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Best Hydroponics Systems

Expert Reviews & Buying Guide

quadcopter reviewsBest Hydroponics Systems

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How to Pick a Hydroponics System

Hydroponics grow systems are the easiest way to get incredible grow results. Everything you need to start indoor growing is included. To help you find the best hydroponic grow kits we’ve researched 20 new and bestselling models and picked the top 10. So if you’re looking for a great hydroponics system to buy, we’ve got your back. In the reviews below you’ll find setups for beginners all the way up to advanced users and for both small and large growing operations. Now: Before we jump into the reviews, here are the most important features to keep an eye on when buying.

Best Hydroponics Systems

Type: The two types of hydroponic systems you’ll see here are Deep Water Culture (DWC) and Ebb and Flow (EAF). EAF tends to be more efficient and better for plants that prefer dry conditions, while DWC is easier to set up and maintain for beginners.

Best Hydroponics Systems

Growing Sites: How many pots or buckets are included with the hydroponic system determines how many plants you can grow. Getting a grow kit that’s too big or too small can make your setup less efficient, so plan ahead.

How to Pick a Hydroponics System

Bucket Size: Measured in gallons, the bucket size will give you an idea of how big the plants you put into the hydro grow system can get. Don’t try to set up a plant in a bucket it’s going to outgrow unless you want to transplant it later.

Best Hydroponics Systems

Active: All of the top grow kits on our list use active hydroponics systems to pump water to your plants. This is a more advanced technique than passive hydroponics and usually, results in improved growth and better results.

Best Hydroponics Systems

Expandable: Some beginners may want expandable hydroponic kits if they expect their growing needs to get bigger as time goes on. Expandable kits are convenient but not always necessary, depending on your plans.

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Weight: Measured in pounds, the overall weight of the hydroponic grow system can affect where you set it up and whether it’s a convenient option for you. Remember that these setups get heavier once you add water.

Top 10 Products

All right, now that you know what to look for let’s check out the hydroponics system reviews. At the top of the list are our overall top pick and our budget pick, then eight other hydroponics systems runner ups. All of them offer high quality and good value. Some are designed for beginners, while others are made for more advanced users, so we hope you’ll find the right one for you and your experience level somewhere along the way. Happy growing!

General Hydroponics GH4720

Top Pick
Our top pick is an Ebb and Flow setup that has eight 11-gallon growing sites that can be expanded up to twelve on a single controller. This is one of the best hydroponic system options for medium to large growing operations due to the number and size of the buckets. As is, it has a 13-gallon reservoir and an 8-gallon controller unit. The system includes installation hardware and materials, as well as General Hydroponics Flora Series nutrients to get you started. This is an EAF system, so it can be very low-maintenance once you have it set up. However, due to its size as well as its hydroponics type, this hydroponics kit may not be a good option for beginners. This system is ideal for encouraging root growth and for helping plants to thrive quickly. A benefit of the “bucket” style is their versatility in spaces that are a bit cramped. This is a great grow room kit for people looking for an EAF that can be set up wherever there’s space, rather than needing to devote a large area to it. An air pump ensures the nutrients are evenly mixed with the water before it is delivered to your plants.
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PowerGrow DWC Bubbler 4

Budget Pick
For those of you who don’t need tons of growing sites and so on, cheap hydroponics systems ideal for beginners are plentiful. This hydroponic starter kit from PowerGrow uses the Deep Water Culture system with four 5-gallon buckets that are FDA-approved. The kit comes with an air pump, air lines, air stones, and net pot bucket lids. Each bucket has a drain and a water level indicator, so you never have to wonder if your plants are feeling “thirsty.” Each bucket is its own “reservoir,” which can make full water replacements a hassle, but it’s still easier than making your own setup from scratch. These grow kits are easy to set up and expand, so if your hydro needs grow, you don’t have to toss your old system. All you need to get started with this DWC system is growing medium and your seeds or plants. The bucket size means you can grow medium to large plants easily. Large plants can be stunted and not reach their full potential if they feel “cramped.” The bucket style is easy to work with no matter the size of your growing space, too. Overall, this is a good cheap hydro system for beginners who want to get started immediately.
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HTG Supply Bubble Brothers

The HTG Supply Bubble Brothers DWC hydroponic system has six 3.5-gallon buckets with low profiles that help save space and a larger-than-average air pump for powerful bubbling action. This medium-sized setup includes net-pot lids, two-inch air stones, and fifty feet of ¼-inch air tubing to put it all together. You also get a 10-liter bag of clay pebble grow medium, so all that’s missing from your grow room supplies are some plants and some nutrients (and light, duh)! The only downside of the powerful air pump is that it can be noisier than other air pump designs, but any air pump is bound to make some sound, anyway. You can choose the length of the tubing leading to the buckets, which gives you some freedom in how you position your buckets based on the space available. We recommend this system for small to medium-sized growing setups. The bucket size can suit medium-sized plants and also help prevent plants that like to get big from getting too tall or too large in general. In short, this is a good hydro system that offers solid quality and a good price.
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General Hydroponics EcoGrower

An alternative to the bucket style of hydroponics system is an enclosed all-in-one design. This Deep Water Culture hydroponics kit has six one-gallon growing sites with a 17-gallon reservoir. The whole thing needs a space of about two by two feet, so it’s very compact. It uses a spider drip system driven by an Elite 800 air pump. The hexagonal reservoir ensures maximum volume in the smallest space. The kit also includes lid inserts, net cups, a pumping column, CocoTek liners, quarter-inch air line, clay pebbles, and Flora nutrients. So if you’re looking for all-in-one hydroponic systems for sale, what are you waiting for? The one-gallon bucket size is good for smaller plants but can also handle medium ones if needed. Beginners and more advanced hydro growers can benefit from the EcoGrower, whether you just want a basic system or have an extensive year-round plan and need to add a little something to it. The drip system can be used as needed to give plants extra water as you see fit but isn’t usually necessary for the best growth results.
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PowerGrow DWC Bubbler 8

This PowerGrow DWC hydroponics kit has eight five-gallon, FDA-approved buckets for medium to large growing setups. The kit is expandable and comes with an air pump, air lines, air stones, and basket lids. Each bucket has a drain and water level indicator. The pump can be a bit loud, but at least you know it’s working! It’s also a common issue with more powerful and more effective pumps. This kit is the larger cousin to our budget pick, so if you liked the budget pick but want a bigger system, this one might be the winner! You just need growing medium, nutrients, and some plant babies to get started. The five-gallon bucket size allows you to grow large plants to their full potential since they have plenty of room to stretch out their roots. If you’re looking for a budget hydroponics system for a medium to large-sized grow, you can do quite a bit with this bubbler bucket setup. The long hose and bucket style give you plenty of options as to how and where you set up the buckets. This is ideal for limited spaces like grow tents or grow rooms already packed with plants.
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General Hydroponics AeroFlo 18

The Aeroflo from General Hydroponics is another contained hydroponics system that comes with everything you need to get started. The whole system takes up very little floor space despite a 17-gallon reservoir. The eighteen buckets are split up into three rows, each four feet long. The system also comes with a pump, injection manifold, support structure to hold up the other ends of the rows, CocoTek Coco cups, Hydroton, and a three-part Flora kit. Each of the growing sites measures three inches across, so this should not be used for growing and maintaining large plants. However, for small plants that mature to three feet or less in height, or for starting larger plants, the buckets are ideal. So, if you want to get a lot of hydroponic seedlings started up or supplement your existing grow setup, this hydro system is a good option. It works best as an “accent” to a setup with larger buckets but may work as a standalone if you want to get ahead on spring plantings in actual dirt.
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H2OtoGro Complete Kit

We like complete hydroponic grow kits that include nutrients and growing mediums to help jumpstart the process - they make great grow kits for beginners. This H20toGro kit is one of them. The Deep Water Culture setup has an all-in-one contained design taking up just 18 by 12.5 inches of floor space. It has buckets similar in size to the General Hydroponics Aeroflo, but a lower number of them. As a result, this kit is more beginner-friendly. The buckets are made of food-grade polyethylene, similar to other FDA-approved buckets on our list of hydroponics kits. The reservoir in the container has a water level indicator, so you’ll always know if your plants are thirsty. The indicator is blue to help prevent algae from growing inside the reservoir. Emptied out, the system weighs just six pounds but can weigh up to 30 pounds when full of water. You get all of the tubing you need, a lid, net cups, an air pump and air stone, and a water pump and drippers. We said complete, didn’t we? This is a neat little system for beginners or people with small or medium-sized setups that want a kit for starting plants or supplement their current setup. The contained design is light and relatively small, so it’s very convenient for tight spaces as well.
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Viagrow Ebb & Flow

If you want everything you need to get going with ebb and flow hydroponics, this system from Viagrow provides a full setup as well as a 50-liter bag of Viagrow grow rocks--just add light and nutrients. The included grow rocks are designed for flood and drain (or EAF) hydroponics systems, providing high oxygen access to plant roots. The ten one-gallon buckets sit in a two by four-foot food-grade flood tray over a 20-gallon reservoir (also food-grade). This ebb and flow hydroponic system also comes with flood and drain tubing, a Viagrow 211 GPH Submersible Pump with a reusable pre-filter, and a grounded multi-pin timer for watering and feeding. The stand for the tray is made of sturdy steel, and the whole system is easy to set up. If you want to grow small and medium-sized plants in a small space with the efficient ebb and flow technology, the Viagrow system is a good choice. The number of pots can support a small garden or supplement your current hydroponics equipment. Ebb and flow is ideal for people looking for a hybrid between traditional gardening and Deep Water Culture hydroponics, and this medium-sized system can sustain plenty of plant life.
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GH Power Grower GH4830

General Hydroponics has some great hydroponic kits for beginners and more advanced users, and the PowerGrower GH4830 is one of them. It has a space-efficient hexagonal design for integrating with larger systems. It measures 16 by 13 by 15.5 inches, and the three-gallon bucket can grow a variety of different sizes of plants! It has a 5.7-gallon reservoir and can be used with other General Hydroponics controller systems. This setup is easy to add to existing systems or can be used as a stand-alone system. Included with the kit are a pumping column, column support tube, drip ring, ½-inch grommet, drain level tube, air pump, nine liters of Hydroton, and three-part Flora nutrients. An all-in-one design with growing materials included is a good feature to look for in hydroponics systems for beginners. The single growing site on the PowerGrower makes it less useful for larger setups, but if you want to grow one or two plants rather than eight or more, this small DWC system might be ideal for you. One upside of this small system is it requires a basic air pump that isn’t as loud as some larger systems can be.
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Hydrofarm Aqua Grow Flow Ebb

This hydroponic ebb and flow system has 12 two-gallon buckets that can be expanded up to 48 buckets for the ambitious hydro grower. The controller can be set from six to 48 buckets, so this system can also handle the ebb and flow of growing cycles, not just water! The 55-gallon reservoir is designed to stand up to the tax, too, and the individual buckets can be placed wherever is most convenient. The Grow Flow system also has overflow protection thanks to an emergency shut-off valve that is triggered when the float valve stops working. Also included with the kit are quart-sized bottles of the classic three-part Flora Series of nutrients. To get started, just grab some plants, and your grow medium of choice. This system is ideal for medium to large growing setups and people who want to customize and expand their hydroponics system. The fail-safe overflow protection can be a real lifesaver - or at least a floor-saver. The included instructions are a little vague, so people with prior experience with EAF systems and hydroponics may be more comfortable setting up this unit. It can be a good investment if you want to expand your current system but want a system that can handle lots of buckets in the future. There is plenty of room to grow here, in more than one way.
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