Using a rain barrel is an easy way to lessen a household’s impact on the environment, and it helps to save some money by reducing municipal water consumption. Larger rain barrels can benefit those who want to use a rainwater system for their home’s water supply; smaller rain barrels can be excellent for supplying water for a garden, indoor plants, and even car and outdoor furniture cleaning.
There are many different sizes and types of rain barrels, and one of the most important factors for choosing one depends on how you’d like to use the collected rainwater. We’ve evaluated some of the most popular rain barrels and their features to compile this guide of some of the best rain barrels for your consideration.
- BEST OVERALL: RTS Home Accents Flat Back Rain Barrel
- RUNNER-UP: Good Ideas Rain Wizard 50 Gallon Rain Barrel
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: FreeGarden Rain 55 Gal. Rain Barrel
- UPGRADE PICK: Aunt Molly’s Barrels Whiskey Barrel Rain Barrel
- BEST MINI: RTS Home Accents Round Rain Barrel With Planter
- BEST LARGE-CAPACITY: Algreen Barcelona Rain Barrel
- BEST DECORATIVE: Good Ideas Impressions 50 Gallon Palm Rain Saver
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Rain Barrel
Since a rain barrel can last a long time and you may use it frequently, it’s important to find a rain barrel that meets your specific needs. Here are some of the top considerations to keep in mind when shopping for a rain barrel.
Size and Capacity
How much rainwater is needed helps determine the right size rain barrel. In addition, for those looking for the best rainwater collection system with the goal being to use the barrel water for the household’s potable water (safe for drinking), it’ll be important to consider how much water a home uses for cooking, washing laundry, bathing, cleaning dishes, and flushing toilets.
The most popular rain barrels typically hold about 50 gallons of water, which generally won’t be enough for both potable and non-potable water use since the average person in the United States uses about 82 gallons of water a day. However, some rain barrels can hold up to 100 gallons or more to support irrigation and potable water needs.
Since rain barrels are located outside, it’s essential that the barrel material can hold up well throughout the seasons in the local climate. Harsh summer sun and colder temperatures can affect the longevity of some barrel materials if they are kept out year-round.
Most rain barrels today are made of plastic, some of which is recycled plastic. The benefit of plastic is that it adds UV protection and durability to the rain barrel. However, for those who want a more sustainable option and don’t mind paying higher prices, there are rain barrels made from wood.
Rain barrels are similarly barrel-shaped, but some have unique designs to better complement a home’s style or act as a decorative piece while also being functional. Some are shaped like flower pots, and flowers can be planted on top, while others have a stone, wicker, or wood texture to add a decorative touch to a property.
Another design feature that is important is the location of the spigot on a rain barrel because that’s how the water is dispensed. Think about how the rain barrel will be used and whether it will need to be attached to a pump or hose for watering. Some rain barrels sit on stands to make accessing the spigot easier.
In addition, most rain barrels have an overflow valve or rain barrel diverter. This allows users to connect the barrel to a downspout so that if the barrel gets full, it simply diverts the excess into the downspout, just like it would if the barrel wasn’t there. It’s also possible to connect a few rain barrels together to collect the overflow water. The overflow valve is important because it can be inconvenient and potentially problematic for a barrel to overflow and cause water pooling around a home’s foundation.
A filtering screen helps keep debris out of collected rainwater, which is important whether or not users are collecting potable water. Debris such as leaves, twigs, and pine needles can quickly clog the spigot or hose, preventing users from getting the water out of the barrel for use.
Look for rain barrels that have some type of filter to prevent debris, especially for those who live in an area with a lot of trees. Keep in mind that for those who will be using rainwater for potable uses, such as cooking and showering, an additional filter system will need to be in place.
Rain barrels can weigh a lot—a 50-gallon tank that’s full can weigh more than 400 pounds, not including the rain barrel itself. As it can be dangerous for a rain barrel to tip over or be in a position where it could hurt someone, a rain barrel needs to be safely installed on a level surface and connected to a downspout. Never attempt to move the rain barrel when it is full.
Look for rain barrels that can be installed on top of a platform or those that sit against the wall with a flat back to minimize the chances that a rain barrel will tip or need to be relocated while it’s full or mostly full.
Our Top Picks
The following rain barrels earned a spot on our top picks list for their features, capacity, materials, and durability. Check out our picks for some of the best rain barrels below.
This 50-gallon rain barrel is designed to look like an old wooden oak barrel but with the durability and rot and fade resistance of plastic. The manufacturer also makes a stand that can be purchased separately, which makes using the spigot easier as it’s pretty low to the ground. The position is suitable for attaching a hose but isn’t convenient for a watering can or jug.
The back of the rain barrel is flat so it sits snugly against a wall, helping to save space and making the rain barrel a bit more discreet. However, it can bulge out when full. It has dual overflow valves and can be connected to other rain barrels to collect even more rainwater.
- Capacity: 50 gallons
- Material: Plastic
- Weight when empty: 18 pounds
- Flat back sits flush against the wall
- Resistant to rot and fading
- Optional stand available for purchase
- Comes with aluminum screen
- Back can bulge out when rain barrel is full
- Spigot is very low to the ground
Get the RTS Home Accents flat back rain barrel at Amazon, Lowe’s, or Walmart.
Although it doesn’t sit quite as flush against the wall as our best overall pick, this rain barrel does come with a flatter back to sit up against a home, garage, or shed for a more cohesive look. Designed to provide the appearance of a traditional oak barrel with the durability of resin, this rain barrel is more resistant to freezing temperatures in case the rain barrel will be outside year-round.
The Rain Wizard barrel can be connected to other rain barrels with a connector kit, which is not included. Its sturdy material means it’s less prone to bulging when the barrel is full, which helps prevent warping.
- Capacity: 50 gallons
- Material: Polyethylene resin
- Weight when empty: 20 pounds
- Resistant to damage from freezing temperatures
- Comes with plastic screen mesh filter
- Can be connected to other rain barrels
- Doesn’t bow or bulge when full
- Spigot is low to the ground
Get the Good Ideas rain barrel at Amazon, Good Ideas, or Walmart.
For those looking for a more affordable rain barrel, this 55-gallon option from FreeGarden may be worth considering. It’s available in different colors, including a striking green, and has a square construction.
This rain barrel also comes with an extension hose and child-lock screws for the lid. A strategically placed spigot means users don’t need to purchase an extra stand or haul concrete blocks to put underneath the barrel in order to fill up a watering can. It also has two overflow spigots on either side, which can be used to connect multiple barrels. The material is BPA-free and UV-resistant.
- Capacity: 55 gallons
- Material: High-density polyethylene
- Weight when empty: 21 pounds
- Comes with powder-coated steel screen
- 2 overflow spigots allow for connecting it to multiple barrels
- Square shape, so can be placed in a corner
- No base required
Get the FreeGarden rain barrel at The Home Depot or Walmart.
If an upcycled option made of real wood is desired, this upcycled whiskey-barrel-turned-rain- barrel from Aunt Molly’s Barrels could be a choice pick. The barrel comes with a downspout connector, three spigots, and even a drain with a plug on the bottom.
Since the barrel is made from real wood, if it dries out, the wood can shrink and crack, so it’s important to keep some water in this barrel at all times. However, should the wood dry out for any reason, it can usually correct itself by holding water for a few hours.
The rain barrel is also heavy, so caution must be used when installing and moving it. Since the spigot is lower to the ground, a stand may be needed if using the barrel with a watering can.
- Capacity: 53 gallons
- Material: White oak
- Weight when empty: 105 pounds
- Made of real wood
- Comes with everything needed to install it
- Attractive and authentic look
- Prone to rotting, insect damage, and leaks
- Spigot is low to ground
Get the Aunt Molly’s Barrels rain barrel on Etsy or Aunt Molly’s Barrels.
When looking for a smaller rain barrel for a home, this 35-gallon option comes in two color choices and mimics the look of a traditional rain barrel. Besides being resistant to rust and corrosion, it also has a planter on the top so users can plant flowers or herbs to create a decorative rain barrel that’s also functional.
When using the planter at the top, plants can easily get flooded, so they may need to be kept in their pots. Like other rain barrels, the spigot is low to the ground, so users may need to place the barrel on a stand if they want to use it with a watering can.
- Capacity: 35 gallons
- Material: Plastic
- Weight when empty: 19 pounds
- Comes with debris screen
- Small construction makes it easy to place
- Barrel is resistant to corrosion and insect damage
- Not freeze-proof
- Planter can flood
- Installation requires tools that are not included
Get the RTS Home Accents planter rain barrel at Amazon, Wayfair, Lowe’s, or Walmart.
When more than a 50-gallon capacity is needed, this 100-gallon rain barrel from Algreen is worth a look. Available in three colors—terra cotta, charcoalstone, and brownstone—it is shaped like a large planter with an actual planter on top.
This large-capacity rain barrel has a high spigot, which makes it easy to fill up watering cans without the need for a stand. Two overflow spouts make it simple to connect the rain barrel to other barrels. Algreen sells an optional rain barrel pump kit that’s compatible with this rain barrel, but it isn’t included.
- Capacity: 100 gallons
- Material: Plastic
- Weight when empty: 34 pounds
- Comes with a corrosion-proof screen
- Built-in planter on the top
- Diverter kit not included
Get the Algreen rain barrel at Amazon, Wayfair, The Home Depot, or Tractor Supply Co.
This decorative rain barrel is textured and designed to look like the trunk of a palm tree. It comes with a self-draining planter on top for flowers, herbs, or plants and is made from 100 percent recycled BPA-free polyethylene, which is a type of plastic.
The barrel also has a built-in overflow management system, dual spigots, a mesh screen to keep out debris, and a 50-gallon capacity. Although the front spigot is low to the ground, it does have a second side spigot that can be used for watering cans or 5-gallon buckets.
As a result of its decorative and textured appearance, it doesn’t look like a rain barrel, making it a worthy consideration for those who don’t want a barrel in their garden or yard.
- Capacity: 50 gallons
- Material: BPA-free polyethylene
- Weight when empty: 21 pounds
- Comes with mesh debris screen
- Made from recycled plastic
- Can link multiple containers together
- Planter on top is self-draining
- Back isn’t flat so it can’t stand flush to a wall
Get the Good Ideas rain barrel at Amazon, The Home Depot, Good Ideas, or Walmart.
After evaluating a variety of rain barrels, the best overall pick, RTS Home Accents Flat Back Rain Barrel, and our runner-up, the Good Ideas Rain Wizard Rain Barrel, are both great options for typical residential needs. Both offer sizable rain water storage, a convenient design, and color options.
How We Chose the Best Rain Barrels
To choose the best rain barrels, we evaluated each product’s features, price, materials, and capacity. We evaluated the design of the barrels, including filter screens, overflow spouts, and spigots to determine which models were the easiest to use while still holding up to the elements.
Although aesthetics weren’t a priority when evaluating front-runners for the best rain barrels, they were a consideration since rain barrels are often outdoor components located in plain sight. Overall, the highest-rated products with the most convenient features and the best durability were chosen for this list.
Tips for Rain Barrel Use and Maintenance
Rain barrels are designed to be outside and to weather the elements. However, most manufacturers suggest keeping a rain barrel inside and turned upside down during the off-season. Consider storing a rain barrel in a shed or garage during the winter to protect it from freezing temperatures if it’s not being used. Always clean a rain barrel before storing for best results.
In addition, when connecting a hose to the spigot of a rain barrel, be sure the hose is below the water level of the rain barrel for the water to flow properly. Users also have the option of not using a hose and instead filling a jug or watering can with the collected water.
- Always install a rain barrel on a stable, flat surface.
- Connect a rain barrel to the downspout for overflow to prevent water pooling.
- Never use collected water for potable (drinking or cooking) purposes without filtering it first.
- Drain barrels before freezing temperatures are expected.
Below are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about the best rain barrels so you can get started collecting water and using it around your home.
Q. What should I look for when buying a rain barrel?
Before buying a rain barrel, evaluate its size and capacity, the location you’re considering, and the durability of the material.
Q. How big a rain barrel do I need?
It depends on how you’ll be using your rain barrel. For larger gardens or home use, a barrel that’s between 80 and 100 gallons is usually sufficient. For smaller gardens or occasional use, 50 gallons or less may suffice.
Q. What happens when a rain barrel reaches full capacity?
Most rain barrels have an overflow spout that allows water to flow back into the downspout of gutters when full, preventing overflow and water pooling around a home’s foundation.
Q. Should I clean my rain barrel?
Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning a rain barrel, as the cleaning method will depend on the material. Generally, scrubbing the interior with a soft brush and a vinegar-and-water solution will get it clean.
Q. How long does rain barrel water last?
Rain barrel water typically lasts for a week before it becomes contaminated from sitting.