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DIY Vertical Cooler System

Thank you so much for your quick response. I've got a lot of work done, and plenty more to do. With so much water intake (which I didn't realize) I decided on the two reservoirs. Your pictures were a great reference for many concerns, thank you again! This is exciting.

I will upload some pictures when I have something I'm proud of.

A quick question: I noticed you used PVC cement, which I think I need to use.. is there any specific kind that is not harmful to the ladies, or are all PVC cements non toxic?
I'm getting a lot of debris from the circular cuts in the lid of the cooler. What would be the best way to go about sealing off the inner-foam layer?

Heres where I'm at..

Nothing is glued, just setup.


Bob Smith

I've never tried it, but I'd sure be nervous about using a reservoir to support those PVC tubes - I went up to 4" PVC because I wanted my system (avatar, lit by four 600s) to hold <100 plants.

I (obviously) used waste tees and more PVC for my base, as well as 22.5s (as opposed to 45s) for a more "rounded" structure.

Had shrub misters at the top of each column but I'm installing a new watering system (true sprinklers/misters) at the top of each column.

Billygoat, very nice original system.


This should be a sticky.

I'm gonna design something like this for the next round in my balcony garden shed. I'm thinking a single rez under a table that supports a 4-site tube in each corner that connect at the bottom and feed back into the rez. I'm trying to decide on medium: it seems people are either filling tubes with hydroton and pumping water to the tube tops (hehe), or using misters in empty tubes, or a drip feed like the OP. The first seems simplest to me, I think that's what I'll try.


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King Ralph great work! Super creative.
BG rocked your humboldt express good stuff, well liked! Got some beans from it that got crossed with my blue dream.
Alrighty! Everything is just about ready. Thank you to all who posted in this thread. The information here is wonderful. As soon as the weekend comes, I'll be transplanting my little ones into one side of the cube.. and every two weeks I'll add on another side to eventually make the full cube. As BG and other creators originally had the cycle planned out, hopefully a harvest will come every two weeks.

This is my first vertical run! I have an idea about how often i'll need to feed them, but was wondering if anyone else could shed some light. I need all the help I can get from the pros! I was thinking I could flood them for 15 mins every three hours with no feeding during the off hours. Yay or Nay?

Bob Smith

Do you have medium in your columns? If so, what is your medium? That (and the size/water uptake of the plants) is gonna be the biggest driver on flooding frequency.
Hey Bob Smith,

I'm filling the columns up with hydroton. The plants are not big, only a few weeks of veg after being rooted.

Thanks for the response .

Bob Smith

If that's the case, sounds like your flooding frequency is about right.

Since it's hydroton I'd probably bump it up to every hour or two, but if every three hours is working for now just stick with it.

Good luck.


Active member
hey Dr, lookin good, good luck! shoulda replied earlier, I used um expanding hard insulation foam, yknow the yellow polypropylene stuff, and shot that in the cooler lids to supplement the foam that was in there, give it more support etc. looks like your lids are nice thick constant foam, so looks good there, don't worry, once the tubes are in place, no bits will get out, it'll be sealed up.

i kept it recirculating 24/7, definitely the best way. the mag-drive pumps are good for that because they can handle the continuous operation. plants love total recirculation, trust me. it will also keep the beneficial bacteria in the system more healthy, and they will dry out otherwise because of the immense drinking they'll do. hydroton is also the best medium for this application i believe. i thought about coarse perlite, but that's then a recurring cost since it can't be recycled, and the perlite dust could be a problem. washing the hydroton is a huge pain in the ass, but oh well ;)

also, at the bottom of the columns, i glued on a PVC end cap and drilled a bunch of little holes in it. that was to cap it off so the hydroton could be kept in it without going into the cooler, and still let the water flow through. be sure to make the length of the downtube just short enough so that you can still open the cooler lid. the cooler top is strong enough to support it all, no worries Bob. oh also, just use PVC cement, the usual purple stuff, it's not toxic to the plants, just to you when initially applying it lol. be liberal with it, and check for any leaks with a wet run.

Bob, I too was using 4" PVC, caus I got a deal on 4" drain Y's. a big weight saver was that they were the light plastic ones instead of those thick kind, and instead of thick 40 or 80 wall PVC pipe, i used that drain tube pipe that is really thin, but black inside and white outside, so still all lightproof. even so, filled with hydroton and always running with water, it was heavy, but the lid is structurally sound. they did get top heavy, hence the strings holding them in place balance-wise once they got going.

careful with how much veg you give them beforehand too. i gave mine two weeks and it was too much hahah. i gave them longer so the purple urkle could get some size, but the sativas got wayyy too big. so yknow adjust accordingly, you'll get used to how different strains fit and react in there. exciting first run! lots of pics, there aren't many of these systems, in the world! so congrats man!
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Bob Smith

So Ralph, you have hydroton in your columns and you're still flooding 24/7?

Interesting; I contemplated using hydroton because I didn't want to have to run my pump 15% of the time (uses 600 watts, so any savings on that would be great) - I've got no medium in my columns and am trying to run it as a pure aero/NFT media-less system.

Anyhow, nice setup you've got :)


Active member
yes 24/7, the plants absolutely adored it, and it makes the beneficial bacteria stronger all the time and keeps the nutrients more constant and lets them drink drink drink. plenty of oxygen, no worries. I used 500GPH magdrive pumps per cooler, they used like 30watts a piece of something. i debated aero/nft at the beginning, but quickly dismissed it because if so much as a mister got clogged, plants would die, or god forbid the pump timer went, or the pump itself, they'd all be dead in hours. with hydroton, they can live for a long time without another flood. but they love the continuous waterflow.
Great info! Answered plenty of questions I was going to ask!

I got a bit off track.. holidays.. work.. family.. all the fun things in life. But here's what I've been up to..

I ended up sealing the lid with aquarium silicon -- and once everything was set and dryed, PVC cement and all -- the structure seems pretty sturdy. I'm not as worried as I was, yet I don't know what its like filled with hydroton..

I used a couple couplers on each down tube and then attached a grate (in place of the caps with drilled holes -- great idea, I actually like that better, although I had already bought these and they should work fine)

I had a old mag drive pump layin around.. its not a 500 gph but a 350.. think it'll do? Will the temps of the res get to warm running it 24/7 over 8 weeks? -- KR, you didn't use a chiller, did you?

I've been having issues with the old vinyl tubing.. so i've upgraded to 1/2 i.d. rubber hose-- should be niice!

NO LEAKS on the wet run! I can't wait to fill'er up and give it a go. Unfortunately, I had some complications with some of my girls and it looks like the first run will only have 12 instead of 24. The other issue that I'm realizing.. I may have vegged them a bit too long.. might need to be putting up nets in weeks to come :/

anywho, now that I've got my proto-type.. time to build the rest of the fleet. BTW, to help clean out the system (hydroton rocks and water) I was thinking of using a semi powerful wet/dry vac, figure it may do the trick..


Bob Smith

Caligirl, did you glue endcaps onto the top of your columns? I used "quik caps" on top of mine - the rubber PVC endcaps.

Also, were you planning on using a different pump/timer for each system? That's gets to be pretty complicated, no?

I just made one HUGE system (4" PVC everywhere) that's run by one LARGE (1/6HP) pump for simplicity's sake - being connected at the top by 3/4" tubing also adds to the stability, IMO.

Mine isn't glued together at all (save for a 4" piece of PVC tubing glued into the bottom of each wye) so I can take it apart fully into individual wyes if necessary - that's a lie, my entire base is glued together, so that's not fitting through a doorway anytime soon.

Anyhow, here's a couple of pics and a quick video of mine in action - I've made a lot of mods to the original "El Blastido" design I worked off of.



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That's really a sweet job --- nice work!!
Look forward to seeing the venturi. I need a simple way to add DO and your way seems like a possible solution.
Thanks for sharing ------ CB
BS, I did infact glue on solid PVC end caps. The rubber end caps wouldn't work for me because I'm using heavier hoses and the barb I drilled into the PVC end cap needs a sturdy support.

I will be using different pumps per side of the 4 walled cube. This will allow me to switch out each system as I need to, and grow different strains -- because each will have separate reservoirs; different nutrients for different grows.

Your system sure does look stable, although.. no problems yet with my situation. Everything is cemented together except in one area.. the first wye on each column only has a coupler glued on top-- that way the rest of the wyes on each column (which are cemented) can slide right on .. and come off.

Looks like you have plenty of room to work with! I am not that fortunate. I've had to plan for a room that is 6x6x8..


Is "t" for tag? ^^

KingRalph, could use some words of wisdom in regards to the res temp issue - or if it was an issue? (post #275)

ended up having issues with my marineland pump (475 gph) wasn't getting enough pressure to all 4 columns -- therefore I didn't even waste time testing out my mag drive 350 gph. I just grabbed a Mag drive model 7 (700gph) hopefully that'll do the trick.