Choosing the Right Light for Your Grow Tent

By Kent Gruetzmacher
Published: August 10, 2021
Key Takeaways

Grow tents are designed to be a compact and convenient way to grow indoors and grow lights are an important component. If your grow tent setup is becoming onerous, you might have the wrong grow lights for the job.

Over the past few years, the use of grow tents has exploded in popularity. Both hobbyist cultivators and experienced growers are drawn to these systems due to their convenience and ease of use. Yet, as our understanding of grow tent cultivation continues to expand, we consistently reassess important components in these setups, including grow lights.


While the conveniences of grow tents for indoor cannabis cultivation are evident, the setups also have their drawbacks. Much of the horticulture equipment used in grow tents was not originally designed for tent growing. As such, cultivators run into issues when taking horticulture equipment that was engineered for large spaces and placing it into the tight confines of a tent. Of this technology, grow lights have become a source of confusion.

While today’s horticultural lighting is amazing in almost every aspect, it can be tough to understand how these lights will function in a small space such as grow tent. From HPS lights to LED lights, each type poses unique challenges for grow tent cultivation. Lights are not engineered specifically for grow tents, so it’s up to cultivators to research what technology will work in such setups.


What is Unique about Cultivating Cannabis in a Grow Tent?

Grow tent cannabis cultivation is unique due to the infrastructural constraints that arise with limited square footage in these systems. The small space created by the grow tent immediately influences critical environmental factors such as temperature, humidity, and airflow.

Spatial Constraints

The primary factor to consider when growing cannabis in a tent is limited space. In conjunction, available space influences the ambient conditions of your grow environment on every level. When shopping for a grow light, the lack of space must be considered every step of the way because small spaces magnify environmental irregularities such as excess heat put off by certain light fixtures.

The smallest grow tents on the market today are 2x2 feet, while the largest tents are 10x20 feet. Whether you choose a large or small tent, your choice of grow light will directly impact the ambient environment within.



Temperature is a major environmental factor that must be addressed by all tent growers. As most cultivators know, cannabis thrives in temperatures between 75-85°F. Your choice of grow light will be one of the primary factors to consider in keeping your tent operating within this ideal temperature range.

The close confines of a grow tent also limits your options on regulating ambient heat with traditional methods such as air conditioners. Growers are often forced to patch together temperature regulation systems in their tents with carbon filters, exhaust, ducting, and light fixtures. These DIY setups are often bulky and take up valuable square footage in an already tight space.



Airflow is directly tied to both spatial constraints and temperature within a grow tent. Cannabis thrives in dry climates where soils/mediums can thoroughly dry out between watering periods. The regulation of humidity with proper airflow is also critical in stopping the spread of harmful pathogens such as powdery mildew. For optimal cannabis growing conditions, the air in a grow tent should be entirely exchanged every five minutes.

The size of your grow tent will dictate the size of the exhaust fan needed to properly expel heat and humidity. In conjunction, your choice of grow light will also influence your airflow system, as different lights produce distinct amounts of heat. Some of these setups will be bulkier and less functional than others.

Read also:

Cannabis growing indoors under LED grow lights

Different Grow Lights for Tent Cultivation

Traditionally, indoor growers have the luxury of purchasing grow lights according to the needs of a custom-built room. Here is a brief look at how different grow lights function in grow tents.

Single-Ended High-Pressure Sodium (SE HPS)

Single-ended high-pressure sodium (SE HPS) lights have been the go-to lights for cannabis growers for decades because they work well for both vegetative growth and flowering. In addition, SE HPS lights are affordable and offer a wide spectrum of usable PAR light for cannabis plants.

SE HPS lights are a very attractive option for novice tent growers who are operating on a tight budget. While these lights emit a good deal of heat, the hot air can be expelled with hoods, ducting, and an inline fan. Even more, you can position the lights within a couple of feet of your garden canopy, which is ideal for tent cultivation.

SE HPS lights work with grow tents. Yet, the additional hoods, fans, and ducting needed to make them function can be a real hindrance when it comes to workspace. Moreover, it can be difficult to properly position all this equipment within the tight confines of a tent.

Double-Ended High-Pressure Sodium (DE HPS)

Over the past decade, double-ended high-pressure sodium (DE HPS) lights have taken the cannabis industry by storm. Due to their uniform and intense PAR light output, many of today’s commercial producers use DE HPS lights.

While DE HPS lights have proven their worth in large commercial growrooms and greenhouses, they simply are not designed for the confines of a tent. Due to the strength of the light they emit, DE HPS fixtures must be hung at a minimum three to five feet above a garden canopy. Even more, these lights are notorious for running excessively hot.

As seen with SE HPS lights, DE versions come with air-cooling options. However, the lights still run overly hot for a grow tent. This fact, coupled with the need to hang them far above the garden canopy, make them impractical for grow tents. Any attempts to utilize a DE HPS light for a grow tent would require a good deal of custom work and this extra effort counteracts the convenience of using a tent in the first place.

Light Emitting Diode (LED)

Light-emitting diode (LED) lights represent the latest revolution in grow light technology. Originally, LEDs only utilized blue- and red-light spectrums geared largely for the vegetative growth of cannabis. However, the last few years have given rise to full-spectrum LED lights that produce enough PAR light to grow huge cannabis flowers.

One of the largest selling points of LEDs is the fact they run extremely cool. Moreover, most LEDs work best when positioned close to a garden canopy, at a space of around 18 inches. Looking at these facts, the primary drawback of LEDs is their price, as they are more expensive than other options, though prices are coming down.

LEDs work well in grow tents because they run at cool temperatures and can be hung close to the garden canopy. Even more, their cool-running temperature lessens the need for bulky equipment add-ons such as hoods, fans, and ducting. LEDs will save you heartache during the planning stage and allow for more square footage to work within your tent.

Which Light is Best for Cultivating Cannabis in a Tent?

It cannot be denied, grow tents are here to stay. Whether you are a seasoned veteran or newbie grower, it’s likely you can find a practical use for these convenient kits. However, there are some important considerations to make when planning such operations.

After carefully weighing the options, we feel that LED lights are best suited for the task of grow tent cultivation.

Looking at the main challenges of grow tents in terms of space, temperature, and airflow, LEDs simplify your setup by eliminating the need for elaborate air-cooling in a small space. This simplification also creates room to work within your tent and lessens the need for intricate planning. LEDs are specifically engineered to function in extremely close proximity to plants, thus increasing the benefit.

In the end, planning an indoor grow operation should be a marriage of form and function. When you begin adding a ton of extras to make a single piece of equipment work, it is likely that piece of equipment simply isn’t suited for the task.


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Article Sources

Maximum Yield uses high-quality sources to support the facts within our content including peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, professional organizations, and governmental organizations.


Written by Kent Gruetzmacher | Writer, Owner of KCG Content

Profile Picture of Kent Gruetzmacher

Kent Gruetzmacher MFA is a Colorado-based writer and owner of the writing and marketing firm KCG Content. Kent has been working in the cannabis and hydroponics space for over a decade. Beginning in California in 2009, he has held positions in cultivation, operations, marketing, and business development. Looking specifically to writing, Kent has worked with many of the leading publications and marketing agencies in the cannabis space. His writing has been recognized by such icons as Steve D’Angelo and Rick Simpson.

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