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How to Set up a Low Budget Grow Room

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kyle kushman
March 23, 2020
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    Home-based cannabis cultivation is getting more popular by the day. If the frequent visits to dispensaries are starting to hurt your wallet, maybe you should consider growing your own cannabis, too? Weed is expensive. You’re not going to save much money growing your own carrots (unless you’re close friends with Bugs Bunny) but growing marijuana can save you a fortune! There are number of ways you can limit the initial outlay but it’s all about cutting the right corners. Making sure you have the best stuff you can to produce high-quality weed without breaking the bank.

    Setting Up a Low-Cost Grow Room for Around $100

    Cultivating marijuana is more affordable than most people think. Sure, the initial cost can be a setback, you’ll be thinking high-end air-con and timed hydration systems, but there are cheaper ways to skin a cat. Setting up your grow room with low-cost but efficient equipment can cost about $100. Seriously! Here is a sample shopping list:

    Can such a basic set up produce a decent harvest? Well, it can definitely produce a harvest but it won’t be the biggest crop ever pulled off a single grow! This will mainly be down to the lamp. Fluorescent lights are limited but anything bigger and you’re looking at air conditioning and cooling systems.

    That said, cheap indoor grow rooms are possible and they can get the job done effectively. Read on for more detail on grow room requirements, along with a list of affordable supplies needed for a budget-friendly cultivation space. Second-hand equipment will always save you money and you can find some real bargains online, but asking at your local dispensary or hydroponics shop could be productive, too. Cannabis is a community and if we don’t help each other out, nobody else will.

    Grow Room Requirements

    Growing marijuana is far cheaper than going on endless trips to dispensaries, but it’s not without its costs. Even the most basic of grow room set-ups will need some expenditure. The important thing is to make sure you’re spending your money wisely.

    Why Grow Cannabis Indoors?

    An indoor set up gives you better control over almost everything that can affect the growth and yield of your weed, such as lighting, temperature, humidity and nutrient feeding schedules. When you grow outdoors, the plant is at the mercy of extremes of weather like strong winds and low temperatures, none of which matter as much to the indoor grower.

    Let’s take a look at the things the indoor grower must consider. Every item on this list will contribute in some way to trouble-free cultivation, vigorous plant growth and generous yields.

    Light and Dark. Plants need light to photosynthesize, but, for a photoperiod (non-auto) plant, the dark period is just as important. During the vegetative stage, a marijuana plant must get 18 hours of light and 6 hours of darkness. Throughout the flowering cycle this schedule must be changed to 12/12. If the flowering plant is exposed to light during its dark cycle, it could revert to the vegging phase. That is why the growing space must be as lightproof as possible.

    Kicking up a Stink. Most cannabis strains produce a very pungent fragrance that your family members, housemates or neighbors might not appreciate. To keep any strong stench from compromising the living situation, most growers use a carbon filter, but these can be expensive. You can try other methods like odor-neutralizers such as Cannabolish or air purifiers, but the only sure-fire way to save money here is to surround yourself with 420-friendly people who won’t moan about the smell.

    Air Extraction. Air cooling and/or extraction is essential in keeping the grow room temperature optimal, but only when using powerful lamps. This is because strong grow lights produce a lot of heat which must be removed. Excess heat will kill even the hardiest of plants so thermal control is essential. If you’re using fluorescents or LEDs, the heat output won’t be as severe and you could get away with a decent fan and good ventilation. If you do need to extract heat, you can pair the equipment needed with a carbon filter (see above).

    A Breath of Fresh Air. Like most other plants, marijuana needs carbon dioxide for photosynthesis. Most rooms measure about 350 parts per million (ppm) of carbon dioxide. However, in an isolated cultivation room, the supply of CO2 may deplete quickly. This could slow down the growth and development of cannabis but by keeping an inward flow of fresh air the plants will get plenty of CO2.

    You’re Getting Warm. During lights-on hours, the heat from the grow lamp keeps the marijuana plants warm. This isn’t always the case at night. You might need a source of warmth during the dark hours, especially if you have an air extractor running through lights-out. Colder nights can promote deep blue and purple hues in the plants, but this needs to be planned for the latter stages of flowering.

    Air For Everyone. It’s not enough that fresh air is supplied from the outside. You must also ensure it is distributed around the entire grow space and to all the cannabis plants. Your fan(s) are perfect for this, keeping air, heat and CO2 moving around the space. This keeps the temperature consistent while the movement helps strengthen the limbs of the growing plants.

    Waterproof Floor. From time to time, some water may leak from the pots onto the grow room floor. This scenario is inevitable whether you manually water your plants or employ an expensive automated drip irrigation system. Sometimes, you may even be tempted to spray water onto the floor to increase the humidity in the sealed space. Cleaning up is far easier if the floor is waterproof, but it’s possible to manage with normal flooring.

    Mirror, Mirror. With fixed position lamps, there will be parts of the grow room receiving more light than others. Instead of adding more grow lamps, which will increase heat and cost money, the best option is reflective walls. This will maximize the spread and reach of the lights without increasing energy consumption, while boosting the yield of your plants. Most tents are made with reflective inner walls, but tin-foiling a cupboard or closet will have the same effect.

    Grow tents. Having a grow tent makes cannabis cultivation far simpler. Because they are explicitly designed for growers who want to cultivate plants indoors, they come fitted with many of the above-mentioned requirements. Typically, these units are already airtight and lightproof. They have provisions for the exhaust and intake fan, as well as non-separating zipper doorways. The structure of a grow tent is also designed to bear the weight of the lamps and air extraction system.

    Purchasing a grow tent is highly recommended as they are easy to assemble and solve a host of issues in one go.

    In general, small cultivation tents cost between $30 to $100. Apart from the reasonable price, they have the features that help you achieve the highest yield possible.

    Budget-Friendly Grow Equipment

    Now you know what your grow room needs, let’s take a look at how you meet those needs, specifically – the equipment. You don’t necessarily have to get everything on the list but each item adds to the level of control you can achieve with your grow

    Comments: What’s your favorite piece of kit? Is there any equipment you want to read more about?

    Grow Light

    More light means more bud formation which leads to bigger yields. In general, high-pressure sodium (HPS) lamps are most optimal for flowering (50 watts per square foot) with Metal Halides (MH) at 35 watts per square foot for vegging. Other options include energy-efficient fluorescent lights and LED lights, the best ones of which last for years and years.

    Reflector

    To properly distribute the light from your HPS or MH towards your plants, you’ll need to use a reflector. This simple addition will more evenly spread the light and is great when the walls are reflective, too. You can save some cash if you buy a complete light set with the reflector, bulb and ballast.

    Ballast

    A ballast limits the energy used by the grow lamp. Without it, the lighting connected to a high voltage power source will raise the draw uncontrollably, so believe us – you need it. Ballasts work with the majority of bulbs. Some are also dimmable and offered in a set (with a lamp and reflector), which is an excellent option to save some money.

    Timer Switch

    Marijuana plants follow a strict light schedule which varies depending on the growth cycle they are in. Controlling lights with a timer is essential if you don’t want to be a prisoner to your grow. Without it, you have to always be at home at the right time to manually turn your lights on and off. If this sounds like a huge hassle, it’s because it is. Get a timer.

    Air Extractor

    An air extractor or extraction fan gets rid of the heat in the grow room. Optimal levels are roughly 17,600 cubic feet of extraction for every 600-Watt grow light. We recommend purchasing an extractor in a sound-insulated box (they can be pretty loud). The fan can also create an under-pressure that prevents the smell from escaping. The air goes through the extractor instead, so make sure you have a carbon filter attached if smell is going to be a problem.

    Thermostat Speed Controller

    During lights-on hours, the grow room is warmer, and more amounts of air must be drawn out than when the lamps are off. That being the case, the extractor does not have to run at the same rate the entire day. This is when a controller with a thermostat comes in handy. It adjusts the speed of the extractor according to a specified temperature threshold. For instance, you can set it to 25% fan speed when the temperature inside the grow room is 25°C or below. Once the heat goes above that, you could have it automatically switch to 75% fan speed, reverting only when the temperature drops.

    Rotating Fan

    Stagnant air must be avoided as it creates an environment optimal for mold development. You can keep the air moving inside the cultivation space by installing a rotating fan. It should be directed between the grow lights and the plants, mixing hot and cold air.

    Carbon Filter

    A carbon filter neutralizes the intense fragrance of marijuana. As mentioned, it must be paired with an extraction fan so the warm, pungent air can be sucked into the purification system. You have to replace the carbon filter after six harvests. However, an environment with a humidity level of 80% or above could shorten the lifespan of the filter.

    Air Intake

    Keeping the supply of fresh air into the grow room is crucial as all plants, cannabis included, need carbon dioxide. To sustain an adequate level of CO2 inside the space, attach an intake fan to the vent hole. It should be half the capacity of the air extractor. For instance, if you have a 52,800-cubic-foot extractor, the intake fan must be 26,400 cubic feet. Note that some growers use CO2 tanks (with regulator) instead, but this is not a budget-friendly approach.

    Thermometer

    Temperature is one of the primary factors that impacts the growth of marijuana plants, so keeping a close eye on it is essential. You can either use a digital thermometer or analog type, and it can be as cheap as they come. If you want to analyze long-term temperature readings, you could get a digital model with a memory feature.

    We recommend choosing one that can be attached to a wire and strung to the outside of the grow room. This way, you can remove it to check night temperatures without opening the tent and disturbing the internal environment.

    Note that the ideal temperature inside a cannabis cultivation space is around 75°F. It should not fall below 65°F and not go higher than 85°F.

    Hygrometer

    Monitoring humidity is critical as high concentrations of water vapor make the grow space susceptible to pest and pathogen attacks. You can use an analog or digital hygrometer. There are also units with memory feature, as well as combimeters, which measure both temperature and humidity.

    Water Tank

    Having a water tank is helpful when making nutrient solution. There should be around five gallons for every 600-watt light in the cultivation area. You must ensure the reservoir is maintained at the proper temperature.

    EC Meter

    Measuring the nutrient and mineral levels in the water solution is necessary to measure the absorption rate of marijuana plants. This should be done before every feeding, along with checking the pH level and temperature. To do this, use an EC meter.

    pH Meter

    Keeping a close eye on pH levels will help with feeding and watering. If the pH level is outside acceptable parameters the plants will struggle to absorb nutes. You can get a cheap one for around $20 but, if you have the budget, you might want to go for the more expensive types that also measure the EC level and temperature.

    Water, Water: Many home-growers stick to the basics and just use regular tap water. Indeed, why make it complicated? If you can drink it, then it’s good enough for your marijuana plants. Professional cultivators, though, aim for perfection, only using corrected or R/O water with a pH value between 5.5 and 6.5 and an EC measurement within 1.8 to 2.2. If you want to promote maximum nutrient absorption, do the same.

    Watering Can or Pump

    What you use for watering your marijuana plants depends on the size and type of your grow operation. Hydroponic systems use a pump connected to a time switch, as do many soil grows with 600-watt lamps or higher. Cans are fine for normal, smaller grows.

    Can you Set up a Grow for $100?

    Why not take us up on this challenge and see what you can build for $100??? We have found that a tight budget can sharpen the mind and fire the imagination. After all, necessity is the mother of invention! Share your stories on our forum and become a genuine inspiration.

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