How To Make Your Own Rain Barrel System

This article is going to focus on a cheap (and often free) sustainability project you can do in a very short time. We're going to be looking at how to make your own rain barrel system to conserve water from a shed roof, or any roof that could be used as a collecting system for rain water.

I'll be using some infographics for easy of instruction, and also some inspirational pictures that others are using to create their own water storage barrels for rainwater collection.

It's an ideal project for country or urban homesteading, whether you live in the country or the city. Water conservation for use on vegetable gardens should be high priority. Becoming less reliant on utility services is a good goal, and this little project is easy.

make your own rain barrel system

What Is A Rain Barrel?

A rain barrel, often known as a water butt or rain butt, is a simple but highly effective way to store run off rainwater from a roof, usually an outbuilding or garden shed.

It's typically constructed from a 50 - 100 gallon plastic barrel, either purpose made or repurposed. It will generally have a tap or water outlet near the base, and an opening on the top.

Where Is It Located?

A downspout, from a roof gutter enters the top of the rain barrel and water from a rain event is stored in it for use at a later date. It is also possible to use the rain barrel system as a way to divert rainwater from your gutters before it enters the mains drainage system.

This requires that your main vertical down pipe from your guttering system is diverted into the rain barrel. An overflow pipe leaves the rain barrel near the top, where any overflow water re-enters the mains drainage and returns to the city's stormwater system.

How Do I Use The Stored Rainwater?

As mentioned, the rainwater barrel system is used to store run off water from a roof. A tap outlet close to the bottom of the barrel allows you to fill watering cans, or attach a hose pip to make use of gravity to water your garden.

A great idea is to have the rainwater barrel on a stand, raising it off the ground 2-3 ft, allowing you to draw water off when you want to. Additionally, lifting the barrel provides a small 'head' of water, allowing a little pressure  if you use a garden hose further down the garden.

Advantages Of Using A Rain Barrel System

Urban rainwater can be costly, particularly if you are in a metered area. The use of a rain barrel can reduce water bills and provide clean water, free from many of the additions that are added by city water authorities, chlorine being a case in point.

From a sustainability point of view, anything a homesteader can do to reduce their reliance on external sources (water being pumped to your home via a utility company) improves our environmental footprint.

How Easy Is A Rain Barrel System To Install?

If you have a shed or outbuilding, with a guttering system already attached, adding a rain water storage barrel is easy. A little diverting of vertical downpipes and redirecting of overflow pipes from the barrel takes a few minutes and a handful of angled bends to redirect your pipework. I'll provide some links to a rain barrel diverter kit in  moment.

If you are planning to redirect from your home waste water system, the process is the same, although it might be more important for you to do a neater job here, and perhaps use a purpose made rain barrel system, rather than a DIY rain barrel kit.

Here's a list of some useful  items that you can purchase over on Amazon:

Rain Barrel - Good Ideas 40 Gallon Barrel  |  EnviroWorld 55 Gallon Rain Barrel

Guttering Diverter Kit - Earth Minded Barrel Diverter  |  Oatley Rainwater Collection Kit  |  Flexible Downspout Extensions

Gutter Strainer | Product Link

There are plenty of other options out there you can see a variety of different products HERE, depending on the style of rain barrel system you want, but let's take a look at the basics of making one.

Instructions To Make Your Own Rain Barrel System

how to set up your own rain barrel system

Image: Menards

That provides some really simple steps on how to make a rain barrel system. You can buy a rain barrel kit at Home Depot or Lowes, or make one yourself as these ingenious and creative folks did.

Creative Rain Barrel Systems To Inspire

Garbage Can Rain Barrel System

diy rain barrel system

A simple garbage can an a cit of creativity: Image BHG.com

What I love about this DIY home rain harvesting system is the ease of construction. A garbage can with a tap added, a slot cut out from the lid, and some gauze under the lid to keep debris out, and you're done. This home owner just piled bricks to lift it off the ground and bingo, it's done.

Another Garbage Can Water Storage System

garbage can rain water storage tank

Another great use of a garbage can. Image: Urban Backyard Greenhouse

I like this 2nd trash can water catchment system. Super cheap, you may already have a spare trash can at home. With the flexible guttering (see earlier equipment links) it's really easy to just divert from the main house storm water system and 'borrow' a little rainwater for your plants.

The fittings can be bought on Amazon, or from a local plumbing merchant.

Blue PVC Rainwater Barrel Setup

blue plastic rainwater barrel setup

Cheap and cheerful, it does the job, and it's VERY blue. Image: Instructables.com

The epitome of the DIY rain barrel. These old storage tanks, often used for storing fertiliser or foods, can be sourced really easily, or for free. They are strong and resilient, and will last for many years. If you are going to drink the water (not recommended) a food grade barrel is a must.

They are not the prettiest of things, although you could hide it behind some trellis or fencing. Perhaps best suited for an out of the way spot, or on a rural property. That said, conserving water is more important than aesthetics in my view.

Handsome Red Rain Barrel

red rain barrel

This looks really nice, not a bit out of place on that verandah. Image: GrowForageCookFerment

I love the look of this. I actually used to own a barrel exactly like this, and used it to make Comfrey Tea to water the plants.

This is really clean looking, it has a nice tap and the 'plumbing' has a tidy and professional look to it. If you live in a residential area and don't want to spend out on expensive rain barrels, this could work great for you.

Free Standing Water Collection System

free standing water collection system

Don't have a roof? No problem. This clever free standing system will get you all the water you want. Image: Instructables.com

What a neat idea of you want to collect water in the middle of your lawn or far away from a roof. I think this would work great out in a farm paddock to collect water to fill a cattle trough. What do you think?

DIY Rain Barrel - This Old House

diy rain barrel this old house

This shows how to disguise your rain barrel with decorative slats. Image: This Old House

If you want to enjoy the perks of your own rain barrel system, without having to look at a utility looking barrel all day, building a slatted facade and rain barrel stand around it works wonders. See the small bore rainwater diverter ad the back?

There are plenty of pretty rain barrels on the market, with a hefty price tag, but this simple concept allows you to disguise any barrel you choose.

Professional Whole House Rainwater Storage System

rain harvesting system

This diagram explains the setup of a large scale rainwater system, I had this when I lived in Australia. Image: WaterCache.com

This is a more professional setup, as used for rain water collection in country towns all over Australia, and probably the US too. Requiring a pumped system, this type of water tank would supply ALL the water to the home. No mains water supply here.

If you'd like to see the whole process of building your own rainwater tank, this video will take you through it step by step

Rain Water Harvesting System Video

This video shows you exactly how to create you own rain harvesting systems from simple components.

I like the use of the 5 gallon bucket to add a strainer to the top of the bucket.

Here's that rain barrel kit list again.

Here's a list of some useful  items that you can purchase over on Amazon:

Rain Barrel - Good Ideas 40 Gallon Barrel  |  EnviroWorld 55 Gallon Rain Barrel

Guttering Diverter Kit - Earth Minded Barrel Diverter  |  Oatley Rainwater Collection Kit  |  Flexible Downspout Extensions

Gutter Strainer | Product Link

That just about concludes this article on how to make your own rain barrel system. It's easy, can be as low cost as you like, and does your bit for the planet. Your plants will also love you for it.

Until next time.

Happy Rainwater Collection!

Homesteading Steve

Hi: I'm Steve and I'm a homesteader and self-sufficiency freak. I love pretty much anything that makes me less reliant on others, and more reliant on my own abilities. I try to avoid consumerism as much as possible, eat well, and try not to leave too much of a footprint during my time on this earth.

Join me for fun and adventures in homesteading land.

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