Building a Grow Room

By: The Guru

1) Choosing the right location
2) Checking for the right amount of electricity
3) Planning out the grow room
4) Ventilation
5) Building the grow room
6) Securing making it private
7) Maintenance of grow room

Maybe you have seen an indoor garden or two over the years. Maybe it was a close friend, a relative, or even pictures of indoor grow rooms. I’m sure you have heard mixed ideas on how to set one up or what is adequate or sufficient.  Many people have different ideas about this, but most have never done it before.  All grow rooms are different; it shows in the harvests and quality of the fruits. Often I’ll hear two friends say that they are growing the same genetic, and though they have the same setups the harvests are coming out different in weight and quality. A well-built grow room is efficient, climate-controlled, and produces quality fruits year round, regardless of outside conditions.  This is the key ingredient to any successful indoor grow.

First, you need to decide whether you’re going to run a closed or open loop room? When looking for a location or place to set up your grow room there are several factors to consider.  Like, how many lights you’re going to run?  Calculate the electrical power or amps needed to run that system; include lights, fans, pumps, air conditioner and any other powered devices you may use.  If running an open loop system you must also scout out your ventilation holes, because a good air flow is necessary to remove the hot stale air in the room. If running a closed loop room make sure you have an air conditioner that has the proper BTU’s to cool the heat you produce. A 1000 watt bulb produces 3500 BTU’s of heat, so 4500 BTU’s per bulb is necessary to properly cool a room. Excel Air has one of the best a/c units on the market for larger rooms, ranging from 12,000 BTU up to 60,000 BTU’s.

Location is also a big factor in any grow. If you’re by the coast where it’s cooler, it’s a great advantage because of the high humidity levels and fresh air for cooling the room efficiently.  If you’re inland then you’re dealing with dryer, less humid conditions, with hotter temps in the summer and colder temps in the winter. Coastal conditions don’t usually fluctuate as much, creating a better environmental buffer for open looped grow rooms.  Closed looped systems, using an air conditioner, keep the same environment year round, which is always the best choice, If possible.

Always air cool your lights to keep them closer to the plants without burning them. Using a 6” Vortex fan at 447 CFM will cool two 1000 watt lights with 6” air cooled reflectors, as long as there is not too long a run of ducting and not too many 90 degree bends. An 8” vortex fan at 747 CFM can cool up to four 1000 watt lights with 8” air cooled reflectors. These fans should be drawing fresh cool air from outside the room, and pushing the air through the reflectors and back outside the room again. This should be its own independent ventilation system and not be tied into the room exhaust. The exhaust fan should be attached by ducting to a charcoal filter and be hung high to pull the hot air from the room, so there is no chance it will get circulated back into the room. Finally, you need an intake fan, which also needs a filter to stop incoming bugs and molds.  Even a single light grow room should have  at least 3 inline fans; one for exhausting the room, one for air cooling the light, and the third fan is for the intake of fresh air. These fans are  ventilation  for the grow room, and oscillating fans in the room are for circulating inside air,  keeping it from becoming stagnant as well as  keeping CO2 suspended and in constant flow.

To help with  temperatures of the grow room in our comfort zone of 76-78 degrees, put all ballasts outside of the  room because each one produces about 2500 BTU’s of heat.  Removing them will help temperatures and the environment.  Digital ballasts produce just as much heat and need to be removed as well. Placing ballasts and the lighting timer outside the room will keep you from disrupting the light cycle of your room.

When figuring out the electricity for your set up don’t mess around if you’re not an expert–IT CAN KILL YOU! Electricity is delivered at 240V from the street.  Most houses are anywhere from 100 amps-200 amps, often depending on the age of the home. It is run thru the meter and into a sub panel box where it breaks it down to lower voltages and amps. Most outlets in your house are either 15 or 20 amps @ 120 volts. An electric dryer or stove would usually have a 30 amp 240 volt line or plug. For most of your larger items it is more efficient to run at 240 volts, equivalent to 2 or more 1000 watt lights. Each 1000 watt light draws about 10 amps @ 120 volt, or 5 amps @ 240 volt. If you run more than one 1000 watt light on 120 volt power, then that is 1 circuit for each light. One circuit could be handling 2 bedrooms or more in a standard house, and you may start tripping breakers. You can run up to four 1000 watt lights off a 30 amp 240 volt line by using a C.A.P. MLC-4XT lighting timer to control all four lights, while  each one is on their own circuit; not tripping other breakers in the house. If you have a 30 amp 240 volt plug from a dryer or stove, you can hook up a MLC-4XT to it if you are comfortable with connecting the wires. Anything beyond this, any problems, or you lack the knowledge; hire a licensed electrician to do the work for you.

Always use 6” or 8” air cooled reflectors for the most efficient cooling possible. And hang your lights from either a light stand, or anchor screw-hooks into the studs of your ceiling–make sure they’re sturdy and not going to fall for any reason. Using a rope ratchet pulley system for your lights will make it simple for one person to raise and lower them when necessary. When cutting in vent or exhaust ports in the wall or ceiling, always be careful not to cut thru any wires. It’s not a bad idea to hire a contractor to build your room to make sure it’s done right; it may cost a couple thousand dollars to build this grow room properly, but it’s important that all the vent holes are in the right places, properly sized and filtered from bugs and mold. Wall mount oscillating fans need to be placed on the room walls. I’ve seen some people use bungee cords, hung from hooks in the ceiling, wrapped around the fan to isolate any vibration through the walls. If you’re mounting the fans to the wall, it’s a good idea to put a piece or two of neoprene (wetsuit material), soundboard, or some kind of insulated material between the fan mount and the wall to isolate vibration as well.

And when installing the inline fans like a Vortex, you should also put insulation between the ceiling or wall and the mounting bracket to isolate vibration and noise. Using insulated ducting can help isolate some of the noise as well, which also keeps the heat in so it doesn’t radiate back into the room. Duct mufflers also work very well for isolating and dampening noise and vibration. Placement of the mufflers makes a big difference, so move it to different locations to find the best noise reduction possible.

If you’re running an open loop room, make sure you have adequate CFM fans to move plenty of fresh air through the room. Always filter the air coming in and going out.  Remember, heat rises, so exhaust the hot air from up high in the grow room, well above the plants, and bring in cool fresh air from below, where it is cooler. Many articles say to exchange the air once every 5 minutes, but I say move the air through the room at about once every minute to two minutes for the best environment possible. Remember, this can change based on your location and climate. Not all cities are like San Diego, and physics has taught us that if we’re using outside air at temperatures of 90 degrees, then we’re only going to be able to get our room down to 90 degrees operating temp when using that outside air.  One tip is to run your room at night, when the outside air is cooler; having the plants night or dark cycle will be during the day for us. But watch the temps and humidity during this time especially. Even if you’re not running an a/c the whole time, it’s cheaper to run it during this period of dark cycle or our daytime as the a/c is just cooling the room and not battling any heat from the lights.

In both a closed and open loop room you should have multiple temperature and humidity gauges in different parts of the room to monitor the environment, day and night. A dehumidifier may also be necessary to control humidity, especially in a closed loop room. The water collected from the dehumidifier is pure water and should be collected and used for watering the plants. Keep humidity between 50%-60% at all times, especially at night when molds and bacteria are more likely to develop. Open loop rooms need to be ventilated periodically at night to prevent problems from high humidity.

CO2 levels are very important. In an open loop, ventilation is important because it keeps CO2 levels at around 400 ppm. You can add CO2, but it’s not efficient since the exhaust fans will be running most of the time here in Southern California. However, CO2 is always beneficial to plants at levels of 1500-2000 ppm; any more would be inefficient. Closed loop grow rooms need CO2 tanks and a regulator or a CO2 generator (burner). You also need a CO2 controller and monitor like the Fuzzy Logic from C.A.P. products, which monitors and controls the CO2 levels.  CO2 generators create a lot of heat, so make sure your a/c can handle it. Always over rate your a/c unit, round it off to 5000 BTU’s per 1000 watt light to ensure it covers the heat from the CO2 generator.

To most people this is a lot more work than expected. But this is all necessary to have a properly tuned grow room. This is just the start; you must practice proper and sterile gardening techniques, and use quality nutrients and ingredients. If you don’t run the room properly, allowing bugs and mold in, your grow room won’t stand a chance. Following these steps when setting up your next grow room will make things a little easier and your harvests will thrive.

bringing you that fire! stay tune for more posts.

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