While the concept of the aeroponic system is quite simple, it's
actually the most technical of all 6 types of hydroponic systems.
However it's still fairly easy to build your own basic aeroponic
system, and a lot of home growers like growing in them as well, and
even get really good results using this type of hydroponic system.
with any other type of hydroponic system, you can use many different
kinds of materials to build it, as well as many different types of
design setups to fit in your space. Your really only limited by the
space you have, and your imagination.
advantages to using an aeroponic systems are they typically use little
to no growing media. The roots get maximum oxygen, and the plants grow
more rapidly as a result. Aeroponic systems also generally use less
water than any other type of hydroponic system (especially true
aeroponic systems). Also harvesting is usually easier, especially for
However there are a few downsides to
aeroponic systems as well. Besides being a bit more expensive to build.
The mister/sprinkler heads can clog from build up of the dissolved
mineral elements in the nutrient solution. So make sure to have extras
on hand to swap out when they do clog while you clean them. Also
because the plants roots are hanging in mid air by design in aeroponic
systems, the plants roots are much more vulnerable to drying out if
there is any interruption in the watering cycle. Therefor, even any
temporary power outage (for any reason) could cause your plants to die
much more quickly than any other type of hydroponic system. Also
there's a reduced margin for error with the nutrient levels in
aeroponic systems, especially the true high pressure systems.
What you'll need to build your own basic Aeroponic system:
- Container to hold the nutrient solution (a reservoir).
- Submersible fountain/pond pump.
- Tubing to distribute water from the reservoir pump to the mister heads in the growing chamber.
- Enclosed growing chamber for the root zone.
- Mister/sprinkler heads.
- Water tight container for the growing chamber where the plants root systems will be.
- Tubing to return the excess nutrient solution back to the reservoir.
- Timer (preferably a cycle timer) to turn on and off the pump.
the aeroponic system operates is a fairly easy concept. First the
purpose of the roots hang in mid air is so they can get the maximum
amount of oxygen that they can get. The high volume of oxygen the roots
get allows the plans to grow faster than they would otherwise, and the
main benefit to this type of hydroponic system.
there is typically very little if any growing media is used, exposing
all the plants roots. The plants are suspended either by small baskets,
or closed cell foam plugs that compress around the plants stem. These
baskets or foam plugs fit in small holes at the top of the growing
chamber. The roots hang down inside the growing chamber where they get
sprayed with nutrient solution from mister heads at regular short
cycles. The regular watering cycles keep the roots moist and from
drying out, as well as provides the nutrients the plants need to grow.
growing chamber the roots are in should be light proof, and almost air
tight. It does need to allow fresh air in so the roots can get plenty
of oxygen, but you don't want water to spill out, or pests to get in.
Also you want the root chamber to hold in humidity. Ultimately what you
want is the roots to get plenty of moisture, fresh oxygen, and
nutrients. A a well designed aeroponics system provides a good balance
of all three of those elements to the roots at the same time.
a major factor in aeroponic systems is the water droplet size. Roots
sprayed with a fine mist will grow much faster, bushier, and with more
surface area to absorb nutrients and oxygen with than roots sprayed
with small streams of water like from small sprinkler heads. That
translates into the plant canopy growing more rapidly as well.
Aeroponic system types are categorized by the water droplet size.
There are three types of Aeroponic SystemsLow pressure Aeroponic Systems (soakaponics)
termed "soakaponics" low pressure aeroponic systems are what most
people are familiar with when they think of aeroponics. That's mainly
because most all aeroponic systems sold at stores selling hydroponics
supply's are low pressure systems. While the low pressure systems work
very nicely, the large water droplet size is much different than in the
high pressure systems.
The main reason the low pressure
aeroponic systems are so popular is that they don't require much more
in the way of cost or special equipment than other types of hydroponic
systems. The simplicity and low cost of low pressure systems makes this
type of aeroponic system very attractive to many home growers.
you don't need any special equipment or a special water pump. The
standard fountain/pond pumps will do just fine. You do however want a
pump that's stronger than you would for any other type of hydroponic
system. That's the main and most important difference. That's because
the pressure in the system will drop some with each sprinkler head you
add. Fountain and pond pumps don't give a psi (pressure) rating, but
the more GPH (gallons per hour) it can put out closer to the "max head
height" the stronger (more pressure) the pump has.
will want enough sprinkler heads that the spray overlaps, and
completely covers the entire root zone. Even as the plants get bigger
and the root mass gets bigger. As the root mass gets big, it's often
hard for the spray from the sprinkler heads to penetrate the thick root
mass. If you design your low pressure aeroponic system so the roots are
sprayed from above the root mass or near the top of it, the water will
trickle down through the root mass much better than trying to spray
them from below. High pressure Aeroponic Systems (true aeroponic systems)
the low pressure systems are the most common, high pressure aeroponic
systems are the "true aeroponic" systems. That's because it takes the
higher pressure (60-90 psi) to properly atomize the water into a fine
mist with a very small water droplet size. This fine mist allows the
roots to get a lot more oxygen than in low pressure systems. However
it's more complicated and expensive to build a high pressure aeroponic
What you'll need to build your own true high pressure Aeroponic system:
- Accumulator tank (to act as the pressurized reservoir tank).
- Solenoid valve (to open and close the feed line to the mister heads).
- Cycle timer (to open and close the solenoid valve).
- Fine spray mister heads (to spray the roots with a fine mist).
- Small air compressor (to pressurize the accumulator tank).
- Enclosed growing chamber for the root zone.
- A collection reservoir to collect the runoff if you plan to recirculate the nutrient solution.
the basic design of the growing chamber and plant support can remain
the same as with low pressure systems. The water (nutrient solution)
delivery system is much different. Because of how often a pump would
need to turn on and off (100's to 1,000's of times a day) it
would ware out very quickly. So the water pump is eliminated in high
pressure aeroponic systems.
To do that they pressurize the
reservoir. The easiest way to do that is by using an accumulator tank
similar to the type used in RO (reverse osmosis) water systems. It's
basically nothing more than a tank with a rubber divider/diaphragm in
the center, creating two sides. Water (nutrient solutions) goes in one
side, and compressed air goes in the other. The air is filled until the
pressure reaches about 60 to 90 psi. That pressure pushes against the
rubber diaphragm and pressurizes the reservoir side with the nutrient
solution in it to the same psi.
A water line runs
from the reservoir to the mister heads in the enclosed growing chamber
to mist the roots. A Solenoid valve is used to open and close the water
flow through the line to the mister heads. The Solenoid valve open and
close timing is controlled by a cycle timer. The cycle timer can open
and close the Solenoid for as little as one second, to as long as the
grower wants. Typically it's open/on for just a few seconds at a time,
and off for only minutes before it sprays again. The cycle timer opens
and closes the solenoid watering the plants roots with mist on this
type of "on/off cycle" all day long.Ultrasonic foggers
foggers have also been used to create a mist in aeroponic systems,
however with mixed results. Ultrasonic foggers are most commonly used
to create visual displays in ponds, as well as on stage. They are also
often sold around halloween with the halloween decorations too. While
they do create a mist with a very small water droplet size, there is
very little actual moisture in the mist/fog.
The mist created
from ultrasonic foggers also tends to drop to the bottom of the
container. Making it hard to make sure the roots are completely covered
by the mist all the time. Another issue with using foggers is that the
plates tend to clog with mineral build up. The only plates that have
shown to work with any reliability are the more expensive Teflon heads.
They can sometimes be cleaned using white vinegar, or water and pH
down, and wiping them off with a Q-tip. Some growers have combined
using ultrasonic foggers along with the low pressure aeroponic design
in the same system.