Water Pumps for Hydroponics
Reviews of the Best Pumps for your Hydroponic System
Water pumps play a crucial role in a hydroponic system because they allow water to move efficiently throughout the system. Without an efficient flow of nutrients and water, plants will not receive the nutrition, hydration, and aeration they need to stay healthy. So how do you choose the correct water pump for your indoor system? There are several types of pumps and plenty of different sizes to consider. Let’s first take a look at what you need to know about water pumps for hydroponics, and then review some of the best options for your particular system.
There are two main types of hydroponic water pumps – inline and submersible. Inline pumps are air-cooled and are place outside of the tank. Submersible pumps are water-cooled, placed directly in the water of hydroponic reservoirs, and use fittings and hoses to transport the water within a system. Since inline pumps are mainly used in large-scale hydroponics operations, most hobbyists should just be concerned with submersible pumps.
Because of their limited power, submersible pumps are really only suitable for hydroponic systems with a total GPH (Gallons Per Hour) requirement of 1200 or less. This should be more than adequate for most home growers. Inline pumps are so powerful that they are not measured in GPH, but rather in HP (horsepower).
You may also hear the term sump pump in hydroponics terminology. This type of pump can be used to transport water from between sump tanks or to mix nutrients inside a sump tank. A submersible pump also does the job of oxygenating the water and helping maintain consistency within the system.
Many hydroponic growers use air pumps help provide extra aerating to the nutrient solution (water and nutrient mix). Aeration to the root zone is crucial to avoiding anaerobic decomposition.
And lastly, peristaltic pumps are sometimes used for auto-dosing types of hydroponic systems. For the most part, submersible pumps and air pumps are most likely the types of pumps you should consider as a home grower, so let’s dig a little deeper into those.
Submersible water pumps for hydroponics are measured in GPH (Gallons Per Hour). This type of pump is suitable for hydroponic systems that need 1200 GPH or less (this includes most home growers and even some smaller-scale commercial grow operations). It is recommended that you choose a water pump that will give you at least twice the water you will need to meet the minimum GPH of your system to avoid water shortage issues. If your pump has a flow restricting function, you can reduce the pump’s flow volume if you find it to be too much. If your pump is “fixed flow,” you will not be able to make this adjustment.
As you look to purchase your water pump, notice the number listed on the packaging. This number means the maximum GPH the pump will allow (ex, 500 GPH would allow up to 500 GPH). Some pumps give a range of – say – 400 – 600 GPH. This is because the pump has two adapters to limit the flow to either 400 or 600 GPH depending on how you set it up. Note that the maximum GPH is only at ground or water level (or one foot high depending on the model you choose). The higher the pump will need to transport the water above the surface, the lower the GPH it will end up putting out (called the “Head Height”). The pump manufacturer will often include a chart inside the packaging which lists the maximum GPH at various heights.
Since water pumps are measured in gallons is per hour, you can calculate the gallons per minute by simply dividing the gallons per hour by 60. This is an important consideration if you are buying a pump for a ebb and flow/flood and drain system because you will only flood the grow trays/beds for a short duration. To illustrate the point, if you will need 50 gallons of water volume to flood your hydroponic system, and you want it to completely flood within 10 minutes, then that would be 1/6th of an hour (50 x 6 = 300 GPH) . This would equal 5 gallons per minute, or 300 gallons per hour as a minimum requirement.
Here are some of the most popular and best submersible water pumps for hydroponics.
You may be considering other items when purchasing your water pumps for hydroponics. There may include tubing and connectors as well as air stones to oxygenate your system. Here are a few items to get you started: