Grow Tent Setup
A Basic Guide for the Beginner Grower
When you see rooms full of healthy cannabis plants that are loaded with abundant flowers, it’s easy to forget the labor involved behind the scenes. One of the first aspects of having a successful grow is having an optimal grow space. Although many commercial areas convert entire rooms into a growing environment, it’s far more comfortable and less labor intensive to use a grow tent setup.
Your grow tent setup needs to include all the necessary pieces (silent inline fan, grow tent heater, carbon filter, grow tent fan, grow tent dehumidifier, etc) that’ll facilitate an ideal environment for your cannabis crop. From the various types of indoor grow tents or grow tent kits available to tips and tricks, read along to learn how you can master the art of indoor marijuana growing.
What is a Grow Room?
A grow room is any space that’s made available for the sole purpose of cannabis cultivation. This means that it can be used for flower production, clone propagation, mother maintenance, germination, and breeding.
A grow room can be your bedroom or an unused closet area. Any space can be converted into a grow space, but it’s far more convenient when your grow space is contained and quickly built-up or torn down. This is why grow tents or grow tent kits have risen in popularity and have become the de-facto method for the cannabis community. Beginners to professionals utilize these easy-to-use setups, so it’s no wonder that grow tents have become ubiquitous in the last decade.
Although the vast majority of grow tents have predefined spaces, they allow you to customize the interior with all the necessary tools of the trade. Fans, carbon filters, trays, tubs, hoods, lights, and netting can be placed at your discretion.
A given area becomes a growing space once the environment becomes suitable for your cannabis crop. Let’s take a look at what this means, and how you can achieve this.
Why Opt for a Grow Tent Setup?
The primary reason for opting to use a grow tent setup rather than doing an outdoor grow or constructing a room for the sole purpose of cultivation is for convenience. Nothing trumps the comfort found in quickly deploying the grow tent materials and building it out within an hour.
There’s no drilling required or tasks that require knowledge in carpentry, so it’s ideal for those that don’t have the know-how in construction-related subjects. Growing cannabis is already tricky in its own right, so streamlining the process by purchasing a grow tent that’s easy to set up is ideal.
Benefits of a Grow Tent
There’s a wide host of advantages in growing cannabis in a grow tent setup. Here are the most important benefits.
There’s something about keeping your environment contained that facilitates a streamlined operation. When you use a grow tent setup, you effectively keep in compromising odors, increase the light intensity, as well as manage the temperature with ease.
Even though you may live in a state with legal medicinal or recreational cannabis, there are still dangers associated with letting everyone know that you’re growing. Many crimes that are committed in the cannabis community are related to plant-theft. So although you’re legally entitled to grow marijuana plants, it’s still best to contain the pungent smell associated with cannabis.
Containment works in two ways: on one end, the grow tent keeps the plants in their own micro-climate. On the other end, the grow tent acts as a barrier to everything outside of the tent. The external environment carries bacteria, fungi, and pests; and its these issues that are notorious for destroying your grow operation. Of course, this barrier is only effective if you practice good habits; such as wearing clean clothes that are only used when entering the grow tent.
Marijuana plants require a significant amount of light, and this intense lighting looks like a beacon if visible from the outside. Once again, for security’s sake, the light is contained within the sturdy walls of the grow tent.
In regards to light, the interior of grow tents are lined with reflective mylar. The roof and floor are generally covered in mylar as well, so there’s an additional boost of lumens throughout the entire room when fully contained.
Ease of Construction
This benefit goes in both directions. Grow tents are easy to set up, as well as break down. Sometimes life events occur that require us to suddenly break down our grow tents rapidly. This may be because a landlord suddenly decides that he or she doesn’t want their tenant to grow cannabis. Another reason could be because you’re moving away on short notice.
The ease of setting up a grow tent is notable, considering you can set up a 10’x10’ grow tent by yourself within an hour. These contained environments can be ready for plants within the span of 24-hours, so they’re ideal when you’re on a tight schedule.
Additionally, you don’t need to be a carpenter or savvy with tools. Setting up grow tents rarely require tools other than a screwdriver, so you’re less likely to be required to purchase additional tools at a local hardware store.
Unless you’re a commercial grower, there’s little incentive to convert a room into a full-blown grow space. Building a dedicated grow room takes a considerable amount of time and money, whereas a grow tent is quick to assemble and affordable. It’s for these reasons that grow tents are cost-effective, and this allows you to spend your saved money on the incoming electricity bill.
Grow tents are by no means cheap, but they are worth the cost in the long run. The average price for a 4’x8’ grow tent will range between $300-400. The cost of a grow tent will ultimately depend on its overall size or if they include bonus features.
Cannabis cultivation is all about turnaround time, and grow tents get you up and running almost immediately. Each day spent on building a dedicated grow space is a day lost when you consider a strain’s flowering time. The sooner is always better, but this doesn’t mean that you should cut corners in construction, set up, sanitation, and growth.
Most grow tents are incredibly accessible, which makes them an excellent choice for beginners. Cramped spaces add an extra element of danger to your plants, so it’s essential that your grow tent offers multiple access points to streamline your day-to-day responsibilities.
Instead, grow tents have multiple entrance points, usually one on each side. Some have even integrated window-like viewing areas that allow you to watch your garden without having to unzip the tent.
Besides entrance points and viewing zones, most grow tents have multiple ports that allow you to position your tent in several ways so that you’re always oriented in an ideal position for cables running from your hoods and other connection points.
What’s The Best Size for a Grow Tent?
The best size for a grow tent is determined directly by the amount of space available. If your bedroom is 10’x10’, then you’re governed by the predetermined area. You’ll need to account for walking space and potential spots within the room that are irregular in shape. This is why you may only be able to fit a 5’x5’ or 4’x8’ grow tent within a 10’x10’ space.
There’s nothing more frustrating than having to tiptoe through your room to enter your grow tent, so it’s always best to allow for ample walking space to make tending to your plants as easy as possible.
Another consideration for your grow tent decision is to understand how many plants you’ll grow. Are you growing in a Sea of Green style? Are you growing tall sativas? Do you intend to use the grow tent for only clone production? These are the things that you must consider before setting up your grow tent.
Lastly, the number of lights will determine how large your room should be. You don’t want to find out the hard way by placing a 1,000-watt high-pressure sodium bulb inside a 2’x2’ room, only to find your marijuana crop destroyed by the intense lighting. This is why it’s crucial to consider all of these factors before diving into the world of grow tents.
Having a plan before you take the plunge will reduce common frustrations that many growers face due to a lack of proper design.
What are the Materials Found in Grow Tents?
High-quality grow tents are constructed out of nylon or polyester blends. Some grow tents offer unique fabrics, such as Cordura for high strength and abrasion resistance. These materials must be professionally bonded and sewn to provide a long-lasting grow tent that’s devoid of noticeable light leaks.
Mylar is the most common reflective material that’s found within grow tents. Before grow tents, marijuana cultivators would have to line their walls with reflective mylar or paint their walls white; all of which was incredibly time-consuming.
Grow tents take away this inconvenience of setting up a reflective material for additional light within the room.
It’s important to carefully read what type of reflective material a company is using because there have been many accounts that cheap grow tent manufacturers were cutting corners by using poor-quality mylar that leached toxic chemicals when exposed to high heat.
Can You DIY a Grow Tent?
The answer to this question is yes. Should you do it? Well, it depends. If you’re versed in sewing and construction, then by all means. If you don’t have a clue on how to sew a torn pair of shorts, then you should steer clear of any DIY grow tent ambitions.
It’s generally far easier and faster to order a professionally crafted grow tent online or directly from the producer. Although they’re likely to be more expensive than a DIY version, it should be ready to construct the moment you receive it without any defects.
How to Set Up a Grow Tent
Setting up a grow tent is easy if you follow the directions. There isn’t a grow tent manufacturer that doesn’t offer a comprehensive guide on how to set up their product. By reading this useful material, you won’t need to ask how to set up your new grow tent.
This can become complicated if you buy a grow tent second-hand, and although we’re fans of recycling, we can’t recommend this method because you may inherit another growers’ problems (pests, mold, or fungi).
The vast majority of grow tents are pole-based, meaning they’re put together through the use of connecting heavy-duty aluminum poles. These poles are generally coded with matching numbers or letters which makes construction a breeze. This process is even more straightforward when the manufacturer provides you with a grow tent setup diagram.
Potentially the most challenging aspect of grow tent construction is placing the actual tent over the aluminum skeleton. This is common with large sizes, such as 4’x8’ and above, but patience will become your ally in this process.
Depending on the grow tent of your choice, there will be additional accessories that you may choose to use or not. Many come with a removable floor, which is beneficial if you find yourself splashing water constantly within the tent. This removable floor can easily be detached and cleaned in the event of major spillage.
Once you’ve carefully followed all the necessary directions and double-checked your work, you can now test the room for what’s known as “light-proofness.” The last thing you want to find in your grow tent is a large hole that allows light into the tent during the 12-hours of darkness.
This unfortunate mistake in the manufacturer’s end can cost you a large amount of time and money if your cannabis plants begin to turn hermaphrodite due to a small defect in the tent material.
How to Set Up Your Grow Tent for a Maximum Yield
You’ve seen the High Times magazine pictures: a grow tent filled to the brim with beautiful buds in an even canopy. Do you ever notice the material that’s found just underneath the sea of green? Netting is commonly used that’s constructed into a grid format, which each stem grows through.
Although cannabis plants are naturally adapted to hold the weight of the flower that it produces; modern growing pushing the cannabis plant to the limit in terms of bud production. This added weight increases the chances of a snapped branch, so cultivators came up with lining the interior of their grow tents with netting to allow for denser buds.
All that you need to do to amplify the production from your cannabis crop is to buy the appropriate netting size and attach it to the 4 corners of the tent. Before your plants grow into the netting, you’ll want to begin the flowering phase.
The reason behind this is to allow your cannabis plants to grow into the netting during their 12/12 stretch. Cannabis plants usually “stretch” once they begin their flowering phase, and they can grow up to 3 times their size depending on their strain.
By doing this simple technique in your grow tent, you can increase your yield significantly.
How You Can Keep Your Grow Tent Sanitized
The environment where your plants grow must be kept clean. The biggest crop killer is bacteria, fungi, and pests. These three factors are relentless once they take hold, and it’s your responsibility to do everything in your power to ensure that your grow environment remains free of the problems.
Even if your grow tent is brand new, you should always take every precaution in maintaining a clean growing environment. If your grow tent is secondhand, then you should spend double the amount of time making sure that the previous grower’s problems don’t come to haunt you later down the road. As we’ve mentioned earlier, we don’t recommend buying grow tents secondhand.
What are the steps that you can take? Follow these essential tips to ensure that your grow room flourishes without the headaches associated with infestations.
Now that you grow tent is fully set up, gather cleaning materials such as a 50/50 bleach and water mix, or a 50/50 mix of isopropyl alcohol and water. If these two items are inaccessible, then you can also try a 50/50 mix of apple cider vinegar and water. Place your mix into a large spray bottle.
Make sure that you have a large roll of paper towels. It’s important to note that you should never go into your grow tent with shoes that you wear outside, as this will defeat the purpose of cleaning your tent.
Spray down each wall at a time. Make sure to clean corners with care. Clean the floor and ceiling, and vent flaps. Don’t let any space go uncleaned!
Allow your tent to dry and air out. Now that your grow tent is sanitized, it’s essential to follow a set of rules that you should dictate. These rules should stipulate that no one (not even yourself) is allowed inside unless wearing specified clothing (that’s washed) and brand new shoes or slippers that are only worn inside the grow tent.
Others may recommend setting off what’s known as an insect bomb inside your tent, but we would only recommend this in the event of an emergency. These pesticides are poison not only for the pests that you’re trying to eradicate but also for your plants and yourself.
By following these strict rules, you’ll have less stress while your marijuana plants thrive.
What Can You Place Inside of a Grow Tent?
When it comes to growing cannabis, there are necessary tools that you must have; let’s take a look at each and their role in growing the best marijuana.
Inline fans have multiple uses inside of a grow tent. These are used to dissipate heat, reduce humidity, and bring in fresh air. Without a proper inline fan, your cannabis plants will suffer. Inline fans come in a range of sizes, from 4” to 16” (or larger), and they are capable of pulling in or pushing out air at a rapid rate.
Once you’ve determined the necessary amount of “renewed air” that your grow space requires, you’ll be confident on which size best suits your grow tent. No doubt you’ll also be on the lookout for the quietest inline fans.
More than likely, you’ll connect ducting to your inline fan, which will also join to a hood that contains your light source. Your grow tent should accommodate the various sizes of ducting that you intend to use so that you don’t come across any barriers during the set-up process.
Another aspect to consider when setting up your grow tent is the availability of fresh air. Is there a window nearby or an attic? If your room doesn’t have an outlet for the hot air, then it’ll be dispersed into the surrounding space of the grow room and ultimately continue to heat the environment up to dangerous levels.
Your cannabis crop needs light to survive. Plants can photosynthesize to produce a food source, and by growing indoors, we must have an alternative to the sun. Luckily, HID (high-intensity discharge) lighting is widely available and relatively affordable.
Besides HID, there are many other lighting options, such as T-5s, CFLs, and LEDs. All of these options play a crucial part in the photosynthesis of your cannabis plants.
Once again, as long as you planned which of these options you’ll use for your indoor grow tent, then your lighting setup can be accomplished quickly with the use of a rope-ratchet system.
Indoor grow tents are capable of handling a significant amount of weight, but it’s essential to read what the maximum load is. It’ll be a sad and potentially dangerous sight to see crushed plants due to the roof collapsing.
Even if you live in a state that allows recreational or medicinal marijuana, you should always use a carbon filter. Cannabis plants emit a pungent aroma when growing, and it can be offensive to others, especially if you’re growing in an apartment space.
The primary reason that carbon filters are used is to cover up the fact that you’re growing cannabis completely. Many states are still under the curtain of prohibition, so it’s necessary to reduce the smell of marijuana as much as possible.
Carbon filters come in a wide range of sizes and are generally connected directly to your inline fan. These can be placed within your grow tent or outside, and in some cases, can even be hung from the roof near your lighting to allow more space for your plants below.
Heaters and Air Conditioners
Heaters and air conditioners are needed in areas that see extreme weather conditions. Northern states that have frigid winters will benefit from a dedicated heater that can be placed within the grow room or just outside of it. Cannabis plants aren’t accustomed to near zero temperatures, so if you live in a sub-zero climate, then a heater can be well worth your money.
Alternatively, air conditioners are ideal when the temperatures are too hot, which is common in the Southern states. In general, cannabis plants enjoy temperatures between 65-80℉, and anything above this may induce stress.
If you find yourself needing either of these items in your grow space, then be prepared to pay the additional costs associated with these energy consuming appliances.
Oscillating fans are a crucial component when setting up your grow tent. Fans have the unique ability to move air around the environment, which simultaneously reduces your chances for having problems with bud rot or powdery mildew.
Without an oscillating fan, your plants may be too close together, which can cause enhanced moisture. This increased moisture can lead to unabated growth of fungi and bacteria. These are issues that you should try to avoid at all costs, especially when oscillating fans are priced relatively cheap.
How to Setup Fans in a Grow Tent
The number of fans that you purchase depends on the size of your grow space. If you have a large 10’x10’ grow tent, then you’ll benefit from having 2-4 10” oscillating fans.
Each of these should be placed above the canopy, and their airflow shouldn’t be directly hitting the plants. Ideally, you want indirect airflow, which makes your garden sway as though there is a gentle breeze within the room.
At the same time, you don’t want too much airflow within the room because this can dry your plants out quickly. Most oscillating fans have a 180° radius as well as multiple speed settings, so it’s best to find the optimal speed to create an ideal environment.
Fans can be installed with ease through the use of bungee cords. There are many places that you can secure fans throughout the grow tent, with the corner poles usually being the perfect spot.
The Best Way to Set up Grow Tent Ventilation
This appears to be a common question amongst beginners and experts. There isn’t a single way to set up your grow tent ventilation since most grow spaces differ. General methods consist of the fan being secured by a bungee cord on the ceiling near a duct.
Usually, a carbon filter is connected directly to the inline fan. It may be necessary to buy a flange that will connect the two pieces if the inline fan or carbon filter is of a different size.
Ducting is also connected to the inline fan to direct air inside or to expel air outside. Depending on the situation, you may have two inline fans: one on the bottom bringing in fresh air and one on the ceiling collecting and expelling the hot air to another room or outside.
Last but not least, inline fans are connected to hoods by the use of ducting. A typical setup is as follows: A carbon filter → inline fan → ducting → hoods → exit. This scenario has everything attached to the ceiling, thus allowing the maximum amount of space for your plants.
Another option is: the carbon filter (on the ground in a corner) → ducting → hoods → ducting → inline fan → exit. This method reduces the available space slightly but decreases the stress on the supporting poles that hold your roof together.
Bungee cords are optimal to hang your inline fan and other necessities, such as carbon filters. Your lighting and hoods will need to be able to move up and down through the use of rope ratchets as your plants grow.
Growing Methods Within a Grow Tent
Growing in Soil inside a Grow Tent
Growing your cannabis crop in soil is incredibly straightforward. Since your grow tent is a contained environment, you can easily watch your plants flourish as long as you keep the overall temperature, humidity, and nutrient amount in check during the length of the grow.
Most soils come pre-amended with nutrients, so your sole responsibility is making sure that your crop never gets thirsty.
Growing in Hydroponics Inside a Grow Tent
Growing in hydroponics within a grow tent is more complicated than growing in soil. The primary reason behind this is due to the learning curve associated with hydroponics. Growing cannabis in hydro requires additional tools, such as pH and EC/PPM meters. All of these can prove costly, as well as challenging to understand.
Hydroponics requires a basic understanding of chemistry because many plant-nutrient interactions are due to chemical reactions. When one of these reactions are out of balance, there will be a problem.
Grow tents are ideal for hydroponic setups because they are easy to clean in the event of spillage. Hydroponics and grow tents both share the similarity of creating contained environments, which make them highly compatible.
It’s common to find complete hydroponic grow tent kits that include everything you need to start growing immediately.
Grow Room Lighting
There’s a wide variety of lights that are used in cannabis cultivation, with the main options falling under high-pressure sodium, metal halide, compact fluorescents, T5s, and LEDs. Let’s take a look at each and how they perform in the contained environments found in grow tent set ups.
High-pressure sodium bulbs have become a standard in the cannabis industry. They have an orange/red wavelength that they emit to mimic the shorter daylight hours at the end of summer and the beginning of fall. During this time in-between seasons, the sun is closer to the horizon as it streaks across the sky from East to West.
HPS bulbs come in different wattages, from 300-watts to 1,000-watts. Many growers consider these as “the” bulb for the flowering phase, but this simply isn’t true. Any light can be used, and it’s still being studied if HPS bulbs do in fact increase the harvest potential.
HPS bulbs are perfect when growing inside a grow tent. As long as the wattage is appropriate to the size of the tent, you should be able to manage the heat production. HPS bulbs emit a considerable amount of heat, and if your ventilation isn’t up to par, your plants will suffer.
Metal halide bulbs fall under the high-intensity discharge category, alongside high-pressure sodium. They emit a bright white/blue wavelength on the color spectrum, which mimics the full-light sun during summer. During summer, sunlight hours are at their pinnacle.
Similar to that of HPS bulbs, MH lights are found in 300-watts to 1,000-watts. Metal halide bulbs are considered to be optimal for the vegetative stage, but they aren’t an absolute must if you already have HPS lighting.
Any HID light will create a large concentration of heat, and MHs are no exception. Depending on the size of your grow tent set up, your MH bulbs will generate heat rapidly unless swiftly dealt with.
LEDs are cutting edge technology because they emit intense light at half the cost of traditional lights such as HPS and MH. They are capable of being programmed to cycle through various wavelengths, thus cutting the need for buying different color spectrum bulbs.
LEDs have revolutionized the indoor growing scene because they reduce your overall costs. LEDs are generally cool to the touch when running, and therefore don’t require such an extensive ventilation system.
It’s not uncommon to find high-wattage LEDs, such as 1,200-watt systems when browsing your local hydroponics or hardware store.
Placing a LED system inside your grow tent will optimize your setup significantly, but this will come at a cost. LED systems are known to be expensive, but as they’ve become popularized, their prices have simultaneously begun to drop.
Compact fluorescent bulbs have a place in every grow tent. These low-wattage and non-heat generating bulbs are perfect for maintaining a mother, rooting clones, and germinating seeds. These bulbs are not optimal for producing a bountiful harvest, but they do serve their purpose during early growth stages and maintenance.
T5s are fluorescent light bulbs on steroids. These high-wattage varieties are a jack-of-all-trades when it comes to lighting. They are perfect for every aspect of cannabis cultivation, and they have the bonus of emitting minimal heat.
These systems come in various sizes, so you can purchase a system according to the overall size of your grow tent. The general sizes of T5s are 2’ and 4’, but also come in other lengths.
Grow Room Lighting Summary
As you can see, grow tent lighting plays a critical role in the growth of your plants. The types of light that you choose will dictate how much ventilation you require, the amount of water your cannabis plants will need, and the electricity bill that you’ll need to pay.
There is no such thing as the best type of light for your grow tent, but rather, the optimal light for your given grow tent setup. Many growers are capable of producing a plentiful harvest with the use of LEDs and CFLs; both of which don’t require high amounts of electricity.
The vast majority of growers are under the assumption that their marijuana plants will benefit from thousands of watts of lighting. Although this is true to an extent, it’s not always the case. The overall environment, in conjunction with your lighting, will dictate the type of harvest you’ll receive.
Grow Tent Accessories
- Propagation Trays
- Water Reservoir
- Ratchet Hanger
- Water Pumps
- Water Filtration Systems
- Drainage Saucers
- pH Meter
- EC Meter
Grow Boxes: An Alternative to Grow Tents
Another option for indoor cannabis growers is grow boxes. These are far more sturdy compared to grow tents, but less portable and mobile.
These are generally constructed out of metal, and feature automated functions that grow your plants without assistance.
These can be beneficial depending on the use case and situation but are used less due to their overall weight compared to grow tents.
Since grow boxes are significantly heavier than grow tents, they’re less likely to be large in size. This is the reason why most grow boxes tend to be perfect when growing inside of small spaces, such as closets or other limited-space areas.
Growing marijuana in a grow tent setup allows you to grow on your own terms. You don’t need a dedicated grow room because a grow tent is a contained environment. If you previously grew cannabis outdoors, then you know that your growing season is governed by the weather.
If your living situation suddenly changes, you can easily break down your grow tent setup and pack it away without leaving a trace. If you find yourself in a new living situation, you can rebuild your grow tent setup or grow tent kit and begin where you left off.
Overall, using a grow tent setup is ideal for beginners and individuals that require a contained environment. The last thing you want to focus on before you begin your grow is the lengthy process of building out a dedicated grow room. Now that you know how to set up a grow tent, you can focus on giving your cannabis plants all of your attention.
Growing cannabis is slowly but surely becoming as common as growing vegetables in your backyard. There’s no better time than now to begin your incredible journey through the world of cannabis, and The Highest Crop is here to help you along with the most in-depth cannabis-related information.