Rainwater Collection gets bigger, Part 2

by Ben N on July 7, 2013

I was able to stop by my parent’s house today to bring over a welder and do some wiring. While I was there, I got to see more work done on the rainwater collection system. While not yet completely finished, it’s looking really good!

The three IBC’s are now completely boxed in, with the siding matching the barn. The top is decked, which will provide and area for a planting box, and easy access to the roof. On the side, a piece of clear vinyl tubing makes a great sight gauge, to indicate the water level.

There were some minor changes made for the gutter to reach the new higher location, but it should all still work great.

Some lattice will cover the bottom and a utility sink is still doing to be added to the end. Take a look at the photos and video, and that should fill in the rest of the details.

Stay tuned for future updates on this project!


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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Bobb Craig June 25, 2014 at 5:56 pm


Can you tell me about the piping doe the inlet side of the barrels? Does the system equalize from the bottom up with some form of air release at the top, or do all of the barrels fill from the top?



2 admin June 26, 2014 at 12:28 pm

The one container is open on the top and allows rainwater to come in through a strainer. The outlet ports of all three are connected on the bottom with a manifold made from 2″ PVC pipe. The other two containers are open on top, so that all three equalize from the bottom up and the water spreads out to all three containers, even though it only comes in through the one. Each container already has a shut-off valve at the bottom. If wanted, we could shut off the other two containers, and then only the one would fill with water. In times of little rain, when we WOULDN’T get enough to fill more than one container anyways, the single tank is filled up HIGHER than if the water was spread out between the three tanks, so it gives better gravity-fed water pressure.

3 Valerie Huang September 12, 2014 at 1:25 am

Hi Ben,

Great work! I am inspired.

Do you have a link to the product where the PVC pipe connect with Garden hose thread? I didn’t see any reducing coupling. I am not a handyman/woman, so the terminologies are new to me. Are there any special tools you need to work with PVC pipe? I am hoping to connect four 275 gallon tank together for my farm. Thank you.



4 Jim Henry July 15, 2015 at 8:51 am

Dear Ben,

I have been experimenting with makeshift rain capture barrels for a couple of years now. They are 50-gallon plastic drums used originally by a local pickle processing plant, sold by a community organization that outfitted them with (not-s0-user-friendly) spigots.

I want to take the project to the next level, doing something like what you did at your parents’ house. Do you ever do on-site consulting? Our home is in Delaware and I am REALLY keen on capturing enough rainwater that I rarely if ever need to use our well water to water our gardens.

If you do not do on-site consulting, I’d be more than willing to compensate you for long-distance advice. My timeline is summer of 2016, when I finally retire and will be in Delaware full time.

Thanks for you consideration (and for the great work you are doing for the planet ….).


5 Eric January 17, 2016 at 4:03 pm

Thanks for sharing this great system and helpful video and stills. Any improvements you’d suggest now that you’ve used it for a while? I’m curious what benefit there is to having the short piece of gutter that both downspouts empty into before feeding the tank (rather than just joining the downspouts and having the joint downspout connect directly to the tank, without the extra gutter?

6 BenN May 11, 2016 at 9:42 am

Hi Eric,
The reason why we used a short piece of gutter is that WE HAD gutter! We didn’t have any sort of special combining device to put both downspouts together. I’m sure such a thing exists, although I’ve never seen one at my local hardware store. I did once stop at a school I was driving past because I saw a nice “gutter-combiner”. A maintenance person had made sort of a funnel out of galvanized sheet metal to combine two downspouts. This was out in farm country where people still know how to, and actively practice, hands-on/git’er done technology. It looked great!
In our case, we were just using what we had. Nearly the entire project was made from recycled, reused, and repurposed materials.
I’m always a big fan of “obtainium”. Use what you got, start where you are, do what you can!

I guess the only improvement I would make to the project is modifying the sight-tube. The sight-tube is just a piece of clear vinyl tubing extending vertically up from the outlet port. Since water naturally self-levels, the water in the tube is the same height as the water in the tank (which you can’t see.) This lets you know how much water is in the tank. However, with the sight-tube out in the daylight, and open to atmosphere, there is sometimes a little bit of algae growth just in the tube. It doesn’t change the performance of the system at all, but it just doesn’t look nice. Perhaps using a little larger diameter tube might improve it, by making it easy to run a bottle brush through every once in a while. A rigid polycarbonate tube would work great too, although that can be expensive. Again, we were just using simple, inexpensive, components which we already had or could pick up at the hardware store.

7 BenN May 11, 2016 at 9:45 am

Hi Jim,
I’m in Wisconsin, so coming out to Delaware is a bit of traveling! I post about my projects and make plenty of videos to hopefully help as many people as possible. I’m not sure what I can add that hasn’t already been written about or shown in the photos or videos, but I’ll help if I can. I’ll send you a message for us speaking by e-mail or phone.

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