10 Best

Rain Barrels

of September 2023

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Buying Guide for the Best Rain Barrels

Yehudah Posnick

How should you choose a rain barrel?

Do you wish you could be more eco-friendly? Make a small change in the environment by buying a rain barrel for your garden. It will conserve rainwater, prevent run-off pollution, and reduce your water bill all at the same time. Since it might be difficult to decide on the best rain barrel that will suit you, we have condensed a wealth of knowledge in the form of a buyer's guide, after going through thousands of rain barrel reviews.


What is a rain barrel?

A rain barrel or rain water tank collects and stores rainwater from rooftops using pipes. It is relatively easy and inexpensive to build and can be placed under any gutter downspout. In most cases, a rain barrel is made of 55 gallon drums, vinyl hoses, PVC couplings and a screen to keep out insects and other debris. It is common for small rain barrels to be recycled from food storage or transport vessels or whiskey and wine aging vessels, which are generally inexpensive.

What are the advantages of using rain barrel?

Rain water collection is a great way to have a continuous supply of clean, fresh water for outdoor use that is absolutely free. The rain barrel provides homeowners with this abundant supply of free "soft water" that contains no chlorine, lime or calcium and is ideal for watering gardens, flushing toilets, washing machines, and washing cars.

Types of Rain Barrels

What are the different types of rain barrel?

The following are the main types of rain barrels available on the market.:
Plastic Rain Barrel: They are usually available at superstores or hardware stores, and are typically made of high density, high molecular weight polyethylene (HDPE). In addition to being light and easy to transport, these barrels are very durable and have a long service life. They can also be painted and customized according to your needs.

Wooden Rain Barrel: This type may be quite pricey, but its luxurious materials will accentuate your garden. You will, however, have to maintain it more frequently.

Pop Up Barrel: It is made of flexible and highly resistant laminated polyester and can hold moderate amounts of water. The model can also be easily stored in a compact space.

Rain Barrel and Planter: This model is similar to plastic barrels, but it has a planter on top. This type of rain barrel is ornamental and can be used in landscape design.  

Homemade Rain Barrel: As the name suggests this is home-made and designed according to the user's preferences. They are usually made from plastics or left over materials found within the home. 

Important Features

What should you consider when buying a rain barrel

Since there are different types of rain barrels available on the market, the following list should help shed light on the features that you should look for when making a purchase:


  • Material: A rainwater barrel can be made from a variety of materials. The most common ones are plastic, terracotta, concret and wood. Plastic rainwater barrels are the best choice for most homeowners. The barrels are cheap and you might even find recycled ones. The most attractive barrels, on the other hand, are wood and terracotta, but they are the heaviest, costliest, and worst to clean. Concrete barrels aren't that much better than plastic or wood barrels, except that you can pour them yourself.
  • Faucet: Rainwater barrels require a drain spout near the bottom to function properly. Consider getting a model that has an outflow faucet at least 4 inches above the bottom of the tank. By doing so, you will prevent sludge from getting into your outflow pipe and clogging it.
  • Vents: Check for the air vent which is a small pipe that pierces the lid. It must be covered by a screen to prevent insects and animals from getting through.  With an air vent, water cannot form a vacuum and damage the barrel when it exits the water barrel quickly.
  • Storage Capacity: Think about how much water you will be collecting.  The amount of rainwater you collect from your roof is determined by how many square feet you have. Normally, if you have 1,000sq. foot roof, about 600 gallons of water can be generated during one inch of rain. Rain barrels come in varying storage capacities, ranging from 50 gallons to more than 100 gallons. For the purpose of watering a small garden or washing your car, the basic version will probably suffice.
  • Check for aesthetic appeal: Consider buying a rain barrel that will add to the aesthetics of your yard. There are rain barrels available in numerous shapes and sizes, such as an urn, a terracotta look, or even a whiskey barrel—even though they are primarily made of plastic.
  • Check the attachments: Look for the models that come with a complete set of accessories, such as a brass spigot, an extension hose, and a rainwater collection system. If not, you'll have to purchase and install these attachments separately. If that's the case, take note of the dimensions and other specifications, to ensure that the attachments are compatible.

  • Check for scalability: Check if there is an option to link multiple rain barrels together, in case you wish to increase the storage volume later. You may want to install a downspout diverter to redirect the overflowing water without creating a mess. Some rain barrels may already have these features built-in.

How to maintain your rain barrel?

Below are some steps to take to ensure your rain barrels are clean and long lasting:

  • Drain your rain barrels regularly and use the water collected in your rain barrel between rain events to make sure there is room to collect for the next rainy season. 
  • Clean gutters as necessary and at least seasonally to prevent water accumulating and mosquito breeding.
  • Keep leaves and debris out of the rain barrel by installing gutter guards and/or screens on downspouts and on top of the barrel itself. 
  • Drain sediment-laden water from the bottom valve especially after pollen season.
  • Clean the barrel periodically with a non-toxic product to remove residue or algae. 
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