Pump Question for Homemade Aeroponic System

by Bev
(Stowe, VT)

I just completed building an aeroponic system, similar to the one you show on your site. My question is, do I have to keep the pump running constantly? I don't love the noise, and I'm worried the plants are getting too wet. Thanks for your advice.

Answer: Bev- for all of the benefits that go with aeroponics, your problem highlights one of the drawbacks. Most hydroponic systems use some sort of medium in which to grow your plants. This not only provides physical support for the plants, but the mass of grow media also absorbs a certain amount of water (and nutrients).

The grow media acts as a protective "buffer zone" to the roots against temperature change or drying out. This allows you to turn your pump off in between irrigation cycles. Some grow media requires less irrigation, like rockwool, and other grow media requires more irrigation, like expanded clay pellets.

In an aeroponic system, the "grow media" is air. This provides the least protection as a buffer zone, therefore requires the most frequent irrigation in order to maintain root zone temperature and moisture levels (and prevent damage). The standard irrigation strategy in an aeroponic system is to use a 1-5 timer....this is a timer that turns your pump on for one minute every five minutes. Unfortunately, the only other option would be to run the pump constantly.

To reduce the noise, you could try building a well insulated sound-proof box in which to keep your nutrient reservoir (but I have never seen this strategy work out very well). One final suggestion is to convert the aeroponic system to a DWC system, similar to the one on this page. It would be much quieter, does not require you to purchase any grow media, and the results you get from the system would be nearly the same as an aeroponic system.

Hope this helps you out, and Happy Growing!

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Dec 31, 2009
by: Bev

Ok, I am confused- my system looks very much like the one on this page:

homemade aeroponic system

and it is described as aeroponics, but I have used baskets with small rockwool cubes, surrounded in LECA. The water level is about 1 1/2" in the PVC pipes; I think the baskets don't actually touch the water. The spray lines are spraying at each basket.
So, how often do I need to run the pump? Thanks!

Answer: Bev- with a purely aeroponic system, there would be no need for any standing water in the bottom of the pipes. In this case, you could either leave the pump on 24 hours a day, or else you could get a timer to control the pump- the standard in aeroponics is one minute on, four minutes off. The important thing is to keep the roots from drying out.

If the water level in the pipes were high enough to submerge some of the LECA stone in the baskets, you might than be able to get away with turning your pump off for longer periods (since your plant roots would be partially submerged and since the LECA would wick up some of the water, creating a moist environment for the roots). In this case, the system would function like the DWC system on this page.

If you end up going this route, it is important that you add an air stone to your nutrient reservoir to keep the nutrient solution highly oxygenated. Hope this helps!

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Hi everyone, Jason from Jason's Indoor Guide here. When I got started with hydroponic gardening more than 24 years ago, my first garden used rockwool cubes and B.C. Nutrients....and I remember thinking to myself yeah, sure, there may be a lot of advantages to gardening with hydroponics, for example there are very few pest problems, therefore very little pest control, no weeding, no plowing or tilling the soil, no soil testing or having to add things into the garden soil, no watering the garden....but for someone who just wants to grow their own vegetables and have more control over their food supply and the quality of the food that they eat, the cost of constantly having to buy grow media and hydroponic nutrients makes this an expensive hobby for most people...

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As you browse through Jason's Indoor Guide, you will notice all of the systems that I use personally are homemade systems. As I got 3 or 4 years of experience under my belt, I quickly adopted a preference to standing water systems and systems that use expanded clay pellets or lava rock, because the media is re-usable and it eliminates a huge operating expense. So once a hydroponic system is built, garden maintenance is minimal- check and adjust the nutrient solution daily, and to change it completely every 2 weeks....and the biggest operating cost is the hydroponic nutrients. (and the electric bill, lol)...

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