I recently made the conversion from my basic baker's rack set up to a grow tent. I made the decision due to limited space in the rack and wanting to have more control over the environment as a means to grow more difficult species. Hopefully this post may help others who are interested in building a similar setup. This was designed to grow intermediate/highland Nepenthes, but not necessarily ultra-highlanders. I should mention for clarity sake that I am not sponsored by any of the following companies. I simply bought these due to good reviews/what was available to me at the time of purchasing. I apologize to our metric-minded growers. All information will be given in inches/feet and Fahrenheit.
I bought a Secret Jardin DR150 which is 60" x 60" x 80" in size. This worked best for my current one bedroom apartment, though it's still quite big! Secret Jardin got great reviews compared to other grow tents. I was intrigued by the Gorilla Grow tents, but they are substantially more expensive and I don't think the quality difference would have made the biggest impact on my plants.
I hooked up a LG Electronics LP0814WNR 8000BTU portable AC unit that was rigged to have the cool air ducted to the top of the tent with the exhaust going outdoors. The tent is in my air conditioned apartment and even though the lights produce a good amount of heat the AC rarely turns on during the day, but more about that in a bit.
During the Fall and Winter months I will just use a duct fan connected to the window to bring in cool air at night for the needed temp. drops.
My current lighting is a 4' 8-bulb T5 HO system by Hydro Crunch. I really like to give my plants a lot of light and am considering additional lighting. I'll hold off for the time being just to see how the plants do. This system puts off a good amount of heat but temperatures inside the tent never exceed 85F. All plants are on a 4' x 4' hydroponic flood table that has no holes drilled into it. I was fortunate to buy the floor model at a very significant price decrease at my local indoor gardening center since it had some cracks on the rims, which to me are only of aesthetic importance and means nothing at all.
Humidity is maintained with my Pro Mist PM-60 misting system. The pump and water reservoir are outside of the tent for easy access. Four nozzles were hung below the lights so that minimal mist would touch the bulbs (see the above picture). I can't say enough good things about this Pro Mist system. I bought this back around 2006 and the pump is working just like it did the day I bought it. Great customer service and great product. Enough said.
Two small fans are placed within the tent to give added air flow. This may change. I'm contemplating buying one larger fan that swivels back and forth on a motor.
Both humidity and temperature are regulated with two Zoo Med Hygrotherm units. You might be able to get away with just one, but they are only rated for controlling up to 1000 Watts and the AC unit uses somewhere around 860 watts - I didn't want to risk it. So, one hygrotherm controls the AC, another controls the mister. I'm still playing around with daytime/nighttime temps and RH. Currently I have the daytime high set at 84F and a low of 59F. RH is set at 70%. I borrowed a datalogger to monitor the temp and RH changes (see below). Assuming the datalogger is accurate, the rh is maintained much higher than what the hygrotherm is set to, which isn't necessarily a bad thing! Temperature seems to be pretty spot on.
Only time will tell how this system works out, what parts give/break first and so forth. I will keep you all informed of any major changes and am always open to suggestions from those of you who have more experience with this sort of growing setup. I'd like to thank Mato and Cory Gill who provided me with excellent information regarding this type of indoor growing system before I took the plunge.