If you own a garden or some other free area, then you can catch some rainwater with rain barrels. Rainwater can be used to water your plants, lawn or you can do some other gardening with it. With a little effort, it is even possible to wash your laundry with rainwater to save on drinking water.
In this article we will present different types of rain barrels based on the material that they are made of. Basically there are rain barrels made of wood or plastic.
The important stuff
- A rain barrel is not only a useful garden utensil, but can also be used as a decorative object.
- You can choose between wood, metal and clay barrels.
- The capacity and dimensions of the rain barrel should be selected according to the size of your garden.
1. Enviro World EWC-10 FreeGarden Rain Barrel
2. FCMP Outdoor RC4000-BRN Catcher 4000 Rain Barrel
3. RTS Home Accents 50-Gallon Rain Water Collection Barrel with Brass Spigot
4. VINGLI 50 Gallon Collapsible Rain Barrel, Portable Water Storage Tank
5. Algreen Products Cascata Rain Barrel 65-Gallon, Terra Cotta
Guides: Questions to keep in mind before buying a rain barrel
Can I use rainwater for the household?
If you also want to use rainwater for the washing machine and toilet, you save drinking water and the environment is happy. The germ load is much lower than you would expect. When washing your clothes, you do not need a fabric softener because rainwater contains no lime.
For a consideration of necessary installations, a professional will be happy to help you. In any case, you must report it to your water supplier and you must not dispose of the rainwater unasked with the tap water.
Formula for demand calculation in the household
Number of people x average daily consumption x number of days of use. Example: 2 x 16 gallons x 30 days = 960 gallons.
Please keep in mind that the extent of rainwater harvesting is weather dependent and subject to certain fluctuations. A water supply for the household exclusively through rainwater will therefore not be possible.
Make sure that with low water level in your water tank, a supply of tap water is possible and that all lines are labeled, so that at any time, which water flows through them. The separation of drinking water and rainwater pipes is a legal requirement!
Which size for which user?
Rain barrels are available in many sizes. The average user will be satisfied with a capacity of 100 gallons. Too much? For example, a small rain barrel can have a capacity of just 10 gallons. However, the standard sizes for rain barrels are 50 to 100 gallons.
If you need a large rain barrel, you can buy an oak barrel with a capacity of 1,300 gallons for a budget of 2,000 dollars. If the demand is even greater, there is the possibility of a so-called cistern. This can offer a capacity of proud 2,600 gallons.
Due to their size, a cistern reaches a high weight and is often buried underground. This also makes them frost-proof and the darkness in the soil prevents the formation of algae.
If you are unsure whether a standard barrel is enough for you, then you can always connect rain barrels of different sizes with an overflow set.
Now you know in which sizes rain barrels are offered, but which is the right one for you? To answer this question, three values are important:
- What is the average local precipitation altitude?
- How big is the roof area of your house / garage / tool shed, etc., from where you want to collect the rainwater?
- How big is your garden / vegetable patch / etc. – so the area you want to water?
Which accessories make sense?
A rain barrel in itself is a practical thing, but with the right accessories, it can be used much more comfortable and meaningful. Below we have listed some extras that you should think about when buying a rain barrel.
Lid & filter
So that only water ends up in the rain barrel and no dirt, you need a matching lid and a filter. The filter in the downpipe to the bin prevents leaves and flowers from falling into your collected rainwater.
Lid and filter thus protect against contamination in general and thus against germ formation. Often both are offered with the purchase.
A pump is not absolutely necessary. But it makes you more flexible in terms of the space of your rain barrel. It is more likely to be used in large-scale irrigation applications. You can connect lawn sprinkler and garden hose. Depending on the use, however, the pump must be able to generate the corresponding pressure.
Who wants to be independent of a power supply, selects a rotary pump. This is a hand pump with which you can quickly fill with a little muscle power.
Lid, filter and pump are just the beginning. The range of accessories that you can use to extend your rain barrel (s) is huge. If you want to read further in this topic and maybe even become a rain barrel professional, then look at the following accessories:
What do I do about animals in my water barrel?
Unwelcome guests such as mosquitoes, tadpoles or water fleas can sometimes be prevented with a net or in any case best with a lid.
Water fleas you recognize as small, white spots in the water. They are neither a threat to humans nor to plants. They are very often brought by birds into the water, which stop by your rain barrel without a lid to drink.
If you discover mosquitoes, the situation looks more serious. They can quickly become a plague. Here a few drops of vegetable oil help in the collecting water.
Oil is a natural home remedy for mosquitoes and an environmentally friendly solution that keeps the water usable for your plants. If you have missed the right time to intervene, unfortunately, only helps the complete emptying of the barrel.
For many animals, rainwater is a fine thing. But beware: For the fish in your aquarium it may be too acid rainwater! Inform yourself extensively before using it. Your fish will thank you.
Can I repair a rain barrel?
Sometimes repairing a rain barrel is not that easy and not always cheap. But it is definitely worth a try before a barrel ends up in the garbage with a crack.
If you’re lucky enough, you can get a soldering iron or a hot glue gun, if you know the material. In most cases, the materials are either difficult to glue or you need knowledge in plastic welding in order to make your rainwater collection container long-term tight again.
It is best if you can coalesce equivalent plastic. This makes the break point stable and resilient again. Caution is required in any case, because plastic and strong heat tolerate only limited.
For a more beautiful look, you can then remove any bumps with a file or with sandpaper on the dried area.
In order to avoid early repairs, in addition to good care when buying your rain barrel look for the duration of the warranty according to the manufacturer. The longer it applies, the higher the quality of material and workmanship probably is.