Alternative to my first Hydro system

nselleslMay 22, 2013

Hi all,

Because of ecological and health reasons, our family has started growing our food hydroponically a while back. The ambition was to grow as much as we could hydroponically, without too much chemicals and great yields.

So far, we've been doing fine. We have 12 paprika plants, 20 tomato plants and around 25 kinds of salad plants as a first experiment with Hydro. I have built a deep water culture myself (no hydro shops here), using big containers and metal wires.

The whole thing is working fine, everything tastes good etcetera, but the noise is too much. The airpump, a hailea 9630, makes quite some noise. So, I started looking for alternatives, as the noise from this pump is hearable in adjacent rooms at night and possibly bothers the neighbours.

I chose this pump because it had 8 outlets and great airflow and said it was silent. My research suggest hailea wasn't a very intelligent choice, perhaps tetratec. But then I have to buy at least 3 to 4 pumps of the APS 400 to support all my tanks.

The question thus becomes whether or not I should continue DWC. I've invested quite some money in it already, so i'd like to reuse as much as possible. But on the other hand, I'd like a silent farm more. But all the solutions I find online, are for single plants, but never for bigger farms.

So my question is, do you know how I can have a great air output for these amount of plants with a minimum of noise, or is this simply not possible? Would a drip-system then be a more silent solution, or should I just go back to soil growing?

All help is much appreciated!

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it won't let me post a link but you can go to amazon and find the kind of pump your looking for and you find 8 port air pumps that are fairly inexpensive compared to some others that are out there

This post was edited by nu2hydro on Wed, May 22, 13 at 8:51

    Bookmark   May 22, 2013 at 7:41AM
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Well there are a number of options:
you could used a submersible water pump to create a waterfall for aeration. It's not silent but not nearly as objectionable as air pumps/
you could try to create isolation of the pump from the surroundings. normally its not the pump that is so loud as much as it is the noise created from shaking what it is sitting on. one possibilty is to hang the pump from strings. at the top of the strings, between the string and what it connects to add a loose-ish spring to absorb the vibration.
build a simple sound proof box. simply get a cardboard box and line all six sides with egg cartons on the inside. then put the pump inside on a small piece of wood or other flat surface.
modify your system to make it a recirculating DWC system where the nutrient is aerated at a single source then distributed to the various sub-reservoirs. personally I'm not a fan myself but I have seen it discussed here before.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2013 at 9:32AM
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Thanks for your input so far!

Buying another pump could be another option, but I just want to make sure that when I do, I'm not going to have thesame problem as with my current 8-port hailea.

For the fountain system for aeration, it seems possible in theory, but in that case, the pump might be silenter, but the waterfall will create the noise, no?

As for the isolation, I've tried to do something similar. I put the pump in a modified box (with an exit at both sides, for power and for airline). The box is on top of a towel, the inside of the box has more carton and substances to lower the noise and vibrations. On top of the box is another towel. It lowers the noise a little, but not very much. The box is on top of a wooden table. I'll try egg cartons, but I don't see how this would make a big difference.

Modify the DWC system could be possible. I'm not sure about having the roots hang in un-bubbly water though. Wouldn't they rot, or improve the chances of rot development?

This is why I was considering a drip-system. That way, it doesnt need any air pumps. All sound should be a simply drip every now and then. On the other hand, I don't know if a drip system is still superior to soil.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2013 at 10:22AM
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nil13(z21 L.A., CA (Mt. Washington))

quick note from someone that has built soundbooths for recording musicians, egg cartons, insulation, acoustic tiles, etc, don't soundproof. They condition the sound in the room. So if you have a room with a lot of flat reflective surfaces you use that sort of stuff tomake the room sound quieter. If the problem is the loudness of a sound source, the solution is mass. Outside with noisy pool pumps we like to build a concrete block enclosure. Now obviously that won't work inside but I think it gets the point across. If I were to try to isolate the sound of a pump inside, I would probably start by making a box out of 2x3s and 1/2" drywall on both sides with all the drywall joints well caulked. obviously there is a need for ventilation so that opening is going to let a lot of noise out. Face it away from the living space. It would probably be a 3sided box with one side as the ventilation. so I guess it's more of a baffle directing the sound away from the living area. you could also soundproof the room a bit more by simply and fairly cheaply adding drywall channel over the existing drywall to isolate the new drywall and then adding another layer of drywall, the thicker the better, for added mass. Or add mass loaded vinyl that costs about $1.50/sqft.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2013 at 11:58AM
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nil13(z21 L.A., CA (Mt. Washington))

now if the box has mass, those egg cartons that grizz mentioned will help keep the box from amplifying any frequencies. It woukd also be a good idea to put egg cartons or other sound conditioning materials on the wall opposite the ventilation opening to further scatter the sound.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2013 at 12:05PM
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Put the pump outdoors in a box, the length of airline doesn`t make a difference. I have just started trying DWC in the water tank that collects rainwater and floating a few lettuce. working fine so far, not monitoring anything.
I am topping up from the pond that is well over stocked with koi but not returning like normal aquaponics, watering greenhouse with it then topping up from pond and topping pond up with hose pipe.

using air all over the place as the pumps are running anyway for the pond filters so just plugging in a few more air lines makes no difference. New to all this but my floating lettuce is accelerating past the wifes in soil!!!

    Bookmark   May 22, 2013 at 5:42PM
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About the soundproof box, fiberglass insulation works wonders. R-12 insulation will absorb a lot of sound. The catch is that you will also hold heat. It's a good idea to build a tiny fan to pump in air to cool your pump.

You could also just switch to a water pump and move water instead of air. That method makes noise, too, but it sounds more agreeable, like a waterfall sound.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2013 at 1:05AM
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nil13(z21 L.A., CA (Mt. Washington))

I'm sorry Cole, but sound engineers and clients of mine who have tried that say you are wrong. Insulation actually makes things worse. It doesn't have enough mass to absorb much energy and since sound passes through matter faster than the air gap in a wall it makes it easier for sound to get through a wall. It's an old wives er old contractor's tale with no basis in reality.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2013 at 11:08AM
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contractors typically run staggered stud walls to limit sound transmission between condominiums because, as you said, sound travels faster through solid matter than air.
The solution to sound problems, or more accurately sound transmission through objects, is not mass but natural frequency (of which mass is a component).
The point of the egg shells is not to absorb the sound but to deflect/redirect the sound so they will cancel each other out. They actually work very well as I have walked around homes with one wall egg crated and when behind it, the sound of the band playing inside was almost non-existent. (compared to anywhere else outside the house)

    Bookmark   May 23, 2013 at 11:24AM
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I'm only arguing because I've done it, which is how I know you need a fan to vent the trapped heat around the pump. A 2x4 frame and fiberglass insulation built around a well pump will make a night and day difference in regard to noise; I know that much. I have also used a big cooler, but the fiberglass is cheaper. I'm not saying other materials like drywall won't work too, but the fiberglass is cheap, quick, and easy to install.

As another added variable, my well pump may have been a higher-frequency sound, which from what I read is easier to soundproof.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2013 at 3:09PM
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nil13(z21 L.A., CA (Mt. Washington))

the reason for that is that, Grizz, is that a rectangular reflective room will amplify certain frequencies. By placing the eggcrate on the walls, the amplifying characteristics are minimized. However, it doesn't reduce sound transmission for that you need mass and isolation (for instance a circuitous pathway for the sound). The band sounds quieter because it's not being amplified by the room
not because the wall is reducing transmission. I once had a room that amplified 10k by 20dB. This is actually a huge problem in nightclubs with a lot of mirrors. You get a promoter telling a soundguy to turn the system up because the bass isn't loud enough, but the room is amplifying treble frequencies greatly. Since the promoter has hearing damage he can't tell that the treble is so loud it could almost make people's ears bleed. And the soundguy it just facepalming.

well yeah Cole, something is better than nothing.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2013 at 9:53PM
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nil13(z21 L.A., CA (Mt. Washington))

to be perfectly honest, Andy has the best idea. Put the pump outside.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2013 at 9:59PM
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Hmm, not all the proposals are possible since I currently live in an appartment. After moving, I might indeed put the pump outside.

For now, I think I'm going to buy one tetratec 2 outlet pump to test if its really as quiet as promised.

For the rest i'm going to try to build an isolation box with good passive aeration out of;

a big box
+ a thick layer of fiberglass
+ a thick layer of eggboxes
a hole under the fan
a whole on top (to let out hot air).
Bot hholes will have a barrier in front to break down the sound even further.

Would that work sufficiently you think?

    Bookmark   May 24, 2013 at 7:13AM
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The tetratec's aren't that quiet if they're on something that vibrates. They don't actually make noise, but they vibrate like the dickens.
I've used them before and that was when I started tinkering with suspending them to make them quieter. It really works well you just have to make absolutely sure they're not touching anything else.
On a side note (a rather interesting one, I might add), Nil, I understand the egg crate doesn't prevent noise transmission but by canceling frequencies you greatly diminish the amount of vibration received by the wall that is wanting to transmit it.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2013 at 7:54AM
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nil13(z21 L.A., CA (Mt. Washington))

it doesn't so much cancel frequencies as it stops amplification, which I suppose is a bit of a nitpick.

nsellesl, something is better than nothing. I would make sure the ventilation holes are big enouh to not restrict airflow at all.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2013 at 11:59AM
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nil13(z21 L.A., CA (Mt. Washington))

grizz, but here's the thing, if you have a room that amplifies certain frequencies and you are trying to make a sound source apparently quieter with sound conditioning materials, you have to fix the room. simply putting eggcrate around the source won't do much(still better than nothing). The sound will pass through the eggcrate and the room will then continue to amplify those same frequencies that it always has. the eggcrate will keep the box from amplifying frequencies but not the room.

I agree with the vibration bit. I always found air pump vibration to bethe biggest problem, especially if they are on a hard floor surface. Then they couple to the floor and the sound bypasses walls altogether.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2013 at 12:11PM
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The trouble you are going through now is what led me to favor ebb and flow over DWC. Yes, the yeilds from DWC can be greater, but in my opinion require a great deal more maintenance. I have been experimenting with hydroponics for a few years now, and have had some relative success. Ebb and Flow Systems only require a water pump, which is nearly inaudible, but you will need a timer in order to control flood duration and frequency. I am currently growing adult peppers in an Ebb and Flow system which contains rockwool slabs. Just for reference, I flood my systems 4 times daily, for 15 minutes each time. I am currently in my second flowering stage, and currently have over 70 Jalapeno's. To be completely honest, air pumps in general are fairly loud (even the "quiet" ones) I Still use air pumps to oxygenate my ebb and flow reservoirs though. Build: 4'x8" tray, 5 gal res. 100gal/hr pump. 600W MH.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2013 at 3:17PM
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Got pictures Slade122? that sounds pretty neat.

Another idea is to convert the DWC tanks to a drip system. Similar to Ebb and flow, it uses a water pump and a timer, but you can buy both for $30.00.

Most of the buckets were DWC buckets over the winter, but maintaining 10 DWC buckets in the summer heat is a pain in the butt, so I converted them.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   May 30, 2013 at 1:06PM
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This was my DWC/drip hybrid last year. basically a timer ran the water pump for 30 minutes 3 or 4 times a day. the pump poured water onto the 1/2 full one gallon pot (filled with hydroton) the drained back into the rez. the was no additional aeration of the nutrient water.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2013 at 2:06PM
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