How to build the best 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 indoor cannabis garden setups at three different price points. Each build below contains all necessary components needed to create a simple, climate-controlled grow for your weed 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 cannabis grow setup: $100-150
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, as it is a basic grow setup. At 24”x 24”, this tent is small enough to fit in most closets.
- 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 a 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.
- Assembly time:
Grow room 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 cannabis grow setup: $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 cannabis growing 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 indoor grow setup, 2 to 4 cannabis plants are recommended. You can squeeze in 6 plants if you grow small auto-flowering varieties and/or vegetate the plants for less time.
- 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.
- Assembly time:
Grow room 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 cannabis grow setup: $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.
- 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.
- Assembly time:
Grow room 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.
- 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.
Growing cannabis at home can be fulfilling, but is it in your budget? Learn how to build 3 grow rooms at different price points.
Budget Buds: Grow Weed Indoors for Less Than $200!
In states such as Oregon and Colorado, the cost of cannabis is decreasing as the enormous supply outstrips demand. We have heard of several locations selling marijuana for less than $100 an ounce. Moreover, it is reasonable, mid-grade weed. However, not everyone lives close to a dispensary that offers the herb at an affordable price. For most people, they are looking at $250+ per ounce.
If you are a casual user, an ounce will probably last a considerable period. Those who use cannabis regularly and medical patients may require significantly more. Suddenly, they are facing a bill of hundreds of dollars every month. There is great news if you live in a state where it is legal to cultivate at home. The price of growing marijuana has dropped significantly. Instead of paying a grand or more to get started, you can get a few ounces per harvest at the cost of below $200. This guide shows you how.
Things You Need When Growing Marijuana Indoors
A basic setup includes:
- Grow light
- Growing medium
- Plant containers
- A small space to grow your cannabis
Not Strictly ‘Essential’
- A fan for air circulation*
- Thermostat/hygrometer combination
- A timer for your lights
*Plenty of growers would disagree and say a fan is essential.
You could also invest in a small grow tent or reflective walls. However, this additional equipment will likely take you over the $200. Let’s go through each aspect of the above to get a ‘ballpark’ estimate.
One of the biggest mistakes new cannabis growers make is to try and save a few bucks when buying seeds. This is the one area you can’t cut corners with. It is also needless because you can get decent quality seeds for a reasonable price in any case. Look for autoflowering genetics because they keep the total grow time to below ten weeks from seed to harvest (less than eight in some cases.)
You will save money on electricity and nutrients for starters due to the short 2-3-week vegetative stage. Also, the standard of autos has increased significantly in recent years. Autos are also compact and require minimal space to grow. There are lots of online stores that sell 3 seeds for $29 or 5 seeds for $49. Search a little more, and you’re sure to find even better deals.
Incidentally, you should learn how to clone plants. This process means that you can use clippings of your existing plants to grow new ones. You no longer need to buy seeds, unless you want to try a new strain.
Total Cost – $29
This is another aspect of growing that it pays to invest in. Experienced cultivators know that the more powerful the light, the greater the yield, up to a point. If you want to save on electricity, LED lighting is your best option. These grow lights also provide a fuller light spectrum to help your plants grow. There are also HPS and HID light options that won’t break the bank.
When choosing lighting, you must also consider the size of your grow space. As a general rule of thumb, you should have four square feet per plant. If you buy three seeds, that means you need 12 square feet of space. You probably won’t require as much space if you are growing autos, however.
Another ‘tried and trusted,’ if vague, calculation is to assume you can produce a gram of marijuana per watt of light. Some autos yield up to 500 grams per square meter, which equates to 10.76 square feet. In any case, you can find 600W HPS lights for around $86 online. If money is tight, you can drop to $70 for a 150W light, though it doesn’t provide the same value. Indeed, you will get perhaps 4-5 ounces with the 150W light but 20+ with a 600W option, or 10+ if you pay for a 300W light.
We have also spotted several LED lights, from 300W to 600W, for under $100.
Total Cost – $89
Pots for the Plants
You will require different-sized pots for your plants as they grow. In general, autos won’t need more than a 1.5 – 2.5-gallon pot when they reach maturity. If you grow ‘regular’ plants, you may want 5-gallon pots or even larger when they are flowering. You can find individual pots for as little as $0.50. Therefore, you don’t need to spend more than a few bucks.
Total Cost – $5
You must purchase a high-quality organic potting mix. Fortunately, standard garden-variety soil with added nutrients is more than enough. In general, two quarts is enough per one-gallon pot. You should find up to 16 quarts for approximately $20. This is ample soil for three x 2.5-gallon pots, and plenty for our small grow.
Total Cost – $20
It is debatable whether you need to spend any money on nutrients if you already have a high-quality organic potting mix! However, if your plants show any nutrient deficiency, you may regret not having a back-up plan. You will find plenty of options online from brands such as Dyna-Gro. An 8-ounce container is sufficient and relatively cheap.
Total Cost – $10-$20
Though these are not ‘essential,’ the following can help you enjoy a successful harvest:
- A fan
- A timer
Air circulation is essential, no matter how small your crop is. As your lights are continually releasing heat, the temperature of the room is likely to rise. Also, your plants transpire daily. Therefore, it is essential to ensure fresh air is continuously flowing in the room. If you are stuck for cash, you can find cheap second-hand intake and exhaust fans. It is also possible to create a DIY carbon filter to mask the smell of cannabis.
The thermostat/hygrometer combination measures heat and humidity. If you allow the temperature and moisture to go out of their ideal ranges, your plants could experience problems. The timer is necessary to control the lighting in your room. It enables you to ‘set and forget.’
Total Cost – $40
Overall Total Cost – $193-$203
The above is a rough estimate, and you may find even better deals. Conversely, you may live somewhere that doesn’t provide these offers. In any case, growing cannabis for under $200 is theoretically possible. However, you also have to consider electricity costs. It is possible to ‘get away with’ no more than an extra $10-15 per month. For a two-month autoflowering crop, that’s a maximum of $30. It may prove significantly cheaper, depending on the type of lighting used and the deal you have with your utility company.
You may also elect to purchase a pH meter, and reflective walls or a grow tent if you have a little extra money to spend. The pH meter ensures that your flowers remain in the 5.8-6.5 range that is suitable for most cannabis strains. You can create ‘reflective walls’ using sheets of mylar or even by painting your walls white!
Finding a Space to Grow Your Cannabis Indoors
Those willing to spend more money may decide to invest in a grow tent. It is a convenient location that enables you to keep the crop under control. When choosing a tent, you must also take into account the likely final height of the plants. There is a wide selection of autoflowering strains that remain below three feet in height. Examples include Rhino Ryder, Fastberry, and Grapefruit.
This means you need 4 x 3 x 3 feet of space or 36 cubic feet in total. Yet when growing autoflowering plants, you only need enough space for three x 2.5-gallon pots. As a result, you don’t require four square feet per pot, after all! There are numerous grow tents easily capable of fitting more than three auto plants, and they cost around $60.
Otherwise, you’ll need to be creative when finding a place to grow. In theory, you can cultivate your plants in any location that enables you to hang the grow lights. You also require access to air and fresh water. Therefore, you can put your plants in one of the following places:
- Spare bathroom
- Spare room
We have read about some great innovations when it comes to finding a suitable spot. No matter where you choose, make sure you have a means of measuring the temperature and humidity.
It’s Time to Grow!
Believe it or not, once you have all the necessary equipment setup, the process of growing cannabis isn’t that challenging. As long as you are prepared to check your crop regularly for signs of trouble, you shouldn’t have many problems. If you see that something is amiss, you can always check online for troubleshooting guides. Check out our beginner’s guide to growing cannabis indoors for more information.
If you have a grow tent, it is time to follow the setup instructions. Hang your grow light and fill your plants with the soil. We recommend switching on the lights up to 24 hours before seed germination. Keep the temperature between 70 – 85-degrees Fahrenheit during the day. The humidity level should be lowered slightly as the plant gets older. Begin with 60-70% and gradually reduce it.
Here is a quick outline of what to expect when you grow marijuana:
- Germination: It is wise to grow one extra seed in case there is a dud. If you buy three seeds, it is okay if only two of them make it to the vegetative stage. We have a guide on how to germinate seeds that’s worth reading.
- Vegetative Stage: One of the many great things about autos is that the vegetative stage is 2-3 weeks. At this point, make sure you water your plants regularly and add some nutrients if necessary. When in doubt, give your crop half the recommended nutrient dose as stated on the package. If you have a little growing experience, you may want to try a plant training method to boost yields.
- Flowering Stage: Autos begin flowering within a few weeks of germination. Otherwise, you need to switch the lighting to a 12/12 cycle. You can reduce the level of nutrients and monitor your crop closely. When your plants begin blooming, make sure the plants are only growing white hairs at their joints. It proves that the plants are female and creating buds. If you spot bunches of little balls and no hairs, it means you have a male plant. Remove from the room before it pollinates the females!
- Harvest Time: When at least 70% of the pistils begin turning a dark color and start curling in, you can get ready to harvest. You will get more accurate results by using a magnifying glass and checking the trichomes. These glittering beauties turn cloudy at the point of the buds reaching the greatest potency level.
- Dry & Cure: Hang the buds up to dry for a few days, and cure them in mason jars. You can read this guide to drying and curing cannabis buds for more information.
Final Thoughts on Growing Budget Buds
It doesn’t cost a small fortune to get started. Indeed, you can grow a handful of plants for under $200. The size of your yield depends on a myriad of factors. First of all, genetics plays a significant role. An Afghan auto strain, for example, could yield up to 17 ounces of bud per square meter.
However, this will only happen if you spend extra on high-quality lighting and have enough space for the plants to grow. You must also embrace ‘training techniques’ to maximize yield and potency. If you are intent on producing a crop for under $200, likely, the yield will not exceed 4-5 ounces, and that is if you have some experience. Even so, most users would suggest that $40-50 an ounce is a good deal!
Once you have a few grows under your belt, you can perhaps save extra cash to try and cultivate a larger crop. Plenty of cannabis growers are capable of producing 50+ ounces, though the cost of their setup is many times higher than your budget attempt!
Growing cannabis indoors doesn't need to cost a fortune. In fact, you could do it for under $200! Learn how in our complete guide.