A rain barrel can allow you to harvest your rainwater to water your garden or wash nearby windows or vehicles. A 55-gallon food-grade rain barrel takes a perforated screen top to let in water but keep out insects, write Stephen and Rebekah Hren in "The Carbon-Free Home." A hose bib allows you to connect a hose, but to achieve good flow from that hose, you need to explore ways to increase the water pressure in the barrel. (See References 1)
Placing the rain barrel a few feet off the ground means added pressure and easier watering, explain the authors of "The Carbon-Free Home." Raising the barrel up as high as 4 feet may look funny, but it allows you to have stronger pressure, especially if your garden is some distance from the rain barrel. This system allows gravity to do the work of adding pressure to the water. (See References 1)
Create a stand from stacked pairs of cinder blocks. The cinder blocks need to be placed on level ground, side by side, with the openings facing up to take advantage of the strongest positioning for the blocks, the Hrens advise. Point the next layer in a direction 90 degrees to the first and keep stacking to create the height you need. Alternatively, you can create a wood stand out of 4-by-4 posts and lumber, securely assembled to handle the 400 pounds or more that a full rain barrel weighs. (See References 1)
Bicycle Pump Rig
Inventor and mechanical engineering student Samuel Melamed, a graduate of the University of Toronto, was dissatisfied with the pressure of a ground-level rain barrel and tinkered with options to improve it, such as adding a bladder system. He eventually came up with a way, as reported by DPN Design Product News, to use a bicycle floor pump to pressurize an airtight rain barrel. The bicycle pump pressurizes an air canister, which is connected by an air hose to a quick-connect valve on the rain barrel. A hose and sprayer exhibit much-improved water pressure that can be used to water hanging plants and wash patio doors, as Melamed demonstrates in a video of his invention. Melamed dubs his creation the Saguaro Rain Collector after the water-collecting cactus. (See References 2)
Electric Pump Setup
If you want to transport your collected rainwater in significant quantities to a level higher than the barrel, you have to add an electric pump to the setup. A 1/8 HP internal pump providing pressure of 10 pounds per square inch costs under $100 at the time of publication and can empty a 55-gallon rain barrel in five minutes. Another option is a submersible pump and intake hose, powered by a solar panel and providing 13 psi, for roughly $150. This Old House reports that if you need a larger setup, a 1 HP electric jet pump, kept in a small shed nearby, can provide 8 gallons of water a minute up to 500 feet away (see References 3).
Rogue Parrish is a writer and editor with Demand Media Studios.
- Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images