If you're a hobbyist cannabis grower, and want to keep things simple, then you should definitely consider setting up your own grow tent. Grow tents aren't meant for people with large-scale cannabis operations, but for those who only want to grow a few ounces a month, a grow tent could be the ideal way to go.
They are amazing as they let individuals who live in temperate climates to grow cannabis year round.
However, there isn't just one type of grow tent that will work for everyone. There are actually a lot of different factors that need to be considered, and many different types of tents that are available on the market. Thankfully, no matter how you end up setting up your grow tent, the process should be fairly easy to complete and understand.
So, continue reading and we'll show you how to design the perfect grow tent for your needs.
DIY or Store Bought?
This is the first question you should ask yourself. There are pros and cons to both methods, it's all up to you and your needs.
A DIY setup can save you money in the long run, but you need to be somewhat handy to pull it off. Some DIY experts use shelving and then wrap reflective fabric around the shelf. Others use PVC pipes to create the frame.
Realistically, you could use whatever you want to create a DIY setup. The unit must trap light inside, ideally be reflective on the inside to maximize the amount of light your plant receives, be capable of holding the weight of heavy grow lights/ other equipment, and of course fit inside your home.
There are also many store bought options. Some retailers will sell you just a tent, and you need to go individually purchase the other components needed, and others will sell you an entire grow tent kit, including everything you need to get started.
The benefit of a complete kit is that you don't need to go do the research on what products you will need to start up your tent, and find someone who sells each individual part. Finding all the parts separately can save you money, but it will take some effort. Again, its totally up to you.
Size of Tent
The next thing you need to consider is how big of a tent you want. Obviously with a larger tent you will be able to grow more plants, and have a larger harvest. However, not everyone has the space for a massive tent inside their home, and with a larger setup comes more factors you must consider.
Some things to ask yourself when deciding on the size of your tent are:
- How much space in your home are you are willing to devote to your growing space?
- With a larger tent comes higher electricity bills. How much are you willing to spend per month on this set-up?
- With a larger space, you will need larger, brighter lights. How much of an initial cost are you willing to put into this setup?
- With more plants, comes more work. How much time/ effort can you put into trimming and tending to your plants?
- With more plants, you will have to purchase more grow supplies. How much are you willing to spend on nutrients, soil, etc. Keep in mind these are things you will have to purchase each grow. It can save you money buying these items in bulk.
- Legality: in your region, how many plants are you allowed to cultivate at home, if any? To check the laws in the United States, click here. For the legality of growing cannabis in Europe, click here.
The averaged sized grow tent is 2 feet by 4 feet. This tent will often fit inside a closet. It's perfect for people who do not have tons of space to allocate towards growing plants. This tent would do best with a 1000W HID or LED grow light, as it will provide enough light to the plants. This size of tent could fit around 4 plants.
Things You Will Need To Get Your Grow Tent Up and Running
If you decide to go the route of finding each piece individually, its best to have a list of everything you need so you don't miss anything. Here are some of the items you will need for a successful grow tent:
Plants need light to grow, and without sufficient light, your plant will not grow as large or as healthy as you want. By providing you plants with plenty of light, your plants will be able to grow strong, healthy, and provide bigger yields in the end.
So.. What type of light is best?
There are many different types of grow lights you could use. In general, LED lights are a great choice for any setup. They are very strong, so they will provide enough light. They are also energy efficient, so your electric bill wont go off the charts with them being in use the majority of the day. Lastly, they do not get nearly as hot as some other grow lights. This is beneficial as they are safer, and they won't make your growing space too hot. Click here to check out a blog that describes the other common grow lights used in a grow tent.
How to hang up your grow light
The easiest way to hang your grow light is by using rope ratchets, if possible. These are affordable and very easy to set up. A rope ratchet makes is super simple to adjust your light whenever you want without the chance of dropping the light onto your plants.
It can sometimes be helpful to be able to quickly bring lights down or up, whether you want better access to the back of the grow tent without the light shining on your head, or you just want to take better photos of your plants. Just make sure that whatever you use to secure the lights, rope ratchets included, can handle at least twice the weight of your light, just to be safe.
A sturdy rope ratchet will let you move a grow light down or up with just a few clicks, so you won't ever have to hold up your light or worry that it might fall onto your plants.
You will also need airflow in your tent. Airflow can help strengthen the stem of your plant, and reduces the chance of mold growing. It also helps supply your plants with CO2, which is vital for plant growth. Some growers use CO2 enhancers to provide their plants with even more CO2, as it's proven to speed up the growth of plants.
In order to reap the benefits of proper air circulation in your grow tent, you will need to purchase a fan to go inside your tent. Most growers have 2 fans: one to simply circulate the air, and an inline duct fan, we will talk more about that kind in a minute. An oscillating fan will help mimic the outdoor environment, and provide all the benefits listed above.
Luckily most oscillating fans are quite similar, and you can be cheap when it comes to purchasing one for your tent. Any fan will do. You just want to keep in mind the noise of a cheap fan, and how much space your fan will take up inside the grow tent.
As for installing an oscillating fan into your grow tent, ideally you want it to clip it to a wall in the tent. You don't want it to be too close to leaves as it may cause wind burn. You also don't want it too far away, as ideally it will circulate the air above, below, and between the plants. Click here to see a fan meant for inside a grow tent. Since it has clips, they can easily be moved around the tent to maximize their efficiency.
The other fan you should consider purchasing is an inline duct fan. In simpler terms, this is simply an exhaust fan. It's used to expel hot humid air from your grow tent. Often this fan is hooked up to a carbon filter, so the air being expelled from the tent does not have a cannabis odor.
Most people will force the air outside, with duct tubing that goes out a window but others will let the air expel into their home if a window is not possible. While they are not mandatory, they are great for improving air circulation within your tent.
While it's not a mandatory requirement, it may be necessary depending on the type of lights you are using. If your lights get very hot, you will need to expel the hot air out of the tent. Otherwise, the growing conditions will be too hot, and your plants will suffer the consequences.
However, it's important to consider the costs of running one of these fans full time. If running 24/7, it can significantly increase your electricity bill.
How to hang your inline duct fan
Hanging your exhaust fan inside of the tent is the best way to make your exhaust system as efficient as possible. Doing this will greatly muffle the sound of the running fan and it will let you make a fairly straight path from your light to the fan for optimal airflow and circulation.
Use rope ratchets or strong nylon rope to hang the exhaust fan inside of the grow tent (from the top bars) so that you can greatly reduce both the vibration and sound. If you just set your fan on top of - our outside of - the tent, it's going to sound very loud.
If you're utilizing a grow light that comes with an air-cooled hood which contains all of the heat, like a lot of the HPS or MH grow lights, then you can connect the exhaust fan directly to the hood for maximum cooling. This will let you vent hot air straight out of a window so that the heat is never overwhelming your plants.
In order to achieve the best results, you want to make sure that there's a way to get fresh air into the test. Practically all grow tents have removable vents that let fresh air in near the bottom of the tent. Some users take the covers completely off, however, that increases the possibility that the light will leak into the tent.
In order to achieve better circulation without letting in light, you can make a small window or light trap facing down in order to let air through while still keeping the light out.
Here is one of the best inline duct fans available on the market. It's noise reducing, and has 8 speeds so you can adjust the amount of airflow.
Soil or Hydroponics?
As mentioned earlier, this is totally up to you. Both methods have their pros and cons. Soil growing is generally easier, and requires less research and upfront purchases. Hydroponics takes a bit more time and money to set up, but it can be totally worth it. Think of hydroponics this way: high risk but high reward. Cannabis plants grow faster in hydroponics, which can result in larger yields. However, things can go wrong very fast. It takes much less time in a hydroponic system for something wrong and resultantly, kill your plants.
Take your time to research both, and no setup is permanent. You could always change to a different setup after trying one out for a few months. If you want more information to help you make your decision, click here.
If you have decided to have a soil set up, you will need a few things.
First, you will need pots. You want your pots to be large enough to support your plant until harvest, which means they should be quite large. By providing ample space for your plants to grow, you will end up with bigger plants, which means bigger yields. It's best to go with the largest size pot you can fit in your tent. This will allow your plant to grow to its maximum potential. Some growers choose to use smaller pots to control the size of their plants. This can be handy when you have a very small grow space, you want to be discreet, or you want to be able to fit more small plants in your grow space over a few large plants. This may be the case if you are wanting to grow several strains all at once. A 5 gallon pot is the smallest you would want to go. This size of pot still allows for plenty of root growth without taking up too much space.
Lastly, you want to ensure your pot as proper drainage. Without proper drainage, your plants roots will not receive adequate aeration, which could lead to root rot. A pot with several holes in the bottom is perfect. Nursery pots are awesome for growing cannabis as they are inexpensive, and often have amazing drainage.
You will also need a growing medium/ soil. There are many different materials you could use to create the perfect potting mix, or you could always buy a premixed general potting mix. If you are wanting a premixed soil, check out Foxfarm. This soil is praised by growers. If you are wanting to mix your own soil, click here to read about some of the common growing media options you could use.
With hydroponics, there are so many variations. Here is a blog that covers the top 6 most common types of hydroponics. Here we will cover one of the most praised methods, Deep Water Culture (DWC). It's loved by growers for being easy to set up, and being little maintenance. The blog linked above also provides much more detail into how a DWC system works.
Below is an image of how a DWC system works. Basically the plant is held over a bucket of oxygenated, nutrient rich water. The air stone oxygenates and circulates the water, and the plant gets everything it needs to grow from the water.
If you have decided DWC is for you, here are the things you will need to get started.
One of the first things to consider is buckets. The bucket will hold water for your plant to sit in. This is another area where you could DIY something. Basically all you need is the bucket to be sturdy enough that you are not worried about it breaking, and it needs to have a way to hold the plant basket. If DIY isn't for you, here's a link to some buckets that are perfect for cannabis growing in a grow tent. What's nice about this product is it’s a kit. It includes the air pump, air stones and tubing required to get set up.
The air pump and air stones are needed for a successful DWC system. Without them your plant will suffocate from lack of oxygen, and the water will most likely grow mold as it's stagnant. You want to ensure you purchase an air pump and airstones that are strong enough to circulate the water in your buckets.
You will also need a plant basket for each plant you are preparing to grow. You do not want to use a regular nursery pot for this, as they will not have enough holes to allow for proper water circulation. See how in the image below the pot is almost mesh, this allows for water to easily flow through, and for the roots to be able to grow beyond the size of the basket.
With both a soil or hydroponic setup, you will need nutrients. You could choose to go the organic route, or synthetic. Crazy enough, plants can't tell the difference and don't really care. It's up to you.
In general, synthetic fertilizers are stronger, so using an organic fertilizer may be safer if you are concerned about burning your plants. It’s also recommended to never use more than what the directions say, in fact it's best to use less than their recommended amount. This will help reduce the chance of you giving them too many nutrients.
Small Things To Not Forget!
Here are a few products that many people don't consider, but are very handy and will make your growing experience much easier.
pH Reader: This one is so important, especially for a hydroponic setup. Keeping your pH within range is one of the most important aspects to plant cultivation. When your pH is too high or too low, your plant could experience a nutrient deficiency or toxicity. A pH reader is an easy way to ensure your plants have the ideal pH. For a soil setup, it's best to keep the pH between 6.0-7.0. For a hydroponic setup, it's best to keep the pH around 5.5-6.6. An added bonus to having a pH reader is it makes flushing your cannabis plants much easier.
EC Reader: This is a very similar concept to a pH reader. An EC reader determines the amount of salts in your water. The higher the salt content, the more nutrients that are in the water. Reverse osmosis water has no nutrients in it, meaning it has a TDS of 0. When reverse osmosis water is tested with an EC reader, it shows 0. This is because there are no nutrients in this type of water, they have all been filtered out.
Timers: Trust me, you do not want to be in charge of when your plant wakes up and goes to sleep each day. Turning on and off the lights each day will make you insane. Instead, get a timer. It does not need to be anything fancy, just a simple daily manual timer. I linked my favourite timer here.
So now that you know what you need, and how to set it up, it's time to make sure that everything was installed correctly, and is safe to leave unattended.
Finally, you want to check all around the inside of your grow tent. Everything should be securely fastened and stable. There shouldn't any electronic equipment (wires, ballasts, power strips) on the ground, in case that there's ever a water spill.
A good idea is to keep all of the electronic gear above waist-height. And anything that deals with water should be below the waist.
You also don't want to leave any wires just hanging around inside of the tent. Not only is it safer to keep your wrapped up, but it also looks nicer too.
Now that everything looks good, it's time to turn it on and see if everything is functioning properly.
Light and Scent Check
You want to make sure that there are no smells or light that will make it outside of the tent. After you set everything up, turn your exhaust fan and grow light on for a day to test out the new space.
The sides of your grow tent should bend slightly inward when you turn the fan on. Inward bending means that you've established negative air pressure. This is ideal because it's going to stop odors from leaking into your house so long as the tent remains closed.
You also want to make sure that your carbon filter is attached tightly to the exhaust fan. There should be no way for air to leak out or in. A tight seal between the fan and the carbon filter will ensure that all of the air that leaves the tent will first pass through the carbon filter, which will eliminate all of the smells from it.
Take some time to look around your home and check if you can hear anything that seems odd when your equipment is running. A rattle or hum can lead to suspicions, so listen carefully. You can also go outside and walk around your house.
Go once in the morning, once at night, and once in the evening and check if you can hear any suspicious sounds or see any noticeable lights from your grow room.
When you hang your fans, instead of just sitting them on some object, you'll be able to significantly reduce the amount of sound that they produce. Also, you'll be able to keep the sounds low and keep your fans working efficiently by regularly cleaning them.
For both water pumps and air pumps, you want to place them on something other than the ground. For example, you'll be able to muffle the vibrations by placing them on planks of wood.
Again, make sure to check it several times throughout the day to confirm everything is working, and where it should be.
Now it's time for the fun part: Choosing seeds and starting your grow! We have plenty of information on how to grow the healthiest cannabis plant from seed to harvest here.
Hopefully, after reading the above, you now have a better understanding of how a grow tent works and what you need to do in order to have a successful growing operation.
If you're looking for an even easier way to grow cannabis, then you should consider Grobo. Grobo is an automated grow box. We utilize deep water culture, which is a hydroponic technique in order to grow plants.
All you have to do is simply add your plant, pick a grow recipe in the Grobo app, and let the system do the rest! Our boxes reduce smell and can get you growing up to three ounces every few months. We have over 1500 seed recipes in our app, so you have plenty of options to choose from!
We also have a ton of educational videos on our YouTube channel! While Grobo mainly focuses on growing cannabis, we can also help with growing other plants too. Our lead horticulturist Stephen loves to grow hot peppers in his Grobo.
If we don't currently ship to your country, you can ask us to start shipping to your region on our international shipping request form.
Please comment any tips and trick you have for setting up the best grow tent!