In recent years, hydroponic gardening has become a popular option for growing plants and seems like it could be a viable choice.
After all, this method of gardening promises quicker growth and better production.
However, it does require an investment and many people wonder if it’s really worth it.
Is It Cost-Effective?
The short answer is yes, hydroponic gardening is cost-effective. As mentioned, there is going to be an initial investment to get you up and running. However, once you do, you’ll wonder why you didn’t switch to this method of growing much sooner.
Now that you know that it’s cost-effective, let’s take a closer look at the specifics of this type of set up so that you understand exactly what you’re getting yourself into.
Set Up Cost for Hydroponics
When it comes to hydroponic system set up costs, it varies depending upon what system you choose.
There are several factors that affect the cost of the set up.
Some people choose this method of growing to get started in the farming industry, while others use it to take care of themselves and their loved ones.
Either way, since the system uses water instead of soil, there’s going to be more equipment involved.
Hydroponic Systems: 3 Types
As mentioned, the system that you choose has a major impact on what your overall set up cost is going to be.
There are three types of hydroponic systems:
- Low tech
- High tech
This is an option that is great for those on a budget.
You can either do a DIY set up or purchase a full unit.
Full units can be purchased for $50- $200, and the cost for a DIY project is approximately the same.
This is a system that you can purchase and install indoors or outdoors.
Typically, they include some type of lighting and higher-end tech, such as water flow controls.
These systems start at around $300 and go up to $1,000, depending on the size and features you choose.
The high-tech systems include complete controls and are ideal for farmers who want to start a business with them.
These systems will cost you tens of thousands.
Additional Factors Affecting Set Up Cost
In addition to the tech, there are other factors that have an effect on the cost of setting up a hydroponic system at home.
The four main factors that influence the price are:
- Additional Materials
We will take a closer look at each one of these below.
1. Type of System
There are several different types of hydroponic systems, and each one will require different elements and have different maintenance requirements.
For example, if you decided that you wanted to use the NFT or nutrient film technique, you need a water pump, but if you are using the wick technique, you won’t.
The type of system not only affects your set-up costs but also has an influence on your recurring expenses.
For example, if the system is a recovery system, your water bill won’t go up that much because the water is recirculated.
On the other hand, a non-recovery system requires fresh water to be added because it does not recirculate water. This means your water bill will increase with a non-recovery system.
Decision To Make: The lowest cost low-tech option is the Kratky method. For this, you only need to have basic materials and an opaque container with openings for your plants.
2. Size of System
Of course, the size of your system has a significant impact on the cost of your hydroponic set-up.
If you are getting into hydroponic gardening as a hobby, a small, inexpensive system is all you’ll need.
On the other hand, if you plan to produce a high volume, you’ll need a more expensive, larger system.
The type of crop you’ll be growing will also have an effect on the size system you need to have.
There are some systems that are only compatible with one type of plant per system, so you’ll need multiple systems if you plan to grow multiple plant types.
You also need to look at your available space and determine if you need a vertical or horizontal system.
For Example: A vertical system is typically capable of producing more per square foot than a horizontal system, but they are usually more expensive because they are high-tech.
3. System Control
Another influence on the cost of your system is how much control you have over it.
Control over aspects such as humidity levels, temperature, and water pressure is going to increase the cost.
For example, if you would like to integrate controlled environment tech into your system, your energy costs are going to increase each month.
Also, maintenance costs are higher because the high-tech systems require professional and specialized parts if something goes wrong and needs to be repaired.
On the other hand, if you have a low-tech system and something goes wrong, you can easily replace it if necessary. Of course, not having much control over environmental factors also has associated costs.
If your system is outdoors, you risk losing your crops to disease, weather conditions, and pest infestations.
Key Takeaway: When you have to replace plants and equipment, you spend more money, plus, if you were planning to sell your crops, dead plants equal lost profits.
4. Additional Materials
If there are any additional materials required by your hydroponic system, it will cost you extra on top of the initial system cost.
These costs are all lumped together in a DIY system, so the only additional expenses would be your recurring ones, such as growing medium and nutrient solutions.
On the other hand, a pre-built system may need additional prep to be ready for use and may require professional installation, which can be costly.
For example, even if everything is included for the system to function, you still may need to purchase growing mediums, a pH meter, lighting, and nutrient solution.
On the low end, lighting can cost $20 and can go up to hundreds, depending on how many lights you need, what size, and what type.
Finally: You will need to evaluate the space you have available. You may end up needing to rent or purchase new property to have the necessary space for your hydroponic set-up.
As you can see, a hydroponic set-up can be budget-friendly, or it can cost you a lot of money.
There are many factors that go into calculating the overall cost of setting up, but in the end, it can be worth it.
You can grow your own food to feed your family – or you can start a business! There is also the wonder is if it is better to grow Hydroponic plants indoors or outdoors.
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