Three best rain barrels
If you're looking for more ways to help the environment, or just save a few bucks, buying a rain barrel to collect rainwater runoff from your roof conserves water and reduces your water bill. Rainwater is oxygenated and unchlorinated, which makes it ideal for watering plants. You can also use the water to wash your car. You'd be surprised how much money you can save by reusing water captured in a rain barrel. These products also allow you to direct rainwater overflow away from damaging your home's foundation.
The choice to collect rainwater may be easy enough, but when it comes to selecting a rain barrel, you'll find the market is saturated with choices. Here's a guide on everything you need to know to pick one out, including some of our top recommendations.
Considerations when choosing rain barrels
Plastic rain barrels are the most popular material and for good reason. They are both durable and affordable. They also come in a bunch of attractive designs and shapes.
Wood rain barrels have a quaint, classic appeal. However, unless treated properly, they are prone to rot. Consider a plastic barrel molded to appear like wood, which can last longer and weigh less than real wood.
Stone or clay
Some rain barrels are stone or ceramic. These tend to be smaller and have a more decorative than functional use. Because they're made from such heavy materials, they're difficult to move.
Metal rain barrels have largely fallen out of fashion because they rust and are heavy to move.
Rain barrels have a capacity between 40 and 80 gallons. 50-gallon rain barrels are among the most popular. If it doesn't rain often where you live, consider a smaller capacity barrel. Also, consider how much water you want to collect at a time.
Cover or screen: Some rain barrels have a cover to prevent debris or critters from infiltrating your water. Fine mesh screens also prevent all but the smallest of insects and dust from contaminating your water.
Spigot: A rain barrel with a spigot is a nice feature to have so you can get your water out and also attach a hose to the reserve water supply. Brass spigots are better than plastic ones, which have a tendency to break or crack.
Appearance: Though rain barrels are primarily utilitarian objects, they can also be stylish. If you want a wood or stone look, without the heft, select a plastic design mimicking those materials. Some barrels even come with planters on top for a floral flourish.
A basic rain barrel that'll get the job done hovers around $80. We don't recommend spending less than that as it may be an inferior product that won't last.
For a more attractive option, expect to pay between $100 and $150 for a rain barrel that's both practical and stylish.
For high-end design and function, you can pay over $150 for the best the market has to offer.
Q. What is greywater and can I use the water collected in my rain barrel for other purposes?
A. Greywater is a term for treated water that can be used for flushing toilets, laundry, and irrigation. It is not safe to drink. In some states, water collected in a rain barrel is considered greywater and can be used for these purposes. It is not advised to use water collected in rain barrels for drinking.
Q. How long does it take to fill up a rain barrel?
A. A 60-gallon rain barrel placed underneath a drainpipe from your roof can fill up from an average rainstorm. If you live in a rainy area, you may want to consider purchasing more barrels and connect them with linking hoses. Industrial-sized rain barrels with extra-large capacities are also available.
Rain barrels we recommend
Best of the best: Kyoto 55-Gallon Sand-Stone-Look Rain Barrel
Our take: A handsome, stone-like plastic barrel that'll hold 55 gallons of water.
What we like: Top marks for design. Flat back saves space. Looks like stone but is lightweight for easy maneuvering.
What we dislike: Spigot is made from flimsy plastic.
Best bang for your buck: Good Ideas Rain Wizard 50-Gallon Rain Barrel
Our take: Satisfies both functionality and decor with wood-like, utilitarian design
What we like: Classic "wood" barrel design. Durable plastic material. Choice of spigot placement.
What we dislike: BPA-free plastic carries "chemical" odor for some consumers.
Our take: A barrel that'll blend into your garden with its planter top
What we like: Wicker finish. Rust-free brass spigots with two location options. Mesh screen.
What we dislike: Top doesn't open, which makes this barrel hard to clean.
Ana Sanchez is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. BestReviews and its newspaper partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.