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
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.
Step 1: Rationale
The compression fitting I have designed is superior to many other rain barrels. Other rain barrels use glue to hold the hose bib (spigot) in place, or they only tap the threads of the hose bib into the plastic wall of the barrel, which will certainly wear out and leak. I am using a pre-existing hole in the barrel to access the rear of the hose bib to tighten it on securely. My system does not have leaks, and if they ever develop, you could always tighten the connections or replace them. With this design I have never had a customer come back to me saying that their barrel started to leak.
Another advantage to my design is that it is easily repairable if a part ever wears out or leaks. Many other rain barrels also drill holes in the barrel plugs themselves to attach a hose bib, which will come out of the bottom of the barrel. This is not a great plan either as the plug cannot be retightened and the joint is susceptible to breaking if the barrel is accidentally dropped on the hose bib.
Many rain barrels are made by cutting large holes in the top so that someone can access the back of the hose bib to put on a nut. The holes are commonly covered with screening material which filter's debris. In concept, this idea works, but in reality the screens clog, or rip, or they let in mosquitos, or they let in sunlight which encourages algae growth and bad smells. My barrels do not let in sun or mosquitos because it is a closed system. Debris may settle in the bottom of the barrel over time, but this will happen with any barrel. The barrel can be easily cleaned by tipping it over and spraying it out with a hose.
Follow my instructions and I think you will be happy with the product.