Best Hydroponic Systems (Review 2017)

How we define the best hydroponic system? By definition, hydroponics is a method used to grow plants in a nutrient rich water-based solution. It does not use soil since the roots are supported in an inert media like rockwool. Perlite, vermiculite or peat moss. According to full bloom hydroponics, the mechanism is to allow the roots to have a direct contact with the nutrients and oxygen for proper growth.

This idea has been around since King Solomon’s time, and it has shown some advantages over traditional soil-based growing of plants. It gives the plants a higher growth rate by up to 50% with a greater yield since the plants get their nutrition directly from the nutritious water. The plant doesn’t have to grow large roots in search of water hence spending more energy productively above the rootline. Hydroponically grown plants are healthy and consistent, and the gardening form is clean, easy and requires little effort, says street directory.

Quick Comparison of Top Hydroponic Systems

Hydroponic SystemBrandQualityOur Rating
Bounty gourmet herbAeroGardenA5-stars
Sprout LED Gourmet HerbAeroGardenA-4-5-stars
EarthBox 1010001 Garden KitEarthBoxA-4-5-stars
Clone King 36Harrigan's Hydroponics And SupplyB+
Clone King 25Harrigan's Hydroponics And SupplyB

**Below, you’ll find our more detailed reviews; you can also click the links above to check prices or read customer reviews on Amazon.

How do Hydroponic systems work?

Hydroponics work on a basic principle though the system itself can be very complex.

1. Wick system

It is the simplest kind and completely passive. Wicks are used to pull the nutrient solution into the growing medium. It can use an air pump to oxygenate the solution, but the system itself has no moving parts. According to SF Gate, it is the least expensive hydroponics system though it doesn’t work with large or thirsty plants.

2. Water culture

It is a simple active hydroponic system where the plant is directly exposed to the nutrient solution. The plant is held by a floating foam block suspending it above the liquid. It also uses an air stone and pump to oxygenate the solution. Plants like lettuce that like water can do well in such a system. Simply hydro says that it is suitable for only a few other species of plants but, in general, it is the best hydroponic system.

3. Ebb and flow

This consists of a growing tray and a nutrient-filled reservoir. The submerged pump periodically floods the grow tray and drains it again. This provides the plant with adequate nourishment without needing special oxygenation. This tray contains rockwool or gravel, but plants that need a lot of moisture can be grown in coconut fiber or vermiculite.

4. Drip systems

This is the most versatile hydroponics system and is the most common among them all according to growth technology. It is similar to the ebb and flow where the nutrient is stored in a reservoir. The plants are grown in a soil-less medium, but unlike other systems, the drip system dispenses the nutrients through a small nozzle. The extra solution is collected and recirculated or allowed to drain. The drip timer is adjustable making it possible to grow different types of plants with this technique.

5. Nutrient film (NF) technique

This system uses a pump to deliver the nutrients to the plants though it does not require a timer. The plant roots are exposed to a constant flow of nutrients. This system requires no grow medium since plants are suspended in baskets individually. It is an inexpensive method though can be unstable; any disruption in the supply can quickly kill the plants since there is no growth medium.

6. Aeroponics

It is a very high-tech method where the pants are suspended above misting nozzles. Every few minutes, the roots get a spray of a fine layer of nutrients solution.

best hydroponic systems

What to Look for in Hydroponic Systems?


You must consider if the system will fit into your growing space. The dimensions of the system are very crucial as you consider purchasing one. If the sales website or store display has inadequate information, you can call the technicians to help you out. Consider leaving some space around the system for the tank, free access to the equipment and plants. If you are planning on planting big plants, consider that they always hang over the sides so allow them enough space. According to Growell, if your roof limits the height of growth or if planning to grow in a loft then NFT systems are the best for you.

Amount of noise

The pump is the main source of noise in a hydroponic system. Depending on the location of your system, you should go for those that generate the lowest noise when operating. However, if you are planning for a large system, you will need a powerful water pump to drive water to the roots hence more noise. NFT systems require 24 hours flow of water whereas Ebb and flow systems only require the flow a few minutes each hour. A full demonstration of explanation by a technician or salesperson can help you make the right decision.


Other than size and features, the cost is a major determinant as to what type of system you can buy. As a new grower, you can start small then graduate to larger or more complex systems. Starting small allows you to master the technique before getting in too deep with bigger systems.

Electricity consumption

Since most hydroponics systems use electric water pumps, you will have to budget for more power consumption. However, they consume only a little power. If growing under HID lights, you should also consider the lighting cost.

Recurrent cost

Manpower requirements for hydroponics systems are quite low compared to regular soil-based growing. It, however, require some level of regular attention. The system also needs maintenance to ensure it runs as required.

System height

When using high output light, height can be an issue; these light systems generates a lot of heat even if you have an air exchange system installed. Tall growing rooms are the best for ventilation. For growing rooms less than 6 feet, consider growing systems that give the plants extra breathing room, spread the light further and avoid heat build up.

What are the Best Hydroponic Systems? Here Are Our Picks…

Hydroponic SystemBrandQualityOur Rating
Bounty gourmet herbAeroGardenA5-stars
Sprout LED Gourmet HerbAeroGardenA-4-5-stars
EarthBox 1010001 Garden KitEarthBoxA-4-5-stars
Clone King 36Harrigan's Hydroponics And SupplyB+
Clone King 25Harrigan's Hydroponics And SupplyB

Bounty gourmet herb

Bounty gourmet Hydroponic System

Bounty gourmet herb hydroponic system

The best hydroponic system so far. With this system, you can grow fresh vegetables and herbs in your home all year round. It is a naturally good system that fits on the countertop and features a patented system that delivers nutrients to your plants. AeroGardens produces the world-leading indoor gardening systems, this system growing faster than any ever seen in the market it is the best hydroponic system due to its performance and efficiency. It can accommodate up to 9 plants with an energy efficient environment. The 45-watt system uses efficient LED lights to aid in photosynthesis hence rapid and abundant harvests. It concentrates white light for fast growth, blue LEDs for bigger yields and red for more flowers and fruits. Plants grow five times faster. This product comes with 3 oz liquid plant food, mint, dill, chives, thyme, Italian parsley, curly parsley, Thai basil and Genovese basil.

Sprout LED Gourmet Herb

Sprout Gourmet Hydroponic System

Sprout LED Gourmet Herb Hydroponic System

This system can grow three plants with the 10 watts of high performance LED lights. He lights are tuned to specific spectrums for optimal plant photosynthesis resulting in rapid growth and high yields naturally. You can experience the delicious fresh vegetable and herbs all through the year right from your house. The sprout has an easy to use control panel to create the optimal conditions for the plants. It turns the lights on and off and also reminds you to add nutrients and water. It includes all that you need to start growing your garden. You get liquid nutrient adequate for the full season, dill, curly parsley, and Genovese basil to start with. Growing your plants at home can never be easier.

EarthBox Garden Kit

Earthbox Hydroponic System

EarthBox Garden Kit Hydroponic System

This patented design was developed proven in the farms for commercial use. It is maintenance-free equipment featuring an award-winning growing system that eliminates guess work. It produces more than double the regular yield and requires very little effort. You can grow flowers, vegetables, herbs and fruits hassle-free and produce bigger, healthier and tastier greens in the EarthBox. It features castor wheel for easy movement, germination covers and comes with 1 lb bag of organic fertilizer, 1 lb bag of organic dolomite, two mulch covers, and water fill tube. You can now grow your veggies at home very easily and enjoy freshness every time. It measures 2 cubic feet with dimensions of 29 by 14 by 11 inches in length width and height respectively.

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