Tuesday, March 8, 2011
To Build Or To Buy? Part 2
The question quickly presented itself….to build or to buy? I began searching those retail websites I had previously disregarded for their products and designs. If they can sell a system for $100, $200, $1000 or more, there must be something to it. I surfed retail sites and visited hydroponic shops for design, size, features, and drawbacks.
I was interested in Ebb and Flow and Deep Water Culture systems, so that is where I focused my searches. There were plenty available in all price ranges, capacities, and durability. The common thread was reservoir and growing tubs and fixtures/connectors.
I copied measurements and capacities from websites and catalogs and set out to the local box stores to buy the pieces of my systems. Virtually all retail hydroponic system parts can be replicated with non-hydroponic specific parts. Reservoir and growing tubs are by far the biggest cost savers from 20% to over 80% of retail systems. Drain fittings and tubing are roughly the same cost as hydro-specific, but money can be saved there as well. Common aquarium and submersible pond pumps are an easy substitute over hydro specific, but these require some shopping around as well. Net pots, grow medium, and nutrients can be substituted, but I left those to hydro dealers as I didn’t see a cost savings over non-specific substitutes and the time required to replicate them. This is especially true for my approach for nutrients.
As I outlined in an earlier post, the cost savings of building my own systems have been substantial. If this were strictly a hobby with an unlimited budget, a retail system would easily be my choice as so many are “plug and play”. There are some proven designs that really influenced my systems and there are several more I am copying for future expansion to include Nutrient Film Technique (NFT) and drip systems.
Although building my own systems fit my needs, don’t discount retail systems and retail websites and vendors. Comparing retail systems is an education in itself and it seems I am always stumbling over a new design or way of solving a problem. I will continue to build my own, but with a close eye on the experts.
Posted by Mister H at 5:10 AM