Are Aeroponics Systems Expensive?


The price of an aeroponic growing system will vary with its complexity including the size, number of pumps, type of lighting and amount of mineral solution required to feed your plants. The benefits of getting larger and more consistent harvests along with the lower maintenance involved typically offsets the upfront costs of a system over time.

There are many small systems that do-it-yourselfers build for $200 – $300 and achieve decent results using. On the other hand, there are a few different Ready-to-grow solutions on the market that come with all the components needed to start your aeroponic garden within hours of opening the box. These systems remove much of the guesswork out of growing with aeroponics and range in price from $400 – $1000+.

If you’re on the fence about whether you should start an aeroponic garden for growing fresh and healthy fruits and vegetables at home you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’re going to cover everything you need to know about the expenses associated with aeroponic systems, from the initial costs to maintenance costs and a whole lot more.

Should You Buy or Build Your First System

Small aeroponic systems can be built at home using low cost components purchased from online retailers or at your local hardware store. There are many different DIY designs that vary in size, complexity, cost and results. 

Deciding to build your own system will be a rewarding experience but will likely come with some costly mistakes. This is why I always recommend buying a system like the Tower Garden to get your feet wet in aeroponics (pun intended) before attending the school of hard knocks.

Starting and maintaining an aeroponic garden with a proven system will help you hone your skills and get excellent results on your first try. Once you find success and reap the rewards of aeroponic gardening you’ll want to build and tinker your way to your own customized system.

Ready-To-Grow Aeroponics Systems

Purchasing a home aeroponic system will give you all the healthy benefits of growing your food at home while cutting out the steep learning curve. A fully engineered and tested system comes with everything you need to start growing quickly including easy to follow instructions and friendly customer support agents to ensure your success.

Tower Garden 

The tower garden is hands down the best of the best vertical aeroponic system on the market. Whether you choose the Tower Garden Flex or Tower Garden Home, you’ll have healthy and nutritious fruits and vegetables available all year round. 

This vertical garden system can grow 20 or more plants in a 3’ x 3’ footprint giving you a perpetual harvest without any bending or weeding. With an affordable price of  $62.50/month for 12 months it’s cheaper than a month’s worth of veggies at the grocery store.

The tower garden is built from UV stabilized food-grade plastic and is FDA-approved. It can be set up in 30-60 minutes and comes with all the seeds and growing supplies needed to get your garden started. With only 1 moving part (the water pump) this easy to use space saving tower is a no brainer for beginner and veteran gardeners alike.

For a more indepth review check out my article on What is a Tower Garden and How Does it Work or you can see what other people are saying about the vertical aeroponic system by visiting the Tower Garden website.

Tower Garden Aeroponics System

Aeroponic Home Build – Parts and Prices

Most DIY aeroponic systems are made from the same common components. Typically systems get scaled up by duplication meaning a second, third and fourth unit are tied into the plumbing of the first. Here’s a breakdown of the common parts you’ll need to become an Aeroponic DIY master.

Reservoir

Two of the most common types of reservoirs are 5 gallon buckets and 25 – 30 gallon plastic totes. Both will do the job of holding the nutrient solution and a small water pump. Your reservoir should never be clear because any UV light that shines inside will promote the growth of algae, a very bad situation. 

Any product used for growing food should be food grade, BPA free and UV stabilized to prevent dangerous chemicals from entering your food, this is where you may want to spend a bit more money to get a safe product. You’ll also need a lid on top to hold your plants up and out of the water.

High quality food grade reservoirs with a lid (usually sold separately) will cost $80 – $100 and house 6  – 10 plants. Regular rubbermaid tubs cost less, closer to $30 and are available in many different shapes and sizes.

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Water Pump

Home aeroponic systems are usually small in size and utilize 200 – 400gph aquarium or fountain style water pumps. The purpose of these small submersible pumps is to move and spray the nutrient solution at the roots of the plants, they are typically the only moving part in the whole system. 

These pumps are fully sealed and get placed in the bottom of the reservoir where they operate underwater secured by suction cup feet. A couple of the features to keep in mind when looking for a pump is the ability to connect different sized tubing to the output nozzle and a dial to adjust the pump flow rate. Having a long power cord is helpful too as it needs to reach out of the reservoir and to a wall outlet.

Pumps can be purchased for $10 – $50 from amazon or your local hardware store. They are easy to find and locating a spare is never a problem.

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Tubing and Nozzles

The delivery method from pump to roots can be done with PVC pipe or irrigation tubing with a spray nozzle, emitter or atomizer on the end. This will turn the water into a fine mist helping your plants absorb the minerals and nutrients in the water. 

Whichever delivery system you prefer to use should work as long as it’s sized properly. Orientation is another important aspect to consider. High pressure systems have a single emitter dedicated to each plant which is located below and sprays up towards the rootball. 

90, 180 or 360 degree sprayers can be used to hit multiple plants if they are well positioned. This option can be a little more difficult to get properly adjusted and failure could risk the death of multiple plants at once.

Atomizing spray nozzles cost $15 – $20 for a pack of 50. Having spares on hand is a good thing because they can break or you may find yourself adding more or changing the spray pattern of your system. 

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Irrigation tubing is also cheap to purchase and comes in different length rolls so choose the size that leaves you with extra for repairs and changes to your system.

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Water Pump Cycling Timer

The water pump in your aeroponic system will be controlled by a cycling timer. For this job you’ll want a timer that will come on for a few minutes, off for a few minutes and repeat that pattern continuously 24/7 365 days per year.

I run my system at an interval of 5 minutes on and 12 minutes off, this will be a good starting point for many systems but you’ll want to experiment to dial in your own. Your timer will plug into  a nearby wall outlet and a pump will plug directly into the outlet on the timer.

There are many timers available on the market both digital and mechanical that will suit an aeroponic system. I started with a simple unit like this repeating short cycle timer with easy to use controls and readable time settings.

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Grow Light Timer

If you choose to grow indoors and need lighting you’ll need a 24 hour timer to control the on/off cycle of your grow lights. The timer should be able to handle the power that your lights will draw.

A typical cycle for vetative growing like greens and other plants before they start to flower is a 12/12 cycle meaning the lights will be on for 12 hours and off for 12 hours. For fruiting and flowering of your plants you’ll want to change to a cycle that provides a longer “on” time like 16/8.  A basic light timer will cost $8 – $20 but there are many more sophisticated timers that cost much more.

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Net Pots

The net pots will hold the root ball of your plants in the aeroponic reservoir or tower depending on the type of system you buy or build. They are very basic plastic cups that allow the roots to escape and hang down into the reservoir to get watered. 

A set of 25 3in. cups with lids will cost $15. The lids keep any light from penetrating into the reservoir from empty net cups and also stop the nutrient solution from spraying up and out of the reservoir. Having a few extra pots around will be good to replace damaged ones and to help get new plants started.

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Grow Medium

The last component of an aeroponic system that you’ll need is some growing medium. Many people including myself choose to grow in rockwool because it is porous enough for the roots to escape through but strong enough that it won’t break apart. The rockwool helps absorb the minerals form the nutrient solution while also keeping oxygen pockets around the root ball for accelerated growth.

Other options of growing medium are coco coir, aggregate, and others. Whichever you choose to use should work, just be sure it doesn’t enter the reservoir or it may clog your pump. Water lines or nozzles and cause issues with the operation of your system.

A 66 plug tray of rockwool cubes costs $20 on Amazon. 2” size plugs fit a 3” net cup nicely. 

LED Grow Lights

There are unlimited options when it comes to the price, shape and specs of grow lights. New full spectrum LED’s are able to replicate natural sunshine and deliver the exact type of lighting plants need to thrive while consuming less power than traditional HPS lights.

Most home aeroponic systems will flourish under full spectrum T8 LED light. They are available in 2′ and 4′ lengths and are easy to mount in rows of 2 or 4 to cover the size of your setup.

This type of lighting will save you money in reduced power usage and last 50K hours before needing replacement. They also come as a complete unit including the mounting brackets, wiring and integrated reflectors for increased efficiency.

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Operating Expenses of a Home Aeroponic System

There are a few common operating expenses that an aeroponic system will have regardless of design. These costs will increase proportionally with system size as more devices and a higher consumption of power and nutrients will be required with system growth. 

Nutrients and Minerals

The nutrient levels have to be properly monitored and maintained to get the best results from your system. These solutions contain the minerals that plants usually absorb from soil but in an aeroponic system they get mixed into the water reservoir and delivered to the plant roots.

High quality aeroponic nutrients come in a 2 part concentrated liquid solution and get mixed into the water reservoir in equal parts at a ratio of 10 – 20ml per gallon depending on the brand. Buying in bulk or larger size bottles is usually cheaper but not always ideal for smaller systems. 

A 1 gallon bottle set of part A and B nutrient solution costs between $60 – $100 and can supply a 20 plant aeroponic setup for up to 6 months. A common middle ground is around $15 per month to provide your garden with a proper diet designed for healthy growth and big yields.

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Lighting

Some home based aeroponic setups will be able to get by with natural light from a window but most will not. If you live in a location that experiences a winter season, the drop in natural light hours will require supplemental lighting at minimum. 

For growing greens and some dwarf tomato varieties, T8 LED lights will cost less than a dime per bulb per day to operate. If you run a fixture with 4 x 4’ bulbs you’re looking at spending $0.30 per day or $9 per month for 12 hours of daily use.

A single 4’ LED setup with 4 bulbs should fit 6 – 10 plants making it good bang for your buck. 

Electric Water Pump

The water pump in your aeroponic system is what delivers the water and nutrient mix from the reservoir to your plant roots. Most systems use small submersible pumps that cycle on and off throughout the day to give your plants the proper mix of liquid and air for proper mineral absorption. 

Small pumps like these cost $1 – $2 per month to operate and are very reliable for long term use. 

Water Consumption

Water rates vary widely between cities and municipalities making it difficult to assume a cost. However, one of the top advantages to aeroponic gardening is the reduction in water usage by 90% or more compared to traditional soil gardening. 

This is mainly because an aeroponic system is closed loop meaning that the water is continually recirculated through the system and has very little evaporation. If water usage is a factor in deciding which gardening system is best for you then the answer clearly lies in aeroponics. 

Environmental Control

If you plan to operate your aeroponic system inside your home there is no extra cost associated with heating and cooling beyond your typical usage. If your system will be in a greenhouse or sun porch you’ll likely need some environmental controls to keep the room at a consistent temperature.

Using supplemental heating and cooling can be done with a passive system of water tanks heated by the sun or vents along the roof and floor that draws cool air in the bottom and forces the warm air out the top.

In more extreme weather, active systems like electric or propane heaters and cooling systems may be required but this is more typical in a commercial growing operation than a home system.

Wrapping Up

Starting your own aeroponic garden at home will allow you to grow fresh and healthy vegetables all year round. A home aeroponic system can cost $200 to $1000 whether you prefer to build your own or buy a Ready-to-Grow system and avoid the learning curve.

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