Senior cultivation editor Danny Danko reviews and rates marijuana growboxes and breaks down the ever-improving technology behind these personal pot-production units.
For over 25 years, Phototrons have been faithfully growing pot for people without much time or space to devote to cultivation. Starting at $499 for the Original, these affordable and compact units are ideal for small living spaces such as dorms, studios and condos. Phototrons arrive fully assembled and ready to plug in to start growing immediately.
Each Phototron comes with nutrients, grow medium, mirrored panels and step-by-step instructions -- all you have to provide are the seeds.
The only real drawback here is the amount of growing space. You won’t be producing pounds, but you can certainly harvest a personal supply when properly used. The inexpensive and simple Phototron is a perfect introduction to indoor growing for someone who’s just starting out and is wary of spending big on something they’re not sure they can handle. It has everything you need to begin understanding and mastering the indoor-cultivation process before moving on to larger boxes or growrooms.
Price range: $
Overall score: 3.0 out of 5
BC Northern Lights
Widely considered the Rolls-Royce of the growbox industry, a unit built by BC Northern Lights will certainly cost you, but consider all that you get in return. Each box has a customizable touch-screen control center that powers and adjusts pH level, temperature, humidity, nutrients and CO2. These solid units are hand-built in British Columbia, Canada, from medical-grade, powder-coated aluminum for a sturdy growbox that rolls easily on casters and locks tight.
BC Northern Lights has won HIGH TIMES STASH Awards (for Significant Technological Achievements in Secretive Horticulture) eight times. The Bloombox is the ideal all-in-one two-chambered system, with space for keeping mother plants and rooting clones, and a generous flowering area capable of producing pounds of pot. The Producer is built for -- you guessed it -- production, with 16 plants under dual 400-watt high-intensity discharge (HID) bulbs. The Roommate is a stealthy and seamless way to microgrow, while the Mothership keeps mother plants thriving and the Nursery is a virtual clone factory.
Best of all, BC Northern Lights’ customer service is impeccable. Call and you’ll get a knowledgeable person on the other end to assist you, and you can also live-chat with their helpful staff online. Plus the variety of growbox combos available allows you to customize your growing and institute a perpetual-harvest system that will yield pounds for just pennies.
Price range: $$$$$
Overall score: 5
Since its founding in 2002 in CEO Kip Andersen’s garage, SuperCloset has grown to become a leading company in the field of growbox technology. From the affordable and compact SuperBox to the flagship Deluxe, all Super-Closet units feature three separate 110-cfm fans, air-cooled lighting, SuperCool tube reflectors, Lumatek digital and dimmable ballasts, and their own SuperPonic technology for explosive root and plant growth. SuperCloset also offers a line of LED-lit boxes that reduce electrical usage and heat substantially.
SuperCloset has always specialized in minimizing noise and containing odors as well as building great boxes. The units are equipped with Phresh activated-carbon filtration backed by an “Odor Free” guarantee. Add in triple-locking doors, a three-year warranty and lifetime customer support, and it’s clear why SuperCloset’s customers rate their purchases so highly. There’s even financing available to quali- fied applicants through PayPal’s “Bill Me Later” program, which will allow you to pay for your unit over a six-month period (plenty of time for your growbox to pay for itself if used properly). SuperCloset is also a pioneer in the field of vertical-grow technology with its VerticalPonic systems.
Price range: $$$$
Overall score: 4.5
This more recent contender in the growbox game has quickly made its presence felt by building quality boxes at reasonable prices and with interesting technological advances. Microgrowers will love the Budster or the Bud Buddy, but those thinking bigger should look to the Grow Daddy or the God Father (weighing in at a whopping 170 feet of cubic grow space). Cedar construction keeps the heat and moisture from building up, resulting in less likelihood of mold.
The Grow Daddy measures 57" wide x 30" deep x 78" tall for a full 66 cubic feet of growing space. The planter shelf keeps you from having to bend awkwardly every time you tend to your plants. Best of all, these units are versatile: You can use them with HID lighting or LEDs as well as hydroponic or organic-soil setups. The boxes can also be purchased with optional master controllers that handle CO2 enrichment and run up to two units at once. The Hydroponics Group offers payment plans as well, so you don’t have to lay out all that dough in advance if you prefer not to.
Price range: $$$
Overall score: 4.0
Universal Hydro specializes in growboxes with versatility, show- casing units that work with hydroponic or soil-based systems in a variety of shapes and sizes to fit almost any budget. Its MediCab Micro, at under $1,000, combines LED and fluorescent lighting to produce buds in a 24" wide x 17" deep x 26" high space. We also love the efficient use of space in the Stacker, a two-tiered unit with LED lighting and your choice of hydro or soil setups.
The boxes use only washable pre-filters, which help to keep out bugs and fungi, as well as duct silencers to keep everything running nice and quiet. Cord-wrap seals and custom light baffles prevent light from leaking in and causing the potential for hermaphrodites (a catastrophe in small spaces, where just a little pollen can lead to a fully-seeded garden). Heavy-duty carbon fil- ters and a powerful blower keep odors from escaping for stealth and peace of mind, and the variety of growbox combos on offer ensures that you’ll find exactly what you need.
Price range: $$$
Overall score: 4.0
Full Bloom Hydroponics
With all of its boxes coming in at under three grand, this Florida- based company provides several options for growers on a budget. But don’t mistake these for low-end boxes: All of the units are built by SuperCloset to exacting standards and customized for use with soil instead of the more complicated hydroponic systems they normally ship with.
The Solaris is a midsize unit, while the Sunrunner is intended for bigger production. At $2,795 plus shipping, we love the Sunrun- ner’s versatility and ease of use: Simply fill the EcoGrow pots with soilless mix and you can grow up to eight three-foot-tall plants in the 46" wide x 24" deep x 78" high space. A three-year no-hassle warranty and lifetime grow support ensure that you’ll harvest big buds time and time again. The locking door and dual carbon filters keep the whole project safe and security-conscious, and the discreet shipping and billing policy maintains stealth and confidentiality.
Price Range: $$$
Overall score: 3.5
Founded in 2009, Accelerated Technologies has quickly risen in the field of growbox innovation due to a commitment to quality products and new ideas. Light-tight and whisper-quiet, growboxes from Accelerated, such as the Stanley 336 PRO and the Desa 328 PRO, are handcrafted in the USA and boast LED and fluorescent T5 lighting to keep heat and energy costs to a minimum while bathing plants with the lumens important for great growth rates.
With boxes starting as low as the “Bare” Misty 181 Cabinet at $1,050, these units are inexpensive yet sturdy. The professional GFI wiring surely exceeds the usual power strip most other companies have attached to the back of their units. One great upgrade offered is the factory-installed Automatic pH Adjusting System, which adds pH Up or Down according to the user’s specifications. Many lighting upgrades are also available, and we particularly love the Glide Frame, a custom steel dolly that fits under any of the boxes and allows you to move them with ease.
Price range: $$
Overall score: 3.5
With dozens of different systems to choose from, Dealzer has cornered the market on affordable growboxes with unlimited customer service. It carries a bunch of the other companies mentioned here (some at discounted prices), so you’re sure to find what you’re looking for at a price that you’re comfortable paying. And it sells only the highest-quality boxes tested for stealth optimization, including proper odor control and noise reduction.
Of particular note for someone just getting started is the Cash Crop 2.7, a six-plant box that’s only $420 (with free shipping). Another great unit is the PC Growbox for $495, which looks just like a personal computer from the outside, yet grows two decent-sized plants within. All Dealzer boxes come with an instructional DVD and free lifetime tech support, and there are many ways to pay for or finance your purchase as well. Plus Dealzer’s user-friendly website allows you to compare the various units side by side in order to fully understand your options.
Price range: $$
Overall score: 4.0