If you’ve got a garden in your backyard, you’ve probably got a range of tools from shovels to hoses and shears. Another tool that’s helpful to add to your gardening collection is a rainwater barrel. As the name suggests, these help with reducing water usage in your home as they collect rainwater that runs off the roof. The water can then be used to irrigate flowers, ferns, and more.
Before purchasing one, however, there are a few things that you’d need to consider. Here, we’ll talk about a few features that you should take into consideration before delving into the details of 10 of the best rain barrels that we’ve found.
What Is Rainwater Harvesting?
Rainwater harvesting is a process that involves taking and storing rain. It works by draining a roof-like surface and then transferring it to a deep well or a reservoir.
Instead of flowing down creeks or through drains, rainwater runoff is collected from the roofs of the land surface. This method of using creeks and drains, the collected water is used for various purposes such as irrigation and domestic use. Rainwater harvesting is a commonly used method of self-sufficient water supply for households and various facilities. It can be financed through various means, such as grants, loans, and private individuals.
Detention basins have traditionally served as a single point of water management. However, with the right tools, this infrastructure can double as a source of rainwater and help minimize storm water flow. This is especially beneficial for facilities with high storage requirements.
A check dam works by increasing the surface water content of the streams by removing the overburden and loosening the subsoil strata. This method can be used to recharge local aquifers.
Rainwater Harvesting Across the World
Rainwater harvesting in urban areas can reduce flooding and runoff, as well as provide a cooling effect to buildings. This method works in combination with urban agriculture to help meet the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
Kenya has successfully harvested rainwater for various purposes, while Australia has successfully used the collected water for irrigation and cooking. Studies in India also suggest that rainwater harvesting could provide small-scale irrigation with low costs.
Caribbean missions have shown that rainwater harvesting can help minimize the risk of losing harvests due to soil or water scarcity. It can also decrease the risk of flooding and erosions during high rainfall seasons.
Rain harvesting is a cheap and reliable source of water for arid regions. In areas where it is not possible to obtain water from the ground, rainwater can be collected in areas where it can be collected. This method of irrigation can help provide water for crops even during low rainfall periods.
The Frankfurt Airport has one of the biggest rainwater harvesting systems in Germany. It saves around 1 million cubic meters annually. The system was constructed in 1993 for the new terminal.
The London Olympic Park implemented rainwater harvesting at The Velodrome in order to improve its sustainability. The facility’s water consumption decreased by 73% after the implementation of the system.
Why Rainwater Harvesting Is Important
Rainwater harvesting is often used to provide water to regions that have limited or no water supply. It can also help mitigate flooding caused by drought. It is beneficial for the environment as it helps in the availability of clean drinking water. It is also beneficial for the water supply as it is free of salinity and other harmful chemicals.
Plenty of work was focused on the development of methodologies and systems that measure the environmental impacts associated with rainwater harvesting. Rainwater harvesting is an integral part of water supply management in areas where water is expensive or difficult to come by. It provides households with a reliable water supply during times of drought.
Rainwater can also serve as drinking water if it has been boiled to kill harmful bacteria. Also, adding another component to the system can help remove contaminants.
When drought hits, rainwater harvesting can be utilized. However, it is also important to consider the timing of the rain when it falls since it can be unpredictable. This is why many countries have adopted rainwater harvesting systems. Ridges of soil are designed to trap and prevent rain from running downhill.
A life-cycle assessment is a process that aims to evaluate the impacts of a system from its inception to its end-use life. It involves assessing the various components of a system, such as its building design and function. The concept of the demand to supply ratio was then refined to identify the ideal building design and function of rainwater harvesting systems for toilet flushing.
With the idea that rainwater can save both the environment and the water consumption, it was suggested that buildings be connected to a combined sewer system. This method saves both the environment and people’s budgets, since it decreases the cost of utilities.
Although RWH systems can provide water to developing regions, their cost can be very high depending on the technology used. To help minimize this expense, aid organizations and governments can provide training and materials needed to develop and maintain RWH systems.
Studies have shown that rainwater harvesting is an effective and eco-friendly solution for water scarcity. It can reduce the amount of water needed for various purposes and is usually cheaper than constructing a centralized water supply system.
A rainwater harvesting system is a type of water conservation technology that uses collected rainwater to provide a sustainable water source for local communities. It can also prevent and control water runoff. Rainwater harvesting systems that are operated by locals are more eco-friendly and are more likely to be used by the locals for a longer time. This is because they are more likely to be accepted by the locals and are more durable.
In-situ technologies can reduce the cost of rainwater harvesting by allowing rural areas to construct these components instead of traditional above-ground tanks. They can also provide a reliable water source for agricultural activities.
What Is the Quality of Harvested Rainwater?
Rainwater should be analyzed and used in a way that’s appropriate to people’s safety. In China, some provinces have developed methods to treat it properly. For instance, in the Gansu province, solar water is being used to purify rainwater. While rainwater is a clean and safe source of water, its collection and storage can leave the water polluted and non-potable. This is especially true for streams and lakes.
Concentrations of harmful chemicals (such as pesticides) have been found in rainwater in some European countries. This water quality can be improved by diverting the initial flow of water to prevent further contamination. When it comes to water supply systems, it is important that the quality of the water is equal to or better than the end-user’s needs. However, in most cases, high-quality water is used for all non-potable uses.
Rainwater Harvesting Methods
Different rainwater harvesting methods work at different scales, and here are the most common systems you’re bound to encounter:
- Rain barrels – This is the most popular approach, and a lot of people are already acquainted with rain barrel water harvesting. It’s also quite simple to do, since you simply place a rain barrel at the downspout to collect as much rainwater as possible. You can purchase a ready-made barrel or repurpose one that you may already have lying around your home. However, this can only gather a maximum of 100 gallons per barrel and, once full, all additional water will overflow and wastewater that could be used.
- Dry systems – This is basically an upgrade for the traditional rain barrel systems that we previously talked about. It involves a larger storage solution that would prove itself efficient in places where large storm effects are bound to occur. It doesn’t cost a lot to implement but it can take up a lot of yard space and it’s right next to your house, which is a problem if you care about aesthetics or if you have a small yard.
- Wet systems – With the wet system method, you have to install underground pipes and connect multiple downspouts to the collection system. What this system basically does is to collect a large amount of rainwater that goes into the underground pipes and rises to fill the tank. Needless to say, the success of this system depends on water-tight connection for the piping and the downspouts. Because of the underground pipes, this system is more costly to implement, but it’s really efficient in terms of how much water you can actually gather.
Features to Take Note Of
When purchasing a rain barrel, there are a few things you’d need to take note of. The first thing would be selecting the right size. Rain barrels are bulky by nature and while most start at 50 gallons, some can fit up to 90 gallons or more. Keep in mind your irrigation needs along with space constraints before making your purchase.
Next, you’ll have to consider the aesthetic of your rain barrel. They come in all sorts of designs, and you should choose the aesthetic that suits your best. Planters are also a common feature in rain barrels, and some of them are even completely removable. You’ll also have to take price into consideration as rain barrels do cost more than a normal garden house. A good rain barrel, however, is incredibly durable and can last for a period of time, so it is an investment that’s worth making.
Finally, you should be aware of the different types of materials that can go into making a rain barrel. The main materials used are plastic, terracotta, concrete, and wood. Wood and terracotta rain barrels are generally the heaviest and aren’t difficult to clean. For the average homeowner, plastic rain barrels are the most popular, but do your research beforehand and decide which one would suit your needs best.
How to Choose a Rain Water Barrel
- Decide on the aesthetic that you want. Rain barrels come in different designs, so you should pick the one that you feel would suit your outdoor space best.
- Figure out your budget. Rain barrels come in a variety of price points, so you should consider how much you’d like to pay for your rain barrel.
- There are many different types of materials used in rain barrels, and while some might be heavier than others, you need to consider which would be best for you.
- Check out reviews. Before purchasing your rain barrel, do your research and check out what other individuals have to say before making your purchase.
Rain Barrel Water Pump Suggestions
Before we get into some really cool rain barrel water pump suggestions, we wanted to briefly go over the main types of pumps that you can currently find on the market:
- Jet pumps – A jet pump is used to move water through a containment area. Its suction force is created by an electric motor that rotates around a series of impellers. Since jet pumps are used to draw more water, they usually require a priming process before they can operate.
- Submersible pumps – Submersible pumps are typically submerged within a water tank. Instead of pulling water, they use a centrifugal force to push it upward. Submersible pumps are quieter than jet pumps. They are also more durable. Due to their design, submersible pumps don’t require that much maintenance.
The SumpMarine Utility Transfer pump is a multi-purpose pump that can transfer up to 330 gallons per hour. It’s a great addition to any home and can prove to be very efficient when used to collect rainwater. Its lightweight design makes it easy to store and is capable of carrying. This 1/10th HP motor water pump is capable of transferring up to 330 gallons per hour. It is a self-priming pump and one that removes water from the surface when connected to a hose attachment.
The EcoPlus HGC728310 is a submersible pump that’s great for use in various applications such as irrigation systems and hydroponics. It is built with an inside threaded connection and a non-adjustable flow. Like all pumps from EcoPlus, this one is magnetic-driven and designed with a high-quality rare-earth magnet that provides a consistent and efficient flow of water. It is oil-free and has an oil-free impeller.
This pump is designed for use with low water levels. It can pump water from as low as 5 mm. Its omnidirectional filtering system helps keep the water in the tank clean and free of parasites. The pump’s high-strength wear-resistant rotor helps keep the water moving quickly while protecting it from corrosion and acid damage. This pump is also energy-efficient, which makes it an ideal choice for small homes that require installing a small rain barrel.
Rain Barrel Planter Ideas
For a gorgeous rain barrel, this is the perfect purchase. It’s sturdy and is an eye-catching rain barrel that has a premium exterior clay texture. Since it has a deep welled top, you’re also able to plant flowers or even a small herb garden up top. The top of the rain barrel also has an overflow channel to divert all overflowing water to the front and prevent your foundation from flooding. The large opening has a soft, fine mesh screen that will also help in keeping heavy debris and insects out of the rain barrel.
Who Should Purchase This?
Those looking for an aesthetically pleasing rain barrel that gets the job done. It has everything you need from a textured mesh screen that blocks debris to a sturdy brass spigot that won’t rust or break.
- Gorgeous design
- Has a deep-welled top
- Has an overflow channel to divert overflowing water
- Comes with a soft, fine mesh screen
- Isn’t made with recycled material
For a simple rain barrel with a minimalist design, this is a great purchase. This rain barrel is crafted from plastic and has a curving silhouette and woven design that’s perfect for any outdoor space. It also has two brass spigots that you can easily attach to a hose or another barrel and also has a planter and removable debris screen to keep the pests at bay. Other unique features of this rain barrel include being mildew, weather, and warp resistant.
Who Should Purchase This?
Those looking for a rain barrel with a minimalist look but still comes with a number of features. The wicker finish is a great aesthetic touch, and the routed channel will help in diverting excess water to avoid flooding your foundation.
- Minimalist design
- Two brass spigots
- Also comes with a planter and removable debris screen
- Is mildew, weather, and warp-resistant
- Some have mentioned that the planter draining system doesn’t work well
If you require a larger rain barrel, this will do the job perfectly. It has a rustic look with a material that resembles oak. It has a fine mesh screen to keep out bugs and debris along with an overflow channel that’s front-facing. There’s also a self-draining planter top if you’d like to grow some vegetables or herbs. There are also connection points to link rain barrels together, and the wood-grain texture adds a touch of style to your outdoor space. It’s a sturdy barrel that’s capable of holding up against heavy impacts and harsh winters.
Who Should Purchase This?
Those that need a larger rain barrel that can hold up against all sorts of weather. It’s FDA-approved and is also BPA-free thanks to its polyethylene construction. Its wood-grain construction also gives it a lovely rustic look.
- Lovely rustic design
- Comes with a fine mesh screen
- Sturdy construction that’s FDA-approved and BPA-free
- No way to open the top as it’s a one-piece barrel
You won’t even know that this is a rain barrel due to its unique look. It’s got a paneled design, and a cool gray finish for a classic look. With a secure foundation, it’ll be able to easily catch water to keep your plants healthy. This rain barrel also comes with two spigots that you can connect to a hose or other barrels, along with a debris screen. It’s also both water and UV light resistant.
Who Should Purchase This?
For those that want a rain barrel with a unique aesthetic. With its paneled design, it’ll fit perfectly into any outdoor space, and its gorgeous look makes this a great purchase.
- Secure foundation
- Comes with two spigots and a debris screen
- Unique paneled design look
- Water and UV-light resistant
- Since the plastic is thinner, when the barrel is full it bulges
If you’ve got less space within your home, this rain barrel can help save the day. It can collect up to 40 gallons of rainwater and has an attractive faux oak barrel design to fit into your landscape. There’s a plastic screen mesh to keep out bugs and animals, and a front side overflow that’ll keep water from flooding against your outside wall. It also has a flat-back design feature to conveniently sit up against your home, so you don’t have to worry about purchasing any other parts.
Who Should Purchase This?
Those that need a smaller rain barrel, and since it’s made with UV-resistant resin, it won’t fade for years. It’s also linkable to other barrels, and is resistant to rust, mold, mildew and rotting.
- Rustic oak design
- Comes with a plastic screen and a front side overflow
- Flat-back design feature to conveniently sit up
- Resistant to rust, mold and more
- Some have mentioned that the material isn’t particularly sturdy
This beautiful rain barrel can hold 50 gallons of water and is both sturdy and eye-catching. It has a highly reflective surface along with a modern design that’ll fit great into any outdoor space. It also has a two-gallon capacity planter top so you can plant some flowers, vegetables, and more. There’s also an original integrated overflow channel to divert all water to the front of the barrel. The large opening is covered with a fine mesh plastic screen, and there are also two spigot locations.
Who Should Purchase This?
With its gorgeous light granite design, this is perfect for those that want a rain barrel that can fit into any space. It’s also great for those that want to grow plants or vegetables on top of the rain barrel.
- Sturdy and eye-catching
- Modern design
- Comes with a two-gallon capacity planter
- Has a mesh screen and two spigots
- Some have mentioned that there’s a hole in the planter which can clog the spouts
This rain barrel comes in a light granite design with a captivating aesthetic that’s reminiscent of European cobblestone. The deep welled top is great for planting flowers and herbs, while the integrated overflow channel will help in diverting all overflow water to the front of the barrel. The screen will keep out debris and animals, while the two spigot locations mean that you can connect to a bucket or hose with no issues.
Who Should Purchase This?
With its aesthetically pleasing design, this can fit into any space. The deep welled top means that you can plant whatever you desire up top, and you won’t have to worry about your rain barrel overflowing as well.
- Light granite cobblestone-like design
- Deep welled top that’s great for planting flowers and herbs
- Integrated overflow channel
- It only comes with one downspout, and you need multiple downspouts to evenly spread water
8. Diverter Kit
If you’ve already got a rain barrel and just need a rain barrel kit, this is a great purchase. It comes with everything you need from a diverter that’ll divert water into the barrels while sending debris and overflowing rain back through, and a spade bit. It’s easy to install and creates a closed system with no access to outside contaminants. It’s environmentally thoughtful and has no harmful additives.
Who Should Purchase This?
Those that already have a rain barrel but want a kit that will help in sending overflowing water back down the rain stout to avoid clogging screens or entering the barrel. It’s also great for those that want something that’s easy to install.
- Easy to install
- Creates a closed system
- Has everything you need
- Is relatively pricey
For those that already have a rain barrel, this mystic rainwater collection system will help in directing rainwater from downspouts into your collection barrel. It’ll divert a maximum amount of rainwater, and the unique built-in reservoir will channel the rainwater from the sides of the downspout while allowing debris down the center. That way, you’ll be collecting rainwater with much less unwanted sediment.
Who Should Purchase This?
Those that don’t want to collect rainwater that has sediment in it. These downspouts are constructed with UV-resistant PVC plastic and can also be painted if you prefer. They also come with a hose for your convenience.
- Unique built-in reservoir
- Collect rainwater with less sediment
- Made with UV-resistant PVC plastic
- Not incredibly sturdy
For a simple rainwater collection barrel, you’ve got this barrel that comes in a sleek flat back square design that’ll naturally fit into any location around your home. It’s easy to take care of and comes complete with a spigot, hose, powder-coated steel screen, and even child locking screws. There’s also a stainless-steel mesh screen to keep mosquitoes out. Everything that you need for years of use.
Who Should Purchase This?
If you’re not picky about the aesthetic of your rain barrel and want something that’s functional, this is a great purchase. It has everything you need and is made with high-quality materials that are durable and long-lasting
- Sleek flat black square design
- A stainless steel mesh screen
- Durable and sturdy
- Some deal with issues of leaking
DIY Rainwater Barrel Ideas
Homemade Rain Barrel DIY Project
Making your own rain barrel isn’t as complicated as it sounds, especially when you have great in-depth tutorials like these that are ready to guide you every step of the way. This project is designed to help you gather water for watering the garden, doing your laundry, and even washing the dishes.
You need to place your rain barrel near the corner of your house to make it work properly. Your drainpipe should be connected to the barrel using a tie-in or a ladder. Having the rain barrel positioned away from the ground is ideal for holding a spigot and a bucket, since it allows you to add water to the bottom of the barrel and allow the water to drain away.
We love the pictures that come with the tutorial and the enthusiasm with which this project is described.
DIY Rain Barrel
This is a project that provides a cost-effective solution for collecting water and it implies making some modifications to an existing barrel. You’ll mostly have to drill some holes in the lid, place a screen cover to keep debris and insects out of the barrel, make an overflow hole, attach a valve spigot, and secure the lid in place. Optionally, you are also provided with an extra tutorial that teaches you how to make a rain barrel stand to keep it elevated off the ground.
Rain Barrel for Less Than $15
Instructable’s website is such an amazing source for tutorials that teach you how to make all sorts of cool stuff, so we had to check out and see what they have to offer in terms of DIY rain barrel. This particular project teaches you how to make your own rain barrel with less than $15, which is an excellent idea for everyone who is looking to spend as little money as possible.
Another advantage of this design is that it is easy to repair since it has a built-in leak-resistant component. For this particular project, you will be in need of some silicone caulk, a drill, a barrel plug wrench, a hole saw, a forstner bit, a large adjustable wrench, and a few other materials that are described in the tutorial. The in-depth instructions are incredibly easy to follow.
Cheapest DIY Rain Barrel
Here is another quick and easy tutorial for a simple yet efficient DIY rain barrel. For this project, you are going to need one tube of silver gutter sealant, a boiler drain valve, a bulkhead fitting, two plastic downspout extenders, and a trash can with a lid. We loved how every single step in this tutorial is accompanied by comprehensive pictures to show and encourage progress, so this is one project we definitely recommend.
Rain Barrel FAQ
Can you drink rainwater?
It depends. Certain environmental factors can quickly turn clean water contaminated with harmful bacteria and viruses into a health hazard. Rainwater can also contain parasites and human pathogens.
Is rainwater clean?
If you perform a simple Google search, a lot of websites will tell you that rainwater is cleaner compared to water from other sources. The truth is that people making these claims don’t have the scientific evidence to prove it. Even if you can drink rainwater to hydrate, it does not provide additional health benefits compared to the water you get from other potable sources. If you want to consume rainwater, you should always boil it first, as this helps kill bacteria, parasites, or viruses. To get rid of chemical contaminants, you might need a filtration system.
How to collect rainwater
There are multiple ways to collect rainwater and we have discussed the common rainwater harvesting methods earlier in this article. Essentially, you can make your own rain barrel, use a tarp to collect rainwater, and even create larger and more intricate rainwater collection systems (yes, you can even install a water filter to purify it).
Rain Barel Planter: The Bottom Line
There you have it, some of the best rain barrels that we’ve found. There are plenty of options to choose from, and you’re sure to find a rain barrel that meets your needs. The great thing about these options is that they come in different price points and features. You’re sure to find something that you like from the variety of options listed above.