Nature’s Head with Spider Handle
This Nature’s Head composting toilet is in our opinion the best composting toilet for RV living out there. It has a strong durable construction, is pleasing to the eye (as much as an RV toilet can be), and is versatile. Even better, being an American company all Nature’s Head products are manufactured in the United States.
This Nature’s Head toilet was designed for marine use, so it’s almost indestructible. All the hardware is high-grade stainless steel, and the spider handle can be mounted on either side of the unit.
It’s lightweight, self-contained, and a completely portable composting toilet. It has a low-volume fan inside that runs from 12V DC power and uses less than one watt of energy to run (it may be a little more to start), so you’ll hardly notice the power consumption.
Bottom-line: For simplicity of use and a great durable design, it’s hard to fault this Nature’s Head dry composting toilet.
Best Composting Toilet for RV Use: Rated & Reviewed 2021
You may have reservations about using a composting toilet in your RV over using more traditional toilets. Don’t composting toilets stink? Won’t cassette toilets or chemical toilets be a more hygienic option for such a small space? Will a waterless toilet leave your RV bathroom odor-free?
Whether you need to replace a broken RV toilet or want an upgrade, your options are extensive. With so many different types of RV toilets available to choose from, by far the most friendly for the environment are self-contained composting toilets.
A composting toilet is an excellent choice for RV dwellers for several other reasons. They are convenient for RV living, low-maintenance, as well as clean if used right.
In this guide, we’ll tell you how RV composting toilets work, as well as our composting toilet tips. We also review 5 of the best on the market highlighting why they may or may not be best suited to you and how we decided that the Nature’s Head self-contained composting toilet was best overall.
Looking for The Best Composting Toilet for Your Rig?
- How toilets for composting work
- Pros and cons
- Reviews of the best composting toilets for RVs
- Our unbiased pick on the best RV composting toilet on the market
What is a Composting Toilet?
A composting toilet is hugely different from a traditional toilet. For obvious reasons, it’s one of those products that’s hit-or-miss for many people. But mainly because it doesn’t use water.
Instead of flushing, it uses biodegradable organic material to decompose human waste. It’s similar to a composter that you would use in a garden. We’ll get into the specifics further on, but spoiler alert, it doesn’t smell bad, and it’s possibly one of the cleanest toilets you can get.
Parts of a Composting Toilet
A compost toilet consists of five main parts:
- The outer shell (the toilet)
- The drum
- The liquids container
- The ventilation port
- The access/door or a finishing drawer of some type
The outer shell is the part you can see and sit on. The other four parts are inside the shell, the largest of which is the drum. This is where the human waste and organic material are contained as they are degrading.
The drum has a handle that sticks outside of the shell which is used for turning the mixer in the drum after you go potty. This ensures that your deposit is mixed well with the compost material.
The liquids container, unsurprisingly, is for urine. Not all models will have a separate container for liquids. However, if they do, this helps the compost process go faster. If they don’t, urine will go into the drum with other waste.
Pro-Tip: To speed up the decomposition of the waste use recycled toilet paper. Speaking to various manufacturers they have found recycled rather than regular toilet paper decomposes faster.
The ventilation system is used to evaporate water from the waste inside the drum. This is because the dryer the waste, the better it composts. This is where having a separate liquid waste container comes in handy.
In a healthy person, urine is about 95 percent water. Therefore, having separate solid and liquid waste containers means the ventilation system will be more effective at creating compost in the sold drum.
The final part is the access door/finishing drawer. This is an area or container that you use to empty the drum when the composted waste is ready.
How Does a Composting Toilet Work?
A composting toilet’s waste disposal process is quite simple. To start, you must add compost material to the toilet’s drum before you use the toilet. This compost contains microorganisms that use an aerobic process to decompose the waste. You can get compost material at your local lawn and garden or hardware store.
Make sure you follow the instructions on the package to prepare the compost material. Once it’s ready, pour it into the toilet until it reaches the level of the handle that’s used to turn the drum. After this, the toilet will be ready for use.
Pro-Tip: Rather than buy store-bought cover material, you can make your own by creating a mix of ~60% organic materials such as wood shavings, coconut coir, or chopped straw with ~40% peat moss.
When you use the toilet, turn the handle to spin the drum. That’s all you need to do till it’s time to dispose of the composted material in the drum. There is no “set” amount of time between disposal. Instead, dispose of when there is resistance to turning the handle or if you begin to smell an “ammonia-like” odor.
The compost that comes out is usually free of harmful pathogens and can be used as fertilizer (as long as it’s not against local regulations). If the waste needs to be decomposed longer, you can buy a separate container to empty the toilet contents into so that it can decompose longer before it’s used as fertilizer.
- Little to no odor
- Great for boondocking
- Saves the fresh water in your RV due to no water usage
- Free fertilizer if you’re a gardener/farmer
- Lasts a long time compared to other types of toilets
- No plumbing or installation required
- Self-contained system
- More environmentally friendly
- Requires regular upkeep to ensure a thriving environment for bacteria
- Regular purchase of compost material required
- Not safe for curious pets
Key Features to Look For
While all compost toilets essentially work the same way, they have varying quality standards and different features that set them apart from each other. Taking a closer look at these differences can help you choose the perfect option for you and your RV. Here are some of the more critical points to consider.
The size of the drum will determine how often you need to dispose of the composted material inside. Don’t mistake this for the size of the toilet – toilets come in many different sizes and weights, and the drums don’t always correlate. Make sure you check the user’s manual, or with the manufacturer, for drum sizes.
In many cases, the drum will be listed with a recommended number of uses before needing to be emptied (the average is 60-80). Divide this number by how many people will be using the toilet to get an idea of how often the drum will need to be emptied.
The rate of decomposition will also affect capacity. Some composting toilets are heated, and that can help speed up the rate of decomposition, which in turn helps to free up space in the drum.
Composting toilets don’t usually take up a lot of space, but as mentioned above, sizes can vary. Make sure you measure the space you have for it in your RV so that the model you choose will fit. There are also compact models for smaller RVs. Keep in mind that compact models will also have a compact drum.
Another feature that will contribute to the size is if it has an elongated seat. Elongated seats are usually more comfortable, but some RV bathrooms won’t be big enough to accommodate them. You also want to factor in a few inches for the side handle because it will stick out and you need to be able to rotate it.
Electric vs. Non-Electric
A compost toilet can be electric or non-electric. Electric models have a built-in fan to help the ventilation process be more efficient. Some may also have heated fans or heaters built in to speed up decomposition even further.
For an RV, you’ll want to look for a DC-powered model unless you have a converter near your toilet. Electric composting toilets typically use somewhere between 80 to 150 watts, so they are low-consumption items, and you probably won’t have to worry about them tipping you over your wattage limit.
Non-electric models won’t have fans or heaters. They’ll simply be containers with a handle.
There are two types of composting toilets: internal composting toilets and urine-diverting toilets. Urine-diverting toilets are a technological advance in the field of composting toilets. It allows the urine to be collected separately from solids.
This is a much-appreciated innovation as sometimes too much liquid in the drums compost pile means the liquid doesn’t evaporate promptly enough and this inhibits the composting process. This can even be the case in models with heating and ventilation.
If you’re unlucky enough for this to happen, with the solids and compost material being too wet to compost properly, this can cause odor. This leads to having to empty the toilet more often, and you’ll be emptying smelly, unhealthy, and unsightly solid waste. This defeats the purpose of composting toilets.
A urine-diverting model will require all users to sit while urinating – even men. This is because urine is collected at the front of the bowl in the liquid tank while the rest is collected at the solid waste tank at the back.
You will need to empty the liquid container more often, but the solids bin won’t need to be emptied for at least a couple of months. The downside to urine-diverting toilets? They’re more expensive than the non-diverting version.
Depending on your level of DIY skills, you should consider how you intend to install a composting toilet in your rig. Then double-check against the product in question. Most composting toilets are relatively easy to install, but it’s always good to check.
Now that you know everything to know, we have reviewed five of the top portable composting toilets for RV owners on the market.
Best RV Composting Toilets Reviewed
Nature’s Head with Spider Handle
Nature’s Head is a homegrown American company that doesn’t disappoint with the quality of its products. This urine-diverting toilet was originally designed for use on boats but is equally suitable for RV living.
With the marine environment in mind, it’s made for rugged use and features heavy-duty stainless-steel hardware, including sidelocks that hold the toilet and the holding tank together. There is a fan built into the toilet’s head to aid with composting and odor control.
The elongated seat makes it comfortable to sit on, and it stands at a good, standard height. Overall, this model has everything you may possibly want in a composting toilet.
- Extremely high-quality
- Spider handle design
- Easy to assemble/disassemble
- Very low power consumption
- Long, five-year warranty
- Mixer doesn’t mix compost at the corners and edges of the drum
- Urine tank is tiny
Bottom-Line: If you’re looking for something that’s built to last, the Nature’s Head RV composting toilet fits the bill.
Sun-Mar Excel Non-Electric
Best without Electricity
The Sun-Mar Excel is a non-electric model that collects both liquid and solid waste in its unique Bio-drum. The handle that spins the drum is connected directly to the Bio-drum, instead of the mixer, so that 100 percent of the waste gets mixed with the composting material.
Another great feature is the finishing tray. With the flip of a switch near the finishing tray, the Bio-drum can spin backward like a trap door, which allows the compost to dump into the finishing tray. This empties the Bio-drum so it is ready for more waste while allowing the older matter to decompose completely in the tray.
The body itself is made from thick, high-quality fiberglass material. Whilst the handle folds up under the seat so it doesn’t take up any space.
Everything about this product seems perfect, but we do have one concern. While a folding, stow-away handle is a great idea; having it right in the front up under the seat seems like a potentially messy one. If anything “drips”, the handle might catch it.
- Bio-drum mixes 100 percent of contents
- Five-year warranty on tank, three years on parts
- Comes in two colors: white or bone
- Fully assembled out of the box
- Handle is right under the front of the toilet seat
- Overflow drain is set a little too high
Bottom-Line: If you need a high-capacity model, this is an excellent choice due to the finishing tray.
Separett Villa 9215
Best for AC/DC Systems
The Separett Villa is a urine-diverting model with a simple and modern appearance. It’s compact, measuring 18” x 21.6” x 26.5” and so likely more comfortable to use if placed on a platform. It also gets extra credit for being made from a high-gloss polypropylene material that is recyclable.
What sets the Villa 9215 apart from the competition is the fact that it can be AC- or DC-powered. It comes with an AC adapter as well as battery cables, so you have everything you need inside the box. It is fully assembled and only needs to be taken apart somewhat if you want to add the ventilation extender.
There is one catch with this model – it doesn’t technically compost inside the unit. The urine must be drained to an external container, and the solid waste must be disposed of in a composter using a compostable bag (ten are included in the box). It takes a little extra effort, but it’s a good quality product.
- Comes with an extender cap for the vent tube
- Comes fully assembled
- Choice of AC or DC power
- Short battery cables (6.5 feet)
- Doesn’t compost inside of the unit
Bottom-Line: If you don’t mind a little extra work to get an excellent quality product, then the Separett Villa 3215 is a great choice.
A glance at RV composting toilet prices will tell you they don’t come cheap. However, the Sun-Mar GTG is comparatively considered a bargain. It’s a portable, compact, product that doesn’t have any extra bells and whistles.
The GTG is a urine-diverting model made from durable fiberglass which makes it lightweight for easy transporting. It’s incredibly easy to install only needing to be screwed into the mounting brackets (which are optional) and then the vent hose to be installed.
With an economy model, there will be some features that you sacrifice. One of those is the fact that there is no crank handle. You can alleviate this issue by simply adding a scoop of absorbent carbon material (e.g. peat moss or coconut coir) each time you go.
The two tanks come out easily through the seat area, so there is no hassle with emptying them. However, do keep in mind that it is a very compact unit, so you may have to empty it more frequently than with other models.
- Very easy installation
- Standard crank handle? Nope
- Must reach inside to remove tanks
Bottom-Line: This made our list because it does exactly what it’s designed to do but at a cheaper price and without any ‘advanced’ features or accessories.
Air Head RV
Best for Optimising
The Air Head RV is a urine-diverting, compact composting toilet measuring 22” x 16” x 19”. What sets the Air Head apart is all the customizable options when you order to create a design unique to your RV space.
There are two different lids to choose from: household or marine. Similarly, you can select a flat-back or hull-shaped waste tank. You can choose which side you want your crank handle on, as well as between a right-angle or straight fan housing.
The bowl is designed so that when you go, your solid waste sits in the bowl until you “flush” (no water) it down. However, the bowl seems a little shallow to do this comfortably. If you’re careful about certain “parts” not dangling in the bowl, it’s a great, compact option for any RV.
- Compact and lightweight
- Stainless steel mixer and handles
- Long, five-year warranty
- Customize it to your liking
- Shallow bowl
- Mixer doesn’t fully mix compost
Bottom-Line: This is a great optimizable option for anyone who has a minimal amount of space in their RV bathroom.
Last update on 2021-09-26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API