Grow Tent Setup: The Ultimate Guide by Kyle Kushman

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Kyle Kushman watering plants - Grow Tent Setup
Author avatar By Kyle Kushman
November 18, 2021
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What makes a perfect grow tent setup? 

Well, the perfect grow tent setup is the setup perfect for YOU. We all have different needs, requirements and resources. 

I’m going to explore everything YOU need to set up YOUR grow tent properly. 

What to buy, where to put it, and how to use it.

I will take you through tent sizes, lighting options, everything you need to set up a working grow tent. 

I’ll look at why a grow tent setup is often the cheaper, easier option when growing weed indoors, before moving on to the more technical requirements of the average grow tent setup.

Before you read on, make sure you have a good idea of your budget, your space and your target yields. 

Take the information I’m going to give you, add it to your personal circumstances, and you should end up with a clear idea of the best grow tent setup for you.

Ready? Let’s grow!

grow tent setup kyle kushman

Why use a grow tent setup?

An efficient marijuana grow tent setup marries discretion to control. Pest prevention to environmental optimization.

These are my main reasons for using a grow tent setup when growing weed at home:

Cost

What’s your budget? 

To (properly) strip down an entire room and make it suitable for growing weed, your budget will need to be pretty big!

You need time as well as money to kit out a full room, but you can grab a decent tent for a few hundred dollars.

First-time growers aiming for a six plant grow will need a 4 x 4 tent, paying no more than around $450.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you need a single or multi-chamber tent? 
  • Do you want to use the tent for many years to come?
  • Are you looking for an all-in-one kit, or do you want to buy the components separately? 

Whether you choose the complete grow kit or not, you can save time and money by choosing a decent tent. 

Convenience

Setting up your grow tent should only take a couple of hours, especially if you get a few friends around to help.

A grow tent can be set up almost anywhere indoors, including your…

  • Spare room
  • Garage
  • Attic
  • Cellar
  • Living room

You can pretty much pitch your tent wherever you have power, but I will talk more about choosing the best spot later on.

Grow Tent Setup Inside a Garage
Grow Tent Setup Inside my Garage

Stealth

An indoor grow tent setup is excellent for keeping things discreet.

We don’t all have 420-friendly house-mates or neighbors!

Pests 

Regular growers know how annoying pests can be!

A grow tent setup with sealable intake holes will help with pest control. The sealed environment keeps out most insects and animals. 

BUT, you’ll need to make sure you don’t bring anything in – always use clean clothes and shoes when entering the tent.

Perpetual harvest

A grow tent (or two) can facilitate a perpetual harvest

You can have one tent (or chamber) for vegging and one for flowering.

Time it correctly, and you’ll have plants ready to flower as soon as you cut your ripe plants down to dry.

Indoor tent setup

Dust and dirt 

The sealable intake holes on an indoor grow tent setup do more than keep out pests. 

They also keep out dust and dirt.

Trichomes are sticky, they’re magnets for dust, dirt and microorganisms.

A clean, sealed tent plus clean gardener equals clean, healthy plants!

Size matters: how big do you want your grow tent setup?

How much room do you have?

And how many plants do you want to grow? 

How much will they stretch? 

Answering these questions puts you one step closer to choosing the right grow tent size.

2×2

A 2×2 grow tent setup is typically the smallest size you can get. 

It’s great for amateur growers and holds a maximum of two cannabis plants. 

Tip: stick to high-quality, low-heat LED lights.

2×4

2×4 setups are great if you’re growing for fun! 

They hold a maximum of four plants, yielding (an average of) two ounces of bud per month.

Low maintenance and accessibility make them perfect for first-time growers

Tip: a 2×4 grow tent setup can easily fit inside most closets and other small areas. 

3×3

A 3×3 grow tent setup will give you a little more space.

They hold two to four marijuana plants, but the extra room will make the growing experience less congested.

A well-organized 3 x 3 can deliver (an average of) a pound of weed every month.

Tip: when choosing your lights, aim for 40W per plant.

4×4

4×4 tents are the minimum size if you want to grow a good amount of weed.

They hold up to six plants, with a little room for access / inspection.

They can support 600W and 1000W grow lights, including large LEDs.

Tip: execute a good SOG or SCROG for increased yields.

Indoor grow tent with early flower plants

5×5

A 5×5 grow tent setup can hold 9 – 12 cannabis plants, easily filling a small bedroom. 

For a 5×5 grow tent setup, we recommend 600W to 1000W grow lights. 

Tip: taller tents mean taller plants. 

10×10

A 10×10 grow tent setup is great if you have an entire room to spare. 

It can hold 16 to 30 plants – a gorgeous amount of weed!

These tents support powerful grow lights, including huge LEDs.

Tip: the bigger the tent, the bigger the running costs. Do you need to grow 30 plants?

What else do you need in your grow tent?

Do you like shopping? 

Check out Buying Your Stuff for a look at my shopping trip to 55 Hydro, Santa Ana. Then jump straight back to this article.

Grow lights

The lighting landscape has changed radically in the past few years. 

Back in the day, the best lights for grow tents were vertical HIDs with four-panel parabolic reflectors. 

These days, grow lights come in all shapes and sizes! 

We’ll take a quick look at the different options here, but you’ll want to check out my Beginner’s Guide on lights, too.

Fluorescent lights

Fluorescent lamps are good enough for seedlings and the very early stages of your plant’s life.

They’re not so fantastic for continuous veg and flowering unless you don’t mind (much) smaller yields. 

Thanks to the advances in LED tech, they’re becoming less and less popular with growers.

Fluorescent lights ProsFluorescent lights Cons
They’re cheap.Not that powerful.
Available in various shapes and sizes.Only suitable for the early growth stages.
You can buy them everywhere.You can expect smaller yields.
They’re efficient in terms of operating costs.They can be bulky.
They don’t take up much space.
They produce little heat.

HID lights

HID lights for marijuana
HID lights for marijuana

You can use high-intensity discharge (HID) lights for vegging and blooming. 

Blue-heavy halides are used during the vegetative stage, red-heavy sodium during flowering.

The switch mimics the natural color change of the seasons. 

HIDs are very powerful, but they have a significant heat signature. 

HID lights prosHID lights cons
Powerful and efficient.Intense heat signature.
Optimized light spectra.High power consumption and electrical bills.
Big yields.Heavy and awkward.
Convertible and interchangeable. 

LED lights

Light-emitting diode (LED) tech has seen some incredible improvements of late. 

The light spectrum in these lights works great for vegging AND flowering plants

You won’t need to move your plants between grow spaces or change light bulbs between phases. 

What a game-changer!

More and more people are using LED lights for growing marijuana

LED lights ProsLED lights Cons
Super efficient with less heat. The market is flooded with sub-standard products.
Straightforward installation with no ballasts.Suitable LEDs can be pretty expensive.
Extended life span. Good LED bulbs can run for up to 90000 hours.The colors produced by the bulbs can make it tricky to spot potential problems or diseases.
Some LEDs come with a switch that allows you to switch from veg to flowering. 
Jack Herer plant under LED Lights
Jack Herer Fem plant under LED Lights

Ventilation

Grow tent ventilation is achieved either actively or passively.

You can employ an ‘active’ system, using equipment to pull air in and push air out.

Or you can do the same passively, relying on fans and open vents.

Any decent-sized grow tent setup will need an active system.

Fan In A Grow Tent

Odor control

If you don’t want to annoy your neighbors or housemates, you’ll need to keep control of the odor

A carbon filter is the best way to control odor in your grow tent setup – but it can be costly.

Indoor Grow Carbon Filter
Carbon Filter

Humidifier and dehumidifier

The humidity in your grow tent setup is super important!

Nature does it perfectly, so why not match it? 

Push your humidity up during the day and down at night. 

This cycle is known as VPD or vapor pressure deficit.

Using a good-quality hygrometer will make it easier to control cannabis humidity. 

Soil and nutrients

The most significant decision with soil is whether you’re going with amended or unamended. 

Your earth and nutes play a super-important role in a successful grow. 

Beginners usually prefer amended soil because it doesn’t need much in the way of additional nutrients. 

Other growers prefer unamended soil because they can choose their own nutes and how much they want to add. 

Good quality marijuana nutrients take much of the guesswork out of feeding your plants. 

Soil for Cannabis

Plant containers

When choosing pots for your plants, consider the following things: 

  • water retention 
  • root anchorage
  • nutrient absorption
  • drainage
  • space to grow
  • oxygen

You can purchase traditional pots at any garden center. Growers like plastic, ceramic, or fabric materials.

CO2 tank

Plants use carbon dioxide as part of photosynthesis. 

The most popular source of CO2 for cannabis is gas tanks fitted with controllers and regulators, but there are alternatives to tanks. 

Many growers now use mushroom spores for their CO2.

This solution is far cheaper, less cumbersome, and better for the environment.

Automation 

Plants thrive on routine. A timer is super-handy, you can just set it and forget it! 

Using a timer will help prevent hermaphroditism and other problems. 

The same goes for watering and temperature in your grow tent setup. Automation can simplify your grow and eliminate human error. 

Making your tent setup tech-savvy will lessen your workload! 

Timer for Grow Tents
Timer for Grow Tents

Step by step guide: how to set up a grow tent 

Setting up a grow tent isn’t rocket science. 

Take a look at how we do it in our Beginner’s Guide EP 4 – Building Your Indoor Marijuana Grow Room:  

It can be a little frustrating on your own; we suggest finding a helping hand. 

1. Choose your grow tent location

Look for an area that’s stable and available long-term. 

You don’t want to have to move everything halfway through the grow. 

You’re also looking for accessibility to a power supply that can handle the required voltage.

2. Clear and clean the space

Start with a clean area

Disinfect the ceiling, floor, walls, and any windows. 

This helps prevent insects and fungi from getting to your plants. 

Once the room has dried and ventilated, you can start putting the tent together.

3. Put the tent together

Next, it’s time to assemble your tent according to the instructions. 

4. Install your fan

Air movement is vital!

Use two fans—one flowing over the top of the plants, just under the lights—the other flowing in the opposite direction under the canopy. 

Not only does this gently circulate the air in the tent, but it helps to strengthen your plants with resistance training. 

5. Add your carbon filter & other ventilation equipment

As we mentioned earlier, a carbon filter will help keep smells on the down-low. 

You can hang your carbon filter from the tent’s ceiling or frame, depending on how much weight you’ve already put on. 

You can hang the exhaust fan with the filter or place it outside the tent, close to the HVAC outlet. 

Once secured, you need to connect the ducting and make sure it’s sealed. The fewer 90° angles you have in your ducting, the better.

Carbon Filter and Ventilation System for Indoor Grow Tent Setup

6. Install temperature and humidity gauges

Keep an eye on temperature and humidity with a thermometer and hygrometer. 

7. Hang your grow lights

Adjustable ratchet hangers are great for hanging lights

They are easy and quick to adjust — no need to use chains and S hooks. 

The closer your light is to your plants, the more intense the light they receive. 

Hanging HID Lights

8. Set your timer

A simple timer could be your new best friend, especially when it comes to lights.

Simply set it, check it,  and forget it!

9. Add plants

When you’ve finished perfecting your grow tent setup, you can start your grow! Remember to monitor the levels of temperature, humidity, and other factors, because you’ll likely need to tweak things as your crops grow.

Maintenance is key

Regular maintenance extends the lifespan of your marijuana grow tent and everything inside it. 

Thorough cleaning between grows (like wiping down all surfaces and washing everything you want to reuse) will go a long way. 

The importance of keeping records

Good record keeping is of supreme importance, whether you’re growing buds on a large or small scale.

Take as many notes as possible in terms of watering, lamp height, and, of course, the date you switch to flowering. 

Grow Tent Setup - notes and records
Keeping notes and records is essential

Grow tent setups: what you’ve learned 

Growing cannabis in a tent is super-popular, but it’s important to get things right. Let’s run through what you’ve learned today: 

  • Good grow tent setups are cheap and easy to maintain, you can look forward to continuous yields & easier pest prevention. PLUS, they’re stealthy. 
  • When it comes to grow tents, size matters — size determines which lights you can use and how many plants you can grow. 
  • You now know the basics when it comes to grow lamps (fluorescent, HID, and LED lights). 
  • Regular maintenance prolongs your grow-tent’s lifespan.
  • You’ve learned to keep records of everything. The best way to do this is to create a Homegrown Diary.
Kyle Kushman with Young Cannabis Plants

FAQs

What size tent do I need for six plants?

Six plants can be kept in a 4×4 tent. 

If the strain is known to grow very big and bushy you might prefer a 5×5 setup. 

Do I need air intake in my grow tent?

Yes, this can be achieved actively or passively. 

What size light for a 2×4 grow tent?

At least 200 watts for the whole 2×4 tent or a minimum of 40 watts per plant. 

Choose the type of lights wisely. You don’t want your crops suffering heat burn.

How many plants can I grow in a 2×4 tent?

In a 2×4 tent, you can grow up to four plants. It’s just big enough to fit most common lights, and you get to harvest an average of a couple of ounces per month.

Do grow tents need two fans?

You need at least one fan and an extraction system (passive or active) to keep the air in your grow tent nice and fresh. 

Should I run my carbon filter 24/7?

Once your plants hit flowering, you can run your carbon filter 24/7 to help control the smell.

Should I leave my fan on when the lights are off?

You can keep your oscillating fans on while the lights are off. Turn off the other fans about an hour after lights go out—your automation feature can save you time and energy here. 

Do grow tents keep the smell in?

You need to use a carbon filter to absorb odors.

Is 300W LED enough for one plant?

One 300W LED should be more than enough for one plant, but it wouldn’t be enough to light a whole tent.

How many plants can go under 600w LED?

It depends on the size of your plants and tent area. In a 4×4 tent, you can fit up to six plants under a 600W LED.

KYLE with SEEDLING

Let’s get growing

Now you have your grow tent set up and you’re ready to get growing, make sure you have the best seeds for the job

Buy good-quality cannabis seeds online and join our community at Homegrown Forum to chat with other growers. Want a data-driven approach to growing? Track and share your progress with Homegrown Diaries — the appliance of science!

To keep learning, check my report on how to grow cannabis indoors!


About the Author: Kyle Kushman

Kyle Kushman is a legend in the cannabis community. He is the modern-day polymath of pot: cultivator, breeder, activist, writer, and educator. After winning no less than 13 Cannabis Cups, there’s nothing this guy doesn’t know about indoor growing – he’s been there, done it, and is still doing it to this day!