One of the first challenges many face when living off the grid is obtaining fresh water. Of course, drilling a well is an obvious solution. However, drilling a well can easily cost $10,000. Furthermore, wells are not always viable in many locations, such as mountainous regions or locations in the desert.

Fortunately, there is a free supply of freshwater close at hand. It falls outright of the sky. Harvesting rainwater, storing it, treating it, and having enough on hand for year-round use can be a crucial component to the living off-grid successfully.

The three best ways to harvest rainwater include:


Barrel Method

This simple, common-sense method involves placing a barrel beneath a gutter downspout from your roof. A hard rain can quickly fill a 100-gallon barrel in just minutes. The barrel method’s downside is that the amount of water one can collect is limited to the barrel size. It’s not a long-term solution.


Dry System

This system is simply a bigger and better version of the barrel method. Instead of 50-to-100-gallon barrels, one sets up a large holding tank near a roof. A pipe or hose is rigged to send water from the roof into the tank. Commonly sold capacity sizes for such tanks are 600 to 1,500 gallons. It’s called the “dry” system because it refers to a roof “drying” after it rains by draining into a tank.


Wet System

This involves installing water pipes underneath the ground. The wet system is usually used when a large building is available. When rainwater flows down from a roof and enters the underground pipes, gravity pressure will force the water back up again and fill a holding tank with the help of a “tank riser.” This system’s advantage is that you can use a huge tank that does not have to be right next to a house. The disadvantage is the difficulty of installing an underground pipe system. That can be an expensive and significant undertaking. One other problem with the wet system is that some water will always stay underground in the pipes because gravity can’t push out 100% of it. That results in stagnant water.


John Shramko Chattanooga