When venturing into the exciting, new gardening world of hydroponics, some might want to test the waters with a starter hydroponic kit. While hydroponics isn’t tricky to master, we understand some might want to see how efficient it is before they heavily invest.
Another factor in selecting a beginner kit is that you lack the space in your home to accommodate a large-scale system. After all, hydroponic setups can take up a large chunk of space.
For some beginners, you might be even wondering what is hydroponic gardening?
So, let’s define what hydroponic gardening is.
Quick glance at the best hydroponic starter kits:
- AeroGarden Bounty Elite – Best Overall Beginner Kit
- Rise Gardens Personal Garden and Starter Kit – Best Looking Unit
- Back To The Roots Water Garden – Best Beginners Aquaponics System
- iDOO Hydroponic Growing System – Best Budget Setup
- ingarden Superfood Growing Kit – Best Micro Greens Hydroponic System
Best Hydroponic Starter Kits
AeroGarden Bounty Elite – Best Overall Beginner Kit
One of the most technically advanced starter hydroponic kits on the market, the cutting-edge tech on this system makes it easier to get the most out of your crop. It is compatible with Alexa and is WiFi-enabled, allowing you complete control over the grow.
This connectivity also allows you to monitor water levels, adjust lighting, and program the best schedule for your plants.
The system promises the best results 365 days a year. It comes with nine pots that are big enough for plants that can grow up to 24 inches tall, and an adjustable LED grow light that pumps out 50 watts of power.
It also comes with a hi-res control panel, which allows for easy reading and keeps you updated on the condition of the crop. Also programmed into the easy-to-use control panel is a quick plant guide to help you start your garden, over 140 gardening tips functions, and light dimming functionality.
Then, there’s the fact it has the largest countertop garden bowl on the market, which means more extended periods between refills.
- Power and water-efficient
- Easy to use
- Guarantees nice yields
- It is relatively expensive, but it will get you into hydroponic gardening quickly
Rise Gardens Personal Garden and Starter Kit – Best Looking Unit
With its elegant bamboo frame and simple design, the Rise Gardens Personal Garden and Starter kit is a beautiful tabletop hydroponic setup.
It is also WiFi enabled and comes with an app that allows for remote control over the grow. There’s also an intelligent watering system that will utilize less water, only delivering what’s needed.
The cutting-edge lights are full-spectrum LED and promise to deliver the right amount of light.
Finally, the package includes seed pods, a nutrients kit, net cups, and a small nursery for free.
And if you’re ready to expand your operations, the Rise system allows for an easy expansion set.
- Power and water-efficient
- Easy to use
- Aesthetically pleasing
- Expensive first off investment
- Not enough room to allow plants to reach their full potential
Back To The Roots Water Garden – Best Beginners Aquaponics System
While this is an aquaponics system, we believe this is a must for young gardeners. Allowing for plants from microgreens to houseplants, the Back To The Roots Water Garden is easy to use and set up.
By utilizing an aquaponics setup, you can also have fish as pets and showcase a fantastic enclosed micro-environment.
The tiny eco-system works by the fish producing nutrient-rich waste into the water, which is then absorbed by the plants that clean the water, and the clean filtered water feeds back into the system.
As a package, it contains organic microgreen seeds, grow stones, and more information in pamphlets.
If you’re looking at harvesting a crop, you might want to avoid this system as it is for educational purposes.
But it’s so much fun to watch as a beginner; we had to mention it.
- Easy to use
- Not going to yield large crops
- Only an educational display
iDOO Hydroponic Growing System – Best Beginners Aquaponics System
As one of the better-selling tabletop hydroponic units, we’re not surprised it is a public favorite.
Equipped with two full-spectrum LED grow lights with 22-watts of power, the lighting rig can adjust its spectrum for specific growth cycles. And being able to tap into changing light spectrums will assist with grow timings.
The tank holds roughly a gallon of water and has room for 12 plants to grow up to 11.92 inches tall. Also, the water reservoir has an easy-to-read water level indicator.
A cooling fan is positioned in the height-adjustable LED lighting rig to ensure it doesn’t overheat.
And the self-contained pump is also extremely quiet and has a built-in timer.
And lastly, the unit is nicely designed with easy-to-reach water filling ports in the growing tray, making it a simple job to top up.
The package also includes six covers, 12 tags, two nutrients bottles, 12 grow domes, 12 containers, and 24 sponges. All you need to add is water, and you’re ready to start growing.
- Price point and value for money
- Easy to use
- Some parts might break
ingarden Superfood Growing Kit – Best Micro Greens Hydroponic System
ingarden took the coveted title of being the Top Home Brand Awarded By Computer Bild in 2022 and also won a Red Dot Design award.
Designed to be the best budget micro green system, it is beautiful to behold and is available in four fantastic colors.
The materials used are also quality, with most of the structure made from stainless steel. The bowl is a hand-crafted ceramic. It also uses only recycled cardboard for its packaging.
This unit comes with an LED light that is full-spectrum, ensuring the best-balanced light for your plants. The ingarden unit is excellent for microgreens, but don’t expect it to handle anything more extensive.
The package includes three seed packs: red cabbage, radish, and mustard.
- Beautiful to behold
- Easy to set up
- Award-winning design
- Not completely fool-proof
- The reservoir is only large enough for microgreens
Now, let’s talk about what criteria these start kits needed to meet.
What We Were Looking For In A Starter Hydroponic Kit
When it came time to review and start hydroponic kits, we considered numerous elements. These include:
At the heart of most hydroponic systems is the reservoir. Most of the starter kits were tabletop units, which meant the reservoir acted as the growing chamber.
We were interested to see that growing chambers could handle the root space for plants. Smaller growing chambers mean you’re only to accommodate a few plants, which will hamper your harvest potential.
But your starter hydroponic kit is unlikely to be used to grow large amounts of produce. So, we focused on its ability to provide small herbs and micro-greens.
But, bigger is better (well more is better, but that doesn’t roll off the tongue as nicely), and we marked accordingly.
As with all hydroponic units and setups, there’s no soil involved in cultivating the plants. While many of these units will market themselves as the ‘no fuss, no dirt’ alternative, it’s not a selling point.
But what type of growing medium they do include in their kit is a selling point.
We marked up for generally accepted growing mediums such as lightweight expanded clay aggregate (LECA) balls, Rockwool, and light growing mix.
Most of these units come with sponges or rocks, which will work, but they’re not the growing medium you will want to carry on using when you’re feeling more comfortable about hydroponic growing.
Air Stone, Pumps, And Aeration Devices
Getting air to the roots of your plants is a matter of life and death. We apologize for being overly dramatic, but it is the truth.
Most of the kits reviewed did not need the addition of an air stone. They came with water pumps to ensure the flow of water, which generates air. While nothing stops you from adding additional air pumps or air rocks, most of these systems have been designed to work perfectly with the aeration devices attached.
We were careful to consider if we thought the systems could do with an upgrade. But luckily, most were good enough with the package.
Most units promised that seed pots would start to show growth within a few days. If we’re honest, it shouldn’t be surprising considering the seeds they are providing.
But we digress. What other elements did we focus on?
LED lights have changed the game in the indoor horticultural world. Most units that included lighting came with full-spectrum rigs.
Some of the units allowed the gardener to adjust the lighting spectrum, which is a huge plus, as the right light will assist the plant in achieving its best potential.
While you can add an after-market LED light to those without if you’re keen, it should be enough if you place some of these starter kits in a sunny kitchen or bathroom window.
Check out our buying guide: Best Hydroponic Grow Lights
The materials used in these units matter. If you want to hold onto them for several years, you will want to purchase a starter kit made from stainless steel and not plastics.
Most of the packages we selected used only the best materials. But try to avoid cheap plastics.
As a hydroponic kit designed for beginners, these needed to be easy to use, install, and learn from. After all, this is just the beginning of your hydroponic journey.
We deliberately selected some packages as they were great examples of academic units that would allow users to expand their knowledge and, later, their hydroponic setup.
This also was extended to general use, and as some of these units allow for an integrated app, nothing could be simpler.
And for those just starting out who don’t want to be tied down at home with their hydroponic unit, the systems that are Wi-Fi enabled means users can remotely program their systems.
So, no need to call a housesitter in.
As most of these units will live indoors, they need to be good looking. We appreciate it when product designers pull out all the stops to create something beautiful.
While the aesthetics might seem superficial, the design also affects the user experience. When you combine the two, you highlight something significant for the starter-hydroponic kit.
The investment cost of getting into hydroponics can be a significant hurdle to overcome. Price matters if you’re looking to get started in the hydroponic world.
So, pricing was one of the cornerstone issues when reviewing units.
Final Thoughts on Hydroponic Starter Kits
There’s no better time to start hydroponics than the present. Over time, it can deliver fantastic produce, be educational, and save you money on general operating costs.
But overall, our winner that was the best in all these elements has to be AeroGarden Bounty Elite. It is a fantastic product and you can’t go wrong selecting it – if you have access to the capital.
Our other top choice would be the iDoo system as it comes with all the bells and whistles but at a fraction of the cost. If you’re just interested in trying out hydroponic gardening that might be what matters.