With the amount of water that each individual goes through every day, it is no wonder that many people are turning to more environmentally friendly solutions to get them through a percentage of that. There are many solutions to look into when considering ways to save on water consumption. The one that we are going to focus on today has us taking an outward look into our yards. The reason for this is that approximately 40% of the amount of water an average American household uses is for watering and upkeep of our lawns and gardens, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. What if we could save almost all of this without cutting down on the amount of water that we give them?
To a problem as pervasive and growing as water consumption is, it is no wonder that so many people have been working on solutions to it. Yet, if you are not a scientist, or a farmer or someone else that has a huge impact on the system, what can you do as a household? The answer to that question is to use rain barrels to start your own rain harvesting system. It is possible to conserve 1,300 gallons of water during the spring and summer as a household depending on your average rainfall. This is with just one barrel! This is because it only takes a half inch of rain on a 1,000 square foot roof to fill a 50-gallon rain barrel to the top. This means that with rain barrels strategically placed in off-flow areas around your home, thousands of gallons of water can be saved!
In this article, we are going to take a quick look into the benefits of using a rain barrel to harvest rain water as well as some considerations you should keep in mind when reading the product breakdowns for what to look for when you are considering buying your own rain barrel. After that, there is an easy to read quick guide laid out below to give you an idea of the five products we are reviewing today as some of the best rain barrels out there currently. Following the quick guide, we get more in-depth with a breakdown of build, pros and cons and then some tips for how to maintain a rain barrel and keep it effective for as long as possible.
Diving right into why it is a great idea to use a rain barrel, we already know that it is possible to harvest thousands of gallons of rain during a season, however, what does that really mean for us? One obvious part of this is that it takes away the impact that your household is making on the community water supply, which can be a pretty big deal in some areas of the world. It also ensures that you have water during times of drought if you have a storage system made up for the times of plenty. Sure, you may still be using water from a tap for everyday things like dishes or cleaning, yet if you are watering your garden sufficiently, this is where a vast chunk of that water bill will come from during these months. This is another positive for a lot of people as well. If you are one of the many, many households that takes 40% of its water consumption to use for their yard and you are getting that entirely from rain harvesting, then you are also cutting your water bill by 40%!
Another huge reason that people may want to get in on this growing trend is that it can actually help increase the stability and integrity of the foundation of a house. Again, dependent on where you are living and in what area your house itself is situated in, this can be a huge help. Harvesting the rainwater instead of letting it flow from gutters down the side of your house and into the surrounding ground, controls the amount of moisture that will collect around your foundation that can cause structural damage. In areas where mold in basements or walls is common, this is a great solution to help starve that out by creating a less favorable environment.
Finally, keep in mind that your plants will always appreciate it as well. Obviously, rainwater is going to be about the cleanest water that you can find, in most areas of the world. This means that you won’t be building up the amounts of harmful chemical ‘salts’ layer after layer in the soil each time that you water. Although this is normally washed out by rain, it will still have enough time to damage the helpful microorganisms and sensitive new parts of a plants roots if concentrated enough after a time.
Following these reasons, if your interest has been piqued than let’s take it a step further. The next section lays out what to consider when using rain barrels to start your harvesting project so that you are ready with the knowledge of what options may be best for you.
One of the most convenient features of a rain barrel is the spigot that many of them will have already factory installed. However, even if they are have them installed, you will want to be aware of where they are located on the barrel and keep in mind your needs, how will the barrel be situated and what hose are you going to try and connect to it if need be?
As rain barrels have grown in popularity, manufacturers have gotten more creative with their designs, all the while trying to keep the consumers in mind. For some people, there may not be a lot of space to put this or it could intrude on a walkway or another building. Some rain barrels have started to come with a flat back, so they can sit flush against a wall and take up less room. Also consider how many gallons you want to have the capacity to hold at once, as this will greatly vary across the makes and producers.
Continuing on the same vein as the size you are able to contain, there are some options that will come with an automatic overflow valve that will be triggered to turn on once the barrel has reached maximum capacity. This way it isn’t threatening to flow over the edges and right back onto your home’s foundation.
As with any product, especially one meant for outdoor purposes, taking note of the material something is made with can make all the difference in how many of these you are going to have to try out before you find the make and design right for you if they keep breaking.
This is one many won’t give too much of a thought until they realize what their needs really are. Some people will only really need to use the spigot to get water out. However, if you are looking for an easy dunk in and pull out situation while using a watering can to water your pots or gardens close to your home, pay attention to the size of the opening at the top, and if there is one at all!
These last two are good to give consideration as a tank that holds 50+ gallons of water should really be animal proof and childproof. The filtering screen may help with this as well, to some degree. Many well-made rain barrels will have a very fine mesh screen that fits right into the top and will keep any debris from getting in as well as stop the barrels from being the newest mosquito nursery, as well as other insects.
For those looking for a mid-range quality and price rain barrel to get started, this one is a great choice. Although made with a high-quality plastic, the aesthetics of the barrel aren’t lack as it is designed to emulate a classic whiskey barrel look.
This rain barrel is designed to hold more water than most of them on this list but still looks great sitting next to the house since the hard plastic is designed to look like solid stone. It has a spigot higher up for watering can convenience as well as a drain hole at the bottom when it needs to be cleaned out.
This rain barrel holds 50 gallons of water, sits with its back flush against the wall of your home, and keeps safety in mind all while looking great. Made with plastic, it is one of the most realistic-looking whiskey barrel designs on the market.
This tank is not for the light of heart, which you will note when we say “tank” instead of “barrel”. It is made to hold 100 gallons of water and is heavy duty, high quality plastic meant for durability and longevity. It is offered in multiple different colors.
This is one of the top-rated barrels in terms of aesthetics, with a slender, terra cotta look to fit in against the home. It packs a punch as it is also able to hold a whopping 65 gallons of water and is made from quality, durable materials as well as coming with its own drainage hose and nozzle.
This product is one of several different designs produced by this company and is designed to look like a classic whiskey barrel. Rain barrels are so big, that generally, aesthetics matter, and this producer acknowledges this by offering five different colors. It has a capacity of 50 gallons and is constructed with UV-resistant polyethylene resin that is BPA free and a brass spigot at the very bottom. Because of the materials used to construct it, it is rust resistant and does not mold or rot. This product does a great job by being child and pet safe as well as having a screen over the opening in the top. It is also important to note that although the front is round like a whiskey barrel, the back is made to line up flush with a wall.
There are a number of consumers that said the brass spigot, and hole that is in the rain barrel for it, is not a great fit and caused leaking or just simply doesn’t work well. Many had to replace the manufacturer’s spigot with their own and use outdoor tape to seal it.
This rain barrel has the aesthetic appearance going for it with a thick plastic that is UV ray resistant and yet looks like solid stone. The amount that it can contain is one of the highest of those included in this list, at 75 gallons. It also has an overflow opening at the top. There is not a screen, but a plastic top with small holes in it that can be removed easily to clean out the barrel when needed. The placement of a spigot is one of the major pros with this option as it is high enough on the barrel to fit a watering can under without having to lift the barrel. It also has an additional plug that is underneath the spigot to allow it to drain out any excess, stale water or to clean muck and debris out. It is also made specially to withstand extreme temperatures before the plastic will be wont to wave or buck.
This design is completely rounded, and many don’t like that it can not sit flush with the house since this saves space. Again, problems with the factory-made spigot that comes with it were given and many people got tired of it breaking or clogging and had to try and put in their own. The filter having small holes in it and not being made of a fine mesh allows bugs to get in as well.
This barrel is unique as it has a very real looking authentic oak barrel texture that is molded into the outside of the plastic used to make it. It is mid-range in terms of storage and is equipped to hold 50 gallons of water before overflowing. There is an overflow function as well that directs the water away from the outside of your house and the barrel itself. The top is well fitted with an aluminum screen to keep out debris and insects and is made with safety in mind as it is child and pet safe. It is made to be able to link up with other barrels as well, to maximize the amount of water stored. It is another option with a flat back that sits against the house. The spigot is at the very bottom and is made out of brass. There is a stand sold separately by the manufacturer if a watering can needs to be fit under it instead of being hooked up to a hose.
The biggest complaint here was that when the barrel reaches maximum capacity, the flat back will normally end up bowing outward under the weight of the water. Since it is made of just one big piece of plastic, it can also be quite difficult to clean. Various consumers find it irritating that they have to stand it up on something to be able to fit a can underneath as this is the most convenient way for many to water.
This tank is included on the list as a great option for those looking to go more heavy duty with their rain harvesting habits. It is built to hold 100 gallons of water and is also the only one on this list where aesthetics isn’t one of the major pros to it, just good old fashioned get-the-job-done style. It does come in several different colors though, which may help it fit into your yard more easily as well. It is known to be one of the sturdier rain barrels as well and is well-loved for its durability. Another product made from BPA-free, UV protected polyethylene, it is also food-grade rated. It has a screened overflow assembly that sorts out the debris as well as two bulkheads for spigot installation and a plug. The company offers a five-year warranty with it also. Although able to hold more water than many rain barrels on the market, this one still takes up about the same amount of space and can be easily hidden to avoid any “aesthetic messes” and maintain the harmony of your yard.
The cons of this one are to be expected with the description provided above already, the size is generally too big for an average household. Without aesthetic value, the pull of this one is durability and how much water it can hold. It is also one of the most expensive units available.
This last rain barrel is made from durable, roto-molded BPA free plastic yet has an authentic terra cotta pottery-like look. This rain barrel is known overall for its quality and comes with a great brass spigot located at the bottom and corrosion-proof screen to top is off. It is a little higher than middle range capacity, offering 65 gallons of space. It is very visually appealing with a unique slender, ceramic appearance and yet stands solid by withstanding large variations in temperatures and UV ray resistance to avoid fading over time. It doesn’t buck or bend with a double wall of plastic to give it the stability really needed from a rain barrel. It also comes with its own six-foot hose and nozzle to connect it to the spigot or a bottom-fitting component to give you as many options as you want when considering accessibility. It is also easy to assemble with straight forward instructions accompanying it upon delivery.
There is no overflow capability that is designed into this rain barrel and may need to be considered when choosing its location around the home. Even though the product is made well overall, the hose that comes with it is purported to be the weak link of this product and not made very well.
Hopefully this guide and included information has given you the direction that you need in order to choose the right rain barrel for you and your home. As we conclude, the last idea we will take a look at is maintenance.
The biggest problem with rain barrels is the debris and muck that can collect all over in them. Especially if you are using the rain barrel for watering food, it is important to keep it clean. It is recommended to drain and rinse it out well at least every 3 to 4 months. Keeping your gutters clear of debris will also aid in slowing this collection process down as it won’t flow right into the tank. Also, after rains or difficult weather, be sure to clean the grate off at the top to keep it working as well as it is made to do.
Also, although the rain barrels are made to be outside in harsh weather, it is good to keep in mind that some rain barrels are also not made to withstand shatteringly cold temperatures especially if they still have water in them. They may need to be winterized as the cold seasons approach and should be completely emptied of any water that could turn into ice and crack the barrel by constant expanding pressure.
With these quick tips and the reviews given before you should have a good idea of the benefits that come with harvesting your own water and how to start your own rain harvesting system. There are many ways to personalize it to match your goals and the look and feel of your yard, so remember that although these are great products, the options for rain barrels are prolific! Doing your research will only make the process towards perfection that much smoother!