Factors That Impact Your Indoor Grow Setup
Selecting the right space and getting it properly set up is just as important as being attentive to your cannabis plants as they grow. Here are some factors to consider to help you choose an ideal grow space.
Size of Space
How much space you need for your plants depends on a lot of factors, but mainly which strain you are growing and whether it’s auto-flowering. Different cannabis plants can take up a vastly different amount of space, but most can be strategically groomed to occupy the space you have available. You can use the floor space to determine approximately how many plants you can grow. You can physically fit as many plants into your space as you can fit 5-7 gal containers, but such close spacing of plants would require them to have a very short grow cycle and lots of grooming. You should ideally plan for about 4 square feet per plant. It will also be important to consider the height of your space. If you have low ceilings, a low tent, or a short cabinet, this will restrict the height of the plants and ultimately affect your yield.
On the flip side, having a space that’s really large can increase your need for equipment and raise the difficulty level. If you only want to grow a few plants but you’re using a large open area, consider sectioning off a small grow space to save waste resources.
Next, assess the power source in the area where you would like to setup your grow. Ideally, a power source will already be installed and easily accessible. Electrical mistakes can be costly, and most importantly, dangerous. Electrical fires are not the only concern, incorrect wiring or a bad electrical setup can ruin expensive equipment like your lights or exhaust fan. Consult with a professional electrician before attempting any serious DIY projects in this area.
If you’re thinking about using a large space because you want to grow multiple plants, then you’ll need enough energy output to support the space. More plants generally equals more lights and more fans. Plus, you’ll likely need a carbon filter and exhaust fan. All this equipment requires power to run. Before you start your grow, determine how much power your grow will need and whether you can safely supply that power in your grow space.
Lights are the most important piece of equipment you will buy for your plants. Light is like food for plants, they need it to complete the photosynthesis process and create energy to grow. The quality and quantity of light provided is the environmental factor that most directly determines your potential yield.
All the light needed for your plants to grow should come from the light source you provide (not the sun). Cannabis plants grown indoors require a strict light schedule, and any disruption in their darkness period could cause them to prematurely enter the flowering stage, which will ultimately affect the quality and yield from the cannabis plants. In order to keep your plant on the right light cycle, you need to examine your grow space for any areas where natural light comes in, such as cracks or windows. You’ll want to use reflective sheeting or tape to seal in your grow space. This way your artificial light won’t escape nor will the natural light come in. Growers call this making your space “light-tight”.
How will you water your plants in your grow space? For smaller grows, a watering can will be enough to transport water from one location of your home to your grow space. But, if you’re growing more than a few plants or growing hydroponically, a nearby pump is needed.
Make sure you’re always using clean water that is filtered if possible. Cannabis plants are bit pickier about the water they like than the average houseplant; they like a pH of about 6-7 so they can absorb nutrients you add, and they prefer soft water (with less contaminants). If you haven’t had your tap water tested for its pH or contaminants, play it safe and stick with bottled water or let your tap water sit for a couple days before adding it to your plants.
Like us, cannabis plants need to breathe! In an enclosed area like a grow tent, vents and fans are essential to circulate the air. If you’re growing from a repurposed closet or bedroom, keep in mind that you will likely need to drill holes for ventilation (or use a window in the case of grow room).
To help circulate airflow, an exhaust fan will pull out (extract) stale air and an intake fan/vent will supply cool and fresh air for the plants to breath.
Indoor grows can be noisy and smelly. If you live in close proximity to others and want to avoid detection of your cannabis grow, you need to set up your grow space in a strategic location and install ventilation. Avoid setting up your grow space near a window that others can see into and add a carbon filter to your ventilation system. Carbon filters trap odors, making them a real lifesaver if you’re trying to keep a low profile.
Construction & Materials
Finally, think about the type of materials you might need to buy to adapt your space and make it suitable for growing plants. For instance, if your space has a carpet, reflective material can be added to help waterproof the floor and maximize light distribution. You may also need to adapt your space by adding things like ventilation holes, support beams, or insulation, and getting these fixes done ahead of time will help your first indoor grow experience go smoothly.
Keep reading to hear about the three most common choices for an indoor grow setup before making your final decision.
What Grow Setup Will Suit Your Needs?
There are three main choices for an indoor grow setup. First, there’s the ‘Beginner DIY’. This is the grower interested in repurposing an existing space like a closet or cabinet for a small, economical grow. Next, there’s the grower who chooses a grow tent, either a basic tent on its own, with other parts sold separately, or a convenient all-inclusive tent package.
Finally, there’s the ‘Advanced DIY’ grower, who is looking to grow more plants in a large space they construct from scratch. This type of grower will need carpentry or building experience, be willing to make a long-term investment, and will have a big enough space to make it all work.
Let’s take a closer look at each of these options now.
Beginner DIY Indoor Grow Set Up
As we mentioned earlier, cannabis plants don’t need a large space to thrive. You can easily start a small grow of 1-2 even in a tight spot. When given the right amount of light, proper nutrients, water, and airflow, your plants will grow happily and healthily.
Growing in a small space has lots of benefits; it’s more discreet, makes very little noise, and won’t produce a ton of odor. Additionally, it’s less costly and less time-consuming to grow fewer plants in a small space.
However, there is are a couple major points to consider when you grow a plant in a closet or cabinet — the lighting and ventilation. Fortunately, you’ll likely only need one light in a small space, keeping the overall budget fairly low. You’ll need to measure and make sure you can provide enough space in between your light and your cannabis plants so that the leaves and buds won’t burn.
To reduce this risk of burning the plants, consider buying LED lights. These lights don’t generate as much heat as older HID style lights. Regardless of the type of light source you choose, you’ll still need a fan to bring fresh cool air into the space.
If you’re working with limited space, you’ll want to learn some grooming techniques to top and prune your plant to keep it small and compact. However, these techniques may also reduce your overall yield. Just something to think about.
Lastly, make sure the space you plan to use is easily accessible. You’ll either need to be able to maneuver around the plants or remove the plants from the space to tend to them for feeding, watering, and grooming. Cannabis plants require regular, almost daily, care, so make sure this is something you can do in your chosen space.
Tents and grow kits are becoming increasingly popular. There are so many options to choose from, making them appealing to all experience levels and budgets. Many kits can be set up for soil or hydroponic growing.
A tent is perfect for a moderate grow set up and can accommodate several plants. You have the option to buy a tent and purchase the other necessary equipment separately or buy a grow kit that the major pieces of equipment included.
All-inclusive kits usually at least come with the pieces to build your lighting system and components for the ventilation system, but sometimes they also come with tools like thermometers or fertilizers. If you purchase a grow tent kit, you’ll just need to get the seeds, soil, and containers so you can start growing right away.
Furthermore, tents are constructed to be light-tight; they able to prevent light from escaping or entering, which is a huge perk. In addition, tents have wall to wall reflective material built-in which helps maximize the energy from your lights. These enclosed tent set ups also give you the ability to better control the environmental factors like temperature and humidity.
Lastly, tents come with ventilation holes ready to accommodate your ducts and fans, and they’re outfitted with support bars to hang your lights up without difficulty.
Essentially, all-inclusive tent kits make the growing process a lot more simple, although they tend to be a bit more expensive than buying the parts individually or repurposing a space like a closet for a grow.
The final grow setup option is building from the ground up. Whether you utilize an empty shed, garage, or bedroom, this option is by far the hardest to accomplish. Creating a large grow space for several plants can be complicated, expensive, and time-consuming. On the plus side, if the setup is done well, you will produce a plentiful harvest. This is a big undertaking, best suited for someone who has grown cannabis before and is looking to scale up.
Before you dive in, it’s helpful to prepare a budget for the materials and equipment needed, as well the power to run the setup. The equipment and electricity costs to ventilate and provide lighting for an entire room can get pricey. Building an indoor grow room also requires a lot of know-how. If you’re handy and feel comfortable assembling equipment, then this might not be a concern. Regardless, taking on a big space may require the help of a friend, an experienced grower, or even a professional carpenter or electrician to make the process more manageable and safer.
Finally, as a word of caution, this option is the least inconspicuous and may not be legal where you live (i.e. growing more plants than the legal limit). So, if privacy or legalities are a concern, weigh out these options before investing too much time and money.
Once you choose your indoor grow setup, it’s time to make a shopping list. For any of these setups, you’ll have to buy the basic necessities for any grow: seeds, a growing medium, lights, and ventilation.
For the more complex setups, you’ll want to invest in a humidity and temperature reader, a power strip, a timer for your light schedule, and possibly a carbon filter with ducting.
Now you’re all ready to start growing!