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When my family and I rented a house in the Virgin Islands several years ago, I was surprised that the rental owners (and most island residents) rely on rainwater for a large part of their water supply.
It made me realize that many of us neglect rain as a fundamental natural resource that we can collect on our own, rather than solely relying on treated water reserves.
Here’s how you can become a home rain harvester.
- Benefits Of Rainwater Collection
- Best Ways To Collect Rainwater
- What Are The Best Rain Barrels?
- How To Install A Rain Barrel (Video)
- Considering Solar Power?
Rainwater harvesting is the best way to reduce consumption of our precious groundwater resources, but there are many other benefits.
- Rainwater is free from pollutants, as well as minerals, salts, and other natural and man-made contaminants.
- Reduce your monthly water bill.
- You can use unpurified rainwater for irrigation, bathing, toilets, laundry, and other home and yard necessities.
- Rainwater collection systems help to reduce soil erosion and polluted runoff into lakes, ponds and rivers.
- Rhode Island, Texas and Virginia offer tax credits or exemptions on the purchase of rainwater harvesting equipment.
- You can harvest around 300 gallons of rainwater from only half an inch of rain falling on a 1,000 square-foot roof.
Install A Rainwater Catchment System
A water catchment system consists of large underground tanks that collect rainwater from your roof and gutters. This system then filters and pumps out water for your whole-house use, e.g., showering, laundry, cooking and more.
These rainwater collection systems, however, are expensive and must be professionally installed. You also must have a pump or pressure tank to move the water into your home.
Buy A Rain Barrel
Simple rain barrels are the most common method of collecting rainwater for their affordability and easy setup, use and maintenance. Most consist of durable plastic, and you can find them in various sizes. Rain barrels have a spigot where you can fill up buckets or hook up a hose to water your garden.
Use Everyday Household And Yard Items
If you stay on top of your local forecast, it’s easy to set out pots, watering cans, children’s swimming pools and other items you have on hand to collect rainwater. You can use this rainwater to handwash clothes and dishes and water your indoor plants.
You want to find a barrel that has a screen at the top to filter out debris and insects. Other notable features to consider are overflow spouts, construction quality and spigot location.
Good Ideas’ 50-gallon rain barrel is the best bang for your buck. The design resembles a classic barrel, but it’s made of durable BPA-free plastic. It also has a flat-back to save space. The spigot is low to maximize water pressure. You can also link multiple barrels together if you eventually want to increase your capacity.
- 1-year warranty
The KYOTO Koolscape 75-gallon rain barrel is a spacious, durable product that has a beautiful faux-stone design (it’s made of plastic). It comes with an overflow spout, drain plug and brass spigot. The legs make it easier to fit a bucket under the spigot, unlike some other barrels.
Unlike Good Ideas, our 50-gallon pick, this barrel is much easier to clean. The removable top screen is large, giving you plenty of room to spray out the barrel. This barrel isn’t BPA-free, which may be a dealbreaker if you’re planning on using its reserves to water fruits and vegetables.
- 90-day warranty
- Available in 75, 55 and 50 gallons
Algreen offers several different models and sizes of rain barrels, but we’ve chosen the 85001 Barcelona as the best 100-gallon barrel. If aesthetics are a key feature, this product masquerades itself as a terracotta planter — in fact, it does have a built-in planting surface in front of the rainwater input.
The Algreen Barcelona also provides dual water overflows and the option for linking multiple rain barrels with their linking kit (must purchase separately). You can also buy a pump kit to give you more pressure when watering your garden.
- 2-year warranty
Other Best Rain Barrel Reviews
The following products didn’t make our “best” list, but each is worthy of serious consideration.
Mirainbarrel’s 58-gallon rain barrel is a fantastic choice if you’d prefer a removable lid. This barrel is constructed with recycled food-grade plastic that’s sealed with waterproof 100% silicone caulk. It features a brass spigot and overflow valve that you can link to additional barrels.
One of my team member’s has this rain barrel and would recommend it. It has held up great for 5+ years outdoors, collecting lots of rain water. She hooks a hose up to it and is able to keep her flowerbed watered with 100% fresh, rain water.
- No warranty information available
The RTS Home Accents 50-gallon rain barrel is similar to Good Ideas, our top 50-gallon pick, with the same classic barrel design in durable plastic, an aluminum screen, a flat back and multiple barrel linking system. The main complaint, however, is that the pre-drilled spigot hole is too large and the spigot threads strip too easily.
- 1-year warranty
Check out this handy video, which shows you the tools you’ll need and tips on installing a rain barrel at your home.
If you live in an area where you get a good mix of rain and sun, you can harness both rainwater and the sun in your home. Or, if you get more sun than rain, solar roof panels could be an excellent solution for your home. Be sure to read our best residential solar company reviews to learn more.
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