Hi all! I've grown hydro before - just not extensively. I decided I wanted something larger and expandable. I've been spending the last week researching different setups and I've come up with a setup I think will work for me. I'd appreciate some comments from the experts here though. Here is a diagram of the setup:
This is basically a bucket/bubble system with a separate reservoir. The reservoir will be large enough to hold the water from all the buckets combined plus enough to at least cover the pump. This is so that when I add nutrients or pH up/down, I can drain all the buckets into the res, adjust, mix and then refill each bucket through the pump. I also want to use a large reservoir to keep the solution more stable and spend less time adjusting. The buckets will sit higher than the reservoir so that they'll drain correctly. The riser inside the bucket will be removed to drain. I'll probably eventually include a separate drain line with a valve to make draining easier.
I'm including a drip system for feeding young plants and circulating the nutrient solution once the plants have roots reaching into the bucket's reservoir. At that point, I'll detach the drip manifold and have one drip line going into each bucket's center net. The center net will not have a plant. I may just drill a hole in the lid and leave out the net, but I figured it might work as a bit of a filter if I leave the net there with maybe a coffee filter in it or something - still debating. Each bucket will also get an air-stone for aeration. Grow medium will be hydroton.
I'm also getting a 400 watt light kit off of eBay with a MH and HPS bulb - and a cheapo reflector. I'll be growing in the corner of my office, right next to an air vent which I'm hoping will cool the light (will it need to be cooled?). My concern is that our home has a swamp cooler. Will the extra moisture in the air coming out of the vent damage the bulb?
For those interested, here's cost details on this setup. Note that I'm buying everything that I need for this setup, including water/air pumps and pH/TDS meters.
Buckets: $30.45 for five 5-gallon black buckets w/lids (food grade) from uLine.com
Lighting: $130 400W kit from eBay
Large Reservoir: $20 tote from Home Depot.
Everything Else: $300 from an online vendor.
Approximately $480 total