If you’re looking for a tough, durable, and economic rain barrel for functional purposes – the Upcycle 55 gallon gray rain barrel is a great choice. This rain barrel is all about economic and ecological function – no frills.
Upcycle 55 Gallon Gray Rain Barrel Review
In terms of ecological responsibility, you won’t find another rain barrel vendor that’s on par with Upcycle. Their entire line consists of re-purposed food containers – including their Upcycle 55 gallon gray rain barrel. This particular model was used to ship pickled food overseas. If you’re concerned about the acidity of that pickled food – no worries. Upcycle thoroughly cleans each barrel with rain water and pH-neutral soap before converting it over to be used as a rain barrel.
The low placement of the outlet spigot means that you can use almost every inch of rain water inside the barrel before the water stops flowing. It also means that you will almost certainly want to use a stand, as pictured, if you’re going to use this barrel to fill up watering cans. The spigot on the Upcycle 55 gallon gray rain barrel accommodates any standard garden hose, so it can be configured for any number of gravity-fed applications.
There are no worries about toxic materials with the Upcycle 55 gallon gray rain barrel. The barrel and lid are food safe, having been used for handling actual food in the not-so-distant past. The barrels are made from high-density polyethylene (HDPE). The spigot is acetal plastic. The linking hose and overflow hose fittings are poly.
The overflow fitting on the Upcycle 55 gallon gray rain barrel is situated in such a way that it points slighty upwards. This might seem like a non-issue, but it’s actually the most common complaint about this barrel. The problem is that because the fitting is angled upward, but the overflow hose will be directed downward, the hose tends to kink.
Fixing this is easy, if you don’t mind spending 50 cents on a hose bracket and driving a screw or two to support the hose in a steady arc – so that it won’t kink. Just support the hose to keep it flexing as designed.
The Upcycle 55 Gallon Gray Rain Barrel is easy to link together for daisy-chaining multiple barrels to collect water from one downspout. The barrel comes with two 1/2-inch threaded male hose fittings – one near the top of the barrel and one near the bottom. Linking two barrels together is as easy as attaching a hose to both barrels – no tools required. You’ll need a short hose with 2 female fittings, like a 1/2-inch washing machine connector hose or faucet hose.
This model has a pre-cut lid which is removable. The inlet opening is cut away from the center of the lid, and the opening is covered with two layers of window screen to keep debris and insects out of the barrel. Some people have taken extra measures to secure the screens, which are fixed to the underside of the lid with screws.
The manufacturer requires that the barrels be drained entirely during the winter. If water inside the barrel freezes, it willcrack the barrel. Upcycle recommends leaving the spigot and linking hose fitting open during the winter. If you don’t do this, you will void your warranty.
If you can do that simple maintenance, you will love the Upcycle 55 gallon gray rain barrel. It is a rugged container designed for industrial use, and you won’t experience any of the problems that are common with thinner, lighter-weight materials. If you have any questions about the durability of this barrel
• HDPE barrel is re-purposed industrial food waste – creating a win-win-win for you, the food industry, and the planet
• Outlet spigot supports a standard garden hose – all other fittings support 1/2″ hose connections
• The simple gray plastic presents a clean, functional appearance (plastic can be painted)
Items Included in Package
• Upcycle 55 Gallon Gray Rain Barrel
• Barrel Lid With Pre-Cut Inlet Opening
• Pre-Installed Acetal Plastic Spigot
• Pre-Installed Mesh Debris Screens
Because the Upcycle 55 gallon gray rain barrel comes completely assembled and ready to install, there aren’t very many accessories that are available. Upcycle does offer an optional diverter kit that allows you to leave your existing downspout drainage in place, while filling the barrel directly through the top-mounted hose fitting.
Keep in mind that the outlet spigot is situated very close to the bottom of the barrel. For this reason, most people choose to construct a stand to move the spigot up high enough to allow watering cans to be filled easily. If you plan to use a hose exclusively to distribute the rain water, no stand is necessary.
Optional accessories include rain chains, linking hoses, alternate diverters, and mosquito dunks. The barrel does come with debris screens installed – but if mosquitoes are a nuisance in your area some mosquito dunks would be a good idea.
The Upcycle 55 gallon gray rain barrel comes pre-assembled. If you want to raise the barrel off the ground so that you can easily fill watering cans, you’ll need to build your own stand. Cinder blocks are a common solution, and other people have opted to construct a custom stand out of wood. Whether you construct a stand or keep the barrel on the ground – make sure that the area where the barrel is installed is 100% level. These barrels are extremely heavy when full, and could cause serious injury or death if they fall on someone.
You’ll need to make it a regular seasonal chore to completely drain these barrels before winter arrives. Do it ahead of time, so that you’re not surprised by an early freeze. Leave the spigot and linking fitting open during the winter months, so that any water entering barrel drains out before it can freeze and crack the barrel.
As I mentioned above, you may need to take an extra step to make sure that the overflow hose does not kink. Use a simple hose clamp to position the overflow hose in such a way that no kinking occurs.
Pros & Cons
• Recycled, re-purposed, food grade HDPE plastic
• All fittings pre-installed and support standard hose thread sizes – no tools necessary
• Low outlet spigot means you can use almost every inch of water in the barrel
• Overflow outlets are angled up – causing a hose-kinking problem
• HDPE plastic barrel must be completely drained all winter, every winter
The Upcycle 55 Gallon Gray Rain Barrel is an awesome choice for people who are more concerned with functionality and less concerned about decoration. If you hate the look of the barrel, keep in mind that it can be painted however you want. Many people find that the simple gray appearance actually looks nice and neutral, and doesn’t clash with other decorative aspects of their landscapes.
If you’re looking for a rain barrel for ecological reasons, purchasing a re-purposed industrial food container like this is a no-brainer. You’re making use of the food industry’s waste and taking responsibility for your water use footprint at the same time. We love this product, and we think you will love it too.