First Time Grower - 3x3 - Question

(((I guess my main TLDR question is: “3x3, first time grower, what type of light would you choose?”)))

Hello all! First time grower here who is planning on a 3x3 grow tent (amount of plants TBD, but starting with Autoflowers, and later will move to photos). I’ve got most of the parts figured out, but I’m hung up on lighting.

For exhaust I’m going to be using a 6" AC Infinity S6 which will exhaust directly outside, about 2ft away. Not quite sure yet if I will use a intake fan or just passive, going to feel it out.

The one thing that I am hung up on is the light - so many types and brands. I have a light budget of about $400 (though I’d prefer below, I could stretch it above :stuck_out_tongue: ). Simply put, I’m a little overwhelmed with all the options, and all the pros/cons.

The reason I mentioned the exhaust system I’ll be using is because I feel that it would be enough for whatever light I choose, be it HPS/CMH/LED. However, I also live in a very hot and dry climate, so even though I will be growing indoors, with ambient temp of about 70f outside the tent, I am unsure of what to expect running various lights in this environment, particularly during summer.

The light is the last thing on my list (aside from various clamps/etc.), and I wish I could say that I purposely left it till last. It just seems like so much light info is either convoluted, disputed, or false, and it leaves me with no confidence in my decisions.

(When I initially bought these seeds I was planning on an outdoor grow for my first grow, and had a lot of it figured out…but then I remembered how hard it can be to keep myself alive while outdoors during summer, and thought better of it.)

Glad to be here, and thanks for any info!


Man your price budget is right there for the HLG 300L. Great for a 3x3 as well. Promo code “dude” will save you 20% as well. I can’t link it due to forum rules but google HLG 300L and it will pop right up. Horticulture lighting group is the site.


That is one of the lights I have on my list.

I was/am worried that using something like that as a beginner will actually be more difficult, due to the hanging heights.

I already don’t know what to expect so I feel like having to be very specific with the LED height (as I have been “led” to believe) will be difficult to discern. I am simply confused as to what is actually doable with watts and exhaust.

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How much height do you have? You’ll be much better off than with HID or CMH heat wise. Plus it’s dimmable. I’ve run my HLG’s as close as 8” without issue.


It’s a 3x3x6 tent. Where I will have it located will allow for a top oriented 6 inch exhaust. I think that the S6 inline fan should be able to exhaust that size with ease. Intake will either be via the passive vents, or by a smaller (half CFM of the exhaust) fan. (Maybe quarter of the exhaust CFM…I typically know computer exhaust, heh.)

HLG LED’s sound really good, but you’re sure it would be enough to light up the tent enough for all stages?

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2 260xl

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2x 260xl is out of my price range for sure. Even if it was 20% off 2 of them would be almost 600.

I also have no problem with using HPS or CMH, and that is actually the problem. What in the heck type of light would be best for my 3x3 as a new grower? LED obviously seems the choice, but is it the best type for someone who has no experience with raising/lowering their lights and/or knowledge of where lights should be hung?

After trying to learn about all types, I am left with little confidence in one type over another…they all seem to work. So I am left with “what is best if I’ve never used ANY of them?”. The answer seems to be easy with HID…and much more difficult to answer with LED.

Sure is …you gotta pay to play with the big kids… I run over 4k watts for about 4500$
With 4hlg 600v2rspecs
And 4 hlg 480 2100c custom 1120 f series gen
Buy nice or buy twice it’s so true with light…that’s one category you should save and buy for dont buy inpulsively… 1 260 kit would work for you…save and buy the second down the road…if you like growing your gonna wanna get out of a 3x3 quick so maybe you shouldn’t pimp out a 3x3…wait till you get to a 5x5 or bigger… cuz that’s gonna he 3x 4x as expensive … you squeeze on light you up your climate controll theres no cheap easy and good route you can go cheap … you can go easy… and you can go GOOD which is fairly easy and decent priced

Your concern and willingness to try HPS or CMH lights over LED is the total opposite of my thinking when I started less than 2 years ago. Those lights with their hoods, reflectors, cooling requirement and the heat told me why the F*** hassle with 20 year old technology and have to figure this other stuff out too. To me an LED is as straight forward as my desk lamp. Plug it in and turn it on. If I want it brighter I move it a little closer. Hanging heights is NOT an issue. Open the user guide and hang 24" above plants. Get ruler out and measure, DONE! Not sure about height, growth stage, etc. Ask the forum.
I get it. You want to make the right choice and not get ripped off buying something that is ineffective. You are doing the right think to ask growers with practical knowledge and user experience to back it up. I wish I knew about the forum when I bought my first LED. I spent $600 on a 300W fancy popular blurple for my 3X3. If I had known about the forum and HLG and other lights using quantum board tech it would have been a no brainer.
I mean what more do you need than one of these - OK OK two would be really nice.

Yes, you can spend more, maybe one of these rather than 2x 260’s. It just fits a 3x3 at 33"

Good grief, this enlite for what I bought a blurple for.
My recommendation is buy new tech and use the advice offered.

Now for auto VS photo.
I figured out how to operate a digital timer. I can even adjust the on off times so I can go 18/6 or 12/12. When I really push it I use 20/4 when I still grow autos. I have 3 or 4 pin style timers that I use on some lights and pumps or fans because it is easier to set for very frequent on / off cycles. Plus, good to have old tech as back up when needed. I started with autos thinking they are easier. Looking back, maybe they are if you have light control issues. But you have a tent so complete darkness isn’t an issue. Autos are plant and go - not really. You still have to train them. If you don’t you end up with 4’ plants and 2’ of fluff.
The majority of what I grow now are fem-photos with an auto here and there that I grow outside of the tent.
Hey you learn as you go. Plenty of growers love and stick to autos and grow really nice stuff. Others hate autos and grow photos. I like to handle and train the plants so photos work better for this. They don’t flower until I want them too. Autos are just that. They automatically flower when they want to. That might be 21 days or 50 days.
good luck with what you decide.


Here’s an idea… if your handy at all and you have a price range… I’m sure @dbrn32 can help you peice together a bad ass custom light.
I’m way out of the loop as of new cutting edge items…these were pretty current about 2 years ago… there not bad by all beans but theres better…they were built for vegging… and they do a great job of it… for roughly about a dollar a watt you cant get more bang for your buck and they can look as sweet as your mind will allow… here’s an example of a light @dbrn32 helped me peice together and build from scratch from the aluminum heat sinks to the electronic connectors and everything In between…
This light

For about 400ish dollars this is a 400 watt custom light on a custom 2x4 foot frame… you can build something similar for similar price or 300$ for 300ish watts butt built for your space
That 2x4 light was vegging a 4x5 easily X2 in a 4x10 space

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Truthfully with autos a single 260 xl will be fine as long as you keep them nice and wide with lsting 2 260 xls would be more appropriate for a 4x4

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Welcome to the forum.
You came to the right place for any advice. You will still have to choose but the suggestions offered will definitely weed out the bad options.

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A 320 will work great in a 3x3 and be plenty of light to give hella buds.

You don’t need two 260 xl kits for 3x3, that would be more like 4x4.

Hlg-300 would be nice light for that space. If you were concerned about height I think may be your best option. Its narrow, so you could likely shift your exhaust to side of tent and almost run then parallel. You need some room between it and top of tent, but you also need that room for any of the other lights mentioned too. And the hlg-300 likely has thinnest profile of all, and is probably most diffuse which would get most coverage closest to canopy. Only better option would be something like chilled tech mini, but not sure if that is in budget.

If you went cmh, a 315 would correct for 3x3. But I really don’t see that taking up less room, being less canopy heat, or better in any category really. They are nice lights too though

Hps, a 400 watt light would do it. But 400’s are kinda the dawgs of the bunch. 315 cmh is better light, but you could go air cooled easier in hps.

Building is good option. Greengene’s garden on YouTube has tutorial for 300 watt light for 3x3. You could basically copy with any 560mm strip.

I run Mars Hydro in my 3x3 veg tent and HLG Scorpion R spec in my flowering tent and I don’t think you can beat the HLG stuff. That being said, the TSW2000 I have in the 3x3 does fine running autos and in veg, but for the $$, if I were shopping for a new light for a 3x3 I’d take a good look at the Mars Hydro FC-E3000.

I have 3x3 tent with the 6-in AC air 6 intake room humidifier to blow it intake vent evaporative style and a California light works solar extreme 500 works very well 24-in for veg 18 for flower seems to be plenty of light 400 bucks for 400 watts if you go online you can find a code for 10 to 15% discounts american-made top notch service very fast delivery just my thoughts

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Thank you all very much for all of the advice and suggestions!

I believe I’m going to go for the single HLG 300L. Checks all my boxes and would be easy to combine with something else in the future if I moved up in tent size.

DIY LED’s are something I’ve watched some videos on, but honestly I feel like I need to handle one new project at a time, haha. Though the idea is something I’ll come back to, I’m sure.

Thanks again!

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Right on… if that’s the case and you want to do this but not yet… get your self a 400 hps and you will be kicking ass for 100$ just make sure you got ventilation and you’ll be in good shape…untill you figure out which direction you want to go… I bought 5 hid fixture before I went to hlg 600s which are asome for a 5x5 [4in a 10x10]
And 4 of the customs in a 10x10 veg… that was my 3rd location that I built from the ground up… you want to buy something nice after you learned basics… and really even know this is a hobby your gonna stick with… its addicting in the begining a soon after… it gets fun once you get better and confident… dont expect… super easy growing as a new grower and buy all the most expensive stuff will not make the fundamentals any easier… you can do same thing with cheap stuff to learn the basics which I would suggest to ppl who are new new to horticulter as a whole

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