How Much Does Aeration Cost?

If you haven’t seen our aeration kit prices, start here.

Shopping around for an aerator? Here are a few key things to consider when costing up a system and comparing suppliers. 

1. Not all “aerators” sufficiently aerate large waterbodies 

Not all aerator brands and equipment are equal in performance. We say this because time and time again we see aerators installed in dams which are too small and unable to move enough water to sufficiently aerate a dam. We also encounter aeration setups where the motor is powerful enough but the setup itself is poorly designed and ineffective. For instance, cheap hose or fittings, or hose that is too narrow can restrict airflow, hindering the performance of the motor and shortening the motor’s life; because it’s working much harder than it should be.

Undersized and poorly designed aeration systems are common in dams because expertise about aerating large bodies of water is rare, especially in Australia. Many “experts” in irrigation, pool or pond equipment stores make assumptions about dams but have little to no experience in the field.  

When considering quality, watch out for these red flags: 
 

  • Where is the product made? Dam aeration equipment is usually either custom designed and manufactured by specialist aeration companies in the USA (mostly) or Europe, or come out of Asia using US/Euro technology that’s been copied over time. Higher quality parts and labour in the US/Europe mean higher prices than Asian manufactured products. No surprise there, it’s the same for most products the world around. The problem you face as a consumer is when you don’t know, and in most cases the retailer doesn’t know, where the equipment is really made. In the case of sub-surface aeration systems, it’s common practice for USA distributors, who are not true manufacturers, to take an air compressor made in China, put it inside a USA-made cabinet and ship it to Australia where it gets sold as ‘USA made’. If you’re shopping around comparing USA made systems and come across one that’s a lot cheaper than the others, that’s a good sign you’re buying from China with an American sticker. 
  • If you’re after a fountain-looking aerator, we highly recommend you read our article: Do Fountains Actually Aerate Water? as most fountains on the market are not aerators. In a nutshell, genuine fountain aerators have a propeller (like an outboard motor on a boat) but most fountains, including many advertised as “aerators”, have an impeller (like a pool pump). As you can imagine, there’s a big difference in outflow between an outboard motor and a pool pump. 

2. Solar costs considerably more than mains power 

Most customers come to us looking for a solar-powered aerator but go the mains power route. In 90% of cases, it’s because of cost.  

Example: a 1/4 acre dam with an easy shape can start at $2,000 for mains powered aeration, but $7,500 for solar or wind.

This is because of all the additional equipment (solar controller, solar panels, racking etc) required for a solar setup.

The good news is we offer ‘remote setups’ that allow you to aerate a waterbody up to 200m from mains power. In other words, if your dam is less than 200m from a power outlet, a mains powered aeration setup is still an option for you. 

Video: See a remote setup in action

If power isn’t an option, or you value the environment more than upfront cost, solar and wind powered aerators are a great option, and obviously they recuperate their costs over time.  

Pictured: Diagram of remote setup

3. Sub-surface aeration typically costs less than surface aeration 

If cost is important to you, we recommend you look at our sub-surface aerator range first.

Example: a 1/4 acre dam with an easy shape can start at $2,000 for sub-surface aeration, but $5,000 for surface aeration.

These setups tend to cost less for the simple reason that the motors are a lot smaller. Surface aerators typically come in ½ to 5hp, while sub-surface aerators come in 1/10 to 3hp. This doesn’t mean sub-surface aerators don’t do the job as well as surface aerators, the motors are simply smaller because they don’t need as much power. This is because surface aerators pump water, while sub-surface aerators pump air. And it takes a lot more power to pump water than air. 

Pictured: Surface aerator (left), sub-surface aerator (right)

The advantage of surface aerators is they act as water features as well as aerators, if this is your cup of tea. Whereas, if you prefer a more natural-looking dam with a hidden setup, sub-surface is the goer. 
 

4. Large dam = Large aeration system 

Makes sense, right. We only make a point of saying this because we never supply a system, we believe can’t do the job of aerating a waterbody. We wish we could say the same about other suppliers but too many customers come to us saying they already have an aerator installed but they are still getting algae, weed, sludge, odour, dead fish etc. The takeaway is, if you’re trying to transform a large aquatic ecosystem, you’ll need to get your head around installing a large, powerful aerator. 

Get FREE advice on the right aerator for your dam 

5. Deep dams generally cost less to aerate than shallow dams 

It might sound counterintuitive but deep dams are a lot easier to aerate than shallow dams. This is certainly the case if you go with a sub-surface aerator anyway. In a sub-surface setup, as the bubbles rise from the bottom, they get larger and larger. And the larger the bubbles, the greater the drag force on the surrounding water. In other words, more water is pulled to the surface where gas exchange occurs, and oxygen enters the water.  

In a shallow dam, the bubbles don’t get very big before they reach the surface. So, the drag force is limited. This means you need to inject more power into the system (i.e., add a larger motor), add more air stations, or both, in order the adequately aerate your water. 

Pictured: Comparing the drag force in a deep dam (left) vs shallow dam (right) using the same aerator and air station

If you do have a shallow dam, you may want to consider a surface aerator instead. It has a higher entry level cost, but it may just work out more affordable than a mid-level sub-surface system which may be necessary. You may also be able to offset power costs by using a surface aerator on a timer rather than run a sub-surface aerator 24/7. Talk to us and we can guide you in the most cost-effective direction. 

6. Complete aeration kits cost more than motors alone 

This makes sense written down but looking online it can be easy to miss this. For example, as well as a motor/compressor, a sub-surface aeration kit may include several runs of hose (weighted and non-weighted), multiple air stations, hose clamps, joiners, spare filters, a cabinet, a pump cover, manifolds, fittings etc. When you factor all this in, the price changes a fair amount.

Example: a Matala 1/4hp motor alone might cost around $1K, but all the other gear will add another $2K. So, the total is nearer to $3K.

Plus getting all the right parts together yourself can be a big hassle because of all the specialised pieces. For instance, we sell 12 different hose types (weighted and non-weighted), 10+ different types of air stations, 10+ different sized hose clamps and joiners, as well as multiple spare filters, pump covers, manifolds, brass aeration fittings etc.

By purchasing a complete kit from us, you don’t have to get your head around all the different options and combinations. We’ll design and assemble the kit for you. Everything arrives together and we send an instruction video like this: How to Install a Matala Aerator to make installation as simple as possible. This saves you running all over town hunting down speciality parts and it means you’re not left to design the aeration setup on your own, e.g., figuring out where the air stations should go, hose lengths, additional items needed etc.  

7. Ongoing customer support for installation and maintenance is rare 

We want to make sure you make the right decision, which is why we offer FREE phone consults to those shopping around and after-sales support to all customers. We’re the only aerator supplier we know of in Australia to offer this. Whether it’s help with the install, maintenance questions, or further advice on creating a next-level dam experience, we’re available by phone and email. Most suppliers will sell you the equipment, and that’s where the relationship ends. Consider us your ongoing expert on water. 

We also have an e-store—Love My Dam so you can purchase additional equipment, biologicals etc, on your own.  

The Water Quality Solutions Difference 

Our team has unrivalled expertise in Australian aquatic systems and Scotty Tucker (20+ years’ experience) personally assists in all aeration designs and kit builds. We don’t just stock equipment; we provide custom advice and build kits from scratch based on your dam’s exact specs. We will never sell an aeration kit to a customer which we believe is incapable of doing the job. In other words, when you receive a quote from us, it’s for a ‘complete’ setup we believe can transform your entire aquatic ecosystem for the long-term.