Collecting or harvesting rainwater is one way to ensure human survival when there is a limited supply of water. It is also a great way to get water for use in our yards. To do this, we need to have collecting containers or tanks and one of the best things to use is the best rain barrel.
But there is a problem! There are hundreds of these products on the market today and they come in all manner of shapes, sizes, designs, and materials. Surely, you can choose from any one of them but if you want only the best, you need to know how to go about it.
Below is a buying guide and the reviews of the best rain barrels that you will get on the market today.
Top 5 Rain Barrels Reviews
Here are the top 5 rain barrels for 2019:
1. RTS Home Accents 50-Gallon Rain Water Collecting Barrel
This wooden rain barrel with brass spigot offers dozens of unique features including a screen to keep debris and insects out, ability to connect to other barrels to boost capacity, a shut-off valve for hooking-up a hose with 2 overflows, and a flat back which rests against the wall. The barrel provided about 50 gallons of rainwater.
The product is 20 inches deep, 21 inches wide, and 3 feet high, and has a front overflow that prevents any water from flooding outside the walls. It also comes with an optional barrel stand that makes a big difference when resting on the surface and spigot. It also makes it easier to fill cans for any use.
RTS recommends that you drain the water when the temperature gets near the freezing point. In addition, you should store your barrel inside your house if you live in harsh climates or leave the spigot open.
You can easily drill a hole on the side of the rain barrel in the nub to enable any excess rainwater to flow out. The spigot is easy to find and can be found at any major and minor stores. Further, you can replace the downspout with a flexible plastic spout.
- Stores up to 50-gallon of pure water.
- Comes assembled.
- Small opening for pets and children safe.
- Small opening makes cleaning harder.
2. Good Ideas 50-Gallon RW50-OAK Rain Wizard Rain Barrel
This oak finished barrel has a 50 gallons capacity. It also features a flat-back that saves space and most significantly it is constructed from an ultra-tough, BPA free, and FDA approved polyethylene material. The unit also boasts of an anti-debris screen and it works with the standard 3×4 inches and 2×3 inches downspouts. The screen is for keeping small bugs and gutter debris out of the barrel.
The product comes with a brass plated ¾ inches turn-down spigot that is perfect for standard hose connection. The best thing, you get a plumber’s tape to ensure that you seal spigot to prevent any leak.
RW50 also features a front overflow screen that drains excess water to prevent flooding. You can easily fit the barrel with your exterior wall since it has a flat back design. And with its woods fine grain feel, the traditional look and authenticity of the barrel are still beautiful.
- Traditional oak texture finish.
- FDA approved polyethylene.
- BPA-free material.
- Overall quality is disputable.
3. Etna 50-Gallon Portable Rain Barrel
This is a solid product if you want a rainwater container. The first key feature of this unit is the value it provides at a very affordable price. The unit collects water from gutters and offers you sufficient supply of soft water free of calcium, lime, and chlorine with fewer dissolved salts and sediments than tap water.
It has a discharge valve at the base which you can use with a standard 0.5 hose. If you wish you had a collapsible rain barrel, then your wish might just come true if you get this unit. The general consensus of users about this barrel is that it’s affordable and is very sturdy. You will also love its portability.
- A sturdy barrel.
- Very portable.
- Offers value for money.
- Might arrive defective.
4. Enviro World 55-Gallon Rain Barrel
This is a beautifully and cleverly designed rain barrel that offers 55 gallons of clean water. You will love the stylishness of this product and its great price. It looks like an ancient terracotta urn.
It is made of durable and thick polyethylene resin to ensure that it gives you years of service. Its back is flatted to enable you to place it near the walls or near any flat area. The product comes in 8 different colors; you can easily choose the one you like best.
This barrel is a great choice if you want to offer your garden the clean water; rich in nutrients and free of harmful chemicals. The product will not only save you water but also enhance the appearance of your yard.
- Comes in 8 different colors.
- Well-designed barrel.
- A study product.
- Poor quality design.
5. Planter 50-Gallon Urn Rain Barrel
This 50 gallons of rainwater barrel is a gorgeous product that will complement the exterior of your home. It has a planter at the top that enhances its appearance to make it pleasing to your eyes. The unit is both decorative and functional for your home use.
It is constructed of high-quality plastic that last-longer, even when used outdoors. The finish of this barrel is attractive and lively, so it’s ideal for any setting. The other feature of this unit is the flat back that enables it to rest against your walls for support and stability.
The barrel also comes with a screen for filtering pollutants and debris. It also has a brass spigot that links it to a hose for other use. The best thing, you will get a 5 gallons planter when you get this barrel and it’s UV resistant.
- Ideal for yard decoration.
- Very effective.
- Comes with a 5 gallons planter.
- Spigot often leaks.
Our Top Pick
Although all the 5 products in our list are of the highest-quality possible, our top pick is the RTS Home Accents 50-Gallon Rain Water Collection Barrel. It looks like genuine oak but it’s made of durable plastic that is resistant to insect infestations and rot. It also offers you 50 gallons of rainwater and has a screen that filters dirt and debris.
What is a Rain Barrel?
This is a container that harvests or collects rainwater or runoff from your house’s gutter system, joining to the downspout or spout with a fitting under a modified spout or a rain diverter. A hose of spigot connector allows you to drain the water for garden use or other uses.
A rain barrel provides an alternative to using well water or the expensive municipal water for irrigation. Your plants benefit from barrel water since it’s free of minerals and chemicals found in tap water. A rain barrel can also reduce the volume of flood or runoff entering your storm sewer, keeping fertilizer, pesticides, and other harmful chemicals out of neighboring water bodies.
Rainwater collection for later use also helps to prevent it from entering your basement, crawl space, or foundation. Some towns offer financial incentives for people who use rainwater as a supplement or alternative to municipal water.
5 Types of Rain Barrels
Rain barrels have a lot of uses. In additional to being economical, practical, and environmentally friendly, they are pleasing to the looker. Here are the 5 main types of rain barrels that you will get on the market today:
Plastic Rain Barrel
One of the most popular barrel models is a polyethylene or PVC barrel and is very easy to get it in hardware stores and superstores. This barrel is quite durable and offers you years of rainwater.
Wooden Rain Barrel
This is a classic choice. Although very expensive, its luxurious material will lend beauty to your garden. This type of barrel calls for a higher level of maintenance.
Made of highly resistant and flexible laminated polyester, pop-up barrels hold a reasonable amount of rainwater. This type is ideal for colder areas as it is very easy to store in a small room during the winter.
Rain Barrel and Planter
The major difference between this type of model and the plastic model is the planter that is found on top of the barrel for inserting flowers. More ornamental, this barrel is perfect for landscape design.
The last option is to make your rain barrel. You will need to buy the necessary material and get a rain barrel made from food grade plastic. So much work when you compare to buying a readymade model.
Rain Barrels Capacities and Sizes
You cannot settle on a certain size of a barrel unless you know how much water you will be using. You surely cannot use some of the rain barrels and thrown away the rest. That is not how it works; it isn’t economical.
On the flipside, you don’t want a unit that is too small because it will have limited capacity and more water will run into the foundation of your house than in the barrel.
Rain barrels come in different sizes. The majority of users go for a 55 gallons rain barrel. This is the most used, together with a 50 gallons barrel. Larger ones are also provided, of course. Small and medium models can hold 40-60 gallons of rainwater. Large models can hold up to 300 gallons of rainwater.
Computing the Ideal Rain Barrel Size
There are 3 main factors that will determine the size of the barrel that you will need:
- Effective surface area of your roof (collecting platform).
- Average annual rainfall.
- Your anticipated usage.
Effective Surface Area
The simplest way to know the effective surface area is to measure your roof dimensions (include eaves) from the surface. Measure only the parts that will divert rainwater to your barrel, not the entire roof.
The pitch of your roof is irrelevant in computing effective surface area (not true surface area), therefore, only measure the effective width and effective length using a tape measure.
Let’s us assume your find your roof to be 10 ft. wide and 20 ft. long. Your effective surface area will be given by multiplying 10 ft, x 20 ft. = 200 ft2.
Average Annual Rainfall
Find your state or area average annual rainfall from the weather department website. Let’s assume your location receives an average of 44.8 inches of rainfall annually. Also, note the driest months, make arrangements for these months using the supplements.
To compute your rain harvesting potential, you will multiply the effective surface area by annual average rainfall, multiplies by 0.6 (1-inch of rainfall is equal to 0.6 gallons of water/ sq. ft.). Your rain collection potential will be 200 ft2 x 44.8 x 0.6 = 5,376 gallons per year.
Determine Your Usage
This is the hardest part. If you intend to use your water for gardening and you have an installed irrigation meter, just check how you have using the municipal water. Again, note that you don’t need water during the rainy seasons.
To give you an idea of how much water you might need, assume:
- Watering a shrub – 7 gallons.
- Filling a can – 1 gallon.
- Washing your car – 100 gallons.
- Flushing your toilet – 1.6 gallons.
Alternatively, time your flow. Record the duration it will take to fill one gallon from a hose. Then water your garden as usual and compute how many gallons you will have used by the time you saturate it.
If you intend to use your rainwater regularly, go for a rain barrel that is bigger than 55 gallons. Sometimes, the best option is to get multiple barrels and place them around your house. If possible, buy rain barrels that will collect all the water (in our case, 5,376 gallons) that you will be collecting.
Of important, remember that it all comes down to the amount of water you will be using. Determine your needs before you buy your rain barrel.
6 Features of the Best Rain Barrel
Investing is an affordable rain barrel can be a great addition to your garden and lawn. If you are a starter at collecting rainwater, here are the 6 features that you should look for when buying your maiden rain barrel.
Ensure that the barrel is pet, wildlife, and child safe – A rain barrel full of water is good for your lawn but quite dangerous for your pets and children. Check the barrel for unique design features that prevent it from falling or tipping over. For instance, most barrels feature a flat back to enable them to rest on the wall or fence.
Ensure that the barrel has an overflow spigot – An overflow valve or spigot helps to regulate the flow of water in your rain barrel. It drains the water when the barrel is full. Dual overflow valves offer optimum operation.
Ensure that the barrel has a mesh screen filter – Roving insects or wildlife and hard rains can push leaves and other debris into your barrel, making the rainwater dirty and even damage the interior of the barrel. A mesh screen filter blocks all these things, but the minute of them.
Ensure that the barrel is connectable to other barrels – If your gardening or landscape needs change – maybe you have added a vegetable garden – you will need to expand your water collecting capacity. Hence, ensure that your unit has hardware that you can join with another barrel.
Choose durable material – Why durable material? Your rain barrel will remain outside come sun, come rain. Therefore, ensure that you get a heavy-duty barrel, such as resin, as it will withstand harsh elements; it won’t rot, peel, or crack. Although wood is recyclable, it is not durable.
Buy a barrel with warranty – A long-term warranty provides you protection against manufacturer’s defects. Read the warranty before you buy the barrel to ensure that it covers shipping costs and replacement parts. Note that most warranties don’t cover damages incurred by the owner, so always ensure that your barrel is repaired and maintained by the manufacturer.
How to Install a Rain Barrel
Before you install your rain barrel, ensure that the downspouts and gutters are clean and working.
Note the following: The process of installing your barrel will depend on the model you have, so always follow the manufacturer’s guide.
With that said, here is the basic process of installing a rain barrel:
- Determine which downspout you will use with your rain barrel.
Note the following: Don’t connect your barrel to any part of your irrigation system connected to your plumbing or your home plumbing.
- Assemble your rain barrel. Assembling might include installing hose connector or spigot and connecting the overflow pipe or hose. Collapsible models require more assembling work.
- Prepare the site where your barrel will rest. If you intend to put it on the ground as opposed to a concrete pad or patio, dig the ground out to a depth of at least 1-inch and use sand, pavers, or gravel to create a level and stable surface. Set up a sturdy platform or stand if you want to elevate your rain barrel.
Note the following: If you elevate your barrel above the surface, ensure that the structure you use supports the weight of a full rain barrel.
- Place your barrel next to the gutter downspout.
- Configure the spout to direct rainwater into your barrel. Before boring or cutting into a spout, ensure that there are no electrical cables running or heating through it. Mark carefully (follow the manufacturer’s instructions).
Here the process includes:
- Cutting the spout to enable your barrel to fit under and fixing an elbow area, if required.
- Cutting or boring out an area of the spout and fixing a diverter that joins to your barrel and a hose.
- Replacing part of the spout with a customized part or flexible spout fitting that can fill your barrel.
Note the following: Wear eye protection and gloves when boring or cutting into the gutter downspout. Also, protect your house’s exterior while boring or cutting into the spout by placing a piece of wood behind the spout.
- Position and level your barrel.
- Direct your barrel’s overflow to prevent the water overflow from flooding your house. Your rain barrel might have an overflow hose or you might need to buy one.
FAQs About Rain Barrels
Q: Can I get a larger capacity rain barrel than the one you have reviewed?
A: If you do lots of gardening or uses large amounts of rainwater, you might find even the largest barrel on our list to be insufficient to fulfill your needs.
If you want a larger capacity unit you can either go for an industrial-sized model or chain two or more of the average-sized barrels with linking hoses. Many people chain them together.
Q: Is rainwater in a barrel safe to drink?
A: No. This water has a variety of pollutants, debris, and bacteria. It isn’t 100 percent safe to drink.
However, you can make it safe to drink with thorough filtering and treatment. However, you shouldn’t do this unless you know what you are doing.
Q: How long does it take to fill a rainwater barrel?
A: If you place your barrel under a drainpipe, it might get filled up over the course of a rainstorm. So, it is advisable you get at least three of these units if you live in a wet place.
What is the best rain barrel on the market? The best barrels on the market are produced to hold sufficient water for your yard and other home uses, is pet and child safe, and inhibits the development and spread of dangerous microorganisms. The water it contains should be safe for use but not for drinking. Unless the container is BPA-free, you shouldn’t drink that water.