Rain water collection. Nature's most fundamentally important resource for human habitation -- the earth purifies it from all sorts of sources through the evaporation process, transports it all around the globe, then drops it from the heavens for us to drink, water our crops, bathe and swim, among myriad other uses. Modern humans have found lots of ways to squander precious fresh water, but this easy, inexpensive solution captures an potentially lost resource for effective reuse. How much more green could an Instructable be?

Rain barrels capture rainwater otherwise lost through the downspout to use for watering your garden between rains. But rainwater harvesting has lots of benefits beyond simply watering your garden. It's also good Green Tech. It's a low-cost solution for a number of potential issues:
  • It reduces stormwater runoff created by the roof of your house
  • It can reduce property drainage problems
  • It contributes to a LEED Green Building rating
A rain barrel collection system is simple and easy to maintain, Rainwater is better for gardens and landscape plants than municipal water because it doesn't contain chlorine, it's relatively clean and it's absolutely free. It is also a system that can be expanded easily to create additional rainwater storage, and it can be dismantled and relocated if necessary.

This instructable documents how to construct a simple rain barrel used to collect rainwater runoff from a downspout. It uses readily available parts found at your local hardware or plumbing supply store, and it uses basic tools found in many tool kits. For those tools you don't have, they're easy to source and inexpensive.

Step 1: Parts List and Materials

The rain barrel starts with a food-grade barrel, modified to accept and store rainwater run-off, discharge excess rainwater once the barrel is filled to capacity, and dispense rainwater for watering the garden or for whatever use you find for captured rainwater.

Note: It is not recommended to use captured rainwater for drinking, but the food-grade component ensures that the barrel has not held contents that could damage the water supply or plants, or be absorbed by plants and then ingested when those plants are eaten.

I use it for the following:
  • Water the garden
  • Refill the toilet toilet tank after flushing
  • Various household construction and cleaning uses
The components cost between as little as $25 to more than $60 depending on what you're willing to spend. Including the Lee Valley components below, the total came to about $40 and the barrel was another $20. (The optional quick-connect coupling would add another $10.) You may be able to source less expensive components. 

There are various acronyms used with plumbing fittings, and I will list the ones I used here:
  • NPT -- National Pipe Thread
  • GHT -- Garden Hose Thread
  • HB -- Hose Barb

Components for the rain barrel (parts I used and approximate cost in parentheses):
  • Food-grade watertight barrel (220 liter Greek pickle barrel, $20)
    My local hardware store happens to sell used food-grade barrels during the summer.
  • Screen to filter incoming rainwater (3" kitchen sink strainer, $1)
  • Overflow fitting (Right-angle 3/4" inner diameter 1-1/2" male NPT to 1" HB fitting, $1.75)
  • Overflow hose (1-1/4' flexible hose, 6 ft, $3)
  • Bulkhead fitting (Bulkhead fitting, 1-5/8" outside diameter, NPT female threads to accept a standard 3/4" spigot, $8)
  • Nipple to connect bulkhead fitting to shut-off valve (3/4" male NPT to 3/4" male GHT, $1)
  • shut-off valve (Lee Valley Straight shut-off valve, $13)
  • Hose union gasket (Lee Valley O-ring washer, 10 for $3.25) 
  • Optional: quick-connect fitting (Lee Valley Brass Quick Coupler, $10)
Dry fit all components once collected to make sure all threads match and everything fits as expected. 

For the base of the barrel, I used a couple of cinder blocks and a piece of flat blue stone I had in the yard. This makes filling watering cans a lot easier. The higher you're willing to put the barrel, the more water pressure you can achieve. 


<p>To add extra storage you connect the over flow to the the new barrel right and the create an new over flow for that one you just attached it will also need its own exit to get water out?</p>
<p>Good idea!</p>
<p>I'm building my rain barrel with that same style barrel and I'm concerned about it being unstable due to the tapered base. Have you had any problems with that?</p><p>Thanks for the unstructable. I will copy many of your ideas.</p>
Glad you like it, I have 2 I've made and have had no problems at all. Remember, these barrels are designed to hold things like pickles and olives, so they hold liquids by design. The base is smaller than the overall diameter, but plenty stable. Keep it on a stable, level surface that can support the weight of 55 gallons of water and you should have no problems.<br><br>I have made one modification since this was posted. I have inverted the strainer on the lid, so it points up instead of down, This has eliminated clogging of the strainer almost completely. <br><br>Let me know how your barrel turns out!
nice. <br>can we used a 19 ltr tube also for the same method?
Great 'ible. Also, remember to check your local code on rain barrels. Previous city I lived in had a law that stated the rain barrel must be disconnected during winter months, and drained completely. Plus, rain barrels were not allowed to be visible from the street. (Since I lived on a corner, this was difficult.) The exception was detached garages - there was no ordinance covering these units, so they could be left in place year round.<br> <br> My question on the previous model you referenced with the flexible hose: did the water ever run fast enough to dribble over the lip of the top of the barrel? &nbsp;With the concern locally over West Nile, I'm wondering if the water will pool and puddle (even splashover) or if it all drains in.
Thanks for the comment. I haven't heard of local ordinances regarding rain barrels, so that's interesting information. I did mention removing rain barrels during winter months, to keep them from getting damaged by freezing weather. <br><br>What did you mean about detached garages and leaving them in place year round, I'm not sure what the &quot;they&quot; referred to in your statement. Is sounds like the garages could be left in place, which makes sense to me... ;^)<br><br>I have never had a problem with water overtopping the barrel, even during really heavy storms. It is important to clean the screen from time to time to keep it clear of debris, but with a 3&quot; opening there is plenty of room for the water to enter. Interesting point about mosquitoes; I do find that the top pools a little bit, so I drill 2-3 small weep holes through the top on the low side, to allow those pools to drain. <br><br>The screen on top keeps adult mosquitoes out of the barrel and prevent egg laying. It also keep adults in that happen to wash in as larvae and mature inside the barrel. The concern is exposed standing water for mosquitoes to reproduce, so no exposed pools means no habitat for larvae to mature.
You could prob enter this in the Water Challenge. <br>http://www.instructables.com/id/Summer-Water-Challenge/

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