Guide to Situating Cultivation Equipment in Grow Tents
The use of grow tents for indoor gardening has been on the rise over the years with small-scale, hobby growers. Generally speaking, indoor horticulturalists use cultivation tents because they are easy to set-up, require few materials, and are low-impact on the home in question. Yet, when using grow tents, cultivators sacrifice some of the flexibility that is enjoyed when operating within a traditionally built-out grow room. This is largely because, the size of grow tents usually mirrors the size of a garden canopy per 1,000 watts—as seen in a 4ft x 4ft grow tent. Point being, this canopy-to-tent sizing schematic makes it difficult to position equipment, such as lights and exhaust, and leaves little room for working within the allocated grow space. This notion applies to cannabis cultivation and traditional horticulture. Also, as grow tents are erected by an interior metal frame and have walls, ceilings, and floors made of canvas, their infrastructure presents further challenges for situating cultivation technology efficiently.
Regardless of spatial and material constraints within cultivation tents, the clever agronomist can figure out ways to situate their equipment in a fashion which is both expedient and functional. This process is made easier by the convenient holes and ports which are built into tent walls for electrical access as well as airflow and exhaust. These things being noted, for hobbyist gardeners out there, here are a few tips for situating equipment in a grow tent:
As seen with traditional grow room design, a good place to start planning a grow tent’s interior organization is with lighting. This is because, the type of lights one uses for their indoor garden directly influences their options for air-cooling as well as exhausting. For example, the use of DE HPS lights is discouraged in most grow tent cultivation scenarios because these lights put off an extreme amount of heat and they don’t come with air-cooling options (aside from some brand new, relatively untested models). That being said, fluorescent, LED, and air-cooled HPS lights can be simply hung from the roof of the interior frame of a grow tent using ropes, chain, or retractable cordage mechanisms. However, air-cooled HPS lights should be hung in a position which will function in conjunction with an exhaust system.
Exhaust and Carbon Filters in a Grow Tent
Perhaps the most essential equipment element, as well as the most difficult to situate, in a grow tent is that of an exhaust and carbon filter. For hobbyist gardeners using a 4x4ft or 4x8ft tent for cannabis cultivation, it’s a practical idea to run a carbon filter, air-cooled hoods, and inline fan in one exhaust system. Combining all of these elements will help counteract the spatial constraints present in grow tent cannabis cultivation. For grow tents of the aforementioned sizes, there are relatively small, lightweight carbon filters that can be easily hung to the interior of a tent frame with the same materials used with lighting. It should be noted, as heat rises one should always strive to hang the carbon filter as near the tent ceiling as possible. With this setup, the exhaust will simultaneously pull hot air out of the tent and “scrub” the air for smell by way of the carbon filter.
When situating the inline fan for the exhaust system, it should be hung off the ceiling support of the interior tent frame while being simultaneously positioned next to one of the exhaust ports on the wall. These exhaust ports are generally made to fit 6in. – 8in. pieces of ducting and feature a “bungee-like” material which can be synched down on the inline fan or ducting to create a relatively tight seal for light leaks. Also, wire, rope, or retractable cordage mechanisms work nicely for hanging the inline fan on the tent frame. When the carbon filter, hoods, and inline fans are properly situated within the grow tent, connect them all with ducting. With this schematic, the inline fan pulls the fragrant, hot ambient air out of the tent canopy area while simultaneously cooling the hoods—to finally exhaust both to the exterior of the tent.
The geographical locale as well as seasonality of the indoor cultivation operation in question will greatly influence a gardeners choice concerning expulsion options for the hot air expelled from a grow tent through the exhaust system. In the cool fall, winter, and spring months in much of North America exhausting a grow tent directly into a home will likely be a welcome source of heat. However, in the warm summer months as well as in tropical climates, the added heat of exhausting a grow tent directly into one’s home can make for a rather uncomfortable living situation due to excess warmth. That being said, tent gardeners can opt to position their set-ups near a window as to exhaust the hot air directly out of living spaces. But, this option can easily eliminate much of the operational discretion which most tent cultivators value. To solve this predicament, one can counteract the added ambient temperature resultant from grow tent’s exhaust with a home’s AC system—this can prove quite costly in the heat of summer.
Wall Fans in a Grow Tent
As seen with traditional indoor grow room operations, proper airflow and circulation are an essential element in a successful tent grown crop. This notion applies to both cannabis cultivation and traditional horticulture. However, while in a retro-fitted, wood frame room one can simply hang wall fans on a wall, canvas tent walls don’t provide this infrastructure. However, one can get smaller “clip-on” fans which can simply be attached to the tent frame. Secondly, simple free-standing circulating fans can be used in grow tents without the hassle of trying to situate them upon a wall (if the square footage of the operation allows for this option).
This article originally appeared in the August 2017 edition of Maximum Yield Magazine.