9 Best Rain Barrels | March 2017
- meshed screen blocks debris contaminants
- built-in planter top
- barrel has a tendency to leak
- built-in shutoff nozzle
- the screen guard is corrosion-proof
- plastic construction is a bit cheap
- built-in drain plug
- barrel is easy to install
- it's on the bulky side
|Brand||Great American Rain Bar|
- tank is made in the usa
- food-grade polyethylene construction
- 3/4-inch bulkhead fitting
- no assembly is required
- durable and long-lasting
- spigot height is convenient for buckets
- barrel is weatherproof
- internal threading for drain tops
- sleek and attractive
Down Came The Rain
I grew up in a time and a place where we considered water a renewable resource–or, at least, we treated it like it was. We'd run the water on full blast while doing dishes, even if the phone or the television distracted us from the task at hand. We'd take long, hot showers, luxuriating in the stream of scalding water well after we'd gotten clean. We'd wash our cars and run our sprinklers day in and day out.
The water was utterly inexpensive, safe to drink, safe to cook with, and safe for bathing. There was nothing at all to worry about.
Now, of course, the facts have opened my eyes, and the eyes of most of my family, and we implement as many water conservation efforts around the house as we can. This includes a conservative flow of water for dishes, a conscientious shower length (admittedly, none of us do the navy shower), and two of the rain barrels you'll find on this list.
We actually came upon the rain barrel issue not from a water conservation angle, but from a property management angle. The runoff from one of our drain spouts was cutting a grotesque trench into and across the front lawn, which is on a slight incline. Our neighbor suggested we get a rain barrel to catch the runoff.
At first, the idea of using one eyesore to treat the cause of another didn't thrill us, but then we got a look at a few of the more camouflaged barrels on the market, we heard a little bit about what we could do with the water, and we were sold.
A rain barrel collects runoff from your roof, down your drainage spout, and into the barrel itself, and you can use that water for gardening, washing your car, or filling a cycling fountain.
For gardening, in particular, the rain water is free of all the calcium, fluoride, and other chemicals used to treat our tap water that only hurt the greenness of your lawn and the brightness of your flowers. Each barrel also has guards against mosquitoes and other insects, so they won't be able to lay any eggs in the water.
Just be sure you don't use the water for drinking, cooking, or bathing.
A Barrel Of Laughs
The thing that won us over in the story above is that there are rain barrels available that don't look like the wooden beer kegs in which daring people went over Niagara Falls, although those would probably look a little better than the horrible industrial drums I imagined when I first pictured a rain barrel on my lawn.
Realistically, it's just as important for you to evaluate the rain barrels on our list based on their appearance as it is for you to scrutinize their individual features. If the barrel you select clashes too hard with your house's exterior, you might find yourself shunning or under-using the barrel, which is, frankly, a waste of water.
It would also be a waste if you got the wrong size barrel, the capacity of which doesn't match your level of activity and enthusiasm around the yard. If your barrel is too big, you might get into the habit of overlooking it and using your municipality's water supply on your lawn instead. If it's too small, and it fills up too quickly, you'll find yourself frustrated with the whole experience.
The final variable, of course, is price, and the fancier-looking rain barrels with extra features like simpler, more durable drainage adapters and food-grade polyethylene construction, are going to be more expensive. Find the perfect balance between the features you want, the look you desire, and the amount you're willing to spend, and a big neon arrow will point straight at your perfect choice.
Conservation Through History
It's more than likely that individuals and families in ancient times had methods for the collection of rainwater. The issue back then, of course, would have been sanitation, as mosquito larvae and bacteria of all kinds would make their way into a stagnant water supply rather quickly.
The capitol city of the Roman Empire, Constantinople, had a massive structure devoted to rainwater collection around 350 BCE, and archeologists have found evidence of a sophisticated rainwater collection and storage system on the island of Crete that dates back to around 1700 BCE.
As water conservation efforts picked up steam through the 60s, 70s, and 80s, some forward-thinking architects began integrating rainwater collection into the design of sustainable homes.
In the last three decades, sustainability has gone from an idea circulating the fringes of our society to a buzz-word and an effective marketing technique for any company concerned with its public image. While the cynics among us point to this shift in public consciousness as a sign that sustainability will eventually become as meaningful as brushing your teeth twice a day–a thing that most people believe they do responsibly, even if they don't–,those of us that are willing to squash our cynicism will find that steps like these put us in line with a long history of conservation efforts that have always been a part of the solution.