Which rain barrel is best?
Droughts and hosepipe bans can ruin the hard work you put into making your yard look good. Using a rain barrel can make the most of natural water resources. By saving up water while it’s in steady supply, you can reap the benefits when shortages arise.
If you’re looking for a classic barrel that you can link to increase storage potential, the FCMP Outdoor Rain Catcher is the ideal choice.
What to know before you buy a rain barrel
The majority of rain barrels are made from plastic, but you can find a few other options if you expand your search wide enough.
- Hard plastic: This is the obvious choice of material because it’s cheap, durable and easy to mold into shape. However, some people prefer to avoid plastic for environmental reasons.
- PVC: Even cheaper than plastic, PVC rain barrels are lightweight and collapsible for winter storage. However, they aren’t the most durable, so they will need replacing sooner than one made from a sturdier material.
- Wood: Originally, most rain barrels were made from wood. This is far less common now, but you can still find some wooden versions for those who like the traditional look or want to avoid plastic.
- Metal: Like wood, metal isn’t all that common a material for rain collection barrels, but you can find some. They’re durable as long as they’re made from a metal that doesn’t rust or corrode when exposed to water.
For the average household, a 40- to 60-gallon barrel will suffice, but you may want to look for a larger option if you have a big yard or have many flower beds that need regular watering. It’s rare to find individual barrels for home use that can hold more than 100 gallons, but you have the option of using more than one if you want to store water for use in times of drought.
Some people don’t mind ugly rain barrels, but others would prefer theirs to look nice. This is particularly important if your downpipe is right near a favorite seating area or you have a small yard where every inch counts. You can buy plastic barrels designed to look like wood or stone, which are more attractive than basic offerings.
What to look for in a quality rain barrel
The spigot is the tap that you’ll get water from or attach a hose to. It’s important that it is durable and doesn’t leak. Otherwise, you’ll run into issues down the line. Ideally, it should be made from metal rather than plastic.
A debris screen helps keep anything but water out of your barrel. It can help prevent insects and leaf matter from getting inside and keep birds or small mammals from falling in and drowning.
Some barrels are designed so they can be linked to one or more additional barrels of the same type. If you have a large yard or live in an area with plentiful rainfall, this lets you collect more water from just one downpipe.
How much you can expect to spend on a rain barrel
You can find small or collapsible rain barrels for around $40-$50, while large, durable models cost around $100-$200.
Rain barrel FAQ
Do you need a diverter for a rain barrel?
A. A diverter effectively splits your downpipe so that when your rain barrel is full, water continues down the pipe into the drain. A barrel that’s fed by a downpipe can easily fill to the brim from 1/8 to 1/3 of an inch of rain, depending on the area of the roof. So, it can easily overflow, causing water to sink into your foundations.
While a diverter is a more elegant solution, you can use the overflow hose that comes with most rain barrels. Not only is it easier to fit, but it lets you redirect the overflow wherever you want.
Should I empty my rain barrel for the winter?
A. Since most people don’t need to water their yard all that much in winter, keeping a full barrel is unnecessary. What’s more, when the water inside freezes, it can damage the barrel. Therefore, it’s best to empty it for the winter and store it in a shed or put a cover on it to keep it from filling up.
What’s the best rain barrel to buy?
Top rain barrel
What you need to know: With a faux wood effect, this barrel looks good and has a generous 50-gallon capacity.
What you’ll love: The large opening and flat back design make it easy to install. The debris screen helps filter out anything you don’t want to end up in your barrel. The side spigots let you connect multiple barrels to increase your collection capacity.
What you should consider: The overflow hose could be longer.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Top rain barrel for the money
What you need to know: This collapsible option is perfect for anyone who doesn’t have much storage space for their barrel in the winter.
What you’ll love: It’s lightweight yet reasonably rugged. The front overflow drain redirects water when the barrel gets full. It has a debris filter and a zippered top for easy access.
What you should consider: As it’s made from flexible PVC, it isn’t as durable as hard plastic models.
Worth checking out
What you need to know: Doubling as a planter, this barrel stores water and gives you an extra place to grow.
What you’ll love: It comes with a FlexiFit diverter that’s easy to install. It’s a sealed system, which keeps mosquitoes and other insects out and limits algae growth. It’s durable and made in the USA.
What you should consider: There are some reports of leaky spigots, but this seems to be a fault rather than a problem across the board.
Where to buy: Sold by Wayfair
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Lauren Corona writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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