We look below at what makes a good rain barrel, but before we get to that here’s a table of our top rain barrel picks. We reviewed 5 of the best ones available and present our findings here.
Our pick of the bunch is the Good Ideas RW50-OAK Rain Barrel which we believe combines great value for money with an authentic yet practical look. Having said that all the products shown will do a great job in collecting and storing your rainwater.
|Good Ideas RW50-OAK Rain Barrel||50 Gallon Capacity|
Authentic whiskey barrel appearance
|CHECK THE PRICE|
|Algreen Barcelona Rain Barrel||100 gallon capacityTerra Cotta styleDual water outlet||CHECK THE PRICE|
|Good Ideas IMP-N50-DBR Rain Barrel||50 gallon capacityWicker finishDual spigot||CHECK THE PRICE|
|RTS Home Accents Rain Barrel||50 gallon capacityAuthentic finishSimple and effective||CHECK THE PRICE|
|Koolatron RBSS-55 Rain Barrel||55 gallon capacityContemporay lookSandstone-effect finish||CHECK THE PRICE|
Did you know that during the hot summer months up to 70% of water supplied to homes is used in the garden?
If you are a keen gardener you will know how much water your lawn and plants need to stay healthy. Using domestic supply to water your garden may be the only option, but in many parts of the country using a rain barrel to collect rainwater to use instead is a great option.
We take a look at what makes a great rain barrel, what your options may be, how to look after your rainwater collection system and we provide some reviews to help you choose what to look for in the best rain barrels.
What Are Rain Barrels
Without trying to state the obvious, a rain barrel is a large container into which rainwater is collected and stored for use in your garden at a later date. The barrel usually includes a spigot which allows you to draw off the water as needed.
Because these barrels are designed to store as much water as possible, they are usually between 30 and 100 gallons in capacity and tend to be made, these days, from recycled plastic.
The most common method of collecting rainwater is to connect up the barrel to a convenient downspout. However, there are a number of different rainwater collection systems available, many quite innovative, and you should check some of these out too.
Fortunately there are quite a number of ready-to-use barrels that you can install very easily. By and large they are straightforward to set up and once in place will not require a great deal of maintenance.
Can’t I Make A Rain Barrel Myself?
In short, yes you can. However, before you get too carried away there are a number of things you should consider.
Firstly, do you have the tools and experience to undertake a project of this nature? Saving money on making your own rain barrel doesn’t make much sense if you have to spend the amount you save on new tools.
Secondly, do you have a suitable container? Much of the expense of rain barrel systems is incurred in purchasing the container itself. It may make sense to just go the whole hog and buy a ready made system rather than trying to muddle through.
You will need to set up a system for capturing debris to prevent your barrel from blocking and of course you will probably need to buy a spigot for allowing you to draw off the water in due course.
Finally, the issue of safety needs to be considered. If you have children you will need to ensure the rain barrel is adequately secured and not a potential hazard. If not properly constructed a rain barrel can become a mosquito breeding ground and you need to consider the toxicity of the materials you use to make the barrel.
All in all, while we believe that it is always a great idea to do it yourself if you can, in this instance it may be easier and safer to purchase a ready made barrel.
The Best Rain Barrels Reviewed
Good Ideas RW50-OAK Rain Wizard Rain Barrel
The 50 gallon capacity Good Ideas rain barrel is a great option for rainwater storage in almost any setting. The authentic whiskey barrel look makes it an ideal option for many gardens. The barrel has a number of color options ranging from oak, black, terra cotta through khaki.
Water intake is from the top which is protected by a plastic screen. This neatly keeps out debris and insects and also prevents accidents with pets or small children from occurring.
The spigot is made from brass and is easy to install. The barrel has a flat back for resting neatly against the retaining wall maintaining a low profile and also providing good stability so that the risk of tipping is reduced.
The tank does not come with a stand which does mean that the spigot is very low down. This is fine if you intend to draw water using the hose fitting, but if you intend to use a watering can then the barrel will need to be raised off the floor. A stand is not included.
One frequent criticism of all in one plastic barrels is that when full they have a tendency to bow outwards. This barrel does not do so.
All in all, we like the look and the design of this rainwater barrel, it is easy to install and simple to maintain. The authentic wood effect will ensure that it keeps a low profile in almost every garden setting and we are sure that once in place it will provide you with a constant supply of unchlorinated water for your garden.
Algreen 85001 Products Barcelona Rain Barrel
The Algreen Barcelona rain barrel is one of suite of aesthetically pleasing but practical and functional rain barrels. The 100 gallon capacity gives this barrel more storage than most conventional rainwater barrels.
It is manufactured from BPA free polyethylene, and comes in an attractive terracotta finish. In the top is a well which allows potted plants to be placed enhancing the décor of your garden at the same time as providing a practical water storage solution.
This particular tank is approximately 34” tall. It has a brass spigot around 1/3 of the way up for easy filling of your watering can. But the water can be drawn from the tank via a bottom drain fitting at the back.
Water enters the tank from the top which is protected by a durable plastic shield preventing debris from falling into the tank.
This is one of the most attractive rain barrels available, neatly hiding its functionality behind a terracotta pot appearance. The 100 gallon capacity is a bonus and the unit is easy to empty and clean. The only real drawback is the price of this tank which is at the premium end of the price spectrum for rain barrels. If you can afford it, we do not think you’ll be disappointed.
Good Ideas IMP-N50-DBR Impressions Nantucket Rain Saver Rain Barrel
We really like this rain barrel. It does have a slightly fake plastic look, despite the wicker pattern on the external wall, however, it does have a number of features we look for in a good quality rain barrel.
First, the overall look. The top of the unit has a well into which you can place potted flowers or plants. This allows the tank to be disguised and prevents it from being an eyesore in even the most stylish gardens.
Water intake is through a plastic shielded hole at the top that neatly allows water to enter but prevents insect infestations or debris getting into the barrel.
The interesting design addition to this particular reservoir is the addition of a second spigot. The first spigot is at the base in a conventional position. This will enable water to be drawn off with a hose attachment but is useless for filling watering cans. Other rain barrels assume you will place the barrel on a plinth or stand to provide this access, but this unit has a second spigot which has room for a watering can to be placed under. This is a great idea and means the unit can stand alone without an ugly stand being required.
With flowers in the top well, this conventional 50 gallon rain barrel is transformed into an attractive flower stand that neatly hides its second purpose. We think this is a perfect rain barrel for the smaller garden.
RTS Home Accents 50-Gallon Rain Water Collection Barrel
The RTS Home Accents rain barrel is a versatile and attractive water tank designed to blend into most garden environments. It has a 50 gallon capacity and is supplied with a brass spigot. Although made from tough plastic, it has been given an authentic barrel look, complete with wood texture, to ensure it does not draw the eye when in place. There are three color options, brown, green and tan making them more versatile.
The tank has a flat back for securing safely to a wall and no opening large enough to be a risk to pets or infants. The openings are also screened off with an aluminium screen designed to prevent debris from blocking the barrel or access to insects.
The unit is 33.5” tall and 24” wide so will not take up too much space on an outside wall. One drawback is that the unit is made from a single piece of plastic making cleaning more difficult.
The spigot has a hose hook up for drawing off water. We also like the fact that the overflow is on the front meaning water will not seep into the retaining wall.
The barrel also has a stand option for raising it high enough to allow a watering can to be used. This is a practical solution, although we would have preferred the stand to be authentic looking too, instead of a modern black plastic appearance.
Koolatron RBSS-55 KoolScapes Sandstone-Look Rain Barrel
If you are looking for a contemporary feature in your garden then this Koolatron rain barrel which combines rain water storage with a feature vase/urn appearance, may be your best options. Although made from UV-resistant plastic, it has a sandstone authentic appearance which allows the rainwater storage capability to go largely unnoticed.
The unit comes complete with an inbuilt stand and a brass spigot. The spigot is at a good height for watering can use. The capacity of the tank is 55 gallons in total.
Water intake is from the top of the unit which is covered by a corrosion resistant guard. This is easily removed enabling access to the barrel from the top. This allows the barrel to be topped up easily if needed.
Also incorporated into the design is a 3/4 inch overflow pipe which allows a diverter to be fitted for when the barrel has reached its capacity. Hooking two of these rain barrel together can provide a lot of rainwater storage.
So, for those interested in garden design achieved through structure rather than straight planting this rainwater barrel could well be an ideal solution. Practical and useful but at the same time complementing a contemporary look. We like this rain barrel and we think you will too.
Factors To Consider When Setting Up Your Rain Barrel System
As noted above, safety considerations should never be overlooked. Water reservoirs need to be respected as they are potential hazards, most especially for young children. Your rain barrel should have a lid to prevent falling in, and have the ability to be secured against, preferably a wall to prevent tipping over.
It may seem to be difficult to calculate, but there is actually research in the area of how much rainfall can be collected from a roof. Roughly speaking, the calculation is that for every 100 square feet of roof you have, 1 inch of rain will provide you with 60 gallons of rainwater. This means that during rainy months, your rainwater barrel will easily fill once completely.
You should choose a barrel big enough to take a usable volume of water for your garden on a regular basis and your collection system needs to be able to cope with excess water as once it is full the excess water needs to be drained away neatly.
Fortunately, most ready to go rain barrel systems have capacity around the 50 gallon mark and deal with run off adequately.
An easily overlooked issue is the spigot location. Your spigot needs to be high enough to place your watering can under in order to draw off the water you need without waste. As the spigot is usually positioned at the bottom of the barrel this is most often achieved by placing the barrel on a stand, or raised up. Check this is sufficient for your needs.
Your reservoir can be made from a number of materials, plastic, wood, clay and even stainless steel. Most, however are made from recycled plastic which is tough, durable, toxin free and above all cheap. Plastic is unsightly however and hiding your barrel behind planting or behind a screen is a sensible option. You should try to take this into account in your planning.
Occasionally, manufacturers provide you with a barrel, but expect you to purchase the spigot separately. This can be disappointing and frustrating if overlooked. So make sure you know what you are getting when you buy.
As referred to above, some rain barrel systems are, let’s be honest, ugly. Some are not and if you have nowhere to place your system discretely then you still have some options. Some barrels are designed to look like attractive urns or large garden planters.
They may be a little more expensive as a result, but putting it on display can still save you money as you may no longer need screening by fences or plants. Alternatively you can decorate your tank to make it a real feature.
How To Clean Rain Barrels
With proper filters installed, the main risk to the quality of the water collected is animal droppings, principally bird droppings. With this in mind, if it has not rained for some time it is worth flushing the first reservoir of water through as this first run may have washed in accumulated droppings from the roof.
Generally speaking your reservoir will not need a great deal of maintenance. Approximately once a year it is advisable to empty out the barrel, clear any debris that has accumulated inside, and wash it with a suitable environmentally friendly detergent. During this process it is worth inspecting the insides to ensure there is no damage or holes which may result in wasted water. See this post for more details.
This whole cleaning exercise need not be time consuming, taking perhaps up to 1 hour.
How To Keep Rain Barrels From Freezing
During freezing winter months any water in your barrel can freeze. Frozen water expands and can cause splits to occur in the material of your barrel.
Winterizing your barrel can be combined with the cleaning process outlined above.
Empty and clean the barrel before winter sets in, but do not reconnect until there are signs of spring again. During the winter months, open the spigot to prevent bursting of pipes, cover the barrel and leave in a sheltered spot.
Sensible precautions, but don’t worry too much about winterizing unless it is particularly cold in your area.
How To Use Rain Barrels For Watering Your Lawn
Many gardeners would love to use rainwater to water their lawns. It is certainly possible to link up a pump to a sprinkler system. However, we need to be practical about this.
A typical sprinkler pump delivers over 100 gallons of water every hour. With a single 50 gallon barrel, this would deliver approximately one half hour of use for each full tank.
So, if you are looking for a solution to watering your lawn with rainwater, to choose a very large tank, or rig a number of smaller tanks together to increase the capacity.