When setting up a rainwater barrel, it’s easy to put all of your time and effort into finding the perfect barrel but the spigot deserves plenty of attention in its own right. After all, it has the most moving parts and is the most complex component of rainwater harvesting systems. From the valve to the material the spigot is made of, there is a lot to consider when choosing a spigot.
Below is an exhaustive list of all of the factors to consider when choosing a spigot. It’s important though when looking through the various elements of a rain barrel spigot, to keep in mind what’s important to you. Some of these elements are going to be personal preference and specific to your use case. What are you going to use the water for? What’s actually critical and what’s optional?
Of course, if you’re buying a spigot, you’re going to need to install it and unfortunately, these don’t come with the same plug-and-play convenience a lot of products do these days. You’re going to have to grab your utility belt and brush up on your DIY skills (I’m exaggerating).
The important thing to look for here is whether you have access to the inside of your barrel or not. Some rain barrels don’t provide this kind of access and if yours is one of those, you need to be sure you find a spigot that can be installed from the outside. It can be done and many spigots are designed to be installed without access to the inside of the barrel but it’s an important thing to note.
Of course, if you have access to the inside of your barrel then it doesn’t matter, you can do it whichever way makes you happiest.
Of all the places to save a few pennies when buying a spigot, on the material the spigot is made out of might be the absolute worst. Rain barrel spigots can be made of plenty of materials but they mostly come in plastic or metal and the arguments against which is best are ongoing. Ultimately, this will come down to personal choice.
Brass spigots are considered more durable and for good reason. Brass is really durable. Plastic spigots have been known to break or crack more often than brass spigots do and you’ll end up replacing them sooner. On the other hand, it has been said that plastic spigots have a better seal, especially when the surface isn’t perfectly flat. Plastic is a bit more flexible than metal and will hold a better seal on an uneven surface, especially if your barrel is round.
When you’re shopping for spigots, check whether you can drink the water from that spigot or not. Be sure that it’s lead-free compliant, as some spigots are not. This is especially important if you plan on watering vegetables or drinking from your water barrel.
In the end, the costs for each are approximately the same and, given the fact that metal is more durable, you’ll likely save more money in the long run with a brass spigot than a plastic spigot. Either one will serve you well though.
Whether you plan on using your captured rainwater in your garden or not, it’s probably a good idea to look for a spigot that can attach to a hose. Not everyone is going to need to attach a hose to their rain barrel but If you’re going to need that water for anything more than filling a watering can, there’s no reason not to get a spigot that’s hose-ready. It doesn’t increase the cost at all and most have it. Just make sure that you have the right size.
Easy to overlook, the valve is also important. It’s the only moving part on the entire spigot and ultimately, it’s moving parts that break more often than not and so you’ll want to be sure that you have a quality valve. Ultimately, there’s no real way of knowing whether your valve is going to be good or not, moving parts introduce variability into the manufacturing process and the operating process and any valve can break in the end. You’re just going to have to read the reviews to make sure it’s not a common issue with the one you want to buy.
But there’s another thing to consider that might be trivial but is a quality of life improvement. There are generally two types of valves. Round and quarter-turn. A quarter turn is going to be more useful, only because you can see at a quick glance whether the valve is open and how open. With round valves, it’s largely a guess. Though this seems like a small thing to consider, it’s the little things that can make all the difference in your day to day. You’ll be glad you got a quarter-turn.
Now this is just a nice to have. A lot of installations suggest wrapping the thread for the spigot in thread tape to prevent leakages. While this can be purchased entirely separately, some kits come with the thread tape included which is just an added bonus.