Rain Barrel Downspout Diverters

FEW INVESTMENTS ARE MORE PRACTICAL for backyard gardeners than a rain barrel with a downspout diverter. If you have a good sized garden, harvesting water from your rooftop can:

1. Save on your water bill, particularly where rates are high
2. Allow you to conserve water or continue gardening during a watering ban
3. Provide chlorine-free water for your plants
4. Stop soil erosion from fouling brooks, creeks, streams and vernal pools

If you want a rain barrel and live in an area where temperatures drop below freezing, you need to consider how to shut down the water harvesting system in winter. A downspout diverter makes it easy to revert back to your original, winter-ready gutter system. Plus, if you set it up right, a diverter will automagically divert water back to the gutter system to prevent the rain barrel from overflowing.

As DIY projects go, installing a diverter is an easy one – even for someone who is NOT great with tools.

You can use a rain barrel without a downspout diverter. My father-in-law does, but he lives in Florida where he never has to shut down his barrels due to ice. He has a daisy chain of several barrels and no cellar, so he’s not concerned with the barrels overflowing and water getting into his cellar.

Rain Barrel Downspout Diverter Guide

I suspect that downspout diverters are available offline in stores in areas where water is less plentiful. In my area, where water is plentiful and cheap, they are not available in brick and mortar stores. You can only get them online.

To make it easy for you to pick a diverter, I’ve provided a handy guide to the most popular products. I’ve only looked at automatic diverters and not manual options that require you to switch the water flow from the rain barrel to the gutter system manually.

Two important considerations are the size of the gutter on which the diverter will fit and the length of the hose you need to connect the diverter to the rain barrel. You need to make sure the diverter fits your gutter and the hose is long enough to reach from the diverter to your barrel.

Here’s a synopsis of the some of the most popular downspout diverters:

Rainreserve Basic Rain Diverter

Comments: This is the diverter I’ve used for three years. There are some improvements that could be made in the design, but all in all, it’s a pretty good product. You can read my product review at Rainreserve Rain Diverter. Some people have said that they didn’t like the hose that came with the product and have purchased their own.

Price: $39.99 Free shipping with Prime.

Hose: 6 Feet

Gutter Sizes: 2 x 3 Inches, 3 x 4 Inches

Buy: Amazon Link* Rainreserve Rain Barrel Diverter

Oatey 14209 Mystic Rainwater Collection System

Comments: This diverter has the hose outlet on the side of the box, unlike the others. This should make it easier to connect to the barrel, but may leave more water in the diverter. This could increase the chance of mold or algae growing. Made of UV-Resistant material that can be painted.

Price: $17.14 Amazon prime free shipping.

Hose: 4 feet hi-flo hose.

Gutter Sizes: Fits Standard 2″ x 3″ residential downspouts.

Buy: Amazon Link* Mystic Rainwater Collection System

Fiskars DiverterPro Kit

Comments: Some people have said that the 2 x 3 inch gutter adapter leaks and that they needed to buy a 4 inch downspout adapter. See this person’s Amazon review.

Price: $29.75 Free shipping with Prime.

Hose: Stretches From 9 to 36 Inches

Gutter Sizes: 2 x 3 Inches, 3 x 4 Inches

Buy: Amazon Link* Fiskars DiverterPro Kit

Do you have experience using a downspout diverter. I very much would like to know what your experience has been. Let our community know by commenting below.

Related articles that might interest you:

1. Product Review: Rain Reserve Diverter
2. Fixing an Overflowing Rain Barrel
3. Seven Eco-friendly Ideas for Fruit and Vegetable Gardeners

*If you purchase using one of these links, I make a small amount of money that allows me to continue to write articles.

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11 Responses to “Rain Barrel Downspout Diverters”

  1. April 8, 2011 at 11:02 am #

    These downspout diverters look like a great solution to add to a rain barrel! I am getting ready to install another rain barrel to my house and will definitely use one of these for it.

    I may even convert my existing rain barrel over to this.

    • April 8, 2011 at 11:41 am #

      Tee — I’m going to be putting my rain barrel outside today now that the danger of water freezing solid is over. At least I hope it’s over.

  2. July 19, 2011 at 6:14 pm #

    Here in the UK these barrels give a double saving because the water companies charge for water from your gutters going into the drainage system! Great info – good stuff 😀

  3. DougR
    May 10, 2017 at 3:50 pm #

    I have used 2 different types of diverters. One type (I don’t recall the brand) is very efficient at catching rainwater as all water coming down the downspout is directed into a small reservoir and as that reservoir fills the first outflow it reaches is the the one that leads to the closed-system rain barrel. Once the rain barrel is full the reservoir continues to fill until it reaches a second outflow that directs the water down the remainder of the downspout. My issues with that system are that:
    1) debris can collect in the reservoir and clog the outflow that leads to the rain barrel; and
    2) winterizing the system requires disconnecting the hose that leads to the rain barrel and installing a plug in its place (which sometimes falls off during winter, resulting in meltwater pouring onto the sidewalk beside our house and then freezing).

    The other type I have used is the Fiskars diverer, which has a great self-cleaning leaf screen feature and can be winterized without having to disconnect any hoses, but is far less efficient at catching rainwater, particularly during light rainfalls, as:
    1) much of the water coming down the downspout either bounces off the leaf screen, rather than passing through it, or drips off the front edge of the downspout and misses the leaf screen entirely, thereby completely bypassing the water capture chamber; and
    2) the water capture chamber itself is not watertight (the plastic insert that creates the chamber just rests on a plastic ledge with no seal of any kind), so water that does make it into the chamber continually leaks out past the unsealed edges of the chamber making it hard during light rains for enough water to accumulate in the chamber to reach the outflow hole that leads to the rain barrel. I suppose I could caulk the insert in place, but I like the fact that I can easily winterize the diverter simply by removing the insert, rather than having to disconnect the outflow hose and then cap the outflow hole.

    I would like to see the design of the Fiskars diverter improved to address these two issues, or someone else come up with a design for a diverter that is efficient at diverting rain water (including during light rains), includes a self-cleaning leaf screen and is easy to winterize.

    • May 10, 2017 at 5:14 pm #

      Doug — you’ve given some good thought to what would make a better diverter. I’d like to point out that I don’t have the problem of debris because mine isn’t directly connected and has a wide (screened) hole for the water to pass through. But this causes other problems, which you don’t have.

  4. Fred Oswald
    June 21, 2017 at 3:13 pm #

    Here is my Amazon review of the Fiskars DiverterPro from March 8, 2016

    Review of Fiskars Rain Barrel DiverterPro Kit.

    This is based on using with a 2X3″ downspout. If the review would allow half stars, I’d give it a 4.5 star rating.

    Pros — with the modifications described below, it captures water from a light rain fairly efficiently yet does not overflow during a heavy rain as some other diverters do. One diverter can fill two barrels (or a chain of barrels daisy-chained together).

    Cons — It takes a bit of work to shape the downspout to fit the diverter. You also need silicone seal to prevent leaking from the bottom.

    Modifications: First, if using with a non-Fiskars barrel, do not blindly cut the downspout per the directions. Hold the diverter up to the downspout with the outlet at the height you want the barrel inlet to be. Allow 1/2″ for the downspout to fit into the diverter and make your top cut there. Then note you cut off 10.5″ for a 2×3″ downspout. It’s easier to cut and fit the downspout if you remove it from the house. If you mount your barrel on a base or concrete blocks you will have room to get a bucket under a spigot at the bottom of the barrel.

    The diverter outlet should be within 1/4″ of the height of the inlet fittings on the barrel. I used barrels that originally held olives that are curved on top so I had to pick a fairly flat place to mount the fittings. (See photo.) You need a 1″ drill (spade bit works well) to mount the inlet fitting.

    After the downspout is cut, you need to shape it to flatten the fluting and square the corners. I used large linesman’s pliers for this. Take extra care fitting the bottom piece and caulk it well with silicone seal to prevent leaking.

    I suggest two more minor modifications to improve water harvesting efficiency with a light rain: (1) add a flap made from a scrap of flat plastic (I cut one out of a plastic mouthwash bottle) and fasten to the top of the 2×3″ adapter at the front with two sheet metal screws. This will force the water to hit the “filter” rather than running down the downspout. (2) Use silicone seal at the bottom of the “filter” so water doesn’t leak out the bottom.

    To connect two barrels, you need another inlet fitting to attach to the 2nd barrel. If you buy the connector kit, You get two fittings and a bit of hose.


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