The Different Types of Hydroponic Water Filtration Systems
Water is, quite literally, the biggest and most important element in your hydroponics system. As such, you want to make sure the water in your system as clean and pure as possible without depriving your plants of the necessary nutrients most water carries. Adding a water filtration device or system to your system can help remove contaminants, salts, minerals, chemicals, and other detritus and encourage your plants to thrive; however, different systems do different things, and every system has its drawbacks, as well as its advantages. Need to be pointed in the right direction about water filtration, how it works, and what sorts of devices can provide it? Here’s a breakdown of the different types of hydroponic water filtration systems and the equipment you can purchase and connect to your system to ensure fuller, healthier crops.
Why Do You Need To Filter Hydroponic Water?
Let’s begin with the specific reasons why you need to filter the water in your hydroponics system—and keep on filtering it. Obviously, plants need a steady stream of clean and pure water to grow and live—but not too clean! If that doesn’t make sense, consider this. While you can water your plants with distilled water (rainwater is a good source of distilled water, but you can also purchase or distill your own), plants also require a certain measure of minerals and other nutrients in order to survive, grow, and flourish. These specific nutrients include hydrogen, carbon, potassium, phosphorous, nitrogen, and several others, to greater and lesser degrees. These and similar minerals are referred to as total dissolved solids (or TDS) and are present in various amounts. Your system’s water also needs to possess a pH level between 5.5. and 6—on average for most plants, though others might require more or less—to ensure nutrients are available and able to be consumed and processed by your crops.
More likely than not, you use tap water which brings with it the extra burden of removing the chlorine, chloramine, fluoride, and other chemicals. These are added to kill bacteria and other microbes and make tap water drinkable and usable for cooking, which is great for humans, but not so great for plants. Usually, in gardens grown in the earth, the soil takes care of filtering out the chemicals in tap water, but obviously, a hydroponics growing system doesn’t have this ability. While you can remove chlorine from tap water by letting it sit in the sunlight, chloramine requires filters and other processes to be removed entirely. Either way, water needs to contain certain kinds of microbes that can support your crop’s growth and fruitfulness, and chlorine and chloramine are total microbe killers. That said, and overall, water filtration systems help keep the water delivered to your plants at the proper pH and with reduced levels of harmful chemicals. When picking a system, most sites and experts recommend considering how much water you need to purify, the amount of time needed to process and purify it and how much you’re willing to spend. In addition, you should also consider the amount of work you need to expend to keep the system running smoothly, vis a vis cleaning, maintenance, and repairs.
Whatever water filtration system you pick, here are a few means and methods of making it happen.
When you plan to install a grow room water filter, you have a few options. The first is reverse osmosis, which is a popular method, but not without its limitations. Reverse osmosis does a bang-up job of purifying the water and removing the worst of the chemicals and minerals in tap water, including chloramine, heavy metals, and other particles. If your system uses a lot of water, reverse osmosis can handle the excess and provide more freedom to add the levels of nutrition your system needs and that you prefer. On the other hand, you better be ready to stay on top of your budget, because reverse osmosis filters are electricity hogs. Another oxymoronic drawback is that you must make sure the water entering your reverse osmosis filter is pre-filtered; otherwise, you risk clogging the system. By some accounts, reverse osmosis filters don’t necessarily provide 100-percent clean water, so you’ll have to perform a few calculations there, too. On the other hand, reverse osmosis system filters last longer than the following systems listed below.
Carbon and charcoal have long been used to purify water by absorption of the various chemicals mentioned above. Carbon filters come in two styles: activated carbon and catalytic carbon. What’s the difference? Well, as mentioned, both are very good at removing chloramine and all the rest, with activated charcoal adding healthful minerals like calcium, magnesium, and iron. That way, you’ll know your water is good before you use it, and carbon filters will keep it in good shape at a lower price than a reverse osmosis filter. On the other hand, whatever you save might need to be put toward buying replacement filters, since they run out faster.
Activated carbon is the lesser of the two methods and is, therefore, the more affordable option. It does the job of purification, but catalytic carbon is useful in eliminating trihalomethanes, volatile organic compounds, and hydrogen sulfide. Catalytic carbon is better, but you will pay for its effectiveness. One other thing, carbon can handle the larger molecules, but smaller ones will squeak by, making it slightly less effective than reverse osmosis.
Filtering Out the Filters
There are, of course, specific kinds of filter devices that employ these two methods, and they may or may not be applicable to your own system. Among the different types of hydroponic water filtration systems, dechlorinators do what they sound like they do—remove chlorine and chloramine. In addition, sediment water filters remove sediment and other solid materials that your local water treatment plant might have missed, the presence of which can seriously affect your grow and system. This is because filters can prevent your hydroponics system from becoming cluttered with such junk, as well and keeping your water pure. Whatever system you choose to install, it will go a long way toward keeping your system clean, your plants happy, and you from pulling your hair out wondering why your crops aren’t getting the hydration, nutrition, and other good stuff that they need to grow and thrive.