Grow Tent Setup Guide: How to Build The Best Indoor Garden


Looking to set up your grow tent guide?

First, decide how many plants you want to start growing indoors. Then identify the grow tent size that can accommodate them. Next, purchase a tent whose size is slightly bigger than what you've estimated. 

The grow tent won't only provide shade to plants. It will also store ventilation (tools), carbon filters, grow lights, electric wires, and other stuff. Only then will it be able to create an environment that will help your plants grow.

Don't know how to do all that and set up everything? 

That's what our grow tent setup guide is here for. We have prepared step-by-step instruction guide for setting up your tent, starting from selecting a proper grow tent size that meets your requirements, erect it on your own and then load it with all the equipment mentioned above.

Let’s get started. 

Do I really need a grow tent?

Imagine for a moment that you're trying to do some gardening indoors without a grow tent. That means three things. 

  • You have no control over the climate your plants are subjected to. 
  • Insects can attack whatever you're trying to grow at will. 
  • There is no grow light to maximize the yield.

Will the final results, then, be of your liking? Of course not. That's why you need a grow tent.

1. Maximize Grow Space

plants in soil

Indoor space is at a premium for everyone these days. That's especially true for those living in urban or congested areas. Grow tents allow you to make the most of any space you may have by letting you set up a grow tent virtually anywhere.

You don't need an empty room to set up a grow tent. Even if all you have is an empty corner, you can erect the grow tent there and start gardening and growing your plants.

2. Year-Round Garden

Lettuce is one of those crops that is growing well when it's cold out there. Potatoes are different as their seeds germinate best during the summer. Regular growers have to keep both these facts in mind when growing either of these vegetables.

However, if you're an indoor grower, you can start growing lettuce in June and potatoes in December. That's because grow tents let you simulate their internal environment and conditions any way you want.

3. Energy-Efficient

Grow tents are made of two different materials. The exterior material, which is directly exposed, tends to be thicker than the inner lining material, whose primary purpose is to provide optimum lights to the vegetation. But both are responsible for insulating the tent's exterior from external climate.

They also help conserve energy by not letting it escape the tent's premises. The interior material also reflects light to expose your harvest to a greater concentration of light.

4. Pest Control

Almost all the top-rated grow tents come with a closed design. The presence of zippers, watertight mesh coverings and Velcro covers ensures that their interior remains safe from the entry of insects such as spider mites, aphids, and whiteflies.

The grow tent ability to keep pests away provides you with two benefits. It lets you save the money which regular growers spend on insecticides. And it also keeps pests from harming your harvest's yields.

How Big A Grow Tent Do I Need?

Three factors influence the answer to determine how big a grow tent you need. They include the indoor space you may have (in square feet), the number of plants you intend on growing in that space, and the plant density per square foot. 

Your response to all three will decide whether you need a small, medium, or large grow tent:

  • Small: Small grow-tent size range between 2' x 2' and 3' x 3'. They let you store 4 to 10 petite plants with a gap of 1sq. foot between each plant. Such models also ensure a more intense light reflection.
  • Medium: Medium size grow tents can store up to 20 petite plants. Their size ranges between 4' x 4' and 6', and they provide more space for grow lights, carbon filters, electric wires, and other stuff.
  • Large:  Large grow tents measure north of 6'. These tents are best for indoor growers who can spare a king-sized room – or a whole basement – for their plants. Such tents can provide space for as many as 30 petite plants.

Check out our top grow tents list for 2021 comparing 15 grow tents of different sizes. You can also find our best 2x2 grow tents or top 4x4 grow tents guide.

How To Select The Right Grow Tent?

Do I need a grow tent

There are three factors you need to consider when selecting the right grow tent for your needs. The first among them is the material your tent is made of. Then come the type and quality of its zipper. And finally, you have to decide what kind of grow light you want in the tent's package.

Read on to know more about all three factors:

1. Material

  • Exterior Material (Weaved Nylon Vs Polyester): Weaved nylon is expensive than polyester and offers relatively low absorbency, though it doesn't shrink after washing, is sturdier, and less resistant to biodegradation. 
  • Interior Material (Gray Vs Mylar): Our vote goes in favor of Mylar. That's because it has massive tensile strength, offers excellent gas and aroma barrier properties, and is more dimensionally stable. 
  • Frame Material (Plastic Vs Metal Vs Steel): There are three popular frame materials: plastic, metal, and steel. Steel gets our nod because of its huge weight capacity, long shelf-life, and excellent rust resistance.

2. Zipper

  • Single Vs Multiple Zipper: Both have their pros and cons. Single zippers are easy to open/close but make it challenging to get in/out of your opening space. Multiple zippers, on the contrary, may let air in as it's difficult to snap them wholly shut.
  • Internal Vs External Pull: Internal pull zippers are worth your money if you spend most of the day inside the tent. Their location – to make sure you can close your tent from the inside, is the reason why. Otherwise, go for the external pull zipper.

3. Lighting

  • LED: While grow light-emitting diodes (LEDs) have a high upfront cost, their running costs are next to negligible. LED grow light also last longer and don't get hot, even after staying on for days. LED grow light don't require any extensive grow tent set up for their installation too.
Led_grown_lights
  • CFL: Compact fluorescent grow light covers a more extensive surface area than LED grow light and cost less too. But the lighting spectrum to which their wavelengths belong makes these lights unsuitable for use during the flowering and vegetative stages of a plant's growth.
CFL Grow lights
  • HID: High-pressure sodium (HPS) and metal halides (MH) are grouped under the HIDs lights umbrella. Both lights are dimmable and let you customize their output. But you'd need pricey add-ons, i.e., a blast and a reflector, to get the lighting up and running.
HID Grow light

What's needed for a complete grow tent setup?

There are multiple items you need for a complete grow tent. They include:

  1. Grow lights with timer
  2. Carbon filter
  3. Heater or AC unit
  4. Ventilation equipment
  5. Hydroponic system or pots with mixed soil
  6. Thermometer/hygrometer
  7. Hanging equipment
  8. Electrical wires

1. Grow Light

Grow lights

Grow lights are essential to indoor harvest growth. Grow lights provide your harvest with the power that is crucial to photosynthesis. The intensity of the grow light they emit also keeps plants warm and helps in potent and strong buds' germination.

You can also customize grow light cycles to provide your plants with the recommended dark-light periods. They also offer the right color spectrum that is conducive to plant growth. And they let you observe your plants from outside the tent, i.e., without disturbing their environment.

Tip: Don't want to mess up your grow lights' schedule? Then set up a timer. It will continuously remind you about the lighting schedule and is easy to operate. All you have to do is configure the timer, plug it in, and connect the plants' lights.

2. Carbon Filter

Carbon Filter for Grow Tent

Ever been to a home with a grow tent? 

Then you already know why you shouldn't set up a grow tent without a carbon filter if you are growing cannabis. A filter helps with odor control as it neutralize odors generated inside the grow tent, which might turn your house into a smelling hotbox if left untreated. This is especially true when growing cannabis.

A Carbon filter not only neutralizes smells. When used alongside the inline duct fan, a carbon filter will also clean the circulating air inside the grow tent. The result is cleaner, air that is free of spores, odor, and other allergens and one that is conducive to your plants' growth. 

3. Heater or AC unit

Depending on the plants you're trying to grow, you may need both these tools. Cannabis plants germinate better in warm climates. You'd therefore need a heater if you're try growing cannabis in frigid conditions up north. Similar is the case with marijuana.

However, if your harvest grows best in warm conditions, you may need an AC. The AC unit should also be on your purchasing list if you have opted for HID beams. These bulbs emit a lot of heat and require something to prevent their heat from burning the plants.

4. Ventilation Equipment

Selecting the proper ventilation tools is crucial for your grow tent setup. Not only do your plants need a constant supply of new air – rich in carbon dioxide, for growing at their best rate. But the ventilation equipment is the primary tool at your disposal for temperature control.

This is extremely important if you have decided to use HIDs. These grow lights radiate a lot of heat and need equipment that could dissipate it. Otherwise, with faulty ventilation equipment, the intensity of HIDs might end up overheating or burning your plants.

Here are two types of ventilation systems you can use:

  • Active: Active ventilation setups encompass one blower and one exhaust fan. One of them sucks fresh air from outside and distributes it into the tent. The other sucks stale air from inside the room and sends it out.
  • Passive: Passive setups consist of a tent ventilation opening and an exhaust. The intake hole's location, right at the bottom of the tent, allows new air to get in. At the same time, the exhaust fan placement is at the top to send stale air outside.

Tip: When setting up your ventilation system, you'll probably need wires, strings, or clip hangers to attach the fan(s) to the top of the grow tent. Arrange them before you start setting up your tent.

5. Hydroponic System Or Pots With Mixed Soil

hydroponics indoor garden

Hydroponic systems let you grow your plants in nutrients rich water, thereby skipping the soil. You can use them for growing anything, anywhere, and at any time. And that while getting higher yields than the average grower who still opts for soil growing.

However, if you find the hydroponic system too expensive for your liking, you can go for the next best option. Pots with mixed soil let you grow your plants in a durable container. The mixed soil here is most often peat moss-based. Though some indoor growers also opt for coconut coir-based potting soil.

6. Thermometer/Hygrometer

hygrometer

The benefits of both these types of equipment are apparent. A thermometer will make sure to check on the tent's inner temperature at all times. Hygrometers, meanwhile, are an instrument for measuring the humidity of the air inside your grow room.

Your purchases should include 2 to 3 thermometers and hygrometers. Once you have them, hang them at specific height intervals throughout your grow room. Doing so will give you an idea of temperature and humidity at plants' base, root, and canopy. 

How To Set Up A Grow Tent?

A lot of time and effort goes into a grow tent setup. Make sure you select a day when you have nothing else to do. It would also be helpful if you can arrange a helping hand. You'd then be able to finish the tent setup without exhausting yourself in the process.

Once you have everything mentioned above, it's time to set up the grow tent. The instructions given below are general and are applicable for models belonging to different brands. But if you still get stuck, you may check out a YouTube demonstration video for your specific brand or model.

Here is a step-by-step tutorial for setting up your grow tent:

Step 1: Set Up The Tent's Structure

The first thing you'd need to do is to set up the model's structure. That involves unpacking your grow tent box contents. Connecting its bars (mostly made of aluminum) using plastic pieces (which come in the package).

Both will be numbered or marked, so you'll know where to connect each one. You can also check out your grow tent instruction manual if you're confused.

Step 1: Open Up The Fabric

Once you’ve got the gray structure up, it's time for you to open up the tent's fabric. Start by taking the fabric part out of the package, then open the zips and locate the fabric's base.

Then place the base on top part of the connecting bars and help the fabric slip down slowly. Don't tug too hard, or you might end up jeopardizing the fabric's integrity.

Step 3: Close The Zippers

After the fabric is covering all the poles, it's time to close the zippers. Begin by testing the zippers – i.e., by making sure that they open/close without a hitch.

Wet the zippers with a damp cloth to remove any dirt or dust particles. Then close all of them, except the one that seals the central entry point/doorway.

Step4: Install The Exhaust Fan Onto A Frame

Set up the intake fan and the exhaust fan. Start by attaching the cables to the fan, as both mostly come without wires attached. Take advice from the instruction manual if you are unsure and require more help.

Then install the extractor atop a frame (which would have come in its package) using rope ratchets. Make sure that the combination is sturdy by giving it a few (gentle) shoves.

Step 5: Install The Frame And The Intake Fan

Install the frame (with the attached exhaust fan) to your tent's upper bars using ropes or strong clamps. The exhaust fan must be pointing towards the exhaust hole you want to use.

Then install the intake fan. Attach a stretch of aluminum ducting to the fan's mouth. It should be big enough to suck fresh air from outside. It's crucial that the ducting is in a straight line, or it may impede airflow.

Step 6: Hang Carbon Filter In Grow Tent

This step involves setting up a carbon filter. Attach a meter of ducting to the filter's opening using duct tape and clamps. Then, hang the carbon filter from the tent's top bars using rope holders.

The next thing you have to do is measure the distance between the beginning of the line fan's flange and the beginning of the carbon filter flange. Use wire cutters or a box cutter to cut that length of ducting.

The third mini-step involves using duct tape and holders (again!) to attach the other end of the filter to the exhaust fan. That means you have to secure one side of the ducting to the carbon filter and the other to the exhaust.

There will still be some length of the ducting left. Run it out of the tent's exhaust hole before securing its other side to the inline fan's tapered end, using a duct clamp. Finally, plug in the fan's power cord.

Step 7: Hang A Light In Grow Tent

One of the easiest ways to hang grow lights in grow tents is using rope ratchets. These are simple holders systems that make use of rope, a carbineer, and a ratchet tie-down.

All you have to do is hang the rope onto the upper bars of the tent before securing the connections with a knot. Then simply use the hooks on the other side of the rope ratchet system to hang the grow lights.

We recommend this method because of many reasons. The most important of which is that it allows for easy lowering and raising of the grow lights, thereby complementing your plants' lighting needs.  

Step 8: Install The Inner Circulating Fan

Once you have set up the grow light, it's time to install the internal air circulating fan. All you have to do is get a clip-on fan and attach it to your model's sidebars.

If you don't want that for whatever reason, make sure to use ropes or clamps to attach the fan to the sidebars. You can also use a standing fan if you aren't a huge fan of models that hang from sidebars.

Step 9: Place The Timer And Thermometer/Hygrometer

The timer is a crucial device that keeps you from messing up your plants' grow light schedule. Place it inside the tent where you can easily see it, configure it, and plug it in.

Now simply place multiple thermometers and hygrometers at specific height intervals throughout your model. Both these devices will keep you informed about the parameters your plants are exposed to.

How To Setup A Hydroponic Grow Room?

Hydroponics has seen its popularity go through the roof in recent years. Its ability to offer a gardener an alternative to a soil garden means you can start growing anything, anywhere, and at any time. And that while spending fewer resources and getting higher yields in return.

Here are the details using which you can set up a hydroponic grow tent kit:

Step 1: Gather The Essential Supplies

You need three types of items, tools, and products in order to setup a hydroponic grow tent. The first type is those that are required for grow tent setup. Meanwhile, the second and third types come in handy for nutrition and environmental control purposes, respectively.

  • For Grow Tent Setup: Ducting, carbon filter, air extractor, inline and clip-on fans, air filter, aluminum foil sheeting, setup tools like wire cutters
  • For Nutrition: pH dosing pump, CO2 enrichment, fertilizers, growing media, bugs controller, pest controller (or 2-in-1 bugs and pest controller)
  • For Environment Control: Hydroponics monitor, external odor control filter control device, ventilation control, thermometer, and hygrometer, climate controller

Step 2:  Select The Right Location

The perfect spot for your hydroponic grow room is the garage area or basement. Those of you who are growing on a smaller scale – or who don't have the luxury of a cellar – may set up their hydroponic room in a closet as well.

Make sure the area you're selecting has an abundance of electricity, ventilation, and water source. That means it must be easy for you to supply it with 200 amps of electrical power at all times. As for ventilation, the area must receive a constant supply of natural air. It must also have water pipes running nearby.

Step 3: Set Up The Grow Table

You can think of the grow table as the plants' harvesting bed. Its position should be such that it's comfortable for both you and the plants.

That is to say that the plant height should be decently close to the grow light source while also being easy to access for the user. It should also be big enough to hold the growing media and the water container.

Step 4: Insulate The Grow Area

You can insulate the grow area by covering it with an insulated, reflective material. An Example of such a material, which is mainly preferred by growers, is aluminum foil. It's 55% reflective and by far the most convenient method to insulate your grow area.

Note: These four steps tell you everything you need to kick-start the hydroponic grow tent setup process. Once you have started it, there will be multiple factors to consider, but these four steps should serve as a perfect startup guide.

How To Control Humidity In Grow Tent?

Grow tents are excellent devices for growing whatever you want to. But their inner humidity might be challenging to control for some growers, mainly because the tent is sealed from all sides, and you're frequently watering your plants.

To make matters more complicated, not all plants require the same level of humidity. While some need a very high humidity level to blossom, others germinate best when the indoor air's moisture content is low. This is why you must know how to control humidity in your tent.

Here are several ways you can do just that:


  • Set up ventilation system: There are two ventilation setup mechanisms you can use to get a grip on your tent's humidity. The first involves an exhaust fan. Or you can also use a small clip-on fan. Both will keep the indoor air from stagnating, thereby preventing the growth of mold and mildew. 
  • Use a dehumidifier: In the early stages of your plant’s growth, you won't need a dehumidifier. But it may become an essential piece of equipment to have when your plants get very bushy. Regular ventilation equipment might then struggle to keep a lid on humidity.
  • Install an appropriately sized AC unit: ACs that are too large for your tent will operate in short 'cycles,' thereby creating the conditions where humidity will rise and fall rapidly. Those that are too small won't bring down the temperature at all. This is why it's essential to install an appropriately sized AC.
  • Seal and insulate your tent: Assuming you intend on growing marijuana – which is a crop that only grows in a zero humidity environment, you'd be better served by sealing and insulating your indoor tent space from the outside world.

How to cool a grow tent?

Keeping the tent cool is crucial for the health of your plants. They hate temperature fluctuations and thrive best in environments where the daytime/nighttime temperatures are relatively similar. Sure, they can tolerate some swings, but huge ones might stress them out.

Provided you fail to fix the temperature fluctuation issue, an indoor tent that is too hot may end up weakening its plants' nutrients uptake. This, in turn, will leave your harvest at the mercy of several diseases before its eventual death.

Read on to know how to cool a grow tent:

  • Put wet sponges in front of inner circulation fans: This is a temporary solution and best for those who can't afford more expensive option (recommended below). The flow of air over the wet sponge will cause water particles to evaporate, thereby creating a cooling effect, as shown in this video.
  • Install LED grow lights: Do you know that the beams are the most significant heat source in a grow tent? That's why experts recommend hanging them at a fair distance from plants. They also vouch for LEDs as, when compared to their HID and CFL counterparts, LEDs generate low heat.
  • Use AC unit: Can't get a grip on your tent's temperature? Then you may have no choice but to install an air conditioning unit. Make sure that it's appropriately sized for your grow tent, as an AC that is too small won't work except weighing heavily on your electricity bills.

How to set up grow tent ventilation?

Air circulation in a grow tent

Credit to: Leafy

It's crucial to complete the ventilation setup. Doing so will allow the grow tent to eliminate excess heat that may harm the plants' growth. Ventilation is also one of the best tools to control humidity. A well-ventilated grow tent, therefore, keeps mold, mildew, pests, and diseases away.

Here's how you can set up grow tent ventilation:

1. Set Up Fans

There are two types of fans you can use to set up grow tent ventilation. They include an oscillating fan and an air extractor fan. The former will circulate the air throughout the tent. Extractor fans, meanwhile, will take out stale air and bring in the fresh air.

Here's how you can set up both:

  • Setting up the oscillating fan: Since these are standalone devices, their setup process is quite simple. You just have to hang several of them at specific height intervals throughout the grow tent, using rope ratchets. Make sure they aren't aimed directly at plants, or windburn might follow.

  • Setting up extractor fans: We have already explained the setup procedure of extractor fans above. Check out instructions in step 4 and 5 of the 'how to pull it all together’ section, in order to find what you're looking for.

2. Bring air into the tent

There are two ways you can bring air into the tent: actively and passively. The first method involves using oscillating and extractor fans in tandem. The first will blow air inside the tent, and the second will take it outside the growing tent. You won't have to worry about the size of the intake holes.

Passive intake, meanwhile, involves creating negative air pressure inside the grow tent to suck the outside air inside. This means that you just need an exhaust fan in order to blow air outside – there's no need for an intake fan. You just need to create a hole that will allow outside air to come into the tent independently.

Check out our in-depth guide on grow tent ventilation.

Questions and Answers

Q: Do I Need Air Intake In My Grow Tent?

A: You may not need an air intake in your grow tent. Unless you have a vast structure or live in an area where high temperatures regularly break records. Or the intake ports that come with your tent are smaller than the exhaust ports.

Q: Do Grow Tents Hide Smell?

A: Grow tents do not hide the smell. You may have to use a carbon filter if you want to neutralize odors generated inside the tent. A carbon filter purify the outgoing air in the tent from any smell using activated carbon and work alongside an exhaust system that can push (or pull) air through them.

Conclusion

Our detailed and comprehensive guide contains everything you need to know as a grower about grow tent setup. We have also tried to answer as many questions as we can about the overall process. A small (but valuable) buying guide is also on offer, along with various videos to explain hard-to-understand concepts.

The onus is then on you to follow the steps mentioned in this guide and to set up your grow tent. However, if you still have some questions whose answers you don't find above, there's no need to worry. Please make sure to get in touch with us using the below-mentioned comments box. 

About the author 

Pamela G. Martin

Passionate about urban gardening, indoor growing solutions, and sustainability. Believes in growing our own food and eat fresh and better food by getting back to basics, growing a fruit and vegetable garden, and cooking from scratch.