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DIY Drip Irrigation

Discussion in 'Do It Yourself' started by ceestyle, May 19, 2008.


    ceestyle Well-Known Member

    This is the best thing I have done to make me and my plants happy. No more guesswork with watering, forgetting, or having to be around every day. I can water more than once per day - which my plants prefer - without being owned by them.

    I just set up a system like this. Cost me probably $80. I recently made another with a 12-gallon tote for <$60, substituting an ECO Plus 185, which cost only $14. If you're really cheap, you can use another one of these in place of the maxijet, bringing total cost to <$50 including the digital timer.


    *1 submersible pump to mix your nute mix in the reservoir (circulation pump). Apparently the Dutch are convinced that this circulation is superior to an air stone for aeration, so you needn't get one of those. (It works great for me!) I use a MaxiJet 1000 - cost around $30 and is probably twice the pump I need for this. It is nice because it has suction cups and a mount that allow you to just turn it on its side, attach a tube to the outlet, and it will mix nicely. The other important part about this type of pump - and this is key - is that it will not be a fire hazard if it runs dry.

    *1 submersible pump to pump your nute mix to your plants. I use an ECO Plus 264 which is also about twice the pump I need. It does about 2 quarts per five minutes when watering two plants. I actually wish it were slower since my timer only has minute precision. Because this guy will only run a couple minutes a day, you can probably get away with a pump that isn't designed to run dry, but I don't see the point in not spending a few extra dollars to avoid total meltdown.

    *1 timer with minute precision, approx. $20.

    *Irrigation stakes for as many plants as you want to water. These just anchor the irrigation tubing in position in the pot, nothing more. If you couldn't find them, you could get creative and do without. If you can find them, they cost pennies.

    *5/8" ( match to your submersible outlet ) flexible tubing. Get enough for between your reservoir and your plants. Also costs pennies.

    *Small irrigation tubing (mine's probably around 1/8" OD) that fits your irrigation stakes. You need enough of this to run from your main outlet line to each of your plants. Practically free.

    *Several zip ties.

    *A reservoir. I use a five-gallon bucket, but I'm only using it for two plants right now, which gives me about ten days worth of watering. You can easily get a rubbermaid tub or storage tote and do the same thing.


    Stick the circulation pump to the bottom of the reservoir laying on its side (outlet directed parallel to the ground rather than upward). I attached a short piece of the large tubing to direct the circulation, ensuring that it wasn't directed at the inlet of the irrigation pump and mixed throughout.


    Cut two holes in the top of your reservoir lid: one for wires, one for the outlet tube. This is what the res looks like with the lid on.


    Figure out where you want to run your outlet tube. Ideally, it will be above the level of your plants, so that if you get slight leaking from the connection between the tubes for the individual plants and the main line, it will run down the line to the plants. This also makes it possible to have containers of varying heights without it affecting the water flow because the tubes are directed upward. It's also best to position it so that the smaller stake tubes are of relatively similar length, as this will also affect flow. Here's a pic of the tube running into a box:


    After you have determined how long the outlet tube must be, fold it over on itself a few times and use a ziptie to terminate the line.

    Cut the smaller tubes to be used for individual plants to length, doing so at a 45 degree angle.

    Push the sharpened ends of the irrigation tubes into the main line. Depending on the thickness of the tube, you may want to puncture it beforehand with a nail.

    Secure the main line using zipties - I use the tie with the holes in the end to make this easy.

    Throw the stakes in your pots, the tubes through the stakes, plug in the circulation pump 24/7, and put the irrigation pump on the timer. Here's a pic of the lines inside the box:


    Run it for a few hours to see how warm the water gets. Mine stays around 65-70, which is just about right, but you have problems you can always put the circulation pump on a timer as well.

    Calibrate that bad boy and you're set to go. Estimate your watering amounts, run the pump for a minute and measure the output, and you're ready to rock.

    Another point is that you want to have all of the larger tubing (the white stuff here) high enough so that if water condenses, it does not collect on a lower loop and end up on the carpet. For this reason, you should also create a loop in the electric cords so that any condensation drips cannot reach the outlet. That would be bad. I looped mine and ziptied them to a table leg.

    Good luck. Questions/comments welcome.
    Last edited: May 20, 2008
    Nehiro likes this.

    Ghost420 Well-Known Member

    wow great post i am build one for this summer

    ceestyle Well-Known Member

    thanks. you'll be happy you did! another thing i didn't mention is that since that tubing is all practically free, you can change configuration as often as you like...

    BigBudBalls Well-Known Member

    I'm changing over to this. Just got a set up done for the bloomroom. 1/2 hour gives 3 plants 2 liters each (plants in 5gal buckets). I used the adjustable drippers to balance out the system.

    ceestyle Well-Known Member

    Where did you pick up the adjustable drippers - home depot? I don't need them at the moment, as each of my systems delivers to equal-sized pots, but i've been thinking about that. My only concern is that back-pressure on the lines increases the chance of leaks at connections. My proposed solution was to just adjust the number of lines to compensate.

    That must be a small pump. Mine is about 2 qts (~2L) per plant with two plants in about five minutes.

    BigBudBalls Well-Known Member

    I have the adjusters closed down. The pump is a 150GPH.

    I went with the adjusters, because it will go path of least resistance. So the end of the line may not flow the same as the front. (yeah, got them at Lowes, sprinkler dept. $4 for like 4 or 5 of them)

    If back pressure is a concern, add in a return line with an adjuster on that.
    And leaks at the connections? LOL. I can barely pull off the hoses. That and I doubt the pressure out of a $20-30 pump s going to be more then 10psi/.6bar. (Now divide the pressure by the surface area of .125 internal hose)

    ceestyle Well-Known Member

    Well then I assume you're using a manifold of some sort. I went simple and just poked the smaller diameter tubes into the larger, so yes, if you don't do it well it can leak. Add backpressure and it's much more possible.

    The pressure drop across the large piece of main line at 5/8" or whatever it is is really tiny compared to that of the individual lines themselves, as they are so much smaller. In other words, there will be a larger difference in flow due to differing length of smaller lines than with being a foot down the main line. So aside from having pots of differing sizes, I don't really have use for the adjusters.

    mcdandc Well-Known Member

    Great thread. I've set-up many drip systems for my yard watering ovewr the years, but hadn't given this idea much thought. The concern over the water pressure can be handled with an in-line reducer placed on the pump outlet. Ok, they cost a few $$, but less than a cup of coffee.

    MalteseGrower Well-Known Member

    Was looking for a drip system for my dwc till the roots are long enough. Thanks.

    BigBudBalls Well-Known Member

    Have a link? a pressure regulator isn't cheap. (even a Starbucks cup of java is cheaper) A ball or needle valve is not a pressure regulating device, its a flow control.

    But these little vane pumps don't need that regulation, they kinda self regulate. (hell, just a cheap easy version is to just give it more 'head'.)

    TetraHyC Well-Known Member

    I love drip, so do the girls.

    Attached Files:


    ceestyle Well-Known Member

    nice .

    TetraHyC Well-Known Member

    I found that making the feeder hoses the same length helps equalize output to the stakes.

    siht7419 Well-Known Member

    whats up people, i got a similar setup less the circulation pump. is this necessary? is that why my nutes turn brown after a few days??

    also, i have a problem with siphoning, if the water level is above the drippers it continues to drip. is there a way to stop this without changing the reservoir or raising the plants?
    i was thinking some sort of check valve but that won't work.


    TetraHyC Well-Known Member

    My tray sits 2 feet off the floor, I run a drain hose to the bathtub when I flush.

    BigBudBalls Well-Known Member

    Anti-siphon valve.

    john84 Active Member

    Does anyone know of pumps similar to these that will run without needing to be plugged in? I was looking to set up something similar to this outdoors.

    TetraHyC Well-Known Member

    Whats going to power them ??

    Hamster wheel ?? Rubber bands ??

    How about diesel.
    ceestyle likes this.

    ceestyle Well-Known Member

    they do sell battery-powered pumps, but I'm not sure where best to find them.
    TetraHyC likes this.

    TetraHyC Well-Known Member

    I was feeling spry.:hump:

    Just playing.:peace:

    Seriously , small solar panel in tree, big car battery in hole, 12v water pump.:twisted:

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