Choosing a Grow Tent

Choosing a grow tent is a big step, and there are many important considerations to take. You most likely want the grow tent to be nice and tough, with thick canvas and strong supports, reflective inside, and easily tightened air holes. The size is probably the main factor which will be different from person to person. Thankfully, grow tents come in all shapes and sizes.

Grow Boxes

There are the little grow boxes, which are fantastic for either propagating clones, or growing plants for the first month and a half of vegetation. In reality, grow boxes are generally small grow tents, typically around 2 feet by 2 feet by anywhere from 3-5 feet high.

So, if you’re looking for a little grow box for propagation, you could go for a 2x2x2 tent. Alternatively, if you’re looking to grow some auto flowers for example, or smaller plants, you can go with a 2x2x5. Both models would easily fit into a little closet, which is very appealing for many beginner growers. Just be sure that you have adequate ventilation, especially if you are using an HID – High Intensity Discharge – light bulb, as those get hot quick.

Take a look at our best grow box review page to get some inspiration into choosing a nice little grow box.

Grow Tents

Grow tents are usually 2×2 around, and usually at least 5 foot high, and upwards. A good place to start is a smaller tent which you can also progress forward in. For example, a 2×2 might be good for when you first begin, but once you get into wanting to grow 4 plants, it’s going to be impossible. Instead, I recommend that you choose at least a 3×3.

The height for a grow tent really depends on the kinds of plants you’re looking to grow. A lot of sativa plants grow tall and big regardless of training. On the other hand, if you’re going to use a scrog net – screen of green technique – or other training tactics to keep the plant short, height isn’t much of a concern.

For a full on grow tent, it’s recommended to be at least 5 feet tall. This might seem excessive, but you will want the clearance space between the light and the plant. You also want to have a decent amount of room to move the light up and down as the plant grows.

If you can’t fit 5 foot tall grow tents, you could get away with 4 foot, but only with the right technique. Use LED lights so that the plants won’t get burned by lights if they get too close. Also, use a scrog net or training techniques to keep the plant low.

If you’re ready to take a look at some compelling choices, we also have a grow tent review page with some of our favorite picks.

Choosing the Right Light and Ventilation

Once you choose a grow tent or box to house your new operation in, you need to consider options for lighting and ventilation. We have full articles on both of these topics in a more general context. This will cover how much light and ventilation you might need per square foot.

Light

Light for Grow Tents

Let’s start with selecting the right lights for your new grow space. There are multiple things to consider, but the most important are square footage, number of plants, and heat restrictions.

Some people will need to be more weary of the heat restrictions than others. For example, if you’re growing in a shed in Arizona, unless you want to be running two ACs at once, you don’t want an HID. Get a nice LED array, and you’ll be good to go.

On the other hand, if you’re in Canada, like myself. If you’re growing in a cold room in Canada, like myself, you might want an HID in particular. Perhaps you don’t mind the extra heat output, and favor the light penetrating abilities of an HID.

So, with the heat in consideration, the square footage of the grow space is the most important thing. It must be noted that one watt of LED light is not the same as 1 watt of HID bulb light, so I will have two different tables, one for LED and one for HID.

From what I have gathered from various sources – books, experience, online, you generally want 40-75 watts per square foot. If you want to go really hard, you could do 100 watts per square foot. Remember that 1 square meter is around 1 square foot, so for msquared, you need 400-750W.

Me personally, I have a 4×4 tent with a 600W HPS, so that 16 feet squared – around 1.5 square meters. Therefore, my wattage just reaches into the lower range of this scale.

Based on this mathematics, I have prepared the following chart:

HID – High Intensity Discharge Bulbs LED – Light Emitting Diode
Wattage Footage Cover Plant Cover Wattage Footage Cover Plant Cover
300W 5 ft sq. 2 Plants 150W 5 ft sq. 1-2
400W 7 ft sq. 4 Plants 200W 8 ft sq. 2-3
600W 10 ft sq. 6-8 Plants 300W 11 ft sq. 4-5
1000W 17 ft sq. 8-10 Plants 350W 15 ft sq. 6-8

And here is a version is meters squared:

HID – High Intensity Discharge Bulbs LED – Light Emitting Diode
Wattage Footage Cover Plant Cover Wattage Footage Cover Plant Cover
300W .8 m sq. 2 Plants 150W .5m sq 1-2
400W 1 m sq. 4 Plants 200W .8m sq 2-3
600W 1.5-2m sq. 6-8 Plants 300W 1.1m sq 4-5
1000W 2-3m sq. 8-10 Plants 350W 2m sq. 6-8

As you can see, the LED world is vastly different than the HID world. Although it draws a lot less power from the wall, the effects are also a lot less. However, it’s still a lot more efficient, especially when you get to the 350W LEDs, which are almost functionally equivalent to a 1000W HID. Note that the wattage mentioned for LED is not the output wattage, but the input wattage, which is usually a lot lower.

Of course, when you look into buying a light, make sure it’s got a good wavelength spectrum. Details like these will not be discussed in this article however, take a look at our Light Buying Guide for more information.

Light for Grow Boxes

If you want a light for a little grow box, you can consider just getting a little CFL bulb. Those things produce a decent amount of light, and basically no heat. They can be used without much – or any – active ventilation, and are the perfect option for grow boxes. Also, these things last forever, and are eco friendly, as many have no mercury and draw very little power. If you are an eco grower, a little box with some CFLs is about as green as you can go.

If you wish to go a little further, a nice little 60W-100W LED grow light would be perfect. This would produce around 400-600W of output, and that would be great for a little box.

A lot of people like the supplement their LEDs with CFLs, to get a little more bang for your buck. It’s a good tactic to weave the CFLs around the plant, and have the LED hovering in the middle, to cover those dark spots and get a lot of overall light.

There are many options, get creative! Again, look at our full light buying guide for more comprehensive information.

Ventilation

Regardless of how big the tent, all of them need ventilation. For a grow box, you can often get away with passive air transfer, or just a simple system with a fan blowing air in/out. For a bigger grow tent however, even a 2×2, it is often preferred to use an inline fan.

These fans are measured in CFM, or cubic feet per minute. That’s now much air they move. A 100 CFM air blower moves 100 cubic feet per minute of air. There are many fans on the market, like duct boosters and the like. These are good for providing like 40 CFM of airflow, but it’s very minimal. Although it will work for a little grow box, an inline blower is what you need for a tent.

In my 4×4 ft tent, I have a 170 CFM air blower, which does quite well. However, it is recommended that for a 4×4 tent, you have at least 200 – 300 CFM of air movement, so maybe I should upgrade. If you want a good rule of thumb, here is a chart:

CFM Grow Space (ft) Grow Space (m)
100 2x2x5 .25x.25x.5
150 3x3x6 .35x.35x.65
200-300 4x4x6 .4x.4x.65
300-500 6x6x6 .55x.55x.65

If you need the full read-up on ventilation, check out our Making a Ventilation System Guide. It’s very comprehensive, and goes through a lot more than just this.

Conclusion

Well, hopefully this page gave you some good information which will help you select the best tent for your needs. Size is the most important factor, but with size you need to also consider the ventilation and the lighting which is required for the space. Only with all those things in perspective can you make a proper choice.

There are, of course, smaller things to consider. Some of the tents have observation windows, others don’t. Some of them have removable floor trays. Some of them have double-sealed holes, like my 3×3 Mammoth tent. However, these things are ultimately inconsequential to the ultimate outcome of a grow.

If you’re a beginner, just focus on getting a nice, high quality tent, and then make sure that you light and ventilate it properly. There are many other guides like this in the Getting Started section, so go take a look if you wish. Other than that, thank you for reading, and happy growing!

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