This is great for small gardens or larger balconies where you get rain but don’t have the space to install a whole rainwater harvesting system.
The Rain Saucer is a stand alone rainwater collection system that doesn’t require any connection to a roof or gutters, or drains to gather stormwater. You can set it up and place it anywhere in your garden where it will collect rainwater and requires very little maintenance. Let’s have a look at some ideas on how to create your own rain saucer and the best ways to do it. This is definitely going to be my next project.
What is a rain saucer?
To start with let’s first see what the rain saucer actually is.
It’s more or less an inverted umbrella that acts as the catchment area with a pipe in the center that channels the rainwater into a rain barrel that it sits on top of. It’s a stand alone unit that doesn’t take up a lot of space. It’s also flexible because you can move from one location to another, provided you empty it of water first.
To put it simply, if you thought you wouldn’t be able to harvest rainwater because you didn’t have the space for it or don’t have rain gutters, think again. You can make a rain saucer and attached it to a small bottle, a rubbish bin or a rain barrel. You can go as small or as large you want to. If you have room for a larger collection tank then go for it. The magic of the rain saucer is that you don’t have to connect it to any other system.
Who invented the rain saucer?
RainSaucer is actually a trademark of the company RainSaucer and was invented by Tom Spargo. He is now retired, although is going to be taking on an advisory role at RainSaucer.
Tom included five components: a food grade polypropylene ’saucer’, pipe fitting, mesh filter, fasteners, and a retention ring for wind resistance.
In Tom’s words: “I simply pondered why it is that this great concept isn’t more widespread and decided it was too much of a ‘project’ and not enough of a ‘product.’ RainSaucers aims to make RWH a product you can buy in local markets, just like you can buy solar ovens, solar lights, kick pumps, etc.”
The benefits of using a rain saucer
The most obvious one is that you can harvest rainwater, but this particular system is one that reduces the contamination of the rainwater so much it is drinkable.
The reason for this is because the rainwater is not coming into contact with your roof, floor, gutters or any other foreign objects. If maintained properly, a 200 litre barrel during the rainy season can provide a family with drinkable water for several months.
This then leads us to the amount of money you can save on your water bill. I don’t think I need to get into the logistics of this, but if the average person drinks 2 litres of water a day, and family of three people are consuming 6 litres a day. In one month that is 180 litres. If you emptying your 200 litre collection barrel regularly and storing it, you can provide drinking water for a long period and save 180 litres a month on your water bill, maybe not huge amounts, but every bit counts, right?
You can again save on your water bill if you are using the water for the garden. Making sure your plants and grass flourish with sufficient water can get expensive and severely impact your water bill. Some things I am going to be looking at are connecting the rain saucer to a drip irrigation system so you not only provide your plants with good nutrient filled rainwater, but also make sure they are always watered sufficiently. This not only saves money, but also time.
What you need to build a Rain Saucer
There are two ways you go about this. One is to buy a kit from RainSacer themselves, the other is to build your own as a “project”.
If you have a look at RainSaucer, you can get a pretty good idea of what is needed in order to build your own. If you do want to use the rainwater as drinking water then you will need to catch the water on a material that will not contaminate it.
You will also need to make sure you have proper filters in place so that you don’t get bugs and leaves and all other kinds of unsavory things that will make your drinking water bad.
So, what are some of these materials and items
Food grade polypropylene – polypropylene is plastic, but not all plastics are the same. The plastic used to make PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride) piping is much different to the plastic used in bread bags which is HDPE (High Density Polyethylene). This is also much different to the plastic used for drinking bottles and food containers which is PETE/PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate).
So why should you use polypropylene? It is a thermoplastic polymer making it very resistant to heat. You can leave it in the blazing sun and it will not melt or create any problems that will contaminate the water. It’s also resistant to fats and almost all organic solvents.
Do you need to use polypropylene? Not necessarily, as long as you find a plastic that is food grade and is resistant to heat and won’t contaminate the water with chemicals.
Mesh filter – as with any rainwater harvesting system, you need to add filters to collect leaves and such things as you don’t want those getting into the water collection tank. In the case of the rain saucer this is a fine mesh that goes over the the hole in the center of the saucer.
Fasteners and retention ring – if you have been in a storm with an umbrella and got a strong gust of wind, you know what happens to the umbrella. To prevent your rain saucer and rain barrel from being blown into your neighbors garden, make sure you tie down the saucer appropriately and the barrel isn’t thrown over. I know this may seem obvious but it is one of those oversights that happens all too often and will save you a lot of headache.
From RainSaucer itself, actually Tom Spargo’s YouTube Channel, here is a typical example of what you can get from there with installation instructions.
Build you own rain saucer
If you are or have built your own rain saucer I would love to hear from you. Let me know what problems you had to contend with and what you may have used to achieve a finished result.
As mentioned above I will be attempting this project myself, that is to build a rain saucer from scratch without any help from a kit. I should probably call it a rain catcher and funnel but semantics.
One thing that you might overlook from the beginning is that because it is a saucer, it must be round. That’s not the case at all. A square, triangular or even a pentagonal catchment area will suffice. As long as you get a large enough area for your needs, it will work out just fine no matter what shape it is.
Also, have a look on Pinterest for some great ideas. Some I have seen are quite interesting, such as using one barrel but attaching multiple saucers that feed into each other and then into the barrel. You can then do all stand alone units placed in different places of your garden, or a series of saucers and barrels. For instance, use three saucers that pipe into one barrel and then add more barrels with pipes at the bottom to feed the water into all of them equally.
Hey, just have fun, that’s my motto.