Buying Guide for Rain Barrels
Why buy a rain barrel?
Rain barrels store roof runoff water so that you can use it later on the garden, lawn, or indoor plants. Because you now have this free water, you can save money you’d otherwise spend to keep your landscape green. When the next drought arrives, you’ll have some stored water and can avoid draining resources.
Direct runoff in urban areas has nowhere to go but down the sewer or into large street potholes. If you receive a lot of rainfall, drains become blocked, huge puddles of water form, and streets can flood. The problems can continue downstream. There just may not be enough absorbent surface area for the water to go. If you live in the city, or even in a suburb, you can do something about this water problem by getting a rain barrel. As rainwater is chlorine-free, reroute it to your garden! You can even wash your car with it.
What should you look for in a rain barrel?
- Diverter: You might be enthusiastic about harvesting rainwater and want a barrel with the largest storage capacity. That’s great! But even with a 100-gallon barrel, there’s still the chance of overflow. You don’t want that to happen. Rain barrels sit close to the house, so the excess water will run straight into the foundation, and you know that’s no good. When your rain barrel fills up, an automatic diverter activated by water pressure can direct overflow back to your downspout. Hook up a hose, and let the water flow away from your home.
- Look: Looks are naturally not an integral feature of a rain barrel’s function. Yet they can add or detract from the appearance of your lawn and landscape. There are solely utilitarian rain barrels, which you can move behind a tree or a bush. Or, if you want to put it out in the open, go for something that isn’t an eyesore. Some are made of terra cotta, and there are plastic ones made to look like wood, stone, or whicker.
- Material: Most rain barrels are high-density, high molecular-weight polyethylene (HDPE) plastic. What’s great about HDPE is that it’s lightweight and resistant to significant variations in pH levels. Some rain barrels are made of recycled or repurposed material for the environmentally conscious. You’ll also find barrels made of thermoplastic polymer. Ultimately, you need a durable rain barrel that won’t crack or leak.
What special features should you consider when purchasing a rain barrel?
While a connectable or chainable rain barrel is unnecessary for collecting and storing rainwater, it’s advantageous. A chainable rain barrel connects the same input source to one or more other barrels. Even if you only have one barrel, you might want multiple in the future. It’s good to think ahead. Another vital aspect of rain barrels is a mesh screen, which keeps out mosquitoes, other insects, and debris for cleaner water.
Our Picks for the Best Rain Barrels
FCMP Outdoor Rain Barrel
This rain barrel is easy to install, linkable to other rain barrels, and a great product all-around.
Pros: The FCMP Outdoor Rain Barrel holds up to 50 gallons of rainwater and features a flat-back design for easy installation. The overflow connection at the back allows excess rainwater to flow down beneath the barrel and out and away from your home’s foundation. FCMP also added an aluminum screen filter to keep insects out, which keeps the water clean. It comes with a garden hose, a shut-off thumb valve, a hanging hose clip, an overflow hose, and a linking kit for connecting to other FCMP RC4000 rain barrels via the spigots on both sides of the barrel. Some users appreciate the oak-like appearance, describing it as stylish. Rather than wood, the FCMP is made of durable polyethylene.
Cons: The flat overflow tube doesn’t expand to allow water to flow as well as others. The mesh screen is a bit flimsy and could blow away because there’s no fastener.
Bottom Line: Overall, the FCMP Outdoor Rain Barrel gets a thumbs-up. It’s durable, connectable, and has a linking kit and other valuable parts. The pros outweigh the cons unless you don’t prefer the wooden look.
Good Ideas Rain Wizard 50 Gallon
A durable polyethylene resin 50-gallon rain barrel that comes in several colors.
Pros: The faux wood look convinces the unknowing eye, especially with the shiny brass spigot. The Rain Wizard has a flat-back. You can position the rain barrel flush against your home with its flat back. Your home’s rain pipe will fill the barrel, and any excess water will flow out of the spigot. Connect a hose if you prefer the overflow to run further from your house.
Cons: You may find it impossible to reach the water if it goes below the spigot’s height.
Bottom Line: The Rain Wizard won’t crack in cold weather or with age, so it’s reliable for a long time. The PE is recyclable, just like rainwater.
Goplus Portable Rain Barrel
A 100-gallon, portable, PVC rain barrel that has a built-in storage design.
Pros: This Goplus 100-gallon rain barrel is foldable, long-lasting, and easy to use. What else could you possibly want? Oh, it’s also portable and storable. Remove the rods, fold the barrel siding, and zipper it closed. The rain barrel won’t corrode or crack, given the PVC make. It’s easy to set up. Position the barrel under a downspout so rainwater runs through the mesh top. When ready to use collected water, hook up a 14-millimeter garden hose to the spigot or white faucet. The higher-placed white faucet works great for filling up garden water cans.
Cons: Users have discovered that the barrel works best if you place it on flat, not slanted, ground to avoid spillage.
Bottom Line: Nothing’s left wanting in this 100-gallon collapsible rain barrel. Its innovative design and quality materials make it a great buy, especially given its low price.
RTS Companies Inc Home Accents ECO Rain Water Collection Barrel
This product offers the essentials of a good rain barrel, and it even looks nice!
Pros: This 50-gallon RTS water barrel is made of 100% recycled plastic and has a flat-back design so that you can set it flush against the house. Not everyone wants to showcase their rain barrel, so placing it close to an exterior wall is a nice solution. The barrel has a screen to prevent debris and insects from wandering in and a plastic spigot shut-off valve for a hose hook-up.
Cons: Compared to other models like the Woodgrain or Oak RTS rain barrel, which have a brass spigot, this barrel’s plastic spigot looks inexpensive and might underperform. The same goes for the plastic screen, which is made of aluminum in the other models.
Bottom Line: The 50-gallon RTS Home Accents ECO Rain Barrel’s design allows for linking to other barrels for maximum water collection and setting it up flush to a wall to take up less space. It’s easy to install and assemble and is made of sturdy plastic. It’s also made of 100% recycled material, which might be a selling point for some.
Good Ideas Impressions Palm 50 Gallon Rain Saver
A lovely, sturdy rain barrel and planter with texture similar to palm tree bark.
Pros: At first glance, this 50-gallon rain barrel seems like a cute little garden planter, yet the thick PE resin often used to manufacture military cases bolsters the structure of the barrel to absorb heavy impacts and extreme weather. Add a detailed palm tree bark texture to the exterior, and there you have it: a good-looking rain barrel-planter pot hybrid. It features a well-made built-in overflow system. There are two spigot locations if you want to use a hose on one and keep the other open. Place the flat-back barrel flush against the house to optimize space and appearance. In heavy rain, the channeled rim will help divert overflowing water away from your home.
Cons: Several users say the planter top is too shallow for most plants.
Bottom Line: This all-in-one rain barrel, planter, and decorative accent offer a lot of value in utility and aesthetic.
Rain barrels offer an opportunity to lower your water bills while giving your potted plants or garden proper hydration. They’re great for people who live in areas that experience moderate to heavy rainfall. Some models can even add a touch of beauty, which is always welcome.