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Sometimes referred to as a “Grow Room” a grow tent is basically a convenient, portable enclosed frame that allows you to grow a variety of plants indoors. The frame is easily assembled from light, strong metal poles that slot together and are covered with a thick canvas outer layer. This sturdy durable material which is often made out of nylon, polyester or Mylar is bonded to a reflective inner lining which covers the inside of the tent. The inner lining normally comes in either a reflective silver or white.
Available in a wide range of sizes to suit all
space constraints, plants and personal tastes, Grow tents are designed to
capture and keep in heat, light and humidity at a tailored level, allowing you
to manipulate and control a plants environment, encouraging it to produce the
specific results that you require. This could be growing plants quicker,
taller, or for bigger fruits. What you are doing is creating and maintaining an
artificial mini-climate that you have complete control over, something that a
normal outside environment does not naturally allow.
Grow tents are great as they allow you to grow
varieties of plants that would otherwise may require natural climate conditions
vastly different to those in your geographical location. They are also ideal
for accommodating the needs of plants that require specific light or
temperature conditions at different stages of the growth cycle (Vegetation,
Flowering etc.) Grow tents can be fine tuned easily so that your desired levels
of environment can be maintained for as long as needed.
does the Grow tent work? Why do we use them?
Grow Tents sustain the perfect mini environment
for your plants, through the control of Light, Temperature and Humidity. Let’s
look at why these elements are important to your plants development and how a
grow tent can help optimize them.
a Grow tent help to optimize Light conditions?
All plants need light to perform photosynthesis allowing them to grow and develop. In a grow tent environment, this light is provided by powerful grow lamps that simulate natural sunlight. This light proof, sealed environment allows no to minimal light to escape.
The silver or white reflective lining in the tent works to reflect any light in the tent back on to the plant, maximising the exposure and reducing photon losses. It also helps to get light to the lower areas of the plant which in a natural environment may be in the shade or hidden from the sunlight. This sealed lightproof environment works both ways, it does not let light out and likewise it lets none in, meaning that your plants are only exposed to the light when you want them to be
When you are replicating the natural 24hr light
cycle that a plant would be exposed to the period of darkness (night) is as
important to get right as the period of light (day) Grow tents are extremely
effective in delivering these conditions without any damageable risk of light
leakage. Most modern grow light systems can be dimmed down and brightened meaning
that you are totally in control of all light conditions within those 4 walls at
a Grow tent help to optimize Temperature conditions?
Like light, temperature is vital to maintain
correctly if you want great results from your plants. The semi closed environment
of a Grow tent is ideal to do just this, offering insulation, which along with
the reflective lining helps to retain the heat produced by the grow lamps. You
can control the temperature completely within the tent, altering it to your
plants optimum needs throughout its lifecycle.
As well as adjusting the brightness and height
of your lights, the use of a ventilation system will also help control
temperature and increase air circulation. Although tents are sealed “self
sustaining” mini-climates they do feature some port-holes and vents which can
be opened and re-sealed to allow for the ventilation equipment to be fitted and
do its job. Tents provide a safe stable environment for your plants to grow in,
regardless of the conditions outside of it.
a Grow tent help to optimize Humidity?
The temperature level and the ratio of light in
your grow tent, together, will dictate the levels of humidity present. Humidity
levels are just as important to maintain correctly if you want to positively
influence your plant’s transpiration rate. Transpiration being the evaporation
of water from the plant leaves into the atmosphere, which cools the plant,
moves minerals and sugars throughout the plant to where needed and also
maintains turgor pressure in the non-woody parts of the plant, preventing
wilting. If humidity is too high it will encourage mold and rot which will
spread and destroy your crop.
A grow tent offers you the perfect isolated
self-sustained climate in which to control your humidity. By correctly maintaining
light and temperature and monitoring it by using a hygrometer and thermometer,
it naturally follows that your humidity will be spot on to! In a semi sealed
environment nothing is left to chance or is at the mercy of changeable weather
conditions, meaning your humidity will stay stable and will not be exposed to
any outside threats. The very fact that can control what comes in or out of
your Grow tent is a further advantage in that it will reduce the chance of any
insect pests from infesting your plants, along with reducing the risk of any
mold spores or plant disease from outside sources invading your crop and
great so far but it cant be that easy! What else do I need when I buy a Grow
Now you know why you need a tent you may be
wondering how you set it up and what other equipment you need to get started.
At first glance setting up your first Grow tent can be quite daunting, trying
to figure out what configuration you need for the space you have, what size fan
you need, how many lights etc. Not to worry however as there are some amazing
options on sale that make setting things up foolproof and contain everything
that is required to produce amazing results.
“Cultilab complete Grow tent kits” are great as they are like a ‘hydroponic starter kit”. They are made up of a custom built package of equipment providing you with tried and tested brands that are all compatible with the specific size of tent that you buy so you can rest assured that you have the correct spread of light, the most efficient ventilation system, a sufficient ballast and all the accessories that you will need to get going ASAP. They are great value for money also, with the price of buying the same components separately being considerably more than the price of buying as a package. View the full range of complete kits here.
Complete kits come in all shapes and sizes. The most
commonly bought sizes in which you can complete a full grow cycle are 1.2mx1.2m
and 2.4mx1.2m but the sizes do go all the way up to a massive 2.4m2. There are
even kits available just for the propagation stage of the plants life, allowing
you to get to grips with a pro set up straight away and give your plants the
best start possible. Cultilab kits suit all budgets and can even give you a
choice of whether you want to use HPS lights or LED’s, Magnetic or digital ballasts,
so it is worth doing some research beforehand into the pros and cons and
deciding what is going to work best for you.
Other factors to consider when buying a tent kit?
When it is this easy your main consideration
should be figuring out how much space you have available and buying a kit to
fit! There are other factors to consider however so lets have a look at what
The type of plant you are growing and the amount should have some bearing on the size of tent that you eventually settle on. If you are planning on growing a few small plants, which do not grow very tall, then you can probably afford to buy a tent that only requires you to reach inside. If you are growing a species that is more leggy and tropical, producing a much higher, fuller canopy then you want a tent that is much taller in height (6ft+). This allows space for your plants to grow but also accommodates the vertical aspects of your set up such as your lights, which require additional space to allow them to be raised as the plants grow. Remember also, that additionally you will have your extraction equipment positioned in the top of your tent hanging from the horizontal poles across the roof, so you need to allow space for that too, plus a possible oscillating clip-on fan.
Adequate floor space is essential to allow you to move comfortably around inside your tent and allow you to work and observe your plants closely. Don’t forget that in a bigger tent you need to consider all the space that your equipment and electrical cables will take up on the floor. The last thing you want to do is have a cramped tent and trip over something, fall and destroy your crop!
plants will fit in a grow tent? How many can I grow?
Well that all depends on what you are growing
and the size of the pot you have it in. Correct pot size is important as you
need to give your plants roots plenty of space to develop so never try and use
smaller pots in an attempt to squeeze more plants in as doing so will backfire
on you spectacularly in the form of poor yields.
Obviously if you are growing something like
micro greens such as Chives, Mint, and Chard etc. then you will be able to fit
many more plants in your tent than if you are growing a tall plant with more
lateral growth or big fruits. With micro greens and other small plants (under
2ft) the growth is not tall or wide and is unlikely to encroach on any space
outside of the circumference of the pot, whereas something like tomatoes or chillies
will invade further into the space outside of the pot as they spread out when
they hit later stages of Veg and go into Flower.
A good rule of thumb to start off with is that
if you are growing anything that is more of a bushier variety of plant that
spreads out laterally as it grows, then you should leave at least 2 inches
around each pot once your plants are in mid to Veg and onward. Up until this
point during prop and early veg when growth is slow you should be pretty much
able to sit pots flush together, regardless of the plant you are growing,
making use of all the available light. Obviously things may need adjusting as
the plants grow and you hopefully see some monster plants developing. There is
a degree of trial and error to it but generally here are some rough guidelines
that may help figure out how many plants you can comfortably fit in your tent,
or what size tent you want to fit your desired number of plants.
One way to look at it is by working out how many
lights you need and how many lights each plant can grow. Lets use the most
popular indoor lighting choice of HPS lamps as an example,
1 x 600w HPS lamp creates a light footprint that
covers an area of up to 1.2m x1.2m, which co-incidentally is the most popular
size of tent currently bought and a great size for a beginner to start out
with. Opting for a smaller tent will make managing your environment much
Each 600w lamp will grow up to 4 large plants
that reach up to 4/5ft, comfortably, or 16 small plants that are in prop, early
veg or that will grow no more than 2ft tall.
When starting out therefore, I would probably
stick to the formula of 4 big plants/16 small plants per light or per 1.2m x 1.2m
area. As you gain confidence and experience you will be able to tweak this to
whatever suits your chosen crop best and what personally gives you best results.
of the Propagation stage
Although you can use just one tent for the full
plant lifecycle, many people like to use a separate one for Propagation. Propagation
is the stage at where your plant’s potential is decided. Cuttings and seedlings
are very sensitive and early root development through propagation and into the
beginnings of Vegetation will set the course for your success. Of course at
this stage the plants are very small in size and so being in a much more compact,
yet still controlled, environment gives them exactly what they need. It is
therefore of paramount importance to get the environment right during the prop
stage. A propagation tent is not essential and is an added expense but they can
be worth it if you have the budget and extra space (they are quite small so
take up minimal space, roughly 75cmx75cm to around 90x60cm) and you are serious
about wanting some fantastic results from your gardening. Cultilab manufacture
a excellent range of reasonably priced propagation tent kits that provide you
with all the equipment you need in a specifically tailored mini-climate that is
geared to nurturing your plants through this vital stage of the lifecycle.
Grow tent buying tips
So now you know that you are feeling more informed and you know what you are growing and what size you of tent you need, here is a final bit of advice on what you should be looking out for when buying your tent in order to get a good quality product that will perform and last you for many cycles to come.
Quality seams and stitching.
One of the most important qualities of a good grow tent is that they should be “semi sealed” environments that do not let heat, light or pests in or out without the growers say so. The way the tent is manufactured is vital to this, so check that seams and stitching are tight and strong with no weak points. It is also important to check that there are no needle holes from where the tent has been stitched together, that will then affect light and heat seeping in or out. This happens as sometimes the needle used to stitch the tent together can be thicker than the thread used, leaving holes behind.
For similar reasons as above you should check that the zips are strong and well fixed. If a zip breaks your tent will be useless as it will no longer be a light tight, sealed climate. Even if it is a small seemingly unimportant zip that bursts or just comes away from the tent fabric, this can still be detrimental. It can make the overall fit of the tent loose, which can affect the atmosphere and pressure inside the tent when the ventilation is on, as well as cause the fabric to shift about, causing stress points and damage in other areas as time goes on.
Although your plants, your medium, water and indeed your own weight will still be exerted on the floor, remember that your tents frame will have to bear the weight of your lights and extraction equipment as well as being exposed to some high temperatures for extended periods of time, so you don’t want anything that could buckle under the pressure. Check that poles are made from a strong metal with no obvious damage or weaknesses.
Secure Corner brackets
Following on from above, the corner brackets hold your whole frame together and so again need to be well made, strong and hold the poles together securely with minimal movement in the frame when assembled. Cultilab uses fully welded metal corner pieces on all their tents while other budget brands use plastic corners.
Suitable Fabric Cover
The tent cover should be a strong canvas like fabric, usually made of nylon, polyester, Mylar or a composite of materials. A durable fabric will not only maintain your lightproof, heat retaining, watertight atmosphere but stop pests getting in and reduce any noise along with stopping any odours from escaping. Over all a quality fabric will make your tent more hardwearing, long lasting and resistant to tears and rips. The rule of thumb here is the heavier and thicker the better. Check out the image of this Budbox canvas under a microscope – It’s a thick heavy material with a heavy weave.
If you feel in the dark when it comes to choosing a grow light system, you are not alone. Whether you are a new grower or a seasoned veteran, the market can be more than a little difficult to navigate and there are lots of factors to consider. Factors such as quality, your budget, energy usage, the size of your grow room and the stage of plant development that the light may best suited for.
Before we start sifting through the various choices of lighting system, it is worthwhile taking some time to look at how your plant uses light, what a grow light actually is, and how light is measured, as this will give you a fuller understanding of what it is you need, to get great results.
As lighting is quite a complex topic to get a full breadth of, the next few sections will take the form of FAQ which hopefully will make everything seem a bit clearer and more accessible.
How do plants use light?
Plants use light for Photosynthesis to create their food. Photosynthesis is how green plants use sunlight to create sugars and carbs from nutrients, carbon dioxide and water. Photomorphogenesis, is the process by which plants grow and develop in response to light signal, a process that is assisted by a complex network of photoreceptors. Germination, shade avoidance, circadian rhythm, and flowering are just some of the responses induced in your plants by photomorphogenesis.
The colour of light provided to plants can influence their photomorphology – Blues tend to support healthy leaf and stem growth with tight internodal spacing, while red light supporting heavy fruit sets, root growth and has an elongating effect on leaves. When plants are grown exclusively under red light, the plants become leggy and sparse, with long distances between branches.
What is sunlight made up of?
Sunlight is “full spectrum” light, meaning it contains all the different light wavelengths, making it appear white in overall appearance. It is the photon’s wavelength which determines its visible colour, a photon being a particle carrying energy proportional to the radiation frequency. The longest wavelengths are red and pass through all the colours of the rainbow, (the full spectrum) to the shortest blue wavelengths at the other end. This is the visible spectrum of light – wavelengths exist outside of this range that humans can’t see but may influence the growth of plants (infrared and UV).
Which wavelengths are required and when?
Note the HPS bulb on the left producing a red/orange hue and the MH lamp on the right producing a white/blue hue.
Primarily, plants use light in the red and blue ends of the spectrum. Blue is more useful for vegetative growth and red is more useful for Flowering and root growth. The Green and yellow part of the spectrum is usually reflected and is not used significantly by the plant.
Plants will perform at the best when provided with different parts of the light spectrum for different stages of their growth lifecycle, simulating optimal outdoor environment but using white light gives them a better balance as it contains the “full spectrum” of colours., allowing the plant to perform to it’s best standard when a balanced mix of colours is provided.
What is a Grow light?
A grow light is an artificial light that’s intended purpose is to replicate natural sunlight in order to grow plants in an indoor environment, under conditions as near to those of its natural habitat as possible. By controlling the intensity and timing of the lights, we have total control over the environment and can manipulate conditions to try and improve the quality, size or growth speed of the plants.
How is light measured?
Not like the picture! We can’t directly measure light like we can with distance or circumference – calculations are normally required to determine how much light your plants need.
Understanding how light is measured will help you understand the jargon used with Grow lamps, allowing you to make an informed choice and calculate the exact light exposure that plants and seedlings need. Appropriate light exposure can amongst other things, prevent pests and stop fungus from taking hold in the root zone. Relevant light measurement terms are; watts (W), nanometers (nm), lumens, PAR / PPF (umol) and PPFD (umol/m2/s). Lets have a look at the definition of each.
Watts (W)- a watt
is a unit of energy measure. One W is equal to the flow of electrical current
of one amp, at a one voltage (V) \with Grow lights the wattage is usually rated
by a bulbs watts per cm2 of its illuminated area, or by watts per bandwidth,
which is the amount of light emitted for any particular colour of light.
Watts are important to note when you are trying to figure out what the “light footprint” is for your chosen lamp, or what light footprint you need for your chosen growing space. Light footprint means the maximum area that one lamp will cover without losing any of its effectiveness. This in turn will help you to work out how many plants you can grow under each light. The exact area will depend on what reflector you are using and the height of the reflector. But as a rule this is how much space is covered by 1 traditional HID lamp.
250W – 0.75m x 0.75m
400W – 1m x 1m
600W – 1.2m x 1.2m
750W – 1.3m x 1.3m
1000W – 1.5m x 1.5m
While watts are a good rule of thumb to go by for traditional fixtures like HPS, MH and CFL, as technology and efficiency improves, less watts are required to produce a similar luminosity so LED and CMH options are able to cover a larger footprint with less electricity than traditional options. When comparing the latest generation of grow light fixtures, the efficiency of the fixture will heavily influence how much light falls on the canopy.
Wavelength of light
Nanometers (nm)-a nanometer is the measure of a light’s output in terms of the amount of visible light it emits. Visible light is the portion of the electromagnetic spectrum that is visible to the human eye and is emitted between 400 (the violet end of the spectrum|) and 700nm (the red end of the spectrum). A Grow Light nm range is between 450nm and 730nm. Important nm measurements in grow lights are at 450, 650 and 730. Blue wavelengths between 450nm and 650nm are required for photosynthesis to allow the plant to create its food, while the red side between 650nm and 730nm wavelengths are important to allow a plant to control flowering.
Photosynthetically Active Radiation (PAR)
Photosynthetically Active Radiation (PAR)– Not all light contributes towards photosynthesis equally – Chlorophyll is stimulated with blue and red wavelengths, with green contributing little towards this stimulation.
Par is a measurement is the available light required for photosynthesis to take place. PAR is fundamental for the survival of the plant and plants grow fastest when the PAR is highest. The wavelength of photosynthetically active radiation that plants use is in the range of 400-700nm. Choosing lights with high levels of PAR between these ranges increases grow room efficiency as more of the produced light directly facilitates plant growth and can help boost plant growth and reduce harvest cycles by up to 50%.
You may hear measurements of PAR referred to in micromoles. A micromole is a unit of measure used to count the number of photons emitted in the PAR range in a plant grow light system. Basically, the higher the micromoles are, then the higher the PAR will be.
Photosynthetic Photon Fluxx (PPF)
Photosynthetic Photon Fluxx (PPF)– This is a measurement that determines the total amount of micromoles (umol) a fixture gives off each second. PPF is an important measurement to understand in order to compare the efficiencies of different fixtures. You can find out how efficient a grow light is by dividing the number of micromoles by the wattage of the unit. This umol per watt is a levelling factor across all options of fixtures as it takes into account several variables. Its a measure of PAR output per unit of electricity so it takes into account inputs and outputs of the fixture. Unfortunately these figures are not always available – especially on the cheaper options.
Lumens for Humans
Lumens (lm) – or “lux”
is a measure of the amount of “luminous flux” which is the amount of visible
bright light emitted by a bulb. The more light a bulb gives off then the higher
the lumens. Remember however that lumens are only a measure of visible light,
and as plants require light beyond this, lumens are not as useful an indicator
of a grow lights power and usefulness.
OK so to re-cap, we have now looked at what light your
plants need, why and how they use it, as well as how light is measured and how
this is useful to know when selecting a system. It’s now time to move on to the
What is the best Grow light system for me?
There are a real variety of light systems out there currently and it can be quite overwhelming unless you know exactly what you need. Now we will break it down and look at each system, the Pros and Cons, and what stage of plant growth they are most suitable for.
Single Ended High Intensity Discharge (HID’s) Grow Lights
High Intensity Discharge (HID) Grow Lights are presently the most commonly used lights and are available in several variations. Metal Halides (MH) and High-pressure sodium (HPS) are interchangable using e40 mogul fittings; CMH lamps use PGZ (2 pin) fitting. There is also a HPS dual spectrum bulb and the double ended (DE) lighting system.
All types of HIDs are a type of electrical gas-discharge lamp which produces light by igniting an electric arc between tungsten electrodes inside a large bulb. The bulb is filled with noble gas and metal salts. The gas enables the arc’s initial strike. Once the arc is started, it heats and evaporates the metallic salt’s which increases the intensity of visible light produced by the arc.
Metal halide lights (MH)
Metal halide lights (MH)burn gas that produces lighting on the blue end of the spectrum, most beneficial during the vegetative phase. Ideally you want an output of 430nm-460nm blue light and 700nm red light in order to provide high PAR that favours the blue side of the spectrum for vegetative growth.
High-pressure sodium lights (HPS)
High-pressure sodium lights (HPS) lamps burn gas that produces light on the red to orange portion of the spectrum, best suited for the flowering stage. HPS lamps are probably the most popular option due to their consistent results and low initial costs.
HPS dual spectrum lights
HPS dual spectrum lights Combination HPS/MH lights combine a metal halide and a high-pressure sodium in the same bulb, providing both red and blue spectrums in a single HID lamp. The combination of the two provides a very wide spectrum within a single lamp. A spectrum, that enables you to use it through both the Vegetative and Flowering stages, saving on the need for 2 separate bulbs. For best results you should look for HPS lights with an output of 430-460nm blue light and 680-700nm red light to aim for optimal PAR.
Light emitting Ceramics (LEC), Ceramic discharge metal halide (CDM) and ceramic metal halide (CMH) lights are a more recently emerging type of single-ended HID light. LEC, CDM and CMH are, in fact the same technology, LEC is actually a trademarked term for a CMH brand. They produce a spectrum of light thats much wider than a conventional fluorescent or HID bulb. They are fuel efficient, using fewer watts to produce more light and will reduce energy bills.
LEC/CMH light works just like a MH light but have a ceramic arc (like HPS bulbs) instead of a quartz one, which allows it to reach a higher temperature. This allows for a an ideal mixture of gases, which creates a fuller more useful spectrum of light.
CMH fixtures are replacing traditional options like HPS in professional gardens due to their higher efficiency and lower maintenance frequency.
of CMH/LEC Lights
>They last on average twice as long as MH or HPS bulbs. They burn hotter than MH internally, but with a lower heat output, meaning less risk of plant burn and a easier to control environment.
>CMH/LEC lights have a more balanced spectrum and produce more usable light. They are more PAR efficient than HPS or MH.
>They are suitable for Veg and Flowering.
Cons of CMH/LEC Lights
>Only magnetic ballasts can be used for LEC bulbs and they cannot be placed at an angle; only vertically or horizontally.
>They produce a higher level of UV light and so can pose a health risk.
>Tend to be expensive. Check out our optilux/omega CDM Kit which we believe is the cheapest CDM kit available in Europe!
HID Grow Light components
What does a lighting system
consist of? HID lighting systems consist of a bulb, ballast, and a reflective
light shade, designed to increase the amount of light available to the plants. They
can use either a magnetic ballast, (which
use coils and condensers to regulate the output), or a digital ballast (which use circuitry to regulate the lamp’s
outputs). HID lighting systems come in a variety of wattages including 150w,
250w, 400w, 600w and 1000w. In terms of electrical efficiency 600w HID’s are
the most effective and popular choice, producing 7% more light watt for watt
than the next most effective, the 1000w HID
of Single ended HID Lights
>Cheapest option to light a grow space
>HID bulbs are dimmable, and allow you to adjust the intensity according to your plants needs.
>HID bulbs are compatible with digital ballasts
>HID lights produce a higher percentage of usable light than fluorescent bulbs.
Cons of HID Lights
>Not very efficient
>HID bulbs produce high heat levels which can burn/damage or destroy plants if not monitored and adjusted regularly
>They require additional equipment to operate, such as a ballast and a reflector.
>Some HID ballast will only operate MH and some will only operate HPS, meaning multiple ballasts may be required.
>The effectiveness of each bulb will decrease over time, meaning that you should change it regularly before it loses too much power.
Double-ended HID Lighting (DE HID)
Double-ended Lighting (DE) is a type of HID grow light where the lamp connects at two ends of the reflector, like a fluorescent tube. This light has its own pro’s and con’s in contrast to not only other light systems but also single ended HID’s
of DE Lighting
>Double-ended HID’s lasts longer and are more efficient being as much as 90% efficient after reaching 10,000 hours.
>Operate at a higher frequency, allowing the fixture to produce more photons each second.
>Double ended lighting tubes are thinner meaning that more light will reach your plants.
>They provide up to a 10% increase on PAR output per watt in comparison to single ended HPS lights
Cons of DE Lighting
>They produce more heat than a single-ended bulb, increasing risk of plant burn.
>Double-ended lighting will mean seriously re-considering your set up logistics, as they cannot tolerate air blowing directly onto them from circulation fans. Any contact with air can affect the nitrogen inside the bulb and lower its efficiency.
>They can be considerably more expensive than other types of lighting.
T5 Fluorescent Grow Lights
T5 Fluorescent Grow Lights– Are fluorescent tube lights, most useful in the propagation stage of growth as they run cool. A T5 tube is five-eighths of an inch in diameter (hence where the 5 comes from the T is how much of an inch the bulb measure).The most common T5 grow lights are 2 or 4 ft. long and have 1, 2, 4, 6, 8 or 12 bulbs per fixture. For a few small plants you would probably only need a 2 or 4ft set up with 1-2 bulbs but if growing considerably more you would want a 4ft set up with 8-12 bulbs to cover the plants mass.
Pros ofT5 Fluorescent Lights
>Less expensive than other types of grow lights.
>They emit light that covers a larger area than most other types of grow lights.
>They have a much longer, useful life than other kinds of grow lights.
>They emit much less heat than other types of grow lights, so they’re suitable for tight spaces and low ceilings.
Cons of T5 Fluorescent Lights
>Not as efficient as HID options
>Not much penetration through foliage – Plants must stay short and close to the light for healthy growth.
Compact Fluorescent Lighting (CFL)
Compact Fluorescent Lighting (CFL) These lights are a high-wattage compact fluorescent that works by igniting a gas from energy produced magnetically within the environment of a sealed tube. They have the longest life span of any grow bulb, up to 100,000 hours as their energy creates more light than heat.
Pros of CFL Lighting
>CFL lighting is up to twice as efficient as other fluorescent lighting.
>Bulbs can last for many years before losing power.
>CFL lights illuminate, brightly, instantly. There is no need to wait for them to warm up
>CFL lights burn cool with much less risk of burning or overheating your plants. Additionally using CFL’s will mean that you need less ventilation in your grow room.
Setting up your first grow environment can seem very daunting but honestly it does not have to be. Not if you equip yourself with the correct knowledge first and get educated. Here’s a quick beginners guide to get you heading in the right direction.
We are going to talk you through how to set up a 1.2m x 1.2m x 2m tent with a 600W light, a comparable ventilation kit, an environmental air mover and a temperature and humidity gauge. We will cover what you need, why you need it, and how to set everything up.
Firstly you need to ask yourself a few questions. Where are you going to put your tent? Do you have space in your home to have an indoor garden? Attics and basements are popular options to consider. indoor gardening equipment is designed to run quietly, so as not to disturb your everyday living but inevitably, there will be a level of humming or buzzing from fans, filters and ducting at some point! Solid floors are preferable, carpeted floors are a no-no due to risk of leakages, dampness and bugs. Mould and pests can thrive within the fibres of a damp carpet, no good for your plants, your home or your health!
Temperature is essential for the proper growth and development of your plants. Obviously you can manipulate the environment to an extent but if you put your grow tent in a damp basement, with no heating, in the middle of winter then you are going to be in trouble! You ideally want somewhere dry, with access to natural airflow and ventilation, that does not get too hot nor too cold. This is another reason why attics are popular, although a hot attic in the middle of summer can cause you problems too, so always take the season that you are growing in, into consideration as well. Ideally you need an environment which has the possibility of having an out-take and an in-take from a fresh outdoor source.
Once you have decided on where you are going to put your tent it is a good idea to familiarise yourself with the equipment that you will be using.
Tents come in all sizes and shapes, from mini tents specifically for propagation, to colossal ones for large flowering crops. When choosing a grow tent, the bottom line is…you get what you pay for. All tents have a reflective lining that works to reflect any light inwards back towards your plants. The only difference being that the reflective lining comes in 2 colour options, silver or white, both of which are equally as effective.
The tent is its own mini environment and when it is sealed up, no light, odours, or air can get in or out unless you let it. Tents are a popular choice as they are so convenient, easy to put up, dismantle, transport and store, providing everything that the grower needs.
Ventilation Kit- Fan, Filter, Ducting and Clamps
Ventilation is of upmost importance to optimise fresh airflow within your grow tent. When growing indoors getting the environment is key. A good environment leads to a strong grow and high yields.
The size of your fan and filter should always match. Filters work by pulling air from within your tent, through a bed of carbon (removing bacteria and odour) and then exhausting the “scrubbed” air into an outside environment, via a ducting system.
In regards to ducting, Acoustic ducting is very popular as it reduces any excess noise that the ventilation fan may make. It is comprised of a dual layer of standard ducting with fibreglass sandwiched in the middle. Clamps hold the ducting, the fan and the filter in place, tighten them up firmly as this will make for a more efficient system.
Remember that is always good practice to provide your indoor growing environment with a fresh, clean, incoming air source. It is important that the amount of air entering your environment through the in-take fan should always be less than the amount leaving through the out-take fan – maintaining negative pressure.
The lighting kit (broken down into 3 simple sections below) is the “set up” that will provide all the light within your growing environment. We are looking at a 600W light kit.
1 – Ballast
What’s a ballast? you may ask. Well simply put, a ballast regulates the current to the lamps and provides them with sufficient voltage to start up. If you didn’t use a ballast, the horticultural lamps would just keep drawing power until they overloaded and blew a fuse.
There are 2 main types of ballast. 1- a magnetic ballast. 2- a digital ballast. Digital ballasts run cooler, truer to wattage, quieter, and use less energy than magnetic ballasts. Most 600W digital ballasts are dimmable which means the power can be down turned to lower wattages. These lower wattages are usually 250W and 400W. This accuracy is great for your plants. Most digital ballasts also have a 10% “boost” feature, which your plants will love in the last few weeks of Flower.
2 – Reflectors
Reflectors direct the bulb’s light to where you want it; on to your plants. There are many different styles available, but the Euro reflector is a popular, effective and good value choice that will do everything that you need it to. It has a highly reflective dimpled, hammer tone finish and maximises the spread of light in a very cost-effective way.
3 – Lamps
A popular lamp choice is a 600w dual spectrum HPS. This lamp is ‘dual’ in that it emits a broad spectrum of light which includes both red spectrum light (perfect for Flowering) and blue spectrum light (perfect for Veg), which makes it suitable for use from Veg and all the way through Flower, eliminating the need for another bulb. It’s a great all-round lamp which is very commonly used for indoor gardening.
Contactor and Timer
A Contactor is an electrically controlled switch that spreads the electrical discharge of any equipment that is plugged into it, reducing the chances of the main fuse blowing when the initial strike up of the lamp/ballast occurs. Kill two birds with one stone here and buy one with a built-in timer, as they are extremely accurate and useful for turning your lights and fans on and off as and when you need them to.
Clip-on Oscillating fan
Oscillating fans move air around the growing environment and help keep temperatures even across the whole growing space. They also take gasses released from the leaves away from the plant, and move carbon dioxide and oxygen towards the plant for photosynthesis. As the fan oscillates it will also gently “shudder” the plants. This will help to increase the plants over all strength and rigidity.
These will allow you to hang all your equipment in your tent. They also let you adjust the distance between your plants and the lights when needed, as it is essential that the plant receives the maximum amount of lumen and par available from the bulb. Ratchet hangers are relatively cheap and make the setting up (and adjusting) of your growing environment that much easier.
Temperature Gauge and Hygrometer
Monitoring humidity and temperature levels throughout your Grow is important. Remember – a good environment leads to strong plants and a good yield. A digital “all in one” is perfect to give you accurate results and has lots of handy feature such as memory recall and a max/min temperature setting. This will help you dial in a better growing environment, best suited to the ideal conditions that your plants will require.
Right, so now you have an idea of everything you need, let’s look at what to do with it? First things first let’s start with the grow tent…
Grow Tent Set-up.
Firstly get your instructions out! Don’t worry if you normally break out in a cold sweat at the sight of flat pack furniture! Tents are quite simple to assemble and shouldn’t cause you too many problems. The top tip is to lay out all the poles first and make sure that they are all in the position that they should be. It’s very common for people to throw the bars together however they think looks right, only to find out in the final stages of assembly, that the outer canopy will not fit over a corner by less than an inch!! This over-stretching normally leads to either the canopy ripping and or a zip popping off. If the bars are set up correctly then the canopy should be a comfortable taught fit. Another top tip when putting the canopy on, is to first unzip everything completely. This will give you a much better chance of getting it on right first time.
Grow Light Set-up
Essentially your light comes in three parts. To
avoid confusion, It’s best to run through the separate elements one by one and
get them in the correct position, and when all that’s done we can connect them
all together. Let’s start outside the tent with the ballast.
Unbox your ballast, if it’s a digital ballast
you will need to untie the loose cable and firmly plug it into the ballast,
this is the power cable. One end goes in to the ballast and the other will go
in to the contactor, which in turn will be plunged into the main power supply.
However we are not plugging anything in just yet, so have your ballast where
you want it as well as the contactor. The other cable coming out of the ballast
will be heading into your light shade.
Next is the light shade. Using the ratchet
hangers hang your shade in the middle of your growing environment. It can be
Now it is time to plug things in. Firstly the
lamp needs to be connected to the shade. Gently but firmly screw the bulb into
the shade, covering your hand with a cloth to prevent fingerprints or greasy
residues from getting on the lamp and affecting performance.
Now take the lead from your shade, pass it
through one of the higher portals of your tent and plug it into your ballast
The ballast now plugs into the contactor.
Remember that the contactor and ballast should be outside of the tent. Keep
them somewhere safe, dry and out of the way where they can’t be disturbed,
covered up or trip someone over. Ideally hang it on a wall.
Set the timer on the contactor to your lights “on and off” times. Finally plug the contactor into your main power socket and check that the light comes on. By twisting the timer on the contactor you can fast forward time to check that it does turn on and off as needed. Please note, that every time a horticultural lamp is ignited (turned on) it needs to be left to cool down for at least 15mins every time. Yes that’s every time! Even if you just flick it on for a second, you must leave it to cool down. After everything is checked and left to cool down and the timer is reset to the correct position the contactor plug can be turned of at the mains ready for the next step.
The ventilation equipment comes in 3 main components. 1- the filter. 2- the fan. 3- the ducting. You will also need duct clamps to connect it all together. Ventilation equipment is mostly contained within the tent.
Firstly the fan needs to be connected to the
filter. Some filter and fan flanges are compatible and will connect easterly
with a single duct clamp to secure together. Others will not, with these a
small section from the main ducting pipe will nee to be removed and used a
short connecting piece between filter and fan, using duct clamps to secure.
It’s important to remember at this point that the fan needs to be the right way
around. The fan needs to pull through the filter direction and push in the
Next the main ducting should be attached to the
other side of the fan, again using a ducting clamp. Now that we have the
equipment put together it need to go in the growing environment.
The filter and fan should be securely suspended
with ratchet hangers from the horizontal top bars near to the back wall of the
tent, near the top but not touching it the side walls nor the ceiling of the
grow tent. The ducting section should then lead to an outside environment. The
plug cable from the fan should then be plugged into a power outlet for 24/7
Top tip here is Clamp everything together really
tightly to allow the filter to maximise how much air it can scrub and remove.
This will also prevent any noise or odour escaping.
If you have a in take fan this should be done in the same way, but the other way round to bring air in.
The final touches.
You’re nearly there. Just the final touches to
The oscillating fan should be clipped onto one
of the vertical tent poles at the back of the tent, adjust the position once
the plants are in the tent so that the fan is level with the plants canopy.
Pass the power lead through a portal in the tent and plug it into the
The temperature gauge and hygrometer can be hung
from one of the ceiling pole in the tent. These should be at the canopy of the
plant, so having them on ratchet hangers is perfect for moving them up and down
as and when needed.
Soon as all the above is complete it’s time to plug in the contactor to get everything working together.
Ready for the next step…your plants.
That’s it, your tent is now ready for your
plants. We can’t lie here and pretend that, all the hard work is now over,
because it most definitely is not! In fact it’s only just begun. Any
experienced Grower will tell you that you only learn through trial and error,
so take this time to monitor your plants closely, experimenting, altering and
adjusting as you go. Try not to put too much pressure on yourself, learn from
your mistakes, ask questions and take any advice you can get. Knowledge is
power after all. By doing this you will quickly learn how to read your plants,
environment and the rewards will grow as your experience does.
To understand how to care for your plants properly it is essential to recognise and understand the different stages of a plant’s lifecycle. In doing so you will be able to give your plants exactly what they need, when they need it, and as a result achieve larger, better quality yields. The more you understand your plant the better equipped you will be to achieve the best of the plant’s potential.
The 3 main stages of plant growth these are;
1.Propagation – this is the starting and establishing of new and young plants.
2. Vegetative (Veg) – this is the overall growing and strengthening of the plant’s mass in preparation for Flowering.
3. Flower (Bloom) – this stage is when overall plant growth slows and the plants produce their flowers and fruits.
To make this as simple as possible we will break down each stage one by one.
Strictly speaking a plant’s lifecycle begins with the germination of a seed. Whilst many people grow from seed, just as many choose to start their plants from a cutting taken from another mature plant that is replanted and raised to full bloom. There are pros and cons for choosing either, so do your research before you start and choose what works best for you.
During propagation your cuttings or seedlings should spend 1-2 weeks (some plants may take longer) in a propagator. This essentially is a mini greenhouse with a clear plastic lid that lets in light whilst retaining heat and moisture.
For the duration of propagation your lights should be on/over the plant’s constantly, 24 hours a day. To get the most out of your plants in this stage you should ideally use a propagation light. The perfect temperature range inside your propagator is 22C-27C (dependent on your plant) and you need to aim for a humidity of between 70-90%.
To hit these conditions you will need to raise or lower the light, mist with more water or open and close the ventilation ports on the propagator.
Growers top tip – Remember that cuttings do not yet have roots and will take in water through the leaves and stems. In this instance therefore, the inside of the propagator needs to be kept at the higher end of the humidity range at all times until the roots start to grow.
In the vegetative stage your plants will be going through a huge growth period, in preparation to produce the best fruits possible. It’s important to remember here that in the vegetative stage the aim is to grow the whole structure of the plant to be as large and strong as possible. What I’m trying to say here is that not only do you want what is above the soil to grow, but also what’s below. It is so important to get your root network strong and efficient at this stage. There’s an old saying…”bigger the roots, bigger the fruits”. And it’s well worth remembering!
A specialist grow light should be used going forward from this stage of the plants lifecycle if you want to get the very best out of then. The light cycle should be set to 18 hours on, 6 hours off. The temperature at the top of the plants (the canopy), with lights on should ideally be between 21-28C. When lights are off it should dip by no more than 10C. The humidity is the vegetative stage should be ideally above 60%.
How long you keep your plants in “veg” is completely up to you and all depends on what you are growing, and what you want out of those plants. In a indoor growing environment most growers will “veg” for between 2-4 weeks, however, plants can be kept in Veg much longer if needed.
The Flowering phase will depend on what you’re growing and where. As an example however a common standard indoor flowering period is 8 weeks (with this is mind we will talk through the rest of this process as if we are talking about an 8 week flowering plant in an indoor growing environment). The Flowering stage is better understood when broken down into 2 sub-periods, “pre-flowering” and “flowering”. When moving into this new stage, if you are growing indoors you will need to change your light times once again. The light cycle should now be set to 12 hours on, 12 hours off. This will ensure that you will get the upmost out of your plants. The temperature at the canopy of the plants, with lights on should ideally be between 21-28C. When lights are off it should dip no more than 10C. The humidity level during the flower stage should ideally be below 40%.
This phase is the period between the last week of the veg phase until the end of week 4 of Flowering. Basically, the mid point in the total flowering time. In the first 2 weeks of flower your plant will make the transition from simply growing in size to concentrating its energies towards flower and fruit production. There should be rapid growth within these first few weeks, sometimes referred to as “the stretch”. In this first half of the flowering stage plants can quadruple in size. As the plants near the end of this phase the over all growth will slow down as flower/ fruiting sites begin to appear, marking the end of the pre-flowering period.
This is when the plant concentrates all its energies on producing more flowering sites. From here on in it’s all about getting the biggest tastiest most attractive flowers and fruit. If this stage is executed well then fruiting branches can become so laden down that they may need to be tied up to prevent snapping and/or damaging the rest of the plant.
So there you have a brief overview of the phases of a plant’s growth and bloom. When growing in an indoor environment the length of the plants natural lifecycle can be reduced massively. This mixed in with the use of specialist fertilisers means that not only can the length of the grow time be compacted down from 12 months into around 12 weeks, but the yields produced can also be larger than you would see from the same plant growing in its natural environment.
All plants have their optimum temperature, where growth and development are maximised. Temperature when growing indoors is essential to how efficiently your plants will grow and in turn what they will produce. When replicating a plant’s natural environment you must strive to provide the plant with as close to perfect conditions as possible. If you want the best results however and you are in a controlled indoor growing environment, you can manipulate and push these natural environmental conditions to the absolute optimal limit and in dong so you will get the very most from your plant.
All plants are different, and you should check the specifics for the species that you are growing but the general rule is that every plant has a temperature sweet spot (some call this the “goldilocks temperature”). Again, because the plant is growing in an indoor environment you have the opportunity to dial into this sweet spot and reach the plants maximum potential.
One of the first things you should take the time to learn to do when growing indoors, is how to take the temperature in your grow room accurately, as environment is everything. Thermometers come in many forms and at many prices but to be precise I would go for a digital model. They give more accurate results and include helpful features such as memory recall, and min, and max temperature settings. Thermometers with a temperature sensor that you can hang inside the room, but that allow you to keep the control panel outside are also useful as they allow you to accurately record the temperature without disturbing the environment, whether it’s lights on or off. You must also measure the temperature in a variety of spots in your grow room. The best places are in the shadier areas and at the canopy level of the plants but not directly under the lights or right by the fans, as this may give a distorted result. There are also inexpensive Wireless Bluetooth models that Log and chart the grow room temperature and humidity over time, allowing much more accuracy than min/max thermometers due to the precise timings, giving you much more info on when temperature events occur.
Let’s break it down now then and see what the optimum temperatures are throughout your grow, how you maintain them, how other factors may influence them (positively or negatively) and what remedies we have for this.
Cold Temperatures in the grow room
When growing in an indoor environment one of the keys to a successful yield is a good environment. One of the major contributing factors to a good environment is temperature. Temperature has a knock on effect on all processes that your plant performs. If the temperature in your grow room is too low it will affect photosynthesis by reducing the evaporation through the leaves. This means that the suction force that takes nutrients up from the roots is decreased. In turn this increases acidity in the medium due to a build up of the nutrients that have not been absorbed. High acidity in the growing medium is not a good thing as it stops the roots working efficiently, meaning that the plant will be taking up less nutrients and water which can slow or completely stunt growth.
Warm Temperatures in the grow room
In contrast if the temperature in your grow room is too high it can have just as adverse an effect. Too much warmth can have a serious effect on how long it takes your plants to grow, especially during Flower. If temperatures get too high during Flower then it can affect both the aroma and taste of your end product as essential oils and terpene’s disappear from your plants when overheated. It’s not just during Flower that high temperatures can cause issues however, there are a multitude of problems that can arise from an overheated grow room including, nutrient burn from increased water transpiration at high temperatures and mildew which can form if conditions become too humid. If the temperature at the canopy of your plants is too high then it can decrease the rate of photosynthesis which will have a negative knock on effect on all the processes that your plant performs.
Grow room Temperature – The balancing act
Getting temperature conditions just right dependent on a number of variables. The size of your grow room, the location, the airflow, the number and intensity of the lights, the power of your fans, the quality of your extraction equipment, the plants your are growing, the list goes on. For instance, a grow tent in your basement will naturally be a lot cooler than one in your loft.
In an ideal world your grow room needs to have a consistent uniform temperature across its entirety. This can be difficult to achieve due to the high intensity lighting that produces an excess of heat, especially in the areas directly around the bulbs. HPS lamps are the most popular lighting choice, and produce large amounts of heat of up to 50C and this is why adequate fans and extraction is essential!
If despite your best efforts, you are still experiencing high temperature issues then you could try running your lights through the night when the surrounding temperatures and therefore the air being sucked in to your grow room is much cooler. This is particularly effective if you are growing in a warmer climate or through the summer. If ”lights on” through the night is not an option then you could try and use an air conditioning unit within the area surrounding your growing environment to lower the temperature of any air flow.
You should have at least 2 fans in your grow room, an intake fan that is sucking fresh cool air in to the environment (preferably from a clean outside source) and an out-take fan that is taking the warm air out of the growing environment. Fans and lights should be chosen in relation to the size of your growing space, getting this right will give you a good starting point from which to work from. Having the ability to change the air flow rates of both your intake and out-take fans whilst they are working in your growing environment is essential to dialing in the optimal conditions.
You should additionally have at least one oscillating, air movement fan that is generally just keeping the air moving around inside the grow room and eliminating any hot spots. In tents, clip on fans are perfect as you can attach them directly to the poles, so they don’t take up any floor space.
Optimal temperature and humidity through the stages of growth.
Plants perform best at different temperatures and humidity depending on the stage of life they’re in. Young seedlings and clones have a limited capability of up-taking water and nutrients due to a developing root system. As the plants move into the vegetative stage, they can cope with higher transpiration rates, so a slightly lower humidity is advised. As plants go into bloom, they require low humidity to further increase transpiration and reduce the chances of rot.
Propagation (lights on)
For the propagation stage most plants like it warm and wet. Between 23C-27C is the safe zone for temperature and between 70 – 90% humidity.
Vegetative (lights on)
For the vegetative stage most plants like it warmer and wet. Between 24C-28C is the safe zone for temperature and between 50 – 70% humidity.
Flower (lights on)
For the flowering stage most plants like it warmer and dry. Between 25C-29C is the safe zone for temperature and between 40 – 50% humidity.
The golden rule here is to not let it drop more than 10C below daytime temperatures. If you can keep it to 5C or less, then this is perfect as at this temperature the plant can rest and transpire without any risk of temperature change stress. Plus, in colder temperatures, mould and fungi can develop. The build up of condensation and moisture created by cold conditions directly after warm conditions is the perfect breeding ground for mould growth which could then write off your whole crop and in some cases your equipment too.
To fight this sudden temperature reduction the use of a heater with a thermostat set to your minimum temp level is ideal. This is a good time to remind you to really consider the location of your grow room before you start your plants off. Ask yourself is it warm/cool enough? Can I easily cool/ heat it up if I need to? Another way to retain heat in colder conditions is to turn your extraction fans down at the same time that your lights go off
It may seem a big mountain to climb with so many variables to monitor and alter, and it may take you a few grow cycles to perfect it, but it really is worth putting the hard work in and finding your ideal “set up” and the perfect “sweet spot” for your plants. To attain and maintain the optimum temperatures for your plants is a constantly evolving task. Don’t forget that as well as everything that we have already mentioned, that as your plants grow, the environment will change. This will happen on a day by day basis as the plants take up more space, drink more feed and photosynthesise.
If you want big yields you have got to master how to get and maintain the optimal temperatures within your grow-room.