Equipping your home with a high capacity water tank can add a great deal of independence and peace of mind to your everyday life. With tanks easily capable of storing dozens or even hundreds of gallons of water to be accessed in times of emergencies, or versatile containers which can be used continually as part of a rainwater harvesting system, having a water storage container can prove invaluable as an emergency preparation or as a practical way to save on your water bill.
In this article, we’ll take some time to review the best water tanks we’ve found on the market. We’ll look a variety of sizes and brands, as well as highlighting some tips about purchasing, setting up, and maintaining your water storage container. Click here to skip directly to the water tank reviews, or keep scrolling to read some of our tips-and-tricks on purchasing and owning your own water storage tank.
Storing or Collecting Water with a High Capacity Water Tank
When it comes to storing and collecting drinking water, it might seem like just about any sort of container would work well for water storage. But there are several important criteria for selecting the right water tank for your needs.
- High Quality Materials: The type of water tanks we are looking at in this review are all made from extremely durable food-grade plastics. These materials are tested by the FDA and other regulatory agencies to ensure they are safe and don’t leach any toxic chemicals into the water they store. The most common type of plastic used in these water tanks is polyethylene.
- Easy to Fill and Use: If you plan to only store water long-term, it’s not as important to have an easy-access spigot or ready-made plumbing installed in your water tank like you would need with a rainwater collection system. But regardless of what your intent is, its important to look for a tank which has well-placed spigots and entry points to make filling, draining, and cleaning a simpler task.
- Blocks Light: Ideally, your water tank won’t let any light through. This helps prevent the growth of microorganisms in your water.
- Size & Transportation: Be very careful to take a lot of measurements and know exactly what your plans are before investing in any of the high-capacity water tanks. Some are too big to be transported without the help of special equipment, and even water tanks on the smaller end of the spectrum can leave a huge footprint when installed on your property.
How Big Should My Water Tank Be?
While we would recommend everyone have at least some form of high-capacity water storage containers available on their property, the size of the water tank can vary dramatically depending on your needs. There are two primary considerations: capacity of the tank and space available for its installation.
When selecting the capacity, think of your households’ daily water usage. If you’re planning to use the water tank as an emergency water storage container, keep in mind FEMA’s emergency guidelines which recommend having at least 1 gallon per-person per-day on hand. If you’re planning to use it was a rainwater collection tank, consider your intended water usage and your area’s rainfall averages to determine the best size.
Where Can I Install My Water Tank?
While some of the water tank options we’ll examine below could fit in a garage, basement, or even be tucked somewhere in your home, the larger options almost all require being setup outside. If being installed as part of a rainwater collection system, the water tank should be placed close to the home to minimize the amount of gutter needed to reach the tank.
For those planning long-term storage, the main concern is ease of access during an emergency. But another important factor is routine maintenance, as your emergency water supply should be disinfected every six months. And for those who live in colder climates, the weather poses a serious risk.
Storing Water Long-Term: Maintaining Your Water Tank
If you plan on installing water tanks for long-term storage to use in the event of an emergency, you will need to be aware of some regular maintenance necessary to ensure your water is fresh and safe to drink when you need it. Always properly clean and sanitize any water storage containers before filling them.
If you’re filling your tanks from a municipally treated water source like tap water, consult your local water authority’s website or office to see what type of disinfectant is used in the water. If filling from an unsterilized source, ensure the water is properly filtered and treated before storing. Take a look at our Preparing an Emergency Water Supply Infographic and consider printing it out and storing it with your water tanks.
Once you’ve filled your tanks, you will want to retreat them with disinfectant every six months. The simplest way to disinfect is by adding 8 drops of unscented 6% Sodium Hypocholorite bleach, or 6 drops of 8.25% Sodium Hypocholorite bleach, dispensed with a medicine dropper. If you are using a different type of water disinfectant, consult the manufacturer’s label and other information to find out how frequently your water must be treated.
It is essential to maintain active disinfectant in the tank even if you don’t plan on drinking the water, in order to prevent the build-up of nasty and potentially toxic microorganisms in the tank. Your emergency water supply should be drained at least every 1-2 years and refilled completely for optimal sanitation.
How To Prevent Your Water Tank From Freezing
The major concern for those who plan to install their water tanks in a climate with freezing temperatures is damaging the water tank. While having your water frozen in a life-or-death situation could be a disaster in itself, every winter poses a threat to your water tank investment regardless of circumstance. Water expands when it freezes, which can spell a cracked and leaky water tank if the pressure of the ice gets to be too much.
For smaller water tanks, the simplest option to prevent freezing is to keep them inside your home or garage where temperatures don’t reach freezing. For large water tanks where this kind of setup is not practical, you may consider constructing a special housing to keep the tanks in on your property. Alternatively, for places with mild winters, the tank can be wrapped in plastic and insulation to minimize heat transfer. Certain types of water tanks can be buried in the ground deep enough to avoid freezing, but most water tanks are not designed to be buried.
However, for the coldest climates, none of these methods is likely to be enough. These types of places require some type of water tank heater to provide enough heat to prevent the water tank from freezing.
Top 5 Best Water Tanks
These excellent and highly durable Romotech water tanks provide an affordable and ideal way to store an emergency water supply. Highly versatile, they can do a fantastic job either as storage-only containers or integrated as part of a rainwater collection system. Available in two models with their own size ranges, the smaller Romotech water tanks are available in square 30, 50, and 100 gallon varieties, while the larger beefed-up versions feature a slightly different design that includes a rounded tank with legs available in 125, 325, and 550 gallon varities.
All of these varieties of Romotech water tank are FDA-approved for potable water and made from BPA-free food-grade polyethylene plastics. Each includes bulkheads for easy access or fitting a spigot, and include bottom-of-tank drainage options to ensure the tanks can be completely drained. While durable enough to handle outdoor storage and resist the elements, the excellent space economy of both the smaller Romotech squares and the larger model makes these tanks well-suited to being stored in a garage or basement.
Offering a much larger range of shapes and sizes than some competing water tanks, there is a Romotech water tank to fit just about every application.
This no-nonsense 100 Gallon Polymart Rain Water Storage Container is a great all-around water tank suited for rain water collection, emergency water storage, or both. Constructed from FDA-certified BPA-free food-grade polyethylene plastic durable enough to withstand the elements. The Polymart water tank includes a stainless steel screen to cover the top opening and prevent debris from washing into the tank. The tank comes pre-fitted with an outlet bulkhead and a 3/4″ bulkhead to easily install a spigot.
With an attractively affordable price tag, this is a top pick if you’re working on a tight budget. While marketed as a rain water collector and designed with an opening at the top to catch rain water, the Polymart water tank is easily sealed up and could be used instead as a long-term water storage solution.
To check current prices or learn more about the Polymart 100 Gallon Rain Harvest Collection Water Tank, visit the Amazon listing.
This 260 Gallon Emergency Water Storage Tank from Sure Water is designed entirely with long-term water storage in mind. While it could be setup as a rain water collection system, it is much more suited to emergency storage, as the name implies. If you have plenty of vertical space available, the Sure Water Emergency Water Storage Tank is one of most efficient uses of space of any water storage container you’re likely to find. These tanks are extremely tall and narrow, standing 82″ high and 33″ across at the widest point at 28″ at the narrowest. Turned side-ways, this allows the water tank to fit through almost any standard door.
Ideally suited for installation in a basement, garage, or closet, this is an excellent pick for those looking to have direct access to their emergency water supply stored inside their home. However, the HDPE plastic is also durable enough to be suitable for outdoor storage, but the space economy of these water tanks is clearly optimized for inside the home.
To check current prices or learn more about the Sure Water 260 Gallon Emergency Water Storage Tanks, visit the Amazon listing.
For even more on the Sure Water Emergency Water Storage Tank, check out this short YouTube video from the manufacturer:
If you want to equip your property with a high capacity rain water storage container without compromising the look of your lawn or garden, the Algreen Barcelona is probably the classiest-looking water tank you’ll find. Designed for rain water collection, Algreen rain water collectors are equipped with an opening at their top covered by a corrosion-free mesh to prevent debris from falling into the tank while allowing water to pass through.
The water tank includes two spigots, one mid-way down the tank and another situated at the bottom to allow for complete drainage. Out of the box these are equipped with standard hose threading, which allows you to easily attach a variety of hoses and accessories. Algreen offers a Rain Barrel Link Kit which can be used to connect the overflow outlet of multiple Algreen collection barrels together to increase storage capacity.
Despite being made from BPA-free, heavy-duty polyethylene plastics, these Algreen rain water barrels all have an intriguing look which can compliment even the most elegant gardens. As a rain water collection solution, these are great products. However, when it comes to long-term water storage solutions, the other options in this review are much better suited to the task. While it is possible to seal the Algreen yourself, it is designed to be left open to collect rain. And though the designs already have an impressively small footprint for their 100-gallon capacity, the form-over-function design which gives them their neat aesthetic makes them less efficient on space than some other options.
Check current prices and learn more about the Algreen Barcelona 100-Gallon Rain Water Storage Container by visting the Amazon listing.
The Graf Herkules Water Tank is the bomb-shelter of water storage tanks. Constructed from 100% recycled UV-resistant polypropylene, the Graf Herkules Water Tank is an order of magnitude stronger and more durable than the other water tanks on this list. One of few water tanks which can withstand being buried deep enough to avoid freezing (rated for up to 40″ burial depth,) the Graf Herkules stands head and shoulders above most of the competition in the long-term water storage containers game.
But aside from it’s extreme strength and durability, the Graf Herkules has a remarkably compact design. With a 430-gallon capacity, it offers a footprint substantially smaller than many competing tanks. Standing about 63″ tall and 53″ across at the widest point, the water tank has been designed to tilt comfortably through standard 32″ doorways. This makes the Graf Herkules one of the few water storage containers with a capacity in the multiple hundreds of gallons which can reliably fit into most homes, enabling it to be more easily installed in a basement, garage, laundry room, or even a large closet.
Ideal for either rain water collection or long term water storage, the Graf Herkules certainly sits at the high-end of water storage container solutions, but is worth looking into for those serious about their water independence.
Check current prices and learn more about the Graf Herkules 430 Gallon Water Tank by visiting the Amazon listing.
Other Water Storage Containers
While these next two options don’t really fit the strict requirements of being a water “tank,” they do provide functional and novel ways to store a huge amount of water. Let’s take a look.
These water storage bladders from Aqua Tank are pretty nifty. With an inner liner composed of BPA-free FDA-approved food-grade polyurethane and an exterior of extremely durable nylon, these bladders can contain a huge amount of water yet fold up to next to nothing when empty. Very lightweight and easy to transport, these are a great option for RV owners or as part of your camping equipment.
While these bladders could prove very useful in an emergency, we do not recommend them as a long-term water storage solution. If properly stored they may last just as long as other water tanks, however we would rather err on the side of caution. The design of the bladder makes it inherently more vulnerable than a sturdy heavy-duty plastic water tank. However, the Aqua Tank is designed to be transported and the tough nylon exterior is capable of taking a lot of abuse.
Learn everything you need to know about the AQUATANK2 in our complete review of the water storage bladder. To check current prices and learn more details about the AquaTank2 Water Storage Bladder, visit the Amazon listing.
Curious about how the AquaTank2 looks in action? Check out this short YouTube clip of user JP Beck reviewing his AquaTank2 bladder as he fills it up.
The RainReserve Build-a-Barrel is a very interesting and unique approach to water storage. The Build-a-Barrel consists of a 100 gallon water bladder and a set of plastic walls and rods which can be put together in a variety of configurations, allowing you to choose the final shape of your 100-gallon water storage container between four possible options suggested in the manual.
The modular design of the Build-a-Barrel and the ability to change the final shape is quite unusual in the world of water tanks, but ultimately we find this product to be something of a novelty. It may do well to supplement your garden, but we would not want to rely on it for a serious rain water harvesting system, and it certainly doesn’t meet the mark for emergency water storage. But if you’re looking for a cool rain water collector, this is a neat option which will be fun to put together.
To check current prices or learn more details on the RainReserve Build-a-Barrel 100 Gallon Rain Water Collection Tank, visit the Amazon listing.
If you’d like a better idea of what the RainReserve Build-a-Barrel looks like and how to put it together, check out this brief video from the manufacturer:
Water Filters: Essential Backup Plan
Having a huge store of water on hand is a great asset to your peace of mind and potentially invaluable in a disaster situation. But what will you do if disaster strikes and you find your precious store of water to be contaminated? With the right equipment, this can be nothing more than a minor inconvenience.
A gravity water filter system such as a Berkey Countertop Gravity Filter or any of a a range of other countertop gravity filters can filter water for the needs of a whole household. A filter like this provides an ideal compliment to a high-capacity water storage tank, ensuring you have both the water on hand and the ability to filter it. Gravity filters require no installation or electricity, making them highly portable, incredibly easy to use, and very reliable, especially in an emergency.
Another option is any selection of the huge number of portable personal water filters, which are a great way to make sure you can filter at least enough water for your own personal use.
You can also keep some water purification tablets on hand to rapidly sterilize the water before drinking, should the need arise.
That’s Enough Water Storage Containers For Now!
Hopefully this guide has put you on the right track to finding the perfect water storage container for your emergency preparations or your rain water collection system. We think everyone should be taking steps to make themselves more resource-independent in everyday life, and thinking about where your water comes from is an excellent way to get started towards that goal.
Have any questions, comments, or suggestions? We’d love to hear from you in the comments section below. Let us know if we missed something or what kind of content you’d like to see in the future on the Hydration Anywhere blog!
Thanks for reading.
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An in-depth guide describing everything you need to know about purchasing, installing, filling, and maintaining a high-capacity water storage tank.
Jacob Hatch is the author and founder of Hydration Anywhere. He has been actively writing about drinking water since 2013. These days Jacob spends most of his time investigating water related news, studying environmental issues, reading health studies, and reviewing products like water bottles and water filters.