Every garden can make use out of high-pressure aeroponics system. If you want to make your own, but don’t know how it functions or how to get it done then don’t worry. Today we’re answering this important question – how to build high-pressure aeroponics system.
Benefits and Downfalls of HPA
The benefits of HPA system are numerous such as its water use efficiency. It uses 98% less water than any other conventional plant growing method. You will need 2/3 of nutrients less than they are needed for soil and hydroponic growing methods. HPA system conserves space since you can plant more plants closer together. You won’t spend the money on soil, and by using the HPA system, you can double the production of crops annually.
No system is perfect, and neither is HPA. The main downfalls are that you will need more parts to assemble it compared to any other growing method. High pressure is generated by a high-pressure pump which is pretty expensive. HPA system requires frequent maintenance; the spray head might get often clogged because the salt is built upon it. Electricity powers the whole system. Any short failure of the system can lead to the loss of crops in minutes.
Aeroponic systems come in two types: HPA and LPA. LPA is the low-pressure aeroponics system, it costs lower than HPA and is most commonly used. Low-pressure systems have only a few miniature sprinkle heads, and they use a standard mag-drive pump with some tubing. The sprinkler head of an LPA system has large droplets that surround the roots of the plants. The LPA system wets the roots nonstop. These systems are cheap, very easy to build but they are not as efficient as HPA systems.
Contrary to low-pressure systems, the high-pressure ones operate above 80psi; the desired pressure is 100psi. The high pressure atomizes the water and creates small water droplets which are so small; they are measured in microns. HPA systems don’t run nonstop like LPA ones, they run around five seconds, and they are on a pause for about five minutes. To control the interval and to be able to create the mist of a proper size, HPA system requires specific components to be able to do so.
Droplet Size Explained
According to NASA, the plants absorb more nutrient water in five to fifty microns droplets than any other size. To sustain the aeroponic growth, the water droplet size is a crucial factor. If a droplet is too large, then it will provide less oxygen to the root. If, however, the droplet is too small, then the root will develop excessive hair without a lateral root system. To have droplets of the right size, HPA systems are the way to go; there’s just the thing that you will need precise timers that can be adjusted down to seconds.
HPA System Components
To build your own HPA system, you will need five basic components:
- High-pressure Pump
- Accumulator Tank
- Electrical Solenoid
- Pressure Switch
- Misting Nozzles
The High-Pressure Water Pump
The main component of an HPA system is the water pump. The pump has to be able to produce the droplet size of twenty to fifty microns. These kind of pumps are usually diaphragm type or the reverse osmosis boosters. The pump should produce a constant 80psi, so try to find one that can generate 100psi or even more.
When you buy the pump, set it somewhere between 80 and 100psi, any adjustments later will be difficult to be made. If you planned an expansion of your system later on, then get a Shur-flow pump, they are commonly used in soda machines and carpet cleaners.
The Accumulator Tank
You can find these tanks in many homes and RV’s to keep the right water pressure in the pipeline. Mainly, they prevent the pump from overworking. These tanks are pre-pressurized and are divided into two spaces. One space takes up the rubber bladder which expands according to the water pressure, and the other space is taken by the pressurized air.
The pressurized air is used to move the water out when the faucet is turned on. So now, we assume you might be thinking why would you need a tank if you already have a pump that can create the pressure? Well, let us go a little bit back, the water pump is the main component of the HPA system and the most expensive one.
The accumulator tank is there to extend its lifetime and to reduce the time of usage of it. In the long term, the tank will save you money, because if the pump gets broken, the replacement will be way more expensive than the tank.
The accumulator tank has one more key role, and that is to create a constant pressure once the solenoid is opened thus creating the right size droplets. In a system, without the accumulator tank, the size of the droplets wouldn’t be constant, and they would be bigger than they should be.
The Electrical Solenoid
The sole use of the solenoid is to start and stop the water flow to the system when the timer goes on and off. It’s an electronically operated valve. The solenoid is plugged into a relay timer circuit. The system is pretty similar to the simple automatic lawn sprinkler. The best timers for solenoid control are the ones that are accurate to one second on, and in the minutes off.
The Pressure Switch
This part of the system is controlling the pressure. Some pumps have it included, but it can be purchased separately as well. What it does is tell the pump at what pressure it’s supposed to turn on and off. Basically, it senses the pressure of the water, and when it gets too low, it turns on the pump. Once it measures the right pressure, it turns the pump off again. It should be set to turn the pump on at 80psi and off at 100psi.
Atomization of the water is achieved by pumping the water through small nozzles at high pressure. We want to save our nutrients, and the cost of operation, so smaller nozzles are what we need. Choose a full-cone nozzle pattern. Higher pressure nozzles have high velocity, and they can cut off the root hairs. Stay away from these. To prevent clogging, use a fine mesh filter prior to misting nozzles.
This might be a bit too much to grasp at once, but we wanted to give you plenty of information to make the process easier for you. If you understood the parts by now, then the rest of the process is simply connecting the parts. It’s a no-brainer. We hope our expert advice was interesting and helpful to you and that your plants will grow fast and healthy!