Garden & Lawn

The Best Water Butts for Collecting and Recycling Rainwater

Last updated on March 31st, 2022

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Data never lies. And currently, there is clear evidence that increased population and climate change are pressurising water resources.

In addition to using mains water as sparingly as possible, you have decided to fit water butts for collecting and recycling rainwater. The objective being to reduce water bills, reduce stress on rivers and wetlands, and to reduce carbon footprint by minimising the amount of energy used to pump and treat water.

If you are determined to beat the hosepipe bans and drought orders common in the summer, you can set out to do some shopping. However, the options available are overwhelming. What brand do you settle for? What type of water butt are you going to purchase? What about the size, colour, shape, and material?

Luckily, we are way ahead of you and we have reviewed some of the best water butts for collecting and recycling rainwater and highlighted the key features to consider while purchasing.

BEST PICK

Harcostar 227 Litre Water Butt & Raintrap Diverter + Stand
Our best pick is the Harcostar 227 Litre Water Butt which includes a raintrap diverter and Stand. Given its many positive reviews on Amazon, an affordable price for its capacity and the fact that it comes equipped with everything you`ll need to install and collect water, there is every reason to buy this model.

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Water Butt Buyer’s Guide

What to consider before purchasing a water butt  

The market is flooded with these water barrels; all with heavenly promises and opaque language from the manufacturers. No doubt this can leave you confused on which “best” water butt to select – which would be one that fits your needs and budget.

Well, don’t be in a conundrum anymore. Just take the following features into consideration and you will be able to find the best water butt for collecting rainwater.

Water capacity

The size of the barrel dictates the amount of rainwater you can collect and recycle. Therefore, take into account your watering requirements and select accordingly.

The most common water butts are cylinders of 120 litres, but large capacity butts of up to 350 litres do exist. Their range is between 100 and 350 litres. There are a few cases of big barrels holding up to 700 litres though.

Experts advise always settling for a larger water butt, especially if your budget and space allow. For it never hurts to have more stored water as with the climate change – there’s no telling the length of the drought period.

BEST FOR SMALL GARDENS

BeGreen 100L Capacity Mini Rainsaver Water Butt Kit
If you want a smaller option, BeGreen 100L Capacity Mini Rainsaver Water Butt Kit includes the Butt, Stand and Diverter should suffice. Its compact design makes it excellent for small gardens alongside which you get a decent amount of water (100L). it`s also cheaper compared to the other products.

Water butt construction

Ideally, you want to settle for a water butt that is watertight, easy to clean, durable, lightweight, and that can stand harsh weather; all of which are dictated by the material it’s made of.  

The most commonly used material is plastic, however, there are barrels made of wood, clay, and stone. The latter categories fall under the decorative water butts category, some of which are even designed to be used as a garden chair.

Now each of these materials has its strengths and weaknesses. For instance, while a plastic barrel is lightweight and cheaper, there is a high chance of the barrel cracking during winter. This is because when water freezes it expands and the plastic water butt is not elasticated enough to take on the additional volume. Thus, select wisely.

Beyond science, it’s advisable to settle for eco-friendly water butts. Those made of combustible or recyclable materials prevent environmental pollution in the form of landfills and ocean deposits.

And whatever you do, don’t overlook the lid. The lid should be as strong and sturdy as the butt to effectively stop debris and small animals from falling into the butt, as well as prevent algae growth.  

UNIQUE PICK

Rainwater Terrace Water Butt
Looking for a wonderful design? Take a look at the Rainwater Terrace 2 Tier, 134 Litre Water Butt. It comes integrated with self-watering planters alongside fast drain tube taps that serve as water level indicators too.

Shape

This affects the stability of the water butt, especially when it’s filled with water. Some barrel shapes are only stable when installed on a firm, flat surface; otherwise, they will topple when full. That means, it is vital for you to examine the gradient of the area you’ll be installing the barrel before settling on any given shape.

Also, the shape dictates the amount of space occupied by the barrel. For instance, a rounded water butt will take up more space than a rectangular-shaped barrel of equal capacity.

The most common ones are barrels of standard shapes, however, there are slimline models designed to fit into narrow spaces. You can go for wall-mounted water butts if the space available is too limiting.

Additional features

Simplicity is key.

Thus, go for butts that are easy to fit and that come equipped with everything you require to install and collect water – including clear instructions on how to go about the installation and water collection.

Also, does the barrel have a stand and a tap at the bottom? Because this will make it easier to access the collected water.

Again, go for a colour that blends in with, or in any way complements your surroundings! 

And it goes without saying that the price should be within your set budget.

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Best Water Butt Reviews

1. Harcostar 227 Litre Water Butt, Raintrap Diverter and Stand

BEST PICK

Buy on Amazon.co.uk

Harcostar 227 litre Water Butt Kit (green) including stand

This water butt is perfect for those interested in collecting and recycling more rainwater for use in their gardens and doing their part to save on resources.

At 227 litres, this can store more water than the standard-sized barrels on the market today, which on average hold around 100 litres. Its installation is easy thanks to the pre-cut water inlet holes, one on each side so you can choose which one you need to use, as well as the complete package, fitments, and stand – which makes it worth every penny too. In fact, a majority of people have reported it taking a maximum of one hour to complete the fitting process.

On top of that, the tap holes are threaded in place, which requires you to just screw it (the tap) in from outside. No more climbing in the butt to secure the tap! In addition, the lid is easy to fit, lock, and unlock thanks to its spring-loaded fastening clip.

Also, there are narrow bands to fit the straps around the butt for wall attachment, these may be necessary in case you are placing yours in a windy location or you have a limited fitting area.

You have an option of connecting multiple butts together too to increase your stored water capacity. However, you’ll need to purchase a connection kit because this is not included in the butt package.

Pros

  • Large 227-litre capacity, a nice mid-range size for most gardens.
  • Easy to set up due to pre-cut water inlet holes so no drilling is required.
  • Tap screws straight in rather than having to climb inside the water butt to attach the tap, like on lots of other models.
  • Comes equipped with everything needed to install and use.
  • Relatively high water capacity to store more water than most other water butts.
  • Available in two colour choices; green and grey.

All in all, you can never go wrong with this selection – high capacity with everything you need. This is why we think it’s probably the best choice for most people and why we made it our ‘Best Pick’


2. Charles Bentley 210 Litre Water Butt Set Including Tap with Stand Filler Kit

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Charles Bentley Ward 210L Garden Round Plastic Water Butt Set Including Tap with Stand and Filler Kit

This product is best suited for gardeners and landscapers who delight in having green lawns all year round. With a capacity of 210 litres, this water butt can help water a small to medium-sized garden all summer long. It is easy to fit thanks to the included downpipe filler kit and especially when dealing with square-shaped downpipes.

The water butt comes with a stable stand, which although fiddly to assemble, is suitable for both even and uneven grounds. It has a lockable lid that requires an implement (say a large flat head screwdriver) to unlock. This makes it hard for children to open in a bid to peep inside which might be catastrophic.

It also means that the lid remains locked most of the time, preventing the entry of debris, organic matter, small animals, and mosquitoes – all of which prevent the water from stagnating. It would be better if it had a lever to open the lid and then maybe a place to attach a padlock should you need to lock it.

Care should also be taken when fitting the downpipe connector to prevent overflowing. PTFE tape can (and should) be placed around the tap thread to prevent leaking. This is a common problem and one that is easily resolved. It’s also advisable to add layers of waterproof sealants around all major fitting joints to minimise leakages and consequently save the collected water.

Pros

  • A more stable and reliable 3-part stand.
  • Simple and effective filler kit.
  • Large capacity for various water collection in the garden.

3. Harcostar 350 Litre Magnum Water Butt and Raintrap Diverter

LARGEST PICK

Buy on Amazon.co.uk

Harcostar 350 litre Magnum Water Butt & Raintrap Diverter

The Harcostar 350 Litre Magnum Water Butt is the real deal for gardeners, landscapers, and homeowners with relatively high water usage.  At 350 litres in capacity, the water butt can store an incredible amount of rainwater. So large is the capacity that you can easily save over £100 on your water bills during the rainy season and much more during summer.

Its two taps make it easy to access the water, whether the butt is situated on the floor or on a raised stand. The height of the bottom tap is ideal for filling a small to medium-sized watering can. Bear in mind that for larger jerry cans, you may be required to add a stand to draw water from the bottom tap – further increasing the effective capacity of the tank.

The water butt includes pre-drilled holes for easy fitting. You have got three at the top to fit linking kits, diverter kits, and other accessories; and two at the bottom to fit the supplied taps at your ideal height. The lid is child-safe eliminating the worries of a parent with curious little angels running around the garden. That means the water butt is worth every penny. Finally, it’s extremely well made and reinforced around essential areas where the connectors go.

Pros

  • Massive capacity, hence more water can be collected and stored for future use.
  • Safe to use, even with children around, thanks to a child-safe lid.
  • Easy to fit because it comes with a universal rain trap diverter to connect to your downpipe.
  • Good value for money with a 5-year guarantee for full peace of mind.

4. BeGreen 100 Litre Mini Rainsaver Water Butt Kit

BEST FOR SMALL GARDENS

Buy on Amazon.co.uk

BeGreen 100L Capacity Mini Rainsaver Water Butt Kit includes Butt/ Stand/ Diverter

This BeGreen 100 Litre Mini Rainsaver Water Butt Kit is probably the best for people with small gardens. It can be used inside sheds and greenhouses too. Being a square-shaped barrel sized 38cm x 38cm, the butt can fit small confined spaces. That, coupled with a capacity of 100 litres, makes it worth the price.

It comes equipped with everything you will need to install and collect water, as well as detailed instructions, making the fitting process a smooth one. The diverter can fit 65mm and 68mm square downpipes that are standard in the UK, and can also be used with rounded pipes with little to no modifications.

The included 3-piece stand is moulded with stiffeners at angles to eliminate the chances of buckling, especially when full. It is also the right height for easy access to collected water with a watering can. The tap (despite being narrowed by the hose fit connections) runs smoothly compared to most taps. Overall, an excellent choice for gardeners with minimal needs.

Pros

  • Affordable and a good choice for smaller gardens or narrow spaces thanks to the slimline design.
  • Compact design that takes up very little space.
  • Comes with a hose fit tap that is compatible with all standard fittings.
  • Great build quality featuring recycled plastic.

5. 134 Litre Rainwater Terrace Water Butt with 2 Tier Design

UNIQUE DESIGN

Buy on Amazon.co.uk

Rainwater Terrace Water Butt 2 Tier, 134 Litre, Black

This Rainwater Terrace Water Butt has a unique modular design that will appeal to gardeners and homeowners who value elegance. With integrated self-watering planters, you can grow herbs and flowers whilst collecting and storing rainwater. It will easily blend with your garden or home’s nature-like environment. Also, it’s easy to assemble and link to other butts (for increased capacity) requiring no special skills or tools.

The butt is easy to use too with the fast flowing taps filling your watering can in seconds, and the water level indicator showcases the level of stored water. The latter is essential when it comes to planning your water use. On top of that, the Rainverse Terrace is built of high-quality plastic material that boosts its durability, even in harsh weather.

Pros

  • Has an eye-catching design that also complements the garden.
  • Good height to access and manage the top planter.
  • Good capacity of 134 litres.
  • Easy to transport because its components nest within each other to create a compact package.

Water Butt FAQs

How to install a water butt?

The best option is to fit a water butt onto a downpipe using a rain diverter kit because then you don’t need to worry much about what will happen to the water when the butt is full. However, you can have multiple barrels in a single location and inter-connect them with short hoses.

To install a single water butt with the aid of a diverter kit, here is a simple procedure.

Requirements: water butt, hacksaw, hole-cutting drill, pencil, tape measure, a butt stand and a rain diverter kit.

Procedure

  1. Choose a suitable installation location. That is, a place roomy enough for your chosen water butt, next to a drainpipe to help with spill offs, relatively flat, and firm to withstand the weight of the filled water butt. 
  2. Place the stand on the selected firm and levelled ground; next to the downpipe.
  3. Put the barrel on the stand and mark its corresponding height on the downpipe with a pencil or marker.
  4. Cut the downpipe about 1.25 inches below the marked spot with a hacksaw
  5. Attach the rain diverter and re-fit the bottom of the downpipe tightly to ensure no spillage.
  6. Drill a hole 3 inches down (taking the top of the cistern as the reference). The hole should be big enough to fit a connector.
  7. Attach the connector to the butt. It relatively easy, you just push it through the drilled hole and screw the fittings in place as per the manual.
  8. Next, attach the connector to the diverter as instructed on the manual.
  9. Place the lid of the butt tightly to keep off pests, mosquitoes, and even kids from falling in.  

How should you maintain a water butt?

  1. Keep the butt covered tightly all the time to keep off debris, algae, pests, mosquitoes; and slime and scum from forming.
  2. In the case of scum formation, add drops of biological rainwater treatment to keep it clean for around 5 months.
  3. Empty and thoroughly clean the water butt yearly or say once every 3 years to remove any sediments.
  4. Keep the barrel protected from harsh weather elements as much as possible.

How to collect water with a water butt

  1. Properly fit a water butt onto a downpipe from a gutter collecting water from the roof of the garage, home, greenhouse or other garden structures.
  2. Check to see whether the butt has a tap at its bottom and that it’s fitted properly.
  3. If not, you can fix a hose or just opt to scoop water out from the top with, for example, a 4-pint jug.
  4. Wait for the rains

How does a rain trap work?

The rain trap enables water diversion from the downpipe into the water butt and redirecting water down the downpipe once the water butt is full.

How do you prevent the water from stagnating?

Stagnant water is characterised by a foul odour, surface scum, decayed organic matter, and algae growth. It’s a breeding ground for disease-causing pathogens and therefore, necessary precautions should be employed to help keep your collected rainwater from stagnating. Such include:

Requirements: Vinegar, mosquito dunk, fine screen, a barrel with a tight-fitting lid/cover

Precautions:

  1. Use the collected rainwater frequently.
  2. Go for dark-coloured, eco-friendly water butts that are certified and approved for liquids. Try your best to keep sun rays and light off the barrel because they only encourage bacteria and algae growth.
  3. Tightly cover the butt 24/7 to keep away any organic matter. While at it, use fine screens at the end of the spout feeding your butt to eliminate the chances of decay matter in the collected water.
  4. Clean the roof and gutter regularly or use a rain-sensing mechanism that can keep the first 5 minutes of rain off the cistern, especially when there has been no rain for a long time.
  5. Add biological treatment agents into the water to discourage mosquitoes and algae growth.
  6. Use vinegar to clean the water butt regularly in a bid to kill unwanted contamination.

Final Conclusion

There are hundreds of models on the market, and this can leave you somewhat overwhelmed when trying to select the best water butt for collecting water. However, you can never go wrong when purchasing from the leading brands, one example being Harcostar. In fact, one of the top 5 water butts reviewed above can be sufficient for your garden. If you’re not open to recommendations, follow the guidelines explained herein and select yourself a quality, durable water butt.

BEST PICK

Harcostar 227 Litre Water Butt & Raintrap Diverter + Stand
Our best pick is the Harcostar 227 Litre Water Butt which includes a raintrap diverter and Stand. Given its many positive reviews on Amazon, an affordable price for its capacity and the fact that it comes equipped with everything you`ll need to install and collect water, there is every reason to buy this model.

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Last update on 2022-03-17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Welcome to my site, my name is John and I have been lucky enough to work in horticultural nurseries for over 15 years in the UK. As the founder and editor as well as researcher, I have a City & Guilds Horticultural Qualifications which I proudly display on our About us page. I now work full time on this website where I review the very best gardening products and tools and write reliable gardening guides. Behind this site is an actual real person who has worked and has experience with the types of products we review as well as years of knowledge on the topics we cover from actual experience. You can reach out to me at john@pyracantha.co.uk

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