Suppose you’re interested in growing your fruits and vegetables at home using a hydroponics system or commercially to make some money. In that case, you’ll want to understand more about the cost and how long it takes for the system to pay back the money that you’ve invested. In this article, we take a look at these factors so you can make a sensible decision on whether you can afford to invest in hydroponic growth.
The initial investment for hydroponics equipment is one of the highest costs of a hydroponics system. The costs will vary significantly depending on the size and type of hydroponics system you want to purchase. This range can span from under one hundred to thousands of pounds, depending on what you’re buying. Smaller systems will be limited in the number of plants they can produce and the type of plants, whereas larger systems will have no limits. If you’re unsure or just getting started with hydroponics, choose a smaller system which can be scaled up if you want to expand in the future, this will help to minimise your initial investment.
Type of plants
If you’re selling your produce, the type of plants and rate of growth will impact your cost and profits. Fast-growing plants like basil and lettuce are great for maximum growth and a quick turnover time. Plants that take longer to grow will require more electricity, heat and nutrients; therefore, in order to make a profit, you will need to charge a higher price for the fruit or vegetables these plants produce. You also need to take into account the demand for the products, and how long they will last, any wastage will impact your financials.
Running a hydroponics system requires electricity, heat, nutrients, water and space. The cost for each of these things will vary depending on where you’re located and what you pay for utilities. Many modern hydroponic systems are becoming increasingly more energy efficient in order to help reduce the utility costs associated with running them. Make sure you look at the efficiency stats of the system before purchasing. It's much better to invest slightly more money upfront for something that will help keep your utility bills to a minimum. The cost will also vary depending on the size of the system you’re running; more plants will require more pumps, grow lights, nutrients, water and space, pushing up your utility costs. However, from this, you will also be able to increase your yield. A higher yield means more profits if you’re selling your produce, or less money spent at the supermarket if you’re growing for your own needs.
How long to pay back?
Studies have shown that medium hydroponics systems typically take 2-4 years to start paying back the money invested and start making a profit. If you want to make a business out of growing produce in this way, you will need money to invest initially, and you’ll need to work hard over 2-4 years to begin making money. However, many home growers don’t grow their own plants in order to make money; they simply enjoy the process of growing their food and are happy to accept that it may cost them slightly more money.
Methods for cutting costs
There are several methods that can be used to cut the associated costs of running a hydroponics system. If growers are able to use natural sources of light and heat, they can significantly reduce their utility costs. Greenhouses can be used to provide the right level of heat and natural light for many plants to grow in the summer months. In the winter, this method will not work, and growers will need to rely on artificial heat and light sources. Timers can be used in the winter to reduce electricity bills, limiting the amount of time the lighting and heating are being used. Efficient devices can also be used to help reduce electricity consumption and overall utility costs. Finally, home growers can reduce their costs by scaling down their production and only growing the number of plants they plan on consuming. If they end up with a surplus, they can sell them to family and friends to help towards the costs of running their hydroponics system.