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Hydroponic Air Pump Sizing – All You Need To Know

Before you can decide what size you need for your hydroponic pump, you need to find out what type of pump you need.

If you have already built your whole system and the air pump is the last piece you need to be complete, you are in the right place.

In this article, we will review what kinds and what size you should order.

The hydroponic air pump sizes depend on whether you are using aquaponics or hydroponic pump for your system.

Knowing this, we will drive right into the steps to determine the size of the hydroponic pimp you need.

Hydroponic Air Pump – Head Height Measurement

First of all, you need to measure the height, considering that most of the hydroponic and aquaponic pumps are moving the water upward.

The efficiency of the pump is essential and dependant on the height.

The distance from the top of the water in your tank and the top of your grow bed is called the Head Height. This is what you need to measure to determine the size you need.

You don’t need to calculate it, instead just measure the length itself.

Check the image below for reference:

hydroponic air pump sizing

Calculate the Gallons Per Hour (GPH)

After you have measured the length from the water line to the drip line, you need to know what is the rating of your GPH.

Pumps always have a gallons-per-hour capacitate, but be careful as some of them can provide information on “Liters” per hour.

As you now know, your gallons-per-hour and the head height you need, it will be much easier for you to find the exact type of pump you need.

The total GPH is the flow rate times the units within that flow rate. To determine that you want to run two gallons of water through each tower every hour.

That means that the number of gallons you have per hour is the number of towers times two.

Here is the equation for hydroponic pumps where “T” stands for towers.

(T x 2) = GPH

Keep in mind that in the pump, you will have an extra bit of water, and you should add around forty to fifty gallons in the sum.

Once you are ready and you have your head height and GPH, you are prepared to look for the exact pump.

You can simply ask for a pump with the exact GPH at the store, or you can create a chart including your results similar to the tables that the pumps are coming with. Then just simply find a pump with a matching diagram.

The Essential Types Hydroponic Systems – A Factor That Determines The Size

Now we know how to measure the size of the water pump for your hydroponic system.

We are all aware that the oxygen is essential for all plants, and now we will review why the DWC hydroponic systems require an air pump.

DWC hydroponic systems are the only systems that require an air pump, to the root of the plants to be submerged with nutrients.

The oxygen passes through the air pump into the diffuser, which, on the other hand, breaks the airflow into tiny pieces that are easier for the roots to dissolve and absorb.

The other hydroponic systems are utilizing the airflow and allow the oxygen to reach the roots of the plants without an air pump.

If you have any of the types that we will review in a second, you don’t need to worry about the lack of oxygen, and you won’t need an air pump.

  • Vertical Hydroponic Systems have their plants suspended in the air, providing them with all the oxygen they need for optimal growth. The required nutrients are dropped from the top of the rail, reaching all the roots on their way down.
  • NFT Hydroponic Systems are set in channels, and the nutrients are no issue here. There is a gap between the top channel and the nutrients on the bottom, which provide the oxygen needed on their own, allowing the roots to breathe.
  • Kratky Hydroponic Systems has its solution, where the plants are doing everything to maintain themselves. The plant’s roots are in contact with the top of a nutrient reservoir. The reservoir level drops as the plants are growing longer, and this continues creating an air gap providing the plants with the oxygen they need.
  • Flow Hydroponic Systems have siphons or timers to drain the nutrients from the grow bed and providing the roots of the plant with oxygen. Whenever the water is drained from the grow bed, the plant’s root system is supplied with air.

We all know that plants need oxygen to survive. Now you will be able to find the right type for your hydroponic system.

Speaking of this, as you now know how to calculate the size you need, we will explore some specific models from which you can choose if they fit your requirements.

Best Types of Hydroponic Air Pumps And Their Sizes

Active Aqua Air Pump 4 Outlets and 6 Watts.

Active Aqua Air Pump 4 Outlets and 6 Watts

This is a lightweight hydroponic air pump. It is the best value across its competitors, and it is capable of producing 240 gallons-per-hour. It is suitable for small hydroponic systems.

Size: 4.1 x 6 x 9.4 inches

General Hydroponics Air Pump with Dual Diaphragm.

General Hydroponics Air Pump with Dual Diaphragm

It is a well-build and a top pick! This heavy-duty air pump for hydroponic systems is reliable and produces a steady stream of air. Its output is 320 GHP with four adjustable valves. It is the best to fit for systems over ten gals.

Check the full review of the pump here: General Hydroponics Gh2716 Pump – Comprehensive Review

Size: 7 X 5 X 6 inches

EcoPlus 793 GPH Commercial Air Pump

EcoPlus 793 GPH Commercial Air PumpThis is a powerful air pump with a flow rate of 793 GHP. It is a bit loud and noisy, but it is a great fit for medium to large hydroponic systems for more than 20 gals.

Size: 7.2 x 3.8 x 4.5 inches

It doesn’t matter which pump you purchase if it fits your size requirements. It is a good value for your money.

When purchasing the size, as we mentioned, it is your main priority, but you should also check any durability feedback and reviews from other users.

You must be aware that the machines are making noise, some of them more than you expect.

However, you need to be prepared for your garden or inhouse hydroponic system to be loud. You can always review the products and acquire information regarding their noise and pick the one that suits your desires perfectly.

What Else Should You Know?

The pump you need for your hydroponic system is simply a pond pump that you can find at most home improvement stores.

Some of the manufacturers are even packaging them for sale at a hydroponic specific supply store.

Once you know how to measure the size of the pump you need, it is easy to find and purchase.

The recommendation here is to purchase a pump that can handle twice the pressure you need, just in case. This will allow you with the flexibility to switch things up if you change your mind or hydroponic system.

As far as for the water pump, it will be easy to adjust the water flow, and you can make it pump more than it is designed for.

However, if you need to reduce the water flow even further, there is a way to do that also. Install a “T” connector by the tubing that is going to your plants, located just above the pump, inside the reservoir.

The next step should be to install a short piece of tube on it, so only half of the water will go back to the reservoir.

You can even add a valve to adjust the flow if you want to have full customization and control over it.

Cleaning Hydroponic Pump

It is essential to maintain the proper work of your hydroponic pump. You should be periodically responsible for cleaning the pump and its filters.

You may be aware that the submersible pond and fountain pumps are electromagnets. Water can get in between the main body and the impeller shaft, acting as a lubricant.

There are three main components in the hydroponic pump structure:

  • Flow restrictor
  • The impeller
  • Shaft
  • The main body.

It is easy to clean them when separated with a regular sponge and dish soap.

There is a possibility, however, that your pump comes without a filter.

But you don’t need to worry even in that case because you can easily create a filter from some common things in few steps.

First, you need to take the water inlet cover off. For a few bucks, you can easily buy a furnaces filter that will get the job done, and it can be found in almost every hardware store in your area.

Then just cut the white screening that you can use as a filter screen and cut a piece that will fit snuggle inside the water inlet cover.

Place the cover back, and you are ready!