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Northern Territory Cattlemen's Association

Types of Rainwater Tanks

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Types of Rainwater Tanks

Rainwater tanks have become a vital part of many Australians way of life, but a rainwater tank can come in many forms. From semi-rural families looking to reduce their reliance on mains or scheme water, to farmers relying on water to live and look after their crops or livestock. From inner city residents looking to find a compact tank for a smaller block, to suburban families storing water to supplement garden, toilet or washing machine usage.

Everyone relies on water storage in some way or another, and different people require different water storage solutions based on their water usage and requirements. In order to understand what water tank would be best for you, it may be best to understand what types of water tanks are available, and how they may best suit your needs.

Plastic Water Tanks

Plastic rainwater tanks can be made from fibreglass or tank bladders, or more commonly polyethylene, otherwise referred to as “poly.” These tanks each have their own pros and cons.

Poly Water Tanks

The most common plastic tanks that you will encounter are Poly rainwater tanks, they are lightweight, prefabricated and easy to transport and install. Made from a safe food grade plastic, meaning the tank doesn’t require a plastic liner in order for it to be used for drinking water. As plastic is typically quite cheap and easy to produce, this often makes poly water tanks more affordable than other water tank options

Polyethylene is a versatile product capable of being moulded in a variety of shapes, which means that poly water tanks can be produced in a number of different shapes and sizes. The most common you will encounter are the round tank, squat water tank and slimline water tank.

Slimline tanks are designed to fit into places that have a limited available space, such as the bin run down the side of a suburban home, or between a shed and the fence line. These tanks are typically smaller than round tanks, and good for supplementing garden and laundry water use.

Squat poly water tanks are shorter than your typical water tank, usually shorter than the average person, allowing it to fit on a stand or under an eve without taking up too much space.

Round poly rainwater tanks are for larger storage, supplying part or all of a home’s water storage requirements. These tanks come in sizes up to 50,000 Litres, and many homes may require multiple tanks to meet all of their water storage needs.

Poly water tanks also come in varieties designed to be installed underground or under verandas in order to save space. While the convenience space wise of an underground tank may be appealing, they do become difficult to access for repair or maintenance.

Fibreglass Tanks

Fibreglass tanks are an option more often found in industrial settings than they are residential ones, and must be coated with a food grade coating before they can be offered for sale.

Fibreglass can be a very rigid and stiff material, which means that these tank walls can be manufactured reasonably thin to manage water pressure. However this rigidity results in these tanks being very brittle, and prone to cracks and leaks.

Bladder tanks

Bladder tanks are less common, but are an incredibly innovative water tank design, consisting of a plastic bladder, somewhat akin to a water tank liner, held in place within a steel frame, so that it can fill and empty of rainwater without sagging or shrinking.

Plastic water tanks are ideal for people who don’t need a large amount of water storage, and are typically more affordable in these situations. However when the water storage begins to exceed 50,000 Litres, steel rainwater tanks are typically more affordable than a polyethylene tank.

Poly tanks may also perform poorly in bushfire situations, with the tank melting, and the water inside evacuating quickly.


Steel Water Tanks

Steel water tanks have been an icon of the Australian outback for decades, and thanks to modern innovation and technological improvements, steel rainwater tanks have gone from strength to strength. Issues previously faced in regards to corrosion and tricky tank roofs have been addressed over time, with better quality steel alloys, tank liners and modular designs.

Found on most rural properties across Australia, steel rainwater tanks consist of external panels bolted together, with a tank liner inside protecting the steel tank walls from the water. This tank liner is made from a food safe plastic, or in Pioneer Water Tanks’ case, an antimicrobial polyethylene film inside the liner, which helps keep drinking water fresher for longer.

This plastic lining is one of the most important parts of a steel tank, and is why most steel water tank manufacturers recommend never entering your water tank, or attempting to clean it without the assistance of an expert.

These steel tanks also typically come installed with a sacrificial anode, which protects the steel in the tank walls from corrosion. Once made of galvanised steel, liner water tanks are typically constructed of Zincalume® or Colorbond® steel, which are metal alloys stronger and more corrosion resistant than the traditional galvanised tank.

These steel tanks can also come installed with a roof catchment or gutter system, in order to increase your rainwater harvesting capacity.

Concrete Tanks

Concrete tanks are, unsurprisingly, the most heavy duty option available on the water tank market, and due to their unwieldly nature, and the rise of plastic and steel tanks, the concrete tank has gone somewhat out of fashion in recent years.

The weight of these tanks makes transport difficult and expensive, and the tanks require sealing and flushing before use with any water that is going to be used for potable purposes, as they may increase the pH of water.

Cracks and leaks in concrete tanks can also be very costly, as the whole tank must be emptied completely before any repair or maintenance can be carried out.


If you’re looking for a quote on a rainwater tank today for your property, contact Pioneer Water Tanks on 1800 344 130 today.


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