There seems to be a lack of information when it come to aeroponics DIY. If you have searched Google for aeroponic system plans you know what I am talking about.
There is some info on homemade aeroponic systems but these are really just hybrid ebb and flow systems. Most use square vinyl fence posts or PVC pipe. This type of system works well but it is not aeroponics because there isn’t enough room for roots to hang suspended and be sprayed. I wont even go down the true/ high pressure vs false/low pressure aeroponics rabbit hole.
I built one of these hybrid systems, actually it was a low pressure aeroponics system using Rubbermaid totes. It worked pretty well too. But I was setting plants from my RainForest in these totes and watching my beautiful fish bone roots slowly deteriorate. My yields were decent but I believe they can be higher by maintaining healthier roots.[sociallocker]
I was using EZ Clone spray heads in my system. They work great, rarely clog but use a ton of water. The problem with this was my roots were getting hosed instead of misted.
To my knowledge no one is offering a ready made true aeroponic system at this time. So if you want one you have to build it yourself. There are scattered posts around the internet that talk about these systems but most seemed way over complicated.
Many of the growers that took up true aeroponics are engineering or techie types that seem to have lost site of the fact they are growing plants and focus on their systems. They think they have to grow like NASA even though they are not going to Mars.
Do I really care if my sprayer drips a drop of water when it shuts down? More importantly do my plants care? And will my grow really be a failure if some of my droplets are larger than 50 microns?
They also seem to have bottomless pockets. I just want to grow with a diy aeroponic system that doesn’t cost a fortune to build and doesn’t require an engineering degree to run it. So I decided to build my own high pressure aeroponic system.
Updated High Pressure Aeroponics System
The plans that follow are great and will do a good job for you. I have been getting some really good and trouble free grows with this system. But I am always looking to improve. I have built a totally new DIY Aeroponics New High Pressure Aeroponics DIY Plans that you may want to check out.
My DIY aeroponics system cost me about 300 dollars to build. It has only 2 totes right now but I can add as many more as I want. Maybe it’s not as cheap as a homemade DWC bucket system but it is a lot cheaper than General Hydro’s Aeroflow and that is really just an ebb and flow system on steroids.
The main expense is the Aquatec 8800 booster pump, followed by the misting heads. The 18 gallon Rubbermaid totes are less than $10 each at Home Depot. Basically all you need is a drill, a hole saw and a couple of spade bits to build this.
I looked at a lot of different nozzles and misters, foggers etc and many don’t even give a droplet size. In the end I chose to use reptile misting nozzles because they are easy to install and provide the 50 micron size I was looking for. They also don’t use a lot of water which in turn means I can mix smaller amounts of nutrients.
There are two places you can get this stuff and the tubing and fittings you need. They are MistKing.com and ReptileBasics.com. I chose to go with MistKing because I liked the design of their misting heads better. They looked to be wider and would fit on either side of my center row, which is what I wanted. They also sell tubing by the foot while Reptile Basics only sold 100 foot rolls and I didn’t need a spare left over 80 foot roll of tubing laying around. Be warned though shipping is expensive! My order was $185 but cost $27 to ship.
I have found better misting heads and no longer recommend reptile misters. They are too expensive and all the articulation is actually detrimental as they can move and roots get caught on them because they stick out. Here is what I am using now:
Unfortunately the links for these seem to keep changing on Amazon even though the sellers have them in stock.
They are sold by Pro Water Parts an Amazon storefront and they have most of the fittings you need too. They work great just wish the sellers made them easier to find. Type nozzles into the search and they should come up. They come in black and white and both are identical.
After looking around I found this pump on Amazon and shipping is only $8.99. It is actually a little better than the pump I bought because it’s the same 80 psi output but with the adapters you can run either 1/4 or 3/8 tubing if you are running a lot of misters.
I really like this pump and it has an adjustable bypass so you can crank the pressure up. My “reptile” pump did not have this.
Parts For Aeroponics DIY Build
To build a two tote aeroponic system you will need:
- Aquatec 8800 Booster Pump
- 4 tee double misting heads
- 20 feet 1/4 inch tubing
- One 1/4 X 1/4 X1/4 tee
- Three 1/2inch ebb and flow drains
- 3 – 18 gallon Rubbermaid totes
- 8 feet 1/2 inch tubing
- 1/2 inch tee
Putting Your Diy Aeroponic System Together
I use Rubbermaid 18 gallon totes. Others leak, these don’t and they are cheap and readily available. They also are tall so your roots will have lots of room to hang down.
You may want to build a platform for your totes. Mine are raised about 6 inches higher than the reservoir. This allows them to drain better but also allows you to adjust how much water remains in the tote bottoms too.
First you will need to cut holes in your lids to hold the net pots. You can use either 2 or 3 inch net pots for this. I would recommend using the 3″ pots. The 2″ pots are popular in many diy builds but they are too constricting if your plants have vigorous roots and they are not stable. You will have to stake your plants because they will tip. With three inch pots the plants will stand on their own unless very large and top heavy. Larger net pots are available but are a waste of space and not needed.
You will need a hole saw. Do not use a 3″ hole saw because the hole will be too large for most net pots, only GeneralHydro’s net pots will fit a 3 inch hole and all others will fall through. You will need a 2 7/8″ hole saw for 3 inch pots and a 1 7/8 inch saw if you decide to go with the 2 inch net pots.
These are not common sizes and you probably won’t find them in stock at Lowes or Home Depot. I got mine here.
Decide how many plant sites you want in each lid. I used 12 but you can lay it out any way you want. You can possibly squeeze 5 spots in a row but I didn’t because I was concerned the lids would be too weak to support that many plants
I chose three rows with a spray head on either side of the center row. I think 12 slots is a good number of plants. You don’t need to use them all. I just stick a party cup in the ones I am not using.
I used masking tape in 3 rows and then measured about 5 inch centers. It helps if you already have your net pots because you can lay them on the lid and visualize things.
Installing The Spray Heads
The spray heads come assembled with a bulkhead and for mine I drilled a 5/8″ hole with a spade bit. You can get these anywhere if you don’t already have one. The hole was very snug. You simply unscrew the nut on the end and push the bulk head through the inside of the tub and then tighten it.
I used the mold line as a guide for the height of my misting heads and centered them. The nozzles are adjustable up/down and left/right.
They are running in the above pic but you really cant see the mist in the photo. It fills the entire tote. The mist is very fine. When you put your hand in you cant even feel any water, just a cool sensation. But when you take it out after a few seconds it is completely wet. Plant roots are going to love this.
Installing The Drains
You are going to drill your drain holes next. You will need to get your drain fittings and measure them because there is no standard hole size. Mine were 1 1/8″ but yours could be larger or smaller. I used 1/2 inch fittings and 1/2 inch tubing. You can see my totes are raised above the reservoir. You can add as many totes as you want, just by adding more tees.
The fittings I used were designed for ebb and flow drains but you could substitute rubber grommets for the bulkheads without any problems if you want to.
There is a slight curve at the bottom of the tote and I was concerned about the bulkheads possibly leaking so I drilled my holes a bit above the tote bottom. This leaves about 3/4 inch of water in the bottom. I could e;eliminate this by slightly raising the rear of the totes. But I think its a good idea for two reasons. In the event of a power failure the roots have a source of moisture and it also allows any crud to settle.
Plumbing The Misting Heads
The misting heads are set up on a closed loop system, that way the pressure is equal at all the heads. If you set them up in a line the one at the end will have less pressure. The loop starts at a tee and wraps around the outside of the totes.
Here is a John Guest stem tee pushed into the bulkhead. There are other manufacturers but they all work the same. This system uses 1/4″ tubing rated at 250 psi. The tubing needs to be cut square . You can do this with a knife, razor blade or even sharp scissors. Make sure you push the tubing all the way in or you may have leaks. THE FITTING WILL GRAB THE TUBING BEFORE IT IS EVEN ALL THE WAY IN SO KEEP PUSHING UNTIL YOU FEEL IT HIT THE STOP INSIDE.
Here is the pump. You can see the tee connected to the output side of the pump. One side of the tee connects to the rear misting heads and the other to the front ones. Finally at the end the last heads, front and rear are connected together making a closed loop. This is why you want tees on all your misting heads.
I have tried this using ells for the end misters and it doesn’t work near as well. This is how golf courses can run multiple sprinklers all having the same flow.
Another shot at the pump and tee take off. You can just see the intake going into the tote.
Water Filtration To Prevent Clogging
I used a 10 micron filter bag. Unless something drops right in the filter sock there is absolutely no way anything can get into the spray heads.
These filter bags are machine washable and should last indefinitely. They are 7″ wide x 16″ tall which makes them a perfect height for these totes.
This may be a hard item to find locally. Get one here
You Need A Timer For Your Aeroponic System
If you run the pump all the time you will be defeating the whole purpose of an aeroponic system. The roots need time to dry out so you must cycle your spraying. Most timers can not give you a proper cycle because they are designed to work on 15 minute intervals. Tat is too long to water and too long to leave the roots dry.
You need a seconds timer that will allow short 30 to 60 second on cycles and will allow several minutes between cycles.
Easy to use and you can run it days and or nights with adjustments from 1 second on to 1 second every 24 hours. I have mine set to run for 1 minute on and 5 minutes off.
I have been using this timer for over 6 months now with no problems at all. Why spend more for a CAP DNE that has less settings?
Aeroponics DIY In A Nutshell
So there you have it. DIY aeroponics – a 24 site true aeroponic system for under $300 It really is a pretty easy build. I am probably going to add a third tote for 36 sites.
Some people may want to add an accumulator and solenoids but I don’t think they are necessary. The pump runs on 24 volts so power consumption is negligible. It is self priming and can even be run dry without damage. Pressure builds up fast in a closed loop system so I don’t worry about needing an accumulator. I can always tailor my cycle in one second intervals if I find too much of the cycle is being spent pressurizing.
Stay tuned because I will be taking it on a trial run with my favorite strain C 99.
DIY Aeroponics Update
I added a third tote to my system and used misting heads I ordered from Reptile Basics. They were shipped promptly and shipped priority mail so I had them in a few days.
They work fine too, but with that said the Mist King heads are a better product. They are put together better and adjust easier. Also the spray heads from Reptile Basics do not have a bulkhead included. You can use them as is, but you will only want to drill a 1/4 inch hole for them.
The Mist King sprayers are put together with stem tees and the others have standard John Guest fittings held together with short pieces of tubing. They feel kind of funky. Also the tubing RB uses is not as rigid and is harder to insert and the fittings do not grab it as well for some reason.[/sociallocker]
Meanwhile my new system is working quite well and my plants are doing quite well in it.