Everything You Need to Know About Smart Grow Boxes
The rise of smart grow boxes (also referred to as “grow cabinets” or “grow closets”) is helping to change the way plants are grown, managed, and cultivated in the cannabis industry, with artificial intelligence and IoT tech that’s optimized every aspect of the process.
While smart grow boxes have received the most attention from home growers, they’re increasingly becoming a popular piece of equipment at the retail and industrial levels.
Dispensaries and retailers utilize smart grow boxes to facilitate more efficient and consistent operations, which can help explain their growing, industry-wide interest.
Consumers are using grow boxes to grow their own product how they want it. This is easier than ever today with a multitude of box manufacturers as well as quality seed distributors that have mind-boggling selections of different indica, sativa and hybrid strains.
Here’s everything you need to know about this must-know cannabis product.
You’re going to be waiting a long time grandma..
Getting to Know Smart Grow Cabinets
There’s nothing new about the concept of growing cannabis plants indoors. However, there are always challenges to mimicking ideal growing conditions in an indoor setting.
After all, most plants are meant to be grown outside where they can receive natural sunlight.
Grobo has one of the sleekest form factors in the automated grow-box space.
Even those who can successfully grow cannabis plants inside often have to deal with trying to control the odor of the plants or keep their cannabis plants hidden.
But smart grow boxes can help reduce a lot of the hard work that often comes with growing cannabis in any setting – while also eliminating many of the issues that come with growing cannabis plants indoors.
As the name implies, a smart grow box is typically an enclosed space where plants can grow.
Most consumer-grade units have the appearance of a large box, but sometimes look closer to a small closet or a cabinet.
“Smart grow boxes” recreate all of the features of a typical garden, including the light the plant needs to grow.
In many cases, plants will grow faster inside the box than they would under normal conditions, which is always beneficial for those growing for commercial purposes.
The best part is that these boxes are largely automated and have all the features we’ve come to expect from AI and IoT technology.
Growers can customize settings to control the amount of light, water, and ventilation the plants inside the box receive.
Essentially, users create ideal conditions for their plants to grow, and the box ensures conditions remain in uninterrupted, only changing when the user changes the settings.
Being self-contained eliminates all concerns about unexpected weather conditions having a negative impact on plant growth. Cool huh?
Everything, from the levels of nutrients to the pH of the soil inside the smart grow box, can be monitored from a platform compatible with your computer or mobile device.
This helps ensure that cannabis plants have everything they need to grow as intended.
Essentially, you can program the grow box for the settings you want, and let it do the rest of the work until your cannabis plant is fully grown.
In short, it takes all unexpected variables out of the equation so that everything goes according to plan.
Benefits of Smart Grow Boxes for Beginners
There is no shortage of benefits to using smart grow boxes, regardless of whether you are growing cannabis for yourself or intending to sell it commercially.
As mentioned, all of the settings inside the box can be adjusted using a smart device so that the lighting, watering schedule, ventilation, and humidity are at the optimal levels.
Using a smart grow box is almost akin to hiring a full-time gardener to tend to your plants. The only difference is that a very small amount of labor is required while the plant is inside the box.
The whole process is automated, so once you input the right settings, the box does the rest with little to no effort from the grower (outside of occasional monitoring).
Most importantly, smart grow boxes yield fantastic results, with high-quality crops being easily produced due to the hyper-controlled environment.
The size of smart grow boxes is also advantageous for growers. Most grow boxes are just a few feet tall and take up a minimal amount of space compared to other methods of indoor cultivation.
For commercial cannabis growers, available space is just as much a factor as time and money. If you’re looking to produce at scale then the SuperCloset brand has a wide variety of larger self-contained grow room systems (they have smaller individual-sized options too!)
Individual grow boxes won’t take up much room, leaving plenty of space for multiple boxes or other aspects of business operations. Grow boxes are also lightweight, easy to transport, and store well.
Further, when you use smart grow boxes, you don’t have to worry about pest problems the way you would when growing cannabis outside. While in use, the cabinet is locked up and sealed so no rodents or bugs can get inside and interrupt the growing process.
Meanwhile, carbon filters help to control the pungent odor. This makes it easier to set up your growing operations anywhere you have room – without worrying about bothering others or bringing attention to your cannabis plants.
What to Look for in Smart Grow Boxes
Naturally, not every smart grow box is the same – and not every cannabis grower is looking for the same features in their grow box.
For dispensaries and retailers in particular, it’s important to find the right type of grow box that has can help you cultivate the type of cannabis plants you need to enhance your business.
As with most new hobbies and projects, it’s always best to start small, with individual use, so you can first learn how best to grow your green. Once you are confident you can move up in size.
If you are thinking of dispensary/retail purposes, we’d recommend a full greenhouse or large grow tent, something like what Gorilla Grow Tents offer.
Brands like SuperCloset are some of the most well-respected OG grow tent companies, but they are more for serious cultivars who want to have complete control over their lighting, air flow, humidity, and nutrient delivery systems.
The home-grow solutions outlined in this article are all self-contained and designed more for the hobbyist grower or someone who is looking to just grow a few plants for home recreational or medical use.
Smart growboxes do all the thinking for you so you don’t have to be a horticulturalist to successfully grow quality cannabis.
One of the first things to look for in a smart grow box is the size of the box itself. While most smart grow boxes are small and mobile, some are a little more compact than others.
If space is limited, a stealthier grow box may be needed. Of course, the obvious drawback is that smaller boxes can limit the number of individual plants you can grow at one time.
It’s also worth noting that different types of lights are used in different varieties of grow boxes. LEDs are often considered the best for plant growth, although they are usually the most expensive option. T5 and CFLs are cheaper alternatives to use inside a grow box.
However, they may not always yield the best results for growing plants. It’s always good to check if a certain grow box requires a particular type of light that fits what you prefer to use for growing your cannabis strains.
The cost is also an important factor when deciding on the right smart grow box. Everybody has a budget, and it’s important to find a grow box that won’t break the bank.
More expensive grow boxes are more likely to produce high-quality plants and last longer.
However, they may not be feasible options based on budget constraints, so sometimes a compromise needs to be made between price and features.
Top Smart Grow Boxes on the Market 2021
As the cannabis industry continues to grow, so too does the number of smart grow boxes on the market.
For those who haven’t been introduced to grow boxes firsthand, it can be difficult to decipher one option from another.
To give you a better idea of what’s available, let’s take a closer look at a few of the best-selling and highest rated smart grow boxes available:
Grobo: For When You Want to Flex
The Grobo automated grow box is geared toward those who don’t have much experience or expertise growing plants.
This is a tall and sleek, white box that looks great in any setting but also comes with a steel security lock. It’s four feet in height and weighs 80 pounds.
The company encourages users to pick a recipe from the Grobo app, which makes it easy to customize the schedule and settings. Like most grow boxes, there is a carbon filter to help reduce odor.
It also uses an LED lighting system and dual intake fans to help cultivate growth, with three ounces being the expected yield.
Cost: Around $2,000 and up.
Seedo: The All-In-One Automated Solution
The Seedo grow box is a little more compact than the Grobo. It weighs just 55 pounds and is only three feet and four inches tall. However, it’s about 10 inches wider and deeper than the Grobo.
Seedo is a great option for those who are tight on space and are only looking to grow for individual use as the total yield is limited by the smart box form factor.
On the upside, Seedo is the MOST connected device here, complete with an in-box camera so you can check on your babies anywhere, anytime from your phone.
It also utilizes LED lighting but comes with a few more sensors than the Grobo box, including both water and air temperature, as well as CO2 levels.
The lighting also has a second purpose as a party trick because when you open the door to your grow box, the LEDs and wafting marijuana smells will make your house party one your guests will surely remember.
Seedo also launched a partnership with Snoop Dogg, so their street-cred in the cannabis cultivation sphere just went up a couple of points.
For those interested, there is also a video camera that allows growers to look inside the grow box, which also sets Seedo apart from most of its competition.
Cost: Around $2,400 and up.
BC Northern Lights: Low Profile & High-Grade Quality
BC Northern Lights offers three different grow boxes of various sizes. The build and shape are more conducive to cultivators with a bit more experience.
While Seedo and Grobo tend to focus on smaller individual-use solutions, companies like BC Northern Lights, SuperCloset and Gorilla Tents require a little more knowledge to run properly but at the same time offer more higher-yield solutions.
The biggest is the BloomBox, followed by the Producer, with the Roommate being the smallest. They can be used separately or together for large-scale operations.
Other than size, there are small differences among the three models, but all three BC Northern Lights products come with most of the bells and whistles of high-quality grow boxes, including air-cooled lighting systems, carbon filters, industrial locks, a computer control system, and more.
Cost: Pricing is not listed and requires the visitor to request a quote.
Herb CEO Summary
Home growing can be one of the most satisfying hobbies for any cannabis lover to pick up, whether or not they were a “green thumb” before they developed their love of marijuana.
If you are looking to get started on this journey we have a great roundup of the best educational resources for learning how to grow this magnificent plant.
When looking to grow at home you can let your intended use and experience level guide you in your purchasing.
If you are only growing for yourself or maybe two people at the most, then smaller more compact options like Seedo and Grobo with smaller total yield limits make for an easy learning experience.
If you have some experience growing and don’t need as much assistance with setting up, monitoring, fertilizing and maintaining your plants, then larger options like BC Northern Lights, SuperCloset, and Gorilla Grow Tents might be more up your alley, although if you are concerned about smell/odors, only the BC Northern Lights grow solutions are completely self-contained.
Internet-connected grow cabinets are the perfect self-contained option for DIY cultivators and beginners alike. Grobo, Seedo and BC Northern Lights reviewed.
BCNL Producer Review
I have been running 2x BCNL Producer as side project for quite some time now.
This true review will help people deciding on purchasing from bcnl and help people who have already bought a bcnl pro.
Issue starts with intake fan only being 4inch 100 cfm .
As shown below air intake comes in from the middle, cools ballasts(grey) cools air pump orange, then goes threw a few holes to finally fill up the light chamber, this will then be exhausted out the two 100 cfm fans out the back.
This design is truly garbage and causes the below cabinet to run over 32 c/ 90f even when surrounding room is average temperature. Multiple attempts to exuast lights, lower room temperature have no real significant affect. Only way to counter this issue is too attach a blower to the intake(i use the carbon filter exhaust) , this can pump several hundred cfm into the intake and u will notice drastic air movement. You can see up to a 2-4c difference immediately in lower cabinet.
DWC systems are fucked with high heat and this is the reason many BCNL customers experience water mold/slime. The stock boxs runs too hot.
DWC system lacks proper air. Second exterior air pump must be added. 4 air stones for 18 plants is not enough. Air line for second pump must be jimmy rigged and is a hassle.
Water pump is garbage and will leave about inch of water which u will then need to shop vac.
Water pump will need to be adjusted per medium and per plant size, which involves calling bcnl. Or manual plug in pump
If floor is not 100 percent level rez level will be uneven causing all kinds of issue.
Larger plants will eat all the food causing others to have deficiencies.
18 plants in such a tight space causes stretching
Intake and outtake 100 cfm not enough air movment
plants touching each other can and will cause mold
No way to support plants from falling over
middle plants do not have enough light end up smaller
plants must be flipped very small so they dont stretch to the glass
If carbon filter is attached will cause heat and humidity issues
Heat and humidity difficult to control inside the box
Attaching cabinet intake to ducting and placing it near and a/c will defenitly help with inside temps
The delivery system is one tube on the far left side. I dont feel that this system properly provides co2 to every plant before its suck out by the exhaust fan that is always on, no air moment. Can attach small fans with suction cups to help with air movement.
Relatively easy to clean when not in use, issue begins when working with the DWC system. Since you cant remove all the water with that shitty pump u will have to use a shop vac. So lifting 18 plants and trying to vacum around there roots, 8 air stones and all the air tubing can be quite difficult.
Once plants get a certain size good luck getting to them. It becomes a complete jungle in there.
After a few years playing around with this thing ive decided it will no longer be used as a flowering room. I have converted it to a veg station. With mh’s it dosent run as hot, and with no dwc system. Works great like this
Although this system has turned a profit and paid for itself I would not recommend purchasing this unit. I would average over a pound with very little veg time and 50 day of flower. The system involved tons of tweaks and modifications and for the price they charge u can grow 5-10 times the amount.
I did not post every single issue i encountered but feel free to post any question comments of you own.
A few pics of my pro jobs aswell
Awesome review Smoked. I’m kind of done with the producers myself, they are a great way to teach you hydro, but as you said, they aren’t really built for novice growers. and this can cause a lot of lost grows and heartbreak. The issues they have are 100 percent correctable. If I were BCNL, I’d drop DWC all together and just provide them with a cheaper dirt / perlite bed marketed at novice growers. No 10+ year vets will even look at this thing, there are just too many problems with it, and the production just isn’t that impressive.
I’d also like to add: The T-5’s are almost completely useless. They don’t support lower bud growth alone, at all. All my bottom bud was useless larf, so I ended up having to buck off everything but the cola and 3-4 branches. but then whats the point of having t-5’s at that point??
Anyways, good luck guys. My advice having been down the road, and i’m sure smoked up will agree with me: Save your money, build a small setup. Stick with something simpler, and build your way up. 5k+ grand to try this thing. it’s just not worth it. No way, no how.
Agreed they are crap. I am glad I bought mine used for 500 bucks. Most of the problems would go away if they used dual 250 watters instead of 400’s. If you do the math 2 400’s plus a 200 watt CFL is just way to much light. The plants can not absorb it all.
I downgraded the lights to 2 250’s and all my issues disappeared. 2 250’s plus a 200 watt CFL and I noticed no difference in yield, NONE
Hello. New to this forum, though not new to growing and just felt the need to comment on this old thread.
While it’s always great to read and learn of others growing experiences I have to say that my time with the Producer was in very stark contrast to the comments posted here.
With decades of experience in soil, various mediums, and several forms of hydro I could no longer ignore my curiosity and broke down and bought a Producer some years ago.
Beginning with its construction it was nearly flawless in design, materials, and assembly. Really as sturdy and durable as any washer or dryer I’ve seen. Heavy gauge aluminum, perfect (high reflectivity) white paint finish, sturdy hardware, premium ballasts, and pristine wiring and routing. I felt it’s construction was beyond reproach. This certainly holds true when comparing the Producer to any other cab, steel or plastic.
Quality aside, a well built cabinet means nothing with respect to dry weight. In over 20+ crop cycles I never harvested less than 1.5#’s dry, and typically averaged 2.0+/-.
In addition, my time with the Producer delighted me with the fewest pestilence issues of any growing condition I’ve employed. Moreover, I found it to be an extremely capable and reliable 8-week dong factory that was always hungry for the next round of clones.
To dispel the all-too-frequent comments about the Producer running too warm. All I can can say is that those commenters/operators should really take a good hard look at their heat extraction and evacuation regimes, as the Producer (with properly routed intake and exhaust) runs with it’s overhead glass cool to the touch. Having considerable experience in HVAC and heat transfer, I can unequivocally say that this cabinet is IDENTICAL to every other grow cab made in that the USER is responsible for whatever heat is created by whatever ballasts, lamps and various electronics are enclosed within it. Period.
Perhaps the common ground here could be found in accepting that all cabinets fail in the heat department if they aren’t addressed by an operator with at least a fundamental knowledge of heat dissipation and management.
To directly address some of the issues mentioned:
“18 plants in such a tight space causes stretching”
Tight space, yes. Stretching, no. Never experienced ANY stretching whatsoever. It begs the question why you have relegated it to a veg cab if stretching was your complaint.
“Intake and outtake 100 cfm not enough air movment”
Incorrect. My system was drawing fresh, somewhat cooler air from an adjoining room and exhausting to another, which lowered the internal operating temp at plant height by over 9°F. This was accomplished with no additional fans or inducers.
“plants touching each other can and will cause mold”
Properly trimmed plants with properly routed ventilation and the use of an internal circulation fan (6″ KingAir, $10.00) renders those concerns invalid. If you’re growing a particularly bushy strain. Grow fewer plants. I’ve run the Producer with 12 Indica for a 1.7Dry outcome.
“No way to support plants from falling over”
Not so. Although I haven’t myself, nor had I found the need to install a net/trellis, etc, I have seen several ingenious and inexpensive implementations by enterprising SCROG’ers/SOG’ers. Those journals can easily be found with little search effort.
“middle plants do not have enough light end up smaller”
Myth. As each plant site is totally portable, simply move the shorter plants directly under the HPS and taller ones to the middle. Less than a minute, problem solved.
“plants must be flipped very small so they dont stretch to the glass”
Somewhat true and it’s strain-dependent, but that’s a good thing. Less time, less nutes, less energy, more product, more margin. I ended up running my clones longer with mild veg nutes to gain better roots and often skip veg altogether and go right to flower. In fact, those were some of the most prolific (2#+) harvests I’d had.
“If carbon filter is attached will cause heat and humidity issues”
True. Same with any cab. Vent beyond your grow space. You should anyhow, if possible. If not, don’t buy this or any large producing cab.
“Heat and humidity difficult to control inside the box”
Dispelled. Route your intake and exhaust properly and get a handle on your grow room ventilation.
“Attaching cabinet intake to ducting and placing it near and a/c will defenitly help with inside temps”
Possible, but much cheaper to not involve A/C if proper passive ducting is employed. Climate dependent of course.
The delivery system is one tube on the far left side. I dont feel that this system properly provides co2 to every plant before its suck out by the exhaust fan that is always on, no air moment. Can attach small fans with suction cups to help with air movement.”
Great observation and point. I thought the same and ran controlled identical-crop grows to observe any difference and was surprised to find that growth was stronger and the dongs were considerably bulkier when using co2.
You also raise a good point about internal circulation. I ran a 6″ fan in the box since the first crop cycle and believe it’s not only essential to keep air moving, but also to more evenly distribute co2. With respect to the placement of the co2 outlet being high up and to the left, there’s a very good reason for that. Carbon dioxide is heavier than air and needs to be released from the highest point above crop height for best administration. It comes out high on the left as it’s the most opposite point from the cab exhaust on the lower right. Again, my crops came out considerably better with co2, although I cannot offer numbers to illustrate the PPM saturation within the cab. I do know that it’s titrated via pre-programming and that I benefited measurably from it.
Relatively easy to clean when not in use, issue begins when working with the DWC system. Since you cant remove all the water with that shitty pump u will have to use a shop vac. So lifting 18 plants and trying to vacum around there roots, 8 air stones and all the air tubing can be quite difficult.”
Mine was very easy to clean. The surface has a durable, surgical finish and is easy by virtue of that alone. Lifting the plants can be a bit of a bitch, that’s why I made a little wooden prop (you can use a nute bottle) to hold the lid up. The pump was far from shitty for me as mine never failed or even complained. It fed perfectly and always pumped the res out in very few minutes.
The reason you need to vac out the remaining small balance is because of that pump you don’t like. It’s slightly elevated so you don’t have to go in and clean roots out of it every day. It’s elevated by design. A small vacuuming is not a hardship. it’s 5 seconds. I used a $15.00 Home Depot shop vac top that fits any 5gal bucket. Worked a charm. A large syringe would do the same. Next time try propping a little something (2-phonebooks perhaps) under the rear of the cab. This will force the remaining small amount of liquid to the front of the res where it can be vacuumed out in mere seconds with no root involvement or trauma whatsoever. Done. Easy.
As far as air stones go I believe you’re right. Did I need to add more. Probably not, but there’s never enough oxygen for my roots. I also added 4 more and a sturdy pump. 5 mins. No problem.
“Once plants get a certain size good luck getting to them. It becomes a complete jungle in there.”
Welcome to cab growing. Trim timely and properly and it’s a non-issue. Besides, it’s just good gardening practice to create the best environment for the plants and their caretaker. Removing all the unwanted/unneeded undergrowth only permits better air flow, better growth up high, and is part of responsible and conscientious crop tending. In addition, it allows some of that great blue light from the T-5’s to get higher up.
Personally, I want a jungle. A neat one though.
After a few years playing around with this thing ive decided it will no longer be used as a flowering room. I have converted it to a veg station. With mh’s it dosent run as hot, and with no dwc system.
Too bad it didn’t work out the way you hoped. That’s an expensive bummer. Sorry to hear it.
Although this system has turned a profit and paid for itself I would not recommend purchasing this unit. I would average over a pound with very little veg time and 50 day of flower. The system involved tons of tweaks and modifications and for the price they charge u can grow 5-10 times the amount.”
Yeah, it’s expensive to be sure. Not citing you here, but it seems to me that nearly every negative review I’ve seen about the Producer has it’s roots in poor knowledge of heat and ventilation management, in addition to lesser growing experience. A poor combination to be sure. Perhaps it’s over-marketed as a turnkey solution for wannabes, but from performance and reliability perspectives I couldn’t fault it in the least.
Any machine that gives me the better part of a kilo every 8 weeks with little toil in exchange is alright in my book.
I have been running 2x BCNL Producer as side project for quite some time now. This true review will help people deciding on purchasing from bcnl and help…