Deep Water Culture Systems Review: Best Deep Water Culture Hydroponic Systems

Deep Water Culture

This is our review of 5 of the best Deep Water Culture Systems available

Greetings and welcome back for another review.  This time, Deep Water Culture Systems featuring 5 systems!  Now, visually, most systems in this review (with an exception for number 1) are going to appear to be quite similar. 


Buckets, buckets, buckets, and a pump.  Don’t be deceived!  The real differences come in how you get to set up the system and how many different individual units a system will hold.  So, in our Deep Water Culture Systems be sure to take a look at our sizing notes – that’ll be the difference for most of these ‘bucket’ builds! 


The second thing to look for in any Deep Water Culture system is a few details about the air pump – they aren’t all the same!  If you aren’t careful, you might end up paying a premium for a pretty bucket paired with a cheap air pump that’s already on life support when it arrives at your door!  Stay alert and read on to avoid deception.

We tested 5 products and found Homend DWC Deep Water Culture Hydroponic System Growing Kit to be the best complete, automated Deep Water Culture system for the money

This is the system that no Deep Water Culture system would be without.  It is also the odd one out when it comes to looks, so we will be spending some extra time on that (please do look below).  Yet, now, is the time to mention just how complete and reliable it is for the beginner.  And, if you haven’t tried a deep water culture system yet, I have to mention its put-me-in-your-cart-now price.  Really, stop reading, get this kit (it has basically everything you need included), and come back and read about other, more advanced, builds once you’ve given it a try.  We’ll wait, this page will be here!

5 Best Deep Water Culture Hydroponics Systems Reviewed

  • Cost: $
  • Maintenance: Medium
  • Key feature: Best overall Deep Water Culture system.
  • Includes: 1 x lid; 1 x water reservoir; 1x check valve; 1 x air pump; 1x micro tubing; 1 x air stone;11 x plant net cup; 3 x seal ring; 2 x elbow connector; 1 x water lever tube; 1 x grow stonewool; 1 bag clay pebblers
  • Assembly required: Quick assembly, no tools required!
  • Container Material: Plastic
  • Comes with Lights: no
  • Reusable: yes
  • Best for: Herbs and spices, Lettuce
  • Cool factor: Has it all for first-time DWC users.
  • Meh (Cons): Small.  

Alright, this is our top pick and it is really cool!  Instead of being a large, reassembled bucket, this product is more of a reservoir with holes in the top design.  That’s really great because you’ll be able to just mix your chemicals once and get a lot of smaller plants started in a really compact area.



Now, for some, that compactness might cause you some trouble.  In that case, you’re probably not a small kit lover.  This kit is also great for getting your seedlings initiated into the way of hydroponics, but you might already have a place to grow your seedlings up a bit either.  That’s okay!  Scroll down a bit and we have you covered when it comes to more advanced builds!



Again, this is THE beginner kit.  It has everything you need – the reservoir, the tubes, the air stone, the net pots, seals, etc.  Once you get used to deep water culture hydroponics you can try something a bit bigger, but the sample price value here is immense.  Be sure to try out a different plant in each of the 11 cups!  What works best for you?  You really get the chance to see it with this kit!



Deep Water Culture Systems Tip:  Some people have trouble with the hydroton rocks being a bit too big.  Just pop ‘em back in the bag and gently go tap, tap, tap with a hammer.  They’ll break up a bit and that is ooookay!

  • Cost: $$
  • Maintenance:  Medium
  • Key feature:  Best for larger plants.
  • Includes: 5-gallon bucket, air pump, 8” bucket basket, ½” grommet fitting, ½” elbow fitting, ¼” black tubing
  • Assembly required: Some, but easy!
  • Container Material: Plastic
  • Comes with Lights: No
  • Reusable: Yes
  • Best for: Large plants; cucumbers, tomatoes, etc.
  • Cool factor: No air stones required!
  • Meh: Gotta buy growth media separately.

This is the first of our bucket systems in the Deep Water Culture Systems.  Bucket systems are all quite similar, so let’s look at what sets this one apart:  the lack of air stones.  No, that doesn’t mean it is lacking them (unlike our one gripe with this system:  the growth media, which is missing) it just means that you don’t have to have them to have a complete working system. 



The air pump that is included, the ActiveAQUA, works really well with the tubing (also included) alone.  It doesn’t really need air stone help!



You can, however, mod the system to add air stones if you like!  Speaking of modding, one thing that many people like to do is add buckets to their systems later, once they see how a single bucket goes.  As this IS sold in 1, 4, and 8 bucket sizes, you might think you can just buy the single bucket system and then add 7 of your own buckets later.  However, the air pump included comes in different sizes with varying outlet numbers based on the number of buckets the purchased bucket is!  



Deep Water Culture Systems Tip:  Be sure to make a decision on the final system size BEFORE you buy!

  • Cost:  $
  • Key feature:  Best for vining plants.
  • Includes:  Heavy-duty 5-gallon bucket, (6) 3″ net pots, (6) 3″ net pot lids, more powerful 7.8 liter-per-minute (123 GPH) adjustable dual-outlet air pump, larger 4″ premium air stone, (6) all-natural starter plugs, high-quality hydro stone grow medium, air tubing & 1/4″ connector, complete instructions & hydroponic tips for beginners
  • Assembly required: Yes, but easy with included instructions.
  • Container Material: Plastic
  • Comes with Lights: No
  • Reusable:  Yes
  • Best for:  Tomatoes, Grapes, Hops and other vining plants.
  • Cool factor:  6 pot top.
  • Meh:  Top is tightly sealed to the bucket, May be hard for dome to open.

This is an absolutely lovely kit that should keep you satisfied for a while.  Yes, it is another bucket.. so, what’s different? 6 net pots!



It really doesn’t sound like a big deal, but you’ll find this is a rarity on the market.  Too many companies focus on the bucket and then skimp on effort when it comes to giving you a place to grow stuff.  Plus using a net pot helps you save on medium! This bucket uses the area of the top of the bucket really well.  This is exceptionally great for medium and lightweight plants.  Vining plants thrive in this system especially well!



Another cool feature is the tightly sealed top.  While I definitely listed that as a ‘meh’ due to the difficulties you might have opening it initially, it turns out to be a feature in the long run.  Why?  Well, this helps prevent algal growth in your bucket, thus reducing cleanout time.  Perfect for you lazy ones out there (me, I mean me).  Get algae anyhow?  Check out this cool guide we found to different types of algae by color!



Deep Water Culture Systems Tip:  MacGyver up some stakes over the pot into a tent/pyramidal shape to really give vining plants that extra edge!

  • Cost:  $$
  • Maintenance:  Medium
  • Key feature: Best for the analytical grower.
  • Includes:  Air pump, air lines, air stones, 6″ basket lids, (4) 5 gallon buckets + 1 Year USA Warranty
  • Assembly required:  Minimal
  • Container Material:  Plastic
  • Comes with Lights:  No
  • Reusable:  Yes
  • Best for:  Medium-Large sized plants.
  • Cool factor:  Adjustable air pump, built-in water level indicator.
  • Meh:  Doesn’t come with growth media.

Another very cool system!  You really have the ability to play around with everything and stay in control of the plants with this system.  

This system’s air pump, which isn’t too loud, is also adjustable.  That means that you’ll be able to get things exactly right based on your power, noise, and Oxygen requirements.  If you find the noise is just a bit too much for night time, you can easily turn it down before bed.  At the same time, you can crank it up to the max when you are out and about in town.

The next cool factor is that there is a highly readable water level indicator on the side of the bucket.  A lot of these black bucket systems avoid that due to the algae concerns, but you’ll find that this product does it well.  This is absolutely perfect for those of you that panic, check your reservoirs just a bit more than you know you have to!

Deep Water Culture Systems Tip:  Just because there is still water in the bucket doesn’t mean you shouldn’t add more water to your bucket – what about those roots at the top?!

Deep Water Culture Hydroponics System Buying Guide

When selecting a Deep Water Culture Hydroponics System you’ll need to pay attention to several factors.


Is cost a factor? Fully packed and featured systems are not always the best system.



How much attention will you need to give your system? Will it need weekly or daily water changes? How difficult is it to clean?


Key features

  • Automation- Are you always working and never home? Is automation important for you to have in your system?
  • Looks, labels, Markers
  • System Size for your location



Do you need a complete system or can you figure out how to add the missing pieces?

Assembly required

This is a big consideration for some and it may be why you are here trying to buy a system instead of making one for yourself.


Container Material

If you have kids or pets you understand that this is a big consideration, dependent on the location of your setup.


Comes with Lights

If your system does not come with any plant lights and you don’t have good sun exposure through your window where you are looking to set up your Deep Water Culture System will you be able to set up a plant light in that location?



How important is the sustainability of your system? Would you like to be able to reuse all the components each time you grow another round of plants? Is it important that the components are free of chemicals or pathogens? Is the manufacturing process of your new system eco-friendly?

Best for

Do you already know what you want to grow in your system? This is very important to keep in mind when selecting your new system as it will not be possible to grow some vining plants in any of these systems mentioned above.


Cool factor

Is the system going to be highly visible to house guests? Do you want to be able to brag about your cool new Deep Water Culture System when they come over or hide it in the pantry until they leave!?



All systems have cons. Keep a watchful eye on this category as it can easily be a purchase killer!



Learn more 

DWC Designs

Buy this system

Build this system


Picture of Bobby


HI! I'm Bobby, an entrepreneur, inventor, green builder and urban farmer. I've been a custom home builder since a kid and an avid gardener. The critters, bugs and climate outside our new home forced me to check out some new ideas in gardening. I found out about Hydroponics and have spent years learning the best techniques to build the best, most efficient, home hydroponics systems. I built one of the first ever, small scale, mobile hydroponic systems. Would you like to know how I did it?