When I started in the indoor cannabis grow industry, and just like any new commercial grower, I went to the internet for some tips about what grow shelves to use. I wanted to adapt what I learned in my “secret grow room”. But with an increase in canopy size up to 10,000 square feet, I was unable to take my small indoor grow operation into the big leagues. I had to start learning about the equipment that has been around for years, but not necessarily for the industry that I was working in. It was all about adaptation and using what was available. Grow Benches in a Small Operation | GrowHigher

At that time, I didn’t have the time to re-write the book, and with a limited budget I had wished there was a guide to help me. But alas, there was not, and I made mistakes as many do. Once again I am here to help you learn from my mistakes so that you can get straight to doing what you do best.  

I have compiled a list of different types of Grow Shelves for your commercial operation with a little history to understand where all this technology came from so you can make an educated decision for your commercial grow operation. Armed with this knowledge you can put together the right grow room setup and design for maximum profits.

Let’s start by talking about industry standards, what you can expect when you talk to a distributor and the questions that you need to ask so that you get the right growing system for your needs.

Grow Platforms vs. Grow Tables

There are two words that I hear constantly that I want to clarify. I want you to have the best experience when trying to locate your equipment. These two words are “Grow Platform” and “Grow Table”. Many times I hear them used interchangeably, but in reality they are not the same.

The platform is the structure that makes it all happen. This platform holds up the weight that you need and keeps your plants elevated. The table is what sits on top of the platform, these tables come in multiple sizes for your application. Not all platforms match the tables that you want to use, so make sure you understand platforms and tables.

Industry standards and sizes are built so that they can provide low cost equipment, without all of the overhead. When you deviate and need to make everything custom, the prices shoot through the roof. The manufacturer has taken the most common sizes and will keep them in stock, while anything outside of these sizes will result in going back to the drawing board. Fabrication and customization raises the price of your grow system and, the last time I checked, we were trying to save money, not throw it away. Try to remember that the most common sizes come in 4-foot and 8-foot segments. Although you can sometimes get 3-foot and 12-foot lengths, they are not as common and might be more difficult to obtain.  

The last thing I want to discuss is how to measure a grow bench.  When you are standing in front of the grow bench, looking straight ahead measures the depth, the height is how tall it is, and the width would be measuring left to right. 

Grow Shelf Dimensions | GrowHigher

Now that we’ve made it through that introduction, we understand what we need to know before even thinking about growing platforms and tables. It’s time to get to the pickles of this whole article.  

What are the different types of grow shelving systems? Where did they come from? What are the uses that are best for the commercial cannabis grower? 

The Different Types of Grow Shelves for Your Operation

Grow Bench Systems

Wood Grow Bench | GrowHigher

Pros: Simple, Easy to Build, Cheap

Cons: Not mobile, Not Durable, Not Suitable for Maximizing Space, Not Ideal for Needed Utilities

Let’s start with the cheapest and easiest of all grow systems, wood benches. Many people have been making these benches and there are a lot different ways to do this. Simply put, we just wanted to elevate the grow tables so that they are not sitting on the floor.  

The good thing about these grow shelves is that all you have to do Is build a rectangle, add a few supports, place it on bricks and voila, you have a grow bench. It can be cheap, yet effective. 

The bad thing about these benches is that they will not last very long, you cannot stack them, and they typically do not move. In addition, water and wood are not a good mix. Some people have put a plastic film in them to keep the bottom dry, but you cannot always control water.   These benches are good for a basement, but bad for a commercial grow operation.

Rolling Flood Table Stand

Rolling Flood Table | GrowHigher

Pros: Simple, Easy to Build, Cheap

Cons: Not Durable, Not Suitable for Maximizing Space, Not Ideal for Needed Utilities

These individual rolling flood tables are pretty easy to put together. You can get optional casters for the bottoms. They were one of my first purchases after deciding to move my pots off of the floor. I was able to really cram them into the room which gave me a lot more growing space to work with. I had to hang the lights from the ceiling but was able to push them back in place after I was done working on the plants.  

These grow shelves required a deeper flood tray which was okay, even though I was not doing flood watering.  Setting up trellis poles was a pain and I had to create something out of PVC, which was never fun to do and was cumbersome when cleaning the room. Over time the wheels started to wear down from the weight and got harder and harder to move around the room. Keeping them straight and having to move them back under the lights was always a job I disliked. These table stands were great for a couple of tables, but not so much for a large room.  

Nursery Benches  

Nursery Grow Benches | GrowHigher

Pros: Durable, Good for Greenhouses

Cons: Not Suitable for Maximizing Space, Not Mobile

These have been the industry standard for greenhouse growing for decades. They are strong because they are metal and usually galvanized for rust.  They typically have a wire mesh grid to support the plants. 

The downside of these benches is that they are not movable and a lot of space is wasted. These benches are good for a greenhouse, but bad for commercial grow operations.  

Rolling Slide Bench

Rolling Slide Grow Bench | GrowHigher

Pros: Durable, Adjustable, Better Use of Space

Cons: Not Mobile, Difficult to Maintain, Not Ideal for Needed Utilities

These benches are an adaptation of the nursery benches.  They have non-moveable supports that are anchored to the ground. The part that moves is the top of the platform, with the ability to slide left or right. 

The manufacturer states that “the bench table top allows for plus or minus 8.5 inches of travel (or movement) side to side, measured from the center position, or 17 inches’ total travel.” They typically use large poles that roll underneath the table that make it glide back and forth.  

I had these benches and they did serve their purpose. While they did help to maximize space, they also had their issues.

Lights had to be hung from the ceiling and were challenging to adjust. The assembly was a challenge; I spent a good chunk of time putting the room together. I had filters and dehumidifiers above the tables and I found it difficult to get up to this equipment to service because of the narrow aisle space. Over time, my aluminum slide benches started to fall apart. Keeping the tables straight was always a chore, they tended to slide out of place and not be aligned unless weighted down heavily and were hard to keep straight. I do know that some companies have fixed some of these issues with mobility, although I did not want to deal with these issues.  

Finally, a trellis system for these was hard to use and I ended up having to use pvc pipes for this. My honest summary is that benches are not a bad system, but I don’t feel that it was the best I could have used. The frustrations were ongoing. With the installation and the small problems, I eventually needed to get something else.  

Carriage Grow Shelf Systems

Carriage Grow Rack System | Montel
Carriage Grow Rack System from Montel.com

Pros: Durable, Mobile, Multi-Tiered, Fancy

Cons: Extremely High COST, Difficult to Install

Originally made for the storage of clothing, library books, records, and other such products, these were designed to carry heavy loads. With crank handles to move thousands of pounds in a minimal square footage, they were ideal for the blooming cannabis industry. With a few design changes, you suddenly had a two and three tier rack that could be moved with a handle. 

This is a great concept that allows the ability to maximize your canopy space, and makes this an ideal system for commercial grow operations. Boy, these things come with bells and whistles and can really do the job. But while the system was ideal for what I needed, it had a few drawbacks that made it challenging for me.   

The most prominent challenge was simply the cost. Like any luxury car you pay a high price for leather seats and fancy navigation systems. As a result, I had to decide if the cost was something I could afford and sadly I did not need the bells and whistles. 

As far as Installation, I have no idea what it takes because these companies insist on doing the installation on their product and in turn you get the added cost for assembly. Once again, difficulty of assembly drives up the cost of the product. I would rate this product 9 out of 10 with the only downfalls being the cost and challenges of assembly and that the carriage system did not allow good airflow under the tables. 

Vertical Grow Rack Systems on V-groove Tracks

Mobile Vertical Grow Rack from GrowHigher

Pros: Durable, Mobile, Multi-Tiered, Lower-cost, Expandable

Cons: Not Much

These systems were originally made for the shelf storage industry, made to support thousands of pounds. In warehouses, these shelves are generally bolted to the ground and filled with forklifts. You have seen them at your Costco or Home Depot. Although these were giants and you saw them in every storage facility, it had to be dialed back a little bit for the cannabis industry. 

Taking these systems and configuring them for cannabis growing operations was a no-brainer. Their ease of assembly and ability to adjust for each individual grow operation was the number one reason I went with this system. 

The white powder coated exterior was excellent for keeping the system clean and rust resistant.  Being able to mount V-groove glass-filled nylon wheels to the bottom of these made it so there would not be any rusting issues. And with the v-groove track that is connected to the ground, these keep straight and strong, easily moved by hand. Assembly was my favorite part; I was able to put together a 50 x 50 room in less than a day with 2 helpers. 

The existing poles made it easy for a trellis system, and with a simple plant tie band you can easily adjust your trellis. With 1 to 3 grow levels to put your plants on and a light level to connect your lights, there is no more need for hanging lights from the ceiling, and the lights follow the plants. You can make each row up to 32 feet and can still comfortably move them by hand. 

These grow shelves can work as a bench system with light supports or a multi-tier system to double or triple your canopy space and increase your cannabis yields. You can even start with one level and add on as your business grows. This system was a no-brainer for me.  

This system was made for a cannabis farmer by a cannabis farmer and with a lower price tag. The ease of use made it easy for me to go in this direction. These systems outlast all of the other equipment in your room. I can’t lie, I like bells and whistles too, but in time they break.  You can’t break a John Deere tractor and this system, in my opinion, is the workhorse of the industry.   

Explore Vertical Grow Rack Systems, or Talk to a Grow Room Expert About What Grow Shelves You Need

GrowHigher is an industry leader in vertical grow rack systems. You can explore our vertical grow racks, or our mobile vertical grow rack systems to find the right grow shelves for you. If you need any help to find the best solution for your grow operation, our grow room experts are always on hand to help! Contact us today for a free consultation, and get your grow operation off the ground the right way.

When running a commercial grow operation, your grow room setup and design is everything. With the right space, organization, equipment, and environment, you can maximize your yields and your profits. However, if any of these pieces aren’t done correctly, you could be leaving money on the table.

One of the biggest mistakes that I have seen is how little thought goes into a grow room setup and design. There was a time where we got most of the answers from the local grow store. Unfortunately, the grow store started on the premise of small grows that a single person would do in their house or on their property. Grow stores have improved over time and they deal with a lot more commercial growers, but they are also limited in their recommendations by their suppliers. Not saying this is true all the time, but there might be some bias on what equipment is recommended because grow rooms only supply what their suppliers let them. This isn’t always the best recommendation. I could go on and on but I will save that rant for another day.  

When designing a grow room, you need to focus on what is most important, and with the wealth of options on the web it is hard to know what will work best. Every market and supplier out there knows their product and would love to make it to the top of the list, so it can be tough to find what will work best for your operation. 

So here is a quick overview of my recommendations from my experience on how to navigate your grow room setup and design. I will be adding sub-topics in the near future to dig more into these ideas but for now here we go. 

Empty Grow Room for Setup and Design | GrowHigher

The Most Important Factors for Your Grow Room Setup and Design

Let’s assume that we have a building lined up, and it’s completely empty. Now we get to build out our grow room design from scratch. We can design everything from the floor to the ceiling (with limitations) exactly how we have always pictured it. Just remember that this takes time, and you’ll want to take things piece by piece, one foot in front of the other, or you will be waiting on doing a project because another project has been delayed. 

Here are the most important things to consider when planning for your grow room setup:

The Size of the Grow Room – Don’t Get Too Large

 Although it is tempting to make a giant grow room in a building so you don’t have to deal with a lot of walls, I think that a moderately sized grow room will have better results. Why? A grow room that is 100ft x 100ft is like one big factory full of future issues. It can be done but it is very challenging to control the environment. The larger the room, the harder it is to control humidity, temperature and airflow. 

When a 100ft x 100ft room runs into an issue (and all rooms at some point will), it is much harder to do damage remediation. Let’s say you got spider mites that snuck in on your workers pants because he took a nice siesta outside on break and laid under a tree. I realize there are ways to stop that, but people are notoriously unpredictable so, yes, it does happen. Now try to fight a large room with a spider mite infestation with limited types of pesticide that is allowed based on your state. The stress it causes the plants could ruin your grow. Yes, you can survive it but the effects are so much larger than if you can quarantine a smaller room. 

An ideal room would be roughly 30ft x 50ft. This is large enough to really show some mass production but small enough where you can close down the room and quarantine so that you do not spread the problems to other rooms. 

What about watering a large room? I have a lot to say about this but I will keep it short and save that content for another day. Simply said, trying to water a room that is large has its challenges and the best way to attack it is to set up manageable zones.  

The amount of water running into a room with 6000 plants at 2 drippers per plant and 0.5gph flowing through a 1-inch pipe is simply just not adequate and some areas will drip faster than others. A balancing act is almost impossible with some of the standard pipe sizing that I have seen, typically ¾ to 1 inch PVC. 

The simplest solution is to balance out your watering by zone and by room size. In my experience, a smaller room is just a better option. With the right equipment it can be done but with a standard set up it is very challenging.

Electrical Needs for Your Grow Room | GrowHigher

Electricity Needs for Your Grow Room

Electricity is one of the most important factors for your grow room setup and design. As always, electricity is what will make everything run smoothly, so you’ll want to make sure you get it right. Here are my best suggestions:

First, contact an electrician to see your electrical options. Find out if you are set up or need to install more power for single-phase or 3-phase power. 120, 208, 240, 277 or 480 volts, get familiar with these terms and know what your power is capable of when you are purchasing your equipment. I would recommend that if you have the option to get 480V 3-Phase power, you should absolutely get it. With this higher power factor, you use less Amps and have a more efficient power supply. 

To get the right electrical load setup, you’ll have to make a few decisions about how you’re going to set up your grow room first. You have decided what room size you are going with so now it is time to figure out how many grow tables go into that room. Are you going to double stack or use a bench system? What brand of lights, hvac, pumps, fans, dehumidifiers, humidifiers are you going to use? Your electrician will need all this information to do a load calculation. 

Pick the right electrician. It might be a little cheaper to go with a small company, but 2 people wiring your building for 2 months can really drag on your timeline for getting production started. I think a larger company that specializes in commercial operations with a dedicated large crew will do the same job in a much shorter amount of time. Don’t forget to plan ahead. With the global pandemic it could take months to get some of the transformer parts that you need to complete your buildout. 

Vertical Racking for Grow Room Design and Setup | GrowHigher

Grow Benches and Vertical Racking

Something I have often seen and heard is that figuring out the grow shelves and tables is the last step to the design process. I do think it is the overlooked part of the design and here is why. 

Most rack and bench companies design in 4’s and 8’s, with some deviation. Grow rack manufacturers either come in bench form, in a vertical form, or a mix of the two. The factories predict what sizes are standard, for example a 4’ x 8’ bench is a common size. So with this prediction they order their raw steel far in advance to get certain sizes so that they can get a discount, which means a discount to you, the customer. This is how they keep prices down. 

It’s important to know early on what dimensions your grow tables or racks will be, so you can plan ahead. Grow table manufacturers produce common sizes most likely in 4’s and 8’s. There are variations but you will be surprised how challenging it is to source the stock. Grow lights are often sized in 4 foot footprints. So it makes sense to find out what your size options are early, and I suggest sticking with the more common dimensions. It’s true that anything can be made to fit your room, but the less common the size the more likely it is to be a custom fabricated product. With a custom product now your price could be raised by 25 to 30 percent.

GrowHigher offers high-quality vertical grow racking systems, with mobile vertical grow rack options as well.

Final note on this, and it will be repeated through the blog. Plan 3 to 6 months in advance. With a global pandemic around us, shipping times and sourcing raw materials is getting harder and more expensive.

Grow Room Plumbing

Plumbing seems simple: get water to the plants. But there is so much that goes into planning an efficient plumbing layout so that all plants get the same amount of nutrients in a large production facility. 

Get with an expert on this. Plan in advance. Know how many plants go into the room, and how much water each one needs on a daily basis, based on the strains you’re using. A good plumber will ask you all these questions, so be prepared. A plumber can help design a pump that can take care of all your needs in a single location, and also plan how your pipes should be organized to keep watering consistent across all your grow tables.

Remember that contractors are notoriously late and with a global pandemic and supply shortages it is best to not be caught with your pants down and your investors wondering why your site is not making any money yet. Plan this plumbing out far in advance so you do not have any hiccups. 

I will talk about more in depth plumbing practices in a future blog. 

HVAC for Your Grow Room

You will need to contact a qualified HVAC contractor to get the right amount of cooling/heating and sometimes even humidity out of the room. If you know what lights you are using and all your other equipment, the designer can do a BTU calculation, and add 20%. This is a very crucial step to plan for the future when you do this. 

If you are single level and are planning on going to a double level, then you need to plan your HVAC for that. It is not always as simple as adding a little bit more BTU output, it could be very expensive to change it and very hard to work in a room that already is filled with equipment. When planning your HVAC, make sure you take your future growth into consideration.

Make Sure You Plan Your Grow Room Setup and Design as Far Ahead as Possible

The best piece of advice that I can give is to make sure that you plan as far ahead as possible. With sourcing and manufacturing shortages, the longer the better. Plan for delays and do your best to surround yourself with the experts in their fields. It’s worth the extra investment. They can not only help you pick the right equipment but you can build a relationship with people who have far more expertise than yourself on specific subjects. Let them figure out the small details so you can focus on what you do best. 

Build a relationship with a cannabis advisor, the amount of money you can save on design mistakes will be small in comparison to the costs of design flaws. Don’t forget to check their references. Stick to what you do best and let the experts do the rest. 

In order to compete in any industry, you need the right tools. The competitive cannabis industry is no different.

If you’re ready to increase yields and maximize profits through vertical growing, here is a list of five essential tools you’ll need for your grow room.

Mobile Grow Racks

Mobile grow racks allow you the flexibility to expand your growing space without the expense of adding more room. You’ll find that a quality-made mobile racking system will become the backbone of your business.

At Grow Higher, we will work with you to design the racking system that suits your needs – whether you are just starting out or are an experienced grower.

Grow Trays

Your next important vertical farming tool is the grow tray. Not all grow trays are the same, and cheaper trays may cost you more in the long run. You’ll want to select durable, reusable trays that feature easy drainage and have ultra-violet stability and disease resistance.


Indoor farming depends on a dependable light source. We recommend LED lighting for each tier, and while the initial cost may seem exorbitant, it’s wise to consider it as an investment in healthy plants.

Work with a qualified manufacturer of proven electrical growing systems and an electrician when setting up your lighting system. Be sure to ask if flex (or “daisy chain”) wiring is an option for your operation. If so, you might be able to save some money. Do your research and read reviews of all products and services before making your lighting decision.


Next on your list is your growing operation’s air circulation needs. Adequate airflow is essential to the health of your plants in an indoor environment. Look for an airflow system that provides a consistent supply of conditioned air to the canopy and sub-canopy across your entire run. Also, ask about other options, like Co2 enrichment and air sanitization.

Irrigation and Fertigation

Robust cannabis plants require proper amounts of water and nutrients. An automated system can save you time, money, and worry. Talk with providers who work with vertical growers and know your particular needs. Be sure to ask about monitors, sensors, and grow controls.

Now that you’ve got a handle on the five most important tools, it’s time to consider mobile carts for mobile carts to move plants easily from harvest to your drying area. Look for carts that allow you to custom configure them for both hanging plants and trays. Features like security cages, nesting bases, and fungal-resistance coatings are worth considering.

When it’s time to increase yields and maximize profits through vertical growing, GrowHigher is ready to help.

When you’re designing your grow room, every inch of space matters. The best way to maximize space is with vertical growing. Then, with the right tools on hand, you’ll be able to increase your crop yield and quality. With this type of care and planning, you’ll also have a more efficient, and ultimately, more profitable growing operation.