Updated: January 27, 2020
An automatic downspout diverter routes water from your home’s gutter system into your rain barrel. This gives you an easy, cheap way to collect all the water that falls on your roof.
I’ve used the Rain Reserve Automatic Downspout Diverter for 10+ years, and it’s served me well. It has collected literally thousands of gallons of water.
Let’s take a sec to get the legal words out of the way. This article may contain affiliate links. That means if you click and buy from my partners, I will make a tiny amount of money. This in no way affects my recommendations.
But I’ve learned a lot in 10+ years, and I now recommend the Oatey Mystic Rainwater Collection System instead.
Now that I’ve used the Rain Reserve for a while, I’m can tell you how it’s performed compared to the Oatey diverter.
The bottom line is I like it (with a few caveats). I CAN’T give it an unrestricted thumbs up.
My recommendation is to buy an Oatey downspout diverter instead.
Here’s a really nice video of the Oatey unit set up.
Table of Content
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Read the rest of the my review to avoid making the same initial mistakes I did.
Why an automatic downspout diverter?
Here in New England (and most places), downspout diverters are necessary for a couple of reasons.
First, you need a diverter because, once the rain barrel is full, you don’t want the excess water spilling next to your foundation. Why not? Because the water will drain into your basement.
Second, before winter sets in, you want to be able to remove the rain barrel. Otherwise, it will freeze and crack when the ice expands.
A diverter will allow you to remove and store the barrel. In fact, the gutter will function exactly as it did before installing the rain barrel.
Although it took me longer than the marketing materials suggested, I was able to install the Rain Reserve. And I’m not the most handy person when it comes to these types of things. In other words, it was easy.
Where I ran into trouble was lining up the height of the rain barrel and the diverter on the downspout.
Here’s how it’s supposed to work: When the barrel is full, the diverter sends the water automatically into the gutter system as if the diverter wasn’t there. This prevents the water from overflowing out of the barrel.
Level with the top of Barrel
But to make this work properly the level of the downspout must line up with the top of the barrel. If the barrel is too low, the water overflows and never goes into the gutter system. If too high, the water starts flowing out the gutter system and the barrel never fills to the top.
It worked perfectly when I first set it up. But over time the weight of the water packed down the dirt and dropped the level of the barrel below the level of the diverter. This caused the water to overflow the barrel instead of going down the downspout.
I tried building up the height of the barrel with bricks. But it became painfully obvious that you couldn’t keep the level constant. It was going to change up or down no matter what I did.
My solution was to use a hose to connect the rain barrel overflow to the gutter system. So, when the barrel was full, the excess water routed back into the gutter system and away from my foundation. This was easier to implement than the way it was supposed to work.
Rain Reserve automatic downspout diverter: A couple of other issues
There also are a few other things to know about before buying this product.
First, the white hose that came with the Rain Reserve kit was pretty inflexible. This made it hard to connect to the barrel. I think the new kits now include a more flexible hose, so this may no longer be a problem.
Second, after a while, the caps that cover the drains inside the diverter have started to leak a little. This is the case no matter how tight I put them on. But the volume isn’t too bad. It only leaked a little.
This is the only thing that has worn out in the first three years. Pretty good by my estimation.
Third, after about eight years or so, the sun started to get to the plastic. The UV rays did some damage and the diverter cracked. It wasn’t enough to make it unusable, but enough to cause worry.
The bottom line is buy a downspout diverter that is UV resistant, and you’ll have less to worry about.
I recommend that if you are in the market for a downspout diverter, you consider Rain Reserve.
But, keep in mind, many SHF readers have instead selected the Oatey over the Rain Reserve. They’ve told me that it is UV resistant and performed better.
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