How to Create Your Own Customised Grow Room, Down Under!
Are you thinking of starting your own project in the exciting realm of hydroponics? Perhaps you're already in the middle of a hydroponic grow, but your setup (or grow tent) isn't 'fitting the bill'?
It's not uncommon for aspiring Aussie green-thumbs to yearn for their their own private, tailor-made space to grow in; free from the hardships of plagues, pestilence, and bad weather... along with prying eyes and thieves. A spot where you can play God; at least for a bit!
Before we dive deep into that concept, though, let's get some basics straight.
The optimal tent/room for your indoor hydroponic grow will vary significantly, depending on your individual circumstances. Your setup will always be context-dependent on your lighting and available/applicable space... and as a result, your ideal setup may look quite different to what others have done.
Don't stress, if this is the case! In this article, we'll give you a rundown of what's possible within the world of custom-built grow rooms and tents. We'll also send you in the right direction, if you're seeking out a more standardised, pre-fabricated option!
Some Considerations For Your Hydroponic Setup
Indoor growing is perhaps the best way to control the environmental conditions of a plant organism... but it can come with a range of complications and conditions. It's important to consider these before getting started!
Ideally, you want to get as much as space as you can within the purview of your light.
If you decide upon a HLG 260W (or one with similar output/efficiency), we recommend a tent that runs to 90cm x 90cm, long and wide. This will give you fantastic light coverage, and plenty of room to grow most crops in most instances.
Height is ultimately space dependent. We strongly recommend buying a tent that runs to 150cm, at least. You can get away with 120cm, if you train your specimens early. If you're limited to a 'mirror closet' space, we recommend a 80cm x 80cm x 160cm tent with a 260W Quantum Board. This is ideal for 3 average sized plants in 13 Litre Air Pots!
Ultimately, you must account for the loss of height and space to any equipment inside your environment - such as exhaust fans, filters and lights - which need to share space with your plants. In some instances, you'll require something a little more tailored to your own specific needs. That's where building your own customised grow room comes in!
Custom Building Your Indoor Grow
It's unfortunate that many beginners feel like building their own DIY grow room or custom space is just too expensive... both in terms of time and money. The task of an indoor grow can be daunting, from the outset!
Well, I am here to tell you that if you can use basic hand tools like a saw and a screwdriver, you can build your own grow space. It will be a step up from a tent, and likely cost less!
When I started growing with hydroponics, you weren’t able to find many grow tents online. Times have changed! Here at Fran's, we have a tent to fit your needs. A good tent runs over $200 - for a fairly small footprint.
End of article, right? Wrong. While I have nothing negative to say about these store-bought tents (other than cost and potential environmental impacts), I feel like a space you have built on your own allows you to customise and enjoy the whole process much more.
If you feel similarly, this will be the guide for you!
Deciding On Your Grow Room's Area
When choosing a space to grow in, I always like to pick an area that has relatively low traffic. Basements are ideal, if you have one. Garages and sheds are also good; as are unused spare rooms. So long as the room has power. The idea is that the space you choose will only ever be disturbed by the gardener/s.
Once you have chosen an area, you need to determine how much of that area you can dedicate to a semi permanent space. I put mine in the basement - in my own case, I had 4 feet (1.21m) for width, and 7 feet (2.13m) for both length and height. This is plenty of space for most purposes.
The total cost on my build was about $150. It effectively amounted to a much sturdier and cheaper setup than a tent. You get a lot of space to grow in. Go look online for a tent with similar specs… I’ll wait!
A Room Suitable To Your Needs
So, what's your situation?
You need to identify your needs to know what is best for you.
Where in Australia are you, and what climactic conditions are you facing?
Also, what kind of space are you looking to grow in? Are you engaging in a massive hydroponic growing operation? Are you trying to supplement your food consumption to a point where you no longer need to go to the grocer for certain items? Or are you just trying to get enough to supplement your requirements? When it comes to the amount of space you need, this will be the determining factor.
Your plants must be spaced to grow independently from one another, and for each to get a proper amount of light. Determining a comfortable amount of space is the first step to your build.
The Complex Variables Involved In Your DIY Grow Room
Put simply, the purpose of a grow room is to control the conditions in which your plants will grow.
Variables the gardener can control include:
Relative Humidity (RH) of the room - This can be accomplished by running a humidifier/dehumidifier.
Temperature - Plants like different temperatures depending on their genetics. This will be helpful to look up before you begin growing. Typically, anywhere between 18 and 28 degrees Celsius will work.
Airflow/Cooling - To grow top notch produce, you'll need to circulate the air. For most beginner grows, you can get away with some fans on the wall and a passive intake. The need for air conditioning will increase depending on how much heat your light produces. (I will go over how I accomplished this in my build, later).
- Light - As I just touched upon, the light you choose may have an impact on your cooling situation. Your light will need to fit your budget (they're expensive!) and desired yield. Growing indoors allows you to completely control the light cycle; whereas in the good ol' outdoors, you get what you get.
Constructing Your Own Space For Hydroponics
To be ready for this job, you will need some basic tools and materials. That’s right: it's time to take a trip to the hardware store.
Tools, Materials and Resources for Your Grow Room
Circular Saw (or a table saw)
10 foot (3.05m) lengths of 2x4 - you can save money using cull lumber.
You'll need around 12-15 to build the same sized room I did.
3 inch (7.5 cm) #8 Robertson, plywood screws. (Any 3 inch plywood screw will work)
2 1/2 inch #8 Robertson, plywood screws (same with these)
2 inch #8 Robertson, plywood screws
#8 Robertson drill bit
1 big sheet of plywood
A Utility Knife
A Tri square
A Cordless (or corded) drill
Black and white Polyethylene film (better known as Panda Poly)
Any reflective surface will work - such as mylar sheeting
Safety glasses - it's good practice. Protect your eyes!
Building Your Grow Room From the Ground Up
Building your space will literally require you to start from the ground-up.
First, you need to cut a piece of plywood to fit the footprint that you determined earlier. Then, take your pieces of 2 x 4, and cut a few lengths to make a frame for the base of the floor. In my case, I made two lengths at 7 feet (2.13 m) and 3 lengths at just under 4 feet (1.22 m).
Subtract the width of the 2 x 4, such that they can be placed in between the 7 ft lengths. Then, take your tri square and ensure the corners are squared off, before using the 3” plywood screws to join each 3' 2 x 4 to the 7’ 2 x 4’s (on edge, so the 4' side is vertical).
You should end up with a rectangular/square frame, with one piece of 2 x 4 in the middle for support. After this is completed, cut two more pieces of 2 x 4 to fit between the frame you just built, parallel to the 7' boards, to add strength to the floor. (See Fig 1.1).
Use the 2” plywood screws to secure the plywood sheet to the rectangular frame you have just created, placing 2” screws along the frame to secure the floor.
My reason for building a floor first is to keep the room elevated off the surface of wherever you are planning to build. This prevents any possible flooding inside the space from getting to your electrical devices (ballast, plug ins, etc.).
It also helps insulate the floor of the grow room, preventing cold from conducting into your pots.
Building Your Grow Room's Frame
Next, you will need to build a frame to attach the panda poly to.
You can accomplish this by cutting the uprights (height is determined by you - mine was 7 feet), taking the upright lengths you have just cut, and screwing them onto the outside of the corners of the floor you just built. Do this using your 2.5” plywood screws.
After you have this done, add some pieces between the upright ones. Finally, add some pieces to the roof, in order to solidify the structure and to hang a light from. This can be accomplished in much the same way as you built the floor!
It will all depend on how you choose to hang your light - and if you have a light moving system - but for the basic room, you'll just need a place to install some eyebolt screws.
Fix Any Light Leaks in Your Grow Room
Once the frame has been built, all you need to do is take that trusty staple gun and put the panda poly up inside of the structure you have built. I found it easiest to take the panda poly and wrap the walls with it, then staple it down (white side in, obviously).
The goal is to prevent light leaks... which are exactly what they sound like.
Light leaks are places where light will enter into your grow room from the outside. I leave the overlap that hangs onto the floor and into the roof, for extra protection. Then, I cut a piece for both the floor and roof, and staple them down.
I do this so the plastic is as tight as it can be. I use white gorilla tape to seal the seams between the sheets, and to cover any holes made from missed staples - or tears in the panda poly.
The Finished Product
Finally, the room should look something like this when you are done!
If you plan to build this structure outdoors, you will need to look at building a proper roof. You'll also need to use plywood for the walls.
I cut a square hole on the left hand side and hung a scrap square piece bigger than the hole, which functioned as a passive air intake (It’s a light baffle. This works because light does not bend around corners… Physics, read a book!!!). Any ambient light that comes in is negligible.
Using a light baffle won’t affect your crop size in flower, but in some cases, with some plants, this comes with the possibility of causing them to show signs of hermaphroditism... which might not be what you want!
I added a shelf to the outer left of the grow room I built (not pictured) - but it's basically some L brackets and a spare piece of the plywood board I used for the floor, as a place for my ballast to sit.
I cut a hole in the lower back left corner inside the room for power - again, making a light baffle - and installed a ground fault interrupting surge bar on the outside underneath the shelf I built.
Running all power cables out of the hole at the bottom left, and plugging into the Surge bar, I installed the bar off the ground... again, in case of flooding. The room I have my space built in is close to a water heater, so this was important.
...And there you have it! This has been how to build a grow room using nothing but a few materials and resources, along with your own ingenuity and skill.
I hope you give it a go - I hope this guide inspires people to build their own indoor grow space. Even if a beginner got a little bit of knowledge out of this, I'd be happy!
Pointers for Your Hydroponic Grow Room
KEEP IT CLEAN!
Keeping your tent clean will ensure that minimal harmful bacteria get inside your grow operation. Same applies for pests.
KEEP IT TIDY!
Make sure all your power cables are tied down and kept away from any water. This is a must. Duct tape is your friend!
LEAVE OUTDOOR EQUIPMENT OUTSIDE!
Outdoor equipment is covered in bacteria and pests - ruining the controlled conditions of your grow. You do not want to use those old pots from the garden!
..and that’s about all you need to know, when it comes to tents and growing environments.
If All Else Fails... Purchase a Grow Tent!
You can use the grow room builder tool on our website to select for your specifications.
If 'building your own' grow space seems like way too much work, give our grow tents a try! They're extremely versatile, and easy to set up and use.
Tents are easily concealable inside of compact spaces. Mirror closets, cupboards, under your stairs, in a garage, shielded by boxes, a walk-in wardrobe… you can put a tent just about anywhere!
When selecting your grow tent, be sure to look out for:
Zippers with a flap over them to prevent light leaks. These are good.
A ventilation grill on the bottom of the tent, and an exhaust slot on the top.
A tent free of PVC plastics, which can harm your plants.
A reflective silver material on the inside of the tent.
A grow tent is the quickest and easiest solution to help you get set up with hydroponics! Setting up your tent is an easier process than assembling most flat pack furniture.
Watch the video above for a demonstration of a tent setup. Your tent will be a bit different, but the setup will be more or less the same. Happy growing!