7 Tips for Choosing a Rain Barrel

A rain barrel agains a blue sky.

When it comes to deciding on a rain barrel for your home or yard, many different things must be considered before reaching a final decision. It's definitely not something that can be bought on a whim. You will need to sit down and do some planning before you hit the store or purchase one online. By forging a plan, you will be able to get the best rain barrel to suit your needs. From the proper material to the size and other details, here's some tips for what to consider when making a rain barrel purchase.

1. Ensure the Rain Water You Would Collect Is Safe for Use

A close-up of rain gutters.

One of the first things that you need to do before investing in a rain barrel is to make sure the rain water you would be collecting is safe. Your roofing materials or gutters can actually make the water unsafe. You do not want to collect water if it has any type of lead-based paint—which is sometimes used in gutters. It's also important to take into consideration the type of shingles that are on your roof as well as any tar and gravel used. The safety of the water you collect in the rain barrel should be the number-one concern over anything else. If it's not safe for use, then a rain barrel may not be a viable option for water collection on your property.

Another important aspect to consider is whether collecting rain water in a rain barrel is even legal in the state you reside. Check out the State Rainwater Harvesting Laws and Regulations from the National Conference of State Legislatures to educate yourself on the local laws for your state and area about rain collection.

2. Decide How Much Water You Want to Collect in Your Rain Barrel

Your next step should be to figure out just how much water you need or want to collect. This will help you decide on the size and type of barrel to purchase. If you are not sure about the size of rain barrel you should be using, take a look at your last water bill during the peak months of water usage to have a baseline for your overall usage. From this information, you can determine how big a rain barrel is even necessary.

3. Decide if You Want an Underground or Above Ground Barrel Based on Space

Figure out how much physical space you have to allocate outside for your rain barrel, so that you can make a proper decision on whether you want a system that is above or below ground.

4. Ensure a Tight Lid to Prevent Pests

A rain barrel with water flowing into it from a gutter.

You need to make sure that your rain collection system has a tightly sealed lid in order to avoid invasion from unwelcome guests. This would include mosquitoes, wandering animals, and even algae.

5. Choose a Rain Barrel Made from UV-Protected Materials

Choose a rain barrel made from material that's UV-protected and be sure to have a mesh screen so that you can keep debris out of your water supply.

6. Install an Overflow System to Prevent Flooding on Your Property

Consider installing an overflow system so that excess water cannot spill out of the barrel, damage your property, and cause flooding.

7. Final Rain Barrel Touches Including Filtration and Pumps

There are a few other things you should consider doing to a rain barrel to make it as efficient and safe as possible. This includes installing a filtration system to keep the water clean, as well as pumps for the distribution of the water. You may even want to consider how to kill bacteria in the water by using UV lights before it has a chance to become dangerous.

There are many different things you need to take into consideration before you invest in a rain barrel. Once you have your game plan into effect, you can take action and continue on your path to recyling rain water on your property.