- INSTALLATION GUIDE & TIPS -
Part. 1 : How it Works
Depending on what you plan to cultivate in your grow tent, you must make sure it has sufficient space for it to grow, medium sized plants such as tomato plants require an average of 4 ft² per plant.
Grow tents are equipped with multiple ventilation holes, the round holes of 4” in diameter and above are for ventilation ducts, located on the walls and ceiling of the tent. Most grow tents have square air intakes on the lower regions of their walls that can be opened and closed, these allow for a positive air intake and better ventilation (more details in Ventilation section).
Every grow tent has a waterproof splash tray in case of spills, but it is only meant for emergencies. If you are using pots containing soil, they must all have individual saucers to collect the runoff water and prevent algae development and potential diseases harmful to the plants.
Every grow light has 3 components :
- A ballast used to regulate the power intake and assure a consistent power delivery to the bulbs.
- A reflector to redirect and maximize the amount of light sent towards the plants.
- Bulb(s) or Diode(s) as a light source.
HPS is one of the most used grow lights, most fixtures have these 3 components separated. If applicable, avoid placing ballasts inside the grow tents as they warm and dry the air, it is also safer and allows better cable management.
Some HID grow lights such as double ended or CMH fixtures have the ballast mounted on the reflector. LED grow lights have their diodes attached to the reflector with their drivers mounted in the body.
-> General information to take in consideration when choosing a grow light :
• Power (actual wattage) :
It is important to research and consider the light requirements for the plant you desire to grow, most medium sized plants (ex. tomato plant) require 50 to 75 watts per ft² at the canopy.
When choosing a LED grow light, it is important to know the difference between Advertised Wattage and Actual Wattage :
The advertised wattage is obtained by multiplying the number of diodes by their theoretical wattage. For example, a LED grow light may have 140 x 5-watt diodes, so its advertised wattage would be 700 LED Watts.
The actual wattage (power draw) can be obtained by looking at the product’s power output specification. For example, that 700 LED Watts grow light above only pulls 315 Watts.
• Spectrum :
Light spectrums are most often indicated on the information sheet in the box if not printed on the box itself.
The red spectrum (2700K) is mostly used in the flowering phase.
The blue spectrum (6400K) is mostly used in the vegetative phase.
Comparaison of a HPS, MH, CMH and LED spectrum
• Light coverage & Distance :
Indicates how effective is the light at a certain distance, LED lighting can be brought down really close to the canopy without burning the plants but HID (High Intensity Discharge) lights such as HPS, MH and CMH need to be placed higher up.
Good ventilation in a grow room or grow tent is crucial to the development of the plants and the cooling of the environment & equipment. It also allows to control the air quality as some plants can produce strong smells.
This is how the system works :
The air inside the tent must be constantly moved and renewed, the best tool for the job is an extractor fan (Inline fan) placed inside the tent. The fan will actively pull the air out of the tent creating negative pressure (the walls of the tent are pulled towards the inside of the tent), thus forcing new fresh air in the tent and assuring a good air flow.
Having the exhaust of the system blowing the air in another room from the one with your grow tent(s) or directly outside will create the same negative pressure in the room and allow more “fresher” air to be circulated.
There are 4 items in a ventilation system :
Extractor fan : Pulls the air out
Carbon Filter : Filters smells and contaminants
Ducts (insulated or uninsulated) : Connects the system together
Clamps to attach the ducts to the units
If space isn’t an issue ‘‘6’’ Fans are preferable, they can be adapted to 4» with a 4» to 6» reducer and adjusted with a speed controller. Most air cooled light reflectors have a 6» connecting point.
By opening the air vents on the lower parts of the tent, outside air is sucked from the bottom, passing through your plants and into the fan.
D) Cultivation method
There are multiple ways to grow a plant, the 2 we are going to look at are growing in soil and hydroponics.
We recommend first time growers to start with soil as it is much more forgiving than some hydroponic systems that require a good understanding of the plant and precision. Pots and soil are very cheap and replacing them with a hydroponic setup to further experiment and learn after successful and consistent harvests are achieved in soil.
There are some disadvantages with soil, it is heavy and takes a lot of space, this is a problem for a lot of indoor growers who only have limited space. Soil produces a lot of dust, and well, it is dirt, your grow space will get dirty and need frequent cleaning.Your chances of getting insects or pests goes up substantially when you use a soil substrate for your plants.
Plants potted in soil also require trays to collect the runoff water and allow a clean grow space.
Hydroponics is the practice of growing plants in water instead of soil. Many plants can be grown successfully in this manner, some even prefer it.
Plants tend to grow significantly faster in hydroponic setups as their roots can absorb nutrient solutions much more efficiently and rapidly than plants grown in soil.
Some growers switch to hydroponics after having acquired the basics in growing and desire a cleaner, precise and fully manageable grow setup.
Plants need to be fertilized because most soil does not provide the essential nutrients required for optimum growth. Even if you are lucky enough to start with great garden soil, as your plants grow, they absorb nutrients and leave the soil (in these applications) less fertile.
Regular tap water will sometimes contain enough minerals in it to complete the entire cycle of a plant, although it’s growth, yield and overall quality will be significantly inferior compared to a plant with a regular feeding schedule. Nutrients also provide a strong immunitary system for the plants, lacking these will result in weak plants that are much more susceptible to illness.
For a beginner we recommend to start only using base nutrients and a controller (such as Cal-Mag) or a starter kit. Once you have a couple of grows under your belt and acquired the confidence feel free to experiment with a broader spectrum of nutrients (mixing different brands of nutrients can sometimes cause issues).