14 Awesome Rainwater Harvesting Systems

Butterfly Rainwater Storage

If you are serious about survival prepping, you should have a system in place to collect rain water. It is a smart way to save water in normal times, especially if you live in a region with drought or a long dry season. It is also a back-up system that could sustain you during a natural disaster or other crisis.

Here are 14 rain water collection systems to give you ideas. Remember, harvesting rain water can be as simple as a placing a gutter spout and a barrel at the corner of your house.

Easy Rainwater Collection

1. Simple Rain Water Barrel

Your rain water collection system really can be this simple. A spout from the gutter into a barrel next to the house. You can use a decorative barrel designed for rain collection, or re-purpose a pickle barrel, 55 gallon drum or any other container you can get your hands on. Adding a spigot makes it easy to use for watering the garden or filling the dog bowl.

Rain Water Harvesting

2. High Capacity Rain Harvesting Storage

This large cistern collects water from the roof. While this one is in a drier climate, many homes in Southeast Alaska use similar cisterns to provide all the water they use in there home. It rains a lot there (the Tongass is one of the largest rain forests in the world).

If you are going to use a rain water cistern to provide all the water to your home, you need to invest in a good filter. Many people like reverse osmosis filters. You may want an additional filter to the sink that you use for drinking water.

Simple Rainwater Collection System

Image courtesy of pinterest.com

3. Collect Rain Water Cheaply

All you need to get started collecting rain water is a $20 garbage can. It can be used as is, or placed under a gutter for more rapid filling. Adding a spigot or two will make using the water a lot easier. This simple design can be placed anywhere. It is especially handy on parts of your property where your regular water system doesn’t reach, such as a distant garden or a patch of young fruit trees.

Rainwater Collection System Rwanda

Image courtesy of abraingutters.blogspot.com

4. Rainwater Harvesting in Rwanda

This large system is used to collect rain water at an education center in Rwanda. The gutters are supported all along the edge of the roof so they don’t collapse under the massive volumes of water that fall during the heavy rainy season. There is huge cistern provides water throughout the long dry season that follows the wet months.

When planning your system, think about the seasons in your area. You should be able to store enough water to get you through until the next reliable rainy months.

Large Rainwater Collection Tanks

Image courtesy of solarandwater.com

5. Portland Rain Water Harvesting System

These water tanks blend right into this Portland home. The two 620 gallon tanks are connected at the bottom so they fill up evenly. Holes were punched in the tanks to provide structural integrity. This system has a filter box to purify water as it enters the tanks. There is a pump on one side which provides pressure to water piped back into the house or out to the garden.

Portable Rainwater Collection Barrel

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6. Rainwater Collection with a Portable System

Why not build a portable rainwater collection system? This one can be moved around the property depending on your needs. Use it to water the garden or to keep livestock tanks full. You can even leave it at the top of a hill and use it soak a slip ‘n slide. It is a simple design using a 55 gallon drum, a bit of lumber and a few pipe elbows. You never know where you might want your rain barrel next.

Classy Rain Water Collecting

7. Collect Rain Water the Classy Way

Rain barrels don’t have to be ugly. Here is one your wife will approve. It is classy, modern and really blends right into the house. This is the perfect rain barrel to place on the edge of a nicely manicured front lawn. It makes watering the flowers convenient.

Butterfly Rainwater Storage

8. Butterfly System to Collect Rain Water

This clever set-up is simple and effective. Two gently sloping roofs offer lots of surface area to quickly fill the cistern below. If your property has any sort of hill, consider constructing such a system at the top of the property. The water will run downhill to the house. It only takes a little elevation loss to produce significant pressure.

Stacked Rain Barrels

9. Gravity Fed Rain Barrels

These simple stacked barrels produce a gravity fed system with a decent amount of pressure at the bottom. No matter what you plan to use the water for, you should always consider the elevation of your storage containers.

Will gravity provide enough pressure to the garden hose? How about for a shower? Or do you need to install a solar or wind powered pump to give it a little extra oomph?

Collect Rain Water

Image courtesy of diyprepping.com

10. Collect Rain Water with Food Grade Barrels

This is a common and simple rain water storage system: a series of food grade barrels lined up against the house. Make sure you install a screen or filter before the barrels so that they don’t become clogged with leaves, twigs or other debris that may be in the gutters.

If you choose to use the water for laundry and toilets, but not drinking, make sure you regularly clean the barrels with a safe algaecide.

Elevated Rainwater Collection System

11. Collect Rain Water in an Elevated Rain Barrel

Placing your rain barrel on a stand like this one allows you to take advantage of the force of gravity. Just elevating the tank to this height will provide sufficient pressure for a decent shower (not a great one, but a functional one!), to wash dishes or water the garden.

If you have a barn or shed that sits above the house, consider placing your tank there and running pipes down to the house for added pressure.

Rainwater Collection for Survival

12. Collect Rain Water to Survive

If you find yourself in a survival situation with water, or no safe water, nearby a set-up like this could save your life. All you need is a tarp and a few stakes or sturdy sticks. This is not a great long term rain water collection system, but it could get you through a scary situation alive.

Double Rain Barrel Design

Image courtesy of greatlakespermacultureportal.com

13. Collect Rain Water with a Double Barrel Design

This is a great design for a simple double rain barrel. The barrels are connected so they fill and empty at the same rate. There is an overflow pipe that could be directed into a garden bed, swale or even a pipe running down to a pond or livestock trough.

Rain Chain Barrel

Image courtesy of spiderhollow.com

14. Collect Rain Water with a Rain Chain

A rain chain is an effective and elegant way to collect rain water in a barrel from a high roof. The water runs through the gutters and pours down the chain. It is not enclosed, but it flows down the chain and right into the barrel. This solution is simpler and often cheaper than running a long gutter spout down the side of your home. And it is a lot more attractive.

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