A DIY project for an inexpensive DWC hydro system
A deep water culture (DWC) hydroponics system can be one of the simplest systems to make. In this build I tried to make one in a way I had not seen done before while utilizing some spare parts that were available. One of the goals of this project was that it be efficient. Air-powered pumps can be a great boost for efficiency because they fulfill two important factors in hydroponics – they can pump the water and they can also oxygenate the nutrient solution thereby promoting healthy roots. The price of this system is also attractive to anyone looking to try DIY hydroponics.
DWC Hydroponics on a budget
A system such as the one shown above can cost around $30 if you already have a bucket and an air-pump, $45 if you do not. The materials list for needed items is also easy to obtain in most locations and often times some are already on hand. I used parts from two Waterfarm kits but if you cut the tube carefully and get the extra barbed elbow I recommend below you should have enough materials.
- 5 gal bucket ($5)
- General Hydroponics Waterfarm replacement kit ($13) <Buy Here>
- 1″ uniseal (can be done without this if needed) ($3)
- 1″ PVC pipe ($4)
- extra barbed elbow ($3)
- 6″ net pot ($2)
- air pump ($10)
- Air tubing for air pump ($3
- bucket lid ($2)
As can be seen from the above photo all I needed was a drill, hole saw bit, dremel tool, and something to cut the tubing. The other materials in the above photo are the materials used to construct this DIY DWC air-powered hydroponics system. For a more complete view of the parts needed and how I assembled them please view the following photos.
The PVC pipe tube is what the Waterfarm kit piece rests in and I made a rounded notch in the top for the “T” fitting to rest in without moving around. I also put notches in the very bottom of the PVC pipe to allow water from the bucket to easily flow up when it starts to bubble and pump. If the PVC sits flush against the bottom of the bucket, you may have flow issues unless you add holes.
What to grow in the DWC hydro system?
As can be seen from the above photo I chose to put some chives into my new DWC hydroponics bucket system. This type of a hydroponics setup with the large single 6″ net pot is probably more ideal for larger plants but I happened to have chives on hand. Peppers would be a great choice to plant into a system like this as they grow rather large and have a good sized root mass other large herbs would also do well in a system such as this. For nutrients we are keeping it simple and inexpensive by utilizing General Hydroponics MaxiGro dry powder nutrients. A good idea if this unit is going to be growing outdoors in the sun might be to insulate the bucket with some reflective insulation because you really do not want your nutrient solution and your roots to get above 80º F. I will most likely end up using this design indoors underneath a LED UFO grow light that I got inexpensively off of Amazon.
A video of the Air-powered DWC build for good measure…
The Happy Cultivator made that YouTube video to show this DIY build in a little more detail. This do it yourself project is a fun way to spend an afternoon and won’t break the bank. You could even make multiple units and then run all of the DWC bucket systems off of a single larger air pump for even more efficiency. Hopefully you have enjoyed learning from this project and we hope that you too are a happy cultivator!
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