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Heating a Hydroponics System | Why, When & How To Do It

Heating a Hydroponics System | Why, When & How To Do It

It is crucial to have a thorough comprehension of the appropriate timing and method for heating a hydroponic system in order to achieve successful growth of your hydroponic plants.

How do you heat a hydroponic system? Simply insulating the system can keep temperatures within the ideal 65°F to 70°F range. Another option is to use either a hydroponic water heater or an aquarium heater in the reservoir to regulate water temperatures. The last option is to use an external heater to increase ambient room temperature.

In the following, we’ll take a closer look at why, when, and how to heat your hydroponics systems, so let’s get started.

Heating a Hydroponic System

There are several factors to consider when it comes to the proper heating of a hydroponic system, including what crops you’re growing, the climate zone, and more.

In the following sections, we discuss all the critical details like when and why you need a hydroponic heater, how to use one, and which models currently available are the best.

Do You Need a Heater for Hydroponics?

Many hydroponic growing systems don’t require a heater if they are set up inside. That said, if the water regularly drops below 65°F at night time or otherwise, it’s time to consider using a heater.

Hydroponic heaters are easy to use. Simply slip them into your hydroponic water reservoir, turn them on, and let them do their job. 

Once the ideal temperature is reached, the heater shuts off automatically. When the temperature begins dropping off again, the unit kicks back on and remedies the situation.

The Importance of Heat for Hydroponic Plants

The proper temperature levels are just as important for hydroponic plants as they are for any other type of plant.

That’s because photosynthesis may only happen when there is sufficient warmth in your hydroponic system’s atmosphere. 

When the water temps are lower than they should be, your plants’ growth rates slow down, and sometimes they even stop growing completely.

The same happens for the opposite (when it’s too hot, plants begin wilting and dying quickly). For that reason, regulating the heat in your system is an absolute must.

Best Temperature for Hydroponics

Hydroponics requires a basic water temperature of approximately 70°F. However, most plants survive in water temperatures of as low as 65°F and as high as 80°F. 

What Temperature Should My Nutrient Solution Be?

Because the nutrients used in hydroponic growing systems are liquid, they need to be the same temperature as the water, or just slightly cooler: 60°F to 70°F is recommended. 

How Hot is Too Hot for Hydroponics?

To put it quite simply, temperatures above 75°F are entering the danger zone. Temperatures of 80°F and higher are too hot. 

Once temperatures reach said levels, your crops will begin to choke, while, and die off due to lack of oxygen, photosynthesis, and proper nutrient uptake.

Is Cold Water Bad for Hydroponics?

Cold water is just as bad for hydroponic growing systems as water that’s too hot.

The difference is that warm water has the tendency to cause bacteria to grow on plants as well as depriving them of nutrients, water, and oxygen uptake. 

Cold water also keeps plants from taking up as many nutrients, oxygen, and water as they need to grow and thrive. 

What Happens If Hydroponic Reservoir is Too Warm

If the water in your hydroponic reservoir is too warm, regardless of the type of hydroponic system you’re using, it will negatively affect your crops. 

Not only will the water be too warm, but the nutrients will also as well. In addition, as mentioned above, when this occurs, it’s also hard for the plants to breathe.

How Do You Heat a Hydroponic System?

A lady lifting a blue tray of lettuce from a large hydroponic system.

There are a few ways to properly heat your hydroponic system:

  1. Installing a professional-grade hydroponic heater or an aquarium heater in the water reservoir.
  2. Wrapping the sides of the hydroponic system with insulation (or solid-colored paint if outside).
  3. Protecting the bottom of the hydroponic system with a rug, carpet, or insulation.
  4. Install external heaters in the room/area your hydroponic systems are in place.

Can You Use an Aquarium Heater for Hydroponics?

Aquarium heaters work for more than just fish tanks; they also work just fine in hydroponic systems.

These heaters are automatic, fully submersible, and have very little differences compared to pro-grade hydroponic heaters. 

How Do You Heat a Hydroponic Greenhouse?

Hydroponic greenhouses are a bit more complicated to heat than simply inserting a hydroponic heater in your system’s reservoir.

Greenhouses may require space heaters or larger external heaters (like you’d use in your garage or home). 

The hydroponic systems in your greenhouse may also benefit from regular hydroponic or aquarium heaters as well.

All things considered, there is no one-size-fits-all type answer for how to heat a hydroponic greenhouse as they come in many shapes and sizes and exist in all sorts of climate zones.

Best Heaters for Hydroponics

Now that we’ve discussed what hydroponic heaters are and how to use them, let’s take a look at some of the best units currently available on the market.

Features To Look For

Before we get ahead of ourselves, here are a few of the most significant features to look for in the right hydroponic heater:

  • Automatic operations (kicks on and off by itself)
  • High-quality components (better parts mean the unit may last longer)
  • A temperature range proper for your crops (or the product is useless for your system)
  • Great reviews (marketing is a powerful thing, but reviews are priceless)
  • Warranty or guarantee (in case the product is damaged or breaks down) 

EcoPlus Titanium Heater

The EcoPlus Titanium Heater is a 200W heater for aquariums that doubles as a heat source for hydroponic systems.

The unit is capable of providing ample heat for 40 to 60-gallon reservoirs and fish tanks. 

The heater is fully submersible, automatic, and has a precision temperature dial that ranges from 68°F to 93°F.

The unit enables you to have complete control over your system’s water temperatures at all hours of the day and night.

The unit is fully electric and features a 13-inch 120V cord. It weighs just over half a pound and measures 2.1 inches by 3.7 inches by 12.8 inches. The heater is black and silver.

Key Features

  • 13 inches
  • Heats 40 to 60 gallons
  • Automatic on and off
  • Lightweight design

Cobalt Aquatics Neo-Therm Pro

The Cobalt Aquatics Neo-Therm Pro is another excellent heater for aquariums and hydroponic systems.

The unit is available in multiple sizes and designed for tank and reservoirs of 6, 12, 20, 29, 40, and 55 gallons. 

Depending on the size you choose, the heater is either 25W, 50W, 75W, 100W, 150W, or 200W. This heater has a thermostat with a range of 68°F to 94°F, with an accuracy of up to half a degree (°F).

Even more impressive, the unit is shatterproof, is nearly indestructible, is fully submersible, and has a crisp LED display that’s easy to use and read.

The system also features an auto-shutdown mode to prevent temperature disruption.

Key Features

  • It Heats 6 to 55 gallons
  • LED display
  • Extremely accurate temp control
  • Shatterproof casing

Hygger Titanium Heater

The Hygger Titanium Heater is another versatile unit that’s made for various sized fish tanks, aquariums, and hydroponic systems.

It comes in 50W, 100W, 200W, and 500W versions. The unit is built for reservoirs and tanks between 5 and 120 gallons. 

The 500W 60 to 120 gallon version is one of the best heaters on the market for medium to larger type hydroponic growing systems.

It runs on a 110-120V cord that measures 5.5 feet long. The thermometer cord, on the other hand, is a full 12-inches shorter.

The compact titanium heater rod measures 10.7 inches long and is extremely durable. The heater comes with a warranty and has an estimated lifespan of up to 3 or more years.

The unit also features an IC temp controller with a digital LED display that’s super easy to manage. 

Key Features

  • 5.5 cord length (and a 4.4 thermometer cord)
  • Heats 5 to 120 gallons
  • Detects temperatures as low as 68°F and as high as 140°F
  • Digital LED display and controls
  • Fully automatic system

VIVOSUN Submersible Heater

The VIVOSUN Submersible Heater is made by one of the top names in the hydroponics equipment industry. These heaters come in 50W, 100W, 200W, 300W, 4000W, and 500W.

They are designed to provide heat in the range of 68°F and 94°F, which means they are perfect for practically anything you could wish to grow.

The power source is AC/DC and meets CE, FCC, UL, and RoHS specs. The unit is black and is precise within 2°F. It is easily monitored and controlled by a bright LED display on the thermometer.

It has a super long cable and works well in aquariums with fish, glass containers, plastic totes, professional-grade hydroponic reservoirs, and more.

Unlike many of the heating units utilized in hydroponics, this one comes with suction cups attached at both ends that make it easier to attach to your tank or reservoir.

Other heaters may end up moving around or ever floating, but not this one.

Key Features

  • Long cord length
  • Heats 10 to 120+ gallons
  • Works well in any tank or reservoir
  • Numerous versions available
  • Easy to control and provides a heat range of 68°F to 94°F

HiTauing Submersible Heater

The HiTauing Submersible Heater may not be produced by a brand you are familiar with, but it is more than worth your consideration.

The unit comes in various sizes, including 50W, 100W, 200W, 300W, and 500W. The system is suitable for all hydroponic reservoirs and fish tanks. It heats to a range between 63°F and 94°F.

Plus, it’s one of the easiest heaters to use that’s currently available on the market. Not to mention, it’s rather affordable compared to many units.

The unit has an Intelligent Water Sensor as well as an Over Temperature Protection feature that shuts the system down if the water begins to rapidly rise in temperature.

Likewise, it will pop back on and fix the temp if it begins to drop.

Perhaps the biggest difference between this heater and the others on our list (and on the market in general) is the fact that it is made of quartz glass that is explosion proof.

So, whether you have a tank with exotic fish or you have a hydroponic growing system, the unit is more than suitable.

Key Features

  • Heats 10 to 120+ gallons
  • Explosion-proof quartz construction
  • Easy-to-use controls and Intelligent Water Sensor
  • Automatic operation

Tips for Using a Heater in Your Hydroponics Reservoir

Here are a few tips and tricks to keep in mind while using a heater in your hydroponic system:

  • Measure the reservoir and heater before installing them (make sure they are compatible).
  • Keep track of your new heater’s performance closely (hour by hour for the first few days if possible).
  • Double-check that the unit you’re using/buying is for the type of water you use (not all heaters are made for both fresh and saltwater).
  • Educate yourself about the best water temperature for each type of crop you grow (the best temperature range varies from plant to plant).
  • Never assume because it has automatic features that you don’t need to monitor it yourself (machines are not perfect, so be safe and keep an eye on the thermometer).
  • Make adjustments as needed (sometimes even a few minutes reaction time makes a big difference).

A Final Word About Heating a Hydroponics System

Heating your hydroponics systems is sometimes necessary – other times, not so much. It all depends on what type of crops you have, the environment your system is set in, the climate zone, and more.

Besides using space heaters to keep the room temperature warm enough and carpets or insulation on the bottoms and side of your hydroponic growing system, an actual hydroponic or aquatic heater makes a world of difference.

Just remember that the ideal water temperature for nearly all hydroponics systems is between 65°F and 75°F.

If your water temperature doesn’t naturally regulate itself to said temps, investing in a heater is the best bet. Otherwise, you’re risking the well-being of your crops.