Is It Cheaper Growing Marijuana Indoors, or Outdoors?

indoor greenhouse

If you’re thinking about growing your own pot for personal use, chances are you’ve gone back and forth over the advantages and disadvantages. Is it cheaper growing marijuana indoors versus growing outdoors?

Until recently, growing marijuana indoors has been more of a necessity than a choice; with strict prohibition intact, an outdoor grow would likely have led to arrest before 2012 Initiative 502 passed, allowing cultivation for medical-use plants. As such, most of the innovation in marijuana-growing has been specifically related to indoor cultivation, and the average pot consumer has become accustomed to the dense, sticky, “perfect” looking buds that come from plants grown in a heavily-controlled environment.

Ultimately this has meant that outdoor cannabis growth hasn’t seen any major spikes in popularity despite its relative legality, even though relaxed regulations mean that most outdoor pot-plants will fly under the radar. However, as more recreational growers are seeking space to support their habits, we’re likely to see a rise in outdoor growers.

When it comes to the quality of indoor grown pot versus outdoor grown pot, there are plenty of arguments for both sides of the case. When it comes to financing, however, there’s still some ambiguity over whether growing indoors or outdoors is the best choice.

So, what’s the answer? Is it cheaper to grow marijuana indoors or outdoors? We’ll be taking a look at the outdoor weather of the Northwest in this case.

Make no mistake: both growing indoors and outdoors will require you to invest a substantial sum up-front. However, those numbers prove far from even in the long term.

The Cost of Growing Marijuana Indoors

Indoor cultivation is a favorite for a reason: growers can control temperature, light, CO2, and humidity, providing their plants with a stable environment and resulting in top-quality marijuana. In fact, it’s been proven that indoor-grown plants produce more aesthetically perfect flowers and pack in higher concentrations of THC.

To understand whether that perfection is worth the money, however, we have to break down the costs of set-up. We’ll base our estimates on our previous post regarding the materials and cost of a minimalist indoor setup.

First of all, this setup should be sufficient for growing 1-3 plants, which is typically plenty for personal use. The necessary materials are:

Item Cost
125-Watt Light $30
2-Gallon Containers (pots) ~$3/ Each
Soil $5/ Bag
Fan $15
Seeds ~$10/ Each
Total: ~$100 for 3 plants


Now, it’s worth noting that the above setup isn’t designed to produce super-high quality bud, large-size yields, or THC percentages over 20%; but it is sufficient for a basic indoor production.

Obviously, there are many factors that could be added onto this budget that would significantly increase the cost. A grow tent can help you regulate light and temperature but will run you $75 at a minimum. Add in ventilation systems, fertilizers, pesticides, advanced fans, light hangers, thermostats, timers, tubing, and the electricity costs that come with all these add-ons, and your setup costs can rise easily upwards of $1000.

For the sake of an apples to apples comparison, however, we’re going to continue to assume a basic set up (as shown in the table) as we look at the costs of outdoor growth.

The Cost of Growing Outdoors

For starters, the possibility of growing marijuana outdoors in Washington is relatively limited. Nighttime temperatures should be kept above 60F for a healthy crop — a temperature that isn’t achieved in the Northeast, even during the warmest months.

That’s not to say Northwesterners should disregard growing outside as a concept. The temperature (and amount of sunlight) may not be ideal, but it is sufficient to cultivate marijuana plants, at least from June to September. With average plant growth at 4 months, that’s just enough time to get in a decent crop.

So, what does it cost? Ultimately there’s very little you need to start growing outside. Based on the same blog post on basic setup, you’ll have to purchase:

Item Cost
Soil $5/ bag
2-Gallon Containers (pots) $3/ each
Seeds ~$10/ each
~$55 for 3 plants

 

As you can see, the cost of growing outdoors is roughly half the cost of growing indoors, especially when you consider that outdoor growth doesn’t include any recurring expenses like electricity.

For entrepreneurial growers hoping to sell their product, the conditions for growing outdoors in the Northwest would mean that ultimately the profit from indoor growth would significantly overtake the cost of setup, while the profits (or lack thereof) from outdoor growth would see a much smaller return.

However, is it cheaper to grow for personal use indoors or outdoors? Without factoring in yield size, bud quality, or relative market value, the clear winner in cost-effectiveness is the outdoor setup.