Collecting rainwater for use during dry months in rain barrels or other depositories is an ancient and traditional practice. Historical records show that rainwater was collected in simple clay containers as far back as 2,000 years ago in Thailand, and throughout other areas of the world after that. With the rising price of municipal water and drought restrictions now facing much of the United States during the summer months, more and more homeowners in our own modern society are turning to the harvesting of rainwater to save money and protect this precious natural resource.
It is a common belief in many parts of the world that water is an infinite resource to exploit as needed, but as the saying goes, “you don’t know the value of water until the well is running dry.” This is especially true in arid parts of the U.S. where most of the municipal water comes from overstressed underground aquifers. Whereas rainwater is considered a renewable natural resource, many aquifers are being “mined,” that is, communities are drawing out more water than the aquifer naturally receives to recharge it.
Our Rain Barrel Buyer’s Guide
In this buying guide, we will review all the major rain barrels on the market. We will also offer plenty of options to choose from if you’ve got plans for purchasing a rain barrel for your home. Each rain barrel will be briefly reviewed so you know exactly what your money will get you.
Types of Rain Barrels
There are 4 main materials rain barrels can be made out of: a combination of polyethylene and plastic, stone and ceramic clay, wood and galvanized metal. The first two are usually used in creating small, pot-like rain barrels.
The last two, wood and metal, go into making larger barrels. Each of these materials has its own advantages. Plastic barrels, for instance, are the most affordable and lightest ones on the market. On the downside, powerful sunlight can deform them.
Stone and ceramic clay barrels are extremely durable but there’s a reason why they are only small and medium-sized: they would be virtually immovable when full of rainwater. This type of barrel is commonly used as a decoration.
Wood and galvanized metal barrels are by far the most common ones. They are durable and large enough to gulp on tens of gallons of rainwater. As you might expect, they are heavy and warrant the use of a water-dispensing system.
Rain Barrel Sizes and Capacities
You can’t settle on the size of a rain barrel unless you’ve assessed how much rainwater you’ll be using. You certainly don’t want to use some of it and throw the rest away. That’s not how one economizes.
On the other hand, you wouldn’t want a barrel that’s too small, either, because it will get full within minutes and again, more water will end up going in the foundations of the house than in the barrel itself.
Rain barrels are available in a wide variety of sizes. Most people opt for 55-gallon rain barrels. These are the most used. Larger ones are available, of course. So, to wrap this up, it all boils down to the amount of rainwater you’ll be using.
Try to calculate your water needs and a buy a rain barrel according to these.
Best Choice – RTS Home Accents 50-Gallon Rainwater Barrel
The main reason why we’ve chosen this as the best rain barrel is that it has a flat back. This feature will allow you to mount it up against a wall, provided that the wall in question is perfectly flat.
The barrel was made with recycled plastic and is equipped with a spigot that’s made of the very same material. Even though it’s good as it is, our advice is to change the spigot with a metal one.
Another nice thing about this is that it can be connected to other barrels and subsequently, you can increase its capacity. Saving 50 gallons of rainwater is no small thing, considering that you can water a good portion of cultivated land with such an amount.
- Flat back
- Made with recycled plastic
- On the affordable side
- Large capacity
The plastic spigot isn’t as sturdy as a metal one.
This huge, blue rain barrel comes with a few features we’ve found nice. Right off the bat, it has a spigot that’s made of brass instead of plastic, which instantly makes it more qualitative in our eyes.
The entire barrel is resistant to most of the factors that damage barrels in general: mildew, rot, mold, and rust. Apart from these, the barrel is equipped with two additional slots to put the spigot in.
If it’s too high, for instance, you can install it in a lower position. All these Good Ideas models are basically refurbished juice barrels, but that doesn’t have any negative impact whatsoever on their quality and effectiveness.
Equipped with a brass spigot
Optional spigot slots
Resistant to deteriorations of any type
It features a protection screen
More expensive than most barrels of this size
The blue is somewhat violent on the eyes
Eagle 55-Gallon Lock Ring Black Drum
This has been made of polyethylene and is certified by the UN. It features a locking ring that’s put in place by using a plastic lever. The interior of the lid is equipped with a rubber seal that will prevent odor from getting out (if you use it for other purposes than collecting water, that is).
You won’t help but notice that it doesn’t have a spigot, so you’ll have to purchase that yourself. It’s got no place for a spigot, either. You’ll have to make a hole, too. This is, at least from our standpoint, an inconvenience.
However, the overall product is heavy-duty and well-made, so we’re ready to overlook those two shortcomings. It measures 22.5” in length and 36.38” in height.
It is heavy duty
Rubber seal on the lid
It does not come with a spigot
You have to drill a hole for the spigot
Enviro World 55-Gallon Rain Barrel
This is fundamentally a trash-can gone rain barrel. This is the second barrel in our guide that has a flat back that will come in really handy for a person who wants to install it up against a wall.
A beautiful addition is the stainless-steel mesh screen on the lid: this will prevent debris and insects from getting flushed in the barrel by the runoff rainwater. This comes with a brass spigot and an extension hose.
It’s been made of polyethylene, so you can rest assured it will last you. One thing we didn’t like about it is that there seem to have been a few instances in which people got plastic spigots instead of the promised brass ones.
Stainless steel mesh for filtering debris and insects
Complaints that the spigot is plastic instead of brass
Good Ideas 65-Gallon Terra Cotta Rain Barrel
This is one of those rain barrels that combine successfully an eye-catching design and efficiency. It is shaped like an urn and features a meshed screen on the lid to prevent debris from getting in the barrel.
It has a brass spigot and quite surprisingly for a barrel of this type, a flat back. It can also be linked to multiple Rain Wizard barrels in order to increase the amount of rainwater you’ll be storing.
The planter of the barrel drains itself in order to keep plants fresh and the diverter channel on top does a good job at expelling excess water. Even though it’s a 65-gallon barrel, it only weighs 11 pounds.
It has a huge capacity
It is quite difficult to clean
The spigot might need to be replaced because it can leak
This is the largest rain barrel in our guide, with a capacity of a whopping 90-gallon. Just like the previous barrel, it features a self-draining planter and a mesh screen on top.
The self-draining planter is a nice feature to have on your barrel, because there won’t be any excess water that will make the roots of your plants rot away.
The spigot is made of non-rust brass. Also, you can install two distinct spigots on this barrel – you can use one for a hose, for instance, to water plants and the other one to fill your buckets.
Notwithstanding the fact that it looks like it’s made of stone, it’s actually not. It is made of polyethylene plastic, a strong, sturdy one at that.
The planter drains on its own
It allows two spigots to be installed
The mesh screen isn’t as effective as one would’ve hoped
Etna 50-Gallon Portable Rain Barrel
This one’s a novelty in our guide for two reasons: it’s portable and collapsible, which means you can store it away within minutes when you’re not using it. On top of those, it weighs only 1 pound.
This drum is mounted on 4 plastic legs, which is really underwhelming. The seams are somewhat fragile and could lead to the barrel bursting when full of water since it changes its shape easily.
The opinions on this particular barrel are wildly divided: some say it works just fine, while others would never purchase it again. Considering that it’s so cheap, it is somehow expected for it to have a couple of shortcomings.
It is very cheap
The spout for the hose is extremely low-quality
The barrel can burst easily
The plastic legs can give away when the 50-gallon capacity has been met
Overall quality is discouraging
Good Ideas Rain Wizard 65-Gallon Rain Barrel
This was made of polyethylene and has a flat back, like many other Good Ideas rain barrels. It is also endowed with a mesh screen that serves as a water filter. It comes with two brass spigots.
The barrel is sturdy and can withstand some violent shocks (if you drop it, for example) and was designed in such a way that it resembles a barrel used for storing whiskey. Its capacity and design are hands-down its main strong points.
It also has a planter on top, in the middle of a draining channel. This might not be as popular as other Good Ideas models, but it’s a decent item, especially if you’re into barrels that look good and don’t make it too obvious they’re barrels, if this claim makes any sense to you.
Planter and draining channel
It is durable
Some could find it expensive
Algreen 50-Gallon Terra Cotta Rain Barrel
Plastic isn’t as feeble as some of us might assume, and this Algreen rain barrel is proof of that. Many urn-shaped Terra Cotta barrels have planters – this is no exception. The spigot on it is made of brass.
The bottom hose fitting is durable and sturdy and doesn’t move around like that on cheaply-made barrels. As a rule of thumb, people look for elegant barrels and this one surely satisfies that criterion. It looks like it’s made of clay, which offers it a plus of sophistication. If you purchase the Algreen linking kit, you’ll be able to connect multiple barrels to each other.
Another nice feature is represented by the dual overflow channels, which allow excess water to drain. All in all, it’s a decent barrel that comes for a fraction of the price other similar barrels are sold for.
It’s got a beautiful pottery vibe about it
Brass spigot and secure hose fitting
Planter and overflows
Once again, people got plastic spigots instead of brass ones
Fiskars 58-Gallon Rain Barrel
This Fiskars barrel is made of recycled polyethylene and has a flat back that will come in handy if you don’t have a lot of space around your house or you simply don’t want to keep it in a certain position.
The best thing about this – and a unique feature in a barrel from our guide – is that it’s actually an all-inclusive barrel system. It comes with everything you need to connect it directly to a downspout.
When its full capacity has been reached, the system pushes the excess water down the spout. One downside of this overall fantastic barrel is the plastic spigot, which is absolutely awful and makes a terrible impression on customers.
You can easily change it with a brass one or at least one that’s made of a sturdier type of plastic.
Clever water-dispensing system
It has a generous capacity
Filter for debris
Very affordable, considering you get all the accessories in this price range
Cheap, plastic spigot
The instructions are a tad confusing
Great American Rain Barrel
This huge 60-gallon rain barrel is made of plastic resin and is linkable to other barrels. Whereas some barrels take a lot of time to be installed, you’ll have to spend maximum 20 minutes to get this to be perfectly functional.
The Great American barrel allows you to install two spigots in two different positions and even though the spigot that comes in the package is plastic, it doesn’t feel cheaply made.
The capacity is undoubtedly a plus. 60 gallons represent a lot of water. Moreover, if you link this to others, you can easily save almost 200 gallons. The price-quality ratio of this barrel is totally justified, at least from where we stand.
Mesh screen for filtering debris
Made of durable plastic resin that doesn’t deform
Some people might find it ugly
Unfastening the lid when you get the barrel requires superhuman strength
Algreen 50-Gallon Wicker Rain Barrel
No, this isn’t made of wicker, as the name may have led you to believe, but perhaps the toughest polyethylene ever created. What strikes you initially is how incredibly beautiful this rain barrel is.
It is as much a decorative element as it is a rain barrel. Apart from its design, it’s got everything you’d want from a barrel: dual overflows, a debris screen, a brass spigot and is linkable to other Wicker Barrels.
If you opt for the Diverter Kit, you’ll be able to connect it directly to a downspout, which will further improve its water dispensing capability. The barrel is actually covered with wicker and looks absolutely astonishing.
If you want a stylish rain barrel, this is definitely the best choice you can make.
The filter screen is rust resistant
None as far as we’re concerned
Achla Green 54-Gallon Rain Barrel
This is the first rain barrel in our guide that comes with an included hose, a 4-foot one, to be more precise. Even though its design and color might not be very appealing, it does its job without any issues.
Like most rain barrels nowadays, this was also made of polyethylene. In the vast majority of cases, you have to purchase a linking kit individually, which is another expenditure. Achla provides you with such a kit and it’s included in the price of the barrel.
This barrel has a flat back and a large, durable filtering screen that can be removed with the utmost of ease. The polyethylene it’s been made of is incredibly tough and makes this particular barrel last for years on end.
The hose is a little feeble, but you can change it with one of your liking.
Probably the most durable rain barrel in our guide
It comes with a hose
Heavy-duty by default
Removable filter screen
Achla Brown 50-Gallon Rain Catcher
Yet another stylish addition to our rain barrel guide – Achla’s brown rain catcher features a 4-foot hose, linking kit and 50-gallon capacity. One of its biggest problems is its design.
Even though it’s made of polyethylene, it looks so cheaply-made that you wouldn’t believe it. It’s the kind of barrel you’re afraid to even move around. Don’t get us wrong – this doesn’t mean it’s actually weakly-constructed. It’s clearly not, it just gives the impression that it is.
If you decide to purchase this, keep it away from sunlight, because there’s a slight chance it will deform it and will facilitate the breeding of all sorts of algae on the bottom.
It is affordable
It is connectible to other Rain Catchers
Hose and Linking Kit included in the package
Made of sturdy polyethylene
It decays in the sunlight
It looks frail
The plastic hose is low-quality
Rain Barrel Rain Station
This is made with plastic resin (recycled, to be more on-point) and can be linked to the gutter, which is a nice feature to have on your rain barrels. This way, the excess water will be pushed back into the downspout and subsequently facilitate the overflow.
It has two places for spigots and this is where an issue rears its ugly head: the main spigot is positioned too high and at an odd angle. This isn’t anything catastrophic, but it’s well-worth mentioning.
The kit that allows you to connect the Rain Station to the rain gutter is included in the price, so we’ll take this as a huge advantage. All things considered, this is a reliable and durable rain barrel as long as you don’t mind the uninspired positioning of the main spigot.
It features dual spigot slots
It is connectable to the gutter
Linkable to other Rain Stations
It has a decent design
Relatively small capacity (only 45 gallons)
The problem with the spigot
The spigot is prone to leaking
This was the last rain barrel in this guide, but perhaps you would be interested in a couple of accessories that are sure to make your barrels even more effective at what they’re supposed to do. Let’s see some of them!
Top Rain Barrel Accessories:
Save The Rain Water Metal Diverter
This is basically a water diverter that you install on your gutter in order for the runoff water to go straight to the barrel instead of on its sides. The material it’s been made of is galvanized steel. This aspect ensures that it will last you for a good number of years.
It has two positions: open or extended. Each of these has an impact on the rerouting of the runoff rainwater. All you need is to install this is a hacksaw. It goes well with all standard gutters.
If you plan on purchasing this, please take note of the fact that it’s not a very safe accessory to have if you’ve got children playing around it. It is extremely sharp and can lead to injuries. Install it in a position that’s hard to reach by kids.
These are the dimensions for the small and large sizes: the former is 11L x 3w x 2.5H” and the latter 11L x 4W x 3H”.
It is made of tough, galvanized steel
Installation can be done within minutes
It really does make a difference in the amount of water that ends up in the barrel
This is one of the cheapest diverters you can get at this point
It has very sharp edges
It is not available in a wide variety of sizes
Oatey Mystic Rainwater Collection System
This was made for 2” x 3” gutters (the standard size). If the previous diverter was made of galvanized steel, this is all PVC plastic. The diverter is equipped with a 4-foot hose that makes it easier to direct water towards a certain barrel, provided you have more than one lying around.
Considering that this is insanely cheap, some people might not give it a chance for fear that it is low quality. You really shouldn’t do that, because it’s anything but poorly made. You can install it within a few minutes and it’s good to go.
Another nice thing about it is that you can paint it over, so it matches the chromatics of your gutters, for a plus of stylishness.
It does its job like you wouldn’t believe
Durable PVC plastic
The hose included in the package is a plus
It is the most affordable diverter
It is a tad ugly
Summit 20-Pack Mosquito Dunk
It can so happen that mosquitos find a way in your rain barrels even if they’ve got mesh screens. This Summit dunk will allow you to obliterate their larvae on the spot. Dunk is fundamentally a bacteria on which mosquito larvae will feed and die.
Get a steel rod to fix the dunk in place inside the barrel and you’ll get water that’s free of mosquito larvae.
It works as promised
Each dunk lasts up to 30 days
It is cheap
A proper rain barrel can save you tons of money that you’d otherwise spend on water bills. As you’ve seen, there are a couple of things you should take a look at before purchasing any model.