There's only one problem: Getting started can be tricky.
What grow lights should you use? What about nutrients? How do you know which grow tent is best for you? And what should you do about temperature and humidity?!
It can become overwhelming pretty fast. Don't let that discourage you, though. A lot of first-time growers don't know exactly where they should begin.
That’s why we're here to help you get started with the ultimate grow room equipment checklist!
Don't worry about searching through all those forums, reading endless reviews, or being sold equipment you don't need. This checklist will make sure you have everything you need to:
- Control the quality of your harvests.
- Find the best gear for your grow room.
- Expand your interest in gardening and help you get started when the time is right.
Want to skip the steps and get everything you need? You're in luck!
Here are the best complete grow room packages that check off everything on the list:
|2x4ft HID Soil Complete Indoor Grow Tent System||4x4ft LED Hydro Complete Indoor Grow Tent System||6.5x6.5ft HID Hydro Complete Indoor Grow Tent System||8x4ft LED Soil Complete Indoor Grow Tent System|
|Skill Level||Beginner Growers||Beginner to Advanced Growers||Advanced Growers||Advanced to Professional Growers|
|Growing Area||2x4ft. Grow Tent||4x4ft Grow Tent||6.5x6.5ft Grow Tent||8x4ft Grow Tent|
|Canopy Size/ Plant Count||
Up to 8 sqft.
Up to 16 sqft.
Up to 42.25 sqft.
Up to 32 sqft.
|Grow Light||400w HID Grow Light||240w LED Grow Light||2x 600w HID Grow Lights||2x 680w LED Grow Lights|
|Airflow||440 CFM High Output Fan and Carbon Filter||440 CFM High Output Fan and Carbon Filter||440 CFM High Output Fan and Carbon Filter||440 CFM High Output Fan and Carbon Filter|
|Environmental Monitor||Digital Thermo-Hygrometer||Digital Thermo-Hygrometer||Digital Thermo-Hygrometer||Digital Thermo-Hygrometer|
|Grow System/Medium||Soil/Perlite and Fabric Grow Buckets||Coco/Perlite and 6 Site Hydroponic System||Soil/Perlite and 12 Site Hydroponic System||Coco/Perlite and Fabric Grow Buckets|
|Price||$799.95 | Buy Here||$1,899.95 | Buy Here||$1,999.95 | Buy Here||$3087.71 | Buy Here|
Now that you've got a taste for what we'll be looking for in your grow room, it's time to start checking off some boxes.
Let's take a look at the top 6 important bases a well-tuned grow room should cover:
Part 1: Grow Area
Recommended Grow Tents
|Yield Lab 78” x 78” x 78” Reflective Grow Tent||Yield Lab 48” x 24” x 60” Reflective Grow Tent||Gorilla Grow Tent LITE LINE 4' x 4' x 6' 7"|
|Plant Count||6-8 Plants||2-4 Plants||2-4 Plants|
|Recommended Grow Medium||Ebb and Flow Hydro & Soil||DWC Hydro & Soil||DWC Hydro & Soil|
|Recommended Grow Light||
|Price||$259.95 | Buy Here||$161.79 | Buy Here||$209.95 | Buy Here|
Before you put anything together, you'll have to decide whether you want to use a grow tent or build a grow room from the ground up.
The first question you should ask yourself before you start growing is: Where am I going to put all of these plants? You'll have to decide if you want to use a grow room, basement, closet, or grow tent. Depending on the plants, growing in a closet might not be ideal. If that's the case, do you have a spare bedroom that can be converted into a grow room?
Before you make a decision, though, remember the following if you're considering building an entire grow room:
- Unless you purchase a pre-packaged grow room with a tent, building a grow room requires you to drill into the ceiling of the growing area to hang your grow lights.
- You also have to put up lots of reflective material all around your growing space.
- You'll have to figure out how best to incorporate ventilation for both climate and odor control.
So if you’re looking to convert your room or closet into a growing space, be ready for lots of building, drilling, and hands-on labor.
If you rent a home, doing these kinds of modifications will probably be out of the question. Alternatively, if you'd rather eliminate a lot of the busywork that goes into assembling a grow room, you should consider a grow tent.
A grow tent is convenient for several reasons:
- You don’t have to do a lot of work to set up your equipment.
- A grow tent is not as susceptible to outdoor conditions as an entire room.
- You have more control over environmental conditions like temperature and humidity than you would in an entire grow room.
Grow tents have premade exhaust vents, internal reflective mylar, and easy-to-use grow light hanging bars in. All you have to do is set the tent up somewhere in your house, install your grow lights and other equipment, and you'll be growing in no time!
Before you go filling that grow space with light, it’s important to understand the actual space you'll be providing light for. There’s no point in lighting areas that don’t need light, so it’s important to know the difference between the size of your grow room and the size of your canopy to make sure you get the right lights for the job.
Part 2: Your Grow Room vs. Your Canopy
Recommended Canopy Training Tools
|Fabric Grow Buckets||Pruning Shears||Twist Ties||Trellis Netting|
|Used for...||Used for...||Used for...||Used for...|
|Air-pruning and growing larger fruit while limiting root and overall plant growth for the canopy size you want.||Trimming plants to redirect energy during growth for large/limited canopy.||Helping low stress train (LST) plants to widen the canopy of each plant.||Providing a screen to help extend canopy and limit height.|
|Available Sizes||Available Sizes||Available Sizes||Available Sizes|
|3/ 5/ 7/ 10/ 15 Gal||Bonsai, Straight, Curved, Large Blade||164 Ft||
Starting at $15.04
Starting at $5.95
|$3.99 | Buy Here||
Starting at $6.99
Your grow room is the entire space you’ll use, including areas that your plants will grow in.
The canopy of your grow room is the specific area that your plants are using. In short, your canopy is the area where your plants grow, and the grow room is everything around them.
In an indoor grow tent, the majority of the grow space is typically your canopy. In an entire grow room, however, your canopy is only the space your plants sit on.
Regardless of whether you're using a large grow room or more dedicated grow tent, you'll want to make sure your entire canopy is covered in light. If you don't have enough light intensity to reach all of your plants, you won't see good yields.
In addition, you should have enough physical space to interact with your plants. Without enough room to move around, you won't be able to feed and care for your plants as necessary.
Now, in order to figure out how much room you need, it’s a good idea to figure out the area of your canopy and how many watts of light you need to provide proper coverage. That brings us to the next step in our checklist...
Part 3: Grow Lights
Recommended Grow Lights
|Yield Lab 600W HPS Air Cool Hood Reflector Grow Light Kit||Advance Spectrum 680W Sun Series Model E 6-Bar Full Spectrum LED Grow Light||Yield Lab Complete 54w T5 Four Bulb Fluorescent Grow Light|
|Plant Count||3-4 Flowering Plants||4-5 Flowering Plants||~1-2 Flowering Plants|
|Light Coverage||16 Sq Ft.||20 Sq Ft.||4 Sq Ft.|
|Peak PAR||900 PPFD||1750 PPFD||~350 PPFD|
|Price||$209.95 | Buy Here||$699.95 | Buy Here||$129.95 | Buy Here|
Whether you want to use LED grow lights, high-intensity discharge lights (HIDs such as HPS, MH, and CMH lights), or T5 grow lights, your plants can’t grow without plenty of good light. Quality grow lights are essential for a successful garden. Your plants need a source of strong, intense light for solid growth.
“So that means I should install the biggest, most expensive grow light, right?” Actually, that's not necessarily the case. Instead, invest in the most efficient grow light for your canopy.
Before you go dropping money on grow lights, you’ll need to calculate the wattage of light needed to cover your canopy with, which is a two-tiered approach:
- Designate an area of your grow room or grow tent that you’ll use to grow your plants, then take the area of that space (length x width). Once you have the area, apply the “4sqft/plant” rule by dividing that area by 4. This will give you the canopy size you need to cover with light.
- Calculate the total wattage you need to cover that area. To do that, simply take the canopy area and divide it by 50 to 75w to get the watts/sqft you need — the sweet spot is 65w, but others like to use 50w or 75w depending on their growing needs. Once you have that number, you have the total wattage you need out of your lights for your plants.
Once you've calculated the wattage your grow room needs, you’ll want to figure out the type of light you want to use: HID grow lights, LED grow lights, or T5 grow lights. They each have their pros and cons, but here are some important factors to take into consideration:
- HIDs (HPS, MH, and CMH) give you a light closer to the spectrum of the sun than any other light, which plants absolutely love. These lights are a tried and true way to grow, but like the sun, they run very hot. That means you’re going to need to do some heat control when you’re running these lights
- LED grow lights give you an intense spectrum that can’t be beaten. These lights implement ultraviolet (UV) and infrared (IR) wavelengths that HIDs can’t. This helps boost flavors, scents, and root production. It's worth mentioning, though, that LEDs are usually much more expensive than HIDs of the same wattage, though they do consume less power overall.
- T5 fluorescent grow lights don’t put out lots of heat and can still grow great yields. That said, the yields you get from these lights are going to be lighter due to the lower intensity. Moreover, if you needed something in, say, the 1000w range, you’re going to need a lot of room for big lights. These are good if you’re in a pinch and have lots of room for multiple lights.
Part 4: Airflow — Exhaust, Intake, Circulation, and Filtration
Recommended Airflow Equipment
|High Output Fans||Oscillating Fans||Charcoal Filter||Ducting|
|Used for...||Used for...||Used for...||Used for...|
|Intake of fresh air and exhaust of stale/dirty air. Also effective at regulating grow room environment.||Circulating fresh air around your growing area. Also helpful with environmental conditioning.||Filtering incoming air of harmful particles. Also effective in helping filter grow room aromas of exhaust air.||Directing air into/out of your growing area. Also helpful when splitting air into multiple rooms.|
|Available Sizes||Available Sizes||Available Sizes||Available Sizes|
4in 190 CFM
6in 440 CFM
|6in. - 16in.||4in 190 CFM
6in 440 CFM
|4in. - 10in.|
|Starting at $89.95
|Starting at $16.95
|Starting at $59.95
|Starting at $4.95
It's important to know where you're going to exhaust your stale air and heat from, and where you’re going to bring in fresh clean air. Having a constant stream of fresh air moving throughout your grow room is important to a healthy grow for a number of reasons:
- Airflow prevents stale air from building up. Stale air in your grow room can impair growth. This is because a lack of fresh air often leads to clogged stoma — these are the pores of a leaf that help it take in CO2 and give off oxygen.
- Fresh air helps prevent stunted growth. Without replenished air in your grow room, CO2 may not be available for your plants, which will stunt their growth.
- Airflow strengthens branches. A nice breeze across your canopy will help strengthen stems to hold up flowers and fruit. You'll want strong branches so that they don't easily snap once the begin to grow.
- Air circulation assists in temperature and humidity control. With fresh air circulating throughout your grow room, you can keep temperatures and humidity levels at the right level, which is nearly impossible without proper ventilation.
With that in mind, here are a few things you should be aware of when running ventilation in your grow room:
- Exhaust from the Top — Heat rises, so it’s important to force the most heat collected in your grow room out of it with the proper ducting and booster fans.
- Provide Cool Air from the Bottom — Fresh, cool air should be brought in from the lowest possible point of your grow room or grow tent. For this, you'll want good grow room fans — depending on the size of your grow room or tent, you might even want to consider an air conditioning unit.
- Have at Least 2 Oscillating Fans Pointed at the Bottom and Top of Your Canopy — This will help move air from between foliage and prevent pockets of disease-friendly environments within your canopy.
- Make Sure You Don't Take in Air From the Same Room You're Exhausting Stale Air From — That sort of defeats the purpose of "fresh" air, and it won't do your plants any good.
Remember: Constant air movement will help with strong branches and stems, and it helps prevent mold and mildew growth. Fresh, clean air is just as important to your plants as nutrition and lights, so make sure your indoor garden gets lots of it.
Filters: Fresh Air, Smells, Sounds
Fresh air is vital for your grow, but bringing in lots of air via high output fans will also introduce unwanted particles and pests into your grow.
When outside air is brought in and runs through a charcoal filter inside your grow room, the air your plants receive will be mostly free of particles like dust and dirt.
- Dust particles can clog plant stoma, hinder the respiration of your plant, and ultimately hinder growth.
Depending on the plants you're growing, you might notice stronger smells as they reach the flowering stage. This is especially true of herbs such as cilantro and mint.
While you may love those strong, delicious scents, others around you might not. Moreover, more aroma attracts more pests, so if scent control is vital to your grow, you'll want a charcoal filter to help scrub the particles in the air that contain the smell of your plants.
Okay, so you're able to keep the scents in your grow room from getting out of hand. What's next?
Well, you may not think of a garden as noisy, but when you use a grow tent or grow room, you're going to hear a lot of sounds.
Noise generally comes from your high output exhaust fans and intake fans. This is because their powerful motors run at high speeds. The more fans you use, the more noise you'll get, which can be just as annoying to others as unwanted smells.
Thankfully, you can reduce the sound of these fans by controlling the speed of your fans with a fan controller. Lowering the speed of a fan will lower the noise coming out of the fan. Some fans even come with built-in motor controllers, like the Yield Lab Pro Series Fan.
Part 5: Environment Control
Recommended Environmental Control and Monitoring Tools
|24-Hour Programmable Electric Timer Control||Yield Lab Digital Thermo-Hygrometer||Autopilot Timers & Controllers|
|Controls Multiple Piece of Equipment||No||No||Yes|
|Monitors Temperature/Humidity Levels||No||Yes||Yes|
|Price||$19.95 | Buy Here||$12.95 | Buy Here||$65.99 | Buy Here|
The environment your plants grow in is as vital as the nutrients they take in and the light they use. As such, you'll want to ensure that this environment is ideal for your plants.
Temperature and Humidity
If your grow room has poor temperatures and humidity levels, you risk stagnant growth, stressed out plants, mildew, mold, pests, and eventually the death of your yield. To make sure your plants have a healthy grow cycle, keep your environment in check by measuring the temperature and the humidity levels of your grow space.
Temperatures in your grow room should be between 65 and 80°F. Meanwhile, humidity levels in shouldn't reach more than 70 percent at the highest, If your garden's environment is outside of these ranges, you're likely to encounter following problems:
- Temperatures Too High — Extreme temperatures in your grow mean a rapid loss of water and impaired photosynthesis (which means your plants won't be able to feed themselves). In addition, high temperatures create the perfect environment for white, powdery mildew and mold.
- Temperatures Too Low — Poor nutrient absorption and slow/stagnant growth are common effects in a grow room with low temperatures. This is because plants can't break down nutrients as easily in such environments. To top it off, low temperatures also cause moisture build-up in plants, which can lead to mold.
- High Humidity — If the humidity in your grow room is too high, your plants will suffer from nutrient deficiencies, root rot, nutrient burn, and nutrient lockout. Not to mention, high humidity levels will create a grow room environment that's too wet or damp.
- Low Humidity — A grow room with low humidity usually means wilting leaves, smaller/stunted plants, and curling leave. These issues are more than just aesthetic problems — they are signs of weak and dying plants. Plus, low humidity creates the perfect environment for spider mites.
Thankfully, monitoring and controlling these levels is a lot simpler than you might think. In fact, to get accurate readings for temperature and humidity, all you need is a thermo-hygrometer.
A thermo-hygrometer can read the maximum and minimum temperature in a 24-hour period, which means you'll have a good idea of any day-to-day changes in your grow room environment.
Note: Temperature drop is the decrease in temperature when you turn off your grow lights. If the temperature drop from lights on to lights off is too much, you'll stunt your plants and possibly shock them, too.
- It’s always good to keep your temperature difference between day and night to around 10ºF.
Controllers — Scheduling, Timers
Like us, plants wake up and go to sleep. When we turn our grow lights on, our plants wake up and stay awake. When we turn our grow lights off, our plants go to sleep. Simple, right? It is... until you realize that plants have two growth cycles (vegging and flowering), and both of these cycles require you to turn your lights on and off for a certain amount of time depending on which growth cycle your plants are in.
Let's be real here: You probably don't have time to sit in your grow room with your plants and turn the grow lights and airflow systems on and off as necessary.
That's where environment controllers come in. When you're considering a timer in your garden, there are two types to keep in mind:
- Mechanical Timers — These timers are very simple and will run on the exact time you set them to. For example, if you set your lights to run for 12 hours, all you have to do is set the timer and let it run. You can also do the same thing for fans, a/c units, hydroponic or drip-style grow systems, and practically anything that turns on and off.
- Smart Controller — These controllers will activate lights, airflow devices, and hydroponics systems — pretty much anything in your grow room. Instead of setting a duration of time for your equipment to run, you set the humidity and temperature levels, feeding times, and CO2 emitters to the levels you need them at. That's it! You just let your system do the work while you check on your plants to make sure they're not infested or getting sick.
Not all plants thrive in the same conditions. You'll have to do a little research if you want to know the environmental needs of, say, peppers versus pumpkins. Depending on the temperature and humidity levels, you can have your equipment run at any schedule that works for you and your plants. Not only will this benefit the health of your plants, but you can actually save money at the same time.
Monitoring Nutrition: pH & PPM Levels
Recommended Tools for Monitoring/Adjustment pH & PPM
|pH Meters||PPM Meters||pH Adjusters||Reverse Osmosis Filters|
|Used for...||Used for...||Used for...||Used for...|
|Measuring the pH Level of nutrient-rich water going into and coming from your plants.||Measuring the PPM (parts per million) of the nutrient-rich water your plants receive.||Lowering/Raising the pH level of the nutrient-rich water your plants receive.||Filtering water to a pH neutral level to lower PPM. Also provides the perfect base for plant nutrition.|
|$19.99 | Buy Here||$19.95 | Buy Here||$29.95 | Buy Here||Starting at $189.95 | Buy Here|
The environment of your grow room doesn't just stop at the temperature- it also has to do with the pH and PPM of the nutrition your plants receive.
Whether you're growing hydroponically or in soil, it's important to keep an eye on the pH and PPM levels your plants take in.
Your grow room's pH and PPM levels refer to what's in the nutrients and the water you feed your plants.
- The pH of a given water source has to do with the water's acidity and alkaline levels.
- The PPM (parts per million) is in reference to the concentration of minerals and soluble matter in there.
- Simply put, pH will let you know how acidic your plants' water is, and PPM will let you know how many physical particles are in your water source.
You'll want to make sure that your plants are at optimal levels at all times — just like us, if your plants can't process what they're being fed, it can lead to illness and even plant death. It's important to know pH and PPM readings for a couple reasons:
- You don't want to give your plants too much nutrition. Overfeeding your plants can lead to nutrient burn, yellowing and browning leaves, and wilting.
- You want to make sure your plants aren't taking in harmful acidic levels of nutrients. This has a direct effect on plant growth. Acidic levels that are less-than-ideal can lead to poor nutrition and weak growth.
Keep a tight watch on your plants' levels with a pH meter and PPM meter. And if you notice your plants' pH levels are increasing or decreasing drastically, it's always good to keep some pH Up and pH Down solution handy.
Part 6: Grow System — Soil or Hydroponics?
Recommended Grow Systems and Grow Mediums
|Foxfarm Ocean Forest Potting Soil||Root Spa 5 Gal DWC Systems||AirCube Hydroponics Ebb & Flow Systems|
|Type of Medium||Soil/Perlite Mix||Compatible w/ Clay & Rockwool||Compatible w/ Coco/Perlite Mix|
|Ease of Use||Novice Growers||Advanced Growers||Novice to Advanced Growers|
|Plant Count||8 Plants Per Bag||Up to 8 Plants||Up to 12 Plants|
|Available Sizes||42.4L (1.5 Cu Ft.)||
Single Site System (5 Gal Pot)
6 Site System (2 Gal Pot)
|Price||$15.95 | Buy Here||
Starting at $52.97
|Starting at $699.95
There's one more important question that needs to be answered before you set out to put together a space to grow your own plants: What type of growing system will you use?
Picking a grow system will also determine the type of nutrients you use and the pest prevention you’ll need to purchase:
- Soil systems are great for beginners because of their ease of use. Soil is charged with nutrients, so feeding is pretty simple for around half of the plant's overall life.
- Soil is pretty forgiving when it comes to nutrition, which means you won't overfeed your plants as easily as you would in hydro systems.
- Keep in mind, though, that soil plants will take longer to grow, and nutrient problems with your plants are harder to correct in this medium.
- In short, soil systems require the least attention.
Hydroponic systems are completely soil-less and only require you to mix nutrients into a water reservoir to feed your plants. These systems can give your plants every single bit of nutrition they need.
- Coco blends like coco/perlite mixes are the best and most popular medium for any hydroponic system. It retains more nutrition than soil and drains quicker, too, allowing you to feed them more often. That results in larger plants and faster growth!
At the end of the day, though, the quality you get out of the medium you choose depends greatly on the work you want to put into it, so choose what works best for you, your schedule, and your growing goals.
The Indoor Grower's Shopping List: Buying Your Indoor Grow Equipment
You've factored in the lights, grow space, environment, and even the science of your grow room. Now it's time to get your equipment and get ready to grow.
There are a few factors to consider when you're finally ready to buy your equipment. Before you take the plunge and purchase an indoor grow kit and gear, ask yourself the following questions:
- Are you going to be growing long-term, or is this more of a hobby project?
- Do you want everything you could possibly need, or just the bare minimum?
- Can you choose all the individual pieces you want, or would you rather go with a complete grow kit?
After taking a look at everything we've outlined above, if you're going to put together a shopping list, you'll want to include the following items:
- First, you'll have to decide between a smaller tent, medium tent, or large grow tent.
- Note: If you opt to use your room or closet, you'll need Reflective material like reflective mylar or panda film to cover your walls with if you're building a grow room.
- Grow lights, such as a 600w HPS/MH grow light kit, 680w LED grow light panel, or 54w T5 grow light.
- Fans and filters for temperature and odor control.
- Ducting to get the stale air out of the grow space.
- A thermo-hygrometer to keep an eye on your grow room's condition.
- A grow room timer to give you the most control over your growing environment.
- pH and PPM meters and solutions to make sure your plants are stable.
Grow medium, like soil, coco coir, clay pebbles, or rockwool cubes.
- Don't forget, you can also mix perlite into your soil and coco.
- If you're going with hydro, you'll want to select the right hydroponics system for your needs.
For a lot of folks, purchasing a complete indoor grow kit is the most ideal option. It comes with virtually everything you need, and it typically doesn't require you to remodel an entire room in your house.
Whether you choose to put together your grow room piece-by-piece, buy only what you need, or purchase a whole kit, always remember to do what works best for you, your budget, and your growing area.
A Note on Electricity Cost
How much electricity are you going to consume if you grow your own plants in a grow room or grow tent? It all depends on the wattage of your grow lights, the wattage of your high output fans, how long your equipment is left running, and the cost of electricity where you live.
For example, in the flowering stage, your light schedule will be 12 hours on and 12 hours off. If you're using a 600w grow light system, that’s going to be 12kwh (kilowatt-hours) per day, roughly 31 days in a month. That means: 12kwh x 31 days = 372kwh per month to run that light.
Remember to adjust accordingly if you're using multiple lights. You'll have to account for all of the devices you're using that you have plugged in.
Once you have the total number of kilowatt-hours used in your grow room, you'll multiply that number by your area's electricity rate. Though this number varies, the average electricity rate in the United States is 13.19 cents per kilowatt-hour as of December 2020.
If you notice your electric bill is a bit too high, be sure to check out our tips and tricks to lower your monthly electric bill while growing.
The Indoor Grower's Checklist — A Breakdown
Now you know exactly what to look for before you start growing. One last time, let's review the fundamentals for new growers:
- Decide whether you want to convert a room in your house into a grow room or use a grow tent.
- Figure out the size of your canopy. Alternatively, using a grow tent makes this easy.
- Calculate how much light you need for your canopy, and decide on which types of grow lights you want to use.
- Figure out how much air movement you need for your grow room size.
- Plan for proper environmental control so that your temperature, humidity, odor, and sound levels don't become an issue.
- Figure out the grow system you want to use — soil or hydro.
- Calculate and budget your monthly electricity cost.
- Put a grower's shopping list together and decide what equipment you're going to need (ducting, timers, power strips, meters, soil, nutrients, etc.), or if you're going to use a complete indoor grow kit.
- If you're going to purchase a complete grow package, compare the different options available to find the perfect kit for you and your plants.
That's it! By following these 9 simple steps, you'll be well on your way to growing your favorite fruits and veggies in no time. And yes, while growing your own food and plants does require a bit of effort, research, and hard work on your part, it's also one of the best things you can do for yourself.
Growing indoors is convenient, therapeutic, and eco-friendly. And now you're ready to do it, too. Happy growing!
Editor's Note: This post was originally published in August 2015. It has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness as of April 2023.