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>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!
Here is a less complicated rain harvesting kit that includes the drill bits! <br>http://www.rainbarrelparts.com/product_rbpEM_RSP_kits_rectangular.php
Thanks for the tip! I like the idea of a kit for the parts. This is a nice way to find all the elements you need in one place. Some of the parts are not ones I might choose, though. I like to &quot;over-engineer&quot; some components so they're sure not to fail. The compression fitting I found that has the shut-off valve attached is a pretty robust fitting and is actually designed to support a lot more pressure than the barrel would ever create at that point, The metal valve I used is also pretty buttetproof and because of the ball valve configuration it has a really high flow rate when it's fully open. These create a solid connection that can take quite a bit of use without ever getting compromised. Also, I am not a big fan of this sort of downspout diverter. First, it doesn't catch all of the water coming down the pipe, only what hits the edges. Also, it creates the potential for leaves and other debris to collect at that point and potentially clog the downspout, requiring the entire downspout to have to be removed to clear it. If you filter out the debris at the top, then this isn't an issue...<br> <br> These are all just personal preferences on my part. If you use the kit to put together a barrel, please let me know how it turns out!
The video link is on this page for building a rain barrel with the kit: http://www.aquabarrel.com/product_rain_barrel_parts_kit_earthminded.php<br> <br> We offer a variety of downspout filters. Having the downspout terminate on the top of the barrel has a few issues: debris mats down of the top and prevents water from entering, insects like to live in the matted material, trying to remove debris will sometimes damage the screen material, if enough weight the screen will collapse, to name a few problems we have seen.<br> http://www.aquabarrel.com/product_downspout_filters_slim_line.php<br> <br> In many cases bringing ALL the water to the barrel is not advisable. Here is the math: 1&quot; of rain falling on 1sq.ft. = .5gallon of water. In many cases folks are dealing with hundreds if not 1000's of gallons of water. This is Way more than 55gallons worth unless you are collecting from a shed. So if you have a rain barrel that has a 2x3 or 3x4 downpipe pointed at it and an overflow port that is smaller then that one should properly size it to the inlet:<br> http://www.aquabarrel.com/product_overflow_port.php<br> <br> For winterizing in places that get 'winter' the diverter in that kit is removed and replaced with a winter cap.&nbsp; Or for your design you might consider using a seasonal diverter like this one:<br> http://www.aquabarrel.com/product_downspout_diverter_rectangular_aluminum.php<br> <br> <br> Thank you for allowing me to share these ideas and products with you today!
I understand what you're saying about some of the potential issues with terminating the downspout on top of the barrel, but your diverter also has significant clogging potential, and it's a lot more difficult to clear a clog using your downspout diverter -- unless of course your downspout filter is also in place above the diverter -- than it is with material simply collecting on top of the barrel. And, with my design there is really no potential for damaging the screen in any way, nor is there a potential for collapse.&nbsp;<br> <br> Also, while your math may be technically accurate, the downspout is rarely if ever moving 2x3 or 3x4 volume of water all at once. The design I use has always been able to handle outflow from the downspout inflow to the top of the barrel in pretty much any conditions I've experienced.<br> <br> Finally, I have to say I'm a little annoyed that my Instructable has become an advertisement for your products. I'm not endorsing your or anyone else's products, and I don't want to give the impression that this Instructable is anything other than an example of how to build a DIY rain barrel.&nbsp;<br> <br> Please try to refrain from hijacking Instructables such as this one in the future without prior permission from the Instructable's author.<br> <br> Thanks.
So as to not further 'hijack' your post I will not address your additional concerns about your design - I do appreciate your candor and look forward to hearing about how well your design is holding up in future posts
I appreciate that. I really don't have any concerns about my design; it's a solid configuration and I posted the Instructable so others could learn from and even improve on it. The barrels I have made with this design have held up quite well over the past few seasons, and I have had a few friends build similar rain barrels with great success. I hope you have similar success with your components.
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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