5 Best Water Chiller for Hydroponics

All hydroponic systems make use of a reservoir to hold a nutrient solution, and, ideally, this solution needs to be kept at a specific temperature.

EcoPlus Chiller, 1/4 HP
10 Reviews
EcoPlus Chiller, 1/4 HP
  • Fittings are 3/4 inch; 120V-60Hz/360 watts/3 amps
  • Pump size: minimum 264 GPH/Maximum 660 GPH
  • The micro computer with digital LCD display allows for easy...

If you have noticed that the temperature of yours keeps veering towards the high side, then you need to add a water chiller into your setup.

This guide will help you to make the very best decision when it comes to water chiller hydroponics.

Water Chiller for Hydroponic Buying Guide

Best Water Chiller for Hydroponics

What is a Hydroponic Water Chiller?

Water chillers have been used in aquarium setups for years, and, over time, hydroponic growers have been adapting these to their systems too.

There are a few different types of water chillers out there, with each one working in its own way (more on this further down), but they all essentially do the same thing – ensure that the temperature of your nutrient solution remains at a consistently cool temperature.

Why Do You Need a Water Chiller?

No matter how much you may try to keep the temperature of your nutrient solution consistent, fluctuations can still occur.

Everything from pumps to grow lights, not to mention natural changes in the weather, can raise the temperature of your growing environment, which, in turn, leads to a temperature rise in your nutrient solution.

This can be a serious problem for your plants. As the temperature of your nutrient solution rises, oxygen levels within it drop.

Plants need good oxygen levels to grow. A lack of oxygen will not only inhibit growth, but will also prevent your plants from absorbing all of the nutrients that they need, while making certain diseases more prevalent.

While there are other methods out there that you can use to keep temperatures down, water chillers are, without a doubt, the most effective way to do this.

Best Water Chiller for Hydroponics

Can Air Conditioning Be Used Instead?

Some growers add air conditioning units to their growing environments as a way to compensate for the increase in temperature.

However, air conditioning units decrease the amount of humidity in the air. As you know, certain levels of humidity are important for plants to thrive – without this, they can end up quickly drying out.

Ideally, you want your plant roots to be sitting in a cool environment, while exposing their foliage to plenty of humidity, making air conditioning units on their own unsuitable.

Why do need Water Chiller? Let’s find out:

What’s the Ideal Water Temperature for Hydroponic Plants?

There isn’t a single temperature that works for all hydroponic plants – it all depends on the type of plants you are growing.

You will find that a range of between 68-72°F is often recommended for beginners. This is because the plants that beginners tend to grow, such as herbs and lettuces, thrive in these temperatures.

However, tropical plants need higher temperatures than temperate plants, so you would need to check the ideal temperature range for the specific plants you’re growing before deciding on an optimum water temperature.

A few degrees either side of your ideal temperature range won’t be disastrous for your plants, but it could cause them to show signs of stress. This is why it’s important to keep the temperature as consistent as possible when growing hydroponically.

Tips for Choosing the Best Water Chiller for Hydroponics

Best Water Chiller for Hydroponics

Understand the Different Types

As mentioned, there are a few different types of hydroponic water chillers out there:

Thermo electric water chillers:

These work through a probe that’s suspended in the reservoir, which sends a current from one electrical junction to another. The current from the first junction absorbs the heat, and the second junction then cools this down.

They are usually quite cost-effective and are also silent, but are only really suitable for small-scale hydroponic setups.

Drop-in water chillers:

A drop-in system works by filtering the air that enters into the nutrient solution, keeping it at a stable temperature.

They are easy to set up and are great for hydroponic systems that use deep reservoirs of water, such as deep water culture (DWC).

In-line water chillers

These are slightly more complex, making use of in-line filters to keep temperatures stabilized. They are great for large hydroponic systems, but will often require the help of a plumber to get things set up.

Analysis:

If you only need to drop the temperature of your nutrient solution by a few degrees, then a passive water chiller may be more suited to you.

These will bring the temperature of your solution down to a few degrees lower than room temperature, and also tend to be less of an investment, making them good for small-scale growers.

Best Water Chiller for Hydroponics

Pick a Suitable Size

When choosing a water chiller, you need to pick a suitable size. If you go for something too small, it won’t effectively cool your nutrient solution, while anything too large will only end up wasting electricity.

In order to do this, you need to first know the capacity of your reservoir.

In the past, reservoir capacity, along with the flow of your pump, used to be compared to a chiller’s BTU (British Thermal Units). This basically tells you the volume of water a chiller is able to cool in a certain amount of time.

However, most modern units don’t use BTUs anymore.

Instead, simply work out the total volume of water flowing through your system. Add together the volume of your reservoir and the volume of any buffer tanks you are using, before adding in an extra 10% to compensate for additional heat loss.

This will give you a total figure in liters.

Then, look at the wattage output of different chillers – this number should be as close as possible to your water volume in liters. For example, if you need to cool 100 liters of water, then look for a chiller that outputs 100 watts.

It’s fine if your chosen water chiller has a slightly higher wattage than your total volume, but never pick one that’s lower.

How Much Noise Can You Tolerate?

Some water chillers run so quietly that you wouldn’t know they were even there, while others can be much noisier.

This usually doesn’t matter too much to commercial growers who have a dedicated growing environment. However, those who have hydroponic systems set up at home would likely be best going for a water chiller that’s as quiet as possible.

How Much Ventilation Do You Have?

All water chillers will release heat into your growing environment, although some do this far more than others.

If your growing environment lacks ventilation, then you need to go for a model that doesn’t emit too much heat. However, if ventilation is good and your growing space is relatively large, then this won’t matter quite as much.

Best Water Chiller for Hydroponics

Anti-Corrosion

One of the main issues that people used to have with water chillers was that metal contaminants would often end up leaching out into their nutrient solution. As you can imagine, this can be extremely toxic for plants.

In order to get around this, the newer water chillers will all contain anti-corrosion elements, to save a hydroponic system from contamination. Make sure that you check that the water chiller you’re buying has this feature.

What’s Your Budget?

Water chillers vary hugely in price, so set yourself a budget before you begin browsing.

Just like with everything else out there, you get what you pay for, so don’t immediately be tempted by unusually-cheap units.

There are also many knock-off water chillers available on the market that are not only unreliable, but can also be unsafe. This makes it important to only purchase your water chiller from a brand that has a good reputation.

Extra Features

Just like with all other technological items out there, some water chillers are very simple, while others come with a whole host of different features.

If you’re just getting started with hydroponics and only have a small setup, then something low-tech would suit you just fine.

However, larger-scale setups would benefit from the extra features some water chillers provide, such as:

  • LCD displays
  • Temperature memory
  • Safety features to prevent over-heating

Best Water Chiller for Hydroponic Reviews

EcoPlus Chiller

EcoPlus Chiller, 1/4 HP
10 Reviews
EcoPlus Chiller, 1/4 HP
  • Fittings are 3/4 inch; 120V-60Hz/360 watts/3 amps
  • Pump size: minimum 264 GPH/Maximum 660 GPH
  • The micro computer with digital LCD display allows for easy...

Features:

  • Designed specifically for use in hydroponic systems
  • Automatic temperature control
  • 3 models to choose from, each one with a different recommended capacity, making these chillers suitable for a wide range of hydroponic setups
  • Has a titanium heat exchanger to prevent metals from corroding into your system
  • Has a micro-computer with LCD display, making it easy to operate

What We Like

Water chillers can sometimes be tricky to set up, but this one couldn’t be any simpler. It keeps a consistent temperature and doesn’t emit much heat, and is also one of the few water chillers out there specifically designed with hydroponics in mind.

What Could Be Improved?

Although great at maintaining consistently cool temperatures, this water chiller can take a while to get started, needing at least a few hours to initially cool a system. It is also known for being noisier than other water chillers – if your hydroponic setup is in your home, you may find this chiller to be too loud.

JBJ Arctica Aquarium Chiller

JBJ Arctica Aquarium Chiller, 1/15 HP
26 Reviews
JBJ Arctica Aquarium Chiller, 1/15 HP
  • One of the most quietest chillers out in the market; highly...
  • Quick installation; in line series
  • The ost advanced aquarium Chiller

Features:

  • An advanced and highly efficient water chiller
  • Corrosion resistant to protect your system from metals leaching out
  • One of the quietest water chillers on the market
  • Has a slim and compact design

What We Like

The highlight of this water chiller is how quiet it is – this almost makes it difficult to tell whether or not it’s even running! It keeps temperatures consistently cool and is highly accurate, often not requiring much calibration during setup.

What Could Be Improved?

This water chiller falls short when it comes to the amount of heat it emits. Granted, all water chillers produce heat, since they need somewhere to release all of that heat they are absorbing, but this one can make a small growing area slightly uncomfortable.

BAOSHISHAN Aquarium Chiller

BAOSHISHAN Aquarium Chiller 75gal 1/3 HP Water Cooler Fish...
33 Reviews
BAOSHISHAN Aquarium Chiller 75gal 1/3 HP Water Cooler Fish...
  • [Attention]--This water chiller is only suitable for...
  • [Three installation methods]--1. Aquarium automatic...
  • [High quality filter]--The chiller enters the wind from the...

Features:

  • 2 installation methods for more versatility
  • Corrosion resistant evaporator
  • Can rapidly cool a large tank
  • Has an LCD screen for easy operation
  • Has an energy saving design
  • Temperature memory
  • Comes with a pump and a hose

What We Like

This water chiller can rapidly cool a large reservoir, and the fact that it runs so quietly is a huge bonus. It can also be connected to a filter, which can really help to keep a hydroponic system sterile and free of contaminants.

What Could Be Improved?

You will need to already know a few things about water chillers if you are interested in this model, since the instructions that accompany it aren’t the easiest to follow.

When it comes to the product itself, its weight is something that could put some hydroponic growers off, as it would be difficult to raise up for vertical gardening systems. Keep in mind that this water chiller only displays temperatures in Celsius and not Fahrenheit, which could be frustrating for some users.

Poafamx 16gal Aquarium Water Chiller

Poafamx 16gal Aquarium Water Chiller 60L Fish Tank Cooler...
20 Reviews
Poafamx 16gal Aquarium Water Chiller 60L Fish Tank Cooler...
  • 🐠[ADJUSTABLE CONSTANT WATER COOLER HEATER] The aquarium...
  • 🐠[LOW NOISE] Silent fan, running sound no higher than...
  • 🐠[ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION] Using electronic...

Features:

  • Real-time temperature monitoring for ultimate accuracy
  • Silent fan keeps things running quietly
  • Eco-friendly with no emissions
  • Energy-efficient
  • Easy to use digital LCD display
  • 2 different models with different capacities

What We Like

This water chiller is easy to operate, and the fact that it is so quiet means that you can leave it running 24/7 in a home environment without noticing it. It keeps temperatures stable and is easy to install, making it great for basic hydroponic setups.

What Could Be Improved?

This is a passive water chiller, which means that it will only keep your hydroponic system about 10 degrees lower than the ambient temperature in your growing environment.

This would make it unsuitable for those looking for significant temperature drops. While this water chiller does come with its own pump, the quality of the pump is questionable, and hydroponic growers will likely need to replace this with something more suitable to their setup.

LONDAFISH Aquarium Cooling Fan Marine 2 Fan

LONDAFISH Aquarium Chillers Aquarium Fan Fish Tank Cooling...
634 Reviews
LONDAFISH Aquarium Chillers Aquarium Fan Fish Tank Cooling...
  • Two-speed wind control,according to the indoor...
  • Adjustable jaws can clamp the the cylinder wall that the...
  • Great cooling fans 12V safe voltage,with high security...

Features:

  • A simple fan device that can be attached to the top of a nutrient reservoir
  • 2 wind speeds, with maximum temperature drop of around 3℃
  • Runs quietly

What We Like

If you only need to lower the temperature of your nutrient solution by a couple of degrees, then there’s no point investing in a complicated water chiller. These fans simply attach to the top of your reservoir and keep temperatures consistently cool.

It is relatively quiet too – while it does emit a soft whirring sound, this sounds like background white noise and isn’t very noticeable.

What Could Be Improved?

These fans are designed for rim-free aquariums, rather than hydroponic setups, so you will need to make a few DIY adjustments in order for it to work in your system. Another downside is that these fans can increase water evaporation, meaning that you will need to top up your nutrient solution more often.

Conclusion

Water chillers can make a hydroponic system run so much more effectively. By keeping your nutrient solution at a consistently cool temperature, your plants will be able to absorb the right amount of oxygen, which will then enable them to soak up all of the nutrients they need in order to thrive.

However, water chiller hydroponics is still a growing market – there are only a handful of chillers out there designed for hydroponic systems, so don’t be afraid to look into aquarium chillers too.

So long as your water chiller is able to keep your nutrient solution cool, while also being convenient and easy for you to run, then it’s doing a good job!

Last update on 2021-01-19 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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Jill Sandy

Jill Sandy

Jill is a sustainable focus gardener. She loves decorating her home backyard with beautiful landscape design and creative garden care techniques she develops herself. You can reach her at [email protected]

Chanh Ho (MD, MPH)

Chanh Ho (MD, MPH)

Chanh is our Head of Medical Review. He is a research physician at Oxford University Clinical Research Unit. After accomplishing the program of level 1 sub-specialty in Pediatrics, he was awarded the Chevening Scholarship for his Master’s degree of Public Health in the University of Edinburgh in 2019

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