Downspouts vs. Rain Chains

downspout draining rainwater

While downspouts can collect more rain, rain chains offer a more aesthetically pleasing alternative. However, both options have multiple advantages and disadvantages. Before installing one or the other, keep these these facts in mind.


Downspouts are vertical pieces of sheet metal or composite tubing attached to the gutters of the home in several places. They are also typically painted to match the gutters.


Downspouts can deal with more rain than a rain chain alone, and they effectively channel water away from your home.


Downspouts are austere in appearance and are known more for their functionality than their attractiveness. They can also put more pressure on storm drains. And, to keep a downspout working properly, you need to clean it when you clean your gutters.

Rain Chains

The Japanese have used rain chains for a while as a decorative way to channel water away from a home’s foundation. A downspout serves the same purpose, but it is not nearly as beautiful. Weighing between 5-10 pounds, rain chains attach to the gutter through the hole where the downspout would normally be. They extend to the ground and are typically secured to prevent against excessive movement. Traditionally, they are attached to a decorative bowl that fills with water and creates a circular fountain when it overflows.


Rain chains are usually more beautiful than downspouts, and they can ease pressure on storm drains. In fact, some municipalities offer incentives to homeowners who disconnect their downspouts from the storm drain. In addition to catching the downward flow of water, it can also serve as a birdbath. Make your own rain chain from soft copper tubing to save money and tailor it to your own style.


Rain chains are not well-equipped to handle a tremendous downpour during a storm. If you decide on rain chains, it is still necessary to have a certain number of downspouts, just in case of a deluge.

Consider Using Both

Although they are not equipped to handle the sudden downpour of a storm, rain chains combine function and form into one package. Still, using rain chains in conjunction with a downspout, in case of excess rain, is the best option.