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Indoor Grow Tent & Grow Room Setup Tips
Benefits of Indoor Grow Tents/Rooms
Indoor grow rooms, usually called “grow tents” are a great way to grow plants anywhere. They are easily assembled and disassembled, can be used time and again, and allow you to have a contained environment where your plants can get light, heat, water, nutrients, and fresh air without having a greenhouse or outdoor space to grow. Most are non-descript and look like a wardrobe, so if stealth is also a goal, grow tents are an ideal solution.
Grow tents are great for hobby growers and small-scale growers. Even with the bigger-sized tents, they are not designed for full scale commercial production, but you can certainly grow enough plant material for your self and several others depending on how often you partake in your harvest. Grow tents are ideal for growers looking to produce anywhere from an ounce to a couple pounds of high value crop per month.
Besides their convenient size and an appearance that can blend into their surroundings, grow tents are not cost-prohibitive and are easy to put together. For a relatively small investment, you can have a grow tent up and running in a few hours. They also help to keep your cultivation sanitary as they prevent most bugs and diseases form entering and harming your plants. Some growers have more than one tent setup so that they can maintain a continual harvest by having a young plant in one and a mature plant in the other; so that there is always one “on deck”.
The Right Sized Tent
Once you have decided that a grow tent is the way to go, the next step is to figure out what size you need. There are several different sizes available on the market, each designed for various types of growers from casual hobbyists to serious growers. Regardless of your size and goals, settling on a grow tent that is too small right from the beginning is only going to get poor results.
Beginning growers should consider either a 2’ x 2’ or a 2’ x 4’ tent until they are used to how to effectively grow plants in grow tents. You can expect several ounces of high value crops each month within this size range. Most commonly available grow lights (400 W) will also easily fit within either of these two sizes. Access to all of your plants is easy with one of these two smaller sizes, making it easier to water, feed, and harvest in a tight area.
Bigger and more experienced growers should consider a grow tent anywhere form 3’ x3’ up to 5’ x 5’. Growers in these tents can expect one to two pounds of product per harvest depending on size and cultivation environment. These can also support bigger, more intense grow lights.
Check out Hydrotek Hydroponics’ full line of Living Room Grow Tents and find the one that will fit perfectly for your situation. Many of our competitor’s grow tents are only 5 foot tall; ours are 6.5 feet tall to accommodate your tallest plants. Taller tents support higher yields! Shorter plants can be grown and harvested, but they will never produce as much as when they allowed to get to their full height. In addition, our canvas is thicker than the competition's.
How-to Set up Your Tent
Once you have decided that a grow tent is the way to go for you, and you have selected a model that fits your goals, it is time to set it up. You will need to select the site for it to go. Remember, that it will need someplace to vent, so unless if you intend to run ductwork across a room, it should be placed someplace close to an outside wall or location where the exhaust can be directed. Make sure to have all of your pieces and parts ready to go before attempting assembly. This way you can ensure that you not only have all of the parts you need, but you can anticipate what tools you will need as well. Now you are ready to follow the directions and put the grow tent together.
Once the tent has been assembled, you will need to make sure that there is a hanging bar. This will be important for your light, fan, carbon filter, or possibly other systems that you want to put in place in your grow tent. Make sure that you have ropes, ratchet straps, chains, or some other way to suspend those items. It should preferably be a way where adjustments can be made so that a light can be lowered when your plants are germinating and in the seedling state and raised up as the plant(s) grows. Hanging fans are also quieter than those standing on the floor or sitting on a shelf. If stealth is part of your growing plan, then hanging your fan is a must.
For safety’s sake and for ease of movement, make sure that all cords, and controls are at a level where you can easily reach them. Electric components on the ground can be a safety hazard as well as a source of unwanted noise.
Ventilation System Basics and Functions
A good, filtered ventilation system will help regulate temperature, reduce, or eliminate the chance of disease setting in, and it will remove all unwanted smells that may be coming from your grow tent. It is vital for the cultivation of healthy crops in a grow tent. The system should be constantly circulating the air within the tent and also replacing the air in it when the lights are on and generating heat, and even more frequently when there is high humidity as well as higher temperatures. This can all be done with passive air flow, or active air flow.
A passive air flow system is created when an exhaust fan “exhales” the air from the grow tent and pulls in fresh air from the ports located at the bottom of the grow tent. A vacuum is created by the negative pressure within the grow tent. So long as there is lower air pressure within the grow tent than the air around it, this system will work and is the easier and less expensive of the two types of systems. Because it is not an airtight system, pests can sometimes get into the grow tent and unwanted odors can get out.
An active system will intentionally pull in outside air into the tent with the addition of an intake fan. Active ventilation systems are needed more so for larger tents or for growers that wish to control as many variables in their grow as possible. It is also recommended if your grow tent maintains higher temperatures than can be controlled just by using a passive flow system.
In either setup, a carbon filter is recommended to reduce the amount of odor coming from the grow tent. Hydrotek Hydroponics carries a range of sizes and strengths to accommodate the very pungent strains of your high value crops as well as to minimize the smells that only increase as your crops begin to flower. Check your filter periodically though as they do need to be changed regularly to be effective.
Sizing Your Ventilation System
The first step in determining what size ventilation system you will need in your tent, is to calculate the Cubic Feet per Minute (CFM) that you have. This is a simple calculation. You just need to multiply the width by the length and by the height. Then, divide by 5. For example, if you have a 3’ x 3’ x 6.5’ grow tent, you would multiply the three numbers (3x3x6.5), which is 58.5. 58.5 divided by 5 is 11.7. you would need a system that can move 11.7 (or more) cubic feet of air per minute. There are other considerations though.
The length and number of curves in the ductwork will affect CFM. Carbon filters will also affect CFM. When using a carbon filter, tack on another 20 to25 percent. In the example above, that would be an additional 2.34 cubic feet for a total CFM need of 14.04 to 14.625. Once you have this number calculated, then it is time to figure what you want in your grow tent set up. You might consider air conditioning or adding CO2 into your grow tent. A fan and carbon filter are a good place to start. If there are any issues in calculating your CFM, check out our handy calculator.
How-to Set up Your Grow Tent Ventilation System
Ventilating your grow tent will be essential to the heath, vigor, and yields of your crops. There is not however, one “right” way to set up the ventilation system in your grow tent. Setups can be any combination of setting up your fans and filters either inside or outside. You could install both inside, both outside, or have your fan inside and filter outside or vice-versa. Your lighting configuration, the type of grow lighting that you have, and distance of pipe that has to be run will all factor into the setup as well.
When using high intensity discharge (HID lighting), air will need to flow through your reflector to keep the bulb cool in order to lower the overall temperature in your grow tent. For LED lighting and fluorescents (as well as for those using CMH lighting), this step is not needed. Either way, first, the inline fan should be hung. There are generally bars to do this in most models of grow tents. It should only be suspended a few inches form the ceiling of the tent. Then connect the fan either directly to an exhaust port, or more likely into ductwork that will then go to the exhaust port. Then install the carbon filter so that the intake fan is pulling out the filtered air. This will go before the reflector on HID lights, otherwise it should be connected to the intake fan. For an active system, an additional fan is added near the base of the tent (not on the floor) to pull in the outside air.
When running your ducts, keep in mind two things. Light can enter or exit your grow tent through ducts if precautions are not taken. Putting a bend in the pipe, or several can help to reduce or eliminate unwanted “light leak”. If light leakage is not a problem in your setup, then the ventilation piping should be as short and straight as possible. A filter should also be placed over the end of the duct work where it daylights outside. This will help to prevent animals, pests, or other debris from getting into your grow tent.
When all is said and done, what is important is that outside air is pulled in through the bottom ports on the grow tent. With an active system, there will be a fan that pulls it directly; with a passive system, the negative air pressure in the tent will create enough of a suction to pull the air in. From there, the air should go through a carbon filter, then to an intake fan which will remove the air through the ductwork (or to the light reflector first if using HID lighting), and then out to the exhaust openings.
Other environmental controls
Since the environment in your grow tent is a completely enclosed, artificial one, it is critical to constantly monitor the heat and humidity in it. Temperatures and humidity levels that are too high or too cool can have a negative impact on your crop much sooner in a tight space than outside or even in a greenhouse. You will need the ability to adjust both during different phases of growth.
During the germination/seedling phase, you will need to maintain temperatures in the 78 to 90°F (25 to 32°C) degree range. Once your plants have developed their second set of true leaves, the range should be minimized to between 72 and 76°F (22 to 24°C). If you find that temperatures exceed 85 degrees F (29°C) or drop below 55 degrees F (13°C), it is important to immediately cool or heat as needed to get your tent back into an ideal range.
As mentioned above, depending on your lighting system, it may be advisable if not necessary to install an air-cooled reflector to lower the temperature of your grow tent. This will help to remove the hot air created by the heat coming off of the grow lights. You may also need to invest in a dehumidifier, designed specifically for grow room applications. In rare cases, a humidifier may be needed and are available as well.
Air purification may also need to be addressed in your grow tent. As with temperature and humidity, in a tight space, impure air can have a much more rapid effect on your plants. Consider an air purifier to help to condition the air. An ozone generator could be added as well. If you just need to move more air around and cool it, then the solution may be as simple as adding another fan. Check out the dozens of different models of fans that Hydrotek Hydroponics has to offer.
Post Setup Operation Check
Everything is setup and you are eager to start growing! It is however a good idea to run the systems in your grow tent for at least a day ahead of time to make sure that everything is fully operating the way it is supposed to. Make sure all of your connections are solid and will not come loose when vibrated by the fan or a pump. When the ventilation system is running properly, the sides of your grow tent should be drawn slightly inward. So long as this is the case, it is not likely that unwanted smells will seep out into the room. At this point you should also be able to check for light leaks and fix them. You can listen to your systems running to make sure that they cannot be heard by anyone that you do not want to know about your grow tent. Listen to it at various times of day as there may be times when outside noises are not able to sufficiently cover up the sounds coming from your grow tent.
Do not forget that if you have a question at any step along the way of setting up your grow room or grow tent, Hydrotek Hydroponics is there for you. Drop us a line, send us an email, or message us, and we will help you to determine the right sized components for your particular setup. Helping growers get the best possible results is what we love and live to do.