Grow Tent Kit – Introduction
What is a Grow Tent Kit? A grow tent kit is a pre-selected combination of tools and supplies required to grow plants indoors. Since plants need the sun and it’s changing cycles to grow and flower properly, a controlled environment and light source is needed as a substitute. This is where a grow tent kit comes in. The equipment is generally matched in the set based on the size of the grow. For example, a small 2×2′ tent will typically only hold 1 or 2 plants and therefore will only require a single lower power lamp since it doesn’t have to cover as much area. The ventilation fan may also be smaller since there isn’t as much air to move. The basic idea behind a grow tent kit is to get you all the basics to start growing without having to buy anything else other than the seeds. Next we’ll discuss the components and options you should be looking for.
Grow Tent Kit – Basic Options
The main piece of equipment in a grow tent kit is obviously the grow tent itself. These are generally a metal frame encased in a reflective canvas material with a zippered door and ventilation access holes. The grow tent serves two purposes, it helps reflect the light source back toward the plant and keeps ambient light out so that the plant can experience day and night. The plant will grow in in it’s vegetative state so long as the light cycle remains longer than 8 hours per day. A basic grow tent should be well made and easy to assemble and clean. There are plenty of options out there but make sure you get one with a flap protected zipper to prevent ambient light leakage as well as intake and exhaust vents/ports.
We wouldn’t recommend a tent less than 5′ tall. Most cannabis plants will grow to at least 2′ feet tall sitting in a 12″ tall pot. The light will need a minimum of 12″ clearance from the top of the plant and will generally hang a minimum of 12″ from the top of the tent. Therefore no less than 5′ or 60″ will allow you to grow a good sized plant. Also, viewing windows are not necessary and may end up being an additional source of ambient light leakage.
Full Spectrum LED Light
The Basic light requirements of a flowering cannabis plant will require a few wavelengths in the blue spectrum for vegetation, and a few in the red spectrum for flowering, with several intermediate wavelengths, and UV and IR as well. This means that a full spectrum light is a great general purpose option. Full spectrum lights try to imitate natural sunlight and is the most basic light available.
LED is the recommended light technology for 2 main reasons. LED grow lights run much cooler than incandescent or fluorescent lamps and also use much less energy per lumen of light output. This will keep your energy costs low and make it easier to maintain the proper temperature in the tent. The direct heat of an incandescent lamp would also require a much larger distance from the plant to avoid burning it, thus requiring an even larger tent. LED’s also have a much longer lifespan creating a long term cost benefit.
LED grow lights should be moisture and humidity resistant, should have adequate cooling systems, and should include the relevant hanging hardware. Look for height adjustable hardware so that the light can be raised as the plant grows taller to maintain the ideal distance from the plant.
Just like humans need oxygen, plants needs carbon dioxide to grow. Without proper ventilation plants would use up all the available carbon dioxide in the grow tent and growth would suffer. A good grow tent kit will contain a grow tent with several intake and exhaust ports but will need some way for the air to circulate in and out of the grow tent. This is where the inline fan comes in. An inline fan can be place inside or outside the tent. For small grows 250cfm is more than enough. For larger tents you should look for 750cfm. Look for one with adjustable speeds to balance airflow and noise. Quiet fans will be around 20dB and will go up to 60db for larger fans. Inlet and outlet diameters will range from 4″ to 8″ and should fit most grow tents.
The Last component usually found in in a grow tent kit are air filters. These air filters are typically used for reducing odor. The key component to odor control in an air filter is activated charcoal. The same stuff you’d find in a Brita water filter. The filter can be place inside or outside the grow tent. If it is place inside the grow tent the fan will be sucking air through the filter and blowing outside the tent. If the filter is outside the tent, the fan will be blowing air out through the filter instead.
Grow Tent Kit – Intermediate Options
Multi Stage LED Light
Just like a full spectrum LED light, multi stage LED lights are also energy efficient, durable, and produce little heat. The main difference in a multi stage light is that the array of led’s, whether they are individual LED’s or grouped on a single chip (COB), is broken out into 2 or more batches. The first stage is made of the blue portion of the spectrum and the second stage is made of the red portion. Each stage is wired to it’s own switch so you can configure the light to produce only the wavelengths that the plant needs at that time, thus saving energy. For example, instead of running a 500w full sprectrum light for 12 weeks, you would only run 250w of blue for 4 weeks and 250w of red for 8 weeks. Activating both switches would create more of a full spectrum. For maximum value look for supporting wavelengths like UV, IR, orange, green or full white in addition to the 2 stages.
Some grow tent kits come with timers for the light. This is a necessary component since the plant needs to rest at night but the timers are usually no different than any plug in timer you can get at the hardware store.
A few grow tent kits come with pots or growing containers which come in handy since they are usually chosen to match the size of the tent. Make sure they come with proper drainage holes and trays to catch overflow.
Grow Tent Kit – Advanced Options
The more advanced grow tent kits will have grow tent options with dual compartments. This is useful when growing plants in veg and bloom states. since he veg period is around 4-6 weeks (depending on how big you want your plant) and the bloom period is 10-12 weeks you can start another batch of seedlings while the first batch is in bloom. As soon as the first batch is ready for harvest you have a fresh batch ready to go into bloom instead of having to start from seed.
Some grow tent kits come with nutrient kits for seedling, veg, bloom, and flush cycles. It may also include PH adjusters. This is a good way to get started as the manufacturers will give you feeding schedule recommendations as part of the total system.
Humidity control is not a basic requirement but highly recommended. Some grow tent kits will include a cool mist humidifier. These usually have built in hygrometers so that you can set your target humidity. The humidity needs of the plant change during it’s life so control of the humidity is needed for maximizing health and yield of the plant. Proper humidity will also prevent certain pests like spider mites from destroying your crop.
Some grow tent kits come with a thermostat that can control the temperature of the grow tent by increasing fan speed and airflow to expel heat. This is a good option to look for if you live in warmer climates and your room temperature tends to climb during the day.
Some grow tent kits come with hydroponic feeding systems that take care of watering and feeding the plants. These systems are another level of complexity and should be tackled by experienced growers. Beginners may find it challenging since the nutritional and ph requirements are harder to manage and maintain.
Circulating fans are beneficial for plants as they strengthen stalks, which keep them from falling from the weight of larger buds. They also improve air circulation in the tent so that the plants can access all the available CO2 in the air.
Grow Tent Kit – What To Avoid
The most common issues with grow tent kits are grow tents with plastic connectors that are prone to snapping. Find cross braces with metal brackets. Replacement parts are not easy to come by and metal brackets can be found in comparably priced units.
Smooth Reflective Surfaces
Avoid grow tent kits with grow tents that have smooth reflective surfaces as this can create hot spots of light and will not disperse the reflected light as evenly as say a diamond or square pattern.
Grow Tent Kit – Conclusion
So whether you are in the market for an apartment sized 2’x2′ or a basement filling 10’x20′, you now have the tools to know what to look for and what to avoid. Growing can be a therapeutic endevour so take your time and make sure not to rush the process. Good things come to those who wait.