Hey everyone! Today, I’m taking a closer look at the Mars Hydro Hydroline 12 hydroponic system. While it’s not the top dog on the market and doesn’t have any standout features, I believe it’s essential to get the lowdown on it before deciding if it’s worth the purchase.
My rating of the Mars Hydro Hydroline 12
|Impact on comfort
|Ease of maintenance
I put the Mars Hydro Hydroline 12 through its paces, evaluating it in ten categories that I think are crucial for a system of this type. It earned a score of 63 out of a possible 100 points.
While this isn’t an outstanding score, I’ll go into detail below to explain why the system received the rating it did.
This hydroponic system is pretty straightforward. There’s a pump in a reservoir that helps aerate the water, but it lacks a filter, which is a downside.
On the control panel, there are several buttons. You can choose the duration of light exposure, adjust the brightness, and pick the light mode, either for vegetables or flowers.
The grow deck has 12 plant slots, two ventilation openings, and a single inlet for water. Frankly, the ventilation openings seem superfluous. Plus, there aren’t any covers provided for the slots you’re not using.
That pretty much sums up the system’s features. It’s basic and doesn’t boast any high-tech advancements.
I give the Mars Hydro Hydroline 12 a 6/10 for technology.
The performance of this system is decent, though not stellar. It uses 24-watt LEDs, which are adequate, but the plants don’t grow as quickly as they might in more efficient hydroponic systems. To compensate for this, it’s best to max out the light duration to 16 hours.
The plant nutrient provided is in solid form and isn’t especially potent. For comparison, the liquid nutrients from Aerogarden perform noticeably better.
However, a silver lining is the spacious reservoir, which allows ample room for root growth. This ensures the plants never run short on water, potentially leading to a generous harvest.
I give the Mars Hydro Hydroline 12 a 7/10 for efficiency.
The Mars Hydro 12 doesn’t exactly shine when it comes to quality. It seems the company hasn’t prioritized this aspect. You might be tempted to think it’s a budget device, implying some compromises in quality. But when you factor in the price, it’s hardly a steal.
One major letdown was the plastic button panel, which began peeling away from the control panel. Honestly, I’ve rarely encountered such poor craftsmanship.
Another issue is the grow deck’s fit on the reservoir – it’s unstable and frequently shifts out of place. Even a simple task like refilling the water can dislodge it.
The bowl’s walls feel a tad thin for its volume. A six-liter container should ideally be made of sturdier plastic. Whenever I move the bowl, it feels like it might just break.
I give the Mars Hydro Hydroline 12 a 5/10 for quality.
Operating this system is a breeze. I just had to attach the light hood to the reservoir, fill it with water, add the plant nutrients, and pop in the seed pods.
As the water level decreased, I simply topped it off and added more nutrients. Every two weeks, I drained and refilled the water and gave the bowl a good cleaning.
On the plus side, the bowl has a 6-liter capacity, meaning you won’t need to refill it too frequently.
Another advantage is the growing height, which is 20.2 inches. That’s actually one of the tallest options among indoor hydroponic systems, allowing you to grow pretty tall plants.
But there are downsides too. There are no stickers for the seed pods and no covers for the unused slots. The grow deck also has a couple of pointless ventilation holes. To top it off, the water inlet is awkwardly positioned.
I give the Mars Hydro Hydroline 12 a 7/10 for user experience.
Impact on comfort
I have to say, the Mars Hydro Hydroline 12 isn’t exactly a win for comfort. The pump’s noise level hits 46 decibels, which is on the louder side. And it gets even noisier when the water level drops due to the T-sprinkler.
When it comes to lighting, it’s not too harsh on the eyes, especially if the device isn’t placed too high. You also have the option to dim the light if needed.
Aesthetically, the device is pretty appealing. The white color blends well with any interior design. But I’m not a fan of the bright green base; it’s a bit distracting for me.
I give the Mars Hydro Hydroline 12 a 6/10 for impact on comfort.
Ease of maintenance
Maintenance for the Mars Hydro 12 is actually pretty straightforward. Detaching the bowl from the base is a breeze, and I didn’t even have to unplug the pump because it has self-disconnecting contacts that activate when the bowl is removed.
Cleaning the inside of the bowl is simple too, since it’s just the pump in there. However, the lack of a filter is a downside, as it allows dirt to get into the pump.
I usually change the water every two weeks and add some plant food, which is easier to manage than with some other systems I’ve used.
The system needs frequent water refilling. Using the designated filling hole isn’t very convenient, so I usually just pour water in through one of the plant holes instead.
I give the Mars Hydro Hydroline 12 a 8/10 for ease of maintenance.
Even though they provide a feedback form and a contact number on their website, Mars Hydro’s customer support is just awful. I reached out via email and didn’t hear back for several days. When they finally did get back to me, we spent about a week going back and forth without ever resolving the issue.
It felt like the support team was more interested in brushing me off than actually solving my problem. Because of this, I’m giving them a low rating in this category. If you run into any issues, don’t expect much help from Mars Hydro’s support team.
I give the Mars Hydro Hydroline 12 a 2/10 for customer support.
Growing plants with this hydroponic system is pretty affordable. Here’s a breakdown of what I spent and what I got in return.
The highest expense was electricity, which cost me $2.30. The system used 13.5 kWh to produce the crop, and the rate in my state is $0.17 per kilowatt-hour.
Next up are the growing sponges. Even though they’re included with the device, I’ve factored them into the overall cost.
I didn’t include the cost of water and plant food, as these amounts are pretty negligible and tough to accurately calculate.
So, all in all, I spent $2.90. What I got for that investment was four heads of lettuce. That means each head cost me $0.79, which is what I harvested in a month of growing.
I give the Mars Hydro Hydroline 12 an 8/10 for operating costs.
Mars Hydro’s 12 grow sponges are fully compatible with Aerogarden, giving you a range of alternative options, some of which are listed in the table.
|Price for one sponge
However, the baskets themselves are not compatible with Aerogarden, and finding replacement baskets on the market can be a challenge. While the original baskets are quite durable, I’d still prefer to have alternative options available.
Any hydroponic plant food will work well with this system, so you won’t have any issues if you decide to switch from the original plant food.
I give the Mars Hydro Hydroline 12 a 8/10 for proprietary.
The Mars Hydro Hydroline 12 is definitely on the expensive side. It’s available for $100 on Amazon, but if you go directly to the manufacturer’s website, the price jumps to $110.
You can find systems with comparable features for nearly half the cost. Plus, if you’re willing to spend between $120 and $150, you can get hydroponic systems that offer advanced features like a screen.
The Hydroline 12’s larger bowl and greater growing height are its main selling points that might justify the higher price. However, I personally would opt for the Spider Farmer SF-Smart G12. It’s quite similar but a bit more affordable. On top of that, the Spider Farmer system offers better build quality and more powerful LEDs.
I give the Mars Hydro Hydroline 12 a 6/10 for price.
This system is a good fit for people looking for indoor hydroponics with a sizable bowl and ample growing height. While it may not offer top-of-the-line features or outstanding quality, it does deliver a decent yield.
Be prepared to pay a premium for this setup, though. In return, you’ll get an entry-level hydroponics system that’s suitable for getting your feet wet in the field.
Pros and Cons
|Spacious bowl capacity
|Inconvenient placement of the filler hole
|Ample growing height
|Convenient dimming function
|Unsatisfactory customer service
|Lack of a water level sensor
|Option for alternative sponges
|Simple and hassle-free maintenance
|Cost-effective electricity consumption
|Mars Hydro Hydroline 12
|iDOO 12-pods (ID-IG301)
|Spider Farmer SF-Smart G12
|Mufga 12 Pods
|Number of pods
|24 (36) W
|Max grow height
|20.2″ (51.5 cm)
|10.5″ (27 cm)
|20.2″ (50 cm)
|Min grow height
|11.2″ (28.5 cm)
|5.5″ (14 cm)
|11.2″ (28.5 cm)
|Low Water Reminder
In summary, this system has its merits, notably its large bowl and impressive growing height. However, I find it hard to recommend for purchase due to its significant drawbacks, including its high cost and subpar quality. There are more cost-effective and higher-quality alternatives available in the market.