What Is a Rain Chain?

Rain Chain hanging from a gutter into a rain barrel.

Rain chains are an elegant, functional and affordable outdoor accessory that adds charm to any home. As a simple way to add a unique and decorative accent to your house, rain chains maintain the functionality of a traditional downspout. 

The way rain chains work is really quite simple. Most homes today have rain gutters, and at the end of the gutter is a downspout. Rainwater that hits a roof flows into gutters, which then channel water to downspouts. The rainwater falls through downspouts toward the ground where it's usually channeled away from a building. Rain chains replace the downspout and guide rain water down the chains which is a beautifully innovative way of managing rainwater runoff. Rain Chains can be found in a wide variety of styles and themes. Link Style Rain Chains are a series of decorative links that help guide rainwater to the ground. Cup Style Rain Chains include a series of connected cups, like the Flower Cups Rain Chain pictured on this page.

Rain chains, which originated in Japan hundreds of years ago, are made with a series of connected copper or other metal cups hung from a decorative chain. They guide rain water to the ground, replacing traditional aluminum or plastic downspouts. Rain chains are a beautiful addition to your home and the soothing sound they make as rain water tumbles down the chain helps create a relaxing environment for your home.

The material best suited and most commonly used for rain chains is copper. Copper is a natural element that will not rust. Most Copper Rain Chains will develop a beautiful patina over time. Rain chains made from 100% copper (not copper plated) are eco-friendly and can naturally endure being exposed to the various outdoor elements, including snow and ice.

Over the past 20 years, rain chains have steadily gained popularity, especially across North America. People looking for unique ways to accessorize their home or to replace the look of the traditional downspouts have discovered the beauty and appeal of rain chains.

While most people who buy rain chains are interested in a decorative alternative to their traditional downspouts, many others look to rain chains as a means to collect and re-use rain water. To collect rain water using a rain chain, most people add a catch basin, like the Bella Basin or a Rain Barrel under their rain chains. Rain chain catch basins or collection bowls are a graceful addition to your rain chain system. Often beautifully designed from hand-hammered copper. Rain chain catch basins are also used to help reduce soil erosion beneath your chain. They are easily installed and add the perfect finishing touch to your rain chain display.

Rain chain Installation Kits make adding a rain chain to your home quick and simple. Installation kits are designed to funnel rain water more efficiently onto the rain chain by reducing large openings in your gutter. They are easily installed and include a mounting feature for simple rain chain attachment.

In areas of heavy rainfall, we recommend choosing large and extra-large cup rain chains to capture the higher volume of rain water. A popular large cup style chain is the XL Scallop Cups Rain Chain. The biggest cup style rain chain on the market is the Extra Large Square Cups Rain Chain. Keep in mind that rain water will not be totally contained within your rain chain, you should expect some splashing as rain water channels through the cups. Fortunately, this adds to the beauty of a rain chain. The 8' length is fairly standard and quite sufficient for a single story house. However, custom length rain chains are available to match your specific situation. Custom lengths are perfect for adding to your existing chain or to hang above a rain barrel or other water collection basin.

We hope you get the chance to see and hear nature at its best with the relaxing sound of cascading water or the trickling of melting snow through a beautiful rain chain!