How To Choose A Rain Barrel

​A rain barrel is a water container that collects rainwater running from your roof, gutter, and downspout. Its storage capacity ranges from 30 to 250 gallons but the biggest delivery-ready ones are 100 gallons.

The rainwater saved using your rain barrels can serve as your garden and utility water and can last you for a couple of weeks. Some people use it to flush their toilets, wash their cars, water their plants and clean their patio.

Old rain barrels used to be in the form of plastic drums, clay jars, buckets and recycled wine barrels. These inspired the modern designs of the rain barrels today. Likewise, the use of plastic for rain barrels made way for the limitless possibilities when it comes to the styles and sizes, from basic, vintage and modern.

We will share with you the benefits of having a rain barrel, factors in choosing one and the things to remember in maintaining one.

  • It helps you save on your water bill :The rainwater you can save can be used for cleaning and gardening purposes. Ever heard of greywater? It is the collective term for clean wastewater without fecal contamination. Rainwater can be considered greywater and can be used for cleaning and sanitation purposes. Imagine how many gallons of clean water you can save and how much you can cut off from your water bill
  • It helps you save the environment : Water runoff from heavy rain can cause minor erosions and can carry pollution, chemicals and pesticides to lakes and other bodies of water. Rain barrels save rainwater before it reaches the ground preventing
  • You will keep your foundation flood-free : You’ve probably seen quite a lot of TV shows featuring home renovation problems. One most common dilemma is the flooding of the foundation that keeps the house damp and worse it causes
  • Rainwater is better for your plants : Chlorine in water might be the reason why your plants do not look as healthy as they should be. Rainwater is acidic in nature but not as much as the acidity of chlorine water. It is also oxygenated and considered light water, plants love that.
  • It helps keep your surroundings cool during the dry season : The heat on the ground during summer can be felt inside our homes. Having rainwater stored can give you the freedom to keep your lawn and garden cool. Wet your lawn without spiking up your water and electricity. With cooler surroundings, you no longer need too much air conditioning. 

What exactly are you looking for in a rain barrel?

1. Essentials
There are rain barrels that remain simple and straightforward. The earliest rain barrels are recycled plastic drums used to store produce being transported from farm to market.

These blue plastic drums are just cleaned, accessorized and repurposed. These were originally used to store clean water for emergency purposes but was eventually used as rain barrels too.

There are rain barrels that look exactly like these big blue plastic drums with accessories and all at a much lower price.

These rain barrels meet all the essentials :

Emergency Essentials Water Barrel - 55 Gallon Drum
It is exactly as described, an essential water barrel for your emergency needs. It is not limited for rain barrel use but can store your clean water for cooking, dishwashing, sanitation and even for drinking when an emergency arises.

You can freely install a mesh cover, a spigot or a garden hose for rain barrel use. Its dark blue color controls UV light preventing the growth of bacteria and algae. It is thick, durable and can last you a very long time.

Enviro World Terra Cotta 55 Gal. Rain Barrel Brass Spigot Rain Barrel Kit

This 55-gallon rain barrel can fit right in every corner around your home. Although it falls under the basic or essentials category, it comes equipped with all the necessities to be called a full-fledged rain barrel.

It has a rust-proof stainless steel mesh to protect the water from debris and mosquitoes, has an overflow drain hose and a brass spigot. It is linking-ready and there is no tedious setup required.

2.Storage Capacity
Choosing the storage capacity of your rain barrel can be affected by two (2) factors: 1) the space where the rain barrel will be placed and 2) the stored rainwater volume that you will need. Regardless of the design, you can find a 30-gallon, 50-gallon, 75-gallon up to 100-gallon capacity. Just remember to pick a rain barrel material sturdy enough for your chosen storage capacity.

​Check out these picks with varying storage volume:

30-Gallon Rain Barrel

30 Gallon Plastic Water Barrel Great for Long Term Water Storage
This simple yet efficient rain barrel holds 30-gallons of rainwater for light use in your garden and backyard. It comes as a simple, blue plastic barrel without any accessories yet.

50-Gallon Rain Barrel

Good Ideas RW50-DR-OAK Rain Wizard Rain Barrel 50-Gallon Darkened Ribs, Oak
This rain barrel comes in a rustic design and is built to last using a rotationally molded plastic that won’t chip, fade or crack. It comes in four (4) colors, Terra Cotta, Green, Khaki and Oak.

 75-Gallon Rain Barrel

Achla Designs RB-02 Green Rain Barrel - 75 Gallon
Made with UV-stable polyethylene, this Green Rain Barrel by Achla Designs will be a refreshing addition to your garden. It has a removable debris screen, a 4-ft. hose and a thumb valve for the hose.

100-Gallon Rain Barrel

Algreen 85001 Products Barcelona Rain Barrel 100-Gallon, Terra Cotta
It’s big and it’s beautiful. That’s how Algreen Barcelona 100-Gallon Rain Barrel will be best described. It looks like a giant clay jar but it’s actually made with durable roto-molded plastic. It is probably the biggest decorative rain barrel in the market today.

3.Aesthetic Appeal and Design
You might want your rain barrel to harmonize with the overall look of the exterior of your house and your lawn in general. Choosing a style to suit your taste is now made easy with a wide array of rain barrel designs to choose from:

KYOTO Koolscape RBSS-75 75-Gallon Rain Barrel, Sandstone-Finish

Good Ideas IMP-L50-LIG Impressions Palm Rain Barrel, 50-Gallon, Light Granite

Yimby 50 Gallon Urn Style Rain Barrel

4.Built-in Accessories
Accessories that may come with your rain barrel will say a lot about the product’s quality. These are the most common accessories that will make owning a rain barrel safer and more convenient for you :

Brass Spigot
Rain barrel reviews are your ultimate source of information on the quality of different products and for rain barrels, this can be a common user complaint. First, not all rain barrels use brass spigot. Second, some brand use it but not necessarily sturdy and tends to leak.

You might have to invest in a better spigot and replace the one that comes with your rain barrel unless you are really satisfied with it out of the box.

Debris Cover
This accessory comes in different styles and materials. Some are made with plastic, while others are made with stainless steel. Both of which are corrosion-free. Some barrels have a removable mesh cover, while other have built-in.

The most basic rain barrels may also not come with it. But it is a necessity to keep your rainwater clean and keep mosquitoes away from it. 

​Sludge Drain
A sludge drain or a drain plug is located at the bottom of the rain barrel. It is used to flush out dirt that passed through the mesh cover. Removing sludge will prevent staining at the bottom of your rain barrel.

5.Value for Money
Choosing a rain barrel with the best price for its built, material and accessories can be confusing. Some rain barrels may look the same but these are the factors affecting the price of a rain barrel that you should be taking into consideration :

Earlier rain barrels use a variety of materials like wood, clay or stone and plastic. Plastic is the long-withstanding contender when it comes to materials because it’s cheap, durable and non-porous. But not all rain barrels use the same plastics:

•    Virgin, food-grade
•    Recycled
•    Rotationally-molded or roto-molded
•    BPA-free

Regardless of the type of plastic, choose the one that is UV-stable and will prevent bacteria and algae growth in your rain barrel.

Not all brands offer warranty for rain barrels. Read the fine print before every purchase to make sure your rain barrel is covered.   

The cheapest rain barrel you can probably get is around $90.00 for a basic one. Rain barrels with 50 to 75-gallon capacity can cost you around $100.00 to $200.00. A 100-gallon barrel costs $50.00

How to Prepare You Rain Barrel for Installation and Use?

Step 1:

Determine how many downspouts and rain barrels you want to use.  As a rule of thumb, rain barrels will help you keep water runoff and flooding on your basement and foundation. Choose wisely.

Step 2:

Choose the rain barrel that suits your preference. Likewise, check if there are any modifications necessary to link your downspout and your rain barrel. Decide if you need just one per area or you want to start linking 2 or 3 to maximize your rainwater reserve. It might be cheaper to order everything at once.

Since some barrels come with spigots at the bottom of the barrel itself, you might want to check if you need to order a rain barrel stand to elevate it. This will help you fill watering cans easily and hook-up a garden hose and use it without pressure problems.  

Step 3:

Once your orders arrive, inspect them carefully. Identify all the accessories that should be included and make sure there are no cracks or holes. Clean the inside of the barrel from plastic trimmings so it would not mix with your initial batch of stored rainwater.

Step 4:

Assemble the rain barrel and stand, if any. Rain barrels may either come fully assembled or it will require a minor installation of the spigot, garden hose, drain hose and the debris cover.

Assembly will also include necessary modifications in the downspout if the rain barrel comes with a built-in elbow. An improperly installed rain barrel will not catch as much water and may still flood your foundation.

Possible Disadvantages of Using a Rain Barrel

  • Small storage capacity. This is why you might need to link extra rain barrels in the future. You might see all the benefits and might need more rainwater storage to maximize collection
  • You need to keep it safe during winter. It will require a little labor from your end but it will prolong the life of your rain barrel. Prior to winter, you have to make sure it is not hooked to your downspout and it does not contain any water inside. Water inside will turn into ice and your rain barrel might crack.
  • You could harbor insects like mosquitoes once you forget to close the lid, put back the mesh or once the mesh wears out.
  • It needs to be cleaned regularly. Rain barrels are relatively low maintenance but to prolong the life and avoid staining inside, you have to regularly clean it with water and baking soda or water with mild detergent.

These are not necessarily disadvantages but some words of caution and reminders of what to avoid to maximize the use and prolong the life of your rain barrels.

Conclusion :
Research is key when coming up to a decision of which rain barrel to get. It is beneficial? Yes, environmentally and economically, most especially. With many rain barrels to choose from, the best one stands out in terms of durability, design and price.

Aside from this buying guide, we have also reviewed the Best Rain Barrels for 2019 to further guide you in selecting. If this buying guide has helped you, please share it with your friends and family and enjoy the benefits of saving rainwater together.

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