You are browsing the archive for air pump.

by Tony

Petco 9904 air pump power consumption & yearly cost

5:30 pm in energy consumption by Tony

A little while ago I answered a post on what to do with unused ports.  I answered with what I did, but that got me thinking as to what should I do.  Now, I would say that the correct answer is that you should cover the ports.  Take a look at my video here.

So what does this cost me?  Let’s say the pump runs at 1 watt.  This is 0.001 kilowatts.   The pump runs a total of 2 hours a day for me.  That’s 0.002 kilowatt-hours and I pay $0.10 a kilowatt-hr.  That is only $0.0002 per day or $0.073 per year.  That is insignificant!  I probably have wasted more power in writing this email than what it costs to run my windowfarm for the year.

So if you are very environmetally conscientious and I think most of us here are, I would say don’t worry about putting an air pump on your WF.  Look else where in your life to save energy.  The biggest energy consumers in my house in order are heating, hot water, clothes dryer, refrigerators, stove, computers.  These are the places to make a big difference.

Buy the way, the power monitor in the video is a Watts Up Pro and I got from Fry Electronics for $120.00.

Updated 1/23/2012

After doing the first video I decided to open it up and see how the pump works.


version d.3 (or; how d’artagnon kicked some trash)

6:18 am in environmental impact, made from scratch (without a kit), Materials and Resources, posts with pitcures!, Projects in Process by DArtagnon Wells

d.3 stands for D’Artagnon’s third system . . . in case people went looking for an “official” set of d.3 plans on the site.

Anyhoo . . .

Looking through the site and through the plans I felt I wanted another option for my containers other than plastic and another growth medium other than those provided. So, taking the basic theory I struck out with my shoelaces untied and the wind in my face.

First the bottles; I used 12 oz soda bottles for a mini herb garden. I found a cool method of slicing the bottoms of the bottles off that was clean and painless. I will post the extended directions in another post. So, bottoms off, edges smoothed then I added my medium.

boylan's birch beer. YUM!


Rockwool doesn’t breakdown and they are a onetime use product. Once the roots have taken over, then what? Where does that go? The pebbles and expanded clay can be reused often, but that seems a lot of maintenance and they come with plastic baskets. A while ago I saw a news segment about a man who went in to the doctor because he thought he might have lung cancer and through some tests found he had inhaled a pea, which started to sprout in his lung.

Creepy, but it gave me a great idea; luffah as a growth medium.


luffah: growth medium and lung analogue.

The early version of my system proved that the luffah stayed moist and allowed oxygen to flow through the root system. Best of all, it breaks down slowly. Not too fast so it supports the root system but it can be thrown into my compost and returned in an earth friendly way. Also, luffah easier to manage if soaked briefly in water.


little luffah

let's cut this down to size.

perform surgery . . .

roll it up. no too tight.

slide luffah in.

see? perfect.

The reservoir bottle is a salvaged wine bottle sealed with aquarium grade silicon in the neck. I inserted the pump needle directly into the silicon air tube and that tube sits next to a purge valve for easy drainage. I found a simpler check valve at PetSmart and inserted it further down the line for easier access.

black purge tube with valve and clear silicon air tube with check valve.

there's the needle.

here she is.

The bottles are strung together using a bracelet knot. Well, really it’s a bunch of square knots tied over the bottles. Tension keeps things stable.

In the earlier version of the system having the airlift tube on the outside proved messy, so I had the tube running up inside the bottles. After having to do some maintenance and fret over root invasion I returned it to the outside. The white tube is 1/4 inch  (outside dimension) pex tube and the smaller is a 1/4 inch (outside dimension) ac tube.


here is the spout.

A side note on the airlift system: If the water level is too low in your reservoir then the air won’t lift enough water. I kept the level about 1.5 inches from the top edge and I chose a long bottle for this specific purpose. Right now it’s a single column system so I only need a single pump.

Next is to transplant my sprouts and actually get food for the system. That’s going to be an exciting learning curve. Eventually I want to see if I can get a piece of bamboo for my airlift tube and be free from the plastic. Here’s hoping.

Let me know what you think and feel free to ask questions. Happy tinkering!



Aquaponic window garden with aerator/pump mod

5:23 am in Completed Window Farms, International, made from scratch (without a kit), posts with pitcures!, Projects in Process, pumps, R&D-I-Y, Uncategorized, Water flow by scheepers

This system was built in less than a day and additionally:

  • Combines aquarium aeration with the air pump.
  • Pushes water up 202cm (6.6 feet) with a 1.5 litre/hour pump (I don’t think pump size matters at all here, this one cost R60, or about $8).
  • Moves roughly 100-120ml in 6 hours (I think that’s how much I slept last night).
  • (Accidental) varying dripping time.
  • You can probably run many ‘percolators’ off one pump by splitting the air feed, or using a very long aeration stone.
  • The system runs very quiet (The air pump makes more noise than the gurgling).
  • The top 500ml bottle can be converted to a baffle or silencer quite easily.
  • It may possibly even be converted to a non aquaponic pump?
  • No pump-strain, T-junctions, valves or needles (or things that look like them, I’m a wuss, ok?)

The prettier(?) window farm – Construction

2:24 pm in Materials and Resources, posts with pitcures!, Projects in Process, questions by Mikko Mattila

I posted earlier about designing a prettier window farm. I’m now building a clean and simple single column farm, and I figured it might be about time to post something about my progress. The pots, suspension and drip pipes are mostly in place. The reservoir and the airlift are still in the works. I haven’t made up my mind yet about what kind of reservoir to use.

Part list:

  • 4 Plastic orchid pots. These are made of Polypropylene, which is (afaik) safe to use with food. The pots also have an inward dent in the bottom, so they will never drain completely. I don’t know whether this is a good thing or a bad thing. Be careful when drilling plastic. I managed to break one pot by using too much pressure. (2 euros/pot at Bauhaus)
  • 2 meters of aluminum pipe, 6 mm diameter. One meter for drip pipes and another for the air lift. (4 euros/meter at Bauhaus)
  • Two meters of aluminum strip. Mine is about 12mm wide and 2mm thick. I wouldn’t go any thinner than 2mm, since the rigidity of the column would likely suffer. (4 euros/meter at Bauhaus)
  • 4 gaskets for sealing the drip pipes. The ones I got seem to do the job pretty well: 17mm outer diameter, 5mm inner diameter, 4mm thick. (around 2 euros for a 4-pack)
  • M3 Nuts, washers and screws (or bolts) for attaching the pots to the aluminum strip. (Less than 1e total)

Parts not installed yet:

  • Sera Air 275R Plus air pump with adjustable air flow and two outlets. Came with two non-return valves. (28 euros at a local aquarium store)
  • 6mm “colorless” air hose. It’s possible to stretch this over the aluminum pipe using pliers and some soap as lubricant. (2 euros / meter at a local aquarium store)

Still missing the reservoir and the airlift needle(s).


This is not the final assembly and you might notice that some of the drip pipes and pots are not straight. I’ll fix that before doing the actual planting. Originally I’d thought I’d have to glue the drip pipes to the pots, but with the gaskets in place and the hole being tight enough, I’m not sure if glue is necessary. It won’t matter anyway if the drip pipes are wet on the outside.

I was wondering though, should the downward water flow be somehow restrained so that the water drips down slowly? Now when I pour water in the top pot, most of the water has come down in less than a minute. How does it work in WF 3.0?

The wife said it looks alright. I might even get a permission to build a second column ;) Stay tuned. The next step is building the airlift.

How to set up a t-valve airlift.

1:52 am in How-Tos, made from scratch (without a kit), Materials and Resources, posts with pitcures!, Version 3.0 Modular Airlift Columns by Kevin Wells

First, some background. This is my first window farm. I have no prior experience in hydroponics, but have grown many aquatic plants. I started making a DIY window farm following the directions of a single-column, 5-bottle hanging V3 window farm. I found that the bicycle needle airlift method just was not as reliable as I had hoped. It would sometimes work, and other times, I would find it not working at all. I researched the site and found that others had set up a t-valve airlift, and it seemed like the way to go. The other guides did not seem to include all the information I needed to get it set up for myself, so I decided to try it anyway. Below, I’ll tell you what I used. I will also say that if this method seems ridiculously simple and it looks like it’s so short that I might be missing something, it’s because it is ridiculously simple and I’m not missing anything… I think.

Parts needed (in addition to the other parts used for the V3 hanging window farm):

Standard aquarium airline. I went with black silicone, because it looks nice and will stop algae from growing in the airline. I bought 25 feet, because it was cheap and I will probably use more when I add columns later.

T-valve. I purchased a metal t-valve from PetSmart. They have plastic ones for even cheaper.

Silicone glue. You want to make sure you get silicone glue that is 100% silicone. I got mine at a hardware store, but they also often carry this at pet stores/fish stores (for aquarium repair). The 100% silicone will ensure that there are no additives that could leak into your water and plants.


Steps taken to add the t-valve airlift to my V3 hanging window farm:

  1. To make the sport cap airline connector, first insert 1″ of airline into the sport cap of the water reservoir.
  2. Inside the sport cap, use the silicone glue to glue the airline in place. Make sure to form a complete seal. It must cure for at least 3 hours before you can get it wet. I recommend you let it cure for 24 hours before doing anything else with it.
  3. Measure/cut 1.5 feet of airline from the cap, and connect this to one of the two straight ends of the t-valve.
  4. Connect your airline from your air pump to the perpendicular end of the t-valve.
  5. Using your remaining airline, connect one end to the remaining straight end of the t-valve.
  6. Run this airline to the top of your window farm and into the top bottle. Secure using zip ties or what ever you prefer.
  7. ???
Important note: You can’t see it in my photos, but my air pump is elevated above my water reservoir. This guarantees water will not siphon through my air pump, and negates any need for check valves. If your air pump is lower than your water reservoir, use a check valve on the airline coming from your air pump to the t-valve.

Look at my awesome diagrams:

I almost forgot to give credit where credit is due! Brian White, aka gaiatechnician, has very helpful videos on Youtube and his diagram helped me get started. Granted, I tweaked it to work best for me.

by Tyler

Water only flows when reservoir full

11:46 am in Uncategorized by Tyler

Hey everyone. My windowfarm is setup and running however if the water line gets more than about two inches below the fill opening of the reservoir bottle there is simply not enough pressure to get the water to the top bottle. I’m using the 4+1 bottle setup with the 4 outlet petco pump advised in the instructions.

Has anyone else had issues similar to mine?


by Augusto

Air pump problem

3:06 am in electronic components, Getting Started by Augusto

I’m Augusto from Colombia.

I’m planning to do “3-plant airlift system”. And I have some doubts.

1° Does it work if I use 1-way Air pump instead of 2-way Air pump?.

2° What’s the purpose of the One-way air valves?.


Understanding MAMA v3′s plumbing

2:53 pm in questions, Version 3.0 Modular Airlift Columns by James Moon

We built a starter window farm earlier this year, and now I’d like to build a bigger one to cover the entire window. (I actually have a really huge window.)

But I’m having trouble understanding the assembly instructions for plumbing, specifically at and after bottle cap assembly (methods A, B, and C).  At the end of the instructions for each method, it ends with putting the other end of the airline tube into the pump.

I must have missed something or am not understanding how this works, but if you have four or more columns, how do they share one pump? In the full assembly picture, it looks like each doesn’t plug into the pump but rather into something with a loop above it. I can’t seem to find mention of this in the instructions.

Can someone please enlighten me?

by shekel

Will this airlift configuration work?

1:16 pm in Uncategorized by shekel

I’m planning on using 1/2 inch ID tubing for an airlift and an aquarium pump providing 2.3 PSI through a T joint. Is this going to be enough to lift water to about ceiling height? Are there any equations or rules of thumb for this? I couldn’t find a required PSI anywhere.


1/2 inch ID tubing

Setting up my windowfarm… finally!

12:54 pm in Getting Started, Materials and Resources, Nutrients, Nutrition, posts with pitcures!, Projects in Process, questions, Seeking Advice, Uncategorized by BionicMel

I have set up the 4 bottles, and now I’m working on my airlift. I’m trying to do the T version instead of the air needles. But I’m having trouble getting the air to lift the water and not escape through what should be the water intake tube.

Any advice for this system? I’m going to go and cut a longer piece of tube and see if that makes a difference.



-EDIT- (20 minutes later)

So the longer tube completely helped! There is no air escaping from the system at all. Now my poor tomato plant that was without water all night is getting some.

I purchased the white frame from ikea and it was around 20$. I plan on having 3 or 4 columns with a string of lights in between the columns. This frame will allow me to move the window farm around and close my blinds at night. I’m going to raise it up to window height once it’s all installed.

Here is a short video of my airlift in action.

-EDIT- (Later that day…)

So my tomato is definately looking good!
I have also transplanted a broccoli plant to the top of the column.
My seedlings are starting to sprout!

I made another change to my system… I zip tied the coil of tube in the water so it is easier to remove and install.

Also, nutrients were added to the solution. I added part 1 and part 2 of the general nutrients, and I also added some “maximum plantroids” because it says:

“Plantroids Super-Vitamin Thrive Enhancer stimulates plant branching, increases photosynthesis and cell division. Plantroids also helps reduce stress as well as stimulates root growth”.

Just a warning about CFLs… I dropped one and it smashed into a million tiny shards. Took a while to make sure I got all the little pieces.

Can anyone give me advice on how to put pictures in my post, rather than just links? Thanks.