Rain chain or "kusari doi" in Japanese, have been used for centuries on Japanese homes, temples, public and commercial buildings as a functional yet lovely alternative to our traditional rain gutter downspouts. Rain chains have also been incorporated for their decorative beauty into many tranquil Japanese rain chain gardens. Today rain chain have become more well known outside Japan and increasingly prevalent around the rest of the world. Rain chain used in rain water drainage are typically hung from a roof's rain gutters or roof scupper box (leader head), taking the place of downspouts or gutter downpipe. Rain chain like the name implies can be as simple as chain links or a variation of chain loop styles. Rain chain can also be a visually pleasing string of cups or funnels, most often shaped like flowers or bells and hollow with open bottoms. Pictured below in order of left to right, top to bottom, are the simple link rain chain, single loop rain chain, rotated double link rain chain (or double loop), Japanese rain chain bells, Tulip rain chain, Bluebell flower rain chain, Lily rain chain and a rustic Scalloped rain chain. All the rain chains pictured here are fashioned from heavy weight pure copper. Copper Rain Chain is the preferred choice for it's timeless elegance, aesthetics, weathering ability, durability and natural beauty of copper's ever changing patina throughout the years.
Rain chains can drain directly on to the ground beneath them, or on a small patch or pit of landscaped gravel or pebbles to which the rain chain is anchored with a weight. Often times the rain water from rain chains is directed into a decorative rain chain basin underneath the rain chain. A rain chain basin or catch basin can be any suitable container. Ceramic, terra cotta, stoneware pots or copper basin - copper bowls are frequently used. A weight at the end of the rain chain or a hook in the basin are used to keep the rain chain centered above the catch basin. Some people use rain water for gardening or other uses such as washing their hair.
A rain chain is a visual and aural delight and the look and sound of the swirling, falling water can be mesmerizing and relaxing to watch during a rain shower. The lovely sounds they make with water splashing and cascading through them will vary with the type of rain chain but generally encompass a soft bell-like tinkle or splash with light raindrops to a soothing, small roar of sound like river rapids in a heavy downpour.
It is important to have the right amount of rain chain funnel installed on a length of gutter so an individual rain chain is not overloaded by heavy rain water flow, especially when using smaller width rain chain or links. How many rain chain funnel you use depends on several factors including: how long your gutter section is; diameter of your gutter outlets and rain chains; how heavy your normal flow of rain water is.
Water from a rain gutter outlet or from a roof scupper can empty directly into a leader head or rain collector scupper box and you can then attach a rain chain directly to the leader head or scupper box outlet. Outlet size on leader head and rain collector scupper box can be custom sized typically from 4 inches down to 2 inches to match the desired diameter for use with your rain chain. You can install a bolt across the bottom of the leader box outlet about an inch from the bottom opening and then attach the rain chain directly to this bolt. If your are not using leader heads, then mount rain chain using hidden gutter hangers and U-bolts.