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Hydroponics Systems and Supplies: Hydroponic Chambers and Tents

Great way for growing flowers or small vegetables to maturity. Great way for growing flowers or small vegetables to maturity.

Have you wanted to upgrade the productivity and convenience of your hydroponics gardening systems so you get bigger harvests with less time and effort? Wondering if you can get easier hydroponics equipment, hydroponic supplies and hydroponic gardening infrastructure?

If you’re like most growers, the answer is a ear-shattering “YES!”

Yes to larger harvests. Yes to more security. Yes to plug and play. Well now the hydroponics industry appears to be responding to your needs with new products such as grow tents, grow chambers and cloning machines.

If you could believe some of the hype for the most expensive of these units, they’re like the Swiss Army Knife of hydroponics. They do everything except trim your toenails!

Almost unheard of except for hand-built units until about eight years ago, today you seem to have a wide variety of choices when you want compartment grow spaces that are said to bring automation, stealth and easy use to your hydroponics gardening.

At their best, grow tents and chambers serve up portability, quick set-up, lower maintenance time and cost, more security and modern technological features.

They’re ideal for situations such as apartment living when you don’t have the opportunity to retrofit an entire room or home to accommodate your hydroponics gardening.

Or maybe you work full-time outside your place of residence and you can’t spend lots of time and money to build a sealed grow room at home, and to tend to it like a mother tends to her baby.

In my case, it’s that I don’t know the difference between a claw hammer and a wet saw, so I have to hire people to build me a new sealed environment garden space wherever I live.

That costs me a lot of money, brings people into my space (I worship my privacy) and makes me feel like a nerd as I watch these guys shape, cut and alter walls, electrical panels and ceilings to give me a sealed hydroponics indoor garden.

You can very well say to yourself, why should I go through all that when I can just buy myself a hydroponics chamber or grow tent that has most of what I need for hydroponics gardening built in?

Exactly. That’s the point. All you need to do is your “let the buyer beware” due diligence when you’re shopping for tents and chambers, order one if you can find one that’s legit sold by a legit seller, do the minimal assembly required to set it up, plug your plants in, and enjoy.

Promise the Moon, Deliver a Hydroponics Equipment Saga

The claims made by manufacturers and sellers of grow tents and chambers are fantastical and you really need to do your extensive homework to figure out if the company and/or seller are legit, honest and accurate about their products.

Grow chambers can be expensive and you are not in the habit of enjoying throwing your money away!

I like to buy my hydroponics supplies online unless I need to physically examine hydroponics stuff in a store. Sometimes buying from a website description and photos isn’t wise. You can’t verify the integrity or experience of the online store people. They may be thousands of miles away, which makes it tough if you have hardware problems.

Grow chambers are definitely a hydroponic supplies item I want to examine in person, yet I’ve found it’s hard to locate a brick and mortar hydro store that carries a large selection of grow tents and chambers. That’s why I was very excited when iGrow opened in Oakland, California.

With their Grow Squad and other big box store features, iGrow is the Best Buy or Home Depot of hydroponics. I could envision them having 1500 square feet of showroom just for hydroponics gardening chambers.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the future of hydroponics…a lot of distributors and manufacturers wanted to control pricing and distribution of hydroponics gear and supplies, and they saw iGrow as a threat to what had long been a mom and pop, rigidly controlled retail hydroponics equipment and supplies environment.

According to insiders, iGrow is facing unfair business practices and other tactics that could shut them down. A cadre of companies and distributors is refusing to sell gear to iGrow…basically trying to run it out of business.

This isn’t the first time I’ve heard of these kinds of ruthless shenanigans. When I called several hydroponics stores to ask if they had a good selection of set-up grow chambers and tents, they told me they couldn’t afford to stock them because the manufacturers refuse to sell the hydroponics equipment to retail stores at wholesale prices.

So when you’re buying a piece of complicated hardware like a grow chamber, and if you can’t examine the chamber in person at a local hydro store, you definitely have to get it straight with the online seller about warranties, track record, operating instructions, materials, etc. If you’re not sure, don’t buy. It’s that simple.

Homemade DIY Hydroponics or Manufactured Hydroponics Equipment

My buddy who is very handy with tools and making things looked at a grow chamber priced $2700 and priced out a comparably-equipped chamber if he built it himself.

He found that the parts and supplies would cost about $800. But problem was that he had no easy way to fabricate the metal parts for the chamber exterior, and the DIY chamber buildout would have cost him about 25 hours of labor.

“I can see why people buy them,” he said, while also complaining that “the chambers are overpriced because it’s hard to make them yourself.”

Just what’s so special about a grow chamber? Here are just some of the many claims that grow chamber manufacturers make:

  • Customized venting and fans perfectly matched to the unit
  • Customized lighting
  • Portability, easy and fast set-up and takedown
  • Stealth features, such as units that look like file cabinets, personal computers, television sets, washing machines
  • Multi-function units that have veg, bloom, propagation, cloning and drying chambers all built into one unit
  • Units that are two feet deep, three feet wide and six or more feet tall
  • Digital electronics that protect from power surges and gives more reliable use of HID bulbs
  • Automatic watering, automatic reverse osmosis, temperature controls
  • Trellises and other features to horizontalize and support plants
  • Wall to wall illumination, airflow and C02 distribution for maximum production
  • High-tech reflectivity on all interior surfaces
  • Built-in clone machines
  • Various hydroponics formats including ebb/flow, aeroponics, NFT
  • Built-in carbon filters and other odor control
  • Onboard hygrometer and thermometer, along with automated digital climate controllers, automated watering- so you can go on vacation and not worry
  • Water pumps as strong as 250 gallons per hour
  • Heavy duty locking devices
  • Capacity up to 60 “full-size” plants
  • Hormones that make plants go bushy instead  of tall


From Hydroponics Heaven to You?

If you’re sitting there with your mouth hanging open thinking “I got to get me one of them,” you’re not alone. The product claims that you’ll see for these units make you think that the hydroponics gods have gifted us with the ultimate gardening machines.

Of course, the devil is in the details and one of the details has to do with heat build-up. It’s not like these chambers or tents come with an air conditioning unit or chiller. So however good their onboard venting is, it’s still only going to be sucking air from the outside room, and you can have significant heat problems.

Other problems include:

  • Light leaks, noisy fans, shoddy workmanship
  • Poor if any customer support
  • Unreliable product claims
  • Missing parts
  • Defective pumps, timers, ballasts
  • Poor warranties
  • Fraud, waste and abuse
  • Inferior nutrients provided with some units
  • Amateurish stealth features

In fact, more than half the growers I know who tried a hydroponics grow chamber ended up very angry and frustrated because the chamber was poorly built, the components weren’t all good, and/or the seller/manufacturer customer service was a scam.

According to several of my grower friends, they called the Better Business Bureau (BBB) that has jurisdiction over one of the most widely known manufacturers of hydroponics chambers, and the BBB reportedly told them that the manufacturer had a long and sad history of customer complaints and shady practices.

Like I said before, buyer beware. With grow tents and chambers starting at $300 and going up to cost many thousands of dollars, you’ve got to be very certain that you’re doing business with a reputable company or reseller who will provide you a quality product that works as claimed. You also want friendly customer service and knowledgeable tech support.

If you don’t feel confident about hydroponic grow chambers, I guess an alternative is to consider a grow tent (made from canvas and reflective materials, with zippers for fans and vents).

Some grow tents look like they’re a soft material attempt to be a grow chamber (which is made of heavy gauge metal and other materials). They might have an odor-controller vent and a cooled light, but I’ve never seen a soft material grow tent offer the bells and whistles that grow chambers offer.

Now hey, if you were looking for me to tell you exactly what to buy, or whether or not to buy, a grow chamber or tent…well, I can’t get behind anything I’ve seen so far, because I have too many questions about quality control, warranties, and other issues.

My personal opinion is that you’re better off growing in a real room, especially a room outfitted as close to being a sealed grow environment as possible, using hydroponic systems, general hydroponics equipment and other materials that you choose yourself.

Because the bottom line is that no grow chamber or tent is going to give you as much yield, flexibility and potential as a grow room outfitted with 5000 watts or more of HID light.

It’s like that when you shop for any hydroponics equipment, hydroponic nutrients or hydroponic supplies. You sometimes have to choose between homemade hydroponics and something pre-fabricated. And you have to make darned sure that you’re making a 100% safe investment.

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Last modified on Friday, 01 April 2011 05:11

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