by RainSaucers Inc. on August 6th, 2014

55 gallons just seems like an odd number to size a rain barrel. But not when you think of it in metrics when that 55 gallons becomes 200 liters. But still,  you have to wonder- why 200 liters? Apparently its the international standard for drums (aka barrels) and it goes all the way back to  World War II.  

The metric loving yet industrious Axis powers started making the drums out of steel as a way of tranposrting fuel and other liquid supplies. The drum's size, shape, and weight distribution lent itself to being moved about readily on the loading dock or factory floor with a two-wheeled hand truck. The drums could  also be turned on their side and rolled or even moved by hand short distances on firm surfaces by tilting and then rolling along  the base. Soon after the Axis powers starting using the drums, the Allies adopted the same measurements and thus the US 200 liter (55 gallon) drum industry was born. Over time, steel drums were joined by plastic and the top-side holes bung holes were standardized to US pipe measurements.  On a side note, the oil industry never adopted the drum standard. A barrel of oil is based on the 42 US gallons (35 imp gal; 159 L) whiskey barrels of the 1870s.


by RainSaucers Inc. on July 2nd, 2014

So you've got the rainwater collected and now you need to figure out how to get it to the plants. We get a lot of questions about this and the dispensing of water in general. So now seemed like a good time to document what we've learned. The following is an introduction to the methods of watering plants from a rain barrel that we've either adopted ourselves or seen others deploy:
  • Catch A Drip:  originally designed to distribute AC condensate, Catch a drip attaches to the rain barrel faucet and slowly distributes the water along the hose line up to 50 feet.  It is not a soaker hose. It is a regular hose with dripping points along the way. 
  • Rain Barrel Soaker Hose: Most soaker hoses require pressure- this one works with the ordinary pressure of a rain barrel. Soaker hoses are ideal for "soaking" the ground over a the entire length (50') of the hose. 
  • Gravity Fed Drip:  systems come from a variety of vendors. DripWorks has some good possible layouts. These systems are also callled Low Flow Irrigation systems.  Some of our customers have designed their own rain barrel based drip systems tricked out with timers from a centralized piping system. (see photo) Some timers are even solar powered.
  • Self-watering:  what is a drip system if not a hose with tiny holes in it. The same can be done with old plastic bottles to create your own self-watering dripper. Another possibility is to use capillary action or wicking to have the water come from underneath. This Pinterest page has some guidance.
  • RB dip and Hand watering: this is our personal favorite. It's not automated but it sure is easy. If you have a full rain barrel that has topside access, it takes just a few seconds to fill a watering can by dipping. Watering by hand is not so bad if the barrel is located right next to the garden.

by RainSaucers Inc. on June 2nd, 2014

OK this is still a work in progress but clink on this Link ​to go to our basic rainwater harvesting calculator. The idea here is to enable potential buyers of our system to play with the inputs for RainSaucers (or roof) and get a per inch and annual total for rainwater collection. What we really want to do is make the Annual Rainfall automated so that you enter your zip code instead and get the Annual catch. Any other feedback is of course welcome.*

*Please note this is a publicly shared Google Sheet so anyone can edit it. Please let us know if there is anything we need to fix.

by RainSaucers Inc. on May 12th, 2014

When we  started designing our first product (the 48" RainSaucer™), we had to figure out how we were going to attach it to rain barrels.  We soon realized that most 55 gallon drums had two standardized 2" bung hole caps that we could leverage called NPS and Buttress.  

Buttress unfortunately, was not so useful,  as we could not find any adapters locally that were compatible. As we've learned since, this is because  the buttress standard is a highly specialized oil industry thread used because of the tight hydraulic seal it creates. 

NPS, on the other hand, was immediately compatible with the common 2" male PVC adapters from the local hardware store. NPS, which stands for national pipe straight thread, is standard not just to drums but to all piping in the United States. NPS is also referred to within the context of the National Pipe Thread (NPT) standards which were invented by Amercian William Sellers in 1864 as part of wide range of standards for nuts, bolts, and screws.

Another way to distinguish between NPS and Buttress is by their appearance. Buttress caps have a thread where there the lines are spaced further apart making them look more coarse. So they are sometimes called "coarse threads". NPS, by contrast, has threads much closer together so they are often referred to as "fine threads"

by RainSaucers Inc. on April 30th, 2014

We recently received this photo from our friend and trusted advisor, Prof. Billy Kniffen of the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and former President of the American Rainwater Catchment Association. Billy has been advising us on the design and marketing of our product since we started in 2010. We gave Billy a RainSaucer recently and of all the many applications possible, he decided to use it as a bird bath. According to Billy "Attached is the RainSaucer to (a Moby) Rain barrel that has a lid sloped just the same as the saucer. It is being used with a bird bath and adjustable drip emitter to keep dripping by gravity about 1 drop per second. Here in Texas with high winds, the saucer is screwed down to the lid and makes it very strong. "

Billy's application mirrors that of a larger opportunity in Rainwater Harvesting: the use of collected rainwater for attracting wildlife.  All it takes is a method of harvesting the rain, an appropriate sized water storage system, and a watering device to dramatically increase the presence of animals in a given land area. More animals means greater possibilities for tourism, hunting, or animal study. In some States,  there is also the possibility of receiving grant money or a reduction in property taxes because of wildlife habitat creation. 

Similarly, the same setup can be used for watering of livestock. This is especially useful with animals that range over large areas such as goats and sheep. Supplemental water sources located throughout a land area can diversify and lengthen the animals' grazing range and keep them better fed and hydrated.

by RainSaucers Inc. on April 15th, 2014

Almost every other clean technology has gotten a boost from the Federal Government in the form of a Tax Credit.  Most notably the Energy Policy Act of 2005  established a 30% federal tax credit for solar-electric systems, solar water heating systems and fuel cells. The Energy Improvement and Extension Act of 2008 further extended this tax credit to small wind-energy systems and geothermal heat pumps. And this tax credit is still in efect until December of 2016. This equates to 11 years of government subsidy from 2006-2016.

Rainwater Harvesting on the other hand, has  received nothing from the Federal Government- just local initiatives like rain barrel giveaways and an occasional rebate on an RWH system. Given the drought that is currently facing much of this country, you would think the Fed would come to realize that we need a national Water Policy just as much as we need one for Energy. Just as our Energy Policy is targeted at helping us reduce our reliance our foreign sources and create more self sufficiency at the residential level, a Water Policy would promote self-reliance in Water for the home. A Federal Tax Credit for rainwater harvesting systems and all other water saving technologies would be one way to implement such a policy.

by RainSaucers Inc. on April 10th, 2014

John Pacheco, a 3rd grader at Curtis Creek Elementary School in Sonora, CA. Congratulations John and many thanks to all the children who participated.  They showed some real ingenuity in their artwork and we were really pleased to see our message gettting through. In addition to a certifcate of recognition for John, his school  will be receiving a free 59" RainSaucer and DIY Standalone RainBarrel Kit.

by RainSaucers Inc. on March 3rd, 2014

All contest entries postmarked by March 31, 2014 will be accepted.

In order to raise awareness of rainwater harvesting and promote the use of RainSaucers™ as a tool for collecting rain, we are launching today our 1st Annual "Saucers for Schools" Art Contest. All students in grades 3-5 in an Elementary School in the United States (and territories) are eligible to win a 59"RainSaucer + DIY Standalone Rain Barrel Kit ($85 Value) for their School Garden or Campus. There will only be one winner per Grade as judged by the Management of RainSaucers Inc.

• Entries must be on white 8 1/2” x 11” paper with the theme  “Why collect rain?” The artwork must contain the image of a funnel of any size collecting rain and represent an application of collected rainwater (such as Gardening, Landscaping, Drinking, Water for Animals, Bathing, Washing, etc.)  
• The artwork must be 2D, with nothing stuck to it. 
• On the back, please include name (first and last), title of the artwork, name of school,  school's address, student's grade (3-5), teacher's name and email address, parent's name and email address, and home address. 
• Entries must be mailed to RainSaucers Inc., 11040 Bollinger Canyon Road, Suite E-170
San Ramon, CA 94582 with a postmark date no later than March 31, 2014.
• Results will be announced on our blog on April 10, 2014. 
• There is no fee to enter.

All students and teachers should review the rules and guidelines carefully. We will not accept entries that are delayed or do not follow the guidelines. Questions can be asked via our Contact page. By submitting an entry to our Art Contest, the artist agrees that the artwork becomes the property (including all copyrights) of RainSaucers Inc. 

Prize: Each winning artist selected will receive a certificate of recognition and their School will have a 59" RainSaucer and DIY Standalone RainBarrel Kit mailed to them in April. Please note: barrel is not included. 

by RainSaucers Inc. on February 19th, 2014

It's something that's been bothering me for a long time. We have this great product that could help a lot people in developing countries. But each time we get close to some sort of arrangement with a local partner, the topic of water storage comes up. That's where the discussion ends because of total cost- the poor simply cannot afford the tank our system needs. So I'd been wondering how to make a RainSaucer™ that comes with its own tank- for dirt cheap no less. Then it hit me- on KickStarter we see cardboard bikes, cardboard furniture, cardboard speakers. Why not a cardboard tank and RainSaucer™?  It could work as long as we could find a method for waterproofing the cardboard. So  I put the challenge to my new industrial design interns Claudine Zafra and Ray Chen from San Jose State and after significant trial and error we have a few prototypes that are now working. 

Today we issued a press release about our new project- "The Two Dollar Tank" (pictured above, more pictures below).  As the name suggests, the Two Dollar Tank is a rainwater collection system that can be manufactured for less than two dollars making it an ideal solution for the developing world. The key to the low cost is the use of heavy duty carboard for the frame lined by 2 Mil polyethylene sheet inside and out. The idea is similar to that of a water bag but with the cardboard structure to relieve pressure on the bag and allow for access from the top . The open top also allows us to add a RainSaucer™ for standalone collection or as a gutter substitute.  Specs of the system:
  • Tank dimensions are 18" x 18" x 24"
  • Tank holds 4.5 Cubic Feet of Storage or 33.6 Gallons/144 liters
  • 40" octogonal RainSaucer collects rain stand alone or off a roof.
  • In standalone mode, collection surface of approx. 8 square feet= 5 gallons/inch of rain.
  • In roof collection mode surface can increase to 30 square feet= 18 gallons/inch of rain.
  • System is Foldable down to approx. 18" x 24" x 4"
  • Total weight including siphon pump is under 2lbs
  • 100% DIY. User installs tank by folding out bottom flaps on flat suface. RainSaucer rests on top and is secured by string around entire system.
  • Water is removed by lifting up RainSaucer and scooping out water or by low cost Siphon Pump (which can be purchased wholesale from China and customized for well under $1)
  • Expected life of system is 1-3 years. 
The Two Dollar Tank project is currently in the final stages of product development, What we need now is an NGO interested in teaming up with us to finalize the design and field test it. Please contact us if you are interested. 

​More photos and the Bill of Materials are available below.

We start with an 18" x 18" x 24" Box and line it inside and out with 2Mil Black PE Sheet
The RainSaucer is also lined with PE Sheet. It goes on top and is tied down with string.
Top View.
The removable strainer in the Center keep outs debris, bugs, and critters.
When filled with water the tank expands but contracts back when empty.
The added plastic at the bottom of the RainSaucer keeps it in place even when the tank expands from water.
Water can be dispensed with  a Siphon Pump that has been extended. Siphon Action will allow for automatic drainage once flow is established.
The compact form means the system can be easily transported or shipped in case of use for Disasters.
The final retail price could for the initial system would be near $5 - easily affordable by the Bottom of the Pyramid.  Replacement tanks would be available for $2.50.
The Two Dollar Tank Team- from left to right: Tom Spargo, Ray Chen, and Claudine Zafra

by RainSaucers Inc. on February 4th, 2014

We've posted before about why we make in the USA.  The main reason is that for our product, there simply is no cost advantage because of the large size of the plastic sheets and custom tooling involved. Not to mention the qaulity of plastic sheet is simply better here in the US. But for the record, it's not just the plastic sheet for which this is true. Everything that goes into the RainSaucer™ comes from a high quality domestic company
  • The thick nylon twine we use is made by a decades old fish net manufacturer in Louisiana.
  • The nylon fasteners we use are made by an industrial plastic fastener specialist in Arkansas
  • The PVC components are made in California by one of the biggest suppliers of PVC in the United States.

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