Stand Alone Rainwater Harvesting System
by RainSaucers Inc. on February 20th, 2017

If you follow our blog, you know that last month we wrote an open letter to Flint, MI residents proposing RainSaucers as a solution to their water crisis. The proposal was not for charity but we did offer free shipping and some pretty clear direction as to how rainwater could vastly improve their situation. The response on Facebook was mainly positive- lots of likes and shares, etc. but unfortunately, no takers. We also forwarded our proposal to various agencies involved and the response was mainly the same-  thanks, but no thanks.

Rejection- it's something we're used to as social entrepreneurs. Clean technology solutions require education and convincing over time. But the part that surprised us was the negative feedback we also received. For example:
- one Flint resident thought that were just trying to take advantage of the situation to make a profit. We advised her that we are still a part-time "social venture" that barely covers our costs as it is.
- several Flint residents thought that rainwater collection was federally illegal (categorically untrue). This sparked outrage from other Flint residents who couldn't bear the thought of being burned by both local water agencies and federal ones too.
- another Flint resident who was already knowledgeable about rainwater harvesting (he had a system already in place) called our system inefficient in comparison to roof based collection. We explained that while a roof collects more water, that water is not fit for human consumption. He still was not convinced and would not concede we had any benefit for Flint even though we had a study behind us.

Yet we are still not going to give up on Flint. One resident community organizer there seemed interested in a pilot project with us and we are hopeful we can eventually get something going. It would be nice to take advantage of the Spring rainy season but if not this year we'll try again the next.

by RainSaucers Inc. on January 6th, 2017


Dear Residents of Flint,

I am writing to offer my help. My company makes rainwater catchment funnels called RainSaucers, right here in the USA. The purpose of RainSaucers is to allow anyone, anywhere to easily set up their own local source of clean water by catching rainwater straight from the sky. Over the 6 years we've been in business, we've sold our product all over the world- mainly to people without access to a clean  water or those who fear that access may be compromised. For example, we recently supplied a remote island town in New Foundland, Canada (see photo above) under a pilot project aimed at reducing the problem of residents having to haul water to their homes.

I mention our Canada project because in many ways your situation is similar. My understanding is that to get clean water,  you are now bringing in bottled water which takes up time and gas money. Yet this only serves your drinking and cooking needs and doesn't provide you with enough water for bathing. What you need is a source of clean water that comes in larger volumes right to your home, for as little cost as possible.  You need rainwater harvesting (RWH).

Here's my proposed RWH installation for each household:
- Deployment of 2 x 59" RainSaucers, each on a 32 gallon BRUTE or Roughneck container (as we did in Canada). This will collect almost 22 gallons every time it rains 1 inch. Between March and November this should yield an average of 66 gallons per month (based on historical averages for Flint) .
- As to the allocation of the 66 gallons, a family of four is likely to use 1/2 of that for drinking/cooking (around a gallon a day) and the other 1/2 for bathing. For bathing, I recommend trying one of those  $10 camping bag showers (just bring inside to your normal shower after it heats up outside). I suspect you could get around 10-15 short Navy showers out of your setup each month.
- Rain, as you may know, is pure natural distilled water and 100% potable when it falls from the sky. So the only thing required for drinking, is a method to kill any organisms that may develop while the water is sitting outside. Many of my customers use a Berkey filter for their rainwater but cheaper ones are also available. If the state of Michigan has already provided you with a filter you may be able to use that, provided it also works on organisms. Boiling the water is an option as well as a little bleach or tincture of iodine (see our post on this).

- Now for the Pricing of the install itself...
* 2 x 32 gallon Roughneck containers should be around $30 at Home Depot
* Normally we would charge $180 for the 2 x 59" RainSaucers and the 2 x Faucet kits needed to turn a Roughneck container into rain barrel. But for individual residents of Flint, we will bring that price down to $150 including shipping. Just contact us and mention this letter.
* The only other possible budget item for the  installation is the cost of getting the rain barrels off the ground (to access the faucet). Two concrete blocks under each unit (see picture) should not cost more than  $10.

So all in, each household can probably pull this off with a Budget of $200. I understand the State of Michigan has already spent $200 Million on the 50,000 households affected. That equates to $4,000 per household for just a temporary, highly imperfect solution. Even if rainwater harvesting only reduces the problem by half, it would still be 10X more efficient than what the State of Michigan is currently doing.


Tom Spargo
Inventor and Owner, RainSaucers Inc.

P.S. State of Michigan water officials- please don't be afraid of contacting us too. We'd love to work with you on behalf of the residents.

by RainSaucers Inc. on December 12th, 2016

Every year around this time we like to look back and reflect on some of the customers we've helped in the past year. Many of these have already been covered on our Facebook page. But given that some of our fans follow us here and through our newsletter, we always do a recap at year end. This time we've decided to boil it down to just 3 installations we are particularly proud of...

Two 59" units in Southern California

On the heels of California's historic drought, this LA area customer wanted to make sure to catch as much of El Niño as possible last Winter. He wrote to us that "Over two days my rain gauge showed 3.2 inches of rain and the 32 gallon trash cans were filled to overflowing."

84" RainSaucer in Rhinebeck, NY

This install was at the nonprofit Ramapo for Children as part of their permaculture program, which is run by young adults with social, emotional, and learning challenges who are participating in a residential transition-to-independence program in order to move on to college and/or employment. Pictured here is there custom 84" unit installation.

14 x 59" RainSaucers in New Foundland, Canada

This photo is from the rural community of Black Tickle in New Foundland, Canada which was suffering from a clean water crisis. RainSaucers were purchased to provide individual homes with their own source of fresh water. This photo came from a CBC New article which provided full detail on the project.

by RainSaucers Inc. on November 7th, 2016

Two of our products (the 48" and 84" RainSaucer) are designed to work only with 2" NPS standard holes.  If you're lucky, your 55 gallon drum or 270 gallon IBC Tote already has one built in. If not, you can always add one with a 2" Bulkhead Fitting.

If you have a removable lid, bulkhead installation is easy. Just drill a a 3" or 3 1/8" hole in the lid (or cap), insert the Body and Sealing washer (see photo) from one side and screw on the Friction washer and Nut from the other side and you are done.

If you don't have a removable lid, you have to find a creative way to keep one half of the fitting in place underneath while you screw in everything else on the other side. For completely closed gallon drums this near impossible so we usually recommend switching to a 2" UniSeal with a 2" Pipe and 2"Female Adapter installed (for the 48" only). For other types of closed tanks, we recommend using the manhole cover to reach your hand inside and hold half of the bulkhead fitting in place while the other half gets screwed on.

by RainSaucers Inc. on October 12th, 2016

One problem specific to the 48" RainSaucer is that heavy wind gusts (considered gale force according to the Beaufort Scale of Wind Force) can sometimes warp or invert the unit making it unusable. In our experience, this is only a temporary issue. Once this problem occurs, the key is to reinstall the system by:
  • removing the fasteners
  • laying the disk out until it becomes as flat as possible again (with weight if needed)
  • reinstalling the unit
We like to think of it as a reboot which you should expect to perform a few times per season as part of normal maintenance.  If the problem occurs more frequently, it means the winds in your area are regularly above the rating we have given for the product (30MPH) and you should consider an upgrade to our more wind stable 59" version (rated for 50MPH).

An alternative to upgrading is to implement the 48" directly on to an open container such as a trash can (as we do with the 59") and running two perpendicular ropes from holes on one edge of the unit, under the container,  to holes on the opposite edge on the RainSaucer.

If you don't want to switch tanks or containers you could also host the 48" RainSaucer on a 5 gallon bucket instead and put the new implementation on top of your original tank. Then all one needs to do is make an overflow  from the bucket to the tank.

by RainSaucers Inc. on September 20th, 2016

The hardest thing about being a small company is how inexplicably long things take. We first had the idea for a balcony based rainwater harvesting system 4 years ago. We already had customers collecting rainwater on building rooftops so balconies seemed like the next logical transition. So three years ago we started prototyping and in 2014 we even sent a unit out for a customer to test. But it took us another painstaking  2 years until today when we can finally say to customers "we are ready to ship." Most of the delay came from making sure the product is  easy to use yet as sturdy as possible. Now we think we have the solution that's just right for your typical urban balcony garden. All the details about the product are here. Please feel free to contact us with questions.

by RainSaucers Inc. on August 13th, 2016

Unless it rains year round in your area, you will most likely have a Season when you will not be collecting rain. For those on the West Coast, that Season is Summer (no rain just 5 months of Drought). In the Northern regions of the Midwest and East, that Season is Winter (our products are not rated for snow). During those off-Seasons, we highly recommend you store away your RainSaucer to increase its longevity. Fortunately, take down is easy and there are multiple ways to store the RainSaucers disks.
  • Hanging on the wall: in our experience, the holes at the outer edges are strong enough to support several months of placement on a hook or nail. Wall hanging is also a nice space saver.
  • Standing upright between wall and rack: the disks are thin enough that they can easily slide between the wall and a storage rack in the garage. The key is to make sure the fit is tight so that there is no buckling at the bottom.
  • Roll up and store in a rain barrel (see photo):  if you’re storing your RainSaucer and rain barrel both, why not put one inside the other? The RainSaucer disks can be rolled into a cylinder and dropped into your open top barrel, drum or container.
Finally, if you are the proud owner of an 84” RainSaucer, you only need to store the white fabric sheet. The remaining metal parts are made from galvanized steel and should have no trouble weathering the off-Season.

by RainSaucers Inc. on June 2nd, 2016

What's the biggest marketing headache for vendors in the rain barrel and rainwater harvesting industry? Lack of awareness and the persistent myth that catching rain is illegal, especially in the West.

We got  so tired of proving the legality of RWH back in 2013 we wrote a now widely read post on the topic. In that original post we talked about Colorado's pilot rain barrel programs and local efforts. But for many Colorado residents that wasn't enough- they wanted a State bill that would fully sanction rain barrels. The result:  as of April, 2016 Colorado is now a fully rain barrel friendly State. Gov. John Hickenlooper signed House Bill 1005, which allows a maximum of two rain barrels — with a combined capacity of 110 gallons — at each household. The measure is to take effect on Aug. 10. The Colorado Legislature passed the bill  after previously rejecting the measure in past sessions over concerns that household rain barrels would take water from the supply available to agriculture and other water-rights holders.

With Colorado's embrace of household rainwater collection, there is no place left in the United States where legality could be in question. Time to put that myth to rest once and for all.

by RainSaucers Inc. on May 2nd, 2016

Some people simply prefer to build things themselves rather than buy off-the-shelf products. We get that. In fact, many of our Prepper and Gardener customers are natural DIY types that view rain catchment as the DIY alternative to piped city water. And yet these customers still come to us for the rain collector portion of their projects. Why? Because as simple as RainSaucers are they are not easy to replicate with store bought materials. The UV resistant plastic we use in the 48" and 59" versions can only be bought wholesale.  Similarly, the base plate we use in the 84" version is a custom job. Still we often get comments on our Social Media posts that our product's functionality can be replicated by other means.

The main DIY competitor we hear about is the upside down umbrella on a bucket. We know this concept well because it's where we started. Our first prototypes were upside down umbrellas. But we gave up on that approach because the umbrellas never lasted. The material always ripped, the rod always rusted, and inversion from wind was a problem. Another DIY competitor we hear about is the Boy Scout Tarp method. Again we know the method well as it was the inspiration behind our 84" version. The 84" version fixes the problems associated with the Boy Scout method- namely that normal tarps rip from wind (we use extra heavy weight material) and you can only use it if you have trees as a an anchor. The water inlet on the 84" is also extremely efficient whereas the Boy Scout method usually has a problem with loss of rain catchment.

by RainSaucers Inc. on April 11th, 2016

A full rain barrel is a great thing.  But it also means you are now catching and then losing precious rainwater. Or worse, you could be creating a home for mosquitoes.  That's why almost every rain barrel needs an overflow hole.  Simple ones are nothing more than a  hole in the side of the barrel (toward the top) that are covered with some glued on mesh screen. More sophisticated ones allow you to send that overflow into an adjacent barrel so as not lose any rain.

But adding more water storage can be tricky- namely how do you get that overflow from one rain barrel to another? Over the years we've learned that the easiest solution is to drill a hole in the side of the barrel (toward the top) and install a grommet that hugs the hole while allowing a pipe to be added. The brand name of the grommet we use is called Uniseal.

Uniseals come in a variety of sizes but for rain barrel overflow, it does not have to be big. Once a Uniseal is installed and the pipe added (see picture) you now have a means of taking  overflow from one barrel to another.  This can happen at the top inlet of the second barrel (assuming the second barrel is shorter that the first) or at the same height into an appropriately sized hole in the second barrel (the hole should have space for the pipe only).

We would be remiss if we didn't mention that one alternative to an overflow hole is to daisy chain the bottom holes of the rain barrels.  This allows for simultaneous fill up of two barrels. This article describes how one can do that.

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