Basic Grow room planning and design.
By toddy Any questions or how to improve.
Forward So you have decided that you want an indoor grow room. Not sure about how to go about it? Well. This is a guide to designing and fitting out an indoor grow room. I have looked all over the internet for literature on indoor growing and all articles are either vague, about something else that didn’t help my efforts towards setting one up. This is some what of a step by step guide of how to go about it, and hopefully will help you in some way towards setting up a kick ass grow setup or improve your current setup. I have tried to set up this book in a clear and concise format, in the steps. It takes a small amount of thought and planning. Planning it out to begin with will save lot of time, and a lot of money. I have set up half arsed grows in the past, and it’s bitten me in it. Firstly There are a number of things to take into consideration when first designing a room, they are; what do you want to grow? How much do you want to grow? How much space can you dedicated to the grow area? And the most crucial, how much money you want or have to spend? I will try my best to get rid of the question marks you have on these if you read on. As I said above it takes a little bit of planning and designing. First, most of us are limited by space. Where do we put our grow room? Well, only you can answer that and you probably already have an idea where you are putting yours. Whether you are fitting out a large closet or an entire room, every grow room is different. You need to keep a few things in mind, security, intake and extraction points for ventilation, ease of access to water, access to electricity and most of all security. Because it only takes one slip up. Space First if you are limited by space, this is one thing that we cannot change. In your room you should always make considerations for you to be able to move around inside your room. Its all well and good filling your room up with plants, but how do we check our plants; for pest or disease, how are we going to water them, remove dead leaves, where are we going to put all our nutrients, equipment etc. Ideally you don’t want your grow equipment floating around outside your room, because someone you don’t want to ask the question, will ask the question and will eventually connect the dots. “Budzilla”, what do you use that for?...he doesn’t garden…hang on a sec… You get the idea.
So as a general rule in your space you should dedicate roughly half the space to your plants and half the space to a working environment. So for example, say you have a space 4m2, well; 2m2 should be dedicated to plants and the other to work space. If I have a space 2m2 then 1m2 would be plant and half working, 8m2, 4m2 for plant and the rest, well you get the idea. When I say roughly that’s what I mean, it’s not an exact science, but always keep lots of space to move. This rule stops you from filling up the room with plants, and saves a lot of cursing, head banging Fig 1: Example of what you can do. and broken stems. This rule doesn’t apply to closet grows, very small areas within a bedroom etc. Lamps When I say lamp, I mean “light kitset” which if you know nothing about lights I usually mean, lamp, lamp holder, shade and ballast/luminare/control gear as one unit. So we have our space and we know how big it is in m2. Ok, good. Now you need to decide how many lamps you are going to fit in your room. You need to decide what type of lamp(s) you want to use (Metal Halide, High pressure sodium), how powerful you want them (lumens, light intensity) and how much power you want, or don’t want to use (250W, 400W, 600W 1000W). Here is a rough guide on how to decide, ok so you have a room 4m2 in total, ok so I know that half of that room is going to be dedicated to plants. I need to illuminate 2m2. Metal halide (MH) or high pressure sodium (HPS)?Some people will say to you that you should use MH for growth and HPS for bloom because MH emit more blue spectrum and HPS more red spectrum, or you should both to get a mixed spectrum, but with today’s advanced lamps, it doesn’t really matter what you choose, because you can get lamps with mixed spectrum, more blue or more red. I prefer HPS only because that’s what I used in the past, but it also depends on what is available to you.
What size wattage do we want? Well as a rough guide a 250W lamp will do about 0.25-0.5m2. A 400W will cover an area 0.05-1.2m2. A 600W will cover about 1.0-1.5m2, remembering the bigger the area the lamp has to cover, the less the light intensity (Lm), the less photosynthesis, less harvest at the end of the day. So in the case of above, depending how we lay our room out, to cover an area 2m2, we could use 3x 400W or 2 600W (1200W for the total area, 2m2). Should I choose the 400’s or the 600’s? Well using the Philips Son-t Plus lamps (HPS) as an example, which come in 400W and 600W we can Fig 2: Example of lamp set up, each one compare the amount of lumens ((Lm) a measure of light intensity on a given square metre)emitted by each lamp. The 400w emits 55000Lm and the 600W emit 90000Lm. With 3x 400w that’s 165000Lm and with two 600W that’s 180000Lm. Well it’s a no brainer where light intensity is concerned. You are roughly using the same amount of power, if not more with 3x 400W. Why not use 250W? Well, to illuminate an area 2m2 and still keep the light intensity of the 600’s, you would need at least 5 to 6 lamps. That is a bit impractical, will cost a shit load and you would use ~300W more than you need to, to illuminate the same area. Why not use 2x 400W? You could, but for the price of 2x 600 vs. 2x400, the 600’s are only a little bit more expensive, and for that extra yield, in my opinion, it is worth it. As a guide you don’t want to drop below at least 50000 Lm per m2. Below this your plants will begin stretching for light so the more Lm you have the better the crop. To put it in perspective sunlight on any given day is about 90,000 to >110,000 Lm for example. We are providing 90,000 and there are a lot of extras you get with sunlight, UV etc. It is a hell of lot more technical than that but for our application that’s all we need to know.
Ballasts/control gear Next, once we have chosen our lamp size we need to choose the ballast to go with our lamp. We have a choice between electronic/digital and magnetic. They both have good points, and to keep this short, magnetic are noisy and cheap, electronic are quiet, expensive, can increase lumen, which in turn can reduce bulb life. So it’s up to you, magnetic if you are on a budget, electronic if stealth is of extra importance. Make sure that the ballast matches your lamp, e.g. 600W HPS lamp, you want a 600W HPS Ballast, this is extremely important. Ballasts are there to regulate the power supply entering into your lamp, if you take out the ballast or you use a ballast that is too big for your bulb, the new, very expensive bulb you just brought will either; burn out or could potentially explode. This is not good as these bulbs contain mercury, and mercury vapours’ floating around the room is not a good thing. You can also buy ballasts that are interchangeable between MH and HPS lamps but these are usually more expensive and at the end of the day the easiest solution is buy a “kitset”. Most places will offer these, so if you are unsure, go the kitset. Shades Now the shade, they come in all different sizes and types. Working in a smaller area I fully recommend getting air cooled shades, if air cooled shades are available to you, and you can afford them, get ‘em. If not just buy the shade that most appeals to you. It isn’t recommended that you run a bulb without a shade. Climate Control. The most important aspect of your grow room, the more control you have over your growing environment the happier the plants, the better quality plants, the higher the yield. Climate control ranges from a simple Cooling thermostat in the middle of the wall to control your fans, to an expensive climate control unit, such as a Harvest Master, or a Microclimate controller. Climate control solutions really depend on your budget; if you can afford it, go for a full climate control unit. These units can be used to control every aspect of your growing environment, light timing, heating, cooling, ventilation, humidity, and pumping/irrigation/hydroponics. What more do I need to say, if you can’t afford one, save up, then buy one, it will save a lot of cursing, headaches and fucking about, and you will get the best crops you ever did, trust me.
Ventilation The second most important aspect of your grow room. The reason for ventilation is to exhaust hot, humid air and replenish CO2 levels in the room itself. I’ve looked all over the internet, its hard to find anything on the internet about ventilation for grow rooms, no one had the sure fire answers to my questions. This is for good reason, because all setups are different there are no sure fire answers. There are a few simple rules to designing your ventilation system. Always make sure that the extraction fan is slightly more powerful that your intake fan in L/hour. What happens is, the fans turn on and this causes the room to slightly pressurise, and forces odour filled air out cracks in doors etc because the exhaust can’t keep up. Always filter your exhaust, remember filter before fan. Use radial/centrifugal fans only, they are more powerful and last longer than inline fans, use acoustic fans, if available, especially ifyou are going for a bigger room. Always make it more powerful than you need it, extra cost is better than a cooked or mouldy crop or having to go by bigger fans. Now to figure out what sort of fans you are going to need and how many, check out your local suppliers first and see what is available. Ideally you only want two fans, and intake fan and extraction fan (not including fans for room circulation). We know how many lamps and the size of lamps we have, so to find out what size fans we want, we work off our lamps. This is because these are the biggest emitters of heat and the amount of lamps is usually fairly relative to what size our canopy is. Canopy also relates to potential humidity in the room. Capacity 1 250w Intake Exhaust 400w Intake Exhaust 600w Intake Exhaust Not required 100mm Not required 100mm 100mm 125mm 2 Not required 100mm 100mm 125mm 125mm 150mm Number of Lights 3 100mm 125mm 125mm 150mm 150mm 200mm 125mm 200mm 200mm 250mm 200mm 250mm
Buy a 600W
Note: that your intake and extraction fans can be the same size, as long as the capacity of the exhaust fan (in L/h) exceeds the intake fan. They can be the same type of fans if they have variable speed settings or speed controllers on them. The table above is only a guide, and is based on radial/centrifugal fans, not inline fans; consult your dealer if you are not sure on the subject.
Once we know what extraction fan we will need, we need to choose the correct filter for our extraction fan. If the filter is too small, it will reduce the life of your fan and filter. And will cause the room to pressurise as above. Most places sell fans and filters as a kit set, so if you know what fan size you need, then the kitset is an obvious choice. Kit sets are usually cheaper than buying items individually. Go the kit sets.
The next logical step is the ducting, the size of ducting should be the same as your fans or bigger. The length of your ducts should be kept as short as possible, without to many corners, and without the ducting sagging too much. If possible tee the intake ducting after the fan into two ducts and drop these into the corners at floor level of your grow room. This is to help spread the air and let it mix with the air already in the grow room so you don’t have cold air stressing the plants.
Ideally your intake air should be coming from another room in your house; this is because air taken within your house is usually more stable in temperature and humidity, where as outside, it fluctuates. You should try not to vent your exhaust into your house; humid air taken from your room is a recipe for fungus and mould, try to always vent to the outside. Venting to the outside can be a problem in some areas as plumes of warm air are easily seen through thermal imaging Fig 3: The possibilities for your ventilation setup are limitless. This is just an example of cameras. In what one can do. Note the filter in the middle of the lamps; this is where it is going to some cases be most efficient at dispersing heat. in may be best to vent to the inside. Also when purchasing ducting, remember the flanges to go with the ducting, using these will make it easier to seal the room up tight. Ok so we have decided on our room, how big it is, how many lamps we need, the fans and filter we need where we are venting to and from, how much ducting we need, and the climate controller we want. Sweet. Fitting out your room Before you jump on the internet, or go running down to the grow shop, there are a few extra things you will need to buy as well as all your grow gear. These may include Polythene plastic sheeting, panda film (it is black on one side and white on the other), Mylar sheeting (optional), duct tape, staple gun, double sided sticky tape, screws, screw hooks, cable clamps, chains, wood, jig-saw, extension cords, disinfectant pressure sprayer, silicone sealant (white), polystyrene rubber rings and PVC strapping. And for later on, hygrometer, a container for storing water, pots, potting mix, small oscillating fan, measuring containers, small water heater and pumps etc. A bit of forward thinking and planning before you go buying all this equipment will save lots of time, unnecessary trips to the hardware store, surplus shit, a lot of money, and you can finish your room in one hit. Make a shopping list and price everything out first, so you know if you are leaving anything out.
First thing to do is to completely strip the room bare, carpet, curtains, get rid of them. Now time to disinfect. If this step is skipped, come time to remove your grow room, you could discover a nasty, stinky, rotten, mouldy surprise lurking under all that panda film. Not good. Use a good quality disinfectant and get into every nook and cranny you can, ceiling and floor as well. Easiest way to do this is with a pressure sprayer. And always follow safety instructions on the packaging, if it says wear a respirator; it says it for a reason. Let that dry completely before the next step. Now you need to seal up any windows. Best way to do this is with MDF or particle board, cut to size. Apply a bead of silicone sealant to the areas that are to be joined, and screw down. If this is a stealth grow, there are many ways to stealth out your windows, just search the internet to find out how. The most important things are they are light proof and air tight. Next you need to create a basin for your plants to stop any spillages; it’s up to you how you want to do it. I would recommend a 300mm high piece of particle board around your plant area. You must also run a length of batten timber around the walls of your plant area the height of your basin, so that you have something sturdy to staple your polythene sheeting too later on. Where your plants are going to sit in the basin, lay down some polystyrene to insulate your plants from the floor. Next step is line the floor with polythene sheeting; this means the entire floor of the room, not putting any holes in the bottom for water to sneak through. Next, line all the walls and ceiling with panda film. Stapling is the best way to hold it up, as well as using double sided sticky tape. Or if you are made of money you can line your room with Mylar, but panda film is more than adequate. Make sure you line every square inch of the room, and then seal up all your joins with duct tape, we don’t want anything getting in or out. Now its starting to look like a grow room. Next, it is time to set up where your lamps are going to hang. Screw your hooks into the ceiling, preferably into wood. You don’t want them falling down and breaking. Make sure that your lamps are evenly spaced. Run your power cords to your ballasts and then to your power source. One thing you need to check here is, if the number of lamps you have, are going to over load your circuit breaker. You may have to stagger when your lamps turn on. Next, setup your ventilation system. If you planned it out earlier, this should be a piece of piss. Lay out all your equipment on the floor first so you know where to screw in all your hooks from which to suspend your fans etc from. Once you’ve got a good idea, fire in your screws and suspend your fans, filters and ducting with chains, or even better you can use rubber rings or strapping which will stop vibration transferring to the ceiling and also make sure they’re not going to fall. Connect all your ducting up with duct tape and make sure they are air tight. Right, all you need to do now is connect up your climate controller and all your electrical components to appropriate outlets. When positioning your sensor for you climate controller, make sure it is about plant height and away from your ventilation inlets to avoid getting false readings. Also use an oscillating fan in your grow room, this will prevent your lamps creating hot spots within, and will help to buffer temperature changes when your ventilation fans switch on.