How To Choose the Right Grow Tent for Your Hydroponic Garden
Grow tents are a convenient and affordable way to set up an indoor garden. They make good use of existing space while eliminating the need to remodel or build new walls to accommodate your garden. They’re easy to set up and perfect for controlling and maintaining an ideal temperature, humidity, and lighting conditions that maximize the results of your grow. Before you buy one, though, you should learn how to choose the right grow tent for your hydroponic garden.
Measure Twice, Install Once
Your first step is to measure the dimensions of the space where you intend to set up your grow tent—including the length, width, and height. Obviously, the tent needs to be smaller than the area it occupies, but consider your plans, including how much you intend to grow, the available area for plant growth, ease of movement, storage needs, and so on. On average, every 2-foot by 2-foot area can accommodate two plants, but that’s just a basic rule of thumb. You may need more space depending on the quantity of plants, the stage of growth, and the genetic strain.
You may also require a taller tent depending on the genetics of your plants and the type of lighting you choose. LEDs are usually slim fixtures that generate less heat and, as such, can be closer to the canopy in a regular tent. On the other hand, high-pressure sodium grow lights (HPS), metal halide grow lights (MH), and ceramic grow lights (CMH) have a thicker profile and generate high temperatures. As such, they require a greater distance from the canopy and may require taller indoor grow tents.
Some additional space may be required for grow supplies, including fans and carbon filters (to control odor and ventilation), CO2 canisters or other CO2 enrichment products, and dehumidifiers and temperature controllers. You may also require space for a water or nutrient reservoir.
Apart from grow tent dimensions, several material and design options are important to consider when deciding how to choose the right grow tent for your hydroponic garden. The thickness and durability of the fabric, frame, and zippers are important in determining the quality and price of your grow tent. Not to be forgotten is the size and position of viewing windows, inspection doors, vent and ducting openings, and ground-level irrigation ports. These variables can make a big difference in price and yield.
Most grow tents are made of several layers of material—usually heavy-duty canvas on the outside, often with nylon or polyester, and an inner layer made of reflective mylar. The outside layer provides a tough exterior, making it resistant to ordinary wear and tear as you use and move the tent. Better material has a higher thread count, which means it's tougher. A good outer layer also blocks outside light sources—even at the seams—while containing odors.
Meanwhile, the reflective material within ensures light is spread evenly and efficiently across your plants. The reflective properties of the interior fabric are ultimately the most important factor in maximizing the productivity of your grow lights and minimizing your energy consumption. White interiors are superior to all others, but silver interiors are also highly effective.
Framing a Masterpiece
All hydroponic system grow tents are held firmly in place by a system of metal poles. The highest quality grow tents are supported by 25mm powder-coated tempered rolled steel frames. They also feature metal push and click corner connectors and quick lock, push, and click pole assembly. The frame not only gives the tent its support and shape, but it also holds any lights or other equipment you employ. To maintain stability and strength, it’s recommended that you use steel poles rather than plastic or aluminum, as these are more prone to bend or break. Consider that the larger the set-up, the more support you’ll need.