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Aeroponics Vs. Hydroponics: These are the Main Differences


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The modern-day farmer has a lot more to worry about than ever before, simply because there are so many new farming methods to look out for out there.

As time moved on, we have collectively strayed further and further away from the classic farming methods, bringing in our newly acquired knowledge and taking full advantage of everything that we’ve found out over the years to increase our production quantity and overall quality.

Out of all of the possible farming methods however, two have pretty much risen over every other technique out there.

Close up farmer hand in gloves harvest farm product fresh vegeta
Photo by KomootP / stock.adobe.com

We’re talking about the not-so-secret arts of aeroponics and hydroponics and if you’re interested to find out more about them then keep on reading because we’re just getting started.

So, what exactly is the difference between these two relatively newly discovered methods and more importantly how can we take advantage of them to the fullest?

These are the questions that we seek to answer with this guide, but before we actually get to the good stuff, we should properly start this off with a simple introduction to the concepts of aeroponics and hydroponics.

What is the Aeroponics Method?

Aeroponics Vs. Hydroponics 1
Photo by Globe Guide Media Inc / shutterstock.com

Aeroponics represents the process of growing plants in an air environment without the use of a growing medium. What this means is that the plants are actually left dangling around with their roots just hanging.

This is very efficient for the plants because you can actually spray the roots directly with nutrient-filled water as opposed to using the classic method.

Since the environment is fully under your control as well you can take out the bad weather risk or changing climate issues that most other methods have to deal with.

What is the Hydroponics Method?

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Hydroponics on the other hand implies you actually taking the plants and giving them the nutrient-rich solution by submerging them instead.

It is actually a much easier method to employ than the aeroponics method simply because you don’t need to keep a close eye on the plants at all times.

Since their roots are not constantly dangling around in the air, they won’t experience dryness anywhere near as much as they would using the aeroponics method.

The Many Differences Between Aeroponics and Hydroponics

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As you can tell right off the bat, both methods actually are used without any actual soil being involved, which is why these are known as “modern farming methods”.

Although they are very similar to one another in certain aspects too, there are a lot of differences that need to be addressed as well, such as:


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Let’s get this out of the way since we just got done talking about it, but essentially when it comes to their general presentation there is a huge difference that we need to address regarding it.

First and foremost, for aeroponics, the plants are suspended in the air with their roots dangling around for dear life. Next to the roots you will either have some sort of a mechanism that keeps the roots moist and healthy or you will have actual people there that take care of the plants for you.

Alternatively, you can be the one taking care of them as well, just remember that this is a very difficult job to take on all by yourself so you might need a bit of help here and there.

On the other side of the spectrum, we have hydroponics, the method that has plants either anchored to some sort of a growing medium or you will just have them completely submerged in nutrient-full water.

Out of these two, we would argue that the aeroponics method is a lot more modern looking, although at the same time it requires a lot more care and attention as it can go wrong very quickly, resulting in all of your plants drying away in no time.

Beginner Friendliness

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Both of these methods are actually quite easy to get around simply because they require a lot less attention than the traditional method that most farmers employ. But there is a huge difference between them in that they actually have varying degrees of difficulty to take care of properly.

For starters let’s take aeroponics into consideration. If you have the budget to take this method up for a spin then you will practically be flying through the process without a care in the world. But if you don’t have the money to invest into a good system you may need to work overtime to make it function properly.

So, if you actually take in the time and put the money where your mouth is this will be a decent beginner-friendly choice, just remember though that the prices will vary from system to system. Hydroponics is completely different in that it is a very straight-forward method that can be employed very easily by anyone practically overnight.

You can get started with simple DWC hydroponics also, making the process all the simpler to get into, but just in case you want to use a more complex system you can go for NFT, Ebb or Flow instead.

So, while they are both relatively easy to get into you do need to pick the one that you find more suitable for your own level of expertise


Hydroponic farm
Photo by Cultura Allies / stock.adobe.com

Another very interesting point to keep in mind is the cost-effectiveness of each of these two methods. First and foremost, it should be stated that they are both a lot more expensive to make use of as opposed to the traditional methods we all know of, but there is a catch here.

When it comes to maintaining your setup and making sure that you have no problems when it comes to the process itself, you will need to shill out a lot more money for the hydroponics setup than you would for most other methods out there.

This is because the hydroponics setup actually consumes a lot of electricity, and on top of that you will have to invest in a lot of accessories to keep your progress going, including pumps and even LED grow lights.

If you are already struggling with making ends meet you will probably not be able to sustain the hydroponic method for too long. At the same time however, the aeroponics setup can also be very difficult to maintain simply because it has a much higher initial cost to begin with.

Aeroponics is a much cleaner and more profitable means of farming but remember that all of that equipment is going to take a lot of money to actually get started.


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While there are a ton of different ways that you can personalize your garden if you wan to go for a traditional method of doing it, the fact of the matter is that going for an aeroponic system is actually going to be a lot more cookie cutter of a process.

Most aeroponic systems are vertically aligned, and these are by far the most popular ones simply because they give you the best results available. If you are going to go for a more unique build you will have to experiment a bit which can lead to you bleeding money or just not getting the results you’re looking for.

Hydroponic systems on the other hand are a lot easier to personalize simply because there is no one size, shape or layout that everyone goes for.

Hydroponic greenhouse
Photo by Jatuphon Buraphon / pixabay.com

Instead, you can actually customize your look as much as you want, you can go for a slightly bigger one for example if you have the room for it, although this will cost you a bit more to maintain.

If you prefer to go for a smaller sized setup then you can do so too, and while it will not lead to as much of a profit as a large or standard sized setup you will cut the costs down in half by the end of the day.

Another interesting fact to keep in mind about these two setups is the fact that for the most part, aeroponic systems are actually made up on a single unit, meaning that you again, can’t customize it all that well to make it your own.

On the other side of the spectrum, we have the hydroponic systems which are basically entanglements of pipes, hoses, tubes and whatnot that can all be acquired individually either before you actually start growing your greens or during it.

The Main Use

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For the most part, aeroponic systems are meant for smaller fruits, vegetables and herbs. This is because they are a lot easier to take care of and you can easily automate the whole system around them.

Leafy greens for example are very popular to grow around in aeroponic systems, especially because the soil can easily attract bacteria and other such pathogens like E. coli which is why most aeroponic users go for them.

Other than leafy greens, aeroponic users also love growing vine plants such as tomatoes, eggplants, watermelons and even a wide array of herbs as well. When it comes to hydroponic systems though the list goes on and on as far as what you can grow using this technique.

Basically, you can grow anything including shrubs, veggies, fruits, dwarf trees and even houseplants this way. It is a universally acclaimed method after all and while it does have its downsides, it is a very popular choice for a reason.

Different Setups

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As far as aeroponics setups go, there are three different options that you can go for, respectively Low-Pressure Aeroponics, High-Pressure Aeroponics and Ultrasonic Fogger Aeroponics.

The first of these that we need to bring up is of course, the Low-Pressure Aeroponics. This option is going to be your go-to if you’re just starting your journey as it requires minimal tools to actually get going and even better yet, you don’t need to actually know anything about it to have a good time using it.

This is by far the most affordable option we can thing of for aeroponics setups and it is very good for the users out there that don’t want to settle on just one or two plants. The only real issue with it is the fact that the low-pressure doesn’t provide the most useful nutrients to the plants which is why it’s so much more cost effective.

Organic hydroponic vegetables
Photo by lcrribeiro33 / stock.adobe.com

The second option on our list is the High-Pressure Aeroponics and this setup differs from the LPA in that the water is atomized to 50 microns which helps grow the plants way more effectively.

It is a lot more expensive to set up though and it requires you to have a lot of knowledge in the field to actually make full use of it. If you’re new to the system you may want to either ask for help from someone more experienced or just stick to the LPA.

Lastly on our list we have the Ultrasonic Fogger Aeroponics which forces the water to be atomized to less than five microns, turning it into a sort of a mist which is sprayed over the plants’ roots. This is pretty much the ideal way to grow your plants using a hydroponic system, although it is also the most expensive setup as well.

You will also need to know your way around a hydroponic system if you actually want to be able to do it properly.

Reasons for Going with an Aeroponics Setup

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If you are set on going with an Aeroponics setup you will be happy to hear that there are actually a lot of advantages to this choice.

  1. First of all, you get higher yields of plants from aeroponics as opposed to hydroponics. So if you’re strictly looking to make a profit out of your plants then you are better off going for an aeroponics setup.
  2. Second, actually taking your plants and moving them elsewhere is actually made a hundred times easier if you use an aeroponics setup. Since they are suspended in the air you can take them by the roots and simply move them elsewhere without any tears happening.
  3. Third, the aeroponics setup is known to be a lot healthier for your plants, especially when taking into consideration the fact that under your direct surveillance they can’t be messed with by pests or any other external factor. Bacteria is usually very hard to avoid while growing plants but you can practically remove this fear altogether by just switching to an aeroponics setup.
  4. Lastly, you need to understand the fact that water doesn’t come cheap, so going for a hydroponics setup can easily result in you having a much higher water bill by the end of the month.

You can save up to 25% of the water that you’d use in a hydroponic setup, and although this does still depend on your garden size, the numbers don’t lie here.

Reasons for Going with a Hydroponics Setup

modern agriculture

Alright, so now onto the other side of the fence we have hydroponics and every reason we could muster for switching to it.

  1. First of all, the initial costs will be a lot lower for the hydroponics setup simply because it is a lot simpler to get the tools for it. Aeroponics requires a lot of specialized machinery while for hydroponics you can use that money to invest into hydroponic nutrients which make your job all the easier on the long run.
  2. Secondly, we mentioned previously that this is the best option for the beginners simply because you can jump right into it without actually knowing anything regarding the process, you just need the initial investment and you’re settled.
  3. Third, this is a universal means of growing your plants, so you can pretty much grow anything without a care in the world.
  4. Last but not least, this is a more environmentally friendly option because most hydroponic systems are designed for recycling water.


hydroponics vegetable farm
Photo by Panumas / stock.adobe.com

So, regardless of which of these methods you decide to employ for your garden, it shouldn’t come off as a surprise that neither of them is the “better choice” because they each excel in their very own ways.

While some are tailored for newcomers, that doesn’t mean that you can’t use the other method if you’re completely new to the game, quite the contrary actually.

You can use whichever method you see fit for you, just remember that you will need to do a bit of research for some methods while for others you can just wing it the whole time.

Cost wise they are both a bit more expensive than the traditional method, although they are also a lot healthier for your plants so you can end up saving a lot of money on future transactions by keeping your plants healthy the whole time.

Aesthetically speaking, it all comes down to which one of these you prefer personally. We can’t say that one is better than the other but for the most part, aeroponics is considered to be the more modern looking contraption while hydroponics is typically a lot more reserved-looking.

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About Leah Shelton

Involved in the “green” arena for over 20 years, Leah has worn many hats due to her diverse experience and knowledge in the field. In addition to writing for Agronomag, she’s also a sustainability consultant with a unique perspective on eco-friendly farming practices. Learn more about Agronomag's Editorial Process.

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