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How Much Does A Rainwater Collection System Cost?

Typical Range: $120 - $21,000

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Water Catchment System Cost

Most homeowners pay $2,500 to install a water catchment or rainwater collection system. A single rain barrel might only cost $120 while an extensive system can run up to $21,000. Tank size is one of the main price factors, as is the system setup. For example, adding water disinfection technology will up the price.

One thing to note about rainwater collection systems is that, in some areas, there are rebates that lower the cost. While not available everywhere, some states offer up to 50 percent off the price of installation. Do some research to see if your project could qualify.

On This Page:

  1. Average Rainwater Harvesting System Cost
  2. Rain Barrel Cost
    1. Rain Barrel Installation Cost
  3. Rain Barrel Prices
  4. Cistern Cost
    1. Cistern Installation Cost
    2. Water Cistern Systems Cost
  5. Cistern Prices
    1. Concrete Cistern Cost
  6. Rainwater Filtration System Cost
  7. Rainwater Harvesting System Maintenance Costs
    1. Cistern Cleaning Cost
  8. DIY Rain Collection System vs. Hiring a Pro
  9. FAQs

Average Rainwater Harvesting System Cost

Average Cost $2,500
High Cost $21,000
Low Cost $120

Rain Barrel Cost

Installing a 100-gallon rain barrel could cost anywhere from $120 to $1,600, depending on the material and labor. Plastic barrels are the most cost-effective but might not last as long. If you’re planning on connecting your rain barrel to an irrigation system, you’ll pay more for labor.

Rain Barrel Installation Cost

Hiring a handyman costs from $70 to $250 for rain barrel installation, not including the barrel. Barrel installation could be as simple as finding the best spot to set it up, or it could involve more complex gutter work. Some people even set up sprinkler systems with their rain barrel, which will cost more to install.

If you need additional exterior work to get the rain barrel in place or want to add on extra features, your project prices will increase:

Rain Barrel Prices

Rain barrel prices vary by material and size, but usually run between $0.50 and $4.00 per gallon. Most homeowners pay around $140 for a smaller, 40- to 60-gallon barrel.

Barrel Brand Cost Size
Good Ideas $105 40 gallons
RTS Home Accents $125 50 gallons
Gardener’s Supply Company (2 barrels) $300 150 gallons (combined)
Norwesco $700 1,000 gallons
Bushman $2,160 5,000 gallons
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Cistern Cost

The price to install a cistern spans from $150 to $21,000. Prices on the low end reflect above-ground cisterns that are 50 gallons or less.

The reason prices vary so much is because unlike a rain barrel, a cistern can go above or below ground. Installing a 150- to 200-gallon cistern above ground might not cost more than $660. An underground, 5,500-gallon concrete cistern with UV sterilization is $21,000.

Cistern Installation Cost

Just the installation for a cistern could run upwards of $12,000 or more. An above-ground cistern might only cost between $70 and $250, similar to the cost of a rain barrel, but underground cisterns will dramatically raise installation costs.

With an underground cistern, you might see some of the following project components and prices:

Water Cistern Systems Cost

Prices for a water cistern system might fall between $5,000 and $12,000. A full water cistern system usually includes routing water back to the house so that it’s safe for human use. Talk to a plumber near you for a quote.

Cistern Prices

Above-ground cistern prices are usually the same as rain barrel prices, between $0.50 and $4.00 per gallon. Galvanized steel tends to be the most expensive material. An above-ground, 1,000-gallon steel cistern costs $2,010.

Underground cisterns are significantly higher in material costs.

Underground Cistern Brand Cost Size
Norwesco $810 600 gallons
RTS $2,715 1,175 gallons
Rainwater Management Solutions $2,295 2,500 gallons
Platin $22,300 6,600 gallons

Concrete Cistern Cost

An underground, 5,500-gallon concrete cistern might cost between $17,000 and $21,000 to install, including excavation backfilling, grading and water filtration. If you’re looking for a different size, know that the cost to pour concrete is about $4 per cubic foot, not including labor.

Rainwater Filtration System Cost

A rainwater filtration system typically costs between $1,200 and $3,100 for just the system itself. Find a plumber in your area to see rates for this project.

Rainwater Harvesting System Maintenance Costs

Rainwater harvesting system maintenance will typically cost about $740 per year, assuming you don’t need any repairs. A simple rain barrel is the easiest (and most cost-effective) to maintain, as a simple cleaning a few times a year will do the job. Water filtration systems and underground cisterns cost the most in upkeep.

Here are some costs you can expect to encounter over the course of owning a rainwater harvesting system:

  • For water filtration systems, expect to pay around $250 per year for new UV bulbs and filters.
  • A one-time gutter cleaning costs $160 on average.
  • Replacing a pump costs $1,800 and should happen every 20 years.

Cistern Cleaning Cost

Cleaning a cistern averages $650 for a one-time service. For optimal function and life expectancy, you should schedule a cleaning every two years.

DIY Rain Collection System vs. Hiring a Pro

If you’re looking to put in a smaller, easy-to-install rain barrel, there’s a good chance you can take this project on by yourself. However, you still might need to contact someone to work with your gutters to make sure they fit. It’s also important to do your research on how rain barrels work. You might not think it, but smaller barrels can flood from less than 1 inch of rain!

Larger rain collection systems and underground cisterns almost certainly require a professional. These projects can involve anything from land grading and excavation to setting up a water filtration system. Especially when redirecting rainwater for human use, it’s extremely important to rely on a professional for safety’s sake.


How do you install a cistern system?

Installing a cistern can be as easy as placing a barrel or tank underneath a downspout, or as complex as putting one underground. For underground cisterns, a team will excavate land, place the cistern and route it for irrigation and/or household purposes, then fill the land back in once it’s set up. If using the water throughout the home, a professional will also hook it up to your home’s plumbing.

What are cistern liner prices?

Cistern liner prices vary on the size of the cistern and material you choose. You’ll have to contact a manufacturer for specific costs.

How does a cistern work?

A cistern collects rainwater, either from gutters and downspouts or from rainwater seeping into the ground. You can repurpose that water in a number of ways, such as for a sprinkler system, for watering your garden, or even for filtering into potable water.

How long can you store rainwater?

The length of time that you can store rainwater depends on the condition and purpose of the water, as well as the collection system you have set up. For watering your garden or lawn, water is fine to use for a long time as long as algae doesn’t start to grow. For water drinking purposes, water can last indefinitely as long as it’s properly treated and in a container that doesn’t break down.

How much rainwater can I collect?

For every inch of rain that falls over 1,000 square feet of collection surface, you can collect between 550 and 630 gallons of rainwater. In other words, if you have a 1,000-square foot roof and you get half an inch of rain and all that water is directed to your harvesting system, you’ll collect 225 gallons of water.

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