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300+ Gallon Rain Barrel System

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Project by Harold and Pam posted 10-09-2011 04:00 PM 5605 views 4 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Pam has wanted rain barrels for a long time. We actually built one from a garbage can. However I soon found that even a heavy duty trash can will not stand up to the weight of water. So a friend gave me two barrels. I then began viewing rain barrel ideas on You Tube. As always, there is more than one way to do this. I found lots of ideas but this manifold system was intriguing. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GUhox1ORlRk

I copied his basic ideas and of course made a few “design improvements” a long the way.


I removed the bung, drilled out the center, sealing the bung with silicon, and returned it to the barrel. I then screwed in a threaded male coupling, again using silicon on the threads. Using scrap 3/4 inch PVC I had around the house, I cut several 2 inch sections to make all the connections needed.

Below is what I consider a “stroke of genius”


This connector (with pipe thread on one side and hose thread on the other) will allow me to disconnect the manifold WITHOUT breaking any pipe. This will come in handy should I ever have to remove a barrel or move the whole system.


Disconnect


Ready to re-connect.


I covered the fill spout with screen to prevent dirt from getting into the barrels.

To connect the fill spout to the barrel I used a four inch hole saw.


Next time I’ll tighten the chuck on the drill better. If you look hard you will notice sitting on the bottom of the barrel are the two bungs, the plastic hole I cut, and the hole saw. Mind you – my barrels do not have removable lids – so getting this out was a chore. Just had to laugh!

I found a guy in town on Craig’s List that sells and delivers new food grade barrels for $25.00 each. I got 4 more barrels giving us about 310 gals of useable water.


I have two down spouts filling the barrels. In between the 6 barrels are two covered bins that PJ uses to hold potting soil and other stuff needed for her garden. I also attached two 1.25 inch PVC (NOT IN THE PHOTO) on each fill barrels as over flow. Every barrel has its own shut off valve which allows me to isolate any barral I wish. This comes in hand should I need to empty one and remove it (I don’t loss all the water.) Also when Pam wants to limit the amount of water she uses, she can open one barrel. When the barrel is empty she’s used 50 gals. Open two valve and she has 100 gals to use. To fill it up again we simply open the shut off.

While we do get a good steady flow, I do not feel that we get the pressure I was hoping for. What I may do in the future is run some electricity out there and hook up a small pump. This should give Pam enough pressure to run her drip irrigation. In the meantime, it fills up the watering cans just fine! If anyone has an idea, I’d love to hear it.

-- Pam grows 'em - I cook 'em...... Melbourne, Fl



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Harold and Pam

253 posts in 1793 days
hardiness zone 10b

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12 comments so far

View Paul's profile

Paul

16 posts in 1703 days
hardiness zone 8

posted 10-10-2011 07:56 AM

Thanks for the great pictures and write up. Your idea of a small pump should provide the needed pressure,

-- Paul, La Center Washington

View Bon's profile

Bon

7374 posts in 2498 days
hardiness zone 5a

posted 10-10-2011 09:37 AM

Nice job on the watering system Harold.Good luck with the pump.

-- Bon,Hastings,Ont.....zone 5a....Always room for one more

View firecaster's profile

firecaster

81 posts in 2164 days
hardiness zone 7

posted 10-10-2011 11:59 AM

Now that’s a system!

-- Father of two boys. Both Eagle Scouts.

View justjoel's profile

justjoel

1063 posts in 2099 days
hardiness zone 7a

posted 10-11-2011 02:30 PM

Quite a fantastic project you two, very impressive. Wish we recieved enough rain to warrent something like this.

I wonder if you could use an air compressor to pump air into the barrel to assist with the preasure for the drip system? Or maybe just a regular sprinkler valve at the end of the main outflow?

-- "We are stardust. We are golden. And we've got to get ourselves back to the garden." Joni Mitchell

View coloradogirl's profile

coloradogirl

23 posts in 1649 days
hardiness zone 4b

posted 10-12-2011 01:30 PM

Hey you two, this looks fantastic. Maybe all you need is a cheap pump from Harbor Freight. If I remember correctly, drip irrigation requires only about 15 lbs of pressure. My DH (professional plumber) and I were just discussing this.

We have started installing a cistern this fall, but the digging is going so slow, that I am afraid winter will put a halt to our project. It’s going to be HUGH! 14 ft dia x min 6 feet deep. That should allow us to collect not just rain, but snow melt. Sounds like swimming pool size to me.

“Hey Honey, do you think we can swim in it too? Maybe build a deck around it? Add some lounge chairs? And serve drinks with little umbrellas?” “Let’s just wait and see if we can get the hole dug first” he tells me :)

-- coloradogirl---SW Colorado, 7,000' elevation, zone 4,

View Harold and Pam's profile

Harold and Pam

253 posts in 1793 days
hardiness zone 10b

posted 10-12-2011 09:48 PM

Joel – I have drilled severl smalle holes (3/16 or 1/4 “) in the tops of each barrel or I thinkI’m getting enough air movement in the tamks. I better valve as you suggest may be a step in the right direction. I do thiink that the valve on there now is too restrictive.

Liana – Funny girl you are! I hope you are not digging that by hand!! BTW – what is a DH? “My DH (professional plumber)... ” ??

-- Pam grows 'em - I cook 'em...... Melbourne, Fl

View coloradogirl's profile

coloradogirl

23 posts in 1649 days
hardiness zone 4b

posted 10-13-2011 09:14 AM

DH stands for “Darling Husband” it can also be “Da_n Husband” when I’m ticked off at him.
And, yes, we are digging the hole by hand. DH is doing most of the digging, while I am playing go-fer. Maybe I need to take photos of this project for posting.

-- coloradogirl---SW Colorado, 7,000' elevation, zone 4,

View Harold and Pam's profile

Harold and Pam

253 posts in 1793 days
hardiness zone 10b

posted 10-14-2011 09:18 PM

Yes indeed you must take photos. I have often found myself in the midst of a project and then realize I’ve not taken any before photos. So get the camera rolling!!

-- Pam grows 'em - I cook 'em...... Melbourne, Fl

View mmh's profile

mmh

332 posts in 2247 days
hardiness zone 7a

posted 11-16-2011 09:00 AM

Very ingenious indeed! Thank you for sharing your talents as a good design that also saves money and effort is priceless!

-- A weed is a plant that is growing where it was not purposefully placed by human hands.

View NavyCop68's profile

NavyCop68

262 posts in 2010 days
hardiness zone 8

posted 04-12-2012 10:09 PM

What are the buckets in the center? I am assuming some extra storage, repair parts, etc?

-- Steve, Vancouver, WA

View Harold and Pam's profile

Harold and Pam

253 posts in 1793 days
hardiness zone 10b

posted 04-17-2012 09:55 PM

Steve – sorry for not getting back to you sooner. The stackable containers in the middle are just that, storage. They were bought at Home Depot and Pam used them to hold potting soil and “Lord knows what else.” They are not water tight but they are handy to have as the lids are on a hinge and opens with out the need of having to lift off the other containers.

-- Pam grows 'em - I cook 'em...... Melbourne, Fl

View NavyCop68's profile

NavyCop68

262 posts in 2010 days
hardiness zone 8

posted 04-18-2012 12:36 AM

I like the balance… very fung shui! Good solid looking system!

-- Steve, Vancouver, WA

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