The benefits may exceed the costs
Indoor gardening is a fantastic and rewarding experience, especially if you happen to live in a climate that does not allow you to garden all year. Gardening indoors can potentially mean growing in a greenhouse or sun-room but could just as easily include growing in a basement or other enclosed area. Hopefully you can grow in a location that will receive some free light from the sun as that will help reduce costs associated with growing indoors. If you make some smart choices there are other ways to keep costs down however. We will explore the costs associated with an indoor hydroponics garden because we are not going to speak at length on the savings of putting a soil pot in front of a window – too obvious. Hydroponics is a higher form of gardening technology but it often involves some basic components which consume energy.
Hydroponic components and yields
Most indoor hydroponic gardens will require grow lights or at least supplemental lighting if you get some of your light from a window. Depending on which kind of light you choose, there can be some energy savings. Most hydro systems will involve a pump of some kind either to move water, air, or both. Timers can be used to automate and reduce power consumption. There are many different hydroponics configurations possible from the small to the massive. We will focus on the home hydroponics system that we use which was designed for indoor use next to a window with some overhead supplemental lighting. For more information on the SFT Hydroponics system we are using check out the plans eBook on that build. With this type of system we are able to grow 32 plants such as romaine lettuce while starting the next crop in our General Hydroponics Rainforest unit to cycle into the main unit after harvest. We are able to have a fairly stable supply of fresh, pesticide-free, nutrient-dense, salads on a regular basis.
Costs may very, but here is one example…
With the system mentioned above we can now break down energy consumption costs as well as input costs associated with a home hydroponics indoor garden. Our garden basically consists of the following components:
- 200w induction grow light (to supplement sunlight from the window area)
- pump for moving water, 16w
- pump for moving air, 18w
- General Hydroponics Rainforest Vortex Sprayer, 12w
- UFO LED Grow light, 90w
- Hydroponic Nutrients (save $, buy dry bulk)
If we go with these inputs and assume that our power costs a low 10.5 p/kwh and use this handy calculator, we end up with the following expenses:
- 200w induction light , 16hrs on = $10.08 p/month
- water pump, 24hrs = $1.21 p/month
- air pump, 24hrs =$1.36 p/month
- Rainforest, 14 hrs = $0.53 p/month
- UFO LED, 16 hrs on = $4.54 p/month
- Hydroponic Vegetative nutrients = $5.20 p/month (one reservoir change p/month – results may vary)
What these numbers mean
Basically because we focused on utilizing some available sunlight from a southern facing window we are able to use the energy saving iGrow induction lighting. We also chose LED lighting to start our seeds with because LEDs for plant growing are very efficient as they only create the spectrum of light that the plants actually need in order to grow. We have everything on timers to also conserve energy. We also use dry nutrient to grow our plants ( General Hydroponics MaxiGro ) and this can be purchased in bulk sizes for additional savings. Our reservoir is also very large ( 60 gallons ) so we do not have to change it out very often. This ultimately means energy costs are around $17.72 p/month where we live and then nutrients add about $5.20 p/month to these costs. If you have the right seed to grow your costs are less than $23 a month (in our situation). It does take some time and effort and you can always add additional devices like PH monitoring or maybe some ventilation fans but when you get down to it, the price can be very reasonable.
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