Indoor gardening can be as easy or complex as you like.
If you’re new to this, stick to the basics and keep things simple.
To get started:
Step 1. Find a suitable space (spare room, garage, etc)
Step 2. Make your space light-tight
Step 3. Choose how to configure your space (e.g. tent, entire room or cupboard within a room)
Step 4. Get good light coverage
Step 5. Set up suitable air exchange
This guide will take you through these steps.
Step 1: Find a Suitable Space
• Is an available area big enough?
Almost any space can be used as a grow room.
You can either convert a whole room or cupboard into a grow room, or use a grow tent or chamber within a room to create an enclosed growing space.
• Will you be able to provide the necessary amount of power?
You’ll need an electrical supply to power lights, pumps, fans, etc.
For a one light or two light set up, a couple of normal double wall sockets will be fine. If wall sockets are limited or in the wrong places, use an extension lead.
• Can you get tap water from somewhere nearby?
You should never use unfiltered rain water.
Unfiltered rain water contains impurities so you never know what you're feeding plants.
The best water you can use is pure, filtered water. Read more on the importance of water here.
• How close are sleeping and living areas?
Lights and pumps may be on at night. This'll create a small amount of noise. With this in mind, try not to set your grow room up away from sleeping and living areas.
• What’s the flooring like?
Do not grow on carpeted floors. They hold moisture and harbour bugs and bacteria. The occasional spillage or leak is unavoidable, too.
If you can, remove any carpet, then line the floor with thick black/white reflective sheeting
Step 2: Create a Light Tight Environment
If there’s a small window or natural light source in your grow room, block it off or light trap the area with Total Blackout Reflective Sheeting.
Reflective sheeting will:
1. Stop the light generated by grow lamps from escaping your grow room
Every 1% of light loss results in a 1% loss in yields! Read more here.
2. Prevent natural light from entering the area and affecting growth rates.
Plants get confused and stressed if they're exposed to light on an inconsistent basis…like you would be if your room suddenly illuminated in the middle of the night!
The shinier the reflective sheeting, the better. Take a look at the above image - you can see just how shiny Orca is (right) compared to standard Mylar (left)!
Step 3: Choose How to Configure your Space
Match the size of your space to your grow light output
Once you’ve found a suitable area, you need to work out how to configure your space.
• Configuration 1: Use an entire room
• Configuration 2: Convert an enclosed environment (like a cupboard)
• Configuration 3: Create a smaller grow space within a much larger room (typically with a grow tent)
Whichever option you choose, make sure the size of your area is suitable for the intensity of your grow lights.
If your light isn't intense enough, plants will under perform. If it's too intense, you'll likely have heat problems and harm your plants.
Configuration 1: Converting a whole room
In a large, empty room, one grow light is unlikely to be enough:
Instead, you’ll need multiple 600 Watt lights to fill the whole space:
You’ll need one complete lighting system (light + ballast + reflector) for every 1.2m x 1.2m area (absolute minimum).
While you can convert an entire room in this way, we actually recommend using a grow tent as well because you’ll get more from your lights and it’ll be easier to maintain the ideal climate.
Configuration 2: A grow room within a room
The best and cheapest way to get a grow room in a grow room is with a grow tent.
With a grow tent, you’ll find it a lot easier to:
• Maintain the optimum climate (e.g. temperature, humidity)
• Prevent bug infestations and diseases
• Minimise light loss
• Protect the rest of the room from the heat and humidity in your tent
The tent you need will depend on what you’re growing, and what types of lights you’re using.
If you have high intensity lights or taller growing plants, you’ll need bigger, taller tents.
• Our High Ceiling Mammoth Elite tents are a good shout
For mother plants, cuttings and seedlings, you’ll only need a small tent
• Our BAY6 propagation tents are ideal!
Our BudBox grow tents are a great option – they’re simple to set up and unbelievable strong – see for yourself here.
Configuration 3: Converting a small area like a wardrobe, closet or cupboard
When you're planning on growing in a small space, you may encounter heat problems.
To prevent this:
• Choose a high space (at least 5ft is good – ideally you want more)
• Use nothing more powerful than a 250 Watt Light
• Ensure there’s a constant flow of new air
If you don’t have much headroom, try using a smaller light like a T5 Grow Light because it’ll produce less heat.
However, as T5 Grow Lights are designed for propagation, we'd suggest you find a bigger area.
To get a constant flow of cool air:
• Use an extractor fan to take hot air away from the top of the area
Release extracted air outside (ideally) or away from the plants (to a well ventilated area)
• Use air input holes (even better, with air input fan) to force new air in
Draw air in from an indoor source, at a friendly temperature.
Read more on air extraction later in this post.
Step 4: Get The Right Light System
What's a Light System?
A typical light system consists of three parts:
• Ballast: for regulating and controlling the supply of energy needed to power the light
• Lamp: for actually generating the light
• Reflector: for guiding as much of the light produced down towards your plants.
Types of grow lights:
In the past, growers often used a metal halide (MH) lamp during vegetative growth then switched to a sodium for flowering.
Now, however, a lot of growers use a Dual Spectrum HPS (High Pressure Sodium) light throughout.
• Metal Halide: Great for vegetative growth (produce more blue light)
• Sodium: Great for flowering (produce more red light)
• Dual Spectrum HPS: For vegetative & flowering (produce blue & red light)
• LED's: We currently don’t sell these (find out why we don't sell LED's here)
• Fluorescent Lights: For propagation, often used with a BAY6 Dual Use Propagation tent
Supplemental grow lights
Supplemental grow lights can be used alongside your standard light, to give you healthier, faster growing plants that smell better and taste better.
Plasma: Wider light spectrum with UV-A and UV-B (read more here)
CDM: Gives plants a broader light spectrum to enhance growth (read more here)
You don’t have to use a supplemental grow light, but you'll get far better results if you do.
Choosing a grow light
When choosing a light, you need to be realistic about:
• The light’s power consumption rate (and your budget)
• The light output (read more here)
• How much space is available (your grow space will need to support the light)
Most Popular Choices
The three most popular lamp choices consist of the following:
1. 250 Watt Light
• Suits beginners and smaller areas, like cupboards
• Often used with an Intermediate BudBox Grow Tent
2. 400 Watt Light
- Great for vegetative plants and medium-to-large grow rooms
- Normally the choice for growers with a Large BudBox Grow Tent
3. 600 Watt Light
• The most efficient and popular light
• Gives optimum light and good depth over an area of 1.2 x 1.2 metres or more
4. 1000 Watt lights
1000W lights are less common then 600W lights but powerful! For the ultimate yields, try a Gavita set up:
Use a timer and contactor
If you're using a 250 Watt, 400 Watt, 600 Watt or 1000 Watt light, you’ll need a timer and contactor
A timer: Allows you to choose your on/off times (some controllers will do this for you instead)
A contactor: Prevents high inrushes, protecting your timer from damage.
Quick Tip: Consider Running your lights at night
A lot of growers have their lights on during the night and their lights off during the day.
Why? Because it’s cheaper:
• On economy 7 tariffs, the cost of electricity is less during the night
• Lights produce heat, and night times are cooler - it costs less to maintain the right temperature
To make checks and carry out tasks in your grow room during the day when the lights are most likely to be switched off, we recommend using an Active Eye Head Lamp.
Alternatively if you plan on tending to plants whilst the lights are on, protect your eyes with LUMii Lenses
To find out more about lights, we recommend reading:
Step 5: Set Up Suitable Air Exchange
Why do you need an air exchange/ventilation system?
The short answer is for climate control, to make sure plants are growing under the right conditions.
Plants constantly consume CO2 and release moisture. Your lights produce heat.
You’ll need to replace stale, CO2 depleted, hot, moist air with fresh, CO2 rich air.
What will you need?
What you need will depend on:
• Your lights
• The size of your grow space
• The time of year (more air needs to be extracted during summer months)
As a general rule, the more lights you have, the better your air exchange system needs to be.
Extractor fans draw air out of your grow room. To work out how many you need:
• First, work out the volume of space covered by your grow lights (length x width x height)
• Multiply this by 60
This is how much air should be exchanged per minute.
In most cases, this calculation will be fine. However, depending on where your grow room is, you may find it useful to:
• Add 20% for a warm attic
• Minus 15% in a cool basement
• Add 20% for long ducting
• Minus 25 - 30% for air cooled lighting
Something else to consider is that south facing rooms are hotter than north facing rooms. You may want to increase the size of your extractor fan in south facing rooms.
Another option is to use a thermostatic fan speed controller. It'll make sure the fans are running at the right speed to maintain the exact temperature you want. Plug them in, set the temp, job done. When using one its best to over spec the extractor.
If you're using an intake fan and extraction fan, they ideally need to be positioned in opposite corners of the growing area.
Extractor fans are normally on for 24 hours a day when used with carbon filters (for odour removal).
Your extractor fan doesn’t have to be in the grow room, you can place it outside the room and use in-line ducting.
Remember air needs to enter the room as well as leave it.
If you have a small grow room with only 1 600W light, it will normally be OK to use a series of vents to draw air in.
In a larger room, you will need an air intake fan.
Your input fan should be 15 - 20% less powerful than your extractor fan.
For more information, give these articles a read:
You may also find this table useful.
Basic Grow Room Safety
Grow light systems are very safe.
They only need a few hundred watts – like a lot of household electrical items. Like any of these devices, they prove to be perfectly safe if used with common sense.
Here are a few safety tips:
1. Use cable ties when necessary to keep wiring neat and out of the way
3. From time to time check all installations, connections and wiring.
4. Make sure equipment is not accessible to children or animals.
5. Read instructions and safety information where applicable, especially where aggressive liquids are concerned.
6. Consider installing a fire extinguisher that has been specifically designed for a grow room.
7.Always uncoil extensions and don't coil up the reflector cables - otherwise, they can get hot and even burn.
Now you've set up your grow room, you can start thinking about growing your plants. Take a look at the other articles in our blog for guidance.
We recommend reading:
Pest Control: How to identify Grow Room pests