Three of the biggest definers of being able to Free Camp for extended periods of time come down to water tank capacity, a good solar set-up and of course, how much storage space you’ve got for toilet waste.
So, once you’ve got your food, shelter and power sorted, you just need to make sure you’ve got plenty of drinking water, plus the ability to go to the loo as often as necessary.
No one ever said caravanning and camping were glamorous!
Enter the humble composting toilets for caravans, which offer plenty more days of off-grid camping than regular cassette toilets.
Although I haven’t yet used a caravan compost toilet myself, I’ve pulled together all of the information I can find for those who are researching the option for themselves.
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How to Install a Caravan Compost Toilet
Although each brand of caravan compost toilets will vary, here are the general instructions for installing one into an RV.
All installation and ‘how to use’ images in this article are based on the OGO Compost Toilet.
Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post, I just like the look of this particular compost toilet.
STEP 1: Mount toilet base to the floor
Use the screws and/ or mounts provided in the installation kit provided to mount the base of the compost toilet to the caravan floor.
STEP 2: Connect toilet to a power source
The toilet will need to be connected to a power source in order for the ventilation fan to work, plus the agitator (unless it’s a manually operated version).
Depending on which brand of caravan compost toilet you choose, you’ll have up to three (3) power options:
- Plug it into a 12v Cigarette Socket
- Wire directly into the caravan’s existing power supply
- Wire straight into the caravan’s battery
STEP 3: Connect the Vent
Using the hose provided, connect it from the back of the toilet to a vented outlet in your caravan wall. If there isn’t a pre-existing wall vent, you will need to install one.
Setting Up a Caravan Compost Toilet for Use
Before using the compost toilet, you will need to add a natural composting product, such as peat moss or coconut fibres, which will start off the composting process.
You can either buy the material in loose form in a bag or in brick form (pictured below).
Where to buy compost peat:
- eBay – $27 AUD for 50 pieces of Coco Peat Bricks
- Bunnings – $14 AUD for a Compost Starter Block
When filling the toilet bin with a compost starter, you will need to make sure there’s enough to cover the agitator, but not too much above or below that line.
Add just enough water to the fibre until it’s damp to touch (but not soggy), then agitate the mixture until it sits level with the fill line.
How Does a Caravan Compost Toilet Work?
The coolest thing about compost toilets for caravans is that they are all designed to separate the number ones from the number twos.
Essentially this means that your toilet can go far longer between empties.
Here’s how the compost toilet works for both urine and solids.
Using a Caravan Compost Toilet for Urine
When using the compost toilet for urine, you’ll need to keep the trap door closed and sit down (yep, that goes for the blokes too).
Urine will be naturally directed towards the front section inside the bowl, which collects in the bottle or canister at the front of the toilet.
Using a Caravan Compost Toilet for Solids
When it comes to solids, the trap door or flap will need to be opened using the handle on the front or side of the compost toilet.
Once finished, close the trap door back up and agitate the compost mixture.
Some toilets will have a button that you can push and the agitator will automatically switch on for 2 minutes, while others will have a manual handle that needs to be turned.
It’s nice to know that the common question of whether or not you can poop in a cassette toilet doesn’t even apply here because the compost loo is literally designed for poo!
Emptying a Caravan Compost Toilet
Have a look at the steps below to see how simple and fuss-free emptying a compost toilet is compared to emptying a caravan cassette toilet.
Emptying the Urine Compartment
To remove the compost toilet urine compartment for emptying, you’ll first need to lift the bowl and lid section. Then unlatch the compartment on the sides, slide the drawer out and remove the urine bottle.
Caravan compost toilet urine containers can hold anywhere from 5 litres to 9 litres in capacity.
Where to empty urine:
- Around a fully-grown tree in the bush (never on edible plants)
- Into a regular flush toilt
- Into a Dump Point
Emptying the Solids Compartment
To remove the solids bin for emptying, you will also need to lift the lid and bowl section up slightly. Then pull the urine drawer (instructions above) and slide out the solids bucket or container.
Caravan compost toilet capacities will vary, but generally, they will allow for 20 – 30 uses.
As compost only gets better over time, there’s no rush to empty the solids container until it’s actually full, which may be months depending on the amount it gets used.
Where to empty the solids compost:
- Put into a bag and dispose of in a rubbish bin
- Add to a compost pile
- Dig a deep hole and bury it
Cleaning a Caravan Compost Toilet
Cleaning the compost toilet is way easier than cleaning a cassette toilet and only requires a few simple household items.
Compost Toilet Cleaning Items:
- Damp Cloth – antibacterial cloths are a good idea
- Spray Bottle – with a mix of white vinegar & water
- OR Compost Toilet Cleaner – from a compost toilet company
- Toilet Brush
To clean the seat, spray the area with either the vinegar mix or compost toilet cleaner. Wipe over the area with a damp cloth to clean.
For the bowl, spray with your chosen cleaning solution and give it a gentle brush. An alternative is to wipe it out with paper towel, which can then be thrown into the solids compartment for composting.
Never use synthetics or chemical cleaners in a compost toilet as they will upset the microbe balance.
How Much Do Caravan Compost Toilets Cost?
I’ve compared the prices of four caravan compost toilets available in Australia, with Nature’s Head and OGO being the most popular.
As you’ll see, composting toilets for caravans don’t come cheap! However, they are an investment that will last many years to come.
When it comes to off-grid camping and being able to go much longer between having to dump your toilet waste, compost toilets are strides ahead of the other caravan toilet types.
|Nature’s Head Composting Toilet||$1,715 AUD|
|OGO Toilet||$2,095 AUD|
|Separett Villa 9010||$2,100 AUD|
|EcoLet 25a||$3,350 AUD|
Caravan Compost Toilet FAQs
Any type of toilet paper can be used in a caravan compost toilet. However, thinner (2-ply) toilet paper will decompose quicker than thicker toilet paper.
When it comes to compost, the longer it sits, the more it will decompose, which means the easier emptying becomes. If you go to empty the solids bucket after just a few days, the composting process will only just be beginning. Given a few weeks (or even months) the process will be much further along.
The urine compartment should be emptied much more regularly. Either as soon as it’s full or once a week is a good rule of thumb.
With the trap door closed on the toilet, all urine will be directed to the front and down into the urine chamber. If the trap is open, urine will still be directed down into the urine chamber via the front section, while solids can go down through the open trap door flap.
Caravan compost toilets shouldn’t smell as long you’re using the correct amount of peat. In fact, if it’s working properly you’ll most likely notice an ‘earthy’ smell.
Yes, males will need to sit to do a number one in the compost toilet, that way the urine can be directed into the urine compartment.
No, it’s not recommended to put tampons into the caravan compost toilet. Most commercial tampons are not made from completely natural products, plus they’re often bleached. Even the tampons that are 100% organic will take too long to decompose.
No, the toilet is not designed to take food scraps. It is only to be used for toilet waste.
Caravan Maintenance & Service Log
Log and track all of your caravan maintenance and servicing requirements.
- 7-page Planner (digital & printable)
- Caravan Service History Log
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