DIY DWC build 27 gal tote (convertable to RDWC system)

Hello again forum friends!

It might be a little while until I’m able to actually find the time, space, and resources to put this together, but I figure it’s best to start prepping and gathering knowledge now. I’ve only ever grown in soil and while there are a lot of things I like about it, at this point, after gaining some experience, there seem to be more negatives than positives IMHO compared to other potential options out there (although they do say the grass is always greener…). Naturally hydroponics is definitely something I’d like to pursue for these reasons (eliminates having to water plants and risks of under/over watering and FUNGUS GNATS, more automation, and also faster and more compact growth), plus I just find it fun to learn different techniques and I love building stuff DIY.

I mentioned in another post that I built a DIY aeroponic cloner last summer and it’s been one of the best investments I’ve ever made.

Here’s the protocol I used:

I had initially thought about trying to manipulate this design and use net pots with clay pebbles, which is more or less still what I’m trying to do, but it would probably be a big waste of time and money to go at it alone and wing it. And budget is my biggest factor–I mean, if I don’t feel I have the sufficient resources to create this build and pull it off successfully then I won’t pull the trigger on it yet, but it seems like if I’m doing DIY it should be relatively affordable.

(A quick aside related to that though: in another DWC/RDWC thread I saw someone mention that GOOD pH and ppm meters, which I don’t own and I know can cost in the range of several hundred dollars, are required to grow hydroponically. My pH and ppm meters are from that maker of throwaway garbage company Vivosun…they’ve been good enough for aeroponic cloning though, so shouldn’t they be sufficient here?)

If budget weren’t an consideration, I’d probably make my first system a 4-bucket RDWC system that I’d like to think would be a perfect fit for a 4x4 tent, but I happen to have an extra 27 gallon tote lying around and I’ve watched a few tutorials on Youtube where these have been used for DWC systems.

I found this fairly basic tutorial to be informative:

I’m probably looking to do pretty much the same thing. Originally I had been thinking about trying to cram four or even six plants into the tote, but that seems like it would end up doing more harm than good, and in another thread I believe it was @Myfriendis410 showed his massive single plant from a hydro grow and said that one plant was all that would fit in the tent. Hey, if I can get a massive yield then I’m fine with that. I’m just trying to prioritize space (as I’m sure most indoor growers do) and as I’ve seen DWC/RDWC systems that use much smaller totes I want to make sure I’m getting everything that I can out of my 27 gallon.

Another thing that my admittedly somewhat limited research has led me to believe would be a crucial component of this system would be to have some sort of resivoir so I can have this be a recirculating system from the get-go, or at least can easily be modified into one. I don’t like the idea of having to change the water/solution manually once I have a live plant in the system (I’ve broken many a clone this way), and if my one plant is going to get as massive as I’ve seen others achieve I’m definitely going to want to scrogg it. It’s here that I could probably use the most assistance, as there seems to be so much variation out there (or it at least appears that way to a noob like me).

Ideally I’d like to have the system set up in a 32"x32" tent, and then once it’s going have to do very little manipulation until harvest (aside from training plants, etc). The tote is 28" long, which makes me think this would be a perfect fit, but it’s possible the resulting plant would be too stifled in that small an area (and if I could, I’d still at least prefer to fit two plants in this system if it will mean higher overall yield).

I’ll lastly mention that with the exception of the cloner, I’ve been growing completely organically since I first began growing indoor last May (I use Dr. Earth dry fertilizers, although I’m interested in experimenting with other brands when I have the extra cash to spare). I’m not so concerned with staying organic for hydro growing, at least starting out as a complete novice. I’m currently watching Mr. Grow It’s podcast on DWC/RDWC and in addition to a lot of other useful information it discusses the added difficulties of using organic nutes with hydroponics…maybe once I get the basics down I can begin to experiment with this, but for now I’d prefer to keep things on the simpler side (it also seems pretty clear I won’t be using reverse osmosis water at this point based on the things they discussed, namely price tag). Link to that podcast is below:

As mentioned in the cloner protocol, I’ve been using the General Hydroponics micro/flora/bloom (1 mL each per gallon water) along with Rapid Start (1.1 mL per gallon) in pH 5.5 water and it’s worked like a dream for rooting clones. I planned on just using these for my first hydroponic grow as well, though the concentrations may be different.

@Myfriendis410 I saw you had a lot of valuable input on other hydroponic threads here, and you’ve been so helpful in my other posts
@HappyHydroGrower hey you said tag away!
@repins12 I hear you have a pretty badass DIY hydro build


If you want simple and as automated as you can get I highly recommend RDWC.

in a 32 inch tent, one plant will be plenty imo

I have 3 autos in a 30x60 and I wish I only had 2

My plants are in 8 gallon buckets, large res outside the tent

You want simple ferts use jacks 321, inexpensive and great for rdwc I changed my water out once this whole grow, and I probably didn’t need to change it the time I did, but since I am using tap water I

Your cloner looks great, one day if I switch to reg fem seeds I might use your well detailed information as a guide

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I have two in a 36” x 60” :+1:t2::v::sunglasses:


RDWC is what I’d recommend, including a chiller. You will absolutely need one.

As to R/O, the R/O Buddy is $59 on Amazon and does a great job. I picked up a plastic barrel from my local car wash (be sure to get soap barrel and not wax) which does a good job as a standing rez.

Organic nutes is something I’d shy away from in hydro as it will gum up all of the lines and make a huge mess.

I like Jack’s and frankly as far as plants go, so long as the salts are of good quality the plants won’t care.

You might also look into Autopots. It’s a bottom feed gravity system that is pretty easy to operate and walk away from.


Recommendations? I’m worried my salts are off low quality after reading this lol

The package I bought says
U.S.P. grade agriculture magnesium Sulfate

But I guess if you buy jacks from a reseller you could potentially get different salts from different places

You’re always welcome to hit me up for any advice/tips. Although by design it seems to have a pretty good success rate, I did learn a few things along the way that helped to improve it further. I think you’re definitely right about the single plant in a 32x32, and if I decided to definitely go the RDWC route (which I’m almost positive I will be), I would just put the resivoir right next to the tent.

I watched this video after my OP–this guy seemed to nail it. I would just do the single tote for now but it seems like I could make it adaptable to have more with the waterfall type setup as long as I don’t use PVC cement. I didn’t use it on the cloner purposely because I wanted to be able to take it apart and reassemble it for cleaning and possible parts replacement purposes.

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Nice thanks for the advice. I didn’t see R/O buddy on Amazon, but I did see several other reverse osmosis machines at that price point. What seems like the biggest investment though would be the chiller, which from looking through what was available on Amazon are all several hundred dollars if I want something reliable. I heard mixed things about whether one would be needed or not online, but my apartment is hot AF (it’s winter here in NY and I haven’t touched my heat dial once–I actually have my windows open most of the time). It’s much worse in the summer, and this past summer it became a real problem when it came to controlling heat and humidity in my tents (especially with those damn cheap burples lol). So I think based on both that and what you’ve said it would definitely be a necessity for me. I assume it would have to be adequate for the total volume in the tote+resivoir. I’ll probably find this out as I research more, but hopefully like any airpump they have an adjustable dial, as it would make sense to purchase one capable of handling added units sometime in the future.

The autopots look pretty cool and I’d consider purchasing if it didn’t look so easy to make myself for much less $$$, not that they’re outrageously priced by any means. I guess I also just sort of like the idea of building my own stuff if it’s not overly cumbersome and is an enjoyable and fruitful process. I’m not counting them out though. Looks like they’re intended for soil or coco and therefore a chiller isn’t necessary? Was leaning towards solely hydro, although maybe this is a mislead/uninformed view.


I have 22 gal in my system and a 1/10 hp chiller and it handles the temps very well. Prices have gone up considerably since I bought mine. I’ll buy another one when this one goes out because it’s a peace of mind that I don’t have to worry about temps.

Depending on your tap water, you may not need an RO buddy. I’ve use my tap water for every grow but I also have pretty good water.


Any quality nutrient line will do fine. I would stay away from products like Miracle Grow: not suited for Cannabis. The GH line is good, Fox Farms is popular, Advanced Nutrients etc are all made from quality ingredients. Jack’s is a commercial fertilizer made by J.R. Peters and is also of excellent quality.

If you go with Jack’s 3-2-1 program you will need some silica and Epsom salts. Agriculture grade is fine.

I think it’s called ‘Aquaticlife’ now.

I ran autopots all last winter. This current grow I’m doing in coco (Jack’s) and setting up a top-feed drip system to automate.


Yeah I am now using and recommend jacks 321.

My jacks came through a reseller though, I believe they buy large quantities of the part a and part b and then add their salts for smaller growers.

Yeah auto pots are more for coco imo it’s like a hybrid hydro :joy: no chiller needed though

The chiller is one of the most expensive parts of rdwc

I also just use my tap water, I changed my water once this grow. I might get a RO buddy at some point though.


Really appreciate everybody’s input here. I’ll update y’all once I start the build.