Dutch-Bato Bucket Method Reviews: We Review the 4 Best Systems

Bato Bucket System

This is our review of 4 of the best Dutch-Bato Bucket Method Systems available

Dutch bucket method systems, (AKA Bato Buckets) much like French fries, are a global phenomenon.  If you’ve been reading our reviews, you’ve seen buckets before (hydroponists tend to love buckets) but Dutch bucket method systems are quite a bit different than the rest.  What separates a Dutch bucket system from, say, a Kratky style bucket system is the intricate layout of piping and tubing designed in a professional and effective manner.


If the words ‘intricate’ or ‘professional’ scared you a tad, don’t worry… they can scare the professionals, too!  Nearly every kit below comes with easy build ‘hacks’ such as seal-free joints or great instructions.  Pull up your overalls and pull out your best pipe-wrench…or glue swab… it’s time to go with Dutch bucket method systems! 

We tested 4 products and found Hydroponic Dutch Bucket System, 8 x 11 Liter Black Buckets, Complete System to be the best complete, Dutch-Bato Bucket Method system for the money.

This one really rocks!  It takes a bit more work than some of the other kits listed, but it is the one that is really worth it.  When people think about Dutch bucket systems, this is what goes through their minds.  It is big, has a lot of room to grow a huge variety in, and works quite well.  If you aren’t so excited about jumping into the deep end yet, please take a look at the other reviews – we’ve got a complete (but small) 4 bucket system, an LED-boasting system worthy of a carnival (and your kids’ eyes), and more in the reviews below!

4 Best Dutch-Bato Bucket Method Hydroponics Systems Reviewed

  • Cost: $$$
  • Maintenance: Medium
  • Key feature: Best for larger and vining plants.
  • Includes: 10 – 11 liter buckets (12″ L x 10″ W x 9″ H) with siphon elbows
  • Assembly required: Yes
  • Container Material: Plastic (food-grade)
  • Comes with Lights: no
  • Reusable: yes
  • Best for: Vine crops such as tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, eggplants, etc.
  • Cool factor: Infinitely scalable.
  • Meh (Cons):   Hydroton mix, nutrients, etc. must be purchased separately

What a cool Dutch bucket system!  You’re going to get everything you need to get started with large plants in this kit.  One of the biggest worries I had about the Dutch bucket system when I got started with it was getting the piping fitted the right way and making sure I had everything I needed – I’m not a plumber, after all!  Well, don’t worry about this, you aren’t going to be missing some tube or fitting due to your ignorance… the kit has it.  Another cool feature is that the parts do sort of ‘snap’ together, there is no tricky seal to make here.  The parts just fit on one another, no seal!


Another thing this Dutch bucket system kit doesn’t have is the plants, hydroton, nutrients, etc.  Luckily, that’s probably your domain, and if it isn’t we have you covered (see those links up there!) for sure when it comes to all of that.  Depending on the location of your plants, you might consider some lights… but if you’re installing a system as large as this one I’ll go ahead and figure it is out in the greenhouse and you’ll be able to use the sun for that!


One last word of warning – get ready to lose the bucket!  How, you might ask?  Well, the results are really quite astounding, the plants grow in this dutch bucket system, often dwarfing their containers in sure time.  If you want to sit back and admire a bucket, look elsewhere!

  • Cost: $$
  • Maintenance: Medium
  • Key feature: Best Dutch Bucket system for smaller plants.
  • Includes: 20 pods system with lights, timer, 4Xself-watering plant pots
  • Assembly required: Quick assembly
  • Container Material: Plastic
  • Comes with Lights: yes
  • Reusable: yes
  • Best for: Herbs and veggies
  • Cool factor: Beautiful little lights… almost like Christmas!
  • Meh (Cons): No air pump.

Step up one, step up all!  The carnival is in town and we’re selecting you to have a chance at the main prize.  Okay, that’s a bit silly, but we’re definitely here to have fun at least, okay?  The lights on this system give it a carnival or even festive air.  Tiny, cute LED bulbs in good old red, white, and blue will remind you of cotton candy and might compete with the Christmas tree for your kids’ attention this winter.  Especially when this will have delightful gifts pluckable on any day they so desire.


This kit really pushes for flexibility without failing any promised part.  You can pull any of the rectangular buckets out and set them on the window when you don’t want the lights.  There, they’ll work as self-watering plant containers full with a water gauge on the side.  Perfect!


If there is anything to complain about with this Dutch bucket system it is that it doesn’t come with air pumps and stones and all of that goodness.  The manufacturers will claim that you don’t need it, but you might find that *some* plants just give back that little bit extra when you do the same for them.  Add at your own discretion.

  • Cost: $$
  • Maintenance: Medium
  • Key feature: Best overall Dutch Bucket system.
  • Includes: Sturdy PVC frame, 6 Dutch buckets with elbows & covers, Drippers and supply pipe, Drainpipe, 110V AC Submersible pump, Instructions for assembly & use.
  • Assembly required: Moderate assembly required, instruction included.
  • Container Material: Plastic
  • Comes with Lights: no
  • Reusable: yes
  • Best for: Tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, zucchini, etc.
  • Cool factor:  Most complete
  • Meh (Cons):  Dull appearance. Still need to purchase a 25 Gallon tank separately

Pull out the wrench and jump on a turtle’s back… you guessed it, it’s plumber time!   This Dutch bucket system will give you everything you need to really go!  You’re going to be doing a lot of the installation steps yourself, which can be really fun – it gives you the experience of knowing where every part is and how everything works.  Having a full part set and instructions on hand really makes the experience go by that much quicker, though.


Each bucket in this system is equipped for two plants, with jalapenos and tomatoes being all-time favorites.  The holes for the plants are at opposite corners of each bucket, so you have that great densely packed, but appropriately spaced feel.  You’ll really be able to smell that fresh tomato leaf (or whatever plant) aroma every time you set foot around this great Dutch bucket system.


One word of caution is to allow for a bit more room than you are expecting to use based on the bucket size alone.  This is some serious plumbing, made for a professional.  As has been said many a time before, you get back what you put in, but with hydroponics, the ‘get back’ portion is always stacked in your favor.  So, be sure to check this system out and make it look pro.


  • Cost: $
  • Maintenance: Low
  • Key feature: Most affordable DFT system for larger plants.
  • Includes: PVC pipes with square holes, Square net cups, Stand. Need to purchase a Nutrient reservoir separately.
  • Assembly required: Less than most.
  • Container Material: PVC plastic
  • Comes with Lights: no
  • Reusable: yes
  • Best for: Small crops such as lettuce and leafy greens
  • Cool factor: Most complete DFT system in a compact size.
  • Meh (Cons): You’ll wish it was bigger once you use it. You can always expand vertically.

Wait, what the…? This is an NFT system right? Nope. It’s actually a Deep Flow Technique (DFT). Imagine an NFT system and a Dutch Bucket system have a baby! walla…Deep Flow Technique.


What’s the difference? and NFT system runs a very thin layer of nutrient water down the channels that hold the plants. Some growers even use a timer to run water only for 5 mins every 20 mins. This saves energy and allows the roots to be exposed to even more oxygen.


Due to the height of the drain outlet, the DFT system always leaves an inch or so of nutrient water in the channels – Much like a Dutch Bucket System.


This system is a fantastic starter system! It’s very inexpensive and holds 36 plants!


Dutch-Bato Bucket Method Hydroponics System Buying Guide

When selecting an Ebb and Flow 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? Will it potentially leak?


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 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 Ebb and Flow 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!



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I'm Dani, I come from a long history of migrant farmers. In high school I wrote a paper about how my father brought us over the Texas border to give us a better life. During college, I worked part time with him in the farming industry. After receiving a degree in Urbanism from Columbia University, I started to realize how important the role of the food chain was to urban inner cities. I began studying different types of Indoor and vertical faming solutions. I started designing and building my own hydroponic systems and have never looked back.