Instructables

The best RAIN BARREL for less than $15, and where to find a barrel

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I have researched many rain barrel plans out there and I believe that mine is one of the most adaptable, effective, simple to make, and cheapest out there. After you have found a barrel, the rest of the parts and tools can be found at most hardware stores. Let me know if you have any ideas for improvement. 

I made this barrel for about $15, but using bulk discounts I was making them on average for about $12-$13. 

I can make one in about 10 minutes if I have all my parts and tools lined up, but it will most likely take about an hour if you are not familiar with the process

Caveat:
For two years I made these rain barrels and sold them at a local farmers market for $50. I got a little tired of them, as anyone would after making hundreds of anything. Eventually I realized that I would probably be more interested in designing larger rain water containers, and that these barrels are kind of a puny attempt at rain water collection. The best way to collect rain water is with a cistern that can hold thousands of gallons of water, rather than a mere 55 gallons. I recognize that not many people would like to spend their time and money on a large plastic container in their yard, which is why I am posting this "how to" as a compromise. I also think that having a rain barrel forces you to reconsider your daily water use, which is a positive outcome of a large or small rain water collecter.
 
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tonyarn3 days ago

We bought a 114 year old house last year and it has an old cistern in the driveway. I wonder what it would take to get it up and going again.

multilis4 months ago

If you want more capacity, normally easier to get a 200+ gallon square plastic tank with metal cage (I picked up a number for free). They tend to have 6 inch opening at top, 2 inch on bottom with a 2 inch facet already attached. You just have to rig up an overflow system.

The simplest "rain barrel" is to stick it on its side (make a quick stand) and use existing holes on barrel. Game of 90 degree elbows, size adapters, etc to get water in and overflow out on top, and on bottom you just thread in a facet or size reducer and facet. Easy as well to do more complicated chaining of multiple barrels.

Stavros!8 months ago
Oh, and skip the garden faucet, get a 1/4 turn 3/4" ball valve.

Compare water flow with regular garden faucet and 1/4 turn ball valve
(both screw into same size hole and fit a garden hose):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AEpybHgKqQk
Stavros!8 months ago
Not bad, but I think this is better, as you only have to put one hole in the barrel. Watch this video:
You tube video
5 Dollar RAIN BARRELS 55 gallons to 1000 gallons
Connecting multiple barrels with part numbers for the pvc parts

And for the bottom, avoid silicone as it leaches chemicals into water with
prolonged contact:

For installing a faucet on the barrel without silicone (and they have a video
on how to install the fitting and there are other companies that sell it,
don't buy it at Home Depot though, their plastic fitting contains lead):

http://www.bayteccontainers.com/bulfit34.html

(I used a hole saw instead of a spade bit, because I already had a hole saw. )
Aquabarrel8 months ago
Highly suggest you match in the incoming water volume with the overflow in areas where heavy rains occur http://www.aquabarrel.com/product_overflow_port.php

If you keep this barrel in the upright position then you are less likely to have a leak out the bottom bung plug - even if it is sealed with silicone it might leak.

For those folks in places that get below freezing you might want to take the rain barrel off-line for the winter with a diverter http://www.aquabarrel.com/product_downspout_diverter_rectangular_aluminum.php

or just spend a few more dollars and get a diy kit designed the right way:-) http://www.aquabarrel.com/product_rain_barrel_parts_kit_earthminded.php
Klowder1 year ago
I use open top plastic containers for my rain barrelsl. The top is solid without bung holes. The top can them be cut for your fitting. The faucet at the bottom is now easy to attach. The open top design them makes it easier to clean the barrel and dip out water for things like washing, hand watering gardens or for toilets.

Ken
stylnpzzalvr (author)  Klowder1 year ago
Ken,

I agree, the open top barrels are clearly a better option. I have found that the open topped barrels are rarely free and for my use I was looking for the cheapest option. The open topped barrels have a slightly smaller footprint, however, they tend to be taller. I use them to make compost bins because they are so easily adaptable.
dmz22 years ago
This part is largely unnecessary. I gave up after about a half hour of trying in vain to screw the parts together. The force of the hose bib threaded through the plastic and set silicone are enough to hold everything in place.
dmz22 years ago
What holds the flexible down spout adapter in place?
vegascrist2 years ago
Why do you use an iron elbow instead of a brass one? That would avoid any dissimilar metals corrosion.
rmcmul2 years ago
I just finished making four of these. The only comment I have is that I could not get the elbow to the hose bibb; my hands are too large! So, after a few tries, I discovered if I turned the bib all the way in, I could hold the elbow on the bibb thread with a pair of needle-nose pliers. One or two turns of the bibb was all it took for the threads to catch and then I could switch to the screwdriver to hold it in place.

All in all - a very good instructable!!
ladydi223 years ago
I have the wrong barrels, these are white and had blue coral wax inside them. Since they have sat outside they have collected water from the hole in the barrel plug. When you make yours with the barrel turned unside down does water leak from the small hole in the plug, now that is it facing down?
cweirup3 years ago
I had a question regarding the overflow adapter. The one in this Instructable seems very small. Every other rain barrel I've seen uses fairly large PVC pipe, and I've seen recommendations that the overflow be no smaller than 1.5" wide. Have you had any issues with this smaller overflow adapter?

Otherwise, this is a great instructable. Thanks for sharing!
stylnpzzalvr (author)  cweirup3 years ago
Everyone has their preferences for the overflow size. I have not had too many complaints with the smaller opening, but some people have more water flowing through their barrels than others. I have seen PVC fittings used as well as other types of flexible tubing. Either way the conversion is pretty simple. Best of luck and thanks for the comment.
cpesce13 years ago
which was is the 90degree fitting faced? i'm guessing that the opening is down, but it never does say.
stylnpzzalvr (author)  cpesce13 years ago
Down is correct. Any other way can work, but down is likely the most effective.
stylnpzzalvr (author)  garden goddess3 years ago
I suppose everyone has their own preferences based on what they need. I think that having the larger opening lets in bugs and algae, but this is not always a problem for some folks.
moonchylde3 years ago
This is one of the simplest plans for a rain barrel I've seen so far, and looks to be one of the more effective. Well done!

I'd like to add to your list of places to get barrels, as well. I used to have dozens in my shed a while back from the chemical plant I worked at. Before anyone screams "pollution", I should mention that the barrels were never used! They would label more barrels then they would need for a particular batch we were filling, and because federal law prohibits re-using a labeled chemical barrel, the majority of them went to the crusher, unused and uncontaminated (not to mention five-gallon buckets, steel barrels, and cardboard drums). I used to bring home as many as I could fit in my vehicle each night for free. I'm pretty sure most plants would happily give away their excess containers rather then pay for extra trash pickups... just a thought.
stylnpzzalvr (author)  moonchylde3 years ago
Wow, good suggestion. I never would have guessed that unused containers could get trashed. I will look into it. Thanks