Whether you’re a new hydroponic gardener or a seasoned pro, you’re going to need a grow tent at some point. Why? Well, in my case there were two reasons. First, grow lights are bright. If that light isn’t contained it gets annoying. Second, a grow tent gives you more control over the growing process and environmental factors like temperature, humidity, and light/dark cycles.
Ultraviolet light from grow lights is bad for your eyes, and it’s also bad for your pet’s eyes. This is another reason I opted for purchasing my first grow tent. It would have been sad watching fluffy bump into walls because she’d been blinded by the light.
If you’re ready to save your furry friends’ eyes and have more control over your plants, it’s time to find the perfect grow tent.
Benefits of Using a Grow Tent
The number one reason to use a grow tent is control.
I’m guessing part of the reason you garden indoors is for increased control. Your home is climate-controlled and sheltered from the weather. Grow tents allow you to go even further with climate control, creating “microclimates” for your plants.
For example, the grow tent I produce peppers in maintains a daytime temperature between 75-80°F. I definitely don’t want my house to be that hot, so a growing enclosure is a perfect option.
Zippers with over-flaps and exhaust vents with micro-mesh bug filters help keep pests away from those precious plants.
Growing in enclosures helps contain any kind of disease that may develop, and helps prevent the spread of that disease to other plants or tents.
You have total control over the light/dark cycle. A quality tent will have true blackout dark inside when the grow lights are off. This is incredibly important for some plants. Plus, you and your pets won’t be getting pelted in the eyes with UV light every time you walk past the grow area.
Budget Grow Tents
If you’re just getting started, these budget grow tents will deliver a ton of value.
Plant House Grow Tents
- What I like: All plant house tents come with 600D material, an all-metal galvanized steel frame, zipper underflaps, BoPET reflective film with 98% reflectivity, dual-port cinch sheets, waterproof spill pool, and a 110+ lb ceiling capacity. Durable enough to support any type of lighting.
- What I don’t like: There are no viewports, the zippers aren’t oversized, and the zippers don’t have overflaps. With that said, you won’t find a better value.
The 4’x8’x73″ Plant House tent will set you back less than $220. For comparison, a 2’x2.5’x83″ Gorilla Grow Tent will run close to $200.
High-End Grow Tents
If you’re looking for the best of the best of the best, Gorilla Grow Tent is it. These tents are in a league of their own, but you’re gonna have to shell out a sizeable amount of cash for all that luxury.
Gorilla Grow Tent
- What I like: 1680D material, all-metal fully-welded powder-coated galvanized steel framing, oversized metal zippers, under and overflaps for zippers, dual-port cinch sheets, viewports, waterproof spill pool, ceiling heights from 5’11” to 9’11”, and 200+ lb ceiling capacities.
- What I don’t like: The price tag. They’re not cheap, but they’re oh so sexy.
Specialized Grow Tents
As the name implies, specialized grow tents are built for specific purposes like plant propagation, cloning, etc. Beyond that, there are some options available that offer a propagation or microgreen area that’s separated from the main area of the tent.
If you have a specific need that doesn’t fit into the tents already mentioned, a specialized grow tent may be what you’re looking for.
Secret Jardin TWIN
The Secret Jardin TWIN is a cool all-in-one grow system that features a propagation are separate from the main grow area. This is really handy if you’re limited on space, but want to start plants in a controlled environment.
- What I like: Grow areas separated by thermal isolation panel, reinforced corner material, waterproof material.
- What I don’t like: Plastic corners, thin material (190D), 60lb max weight.
UV light can damage your eyes. Beyond that, grow lights alter visible colors which creates additional eye strain. Using UV blocking safety glasses protects your eyes from harmful UVA & UVB rays. Color correcting lenses, like the Summer Blue Revert, will also shift visible color back to a more natural state to reduce eye strain.
Important Grow Tent Features
Knowing what makes a grow tent “good” will help you make a choice that fits your needs….and budget! If you’re new to plant camping, pay attention to these features.
Spoiler Alert: A material density of 600D or more, and all-metal frame construction are the two most important features to look for.
1. Material Density
Material density, or thickness, is arguably the most important feature of a grow tent.
Grow tents range in thickness from 200D-1680D. The “D” at the end stands for denier. It’s a measurement of material thickness. The important thing to know; the larger the number, the thicker the material.
As the thickness increases, so does; durability, environmental control, odor containment, and light containment/blocking.
I recommend a material thickness of at least 600D, and prefer the 1680D thickness offered by Gorilla Grow Tent. Materials under 600D normally aren’t very durable, and have excessive light leakage.
2. Frame Construction
The frame is the skeleton that bears the weight of the tent itself, and all the equipment inside. Go for a tent with all-metal frame construction.
Most “budget” tents use plastic corner brackets that often break under because of the weight of lights, fans, filters, and other components supported by the frame. The last thing you want is expensive equipment crashing down on top of your plants.
3. Light Leakage
One of the main reasons to buy a grow tent is to keep light in, or out of, the grow tent. While material density has a major impact on light leakage, the overall tent construction can have a significant effect as well.
Look for tents with flaps that overlap the zipper area. These flaps block light leakage that might happen at seams or stitch lines. Also, look for flaps that velcro down so they’re not flopping around being useless.
Access ports should have drawstrings or other fasteners that create a light-tight seal around any vent fans, inlet/exhaust ducts, or electrical cords. Higher quality tents normally feature both internal & external port shrouds for extra light sealing.
4. Zipper Quality
If you’ve ever owned a bag, tent, or pair of pants with a crap zipper you know how frustrating that can be. Being tightly stretched around a frame, grow tent fabric is always under tension. Zippers are used to increase that tension as the grow room doors are zipped shut.
Cheap zippers will break, come out of alignment, or strip altogether. None of those are fun. Look for a grow tent that uses all-metal, oversized zippers. One thing I love about Gorilla Grow Tent is how beefy their zippers are.
This part is pretty simple. Select a size that fits your needs. If you’re unsure what size you need, draw a diagram that represents what you plan to grow inside the tent. Alternatively, if space is a constraint, measure the space available and pick a grow tent with dimensions that’ll fit within the space. My advice, get the largest grow tent you can afford/fit into the available area.
Height is an important factor for a couple of reasons. Taller tents allow the plant canopy to stay cooler as warm air rises away from the plants toward the top of the tent. Also, a taller tent can support taller plants like peppers and tomatoes while still maintaining the correct light distance from the plant canopy.
6. Spill Pool
Spill pools can be lifesavers if your hydroponic system springs a leak. Make sure your grow tent comes with a spill pool capable of holding standing water, which saves your floor from water damage if your system springs a leak.
7. Reflective Material
Quality reflective material on the inner wall of the grow tent is important because….well, it increases lighting efficiency by reflecting light back onto the plants.
A diamond reflective pattern is generally preferred, and most tents come with a mylar inner liner that has a reflection value of 95% or higher.
While the reflective material is important, most grow tents come with good reflective material because it’s cheap. Frame construction, zippers, and material density are way more important when selecting a grow tent.
8. Port Configuration
Choosing a tent based on port configuration comes down to your own specific needs. If you’re running inlet and exhaust ports, you know where you need them to be.
If you’re not planning to run complication ducting or lights that produce a lot of heat, you don’t have to worry as much about port placement. Instead, make sure the port placements are convenient for routing electrical wires.
If the tent you’re looking at has a ventilation port, make sure it has a good bug filter. A bug filter is basically a micro-mesh screen that keeps pests at bay while you give your plants some fresh air.
Where to Buy Grow Tents
I recommend buying grow tents from a reputable hydroponics retailer either online or in person. If you purchase from Amazon, make sure you’re buying an authentic product from the original manufacturer.
Grower’s House is my trusted source for a wide range of hydroponics equipment, including grow tents. I know, everybody loves the quick-shipping from Amazon. Here’s where things really get good. Grower’s House offers free shipping on grow tents, and it’s not slow shipping. I ordered my last grow tent on a Friday afternoon and it arrived the next Tuesday.
Time to Throw Some Shade
Can you get by without a grow tent? Absolutely. You don’t always need to have one, but plants will perform better in a controlled environment.
I held off on buying a tent for a long time because I didn’t fully understand the level of control it would give me. Now I’m hooked.
If you need help finding the right grow tent, contact me!