What Rainwater Collection System Works Best for Your Home?

Are you sick of relying on municipal water systems and watching your water bills soar? Do you want to reduce your environmental footprint and save money? If so, rainwater collection may be the solution for you!

These days, everyone is jumping on the rainwater catchment bandwagon – and for good reason. It’s an excellent way to conserve water and take full control of your own water supply.

In this blog, we’ll explore what a rainwater collection system is and discuss the benefits and challenges of harvesting rainwater.

Let’s get started!

What Is a Rainwater Collection System?

A rainwater collection system is a setup that captures and stores rainwater for later use. Rainwater collection has been practiced for centuries and, in recent times, has become increasingly popular due to its sustainability and eco-friendliness.

With the right system in place, rainwater can be used for various purposes, including irrigation, laundry, and even as drinking water. In this section, we’ll explore how rainwater can be harvested through a roof and ground catchment system

Let’s dive into each system in more detail.

Roof Catchment System

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A roof catchment system is exactly what it sounds like – a nifty rain collection system that collects the rainwater that falls on your roof. Roofs are naturally ideal for rainwater collection due to their expansive surface areas.

Instead of letting rainwater fall unceremoniously on your yard and down your drain, consider setting up a roof catchment system. It intercepts the rainwater that runs through your roof and directs it to gutters, channeled through downspouts, and into your rain catcher of choice. The rainwater that’s led into a water cistern or tank can then be stored for later use.

You can choose between a dry or a wet setup for your roof catchment system:

Dry Catchment

In a dry catchment system, the pipes and drains that move rainwater from your roof to your storage tank run above-ground. Although storage containers can be installed underground, the pipes and drains remain visible above-ground.

“Dry” systems get their name because the pipes that channel rainwater remain dry in between rainfall occurrences. This is because a dry catchment is built so that gravity ensures water is completely drained into a storage container every time it rains. These containers are then emptied to collect more rainwater on the next downpour.

Rainwater that’s harvested through a dry catchment system can be stored in a rain barrel, water cistern, or modular tank.

Rain Barrels

New to the world of rainwater collection? Don’t sweat – starting out with a rain barrel is a great way to dip your toes in the water (pun intended). Essentially, a rain barrel is a big container that you install under your gutters and downspouts to catch rainwater.

If you’re looking to buy one, you can usually find a 50-gallon rain barrel at your local Home Depot or hardware store. Store-bought barrels typically come with all the attachments and fittings you need to connect them to your gutters.

Alternatively, if you’re feeling crafty, you can always repurpose an old water barrel for your first roof catchment setup. Either way, you’ll be well on your way to collecting rainwater like a pro in no time!

Water Cisterns

If you’re not quite impressed by a rain barrel’s small storage capacity, consider installing a water cistern instead. A standard water cistern can hold anywhere from 2000 to 5000 gallons of water, depending on the household size. 

Unlike rain barrels, water cisterns can be hooked to your home irrigation system, providing easy access to rainwater for your landscaping and household needs. If you’re looking to install one in your home, just be prepared to shell out some money.

The cost of installing a water cistern can range from a few hundred dollars for a small above-ground cistern to several thousand for a large underground cistern. It’s best to consult with a local contractor or plumber for a more accurate estimate based on your specific needs.

Modular Tanks

In the market for a more flexible rainwater collection setup? You should definitely consider modular tanks! A modular tank is a type of water storage system made up of individual modules or units that can be connected to create a larger tank. This makes them highly customizable in terms of size and capacity. 

You can customize a modular tank system to fit your available space, budget, or water needs. It’s like playing with LEGOs, but for grown-ups. Modular tanks can be installed either above-ground or underground and are often used for residential, commercial, and agricultural applications.

Like water cisterns, modular tanks can be connected to your irrigation system and can cost anywhere from a few hundred to thousands of dollars, depending on your needs and the difficulty of the installation process. Consult your local contractor or plumber for a more accurate quote.

Wet Catchment

Now that we’ve explored different dry catchment methods, let’s shift our focus to wet catchment systems.

A wet catchment consists of pipes running from gutters down the wall, underground, and into a storage tank. Unlike a dry catchment system, these pipes remain filled with water even during dry spells since they sit underground – below the level of the tank inlets. This way, the system doesn’t need to be emptied and remains primed and ready to catch rainwater whenever it falls.

Wet catchments can also be installed with water filters and are perfect for areas with heavy rainfall. One downside to them, however, is they require periodic inspection and maintenance to prevent blockages or contamination of the harvested water. 

Some wet catchment examples are French drains, underground tanks, and dry wells. Let’s define each one below:

French Drains

A French drain is a wet catchment system that helps collect and manage excess water on your property. It’s typically made up of a trench packed with gravel or rock and a perforated pipe buried underground. 

When it rains, water flows into the trench and through the gravel, which acts as a filter to prevent debris from entering the pipe. The perforated pipe then carries the water away from your property to a designated discharge point.

French drains basically intercept water before it can seep into the soil or damage the foundation of your home. By capturing and redirecting water away from vulnerable areas, these drains help protect your property and manage excess water in a safe and efficient manner.

Underground Tanks

Underground tanks in wet catchment systems work much like a dry catchment water cistern, except they differ in the way that rainwater is channeled to the container.

Pipes that channel rainwater for wet catchment tanks are buried underground and connected to the subsurface tank that remains partially full of water at all times, even between rainfall events. Underground wet catchment tanks are designed to retain water for later use, such as for irrigation or landscaping.

Install these storage tanks in combination with other catchment methods to beef up your rainwater collection system and harvest capacity.

Dry Wells

Dry wells are excellent options for homeowners with drainage problems exacerbated by stormwater runoff. This rainwater collection system is an out-of-sight option for rainwater harvesting, perfect if you’re worried about bulky catchment systems taking up tons of space on your lot.

Dry wells work by directing rainwater from your roof or driveway into a hole that has been dug in the ground. The hole is typically filled with gravel and sometimes includes a perforated pipe. The water slowly seeps through the gravel and into the surrounding soil, where it is naturally filtered and recharges the groundwater supply.

Ground Catchment System

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Now that we’ve explored various roof catchment systems, it’s time to shake things up a bit by diving into ground catchment systems.

Unlike a roof catchment, this rain collection system is designed to collect and store water that falls on the ground surface. Ground catchments are less complicated and easier to maintain than roof catchment systems, but water quality tends to be poorer, so the harvested rainwater only works for non-potable use.

On the plus side, they cover a bigger surface area for rainwater collection, so they’re great for irrigation in farms and other agricultural purposes. With most ground catchment systems, you need to install a network of pipes leading to an underground storage tank or water cistern to harvest the rainwater for later use.

Examples of ground catchments include retention ponds, rain gardens, and bioswales.

Retention Ponds

Retention ponds, also called stormwater basins, are artificial ponds that hold stormwater runoff. Underground pipes connect storm drains to a retention pond, which receives water diverted from other areas. 

A retention pond is essentially a more organic-looking water catchment system surrounded by vegetation to strengthen its embankment. Once the pond fills up, any additional water is slowly released back into the environment, either through natural evaporation or by being gradually released through an outlet.

As long as you have the space for it, a retention pond is relatively easy to maintain and can accommodate large volumes of water. Retention ponds also provide habitat for wildlife and can be designed to add aesthetic value to landscapes.


Bioswales are basically shallow ditches designed to collect and filter stormwater runoff. They’re kind of like the ultimate water purifiers: as water flows through a bioswale, it’s naturally filtered by the soil and vegetation, removing pollutants and sediment. Think of it as nature’s own water treatment plant!

Bioswales can be found everywhere, from residential neighborhoods to commercial developments. They’re a great way to manage stormwater, prevent flooding, and protect our water resources. Plus, they add a touch of greenery to otherwise bland landscapes. Who says practical can’t be pretty?

Rain Gardens

Another example of a practical rainwater collection system would be a rain garden. A rain garden is a shallow depression in the ground designed to capture and absorb rainwater from pavements and other impermeable surfaces. 

Rain gardens capture rainwater runoff, purifying the water that seeps into the soil and recharging precious groundwater aquifers. This filtration process helps remove harmful pollutants and promotes a healthy ecosystem. 

Rain gardens are typically filled with native plants and other vegetation that thrive in wet environments, making them a low-maintenance and eco-friendly landscaping option. Wildflowers, perennials, and shrubs native to your area are great options to plant in your rain garden.

Benefits of a Rain Collection System

Now that we’ve explored the different types of rainwater collection systems, let’s talk about why it’s worth investing in one of these bad boys. From saving money to conserving water, here are some reasons why rainwater collection isn’t just a passing trend:

It Reduces Demand on the Municipal Water Supply

As populations grow, soon enough, there won’t be enough water to go around for everyone. The growing demand for public water supply has already started to result in water shortages in many regions across the globe. 

Relying solely on your municipal water supply will only make you vulnerable to the impending water crisis. By having an alternative water source with a rain collection system, you can manage your own water supply while lessening the pressure on public water facilities.

It Decreases Your Water Bills

Did you know that you can use anywhere from 40 to 100 gallons of water just washing your car? Or that 8 billion gallons of water are used up daily in the United States just for landscape irrigation? Those precious gallons could translate to an eye-popping water bill!

At the start of your rainwater collection journey, the drop in your monthly water bills may seem minuscule, but don’t be fooled – those savings can really add up over time, especially as you find more ways to put your rainwater harvest to good use. 

Whether you’re using it to irrigate your garden, wash your car, or even flush your toilet, every drop counts when it comes to cutting down your water bill. So, don’t underestimate the power of a good rainwater collection system – your wallet (and the planet) will thank you!

It Improves Soil Quality

For all you botanical buffs, listen up! Rainwater is about to become your new favorite ingredient for improving soil quality. By using rainwater to water your plants, you’re giving them a pure and natural source of hydration that’s free from the nasty chemicals and additives found in municipal water supplies. 

Plus, rainwater’s slightly acidic pH can help break down organic matter in your soil and make it more fertile than rabbits in springtime. You’ll have a rich, sprawling garden before you know it.

It Reduces Stormwater Runoff

By collecting rainwater and using it for your various household needs, you’re reducing the amount of stormwater runoff that makes its way into our overburdened drainage systems. This means less flooding, less erosion, and less pollution in our local waterways. 

Plus, you get the added bonus of knowing that you’re doing your part to help the environment, all while reaping the benefits of free water. It’s a no-brainer, really.

It Gives You an Emergency Water Source

You never know when disaster may strike – a power outage, a broken water main, or even a zombie apocalypse (hey, it could happen!). But with a rainwater collection system, you’re already one step ahead of the game. You’ve got a secret weapon up your sleeve – a backup supply of water! 

By collecting and storing rainwater, you’ve ensured that you’ve got an emergency water source to rely on in case of droughts or other water supply disruptions. And let’s be real, in today’s crazy world, you never know when you might need some extra H2O.

Challenges and Limitations of Rainwater Collection

Alright folks, let’s take a quick rain check. We’ve talked about the many benefits of rainwater harvesting – from reducing water bills to improving soil quality, but as with any good thing in life, there are some challenges and limitations to consider. 

So, before you go out and start installing your rainwater collection system, let’s take a moment to explore some of the potential roadblocks you might encounter along the way.

Climate Considerations 

As much as we hate to admit it, Mother Nature can be a real pain in the butt sometimes. One of the biggest challenges when it comes to rainwater harvesting is the weather’s unpredictable nature. 

Collecting enough water to meet your needs can be a real struggle in areas with low rainfall or long dry spells. On the other hand, if you’re in a region prone to heavy downpours and flash floods, your rainwater collection system may struggle to keep up with the deluge. 

So, before you jump into rainwater harvesting, do your homework and take into account the climate considerations of your area.

Legal and Regulatory Issues

Before you go out and start hoarding all that sweet, sweet rainwater, there’s one thing you should keep in mind – legal and regulatory issues. In certain states, the issue of rainwater collection can get a bit tricky. 

This is because some states have laws that view rainwater as the property of the state and therefore regulate its collection. So, if you’re considering setting up a rainwater collection system in one of these areas, just do your due diligence and stay on the right side of the law.

A good way to start is by consulting with your state’s environmental quality department or health department.

Maintenance Requirements

Now, we hate to be the bearer of bad news, but even rainwater collection systems require a bit of TLC from time to time. Like any other piece of equipment, a water catchment system needs some serious upkeep to keep it in tip-top shape. 

This could mean dirty work like cleaning out gutters, filters, and tanks, as well as making any necessary repairs. But there’s no need to panic. With a little elbow grease and a good maintenance schedule, you’ll be able to keep your rainwater harvesting system running smoothly for years to come.


Unfortunately, rainwater catchment systems aren’t immune to pricey upfront costs. Setting up a rainwater collection system can be expensive, especially if you opt for a larger, more complex setup. From purchasing tanks and pumps to hiring contractors for installation, the costs can quickly add up.

Before you worry about breaking the bank, remember that there are ways to keep your expenses down. For example, you can start with a smaller, simpler system and expand as your budget allows. You can also look into purchasing used tanks or sourcing materials from salvage yards.

And who knows, maybe you’ll even save enough money on your water bills to recoup your initial investment in no time. Just don’t forget to factor in the cost of the occasional upkeep to keep your system running smoothly.

Final Thoughts

To sum it up, rainwater collection is more than just an eco-friendly practice. It’s a smart prepping strategy that can provide a reliable source of water for your family during emergencies, while also helping to conserve municipal water supplies and cut your water bill.

So whether you’re a good old-fashioned prepper, a homesteader, or someone who just wants a more self-sufficient lifestyle, a rainwater collection system is a simple yet powerful tool to help you achieve your goals.

Don’t let the challenges discourage you – with a little effort, you can make a big impact, one drop at a time.

Which rainwater collection system are you setting up at home? Let us know in the comments below!

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