Hydroponics is an incredible alternative to growing plants in soil. If you don’t have enough space in your yard or no yard at all, the technique makes it possible. You can have a whole room of such plants or a small tower that will be able to hold around 50 to 100 plants!
The varieties of hydroponics are plenty, with one of the most popular being the NFT or nutrient film technique. If this sounds completely new to you, skip to the buyer’s guide in this article. There, you’ll find out all the basics necessary for the understanding of the topic.
If you’re familiar with NFT hydroponics and want to find a suitable system, we’ve got you covered as well. You still should read the guide section to freshen up your knowledge, though.
Anyway, below we have the TOP 5 NFT systems to make your choice easier. Stay around for the last option. It’s an aquaponic system like you’ve never seen before! A sweet bonus for those looking for a family project.
Let’s get going!
1. LAPOND Hydroponic Grow Kit – Best Easy to Assemble and Use
This model is suitable for complete beginners. Better for outside use, very convenient and effective kit. You can assemble it yourself in less than half an hour. Customers value it for ease of use, justified investment, and sturdiness of the material. Such a system can become home for 108 plants!
For the system, the manufacturer uses PVC-U pipes. All of them are food-grade, which means they won’t harm the quality or safety of the food you’re growing. They also won’t cause pollution, partially due to the durability of the materials.
The pump can be set at 5, 15, or 30 minutes (the “on” timer), and at 30, 60, or 120 minutes (the “off” timer). Such timing will help you reach the best nutrient fils results. You can set the circulation automatically or manually, depending on how often you want to visit your little friends and how much time you have overall.
What’s in the Box
Here’s what you get in the package:
- A 12V water pump;
- 108 planting sponges for seeds;
- 108 planting cups;
- A hose;
- Planting pipe and holder.
A great option for beginners who want to get familiar with the nutrient film technique. The materials are durable and eco-friendly, and the manufacturer offers a 1-year warranty for both the kit and additional accessories.
Don’t forget that you’ll need a 15-20 l water tank for the system to work. It’s not included in the package.
|Food grade materials;||Water tank not included.|
|Smart pump timer;|
|1-year warranty for the kit and accessories.|
2. WEPLANT Hydroponic Growing System NFT with Timer Control – Best Low Maintenance Option
This NFT system is eco-friendly as it saves water, nutrients, and electricity. The structure is very stable, keeping your plants safe at all times. It can be used for general gardening or family projects with kids. There are several tutorials in the package, so whether you’re a beginner or want to introduce your child to hydroponic gardening, they will help.
The structure can house up to 108 plants!
The system works using the algorithm: adapter ⇒ timer ⇒ pump. This sequence helps you save electricity, water, and nutrients. Having an NFT structure with such characteristics is important for everyone who wants to lead a greener life. Not only you’re getting fresh greens and veggies but save the environment as well.
It’s great how the manufacturer inserts tips for installation, stability, and growth. The holes go right in the cups, they are rectangular for maximum stability of the construction and safety of the plants. This adds to the child-friendliness as well.
You can find several tutorials in the package that will tell you the exact amount of light the plants need and how to grow tasty food.
What’s in the Box
Here’s what you get in the box:
- A pipe and a bracket;
- An adapter;
- A timer;
- 108 growth sponges for seeds;
- 108 net cups;
- A 12V DC pump;
- a Hose;
- A manual for your timer;
- A tutorial on planting;
- Full installation instructions.
As up to 108 plants can grow in this NFT system, keep in mind that all the plants will need enough sunshine. Make sure you locate the structure where needed or install growing lights to achieve 24/7 gardening.
|Eco-friendly product;||None found.|
|Suitable for home projects;|
|A full set of instructions included.|
3. VIVOSUN Hydroponic Grow Kit – Best Thick and Sturdy Option
Doubling the yield while using less water and space is possible with this hydroponic kit. It’s great for beginners as well due to the ease of installation and use. The construction is quite sturdy and durable. You can grow anything from veggies to flowers using this system.
Grow up to 108 plants at once!
Smart Timer for Easy NFT Growing
The kit includes a timer-based circulation system. You can adjust it manually or leave the function automatic. It will switch on the pump for 5 minutes every half an hour. With such timing, NFT works at its best.
Such an approach also makes the pump more durable and saves water and nutrients.
Great for Beginners
The structure is very easy to install. Plus, you’ll get instructions on the setup and timer in the package. Follow the manual for a flawless installation with no hassle. Even if this is your first project, connecting several pipes and adjusting the timer won’t take a lot of time and effort.
What’s in the Box
Let’s see what you’ll get:
- Planting pipes;
- A pump timer;
- A pump;
- A power plug;
- A planting baster and a sponge;
- Instructions on planting;
- Installation tutorial
- Timer tutorial.
Along with all the benefits, you also get a 1-year warranty from a manufacturer for the kit and all accessories. We love that it has a full set of instructions, which makes it very easy even for people who have never grown anything hydroponically to finally do it.
The structure is durable and convenient in use and maintenance. The timer makes it easier to get sufficient results.
|Durable;||The parts are metric.|
|108 plants at once;|
|3 tutorials included;|
|Great for beginners.|
4. OPCOM Farm GrowWall – Vertical Hydroponic Growing System – Best Indoor NFT Grow System
This is an indoor NFT grow system for those who live in apartments or want some greens in their office. You have 5 levels for domestic or commercial growing with 15 pots on each level. You get 75 fresh vegetables in one session. The vertical structure saves a lot of space. If this is a priority for you, consider the OPCOM Farm GrowWall.
At home or office, there might be no free spot for a grow wall where it would get enough sunlight. If you don’t give it to the plants, they will grow malnourished and won’t provide much of a benefit for you.
That’s why this model has a patent-pending 4” grow light that can be adjusted by height and angle. First of all, it’s good for the plants, and you get desired results. Then, it’s a whole light show that can become the main decoration of your house or office.
The model provides automatic control over the day-night need cycle of the plants, supplying them with light and water when necessary. This saves electricity, water, and nutrients, nourishes the food and flowers properly, and makes the system low to no maintenance.
Starter Kit Included
Most NFT systems don’t include seeds. This one has everything for you to begin growing right after the setup is finished. You get sponges with the seeds in seedling kits already, nourishments packs, as well as pH adjuster for water and nutrient mix.
This is one of the most convenient automatic indoor NFT grow system. It’s great both for beginners and professionals. The first group gets the ease of use and great results, the second one gets advanced tech and new experience.
|Smart timer and lights;||May be difficult to unpack and install.|
|Starter kit with seeds and nutrients;|
|Great for beginners;|
|Pending-patent growing lights.|
5. Back to the Roots Water Garden, Self-Cleaning Fish Tank, Mini Aquaponic Ecosystem – Best Aquaponic NFT System
A more interesting solution than a regular hydroponic system, this aquaponic NFT one may become a great gift or family project. If you’re looking not only for functionality but for creativity and something special, consider this option.
A Self-Cleaning Option
The system works automatically; not with the use of technology but naturally. The waste accumulating from the fish in their water tank feeds the roots of your plants. They, in return, clean water, making it suitable for the fish to live in.
The system comes with a STEM curriculum for children. Let your family learn about hydroponics and aquaponics by having a live example nearby. The model can become a great gift as well. This stress-free system includes everything necessary (except for fish, of course).
USA-Made with Guarantees
The units are made in the USA. If you want to support domestic manufacture, this may be a great choice. Besides, the manufacturer gives a 100% growth guarantee. If for some reason, you don’t succeed, you’ll get a new system or a full refund.
This is definitely a great, creative way to:
- Grow microgreens and succulents;
- Entertain your family;
- Educate your kids;
- Get a couple of pet fish.
Also, domestic manufacture and lots of guarantees make this option one-of-a-kind. This is not hydroponics, actually, but a subcategory of it, it’s one of the best aquaponic NFT systems.
|100% growth guarantee;|
Best Hydroponics NFT System – Buyer’s Guide
Hydroponics was a real breakthrough in the world of gardening at one point. Now, almost everyone has heard of it, and the new subcategories and tech are released every year. Now we have aquaponics and aeroponics. We have lots of subtypes of each of those as well.
NFT (nutrient film technique) is one of the most common hydroponics techniques. It’s very popular among commercial growers, but we chose not to review the large systems that cost thousands of dollars. We’re working for regular people who want some fresh greens in their homes or offices.
By the way, did you know that hydroponics may actually be an ancient practice? The Hanging Gardens of Babylon may have been grown hydroponically. All the new things are just well-forgotten old things, right?
How Does NFT Hydroponics Work?
First of all, let’s memorize that NFT hydroponics works best with small plants that grow quickly. Leafy greens, microgreens, and strawberries are the best examples.
It’s similar to the ebb and flow technique. However, instead of flooding and draining the nutrient mix to feed the roots, the film technique is constantly flowing. It requires moving parts to deliver results, unlike wicking, for example.
The key is a very shallow layer of nutrient pouring through special tubes. The roots make contact with the solution and get proper nourishment when needed.
The roots of the plants grow together to form a mat. As a result, a thin layer of nutrients is enough to feed every root. The water then is drained back to the reservoir to save nutrients, water, and energy. Usually, the grow tray is located at an angle. It should be able to channel water with nutrients to the drain pipe.
The result: you have healthy, watered, not-soaked plants in a reasonably wet environment. The upper parts of the roots are kept dry to make sure the plants get enough oxygen. Such a system is almost autonomous, so you have little to worry about.
Short aquaponics system schema example on img
What’s Important in Hydroponics?
The most important factors you should be looking after are:
- Proper nutrient mix.
Every kind of plant needs its own nutrient mix. There are micro and macro-nutrients, and finding a proper mix yourself is very difficult, especially if you’re not a professional. Many companies recommend solutions, but you can choose any from a special shop. The balance of water and the mix are also very important.
- Proper temperature.
Of course, you need to create a suitable microclimate for your plants. The system may suffer from extreme temperatures as well. The water may evaporate more quickly or the plants may dry out.
- Proper aeration.
Both growing media and liquid cultures need suitable aeration to be able to grow and thrive.
- Proper Buffer Action.
This means how well you can manage pH and EC (electrical conductivity) balances of the nutrient mix and water. There are special solutions for cases when you need to lower or increase the levels.
BONUS: What Do I Need to Build an NFT Hydroponics System?
Here are the basic elements you will need:
- Water and nutrient solution reservoir;
- Tubes for mix distribution to the NFT;
- A channel where the plants will be located;
- Net pots for the plants;
- A return system for the solution to get back to the reservoir;
- A nutrient pump.
Out of all these, two elements are the most important: the growing tray and the water tank where your nutrient solution will be.
In the net pots, some growers choose to use a growing media while others want the roots to get more oxygen and “eat” right from the water. The latter is the most popular practice that requires minimal effort.
Pros and Cons of NFT Hydroponics
Everything has its advantages and disadvantages. The nutrient film technique in hydroponics isn’t an exception.
|Here are the pros:||Cons|
You can see the roots anytime, inspect them for diseases and overall condition. Such inspections are very important.
|If for some reason, the flow is interrupted, the roots may become damaged very quickly, which may lead to poor consequences for the plants;|
NFT systems offer a high level of water, nutrient, and energy efficiency. The “film” is very thin, and the water recirculates to the reservoir and then back to the channel again.
|When you install the system and run it for the first time, the channel may heat up quickly and make it uncomfortable for the plants. With time, due to the constant nutrient flow, the surface cools down;|
|No hassle with growing media.|
You don’t need to think about the disposal, supply, and other effort-intensive actions when using a growing media. This also adds to the cost of maintenance of your system, not to mention the time you’ll have to spend cleaning and changing the media.
|Plants that grow too actively in their root area may block the channels;|
Most systems are eco-friendly. They don’t contaminate groundwater, every element is durable (if it’s a good system). The materials used are usually food-grade, which means you’ll be able to grow healthy food.
|Not all plants can be grown using the NFT system; only small ones that grow fast;|
It’s quite easy to disinfect the system and the roots when everything is in plain sight. Other kinds of hydroponic systems are more difficult to clean and sanitize.
|If it’s hot outside and the pump fails, you should expect the death of your crops in several hours.|
|pH and EC balance.|
While constantly feeding and flushing, the roots can maintain proper levels of pH and EC. Besides, the salt buildup is very uncommon in such systems, which is good both for the equipment and for your plants.
NFT hydroponics is an easy, efficient way of growing leafy greens, vegetables, even flowers hassle-free. For the best result, you need a system that is of great quality and a brand you can trust.
Above, we’ve presented 5 cool models. The choice was difficult, but after extensive research, that list was clear and sound. We really hope you got something new from the article and now the terms of hydroponics don’t scare you.
Take up a new hobby! Get yourself a small set first and see if NFT is your cup of tea!