This is a topic near and dear to my heart!
I started off as a soil grower, but quickly made the switch to hydro. I liked the idea of being able to control every little nutrient I was adding and controlling the pH much easier than soil was a huge selling point for me.
I bought my first DWC kit. It was a 5 gallon DWC kit on Amazon, like $40-50 I believe. It came with a 5 gallon black bucket, a 6’ net pot, some hydroton, an air stone, some air hose, an air pump, and the tubing and grommet for the water level gauge. Literally, everything you needed to start a DWC grow. It was perfect…or so I thought.
I realized all I really needed to grow more was just more buckets, net pots, air stones, more hydroton, and a bigger air pump. It only made sense to me to get one of the bigger air pumps, so I got the 8 output one at first (now I have the 12 output one). If you really think you’ll like hydro, go big from the start when it comes to your air pump! For air stones, I recommend the 2" cylindrical air stones, they’re cheap and work great! I have tried all the cheap ones, and this is my favorite. I’ll save you time and money lol!
Now I have like 12-5 gallon buckets, 12 net pots, a massive bag of hydroton, air stones, air hose, and a couple air pumps. Anyway, my advice for you is to NOT buy those kits and whatnot, you can easily buy a bucket and do it yourself for MUCH cheaper! I do recommend you buy one DWC kit, like I did, just so you can compare a homemade to a store bought. It’s all up to you anyway!
I learned to buy black buckets, but spray paint, or paint, the outside of the bucket white, to reflect the light away, but keep it from penetrating through to the water. You’ll lol need a good pH meter, I DO NOT recommend the yellow cheap ones you see every where. They work, but they’re a pain in the butt and extremely unreliable after a couple weeks. I bought a $40-50 Apera pH meter on Amazon that works as good as the $100-200 pH meters. Be smart, always do your research before buying a product, but I can definitely stand behind this pH meter, because it’s cheap-ish but works with great reliability!
I recommend General Hydroponics Flora line of nutrients for DWC, it’s the easiest to use in my opinion and gives great results. I have been using it for a while now. And I recommend that you buy a spare bucket for when you need to do your weekly water changes. It makes it super simple because you can just mix up your nutrients in the spare bucket, then take it into your tent and swap out the old bucket with the spare bucket that has all the good fresh water and nutrients in it. A lot of people will just drain the bucket, but I think being able to swap out buckets is much better to do because you can CLEAN them every week. Meaning you swapped out a used bucket, with old nutrients and water, for a clean bucket with fresh water and nutrients, every week. That’s my little tip, it’s how I do my water changes.
I hope this helps you out! I’m sure I can think of more lol but I actually have to do some bucket swaps right now! Just tag me or @Donaldj if you need any hydro help, he’s actually way smarter than me and more experienced when it comes to hydro!