Grow Tent Buying Guide

There are many tent options available on Hydrobuilder.com and each offers unique benefits that can help you achieve your goals. Some factors that differ between the various types are: size, height, thickness, multi-chamber and weight limit. Learn how to select the perfect tent for your indoor garden.

Grow Tent Buying Guide


The proper grow tent setup is critical to maximize yields. Grow tents are an excellent solution for those wanting an indoor garden but don't want to devote an entire room or construct new walls to enclose a grow space. With a rigid tent frame and a fabric outer cover, a grow tent is easy to setup and will keep your garden contained enabling atmosphere and lighting control as well as a bit of privacy. Unlike grow cabinets however, tents are not completely secure or stealth as they use simple zippers to secure doors and windows vs locking handles on grow cabinets. You can learn more about the differences between grow cabinets and tents on our other post. Now lets take a look at the options we have on Hydrobuilder.com for grow tents:

Size Matters:

tent-size

 

Be sure to carefully measure the length, width and height of the space you intend to set up the grow tent in. The tent should be slightly smaller than the space to allow for easy setup and maintenance. You will also need to consider what your gardening goals are, and what size tent will allow you to achieve them.

The real question you need to be asking is how many plants do you want to grow and how big do you want those plants to be? The size of your plants greatly effects what tents you want to be looking at. Another consideration is if you want to start continuous harvesting or if you want to grow in distinct cycles. Usually, continuous harvesters will often want one tent for vegging, another tent for flowering and possibly even a third tent for harvest curing and drying

Because plant strains and container sizes vary, the number of plants you can grow in each size of tent is subjective. Some growers like to grow a larger number of smaller plants and harvest them more frequently, auto-flowering strains are good for this. Others like to have a couple of plants and train them to grow very wide, this is known as the SCROG method. Finally, others want to grow the largest plants possible and will have a smaller number of large plants. Therefore our recommendations on plant counts for each size of tents are just that, a recommendation. Your mileage may vary.

Here is a quick guide of our most popular sizes:

Height:

height

 

The height of the tent can dictate what lighting and growing system you can use. You want to ensure that the light and plants fit comfortably in your tent, and that the recommended distance the light should be installed from the plant canopy can be achieved all the way through the growth stages. The standard tent height is about 7’ and will fit in most residential 8’ ceilings well. Gorilla Grow Tents, a popular brand of tents, offer extension kits that provide various levels of extension and can be “stacked” as needed. Gorilla also offers the “Shorty Line” which is great for vegging plants, basements and smaller spaces, with an extendable height of 4’ 11”.

Short tents will need less intense lighting to avoid burning plant tops. Intense lighting like double-ended Gavitas need lots of space between plant canopy and the light fixture and should be used only in tall tents like the extendable Gorilla Grow Tents. If you'd like to learn more about picking the best lighting for a particular tent size please see our other post.

Take a closer look at the shorty line in our video review:

 

Multiple Chambers vs Multiple Tents:

multi

 

Lots of growers like to have two separate tents for vegging and flowering as we said earlier. But some tents offer multiple chambers within a single tent for the same purpose. This helps to keep everything more organized, but most of these tents have limited vegging space so we still recommend going with two separate tents to enable growing larger plants for bigger yields.

Reflective Canvas Thickness:

material

 

What makes the thickness of the tent canvas important? The greater the thread count, the stronger it is. Durability can be important factor for long-term use, especially if the tent will be moved often where accidental scuffs, punctures and tears could occur. All grow tents are light-proof, but those made with thicker material will resist wear and be slightly more insulated for heat and noise. If your tent is in an indoor location you may not need as thick or rugged of walls as opposed to an outbuilding or shed. Tent thickness varies from 1680D canvas thread count on down to 210D (the D in those measurements stands for denier and is a measure of the linear mass density of fibers). The inner reflective of grow tents also varies by brand but the principle is the same for all of them, reflecting light off the interior tent walls helps to disperse light around the plant canopy.

Weight Limit:

weight

 

Grow tent frames are typically constructed of snap-together steel tubing with various materials used for corners and connection pieces. Depending on the materials used for the poles and corner pieces a tent's weight limit may differ from another similarly sized tent. Be sure to check the weight rating of the tent to ensure it can properly hold all of the equipment you intend to use. If needed, additional support methods can be used if you are over the weight limit such as additional bars to spread weight out. If in doubt play it safe and look to alternative methods of hanging or mounting the equipment in a location outside of the tent if possible (such as installing your carbon filter outside of the tent or on the floor of the tent).

 

Ducting Ports, Cord Ports and Windows

duct

 

All grow tents will have a number of different sized ports through which you can run ventilation ducting and electrical cords. The best tents will offer dual-cinching ports that allow you to completely block out any light coming through the port to ensure a light-proof tent. Some tents also offer various windows and other mesh vents which can be useful for most gardeners. Be sure to review the placement and size of the ports in each tent to ensure your equipment can be properly installed in the arrangement you have in mind. Mesh vents are commonly only used during the vegging stage of growth where light leaks are not a problem. When using a tent during the flowering stage a simple "u" bend in a section of ducting installed in a light-tight duct port can be used for an intake vent.

Tent vs. Cabinet:

cabinet

 

Many indoor gardeners have considered the option of purchasing a tent against a more solid and “stealthy” cabinet. Many grow cabinets are available that look just like a traditional storage or file cabinets and as a result are much less conspicuous. If discretion is an absolute requirement, it’s hard to beat a cleverly designed cabinet. However, most gardeners will benefit much more from the additional growth space offered by a grow tent and can find alternative ways of keeping the grow operation discrete. We highly recommend grow tents over cabinets whenever possible as most growers will be happier with the potential yields. Learn more about the difference between tents and cabinets.

Grow tent growing is the fastest and easiest way to get started growing indoors.

If you asked any gardener if it was harder to grow plants inside or outside, the majority would overwhelmingly say inside. That’s not to say growing indoors doesn’t come with incredible benefits, nor does it mean that outdoor plants are always superior. Plants have evolved to thrive in an outside environment. When you’re growing indoors, you’re essentially creating a mini-environment in your house that looks like your outside environment and this creates more room for errors.

There is no better way to create your mini-artificial environment than by starting with a grow tent that is designed for all the factors that will go into creating your indoor environment

Benefits of Grow Tents

There are a lot of environmental factors that go into growing strong and vigorous plants. You have to control your temperature, humidity, light schedule and light intensity, ensure there is proper air circulation and that new air is always being introduced, and on we go.

As you become a more experienced gardener, you’ll become a lot more comfortable not only controlling these factors but manipulating them to grow bigger and better plants. But many new to growing indoors struggle with just trying to keep their environmental factors stable.

Without a doubt, the best reason to grow with a grow tent is they are designed to make creating and controlling these environmental conditions easy.

But the benefits don’t stop there:

  • Energy efficient – Grow tents have reflective walls that will improve your lighting efficiency.
  • Easy setup – With grow tents you won’t have to alter your house by making holes to hang lights, modifying a closet, etc. You will also save time and effort because a DIY setup, while cheap, requires a lot of work to be effective.
  • Separate growing phases – Plants require different durations of lights on/off depending on their growth stage. This means you can’t mix a plant that’s in flowering with a plant that’s in the vegetative stage. Grow tents make it incredibly easy to have multiple plants all in different growth stages, all in one room.
  • Portable – They are lightweight but extremely durable, and easy to condense down and move.
  • Privacy – They keep plants out of sight and can easily fit away in a closet or corner of a room.
  • Great for all lights – All grow lights will have different requirements. HIDs will need a ballast and reflector hood, LEDs have to be hung much farther away from the plants than fluorescents. Grow tents are designed to work will all popular grow lighting systems.
  • CO2 – Supplementing CO2 is a great way to increase yields. For maintaining high levels of CO2 you’ll need an airtight room so it can’t escape. Grows tents are made to seal plants away and work great with supplementing CO2.
  • Time – Creating a grow tent from scratch will not only require build time, but you will also need to research where you should place ventilation holes, ports for running wires in and out, how to prevent light leaks, etc.

How to Choose the Right Tent

Grow Tent Size

Height – The biggest factor that will go into the height you’ll need your tent to be will depend heavily on which grow lights you are using. It’s common to hang LEDs and HIDs up to two feet over your plants because of their intensity. Fluorescent lights can be much closer, however – within a few inches. You will also need to calculate your grow media’ height and the height of the plant.

If you’re planning on using one tent for the plant’s entire lifecycle then you’ll want a tent that at least 60”. If you plan to use 1000 watts of lights or more it’s recommended to move up to a tent that is at least 7’ tall.

Our tip for new growers is to really watch your height. A 6’ tent may seem really tall until you calculate your plants’ height, grow media height, how far down the light is required to hang, and distance of light from plants – powerful LEDs may require up to 2’.

Length and width – 4’ x 4’ and 3’ x 3’ are the two most popular sizes because they give a square shape for an even light footprint, as well they can house multiple pants – 4 to 8 full-size plants. The one negative of a grow tent that is a perfect square, is they are more difficult to fit into closets. That’s why we offer a wide range of grow tents with different lengths and widths. A 2 x 3 and 2 x 4 grow tent will fit most closets well.

Other factors to consider when choosing a grow tent

Fabric – You will want a durable fabric that is 100% reflective. As well, you can find fire-retardant tents which hopefully you’ll never need, but it’s a nice feature to have. If you’re worried about light leaks – light getting into your tent – look for a tent that is certified light tight and has strong zippers as they are common culprits of light leaks.

Ventilation – The tent should have at least two ventilation holes/flaps for both intake and exhaust.

Stability – Again your lighting system will play a large part in this, and you’ll want to purchase a tent that can hold the weight of both your lighting and ventilation system. Often growers will test the strength of their tents by testing their own weight first – just be careful not to tip the tent over.

Multi-chamber tents – These tents have separate rooms that allow you to perpetually grow year round with just one tent. You can have a flowering plant with a 12/12 light schedule in one chamber and a plant in the vegetative stage with a completely different lighting schedule in another.

Even smaller multi-chamber plants are great because they can act as an all-in-one vegetative and propagation tent. Or you can have a mother plant in the main chamber and take cuttings from her and clone in the side chambers.

Find All The Help You Need

For additional help, our most popular grow tents will give you an overview on thread count, the size and number of both the ducting and electrical ports, as well it will show you the recommended wattage for grow lights and CFM required for proper ventilation.

You may find it beneficial to check out our “Grow Tent Kits” category to see how we put together different all-in-one lighting and grow tent packages. This will show you how we match different grow lights and their wattage to different grow tents sizes. As well, it will give insight on what size ventilation and odor control systems we like based on tent sizes.

How To Set Up Your Grow Tent

Basic Grow Tent Supplies

  • Power strip with surge protection
  • Hanging equipment
  • Grow lights and light timer
  • Temperature gauge
  • Plants and grow media
  • Ventilation and odor control

Unpacking and assembling your grow tent

Grow tents are fairly easy to set up and will come with instruction on how to easily do so. You can easily find videos online if you need additional help. For larger tents, it’s recommended to have someone there to help you out.

Basic outline and tips for easy installation:

  • Lay your tent flat out on the ground
  • Locate the bottom of the tent
  • Separate your long and short poles
  • Assemble the bottom poles first, making a square, and place it within the bottom of the tent
  • Now that you have your base, connect poles that stand upright to your bottom structure
  • Attach your top poles to form your complete pole structure/skeleton of the tent
  • Last, carefully roll the tent up and over the pole structure and zip it up
  • When lifting your tent over the poles, hold down on the poles because they are lightweight and will lift up with the tent

Ventilation and Odor Control tips

It’s an incredibly smart idea to set up a ventilation system in your grow tent. A properly set up ventilation system will control CO2, temperature, humidity, and oxygen which are all vital environmental factors that greatly affect plant growth and development.

A common ventilation system for grow tents will have: an odor control unit, ducting, an extraction fan, and an intake fan (optional for smaller tents).

As noted above, the majority of our grow tents will tell you the recommended CFM rating for the tents size. If it doesn’t give you the recommended CFM rating, you can find the number with some quick calculations. CFM stands for cubic feet per minute, and this essentially tells you how much air can be removed from your grow tent in a minute, which is the preferred rate.

First, multiply W x L x H of your grow tent which will give you the volume or cubic feet of the tent. You will use this number as your reference number and you will not want a fan with a lower CFM rating.

We recommend doubling the cubic feet of your tent to get your extraction fan’s CFM rating – especially when using carbon filter as they may lower your extraction fan’s moving capability by 30%.

So a grow tent that is 60 cubic feet will need an extraction fan that has a CFM rating of 120. If you choose to use an intake fan, we recommend going the next volume size down or 70% of your extraction fan. Again, this is the preferred rate based on removing all the air in a grow tent in just one minute, some others will recommend a more leisure rate between 1-5 minutes.

Why Should You Grow in a Grow Tent?

When today's hobby grower decides to embark on their growing journey there are numerous choices they are faced with. From equipment to set up and placement of the garden, the possibilities may seem endless. Once the choice has been made to grow indoors, whether that be a desire for a year-round garden or discretion, one must decide between purchasing a predesigned grow tent or performing an overhaul on a room to fit their needs.

For most hobby growers the overhaul of an entire room in their house is not practical and would be a daunting, expensive, and sometimes unnecessary project. Here are the top 5 reasons our customers choose a grow tent for their indoor grow.

Grow Tents Give You Total Control of the Growing Environment

Grow tents are enclosed spaces that are designed specifically for growing. With the correct combination of lighting, ventilation, air circulation, temperature, humidity and watering you can have total control over your growing area. With a little bit of fine tuning you can set yourself up for a bountiful and successful grow.

Grow Tents Help You Avoid Pests and Infestations

The grow tents enclosed design keeps unwanted pests, such as aphids, flies and spider mites, at bay. Any outdoor grower will tell you how easy it is for pests to infect your plants and how difficult it is to get rid of them. As long as the plants and equipment entering your tent are clean and pest free you shouldn’t encounter any kind of infestation.

Grow Tents are Energy Efficient

The mylar interior increases the reflective surface area in your grow tent while maximizing the performance of your light. This design ensures that no precious light is wasted and your plants are receiving the best light possible.

Grow Tents are Versatile and Adaptable

Grow tents are an excellent way to utilize an area without completely transforming it. You can grow in your garage or spare bedroom with ease and completely break down your grow space once you have completed your cycle or if you need to relocate to a new area. They are also extremely adaptable in the way that you can transition between the vegetation and flowering stage with the change of a light or move from soil to hydroponics by simply switching out your system.

Grow Tents Are Easy to Setup

Grow tents are quick, easy to set up, and do not require tools for assembly. Choosing an area with easy access to power and water will set you up from success. Growers of all stages can have an indoor garden up and running in no time.