Instructables
A Green way of using rainwater with the convenience of city water. The attached solar regenerated pump enables you to water plants with pressure, even when the water in the barrels falls low enough that it barely passes the level of the faucet. The sun-warmed water also aids in the growing of plants as it does not shock them. The twin 85 gallon barrels are raised onto a very sturdy 4x4 box assembly from recycled wood, held together with new carriage bolts because the total weight of all the water when full is approx 1700lbs. This frame is resting on eight 2 inch thick 18 inch square cement pads to prevent sinking. The barrels are raised to increase the head pressure and decrease the work load on the pump.
Vote for me if you think my idea is worth passing on to show people being green doesn't have to mean sacrificing quality or convenience . Thank you for taking the time to look at my instructable!
 
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Step 1: Water supplied from mother nature

link barrel to downspout. ensure top of barrel remains below level of water entry. I found the Watersaver attachment for the 3x4 downspout pipe works perfectly. In order to enable adequate water flow to the barrel I adapted the Watersaver attachment by drilling out the side and adding a flange for a 1inch PVC fitting. I sealed this by using a rubber gasket and additionally using a silicone sealer. Ensure there is a downward slope between the downspout and the barrel entry.

Step 2: Overflow back to the downspout

ensure you have a complete path for water from the downspout to the barrel or barrels then from the overflow to the downspout again.
1" pvc overflow line from last barrel back to downspout. ensure you maintain a drain angle towards the downspout or sediment could collect in the line.

Step 3: Downspout drain connection

1" pvc entry back into downspout. ensure pvc pipe does not fully block 2"x3" downspout and keep the downward slope to the pipe to make the water flow towards the downspout.
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Very clean design lines. It appears the battery is exposed to the elements? Other suggestion, is to consider a filter in front of the pump inlet to capture what will be some of the roof top deposits that may be mineral components of the shingles, moss build up that flows down the gutters or other 'stuff'. A good sized clean out on the bottom to access the tank as solids build might really be good as well. Unless I am missing those in the overall design and if so.....never mind. GREAT job

alisonb10 months ago
I have seen a good priced 10w solar panel, could I use this with your system? I know it needs to be 12 volt but that is about it :)
damoelld (author)  alisonb7 months ago
sorry for the delay. but to answer the question...yes!
Larger is better as it will decrease the recharge time of the batteries.
alisonb damoelld7 months ago
Thanks for your reply, I have sourced all of the items I need and have found a great 20W solar panel. This is going to be my spring project ready for the summer. Cheers.
Hoooowler1 year ago
Great idea. Have you considered alternative water sources when there is no or limited rain? Luckily, I live on a canal and am considering something like this to irrigate my yard so I could attach a low-volume pump to fill the barrels when rain does not. Another alternate method might be a sand point with a low-volume pump. This could have it's own solar powered unit or run off the main. I would set it up on a switch or one could put a level sensor in one of the barrels and put a limiter on the low-volume pump circuit so that it only runs when there is sunshine.
Thanks for the idea very creative. Quick questions for you: would like to insulate it for winter but ignorant on that?
If you look around, you can find an all plastic pump that won't rust out from the rainwater. It's important that it's a jet pump so you get enough pressure to run the attachments. Or you can get a submersible and put it in the bottom of one of the barrels. That will give you huge pressures though so you'll need a regulator. Either way, never start the pump with the attachment(s) turned off or you will get cavitation which wears out the impeller(s). If you hear a louder "swooshing" sound, turn if off right away. That means it's cavitating and you don't have enough flow on the output for that size pump.
damoelld (author)  The Lightning Stalker5 years ago
I've found that a Diaphragm pump such as this one works great, it puts out 35 psi at a constant rate, is very quiet, unlike a jet pump and is very small, unlike a jet pump that would be capable of 3.3 GPM (12.5 lpm). This model of pump has an internal pressure switch and bypass to prevent water surging and hammer (pulsation) when the hose or attachment(s) are turned on or off. I have saved my pump from the rainwater by mounting it inside a waterproof battery box. Originally I thought of using a submersible or fountain pump, but the extra connections would have to be mounted internal to the barrel (aka more hassel) and I did not need to have the capability of emptying the barrel in a matter of minutes.
Question for you: Could I also install a hand pump that may generate enough pressure. On top of the barrel, similar to old water table pump to fill horse troffs? What is your take or suggestions on that?
I'm not attacking your pump or your instructable or anything. I'm just trying to help out people who don't know anything about the pipe and the pump and the ppppp... If all someone can afford is a used jet pump, then it works good enough.
damoelld (author)  The Lightning Stalker5 years ago
no worries, didn't mean to make it sound like I was mad. I appreciate all comments.....even the ones that contradict my opinions, gets me to thinking in a less linear fashion, and sometimes another solution to the same problem. This is after all a forum, and not a podium :)
jerhpk damoelld4 years ago
I'm looking for a part-time pump for a smaller application. What is the flow rate on the pump you have? I'm not planning on running the pump for more than 30 minutes at a time, and maybe once a week. (The planned height of this project is about 8 feet, maximum. It does not need to be high pressure at this location, but it does need to spray slightly. Yes, I realize this is contradictory.) I do appreciate this instructable; I find I reference it frequently for a variety of projects. as a question, do you have the "sight level indicator" going into a hole in the top of the barrel, or just tucked under the lid? And is the top of the tube higher than the "overflow" holes?
damoelld (author)  jerhpk3 years ago
Sorry for the delay, was away.
The tube is tucked up under the lid. This prevents the crawlies from getting into it yet allows the outside pressure from the water column to equalize.
Cheers
This is really neat!  The pump was a great idea! 

Do you think the water's drinkable?  If not, maybe adding a purifier might help with that.  (I understand that this is just for watering plants, etc., but the prospect of a rainwater purifier is tempting)

Awesome work!
-muffin
i'd use quite a few filters on this, it was, after all, sitting in a storm drain.
damoelld (author)  toogers2 years ago
Only from the roof of the house, no storm drains on this one. No contaminants other than those included in the rainwater and the granules from the shingles. :P
BETTER filter, not more.
If you add a sediment filter and uv this water would be perfectly fine to drink. Rain water is naturally soft. If you are really nervous about drinking, add an under sink reverse osmosis system: http://jandjpumps.com or any hardware store!
kwazai2 years ago
NC made it legal a few years back to use this kind of water for flushing (free sewage treatment-normally payed for).

recommendations (I'm in the process too-for a hydroponic graden setup)-

a copper dish scrubber in the supply line to remove phosphorous (grows algae).
a p-trap to keep mosquitos out

most neighborhoods have 'covenants' anymore- this is about ideal size to fit in a 'shed' of sorts (fenced in?)

damoelld (author)  kwazai2 years ago
Yard is fenced in. Mosquito meshing built into barrel lid breathing vents.
Cheers.
kwazai damoelld2 years ago
Excellent
gfwhell2 years ago
In order to keep water free of bacteria, (Stagnating). bubble air through it, better still, ionize the air first, This is called Ozonated air. check out ALIBABA for cheap ozonators or make your own with an ignition coil and a bundle of Fluorescent tubes used as electrodes. you will need a pump to mix the ozone with the water,so a solar cell, battery and inverter will probably be required, do what I did Scour the USPatent office for information on water sterilization and apply your brain to someones invention, your welcome to copy whats there provided you dont try selling it. Of course you could make a filter and force the collected water through it, if you make it properly the water will soon contain no bacteria after passing through the filter, a couple of layers of ordinary surgical lint should surfice. you could sterilize the first gallon or two with a spoonfull of hydrogen peroxide. the filter gets more efficient at trapping bacteria the more water that is passed through it. GF
damoelld (author)  gfwhell2 years ago
I like the idea of ozone for purifying the water if it was for consumption. My plants like the stinky water after it's been sitting in the tanks, and it's at the right temperature to minimize shock. All of the additional comments lead me to believe that someone wants to see an instructable on a water purifier system supplied from rain and powered from the sun + for human consumption. Mine is simply for the garden.
Cheers,
vov352 years ago
Here's a thought on saving some power:
1) make a T on the pump's output, and attach a small diameter vertical tube around a foot tall; allowing the remainder of the water to flow through the straight portion of the T and function like normal

2) To the vertical tube, attach an endcap with a hole in it to equalize air pressure.

3) Drive two screws into the vertical pipe at a reasonable height. Connect these to an inverting circuit, like used in: http://www.instructables.com/id/Laser-Trip-Mine/
You should use much larger resistances and a power mosfet.

4) the mosfet throws a relay to turn on a pump. This will only happen when the water level is below the screws you set.

The goal here is that the pump turns off if you're not releasing pressure from the hose; allowing you to use a watering handle for the end of your line. Depending on your pump you may also need to install a check valve, to allow the hose to stay pressurised with the pump off. The height of the screws installed in the vertical tube will be directly proportional to the water pressure that will be maintained in the line.

... If I actually made the system and had photots, I think it would be instructable worthy, however, I don't have a rain water system to experiment, and will instead suggest that you try it out with yours.
damoelld (author)  vov352 years ago
I do like the rube goldberg approach :) I however, use the pressure switch that is part of the pump. When the pressure drops, the pump turns on.
vov35 vov352 years ago
I hadn't read to the point when you mentioned that your pump had an automatic shutoff, but it's still worth considering in my humble opinion. :p
hhart3 years ago
Absolutely awesome. I'm definitely doing this and thank you for putting this up!
DavidM454 years ago
great project! I have found that valves on a plastic line are so much better with a support like a 2x4.
jerhpk4 years ago
FYI: Lee Valley has a downspout adapter for sale for under $20. It has two garden hose fittings on it, to hook two rain barrels up simultaneously. Biggest reason I'm considering it (the adapter) is that it is something that does not need to be removed to shut off water flow to the rain barrels. (Local codes state that rain barrels are ok on homes as long as they are emptied and disconnected during the winter months. "Winter months" is an unspecified length of time in the code as of last time I checked, but I assume it to be when the temperature is low enough to warrant frost warnings, or similar. Codes have no such restrictions on "Non residential or non commercial" buildings, such as workshops or garages.) .
Boyd Carl4 years ago
Good idea! What is Make & model of water filter? What is good source(s)?
damoelld (author)  Boyd Carl4 years ago
Hi Boyd, located an alternate place to buy the filter that should be available to everyone. Home Depot DripMaster 3/4 In. Mpt X Mpt Y-filter; Clm Model:: 61062 $20.99 hope this helps
rayzentz5 years ago
I like this. However, where I live, it is illegal to collect rainwater. How stupid is that?
most places that say it is illegal mean open containers... if you have a closed tank then they are ok. i live in one such place... it is illegal to have a rainwater collection but if you have a closed system it is ok. it is cold in winter here so i have a couple of 1000Gal tanks under ground which allow me to water all my fruit trees, flowers, greenhouse plants with only rain water with exception of rare extra long rainless summer months. i have old hoses underground watering the trees at the roots to minimize evaporation too... it is very efficient.
Hi WilderLust, could you post some pictures of the system you described?

Thanks
hehe... well... it is all underground so pics are of no use; i did not take pics when i was making it years ago anyway. it is not really that hard, just dig a big hole, bury a big tank (or more depending on volume needed, and $), rum pipes from your gutters, place a pump in the tank to pump out the water when in need, and you have it. of course i have a pre-filter (55gal barrel) to get the junk cleared from the water before it gets to the big tank. you do not want to fill your tank with dirt, leaves, and other stuff washing off your roof into your tank. i also use a DC pump which i power with solar recharged batteries but that is an optional thing. some day i will make a wind powered pump too since we get decent wind around here. for big tanks, look at your building supply warehouses... they are not cheap when big but they are a permanent investment for you that will collect water for decades. i use PVC pipes in my system
Thanks for the info, i'm an engineer living in Mexico and I want to implement some simple sysytems in new homes, so thanks
here is the kind of tank i use http://www.ntotank.com/begrwata.html
the best deal is the 1450 Gal @ $979 and 1700 Gal @$1149 both of which are .68/Gal
MAY I ASK , HOW DO YOU KEEP THE WATER FROM BECOMING STAGNET? i HAVE BEEN TRYING TO DESIGN A SYSTEM FOR MY FAR HERE THAT I COULD STORE WATER FROM THE WINTER FOR UP TO THREE MONTHS DURING DRY TIMES. MY CONCERN IS THE WATER WOUDL STAGNET AND BECOME SEPTIC. dO YOU HAVE NAY ADVICE?
Water stagnation is actually due to the loss of oxygen in water. An oxygenated water will not become stagnate... this is why the Quran taught the Arabs to not drink still water... only flowing water. Understanding this, you can see the solution easily... there are actually a couple. the cheapest is an aquarium air pump and air stone in your reservoir... i did this in the beginning but now i have designed and built an aerator which was actually an old aquarium filtration system i had designed and built many years ago when i had a lot of fish. it is easy to build and works very well... i started to give directions here to make it but then i bet people would complain that i should make an instructable; unfortunately i designed and built most of this stuff decades ago when even public net did not exist so i would have to build an extra one or make technical drawing to show everyone. i am in the middle of a major long term project which will keep me busy for years and just do not have the time to recreate old things again but i promise to do an instructable when i have to make new things. most of what i am doing now is remodeling of the house and the land so i don't think i can give any instruction that is not available already all over the web. For now just do the air pump and air-stones... you will have to brush and clean the air-stones at least once a year to ensure proper operation. i also have my aerator system operating from wind power so whenever the breeze is there, for my area i have 5mph+ breeze 90% of the year, the reservoir is aerated. i used the old American water pump idea for this... these days the wind pumps are seen as decorative but i have revived them for this and am planning to use the same setup for my pond waterfall system i am planning to put in later. cheers :-)
thanks and that makes since.
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