Finding the Most Powerful and Practical Hydroponic Water Pumps

Water pump

Hydroponic gardening grows vegetables without the cumbersome addition of soil, which often adds pests and weeds to the mix. Instead of growing the plants in soil, the plants are immersed in nutrient-rich water in your choice of several different systems. So how does the water move through the system?  Hydroponic Water Pumps are used to keep the water and nutrients flowing freely, as well as to bring oxygen to the roots of the plants.


What are the Benefits of Hydroponic Water Pumps?

If you are growing plants hydroponically, you will definitely want a pump to keep your water moving and pass the nutrients along to your plants. Some gardeners are surprised to learn that hydroponic systems do not require their own particular pump. You are looking for a viable aquarium or fountain pump to use with your hydroponics system. What you do need to pay attention to is the GPH (gallons-per-hour) rating on the pump, as well as the wattage. The higher the wattage the stronger the pump.


Types of Hydroponic Water Pumps

Just like with anything else, there are several types of water pumps available that can supplement your hydroponics system. The type you need depends on what job you need the pump to do, and how big your system is. This will determine what kind of power you need.


Submersible Hydroponic Water Pumps

Submersible Hydroponic Water Pumps
Submersible Hydroponic Water Pumps, Source


As the name implies, submersible Hydroponic Water Pumps sit inside the water, or in the gutter of your tank. It attaches to a hose that is linked to the rest of your system, and pumps from the top. With its power measured in GPH (gallons-per-hour), it can only handle jobs with a GPH of 1200 or less. The submersible pump is generally cheaper than other varieties of pumps.


In-Line Hydroponic Water Pumps

In-line Hydroponic Water Pumps, on the other hand, measure their power in horsepower (HP), not by the number of gallons they can pump per hour. These pumps sit outside the tank and are able to pump large amounts of water. In general, these pumps are more expensive.


Sump Pump Type Hydroponic Water Pumps

A sump pump is a submersible pump that moves water from one tank to another, or agitates the water in a tank, thereby mixing the nutrients into the water. You may be familiar with this type of pump from your basement, but they are also useful in your hydroponics system.




How do I size my Hydroponic Water Pumps?

In order to size your Hydroponic Water Pumps, you need the chart that came with the pump and a little simple math. The pump will tell you how many gallons per hour it will move, and then you just need to multiply that by how many gallons of water you have in your tank. If you want the water to move through the system twice per hour, then multiply by two. After you get this number, you also need to find the head height and make sure you account for it on the chart as well.




How can I understand the head height?

In most hydroponic systems, water will have to be pumped upward, and you need to consider this when you are deciding how much power your Hydroponic Water Pumps will need. Measure from the top of the grow bed to the top of the water in your reservoir and you have the head height. Keep in mind that the water level changes during the process, especially in an ebb and flow system. At some points, therefore, the head height will be larger and require more power.


How do I decide how much power I need?

Many experts recommend that you turn over your entire system twice per hour. You do not need to get hung up on the numbers though, as there is some wiggle room. Every system built has nuances to it, and even if your pump doesn’t recirculate the water twice every hour, it should still be able to keep the water moving.


Additionally, consider how much hose you have in your system.  The pump will have to move the water through whatever hosing you have. Even if you carefully calculate, there will still be some efficiency loss because of the length of the hose. Most people when setting up their pumps just eyeball it, so you can count on 15-30% loss. Hydroponics is not a perfect science, so some wiggle room is allowed.


How important is the wattage?

Water pump wattage is comparable to typical household appliances like dishwashers and refrigerators. Because your water pump will run a lot, find the lowest possible wattage you can comfortably use for your system, in order to save money. The more watts, the more electricity you will be paying for, especially if your pump is running frequently.


Should I use a timer?

A timer is a great way to save money and is an integral part of a hydroponic system. With systems such as ebb and flow and a drip system that count on timing, this can be a great way to save on electricity, and therefore money. In these situations the plants are not submerged, so the flow and the drip are very important to keep the plants from drying up. Make sure to check the timer once a week to ensure it is working properly so that your plants will flourish.



Nothing Last Forever?

Many things can make your pumps prematurely expire. Running low or out of water in your reservoir, dirty or unstirred nutrients in your reservoir water. Undersizing your pump for a higher head height will surely kill it earlier than it should last. Make sure you have backup Hydroponic Water Pumps!

Broken Pumps
Broken Pumps, Source




In Conclusion

The mathematics of water pumps is easier than it seems, but the necessity of a water pump cannot be underestimated. By choosing the right pump for the job, your plants will be more vibrant and your whole hydroponic system will run better.




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?