Have you ever thought about investing in a rain barrel? About 40% of the total water used by each household is used for watering lawns and gardens. If you have a rain barrel, you can collect and even store rainwater that would otherwise be lost as runoff eventually heading to drains. That rainwater can be used to water your garden and yard and can be especially helpful during a drought or when there are water restrictions. Here are a few tips for buying a rain barrel that would be a great investment for your home.
Choosing Rain Barrel Material
The best way to choose a rain barrel is to choose one that goes with your house’s style. They are available in ceramic, wood, metal, stone and plastic. Rain barrels vary from a smaller 15 gallon size to larger commercial rain barrels that can hold upwards of 1,000 gallons. They are also usually opaque so that the stored water is not exposed to sunlight which limits that amount of algae that can grow inside the barrel.
The different rain barrels materials include:
Plastic or polyethylene
- One of the more popular options
- Its lightweight and cheap
- Tends to fall apart in the outdoors so it needs to be stored where there is enough UV protection
- Can be found in all shapes and colors
Stone or ceramic clay
- Great for catching small amount of rain
- Very decorative and great for small gardens
- Can be difficult to install
- Gives your home a rustic feel
- Water cannot be contaminated with BPA
- More expensive than plastic
- Has a heavier catchment system
- Can be purchased in beech wood, hickory, oak and cedar
- Great for large rain storage
- Can use flexible membrane liners
- Is used for more permanent rain storage
- Not as attractive for residential use
Storing Rain Water
In regions where drought is a common occurrence, water storage tanks can be a great investment. If you live in a region where there is a lot of rain, than a small rain barrel will be adequate to store your water needs for sporadic dry spells.
Always make sure your rain barrels are tightly sealed and covered which will reduce mosquito problems and keeps the barrels from being a drowning hazard for children. Also make sure your barrel is secured to the ground so it will not fall over.
Retrieving Your Water
Retrieving your water can be done with a spigot, electric or manual pump. Most tanks are equipped with a regular garden spigot at the bottom of the tank that can be hooked up to a garden hose. If you have a larger barrel of system, a pump can be used to retrieve the water. Since hand pumps need to be worked manually, electric pumps are easier to use but are more expensive.
Moving Your Water
With your rain water system, water must be taken from the rain barrel to a storage tank so you can use it. Gutters can help move water to where you want to store it as well as downspouts. It’s possible to use an existing downspout to move excess water into a barrel or away from your house when the barrel is full.
So, now you’re wondering how much water you will be able to collect. This is really determined by the rainfall where you live and how large your roof is. For one inch of rainfall over a square foot area you will get about 0.6 gallons of water. You then multiply that by how many inches of rain you get on average each month and multiply that by how wide your roof is in feet.
Gallons of rain captured in one month = amount of rainfall for one month in inches * 0.6 * how wide your roof is in feet.
Installation & Maintenance
- Make sure your rain barrel is covered
- Keep your rain barrel clean as well as your gutters and downspouts
- Prevent blockage with regular cleanings
- Regularly flush out debris from the bottom of the container
- Inspect your system for leaks and overflows after heavy rains and the end of your rainy season
- If you notice overflow issues, look for a way to store the extra water or get an additional rain barrel if needed
- Prepare your barrel for winter by turning it over if storing outside or making sure it is empty if storing inside for the winter
- Protect the siding on your home with a sheet of wood placed in between the siding and the downspout
- Watch out for sharp edges when working with the downspout to prevent injuries
The Best Rain Barrel - Reviews
1. Good Ideas RWURN Rain Wizard Rain Barrel Urn
Good Ideas RWURN Rain Wizard Rain Barrel Urn is shaped like an urn and will add style and sophistication to your rain collecting. The Rain Wizard comes with a planter on top which helps to drain extra water so you can avoid root rot. It also comes with a mesh screen that keeps out insects and debris from your water supply. The Rain Wizard comes with a flat back that will fit tightly against a wall and is available in a 65 gallon capacity.
- Rain wizard is BPA free and is urn shaped
- Top comes as a planter that can drain extra water to avoid root rot
- Comes with a mesh screen that keeps out insects and debris
- Has a flat back design so it can fit tightly against a wall
- East to install
- Well-built and great to look at
- Handy to have close to flower beds for easy watering
- Have to modify the downspout to get it to work correctly
- Hard to get the faucet to seal
2. RTS Home Accents Rain Water Collection Barrel with Brass Spigot
RTS Home Accents Rain Water Collection Barrel is a great solution to any water shortage. The RTS Rain Barrel has a realistic oak barrel texture that is molded into each barrel that will not fade, rot or be exposed to insect infestation. It has a flat back to sit snugly against a wall and can be linked to other rain barrels to increase overall capacity. It also comes with a screen to keep out insects and debris and a shut off valve to hook up hoses with a dual overflow.
The RTS Rain Barrel has a capacity of 50 gallons and can help reduce your average water usage and pay for itself in just a couple of seasons. It comes with a front side overflow that keeps water from flooding against any outside walls of your home. It also has an optional barrel stand that creates balance between the ground and spigot making it easier to fill your watering can.
- Realistic oak barrel texture that won’t fade, rot or get infested with insects
- Flat black allows the barrel to fit against walls and can be linked to other barrels
- Helps you save water and money
- Has an optional stand
- Comes with a screen to keep out insects and debris
- Does not have large openings so it is child and pet safe
- Comes with a brass spigot shut off valve
- Front side overflow keeps water from flooding against the outside of your home
- Can link up several barrels to increase overall storage
- Set up is easy and instructions are easy to follow
- No leakage around faucet
- Front overflow detracts from the overall look of the barrel
- When barrel is full of water, the back becomes bowed
3. Planter-Urn Rain Barrel
The 50 Gallon Rain Barrel in Terra Cotta is a gorgeous piece that will complement the exterior of any home. It comes with a planter at the top that will enhance the look of the rain barrel. The barrel is both functional and a great decorative piece for your yard. It is made of a high quality plastic that is durable enough for the outdoors. The finish of the rain barrel is beautiful and lively so it is perfect for any setting. The barrel has a flat back design that allows it to be placed against walls for stability and support. It comes with a screen that filters out debris and pollutants plus a brass spigot that can link it to other barrels with the use of a hose.
- Comes with a 5 gallon planter that is built in with a drainage hole
- Durable barrel made of UV resistant recycled plastic
- Perfect for a front yard drain
- Great addition to décor in gardens and matches terra cotta planters
- Hole at the top is too small so there is a lot of overflow
- Spigot tends to leak
- Hose holder is weak and pulls out
4. Kyoto RBSS-75 Rain Barrel
The Kyoto RBSS-75 Rain Barrel mixes modern sophistication of genuine stone with the lasting durability of plastic. Made from the process of rotational molding plastic, the Kyoto is capable of enduring very high temperatures.
- Distinctive stone appearance
- Comes with a screen guard that is corrosion proof
- Easily accessible brass spigot for filling watering cans
- Comes with an overflow spout
- Equipped with a drain plug to drain any water or sludge from the bottom of the barrel
- Beautiful design that resembles expensive pottery
- Set up and installation is easy, no special tubes needed to hook up the barrel
- Comes with a metal faucet that is high enough to fill a watering can
- Has an overflow drain at the top plus another drain at the base
- Expensive for what you get
- May crack after a mild winter
- Overflow port not big enough
5. Algreen 81001 Cascata Rain Water Collection and Storage System
The Algreen Cascata Rain Water Collection and Storage System mixes a timeless visual sophistication found with ceramics with the lasting strength of modern day plastic. The rain barrel has a 65 gallon capacity and is made of durable, roto molded plastic that can withstand immense temperatures and does not crack, chip or fade with time. The Algreen System comes with a screen guard that is corrosion proof, a brass colored spigot, a 6 foot hose with a shutoff nozzle and an easy to remove crown planter on the top. For extra durability, it has a double wall and the accompanying hose attaches neatly with a hood. The barrel measures 24 x 46 inches.
- Extremely durable 65-gallon rain barrel with a timeless appearance
- Created with roto molded plastic that will not crack, chip or fade
- Extra strong with double-walls for durability
- Has a removable crown planter and screen guard
- Beautiful barrel and really durable
- Easy to assemble and comes with a great planter on top
- Great price for the value
- Cheap drain hose, need to replace with a better hose
- Does not come with an overflow hose
Conclusion: The Winner
The winner of the Rain Barrel Roundup is the Algreen 81001 Cascata Rain Water Collection and Storage System. The Algreen has a huge capacity at 65 gallons which is about 10 gallons more than most rain barrels will hold. It is easy to assemble and comes with a beautiful planter to decorate the top. The Algreen is very durable and is made of a molded plastic that actually looks like ceramic so it is a great looking piece for your yard but it won’t chip or crack. It also has added strength with double walls for increased durability.