic system might not be the right fit. That’s okay! You can still enjoy fresh veggies and herbs through a smaller hydroponic system. If you are looking for a small countertop model, the AeroGarden Sprout is a good choice. It allows you to grow 4 plants without any soil needed. 

Although this model will not connect to Wi-Fi or sync up to your phone, it will still let you know when you need to add water or a nutrient solution (plant food) on a small screen. You’ll enjoy a small bounty without overwhelming your space. 

6. PowerGrow Deep Water Culture System (With DWC Air Pump)

If you want to grow a large plant with the convenience of hydroponically growing, the PowerGrow Deep Water Culture System offers a solution. The plant will be able to extend its roots 10 inches into the reservoir which can be helpful if you are trying to grow a large plant. 

This PowerGrow system is essentially a modified 5-gallon bucket with a growing medium and water reservoir, which also includes airlines, basket lids, and air stones. You’ll find that this bucket kit is easy to set up. However, it will require regular check-ins to ensure that it is functioning properly.  This bucket system will need to be placed in an area with adequate sunlight. Plus, the unwieldy nature of a five-gallon bucket may need to stay outside on a patio or terrace to avoid any major spills inside. The DWC system is included in this purchase and includes a 1-year warranty. If you are comfortable with the maintenance required, this could be a good solution for raising larger plants. 

7. Water Garden Duo

The Water Garden Duo offers a fun twist on the traditional hydroponic grow system. In addition to growing plants, the system can also function as a small fish tank. The balance between the two systems allows the fish to thrive in a clean tank and the plants to grow happily. 

With this system, you’ll need to find a sunny place to support the health of your plants. Although it is a relatively low tech system, you’ll find that keeping the water level right is easy due to the clear base of the reservoir. 

8. VEVOR Hydroponic Site Grow Kit

If you want to grow an abundance of small plants, then the VEVOR system is a good choice. The utilitarian design offers three rows of two pipes with holes for seedlings. You’ll be able to accommodate up to 54 plants. 

The setup for this system is somewhat involved. You’ll need to prepare a 15L to 20L reservoir tank and connect it to a separate power strip. Plus, you must find a spot for the system that will receive at least 4 hours of sunlight per day. 

Although this system will require more hands-on maintenance, it will provide a wonderful bounty. 

9. Big Smart Indoor Hydroponics Growing System

If you want to grow plants that are known to climb, such as peppers and tomatoes, this system could be a good fit. The design of the system is meant to support plants that will grow and climb up to 60 inches tall with the help of a trellis. 

Overall, the system offers a solid design. However, it will require careful maintenance with access to direct sunlight. 

10. WaterFarm Complete

The WaterFarm Complete system by General Hydroponic is a somewhat basic model. But is a good choice for a beginner that wants to learn more about hydroponics. The system can support a large plant and hold up to 2 gallons of water. You’ll need to add more water as needed by checking the easily accessible tube. 

The system will need to be placed in sunlight but will work well indoors. You might find that this system takes longer to set up than some of the other options. It will take some time, but it could be a good choice to learn the ins and outs of a hydroponic system. 

11. Viagrow Complete Ebb and Flow System

 The Viagrow Complete Ebb & Flow Hydroponics system is a good option for someone trying to grow plants professionally. While on the expensive side, the ebb and flow growing method allows your plants to have the correct amount of nutrients, water and oxygen. 

With this system, you can grow up to 25 plants (rapidly) in an incredibly limited space. This hydroponics system also comes with nursery pots, a timer, a 40 gallon reservoir, a Viagrow 211 GPH submersible pump with black poly tubing, and a white flood stand.

12. General Hydroponics Ecogrower Drip System

The Eco Grower has a similar price point as Aerogarden units – if not better. – and it’s a great solution for growing big plants. The 17-gallon reservoir comes with an air-driven drip system, as well as 6 in lid inserts,Cocotek liners, flora nutrients, a ¼ inch air line, clay pebbles, and the Elite 800 air pump.

One downside to the Ecogrower Drip system is that it doesn’t include a grow light, while many other models at a similar price point have detachable and/or adjustable LED grow lights. You also will need to refill the 17-gallon reservoir every 7-10 days.

13. General Hydroponics WaterFarm 8-Pack Hydroponic Grow System

These eight connected hydroponics systems drip system will grow plants that hover above a 13-gallon reservoir. A nutrient solution is circulated using a Dual Diaphragm Air Pump. This helps maintain the nutrient levels in each site, which keeps the PH levels consistent. This hydroponics system is designed for small, medium and even large plants, including peppers, cucumbers and tomatoes. 

All eight can be placed under a 2 x 4 ft grow tent, and, in most situations, can grow multiple plants in a single bucket. The WaterFarm system is a great option for those with a little more space, but it may not be a perfect option for people who live in small spaces, such as apartments or condos. 

What To Consider In Your Hydroponic System

As you consider your options for the best hydroponic system, you should consider what you want out of this. If you want to enjoy a few fresh herbs and veggies year-round, then a smaller system could be a good choice. If you are seeking to entirely grow your own produce, then investing in a larger system will be critical. 

Here are a few things to consider:

Size

Take a look around your home and determine what size system can comfortably fit. Make sure to weigh the space needs in your home with your desire to grow food at home. You might need to get creative about where you place your hydroponic system. The decision will come with tradeoffs, but that’s okay. For example, my AeroGarden system sits comfortably on my countertop, but I am only able to grow 6 plants at a time. Think about the tradeoffs in your unique situation before moving forward. 

Maintenance

Consider what amount of effort you are willing to put into your gardening endeavor. Also, think back on past gardening attempts and be honest about what you are able to commit to. 

Personally, I am notorious for letting my houseplants die due to a hectic schedule. With that, I chose an AeroGarden that alerts me when my garden needs more water or plant food. That reminder is very helpful for maintaining my indoor plants. 

Cost

Of course, there is a wide range of costs associated with hydroponic systems. A large and complex system will likely cost you more than a basic setup. Decide what you are comfortable spending on your new garden before shopping around. It is likely that there will be a great system in your price range. 

Take A Closer Look At The Best Hydroponic Systems of 2020

Now that you have thought a little bit more about your needs, let’s compare the top hydroponic systems of 2020. You’ll see the breakdown below:

  Cost Lighting Pods Size
AeroGarden Bounty $349.95 40W LED lighting 9 17.25″x11.25″ x15″-34″ 
Miracle-Gro Twelve $299.99 LED lighting 4 28”x16.5”
Mr. Stacky Smart Farm $249.99 None 20 19”x19”x52”
AeroGarden Farm XL $799.95 60W LED lighting 24 36″x14″x36″
AeroGarden Sprout $99.95 10W LED lighting 3 5”x11”x10.5”-15.5”
PowerGrow Deep Water Culture System $59.99 None 1 5-gallon bucket
Water Garden Duo $99.99 None 3 13.4”x13.4”x9.5”
VEVOR Hydroponic Site $87.74 none 54 90”x29”x22”
Big Smart Indoor Hydroponics Growing System $119.00 None 27 20”x7”x7.85”
General Hydroponics GH4120 WaterFarm Complete  $98.34 None 1 12”x12”x18”
Viagrow Complete Ebb and Flow System $1,599.98 None 25 48”x43”x54”
General Hydroponics Ecogrower Drip System $388 None 6 26”x23”x18”
General Hydroponics WaterFarm 8-Pack Hydroponic Grow System $497.67 None 8 24.5”x24.5”x24.5”

Types of Hydroponic Systems

Most hydroponics systems fall into one or more of the following categories, including water culture, ebb and flow system (ebb & flow), a drip system (drip hydroponic system), the nutrient film technique and a wick system. Many of the grow systems listed here are based on these three different methods. There is also aquaponic systems and aeroponic systems, which are very specific types of hydroponics. Check out the difference between aeroponics vs hydroponics here.

Proper Grow Medium for Hydroponic Systems

One of the primary differences between hydroponics and other growing methods is the growing medium. With hydroponics, you don’t use soil and instead use mediums such as clay pebbles, rockwool, clay pellets, perlite, peat moss, vermiculite, etc. These mediums sit inside of a net pot so that the root system can grow through the growing medium and into the water.

The Bottom Line

A hydroponic growing system can be a great way to enjoy fresh veggies and herbs in your home all year round. Although each system will require a little bit of effort on your part, hydroponic gardening is generally less maintenance than a traditional garden. Plus, you can choose a size that suits your needs and your lifestyle. 

Which hydroponic system will find a place in your home?

By Patrick Chism

By Patrick Chism

Patrick likes to pretend that urban gardening is just a hobby, but he’s actually prepping for the apocalypse. He’s a practical grower, specializing in hydroponics systems and grow lights. His dream is to one day feed his family with just the food he grows in his Chicago-based condo.

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My husband and I are attempting to turn our tiny city condo into an urban gardening oasis. Join us on our journey toward sustainable living and making the most of our space.

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