Should I buy a water butt, water barrel or water tank?

Collecting rainwater used to be just the pursuit of the hardened gardener but in recent years, more and more councils across the UK have started to install water butts on new build houses to stop flooding and to save their sewage systems from being overwhelmed. Even if harvested rainwater is thrown down a kitchen sink, it staggers the rainfall and eases flooding in the streets during a storm. The good news is, the more we harvest rainwater, the more things we find out we can do with it (read our article on how rainwater harvesting could save you money to find out what you can do with collected rainwater). Water butts, water tanks and water barrels can help to create a sustainable garden and support people wanting to live in an eco-friendly manner. Rainwater harvesting systems have become a hero to many so you may be considering installing one yourself.

Read through this definitive guide on whether you should have a water butt, water barrel or water tank:

Water Butt

A water butt is usually a medium or small capacity rainwater harvester which is perfect for domestic use. A rainwater harvester with a capacity under 245 litres is commonly referred to as a water butt, which means it will fit nice and neatly in your garden from your house or shed downpipe. Water collected can be used for watering your garden, and for some other household chores such as car washing and filling up ponds. Water Butts are usually either a cylindrical, trapezoid or rectangular cuboid design. They are made this way to fit against walls and in corners.

image of garden lake water butt

There is a large range of water butts in differing colours and styles, some are utterly ingenious and house areas for water features, planters or bird baths in the top. These are great if you do not wish to compromise on style in your garden. There are also space saving and cheaper options if your garden isn’t very big and the room you have is limited. If you are really pressed for floor space, a wall mounted water butt may be ideal too, to free up even more room. Our 160L Terracottage is made from recycled plastic and is one of our bestsellers, this a fantastic example of a water butt that saves on space without compromising on capacity.

Most water butts are made from plastic or recycled plastic and usually come with a tap. Some arrive with a stand and others have stands which you can purchase separately. If you purchase a water butt, chances are you will need a stand to elevate the height of your tap, this then means you can fit a watering can underneath the outlet with ease. If you get a water butt with no hole for the tap, you will need to drill an outlet for the tap that is low enough to not leave a pool of water at the bottom of the butt but high enough to fit a watering can underneath.

Some people may consider a water butt over 200 litres / 44 gallons a large capacity water butt but in truth these are more likely to be classified as water tanks.

Water Barrel

A water barrel is the traditional name for a wooden, brown circular rainwater harvester. These have a ‘beer barrel’ look to them and come in small and large sizes but are usually limited to around 245-260 litres although some non-UK based suppliers may go up to 100 gallons which is about 454 litres!  Although in recent years, water barrels have evolved and are mainly made from hard wearing, durable plastic. These barrels are aesthetically pleasing and look gorgeous in gardens but due to their design, they can take up slightly more room than the common style of water butt. It is the attractive shape and unique style that attracts people to having a water barrel in their garden or green space. These work especially well in pub gardens, horse stables and old houses due to their rustic and vintage look.

image of water barrel

The name ‘water barrel’ can also mean a cylindrical green plastic water butt. Some companies call common water butts, a water barrel. It is mostly builders’ merchants that refer to them as this so do be careful when purchasing that if you are looking for a wooden style water barrel, you are not buying a standard green water butt! It is due to this that we have expanded our water barrel section to mean ‘barrel shaped’ water butts.

Water Tank

A water tank is usually a higher capacity rainwater harvester which can be buried underground or kept over ground and can pump high volumes of water back into premises for uses such as toilet flushing and drinking water. This water can be filtered and be part of a larger system or can be a standalone vessel to aid flooding on grounds and provide water for outside jobs such as washing stables and washdown systems.

image of a vertical tank

Some households need to install water tanks of a 245 litre capacity and higher due to living in an area that has high rainfall. As explained, this is sometimes good enough to stagger the rate at which your drains cope with rainfall and can help with localised flooding. Rainwater tanks can even be as large as 50,000 litres in some commercial and industrial spaces.

Most water tanks are made from thick plastic, some are made from recycled plastic, and are usually made to order. If you are interested in installing a large system for your domestic, farm or business premises, give us a ring on 01462 341161 and speak to one of our advisors to see how we can help.

Explore our huge range of water butts, water barrels and water tanks on Water Butts Direct.