PVC Hydroponics Unit




Introduction: PVC Hydroponics Unit

BTW I haven't stolen this tut, it's just from my blog (chunkyonchia.com) and I thought I'd share here too! This hydro is successful and low cost and high yield. It's a beginners set up. I was inspired by this instructable.

So why Hydroponics?

I’ve always associated hydroponics with poorly grown marijuana and mass-produced low-taste/nutrient food. Well, I’ve been studying up recently, and I’ve come across a few interesting facts


  • 90% less water usage
  • 20% faster growth
  • 30% more growth
  • complete nutrient control
  • less plant stress – roots are fed all they need
  • no fertilisers leaking into ground water
  • Not much $ for up-keep


  • plants die quickly without nutrients
  • If there are gaps of light, algae can grow
  • Bigger setups can deprive lower levels of enough nutrient
  • Can be expensive

I’ve read in a few places that hydro isn’t natural or healthy, but it seems to me that providing all of the food your plant needs is as natural as it gets. Instead of the roots reaching out on a constant quest for nutrients, they get to spend more time growing up top.

We all know I love a good project! This was something I wanted to build without spending too much money. I have read that a few set ups cost $100’s, but I knew I could make it for less. Mine cost approximately $150 – including plants, food, and an attachment that I will talk about in another post. So the mechanism itself cost around $80 to make from brand new.

I have made a ‘Nutrient Film Technique‘ system – whereby nutrients are continuously flowing over the roots, allowing for lots of oxygen and food – more info here. Gravity does much of the work! The water trickles down past all of the plants, then falls into the box at the end. This box contains a cheap water pump, which pushes the water through a hose and back to the top of the pipe, to repeat the cycle. You add the plant food into that box.

Step 1: Assemble Your Gear


  • 4 straight pipes of PVC (you can use more or less though I recommend that you don't make it too much longer than this as the plants down the bottom may end up with less food and suffer as a result of this!)
  • 8 PVC ends with a 90* curve
  • 1 PVC flat cap
  • PVC glue
  • Big tub (it's a preference that the tub not be transparent as this can increase algae growth)
  • small water feature pump
  • length of hose pipe
  • 2 pallets
  • rope
  • plastic cups

You'll need a drill. I actually used a dremel to cut the holes.

A permanent maker needed for measuring the cups

Step 2: Cut Out the Cup Bits.

Take one of the plastic cups and cut it in half. You will need this to know how big your cup slots need to be. Measure out with a permanent marker. Space the cup marking along the PVC pipes, evenly.

Use your dremel to cup the holes.

You can see in my pic above that I messed up, and drew a few holes and they weren't spaced nicely!

Step 3: Assemble the Thing


This bit is the sucky part, and if you have someone to help, then use them. I did this alone!

  1. Connect the four lengths of PVC, and attach the corner pieces to each end. Don't glue yet.
  2. Arrange the PVC bits in the rough design, as seen in the pic - zig zag shape
  3. Use the rope to tie the PVC pipes on the approximate space on your pallet. Check that the 90*C pipe bits are able to match up and connect well. Remember gravity needs to pull the water downwards into the big tub at the bottom, so imagine you're making a wicked water slide.
  4. Use the PVC glue to connect both the PVC corner parts to the pipe AND to the connecting corners.
  5. Allow it to dry.

Step 4: Place the Cups in the Set-up

Check it all looks OK

You can also position the tub to sit under the last/lower PVC pipe.

Step 5: The Cups

I originally added holes etc for draining in the base of the cups, but found them unnecessary for the design I use.

I found cutting an X in the base of each cup was sufficient. I would feed my roots through, allowing them to dangle into the base of the PVC rivers. Or PVC water slides.

Step 6: Add You Water Set-Up

To make the water goooooo:

  1. Place the water pump in the base of the tub. The needs to have a lid, and a hole drilled in that lid for the hose pipe AND for the PVC pipe to flow into.
  2. Attach the length of pipe to it.
  3. Feed the hose up to the top pipe. It needs to spurt water up top continuously.
  4. In that flat PVC cap, drill a hole to fit the hose pipe through. This will keep it all sealed. I don't recommend gluing this cap one.

You can see it on the left hand side in the pic above.

Step 7: Place Your Plants in the System

Check all of your roots are hanging into the water stream. If your plants are a bit wobbly in the cups, I sometimes add rocks or perlite into the base of the cups, to add some steadiness.

This pic shows the difference of plant growth -

TOP PIC is the Day 1 of Week 1

BOTTOM PIC is Week 3

Step 8: Enjoy Your Hydro Plants!

Buy some plant food.

Use a half strength nutrient solution to start your plants off, moving to two thirds to full dosage rate (as detailed on the bottle) after the first nutrient solution change (about 7 – 10 days after planting).

Change nutrients every 2-3 weeks

check pH often (between 5.8-6.2pH trim roots frequently give your plants love


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    Question 2 years ago

    Length and diameter of the straight pipes?


    Answer 5 months ago

    Bro seriously!!! The man told us what diameter pvs to use. Get creative if the length and make it to suit your style and needs..


    4 years ago

    I have a question, how long are the straight pvc pipes?


    5 years ago

    Looks like a good design!


    5 years ago

    Good system however I really would recommend using the mesh pots designed for hydroponics aswell as clay balls for keeping the plant upright.

    The plants grows different roots for different purposes. Big thick roots with no fine hairs on are ones that don't get any water and they are the ones that grow longer to reach the water.

    The roots with fine hairs and offshoots are the ones that actually feed your plants. And are usually in the water.

    Also nutrients vary in quality.
    Silicon helps keeps your plants strong and fight dieases and also helps defend against wind.

    Canna nutrients are extremely good they have a vegative nutrients and bloom/flower nutrients.

    Also dosing a small amount of calmag helps your plants get the micro nutrients that would otherwise be missing from the water. Which can affect yields and growth.

    These affect the yields massively.

    Had a bumper crop from my strawberries this year in a system like this but it's attached to a wall like a trellis that hangs my berries down.


    6 years ago

    "Change nutrients every 2-3 weeks"

    Are you draining and refilling the system?
    Do you need to sanitize the components before?


    Reply 5 years ago

    Aslong as you have running water at all times I haven't changed my hydroponic systems water in well over 6 months.


    6 years ago

    thank you for posting, I look forward to making one with the kids...

    Very neat! Seems quite complicated, but thankfully it seems like you really know what you are doing!