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Are Rain Chains Better Than Downspouts? (The Pros & Cons of Each)

Are Rain Chains Better Than Downspouts? (The Pros & Cons of Each)

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Rain chains and downspouts are necessary tools for every homeowner. Whether you’re interested in collecting rain or want to protect your house from water damage, installing these systems can help you achieve just that!

The question is this: rain chains vs. downspouts which one is better? The former is a thrifty option that provides beautiful aesthetics and soothing sounds.

So, are rain chains better than downspouts? Continue reading this article to find out!

Are Rain Chains Better Than Downspouts?

Generally, no. While aesthetically pleasing, rain chains aren’t as efficient as downspouts. They don’t direct rainwater away from your house’s foundation.

The latter prevents erosion and other water-related damage, like mold. Aside from that, rain chains don’t have the same water-holding capacity as downspouts.

During heavy rain, they’ll overflow, failing to channel the water away. In such weather conditions, the former device can be completely nonfunctional.

However, there are some perks to rain chains. For starters, they provide top-notch aesthetics. Plus, they’re easy to install.

On top of that, you’ve got plenty of DIY options on the market. So, you can design and customize the chains according to your liking without breaking the bank.

Rain Chains vs. Downspouts: What Are the Pros and Cons of Each?

Rain chains and downspouts serve similar functions: they direct rainwater from the roof to the ground. Still, they have several differences, including functionality, aesthetics, durability, and more.

Here’s a comprehensive comparison of each system:


As mentioned earlier, rain chains aren’t as functional as downspouts. Those devices overflow due to the lack of enough water-holding capacity. Consequently, you can expect harsh weather to damage your property soon.

In contrast, downspouts are highly efficient at driving large water volumes away from the roof, thanks to their impressive water-retaining capacity. So you don’t have to worry about the gutters overflowing and damaging the soil around your house.

Not only that, downspouts easily direct runoff water. That’s especially true if you use extensions.

However, that’s not to say rain chains are useless. Those devices are better suited for areas with moderate rainfall where a slow, more controlled water flow is desired.


Installing rain chains is more straightforward and requires fewer tools compared to downspouts. Plus, in some cases, you can even mount them yourself.

All you need to do is drill a hole to insert a gutter outlet. Then anchor the chains, and you’re done!

Some chains come with an anchorage that directly mounts to the gutters without needing an outlet, brackets, or other support structures.

Downspouts, on the other hand, are a different story. They require precise measurements, cutting, and connecting sections to reach the desired length.

That process can be even more complicated for round downspouts. Regardless of the shape, you’ll most likely need a professional’s help to attach these rainwater-draining pipes to the gutters.


From the structure, you can expect downspouts to be sturdier than rain chains. Generally, the former is made of heavy-duty metals like galvanized steel, aluminum, or copper.

You can also find those pipes in PVC. While the former isn’t as sturdy as other materials, it doesn’t corrode. Plus, vinyl withstands moderate climates.

Either way, it’ll take a heavy storm to remove the downspouts from the walls.

In contrast, rain chains aren’t that sturdy. Sure, they come in various materials, like copper, stainless steel, and aluminum.

While those metals are durable, the rain chain structure isn’t that sturdy. A powerful gust can easily damage and detach them—you’ll need to mount them to the ground to prevent this scenario.


When it comes to maintenance, rain chains are a breeze to deal with. All you need to do is wipe them with a wet cloth.

Maintaining downspouts can be challenging. That’s especially true during the winter since water can freeze and clog them.

Even in warm temperatures, leaves and other debris can block the rain-draining pipes. For that reason, you probably need to install gutter guards, which can be costly.

Besides cleaning the downspouts, you should regularly wash the gutters to avoid further clogging.


Rain chains are superior to downspouts when it comes to aesthetics. The former comes in many shapes.

You can even make those devices using old metallic spoons for a rustic look. You can also make beautiful copper swirl chains or recycle copper candle holders for a vintage aesthetic.

Although they come in different styles, downspouts are more about function. Most of the different shapes aren’t as visually appealing and versatile as rain chains.

Aside from their structure, rain chains create a pleasant, tinkling sound due to rainwater trickling down the chains. That can be stress-reducing, helping you relax during harsh weather conditions.

Flushing sounds produced by water rushing through the downspouts aren’t unenjoyable per se. However, some people might not find the auditory experience as soothing as rain chains.


As you might have guessed, rain chains are more affordable than downspouts. You can even recycle old materials so that it doesn’t cost you anything.

Even store-bought rain chains aren’t expensive. On average, the former can cost you between $80-$170, depending on the metal.

Downspout prices differ depending on the material and style. However, you can expect to pay between $5 and $20 per linear foot without the labor costs.

Can a Rain Chain Replace a Downspout?

No, a rain chain can’t replace a downspout unless you live in an area with little to no rain.

As mentioned above, a heavy storm will cause rain chains to overflow and fail to direct water away from the house—the exact opposite of what you want from such structures.

Having said that, you can still use a rain chain, even in regions with extreme weather. Use downspouts for utility and mount the chains to the house’s front for visually appealing aesthetics.

Can I Use a Rain Chain Without a Gutter?

Yes! It’s possible to use a rain chain without a gutter. However, that depends on the roof’s structure.

If the former is steep enough and directs water to a certain place, you can mount the chains there and use them without gutters. You can also use the chains only if you have ground drainage.

Still, that won’t be as effective as a rain-draining system, especially during a heavy storm.

Final Thoughts

So, are rain chains better than downspouts?

Generally, no. Downspouts outperform rain chains. The former has better water management, driving heavy flow away from the house. Consequently, they protect the foundation and prevent damage better than the latter.

However, rain chains offer pleasant aesthetics. Plus, they’re easy to install and affordable. To get the best of both worlds, use rain chains only in visible areas and downspouts for the rest of the roof. That way, you enjoy striking visuals and functionality!


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