DIY Rain Barrel from a 275 Gallon IBC Water Tote

We’ve previously talked about Why You Want Rain Catchment and how to easily build a DIY 55 Gallon Rain Barrel.

Well, a couple weeks ago I decided my puny little guys needed a little something.  So I went balls to the wall and turned my rain barrels up to 11.

It all began with an innocent comment over dinner where I slipped in, “Hey baby, I’m thinking of adding a little volume to our water catchment.  What do you think?”  I don’t remember what details were sought… nor whether my mouth was full… nor maybe if I mumbled a little……. Who knows… The point is there was no objection and I promised they would be unobtrusive and blend right in.

Thanks to the magic of Craigslist, these beauties soon graced our driveway:

Totes

See?  Barely noticeable.

Here’s an easy step by step installation guide for amping up your  Water Storage systems.

DIY 275 Gallon Rain Barrel

As always, make sure you have Food Grade barrels that held something non-toxic.  Mine held a corn oil and were already pre-rinsed by the seller.  I regularly see these in our neck of Craigslist for anywhere from $40-$90 and a good search term would be something like “275 gallon IBC tote”.  I snagged mine for $55 each.  This translates into a pretty great overall price IMHO, considering one has the capacity of five 55 gallon barrels, which sell for $8-15 each… and especially since plumbing together five smaller barrels requires the purchase of more connection hardware, PVC, and work.

The entire tote, including its cage, measures 40″ wide x 48″ deep x 46″ tall.  They typically have a six inch inlet at the top (sometimes you’ll see four inch) with a threaded screw on cap… and always a two inch outlet on the bottom with a simple but functional on/off ball valve spigot.

I began by removing the plastic tote from its metal enclosure (which makes these stackable!) and wrapping the entire thing in black 6 mil plastic.  The plastic blocks sunlight and helps inhibit algae growth.  In my opinion, and more importantly the Wife’s, it also makes the totes blend in a little better than the stark white.  Thanks to a tip from a YouTube video I found, I learned that a 10’x14′ piece of plastic is the perfect size for wrapping these cubes like a giant Christmas present. All seams and folds were sealed with black duct tape.

The most difficult part of making these totes usable is figuring out how to connect a hose to that two inch outlet.  Here is the simplest collection of parts I could come up with. Hopefully you’ll benefit from the half hour I spent in the plumbing aisle of our hardware store furiously test fitting every possible piece together like a manic meth addict.  Save yourself some time and just pick up these.

275 Gallon Rain Barrel Parts

  1. Flexible Downspout Extension – Attaches from the downspout and feeds into a hole I cut with a utility box cutter knife into the six inch threaded cap on the top of the tote. Everything fits nice and tight.  Not shown is some scrap window screen I cut and attached in between the Extension and threaded cap.  It prevents leaves, other gunk, and mosquitoes from entering the tote.
  2. 2″ x 2″ Flexible PVC Coupling – Tighten one end of this onto the 2 inch outlet spigot on the tote.
  3. 2″ x 3/4″ Bushing – Use PVC cement to glue Part #4 below into the 3/4″ side of this bushing.  When dry, attach it to Part #2 above with the Coupling’s clamp.
  4. 3/4″ Threaded Adapter – The smooth side is cemented into the Bushing as stated above.  The threaded side is connected to Part #5 below.
  5. 3/4″ In-line Ball Valve with Female Threads – This screws onto the male threads of Part #4 above.
  6. 3/4″ MGH x 3/4″ MIP Adapter – Just to be safe double check that part in person to make sure the threads line up as they should, but I’m pretty sure that’s the exact I bought. I’m not up on my master plumbing acronyms yet, so it’s hard to tell online. One side threads into Part #5 above.  One side threads into your garden hose.

Here she is all together:

HoseConnectors

With that hurdle behind you, you’re home free:

  • Level a spot near your downspout.  You can obviously see where mine used to be.
  • Build up a base to give you some clearance at the bottom and increase water pressure.

CinderBlockBase

  • Set your big ol’ thirsty baby up there.
  • Connect your downspout extension (Part #1 above) with some screen covering the threaded cap’s opening.
  • Plumb in an overflow outlet at the top for when the rain tote is full.

OverflowOutlet

  • I used a scrap piece of 2″ PVC I had laying around and cut it to fit using two 90 degree PVC elbows.
  • I cut a 2″ hole (since I used 2″ pipe) in the side of the tote.
  • I inserted the pipe and sealed the hole with silicone.  Since there’s zero water pressure here you don’t need to anything too fancy.

Boom.  Done.

Well… almost.

My last little task is to attach a trellis or something pretty on the side of the tote facing our little lane.  I’ll stain it to match the house trim and grow something flowery up it.

See Honey?  I told you!  Barely noticeable!!

–Mike

Posted in Emergency Preparedness, Permaculture Tagged with: , , , ,
24 comments on “DIY Rain Barrel from a 275 Gallon IBC Water Tote
  1. Vickie says:

    Looks good! I like the idea of the trellis around it to make it look nicer. I can’t believe your prices! Ours cost twice as much! Of course, out here in California, water storage is a premium right now (drought), so that’s probably why ours cost so much more. Did you know Toro makes a zero pressure water timer? One of the few that do.
    Vickie recently posted…Rendering TallowMy Profile

    • Mike says:

      Thanks for the tip on the timer. I had no idea! Now I’m off to research…

      I imagine there is a long and distinguished list of things that cost (at least) double in CA. 😉

  2. Gentle Joy says:

    Good information…… thank you for posting this…
    Gentle Joy recently posted…Super Simple Shortbread BarsMy Profile

  3. There’s something about this that’s so black, it’s like how much more black could this be? And the answer is none. None more black…

    Yeah I need to get on this. Might need to pick your brain to plumb mine together when I stack them.
    Patrick (heliotropicmoth) recently posted…Supervised Free Range ChickensMy Profile

  4. Stopping by from Green Thumb Thursday // Very cool DIY. Thanks for the awesome tips + steps!
    Caitlin | belong with wildflowers recently posted…First Garden Harvest.My Profile

  5. Cynthia H says:

    Suggestion: paint the metal mesh black and plant moonflowers.

    • Mike says:

      A great suggestion! Not sure why I didn’t think to paint the cage so it’s less shiny.

  6. I can attest to the algae. At the community garden, we didn’t paint or cover ours with black plastic. And now, well, lots of clogging!
    Amy@TenthAcreFarm recently posted…The Secret to Keeping Rosemary Alive IndoorsMy Profile

  7. Thank you for sharing on Green Thumb Thursday – this was awesome! (Shh, don’t tell – but I actually picked it for my featured article for From the Farm Hop.) Whatever hop you’re on, its a great post!
    tessa – Homestead Lady recently posted…Solar Oven Recipe: Budget Chicken DinnerMy Profile

  8. Crystal Samano says:

    I live in an apartment, any suggestions on an exterior piece to collect the water and then deliver it to the tank?

  9. Jeremy says:

    I got three 275 gallon IBC totes today for free! I just asked. They did have a cleaning chemical in them-bummer. I’m gonna attempt to clean them out and use them similarly, possibly include some aquaculture.

  10. sydney says:

    thank so much for posting all the parts, looking forward to making my very own. Wanted to make a note that on part #6 3/4″ MGH x 3/4″ MIP Adapter, your link leads to a part that is a different size Watts (3/4-in x 1/2-in )

  11. Tim Weiss says:

    FYI: The 3/4 threaded adaptor you used is not designed to be inserted into a ‘2 x 3/4’ bushing (which doesn’t appear to be 2 x 3/4. More like 2 x 1. Hard to tell from a picture). It roughly fits, and since you are not dealing with pressure, it should be ok. There should be a small piece of PVC between the two.

  12. Melanie says:

    Is it necessary to use the cage if I am not stacking multiple tanks? It is a structural part of the system when the tank is full of water? We want to hide this behind a brick structure at the front entrance of our neighborhood to keep the flowers watered. We have a local company that can fill it with for us a few times over the summer. It would not stick out as much if I could avoid the cage, not to mention the extra weight. Thanks.

  13. Kolin says:

    I have 2 totes and each discharge at the bottom is 2″ and I have it reduced down to garden hose format. I hook up a 1/2 HP transfer pump (it is a rectangle box hooked up to a motor). I let the water flow, turn on the pump and I get full spread to a sprinkler via 100′ hose!

  14. Ilene says:

    If you are interested in topic: earn online money by typing defense game
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    Ilene recently posted…IleneMy Profile

  15. Please be EXTREMELY careful while purchasing IBC Totes from craigslist, before you buy your ibc tote from the seller ask and see if they have the “SDS sheets” or check the front of the IBC Tote known as the “placard”. The info on the sheets or placard will tell you everything you need to know whether or not the tote is potable or not. Do not purchase an IBC Tote before checking the previous chemical content. Honestly, you’re better off buying a certified rebottled IBC Tote from a real supplier than buying a tote from an uknown source. The last thing you would want to do is put you and family’s in jeopardy. The secondary market for IBC Totes is very misleading and people alot of the time end up buying a harmful tote.

  16. Mary says:

    In an extreme cold climate, how do the totes hold up during cold winters? Is it possible to drain them dry? Does the plumbing hold up? Also, is it easy to remove the cage? How did the black plastic hold up for you? Thank you.

  17. Scott says:

    Need more info on how the flex hose connects to the top of tote and where exactly is the screen to filter out junk.
    Thanks

  18. Chris says:

    I like the idea of the 2″ PVC overflow…during heavy rain, is the 2″ hole large enough to drain the excess water without overflowing the top?

  19. Zach says:

    I have just set one of the up on my down spout. I was at lowes looking for all the pieces to connect the garden hose. I thought there has to be an easier way. I found an attachment on amazon. It came to the house in just a couple days and screwed right on. This link will take you to amazon to order it.

    https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B01MTC1DJK/ref=pd_gwm_simh_0?pf_rd_p=eeda26e3-c818-411e-91c7-e824b2883986&pf_rd_s=blackjack-personal-2&pf_rd_t=Gateway&pf_rd_i=mobile&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_r=1DC9THC39DK7046QHA0J&pd_rd_wg=8thqi&pd_rd_r=1DC9THC39DK7046QHA0J&pf_rd_r=1DC9THC39DK7046QHA0J&pf_rd_p=eeda26e3-c818-411e-91c7-e824b2883986&pd_rd_w=4jI4v&pd_rd_i=B01MTC1DJK

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