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Leaf Screening: Gutter Guards vs Rain Heads

Leaf Screening: Gutter Guards vs Rain Heads

If you will be harvesting rainwater from your roof, then you might be wondering how to guard against leaves, insects and debris entering your water supply. There are solutions like water diverters, which work great and should always be installed. Screening prior to water entering your pipework also makes sense.

This article explores two pre-filtration screening solutions often used when installing rainwater tanks: Gutter Guards vs. Rain Heads. While you could install both, which should you choose if you are looking to go with one for your water tank?

Rain Heads & Gutter Guards

You might be wondering what are rain heads and gutter guards? We will briefly explain both here.

In a previous article we explored what rain heads are and the benefits they provide. To quickly describe them, rain heads (also known as “leaf eaters”) are a head piece that attach to the top of pipework below your gutter. A rain head has a mesh screened entry point that deflects leaves as rainwater flows in, and keeps frogs, insects, mosquitoes and debris out.

On the other hand, gutter guards are mesh screens affixed to the top of gutters. Gutter guards protect your gutters from filling up with leaves, sticks, insects and debris. Much meshing used to cover gutters have an aperture of more than 2mm, so you will need to ensure holes are less than 1mm to keep mosquitoes out. Nonetheless, they can also serve to filter out such things from entering the pipework that leads to your water storage.

Are Gutter Guards or Rain Heads Better?

As is often the case when choosing between two options, knowing which is better often depends on your situation and what you are hoping to achieve. Team Poly don’t sell gutter guards, only rain heads, since such are more specific to water tanks.

  • Price: Rain heads are the clear winner here hands down costing less than $100 which is equivalent to just around 4 metres of gutter “stainless steel” meshing with 1mm aperture. Gutter guard for an average-size house would cost about $1,000.
  • Material: Both can be found in plastic or stainless steel mesh. Plastic is generally fine if your concern is only keeping your gutters clean. If your concern is water quality however, then stainless steel mesh is best since rodents and possums can easily chew through plastic.
  • Aperture Size: Many gutter guards on the market have holes in the meshing greater than 1mm. You will need less than 1mm to keep out mosquitoes and smaller debris. Rain heads have a stainless steel mesh screen with 0.955mm aperture.
  • Installation: Gutter meshing takes more time to install, and requires you getting up on your roof which is also a more dangerous affair. You will still need pipework leading to your water tank anyhow, so with a rain head it is just as easy installing the head piece as it is to connect directly to your gutter downpipe.
  • Purpose: The primary purpose of rain heads is to do with ensuring higher water quality rather than keeping gutters clean. For this reason, rain heads will not stop leaves from entering your gutters. Gutter guards however will, since as the name suggests, they guard your gutters from leaves, sticks and the like as their primary function.

In summary, rain heads are a simple, inexpensive and effective method to screen your rainwater from contaminants before they enter your pipework system. Gutter guards work best when you just want to protect your gutters from clogging up. Rain heads work best when higher water quality flowing into your tank is the primary concern.

Of course, you might want the best of both worlds. To save some money, one recommendation would be to buy cheaper high-grade plastic gutter guards with a slightly higher aperture size than your rain head. Such will likely set an average home back around $300 for the gutter guards. Then you can purchase a rain head separate for under $100. This will beat paying $1,000 or more for the correct gutter meshing that will do the same job.

Team Poly supply high-quality rain heads made to fit rainwater harvesting pipework. We also produce high-quality poly tanks that are food-safe and made to withstand the harmful UV effects of the Sun. They are certified to Australian Standards and in many instances far exceed them. So if you are interested in a water tank, simply request a quote and ask for a package deal that includes proper screening and pump.