Utter noob looking for buying advice

Thread starter #1

Ian Bastage

Product Reviewer
Staff member
With the legal changes happening, I want to set up a decent grow area in an unused upstairs bedroom. I thought that before I start buying, I would ask the brain trust here for opinions. Of course, I have been doing a bunch of Internet & grow journal reading . . .

The plan:

4 plant maximum – fem indicas, maybe autos etc

2x4x6 Grow tent - probably a Mars 1680D type. Not a Gorilla but it’s 1/3 the price here.
LED grow light – leaning towards a Mars II Epistar 160. Since my core grow area will be smallish with only 4 plants, I decided that this light ticks the intensity box nicely with its cool reflector thingies.
6†inline fan with filter. Overkill perhaps, but I can run it slower for less noise.
A decent sub pump - 150+ GPH
General Hydro (or similar) air pump - 320 GPH
2 large air stones per tank

RWDC. 45L/12 gal tote reservoir - outside tent - with a 102L/27 gal grow tote with 4 x 3 ½’ pots. 1 ½’ return to res. Water pump to drip feed pots with hydrocorn media.

Are there any glaring problems?

Thanks in advance . . .
 

gr0w

New Member
With the legal changes happening, I want to set up a decent grow area in an unused upstairs bedroom. I thought that before I start buying, I would ask the brain trust here for opinions. Of course, I have been doing a bunch of Internet & grow journal reading . . .

The plan:

4 plant maximum – fem indicas, maybe autos etc

2x4x6 Grow tent - probably a Mars 1680D type. Not a Gorilla but it’s 1/3 the price here.
LED grow light – leaning towards a Mars II Epistar 160. Since my core grow area will be smallish with only 4 plants, I decided that this light ticks the intensity box nicely with its cool reflector thingies.
6†inline fan with filter. Overkill perhaps, but I can run it slower for less noise.
A decent sub pump - 150+ GPH
General Hydro (or similar) air pump - 320 GPH
2 large air stones per tank

RWDC. 45L/12 gal tote reservoir - outside tent - with a 102L/27 gal grow tote with 4 x 3 ½’ pots. 1 ½’ return to res. Water pump to drip feed pots with hydrocorn media.

Are there any glaring problems?

Thanks in advance . . .
are you aiming to do an rdwc undercurrent system? or just running the reservoir to one single tote? also, drip system might not be needed if running a DWC once the roots are in the water.
a picture of what you are planning will help us visualize the setup you are trying to accomplish.
add into that an inline filter to collect any debris from getting into your pump.

i also recommend using hydroton, and make sure to give it a good rinse before putting into the system.

in a 2x4 tent a bigger light would be beneficial
recommend:
VIPARSPECTRA Reflector-Series 450W LED Grow Light Full Spectrum for Indoor Plants Veg and Flower: Amazon.ca: Patio, Lawn & Garden
or
VIPARSPECTRA Reflector-Series 600W LED Grow Light Full Spectrum for Indoor Plants Veg and Flower: Amazon.ca: Patio, Lawn & Garden
 

TorturedSoul

420 Member of the Month October 2010 & September 2
2x4x6 Grow tent - probably a Mars 1680D type. Not a Gorilla but it’s 1/3 the price here.
LED grow light – leaning towards a Mars II Epistar 160.
Since your grow space is twice as wide as it is long, make sure whatever light you get has the same illumination footprint, if possible.
 
I also recommend using hydroton and are you going to start from seed? I had really good results germinating in Pete moss suspended over water in a Tupperware container. This caused the roots to stretch towards the water. At week 2 I already had roots a foot long. In my setup I opted not to top feed because I wanted my roots to have to work towards their water source. Working roots are growing roots! I'd like to see the Set up as well when you get going. Good luck!
 
Thread starter #5

Ian Bastage

Product Reviewer
Staff member
are you aiming to do an rdwc undercurrent system?
Hmmm. I could easily switch it to an undercurrent configuration if it is considered superior. I do like the concept of good water circulation. Do you have to change the water as often?
or just running the reservoir to one single tote?
For now, one single tote. With a 4 plant limit, I figured that one 27G tote will have as much water & root room as 4 x 5G buckets. And the simpler the plumbing, the better imho.
also, drip system might not be needed if running a DWC once the roots are in the water.
Yeah, I was unsure & I have read about potential root lock in the basket due to too much water from the drip. Maybe bring it in low in the basket? I was following Tulip’s DWC tutorial from 2010.
add into that an inline filter to collect any debris from getting into your pump.
Good point. I can easily screen the return from the grow tank & insert inline if I go to undercurrent.
i also recommend using hydroton, and make sure to give it a good rinse before putting into the system.
Agreed. I am still learning all of the terms . . . and I have heard to rinse it well.
in a 2x4 tent a bigger light would be beneficial
Since your grow space is twice as wide as it is long, make sure whatever light you get has the same illumination footprint, if possible.
Yeah, the light decision. There seems to be a massive amount of information and misinformation about comparing LED lights. It became clear that it is not just a simple wattage decision.

The Viparspectra R900 is my #2 choice. When you start comparing specs (I know, I know . . .) they are very similar lights. 418W vs 362W consumed. 90 x 5W Bridgelux/Epileds vs 80 x 5W Epistar. 90 degree vs 100. Virtually the same size. Very similar PAR diagrams (although no competing diagrams are the same distance so you have to extrapolate a bit). The only real difference is the LED config. The V uses a lens in front of the LED to disperse while the M uses a reflective cup (which they claim is superior tech & they do use this same config on their spendy Cree models). The slightly better dispersion on the M seems to bear this out. The price difference is $30, so negligible. M has a warehouse in-country while V is across a border, so it simplifies service if needed. And M will give me a slight combo deal on tent + light.

As you can see in the diagram, the light (red rectangle) is nicely centered on the grow space (yellow tote lid with 4 x 3 ½’ pots)



Thanks all for the questions/suggestions. Keep them coming. I will digest & probably ask some more.
 

gr0w

New Member
Yeah, judging from that picture make the return line 1 1/2" and probably a 3/4 feed line would work just fine.
In my undercurrent 5gal bucket system i ran 1.5" feed and 3/4 return, but the systems are total opposite as far as water direction.
An inline screen filter would be a must as dust and particles from the hydroton are bound to get sucked up.

4 plants in that size tote should be fine if put into the corners of the tote.

In addition, a water level indicator tube on the side of the reservoir and tote would also be a good idea so you can tell how much the plants are drinking and make a mark and refill the res to that level.
(Clear blue tubing is best to illuminate any algae from light exposure)

Just top water the plants until the rootball is close to the water and they will take over from there. No need for a drip system.

As far as lights, it's all growers opinion. I also grow in a 2x4 tent with a 450w led but will be either upgrading to higher wattage and longer light (to fill the 4ft space better) or daisy chaining a second 450 light to fill the footprint.

Hope this helps.

Oh. And i recomend groing in 5-6" net pots if the tote can handle it.
Also be aware of the weight and stress on the lid as the plants get pretty heavy as they grow.
 

gr0w

New Member
Just an idea, what about using two smaller totes (2ft long) to fit side by side in the tent and just add some 1 1/2" between them and put two plants per.
 

TorturedSoul

420 Member of the Month October 2010 & September 2
You only have three feet, TOTAL, between the surface of your containers and the light? In that case, perhaps it is better that you are considering from among the less capable (+/-) sort of LED panels which use those low-powered individual monocolor LEDs instead of a more powerful device that uses COBs. My panel has a mix of both types (6 COBs, each surrounded by 10 monocolors) and, with the lenses in place on the COBs, it seems to thrash my plants at a 20" (or thereabouts) distance, lol. Seems like I read something about this product being intended for "high-bay" applications where there was a minimum spacing of 32" or so between the top of the plants and the panel.

I try to ensure that there is enough distance that, when I shut off the switch for the (white light) COBs and run only the monocolors, I see mixed spectrum light hitting the plants - as opposed to having it close enough that I can see colored spots of light on the leaves. IDK if that is important or not, to be honest. It just makes sense to me.

I am certainly not an expert at this. I have been growing cannabis for... a while, but it seems like (thankfully) there is something new for me to learn every day. Err... On a good day, I'll learn it before lunch time so I can coast for the rest of the day ;) . And my personal experience with expensive - or any - LED grow light panels is wholly comprised of one specific panel. I wish I had the experience of someone like our fellow member Icemud, who has had the opportunity to test a relatively large number of LED products.
 

TorturedSoul

420 Member of the Month October 2010 & September 2
Just an idea, what about using two smaller totes (2ft long) to fit side by side in the tent and just add some 1 1/2" between them and put two plants per.
So that if you encounter an issue that threatens the health/life of one of your plants, you have the extra motivation to solve the problem - due to the fact that you're looking at having TWO die, lol?

Personally, I follow the one plant per container rule. Both because of the above possibility and because, if (for whatever reason) I had to separate them, I would have to cut the two root systems apart (I very seriously doubt trying to untangle the mess would work).

I have seen people successfully come to harvest with multiple plants per container. I just have never been able to observe any real benefit in doing so, even in those successful grows. The added cost of more containers (et cetera) is negligible when compared to the cost of buying ounces of cannabis retail. You can't get decent cannabis around here for less than $300 a lid or so. Even a small personal cannabis grow might produce... IDK, half a pound and up? While an unsuccessful one might produce plenty of heartbreak and little to no bud, lol.
 
Thread starter #10

Ian Bastage

Product Reviewer
Staff member
You only have three feet, TOTAL, between the surface of your containers and the light? In that case, perhaps it is better that you are considering from among the less capable (+/-) sort of LED panels which use those low-powered individual monocolor LEDs instead of a more powerful device that uses COBs.
Yeah, I have been looking at COBs but not to start. Maybe if this all works, I can do some upgrades in the future & do some building.

I am tight for height. Maximum - with the light slammed - is about 42". I reconfigured as per gr0w's great suggestion & moved to an undercurrent with small totes - 12G - which gave me a few more inches of play.

 
Thread starter #11

Ian Bastage

Product Reviewer
Staff member
Whoops. I just checked the tent measurements again & the height is 180cm so 71" not 60" as per my diagrams. That gives me 52" . . .
 

TorturedSoul

420 Member of the Month October 2010 & September 2
I'm suffering from height issues, too. The guy that had this panel before me (it's a "tester unit," I suppose) had plenty of height. He posted some pictures of the grow, and one of them used a normal-sized redhead for scale. IIRC, she was reaching upward toward the top of the plants. If wishes were "fishes"....
 

gr0w

New Member
So that if you encounter an issue that threatens the health/life of one of your plants, you have the extra motivation to solve the problem - due to the fact that you're looking at having TWO die, lol?
I run a 4 site rdwc with 1 plant per.
He was asking about running 4 plants in one tote so I suggested only two, for this reason.
Have you ever tried lifting 4 well established plants at one time to look at the roots if a problem occurs?
This is why I suggested two plants.
In a perfect world running 1 plant per is the way to go.
Running 4x 5 gal buckets would be a good way to go.

Here is a picture of my underwater rdwc setup in a 4x2 tent for a visual

Sorry for crap pics. But I don't have any good ones right now as I recently switched to coco with a drip system to switch my two outdoor plants into flower.
 

gr0w

New Member
After getting going in my 2x4 tent. I would suggest a 4x4 if you have the room.
I will be doing this next grow possibly using this setup i found online
 

TorturedSoul

420 Member of the Month October 2010 & September 2
After getting going in my 2x4 tent. I would suggest a 4x4 if you have the room.
...and the light.

I run a 4 site rdwc with 1 plant per.
He was asking about running 4 plants in one tote so I suggested only two, for this reason.
Have you ever tried lifting 4 well established plants at one time to look at the roots if a problem occurs?
This is why I suggested two plants.
Lol. Two per is better than four, yes. No, I have not tried to lift four plants at one time. Since mine were sitting in individual ~23-gallon totes full of roots & nutrient solution, that would have been a neat trick. Also a sure recipe for a screaming hernia, since I would have found it quite troublesome to lift one. I have, however, been known to lift the lid (along with the plant) and place it onto an identical reservoir full of fresh nutrient solution.

In a perfect world running 1 plant per is the way to go.
Yes. And if there are no unforeseen problems, running two plants in one container - that is of sufficient capacity for the job - shouldn't cause any issues other than, perhaps, some small lessening of yield from a hypothetical maximum.

The trouble with unforeseen problems, however... is that we do not foresee them ;) .

Running 4x 5 gal buckets would be a good way to go.
I keep meaning to grow a smaller plant than I normally grow (in DWC) in a five-gallon bucket. I strongly prefer containers which have at least one straight side (as opposed to being a cylindrical shape), but could probably figure some way to mount my power heads on/in a bucket. More smaller plants can equal the yield of fewer large ones, obviously, so that isn't necessarily a show-stopper for me. I just recall days when I added back, for example, seven gallons of water to a tote (after having done the same the day before :rolleyes3 ), and I am a little leery of running such small reservoirs. I... Well, IDK the ((size + environmental conditions) = n gallons per day of water consumption) formula, so to speak. At that point in my life, I lead a rather "scheduled" existence, and could expect to consistently check the grow room at the same time every day. Now, somewhat less so. I could probably keep up with a plant that gets large enough - and/or hot enough - to transpire all the available water, but I cannot guarantee it. And larger reservoirs appear to be more pH stable on the days that are closer in temperature/etc. to what we'd call "normal," simply because the plant is consuming a much lower percentage of the whole.

Here is a picture of my underwater rdwc setup in a 4x2 tent for a visual
Nice setup, it looks like you put some thought into it. At first, I thought that you were using black iron piping, lol, but then I realized it was plastic. Many of my past grows have looked like, well... a stoner built them ;) .
 
Thread starter #16

Ian Bastage

Product Reviewer
Staff member
I originally was going to use 4 x 5G tubs. Cheap & the net lids are cool. My reasoning behind bins is:

It allows me to have approx. 22G of water in the system for stability of pH & nutes. 4 x 5G + a 5G res would be less – maybe 15G before root growth? My past life fish tank experience taught me that a big tank is far more stable than a small one.

It allows me to cluster the plants around the core light area better than 4 x 5G which would have to be staggered in a 2 x 4 tent leaving 2 out of 4 out of the prime light area. Doubling the light would work as well but that is not in the budget this time. And of course, one plant alone or 2 plants would be best for light but we all want more. Right?

This plan drops the plant base by 4 inches, so more for growth.

It will require 3 ½†pots (system level mandated) so I will have to fab support as required. I will also use mylar-covered acrylic sheets on top of the modded tote top surface for extra support.

Much simpler plumbing hookup. 3 totes with flat sides are much easier to plumb to. This is an upstairs bedroom & leaks would be a disaster. The idea of barbed connectors & grommets on a cylinder gives me hives. I am sure Home Despot can supply whatever I need to securely feed PVC lines to straight-sided hard plastic totes. ½ or ¾ lines with 2†return. And thinking it through, I might put a float shutoff for the pump on one of the grow totes to prevent overflow if the filter clogs. But it is not like I won’t be inspecting all of the time anyway . . .

Thanks guys.

The final layout (for now)

 

gr0w

New Member
Just gunna throw this idea out there. Put a couple shut off (ball valves) on both the return and feed.
Also use a union on the pvc incase you need to remove one of the totes or reservoir.

I also see a lot of people use 1 1/2" pvc and use big grommets and silicone.

Or these work well too
 
Thread starter #18

Ian Bastage

Product Reviewer
Staff member
Put a couple shut off (ball valves) on both the return and feed.
Also use a union on the pvc incase you need to remove one of the totes or reservoir.
You were reading my mind.

I also see a lot of people use 1 1/2" pvc and use big grommets and silicone.
Exactly what I want to avoid.

Thanks.
 

TorturedSoul

420 Member of the Month October 2010 & September 2
The idea of barbed connectors & grommets on a cylinder gives me hives. I am sure Home Despot can supply whatever I need to securely feed PVC lines to straight-sided hard plastic totes.
If you can't find what you need, just ask for "bulkhead connectors" - they should show you something threaded, with gaskets, that makes a sandwich (lol) with your tote's wall as the inner layer.

Also use a union on the pvc incase you need to remove one of the totes or reservoir.
Very useful things, unions. For anyone that doesn't know what they are... picture your plumbing system. Even if it's something like threaded galvanized water line, if you want to remove a section of pipe (etc.), you can't just start twisting that pipe; trying to unscrew one end just acts to tighten the other. That big center section (on metal unions, it's shaped for a wrench to hold it) gets turned and then you have separated your pipes. We used to sell them at the hardware store and people would wonder why they needed such a thing. I guess it's like wall sleeves, lol, if you need one, you'll know (too late :rolleyes3 )....
 

Hype

New Member
Hmmm. I could easily switch it to an undercurrent configuration if it is considered superior. I do like the concept of good water circulation. Do you have to change the water as often?

For now, one single tote. With a 4 plant limit, I figured that one 27G tote will have as much water & root room as 4 x 5G buckets. And the simpler the plumbing, the better imho.

Yeah, I was unsure & I have read about potential root lock in the basket due to too much water from the drip. Maybe bring it in low in the basket? I was following Tulip’s DWC tutorial from 2010.

Good point. I can easily screen the return from the grow tank & insert inline if I go to undercurrent.

Agreed. I am still learning all of the terms . . . and I have heard to rinse it well.


Yeah, the light decision. There seems to be a massive amount of information and misinformation about comparing LED lights. It became clear that it is not just a simple wattage decision.

The Viparspectra R900 is my #2 choice. When you start comparing specs (I know, I know . . .) they are very similar lights. 418W vs 362W consumed. 90 x 5W Bridgelux/Epileds vs 80 x 5W Epistar. 90 degree vs 100. Virtually the same size. Very similar PAR diagrams (although no competing diagrams are the same distance so you have to extrapolate a bit). The only real difference is the LED config. The V uses a lens in front of the LED to disperse while the M uses a reflective cup (which they claim is superior tech & they do use this same config on their spendy Cree models). The slightly better dispersion on the M seems to bear this out. The price difference is $30, so negligible. M has a warehouse in-country while V is across a border, so it simplifies service if needed. And M will give me a slight combo deal on tent + light.

As you can see in the diagram, the light (red rectangle) is nicely centered on the grow space (yellow tote lid with 4 x 3 ½’ pots)



Thanks all for the questions/suggestions. Keep them coming. I will digest & probably ask some more.
Hi been reading you're posts & I'm doing roughly same set up, but just haven't got the plumbing done yet.
Wasn't sure how to go about it but looking at you're diagram it seems pretty straight forward..
Have you used that setup yet?
If so how did it go?