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How to build an indoor cannabis garden on a budget

Setting up an indoor weed grow in your home is a lot easier than you may think. You will need to invest some time and money into an indoor grow, but acquiring materials and building it out doesn’t require a lot of skill and can be done cheaply.

This guide will show you how to build three different garden setups at three different price points. Each build below contains all necessary components needed to create a simple, climate-controlled grow for your plants.

All of the hardware used for each project can be ordered online or bought at a local hardware store or grow shop.

Note: Product prices below may fluctuate slightly over time.

The nano grow: $115 to $150

Who should use this build?

First-time growers, budget growers, and those who wish to keep their garden as inconspicuous as possible are a good fit for the Nano Grow. At 24”x 24”, this tent is small enough to fit in most closets.

Supply list:

  • TopoLight 24”x24”x48” Indoor Grow Room ($50)
  • Lorell 6” Clip On Fan ($14)
  • Century 24 Hour Mechanical Timer ($10)
  • Growstar 150w Cree LED Full Spectrum UFO Light ($43)
  • (Optional) iPower 4” 100CFM Inline Duct Fan ($18)
  • (Optional) AcuRite Hydrometer and Thermometer ($12)

Total cost: $117-147

The Nano Grow is designed to be the most budget friendly and least technical design. This build focuses on trimming down the necessary components to eliminate any superfluous items. While the essentials will cost you just under $120, you can add an optional inline fan and thermometer/hydrometer for just bit more.

LED lights work well in this environment because they produce very little heat. Although filtration for a grow of this size is not necessary, those who wish to grow in a more confined space should consider opting for the intake fan and thermometer/hydrometer. This will help to both increase air circulation and provide some fundamental metrics for maintaining a healthy environment for the plants.

With the tent height maxing out at 48”, plants grown in this space should not exceed 24” in height and we recommend using dwarf, indica, and auto-flowering varieties for best results.

Build notes:

30 min

  • Hardware recommendations: Duct tape, heavy-duty zip ties
  • Total power outlets required: 2 to 3
  • Where to assemble: Closet space or room
  • Recommended plant count: 1 to 2 plants
  • Components:

    • Tent: The Topolight grow tent is perfect for a small space or closet and features highly reflective mylar coating on the inside to help provide your plants with optimal lighting.
    • Light: The Growstar LED Full Spectrum UFO Light is an inexpensive and efficient fixture designed to provide a spectrum suitable for both vegetative and flowering plants. This light features 30w of Cree LED and emits a blue/purple hue. You also receive the necessary components to hang the light at variable heights in order to follow a canopy as it grows. LED lights do not add any additional heat to the tent and require less filtration to maintain proper temperatures.
    • Filtration: A 6” Lorell clip-on fan provides airflow within the tent. Additionally, you may add a 4” 100CFM inline duct fan to provide an intake mechanism to cycle clean air throughout the tent. If you decide to buy the intake duct fan, install it on the bottom of the tent using duct tape and zip ties. The clip-on fan will help move air around inside of the tent. By keeping the top duct port open, air may exhaust passively. If you decide to opt out of the intake duct fan, leave both the bottom and the top port open for air movement.
    • Automation: This build comes with a 24-hour mechanical timer designed to keep the light on an automated cycle. Mechanical timers are slightly more affordable than their digital counterparts.
    • Climate metering: The basic version of this build does not feature any climate monitoring hardware. However, there is an option to purchase an Acurite thermometer/hydrometer which will allow you to monitor essential metrics within the tent.

    The micro grow: $500

    Who should use this build?

    The Micro Grow is a value-driven package designed to provide all of the essentials for a single tent grow. More advanced than the Nano Grow, it’s a complete system that can handle just about any grow style.

    This build is a perfect fit for a small room or garage space. At 64” tall, the tent affords enough room to propagate most smaller, bushier cultivars. There is a canopy height limit of between 35” and 42”.

    In this setup, 2 to 4 plants are recommended. You can squeeze in 6 plants if you grow small auto-flowering varieties and/or vegetate the plants for less time.

    Supply list:

    • Casolly 32”x32”x64” Indoor Grow Room ($65)
    • Century 7 Day Heavy Duty Programmable Digital Timer, Dual Outlet ($13)
    • AcuRite Hydrometer and Thermometer ($12)
    • Lorell 6” Clip-On Fan ($17)
    • Growsun 4” Indoor Grow Exhaust Kit, Carbon Filter, Fan, Ducting ($120)
    • VivoSun 6” 240CFM Inline Duct Booster Fan ($21)
    • Growneer Variable Speed Vent Fan Controller ($12)
    • TopoGrow 315W CMH Grow Light Kit, 120v fixture w/ 3100k Bulb ($177)
    • 15 amp GFCI Grounded 5-Outlet Adapter ($29)

    Total cost: $466

    Unlike the Nano Grow, this build contains a complete ventilation system designed to filter and exhaust hot air while simultaneously bringing in clean, cool air. Additionally, the timer has been upgraded to the dual-outlet digital model for controlling both the light and carbon filter exhaust system. A variable speed vent fan controller is also added for maximum climate control.

    With the 315w CMH (ceramic metal halide) lights, enough heat is generated to recommend this build for an open space to allow for the best possible air circulation through the tent. The included 3100k bulb allows you to use the tent for both vegetative and flowering cycles.

    Build notes:

    1 hour

  • Hardware recommendations: Duct tape, heavy-duty zip ties
  • Total power outlets required: 4 (5-outlet grounded adaptor recommended)
  • Where to assemble: Room or garage
  • Recommended plant count: 2 to 4 plants
  • Components:

    • Tent: The Casolly 32”x32”x64” Indoor Grow Room provides adequate space for a much more powerful fixture, allowing you to cultivate more plants than the Nano Grow. This tent also features multiple ducting ports for proper air ventilation systems to be installed and comes with a front-sided concealable window for easy monitoring.
    • Light: This build features a 120v 315w CMH light fixture from TopoGrow. CMH lights give off far less heat than HID fixtures such as high-pressure sodium (HPS) and metal halide (MH). Complete with a 3100k bulb, this fixture produces a light spectrum conducive to both vegetative and flowering plants, eliminating the need to switch lights between cycles. Even better, this CMH fixture comes with a built-in ballast.
    • Filtration: Although CMH fixtures produce less heat than their competitors, there’s still a need for proper ducting and ventilation to remove hot air from the tent. For this build, we chose to pair a Growsun 4” indoor exhaust kit with a 6” Vivosun 240CFM inline duct booster fan. To maintain proper ventilation, a fan speed adjuster has been added. Additionally, a 6” Lorell clip-on-fan is used for airflow over the plant canopy.
    • Automation: A dual outlet digital timer is included for tandem use with the carbon filter exhaust and light fixture.
    • Climate metering: The Acuright Digital thermometer/hydrometer will help monitor temperature and humidity levels within the tent, making climate control adjustments easier.
    • Filtration setup: The 315w CMH generates enough heat to require filtration from the top of the tent. Airflow should be directed upward by installing the 6” duct booster fan at the bottom of the tent using duct tape and zip ties with the 4” carbon filter exhaust system at the top. Use heavy-duty zip ties to fasten the carbon filter at the back of the tent. Duct tape may be used to attach the fan to the filter as well as the filter to the aluminum ducting. Guide the ducting through the top port and fasten it with zip ties and duct tape.

    With this system, cool air will enter through the bottom of the tent, and warm air will be scrubbed as it leaves the top of the tent. The 6” clip-on fan should be placed just above canopy level on the back-left pole to help circulate air evenly as the plants mature.

    Standard grow: $1,000

    Who should use this build?

    The Standard Grow offers a complete package for growers who wish to maintain a perpetual cultivation operation year-round. It covers all of the essentials in housing, lighting, automation, and filtration for a standard home grow.

    No matter what your legal plant limit is, this tent should be able to handle it. At 80” for the main grow chamber, height is not a problem, and just about any cultivar can be propagated successfully under this build. With a 630w 3100k CMH fixture, this room can be used for both vegetative and flowering stages.

    For growers who want a full system capable of germinating seedlings, taking and keeping clones, maintaining mother plants, and have multiple chambers for various projects, this is the build for you.

    However, this system tends to run hot and will need the open air of a large room or garage to function optimally.

    Supply list:

    • 4 Bulb t5 Grow Light Fixture (x2 at $75)
    • GrowSun 6” 400 CFM Indoor Grow Exhaust Kit, Carbon Filter, Fan, Time, Ducting ($120)
    • TopoGrow 630W CMH Grow Light Kit, 120v Fixture w/ 2 3100k Bulbs ($320)
    • AcuRite Hydrometer and Thermometer (x2 at $12)
    • VivoSun 6” 240CFM Inline Duct Booster Fan (x2 at $21)
    • Lorell 6” Clip-On Fan (x4 at $17)
    • Century 7 Day Heavy Duty Programmable Digital Timer, Dual Outlet (x2 at $13)
    • TopoGrow 2-in-1 60”X48”X80” Dual Room Indoor Grow Tent ($188)

    Total cost: $938

    The “Standard Grow” is designed to be a fully comprehensive cannabis cultivation and propagation system, offering an all-inclusive perpetual grow space packed into a 4×5’ build. For just under $1,000, you get a 3-chambered, 3-light tent with a full air filtration system, automation and metering included.

    This build allows growers to cultivate at multiple stages in the plant’s life cycle as well as provide housing for multiple propagation projects.

    The 4×4’ main tent is powered by a 630w CMH light and the 1×4’ two-tiered tent extension is built out with two 4-bulb t5 fluorescent light fixtures. Complete with four fans, two dual outlet timers, and adjustable intake/exhaust components, this 80” tent supports even the most ambitious of grows.

    Build notes:

    2 hours

  • Hardware recommendations: Duct tape, heavy-duty zip ties
  • Total power outlets required: 10 (two 5-outlet grounded adaptors recommended)
  • Where to assemble: Room or garage
  • Recommended plant count: 4 to 12 (flowering)
  • Components:

    • Tent: The shining star of this build is the TopoGrow 2-in-1 60”x48”x80” dual-room indoor grow tent. The main chamber is 4’x4’x6.6” with an attached 1’x4’x6.6” two-tiered chamber. A wire frame separates the two chambers, allowing for two separate propagation rooms. The main and second chambers of the tent are divided by a velcro applied detachable, double-ended mylar fabric barrier.
    • Light: This system contains three separate light fixtures. The main room is outfitted with a 120v 630w CMH fixture with double 3100k bulbs, while the two-tiered chamber contains a pair of 12”x48” t5 fluorescent light bulb fixtures (4-bulb) stacked vertically. With this build, the main chamber may be used for both late vegetative and flowering cycles while the side chambers make for fantastic germination and cloning areas for young vegetative plants.
    • Filtration: The main chamber of the tent comes with a complete air filtration system. The intake is one 6” inline duct booster fan fastened at the bottom of the tent. A second 6” booster fan removes hot air from the top of the tent and sits just left of the CMH fixture. For exhaust, a 400CFM kit from GrowSun is used. The kit contains a 6” carbon filter, heavy-duty duct exhaust fan (with a speed controller), as well as 6” aluminum ducting. This system may either be fastened to the top back end of the tent via heavy-duty zip ties and duct tape or placed on the ground in the back right corner of the tent. Each set-up allows for exhaust ducting to leave the same top port. The main room receives two 6” clip-on fans, one set up to canopy height and the second fastened to a top support beam directing air towards the light fixture and 6” exhaust fan. The two-tiered side chamber gets a 6” clip-on fan for each room.
    • Automation: Two Dual Outlet Century 7 digital timers are used in this build. One controls the light and exhaust fan in the main chamber and the other controls the two fluorescent lights on the side.
    • Climate metering: Each chamber receives one Acurite hydrometer/thermometer for climate metering.
    • Filtration setup: For the main room, fasten the first 6” booster fan to the bottom-left port of the tent with zip ties and duct tape, directing air inward. The second booster fan should be fastened in the same way on the top-left side of the tent above the first. This fan will direct air out of the tent.

    The 6” exhaust kit may either be fastened on the top of the left tent or on the bottom-right, each option directing air through the carbon filter and out of the top port. This room receives two 6” clip-on fans—the first will be fastened to the top-right support beam of the tent to help move warm air towards the exhaust. The second fan can be placed on the back-left corner to follow the canopy as it rises.

    For the second room, a 6” clip-on fan is fastened to the back-left support beam of each tier to direct airflow throughout each small chamber.

    Author’s notes:

    • All prices are factored in pre-tax/pre-shipping fees.
    • Pricing and availability are subject to change.
    • Although not included in the inventory list, it is highly recommended that you purchase both 4” and 6” protective screens for each booster fan. Though not available on Amazon currently, these can be purchased at most hardware stores.

    Patrick Bennett contributed to this article.

    Check out Leafly's guide to learn some tips and tricks on how to set up an indoor weed grow inexpensively.

    How To Build Your Own Cannabis Grow Room

    So, you have decided to grow your own cannabis at home. Nice one! Growing your own cannabis not only guarantees a continuous supply of wonderful weed, it also leads to a greater appreciation of the herb and the sense of a job well done. It is well documented that time in the garden is as beneficial as meditating, increasing one’s sense of well-being and even helping combat anxiety and depression.

    Growing cannabis at home means having somewhere dedicated to growing. To produce enough weed to last from harvest to harvest, a minimum of 1m² is recommended. This will accommodate a number of smaller plants or one or two well-trained, or even scrogged, larger plants. All this is up to you; the yields in the end are similar, it just depends on whether you want a lot of variety with smaller yields per plant, or less variety and larger yields per plant. It is entirely up to the individual.

    The height of the grow room is dictated by available space and lights being used. A single square metre is easily covered by most styles of grow light. Less height is required when using fluorescents, as lights can be kept closer to plants throughout the grow, whereas HID lights need more distance to avoid light burn and excessive heat buildup. You might want to blast your babies with a 1000W HID, but without appropriate height, this just isn’t possible.

    Contents:

    SELECTING A SPACE

    Everyone can find an easily accessible spare square metre somewhere in their home or apartment. Spare rooms, attics, basements, cupboards, and walk-in robes can be used to set up a grow space. Discretion is a key factor; fan noise, light buzz, and odour control each need to be considered when selecting a space to set up a grow room. An oscillating fan attached to a shared partition wall, for example, will drive your neighbours crazy with the noise and sympathetic vibrations.

    LIGHT PROOFING

    An entirely light-proof grow room is absolutely necessary. In the first instance, light leakage can be annoying because grow lights are extremely bright. Light leakage can keep you awake at night if your grow room is a bedroom cupboard or set up in a spare corner of any inhabited room. At worst, it will advertise that you are growing weed to your whole neighbourhood.

    Secondly, light leakage into the grow room can adversely affect plant performance. Once plants have been flipped to the 12-12 day/night cycle to induce flowering, light leakage can confuse plants and lead to a lower yield, hermaphroditism, or even failed crops due to light stress. All growers keep a keen eye out for male plants, but missing a few well-hidden bananas on females can ruin a whole crop by sending it into seed production.

    Once your grow space is set up, do a test by turning on the lights and inspecting for any light leakage. Any cracks or holes that let light out will certainly let light in. When and if discovered, patch the holes with light-proof tape available at hardware stores or with at least two layers of gaffer tape—gaffer tape is semi-translucent, even the black stuff, so just one layer won’t do the job.

    Most electrical equipment kept in a grow room, such as dehumidifiers, have quite bright micro-LED lights, which can do the same plant damage as environmental light leakage. Place a piece of tape over any lights on these types of appliances to ensure nights are the darkest of dark. Outdoors, the subdued light of the full moon has beneficial effects on plant growth, but this effect is difficult to translate to an indoor grow.

    AIRTIGHTNESS

    As it matures into resinous, fat buds, good cannabis smells—it’s as simple as that. Some weed even overpoweringly reeks and can stink out a whole room, a whole house, or even a street. It is easy to become used to that luscious aroma when visiting your plants often, and become convinced that the smell isn’t going further than your grow room—but nothing is further from the truth. A well-sealed grow room prevents aromas from disturbing neighbours or your fellow inhabitants.

    A well-sealed grow room also makes climate control easier to maintain. Temperature control and dehumidifying/humidifying air rely on a sealed environment without any drafts. A stable environment is very important for optimum plant performance. A well-sealed room also acts as a quarantine cell for your plants, preventing any bugs, vermin, or airborne pathogens from entering. A single mouse can do a lot of damage to cannabis in only one night, especially to young plants, as they are voracious for nutrient-dense cotyledons and young stalks.

    It should be noted that an airtight grow room is a low-budget solution. Spending more to set up an air exchange system will benefit your weed substantially and will pay itself back in the long run. However, airtight grow rooms are the ideal environments for experimenting with CO₂ enrichment for added plant performance.

    AIR MOVEMENT

    Healthy cannabis requires moving air. Any grow room will require at least one oscillating fan to ensure air is continually in circulation. Moving air has a number of benefits for the cannabis plant.

    At a minimum, moving air should ruffle all the leaves on a plant to ensure fresh air is available to the leaf stomata. In still environments, stale air can build up on the undersides of leaves around the stomata and hinder efficient gas exchange. This has the undesirable effect of inhibiting plant growth; stems will become weak, leaves will droop, and plant performance will be poor.

    Moving air strengthens plants considerably; stems and stalks become thicker and more robust, and end yields will be higher.

    Moving air also helps with the wet-dry cycle of the growing medium by supporting evaporation. Moreover, it prevents pathogens caused by moisture buildup on leaves as they transpire. Moulds like nothing more than a moist, warm environment.

    AIR EXCHANGE

    With a higher budget, introducing an air exchange system stimulates better growth. Air exchange requires an inlet for fresh air and an exhaust for depleted air. With a higher budget still, incorporating a carbon filter into the exhaust system will keep the stink factor to a minimum.

    Air inlets are passive and can take a number of forms; however, they are always situated in the lower part of the grow room, either in the floor if the floor is raised, or in a wall. The main consideration is light control when putting perforations into a grow room. A simple slot, vent, or series of holes will provide ample air intake, but can be indiscreet with light. Using a piece of ducting with a bend in it, or configuring a double wall arrangement, stops light escape. The easiest thing to remember is that light can’t go around corners, so introducing an arrangement with a bend of some kind keeps your grow discreet. Also, provide some kind of vermin barrier to dissuade any critters that want to get in and feed on your precious weed.

    An air inlet means there will also be an air outlet or exhaust system, ideally with a carbon filter attached. Exhaust systems remove depleted air and heat from the grow room and draw fresh air in. Where possible, it is desirable to exhaust to the outdoors to prevent heat buildup in closed spaces, or to recirculate the same air back into the system. This can often be a challenge, but ducting is your friend when solving air distribution problems.

    The capacity of an exhaust fan is dictated by the volume of the grow room. Length × width × height will give the volume of the grow room, and the manufacturer will recommend what fan will be right for the job. It is recommended to go up a size to ensure proper air exchange, and to accommodate any potential increase in the scale of your grow.

    CLIMATE CONTROL

    Cannabis thrives when the climate is controlled in regard to humidity and temperature, with certain parameters ideal for vegetation and other parameters ideal for bloom.

    Humidity can be easily controlled with a dehumidifier; these are also available as double-action units that will add or subtract humidity as necessary. During vegetation, a humid and warm environment increases the rate of growth, while lower humidity and temperatures increase bud development.

    Temperatures can be controlled with small, portable, reverse cycle AC units. Many humidity-modifying units and heaters come with built-in thermostats and hygrometers, so they switch on and off as the environment demands. Just set them, and rest assured your weed is booming at every stage; automating the whole thing makes growing life a lot easier.

    SAFETY AND FIRE PREVENTION

    Although most growers make it to harvest time without any mishaps, numerous horror stories document how bad things can get when an accident happens.

    ELECTRICAL EQUIPMENT

    Although many cannabis growers like to keep their operation minimal, others like to use as many helpful gadgets as possible. But, even a small number of electronics in the grow space runs the risk of fire.

    Water remains one of the biggest risks in the grow room when it comes to electronics. Water can interrupt an electrical current, potentially leading to a fire or electrocution. Try as hard as possible to keep electronics elevated above the ground in case of any water leaks.

    Place a fan in your grow room to regulate temperature. Although this means even more electronics floating about, a fan will create a cool air current and help to prevent devices from overheating.

    Using a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) will help to stop electrical leaks when they arise. This piece of kit detects when electricity flows where it shouldn’t—in a pool of water or a human body— and breaks the circuit.

    HOUSEKEEPING

    Keep your grow room as tidy as possible. Create a dedicated space for each piece of equipment, and keep wires running neatly using plastic zip ties. If you notice any damaged or exposed wires, repair them immediately.

    Clear away all tools after using them to prevent any trip hazards. Keep your pruning shears, watering cans, and spray bottles packed away in a toolbox when not in use. Not only can tripping result in injury, but you might also land on your plants and cause some serious damage.

    FIRE EXTINGUISHER

    Although rare, you should be entirely prepared for a fire to break out. Grow room fires can destroy your property, put your life at risk, and also expose your herbal hobby to the authorities. Keep a fire extinguisher close by at all times in case your setup goes up in flames.

    Instal a fire alarm in your grow room to alert you if a fire breaks out. Purchase a handheld fire extinguisher and keep it at the entrance to your grow room or tent. Purchase a model that contains dry chemical powder or CO₂ suitable to tackle electrical fires. Alternatively, purchase an extinguisher ball and position it above your growing space. Upon exposure to excess heat, these devices explode and release fire-retardant powder.

    THE BUILD

    Now that you have selected a space that satisfies the demands for a healthy and discreet grow, it’s time to actually build your grow room. There are a number of solutions to create a grow room at home on a budget. This method uses a number of plastic-lined wooden frames to form the walls, base, ceiling, and door. When including a ceiling, supports for the grow lights will need to be incorporated. When dealing with existing walls and ceilings, BE ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN OF THE LOCATION OF ELECTRICAL WIRING. Also, tenants will need to consider the future repair of any surfaces that might be affected when building their grow room.

    What you will need:

    • A saw
    • A stapler that can staple to wood
    • Doubled-sided plastic sheet: one side black, the other side white or reflective like Mylar
    • Screws
    • 4 small hinges
    • A drill with a drill bit and a screwdriver bit
    • Scissors
    • 26 angle plates
    • Plastic corner protectors (optional)
    • Timber to suit: 4x4cm (or close enough) pine or similar softwood is easy to handle, strong enough, and cheap; your local hardware shop will certainly have this available in a variety of lengths

    INSTRUCTIONS

    1. To create the top and bottom of your frame, you will require 4x 1.0m + 5x 92cm laths of wood.

    – To create the sides of your frame, you will need 7x 192cm laths.

    – To create the door, you will need 2x 1.0m laths + 2x 192cm laths.

    2. For the top: To affix the laths, drill holes 2cm from each end, and one in the middle for the spax. Do the same to the bottom. For the door: Drill holes 2cm from each end in the 1m laths. Spax together with the vertical beams.

    3. Now that you have created the bottom frame, take one of the 192cm laths, place it in one corner, and affix it with two angle plates. Repeat in each corner.

    4. Now that all 4 are in place, place the top and affix all vertical laths to it with angle plates.

    5. Measure out the middle between the vertical laths and affix your stabilising beams with 2 angle plates (3 for where they meet the supportive beam of the top frame).

    6. Using scissors, cut a piece of plastic/Mylar that will overlap every edge of each frame. Staple the plastic into place on the overlapping edge using plastic corner protectors.

    7. Locate the door and screw the 4 hinges into place.

    8. Voila, your grow room is now ready to be fitted out.

    For a start, we need to ensure that the space is made completely light-proof. In order to bloom to its peak the cannabis plant needs 12 hours of undisturbed night and 12 hours light.