We understand how difficult it can be to know what specific products are well suited for cannabis cultivation. We offer this guide to help you understand what grow equipment you need and what specific products will work for growing marijuana.
The majority of these are the actual products that we chose to purchase and use ourselves. In a few cases, we recommend products that we would buy if we needed them. We do not accept advertising and will not recommend any product that we would not buy for ourselves.
We give priority to your interests and try to find the best values. There are some places where you need to spend money, but we also know where you can save. Our goal is to recommend products that will work properly and are cost effective.
One of the first decisions you need to make about growing cannabis indoors is the lights that you will use. The right lights depend on the size of your grow space and your goals. The best options for growing cannabis indoors are LED lights or High Intensity Discharge (HID) lights such as High Pressure Sodium (HPS) or Metal Halide (MH). Here were review our recommendations in each of these categories.
LED lights are an ever-developing technology. Recent technological gains have made them a viable solution for horticultural lighting. LED products can be classified into two grades, Budget or PRO LEDs.
Budget LED products are not as efficient as PRO LEDs or even traditional HID lights. They do however offer practicality for consumers as they can simply plug into the wall and they are typically made to be used for both vegetative and flowering. Budget LED lights are great for small scale growers who want to grow some personal medicine.
For the more serious grower who wants to increase productivity and improve the overall efficiency of their operation, PRO LED lights are the way to go. The initial investment is more expensive, but the yields and efficiency rival and even outperform traditional HID technology.
There are many cheap LEDs on the market. Most grossly exaggerate their power and HID (High Energy Discharge) equivalence. Do not believe the hype and marketing surrounding these budget LED models.
I (Dr. Coco) use and recommend Viparspectra Lights. I have 2 of the 450 Reflector Series lights in my 4' x 4' tent. They are perfect for small grows and they are quite efficient for their price range. I use them starting around the third week from seed and continue through the harvest. They pull 206 watts from the wall and, using two, I have harvested over 400 grams. I could add a third or even a fourth light, but two are perfectly adequate for a 4' x 4' tent.
The LED fixtures below are for the serious growers who wish to make the most of the energy they use. Pro LED fixtures are made of high quality components, with efficiency standards that separate them from the less expensive, lower quality fixtures. Pro LED fixtures can compete with, and in some cases outperform HID technologies such as high pressure sodium (HPS) and metal halide (MH).
Low Power Pro LED Products
Fluence Sypder X:
Fluence is the most scientifically accurate light manufacturer today. Their literature is full of dense science that is not tainted with deceptive manipulation. The Spyder X is a good light fixture that has leading class efficiency and design. It is suitable for grow room sizes between 3' x 3' – 4' x 4'. Fluence lights are professional grade equipment and are only available directly from https://fluence.science/.
California Lightworks 275 or 550
California Lightworks makes some really good products with exceptional quality and value. The 275 and 550 are both great products that allow the buyer to choose a product to suit their growing environment and needs. The 275 suitable to cover up to 3' x 3' and the 550 is suitable for coverage up to 4' x 4'.
High Power Pro LED Products
Fluence Spyder X Plus
The fluence spyder X Plus is a commercial grade fixture for large scale applications. This is no toy and really should be exclusive for environments between 4' x 4' – 5' x 5'. Fluence lights are professional grade equipment and are only available directly from https://fluence.science/.
The NextLight Mega is a third stellar choice for professional grade LED lighting. Nextlight has made waves through both small and large-scale applications and this fixture certainly competes with the two lights above. It offers all the same great features as the previous products but has a more uniform distribution of diodes, which allows a more uniform light distribution. This light is suitable for areas between 4' x 4' – 5' x 5'.
So there you have it, the top three Dr. Photon recommended PRO LED fixtures. Personally, I (Dr. Photon) would choose any three. Fluence and Nextlight would offer better light uniformity due to their larger spread of diodes. However, California Lightworks offers improved practicality due to easier manipulation and placement.
Metal Halide (MH), High-Pressure Sodium (HPS), and Ceramic Metal Halide (CMH)
HID lighting technology, has been around for years. It remains the standard in the horticulture industry despite the recent gains made by LED lights. The main benefits of HID are efficiency and economic value. HID lights are more efficient than Budget LEDs and less expensive than the Pro LEDs.
There are two basic options for HID set-ups. The standard route is to use a MH bulb for the vegetative stage and a HPS bulb for the flowering stage. There is an alternative system, CMH, which has the advantage of being suitable for both vegetative and flowering stages.
The components required to set up a working HID system are a bulb, reflector, and ballast.
MH and HPS Bulbs
Bulb manufacturers are not all the same. There are vast differences between bulb products which can cause noticeable differences. The one aspect in HID lighting that you want to spend money on are bulbs. I (Dr. Photon) would rather have an inexpensive reflector than an inexpensive bulb. Always opt for bulbs that are of high quality.
Dr Photon uses and recommends Hortilux Bulbs. Hortilux has been the leading horticulture bulb manufacturer for years, due to their superior product quality and performance standards. They also come with a premium price. However, if you want the best performance out of your gas discharge system, we highly recommend Hortilux .
For small scale grow operations, wide reflectors with highly focused light distribution are highly desired. However, many reflectors are either too small or primarily designed for large scale cultivators where wide angle light spread is desired. Be sure to get an air-cooled reflector. Using an air cooled reflector allows improved heat management by redirecting the heat from the light. In colder seasons, you can even redistribute this heat to the bottom of the tent and improve energy efficiency. Sun System Blockbuster 8 and Magnum XXXL are about the best measured reflectors out there for small scale growers.
Dr. Photon’s HID Ballast Advice:
A Ballast is required for all gas discharge technologies. The ballast ignites or “strikes” the bulb but also provides the right supply of electricity so that the bulb functions efficiently.
Old fashioned magnetic ballasts have mainly been replaced by new digital ballast technology. Magnetic ballasts are less expensive than their digital counterparts; however, for longevity, efficiency and practicality, digital is far superior. Check your manufacturer specifications before purchasing.
Some ballasts also provide features such dimming and overdrive settings. Overdrive is not recommended because it reduces bulb life. It is only a marketing gimmick; there is no practical reason to use it. Dimming is convenient with HPS. However, dimming should not be used with MH bulbs. MH does not function properly when being underpowered and it reduces its efficiency, spectrum, and longevity. Even with HPS, you should never dim the bulb to less than 50%.
Most ballasts are only compatible with one type of bulb wattage. Some, like the Solistic Ballast (pictured), allow multiple wattage bulbs. If in doubt, use the ballast and bulb wattage that the manufacturer suggests. I (Dr. Photon) recommend the following Ballasts:
Solistek 1000/600 (pictured)
Ceramic Metal Halide (CMH)
With Most HID lights systems, you are advised to use Metal Halide (MH) bulbs during the vegetative stage and High-Pressure Sodium (HPS) bulbs during the flowering stage. However, there is an HID light option that can be used during all stages of growth, Ceramic Metal Halide (CMH).
CMH is an old technology that was revised and reintroduced for the horticulture community. It is not more efficient than HPS but it is comparable. The key advantage of CMH is that its light spectrum is appropriate for all grow stages and therefore it can be used for the entire grow. This reduces the complexity of the grow system. CMH also offers a clear white light for better visual inspection of your plants during flowering.
This Vivosun CMH set-up is a complete kit. It includes the bulb, reflector and ballast. If you are interested in HID lights, but concerned about the complexity of a system that you assemble yourself, this CMH set-up is an excellent option.
Other Light Gear
These ratchet pulley hangers are an excellent choice to secure a number of things that you need to hang from the top of your tent: lights, exhaust fan, carbon filter, bracing frame, etc. They are particularly convenient for lights which must be raised and lowered during the course of the grow. These pulleys make it easy to set the lights exactly where you want them.
You need a timer to control the lights and also potentially to control the exhaust and drip irrigation systems. This Century digital timer is what I (Dr. Coco) use. It is programmable in minutes and offers numerous cycles per day, which is great for drip irrigation applications.
Importantly for your lights, this timer is digital, accurate, and has battery back-up. Unlike mechanical timers, you will be able to precisely control the timing of your lights. Battery back-up means that power outages will not cause the timer to stop and then get out of sync with the plants’ rhythm.
I (Dr. Coco) like to keep my LED lights perfect level. When raising or lowering them I used to use a torpedo level and would move it around in different angles and fight to get the lights level. Then I got these little bubble levels . I leave two of them stuck to the top of each light. It makes keeping them perfectly level so much easier!
Tents and Vents
Intake & Exhaust Systems
Exhaust for LED Grows
This exhaust system is perfect for a 4' x 4' tent running LED lights. It is the system I (Dr. Coco) use and it works well in my set-up. I have left the fan on full time during several grows and it continues to run well. The kit comes with a 4-inch 190 CFM inline fan and carbon filter to control smell. They include some ducting as well, but you will likely need more.
There is also a 6” iPower Exhaust Kit available which would be adequate for small HID set-ups or LED rooms up to 6’x6’. It includes a 6-inch 442 CFM inline fan, the carbon filter, ducting, hangers, and offers the advantage of variable speed control.
Exhaust for HID Grows
If you are running High Intensity Discharge (HID) lights such as HPS or MH, you will need a more powerful exhaust to help control the heat that the lights create. The best type of exhaust fans are centrifugal or mixed flow, which can handle pressurizing a room. I (Dr. Photon) recommend mixed flow for most situations because it has the advantage of moving more air.
The AC Infinity Cloudline 6” Mixed Flow Fan is a good value mixed flow fan which comes with its own thermostat and is suited for rooms up to 5' x 5'.
Carbon filters attach to the intake end of your exhaust system (inside the grow space). The exhaust fan pulls air through the filter (and then through the hood of HID lights), and then pushes it out of the grow space. I (Dr. Coco) use these carbon filters and they hold up well and do an excellent job controlling the smell of flowering cannabis plants.
Mufflers or sound reducers dramatically reduce the noise from exhaust systems. They attach to the exhaust end of your exhaust system and absorb most of the noise that comes out with the air flow. My (Dr. Coco) tent sits in my office, with this muffler I am able to ignore the hum of the exhaust and still get work done.
You want your intake fan to be lower rated than your exhaust fan. In some set-ups you may be able to use passive intake without a fan. In my set-up I (Dr. Coco) added two intake fans: The TerraBloom fan (Pictured) and a less expensive Vivosun fan. They are effective for helping to balance the negative air pressure created by the exhaust. I also use them to help circulate air within the grow space. The Terra Fan is rated for lower CFM, but is a stronger fan and ends up with a better flow than the Vivosun fan in actual operation.
OK, this is a hack! Rather than paying for relatively expensive intake prefilters, I (Dr. Coco) simply attach these fabric pots to the inlet end of my intake ducting with duct tape. Fabric pots work better than most other materials as they stop dust, insects, and light, but do not significantly reduce airflow.
If you have 4” fans and ducting, I highly recommend these clamps. They can easily be secured and removed without tools, which is super convenient even if you have the tools. Well worth the simplicity when you must change a component or re-run a line while hovering over your plants.
Duct Hose and Fittings
You can purchase ducting and fittings online, but they are cheaper to obtain locally. We recommend buying the fans and filters online and heading to your local hardware supply store for the flexible duct hose. I (Dr. Coco) use “Semi-Rigid Flexible ducting”, which has better airflow than other flexible ducting. I also use adjustable angle connectors.
This weather station system is unmatched for complete environment metering. It has Radio Frequency remote sensors and is capable of monitoring up to 8 receivers. You can place the main display anyplace that it is convenient and monitor the heat and humidity at several places inside your grow space. This is a very powerful climate monitoring tool!
I (Dr. Coco) was in the market for a new fan and ordered this Ozerri Brezza fan on the recommendation of Dr Photon. It is small, has a good low speed, which is important for blowing around plants, and offers dual oscillation (vertical and horizontal). It has held up well for Dr. Photon, unlike similar fans that I have used from other manufacturers. He recommends 2 of these fans in a 4x4 tent.
Clip on fan
When the plants get tall, it is helpful to have a fan (or two) that can clip on to the support rods of the tent and blow above the canopy. These little clip fans don’t oscillate, so they aren’t great for air circulation on their own, but they are excellent for keeping the air moving between the lights and the plants.
I (Dr Coco) live in a very dry climate. This is perfect during much of the grow because the plants themselves produce a lot of humidity. However, early in the grow when the plants are small I must use a humidifier to create the ideal environment for seedlings and young plants. We recommend ultrasonic humidifiers as they do not use heat to create humidity, but Instead atomize water through ultrasonic vibrations. The absence of heat is important so that it does not interfere with the grow rooms natural balance and create more problems than it tries to solve.
If you live in a very dry climate you should invest in the larger Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier. It is the humidifier that I have. It can run 24 hours on high with a 6 liter tank. It puts out a good stream of vapor and has an automatic shut-off.
If you only need a little bit of additional humidity, you can consider a smaller unit, like the 2 liter Victsing humidifier, which is a solid choice for a small ultrasonic humidifier.
Dehumidifiers are very helpful for grow rooms where high humidity is a problem. One problem with dehumidifiers is that they create heat, which may be fine if the environment is not overly hot. However, it may lead to heat problems which require managment. It is not advised to simply exhaust the hot air because doing so also removes the dry air which pulls in humid air to replace it. In these situations, using double vented air conditioners along side dehumidifiers is recommended.
Air conditioners are very useful when exhaust systems can no longer control heat. You can get AC units that are single or double vented. Single vented units are fine for most set-ups that are not using a dehumidifier.
The BLACK+DECKER 8000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner Unit is a very good choice for a single vent AC unit.
If it is too cold in your grow space, you may need to add a heater. I (Dr Photon) use and recommend this Delonghi Oil Heater. It is not recommended to use fan heaters, or any heating system that can create a fire risk if something were to happen. Oil heaters are the best option for heating as they distribute their heat safely without getting overly hot on the surface.
Dual system controller
A dual system controller allows you to connect and control two climate control appliances. For example, I (Dr. Photon) use it to connect my exhaust system and my oil heater. When it is cold, the controller switches the oil heater on. When it is hot, the controller turns the exhaust system on. You can set the operating range of each appliance separately so that there is a threshold between the two systems, and they do not compete with each other. Thanks to this controller, I can control the climate variables automatically.
Media & Containers
When you buy brick coco, you are responsible for turning it into a superior growing medium by rinsing, buffering, and mixing with perlite as we describe in our tutorial. The product that you start with matters less than the process that you follow to prepare it. That said, this Plantonix Coco, is one of the better options for starting with a dehydrated brick. It will produce enough coco for more than six 5-gallon containers. I used a lower quality coco in my video tutorial and have since switched to Plantonix Coco.
Prepared Coco Product
If you want to take the easy route into your coco grow , you need to select a product that has already been rinsed and buffered. Canna coco is an excellent option if you are willing to pay the price. It is several times more expensive than a dehydrated brick of Plantonix (above), but you can skip the rinsing and buffering steps that are a laborious process. This canna product is well buffered and can be run with ¼ to ½ strength doses of Cal/Mag rather than full doses.
Whether you use a prepared coco product like Canna, or a dehydrate brick like Plantonix, you should mix your coco with perlite. This is a good perlite product with a variety of particle sizes, but little dust. This one cubic foot bag is a better deal than buying it by the gallon. It is sufficient perlite for 6-8 5-gallon containers. It is just about the perfect complement for a 10lb brick of coco.
These are recommended for those who are confident with transplanting. Nursery Bags provide a great environment for root development in seedlings and I believe they are worth the effort to transplant from them. However, transplanting from these little bags can be tricky. The safer route is to use small plastic pots or “Solo cups” with lots of drainage holes.
This package comes with two sizes. I (Dr. Coco) use the larger of the two sizes for transplanting sprouts in their rapid rooters. You could use the smaller size to start seeds directly without Rapid Rooters. The larger bags are only about a pint in total capacity and I fill them about half way. To transplant I cut the bottom open and slide the media into its new (half or one-gallon) fabric pot. Nursery Bags are one-time use but you get a lot with the set.
Half-gallon or One-gallon pots
After 7-10 days in the nursery bags above, I (Dr. Coco) transplant my girls into half-gallon or one-gallon fabric pots. The size may seem small to many for a second step, but in coco it is really perfect. They provide more than adequate root space for developing plants and they are small enough to practice high frequency fertigation with small plants.
I love these pots! My plants seem to love them too! After a few days getting settled, I increase fertigation frequency to twice daily and ramp EC up to my vegetation targets. These pots are where my seedlings become plants! The One-gallon size is easier to find in small quanitities, and the picture link is the One-gallon size. The Half-gallon bags are often available in large quantities and occasionally available in smaller sets of 5 or 10.
There are two options for final containers that I (Dr. Coco) recommend, tall fabric pots and air pots. The tall fabric pots that I like come from 247 Garden, but are currently unavailable. We are working with them to ensure that the pots we recommend will be available soon.
These Hydrofarm saucers are a must. They are light and rugged and deep and perfect! The 14” model (Pictured) will accommodate up to a 7 gallon fabric pot and is perfect for the plant elevators described below. These are the saucers that I use to build my self-draining saucers (I painted mine white!) They are a great deal in sets of 10. Don’t worry if you think you don’t need that many, you’d be surprised how handy extra saucers can be!
The 12” model will accommodate tall 5-gallon fabric pots and #5 Air-Pots. However, they will not accommodate the plant elevators that I recommend below.
In the style of growing that we recommend, you want to increase drainage and improve aeration whenever possible. This is why we add perlite to the coco, it is why we use fabric or Air-Pots, and it is why we recommend plant elevators.
Plant elevators sit inside the saucer and allow the water to drain freely out of the bottom of the pots. This is a huge improvement over allowing your fabric pots to sit directly in the saucers. You may look for substitutes or DIY options, but I (Dr. Coco) use and recommend these elevators and I am really happy with them.
I (Dr. Coco) just got this new strainer and think it is perfect for rinsing coco. Rinsing your coco through a strainer like this eliminates the dust particles, which hold on to too much water. If you have seen my videos on preparing or reusing coco, you know what this is for and how to use it. This strainer is far better than the one I used in the videos!
The Equipment Guide continues in the following sections:
About Our Product Recommendations
At Coco for Cannabis, our mission is to help growers maximize the success of their cannabis crops by providing scientifically accurate information and sharing proven growing practices. We offer this guide as a resource to growers.
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