Nothing says freedom like hitting the road in an RV — until nature calls one too many times before you reach a place where you can safely dump your black water. If you’re ready for a clean, cost-effective, and environmentally-friendly alternative, why not consider a composting toilet? It’s small, self-contained, virtually odorless, uses no water and requires little energy. To help you started, I’ll review three top models, outline the basics of how composting toilets work and discuss the essential features to look for.
#1. Nature’s Head Self-Contained Composting Toilet
Nature’s Head is leader in composting toilet technology and this self-contained model has the ultimate user-friendly features. It has a 500-pound weight capacity and a comfortable elongated seat like a home toilet. Everything you need to vent it is included in the kit, and the whisper-quiet fan controls odors on minimal energy. It’s made in the U.S. with components that are built to last, and for peace of mind, Nature’s Head backs it with a five-year limited warranty.
Q: Can I use regular toilet paper?
A: No, use quick-dissolving camping paper.
Q: How high is it?
A: 20 inches with the lid up.
Q: How much does the waste compartment weigh when full?
A: About 15 pounds.
Search for the “best composting toilets for RV” and this one is likely to pop up first. Other models perform similar functions, but the intuitive design sets this one apart. It’s tall at 20 inches, so it’s a stretch for comfort for some, but it’s easy to use and installation is a breeze. For cleaning, it breaks down in seconds and the fan makes odors nonexistent. Best of all, the sturdy construction means you’ll likely never need to use the generous five year warranty.One minor quibble is that the instructions don’t make it clear the handle can be mounted on either side. It’s a little thing, but why not make it easy. Otherwise, this is a thoughtfully designed toilet that’s worth the investment.
#2. Nature’s Head Dry Composting Toilet with Standard Crank Handle
Nature’s Head does it again with another fine composting toilet. It’s fully self-contained, features a comfortable, elongated seat and an ergonomic molded design that makes good use of every inch of space. The hand-crank agitator is easy to use and promotes the speedy breakdown of waste. Everything you need to set it up is included in the box and installation is a cinch. Like other Nature’s Head products, it comes with top-notch customer service and a five-year warranty.
Q: How many watts of power does the fan use?
A: 0.8 watts.
Q: Does this toilet have a heater to help evaporate liquids?
Q: How many people can this toilet support?
A: 2-4 depending on usage.
#3. Sun-Mar Compact Self-Contained Composting Toilet
Sun-Mar is one the first composting toilet makers to include a heater to help evaporate liquid waste. This decreases the frequency of emptying and improves its overall capacity. The low-profile design is one of the smallest available, and the handle takes no lateral space — it’s recessed into the front of the toilet. For quality assurance, each unit is NSF-certified to ensure it meets performance claims, and it’s backed with five-year warranty on the housing and three years on other parts.
Q: How many people does this serve?
A: One person continuously or up to four for occasional use.
Q: How many watts does the evaporating heater use?
Q: Can I use any toilet paper?
This Sun-Mar has unique features, and I like the recessed handle. It saves space and because it’s mounted in the front, there’s no need to sacrifice leverage to use a side-mounted handle, but overall, however, I find more flaws with this model than things to celebrate.The evaporative heater seems like a great idea, you’ll use 235 watts of power to run both it and the fan. Then there’s the housing. It looks sturdy, but it’s prone to cracking over time, and that means leaks. Finally is the price. It’s double that of the Nature’s Head toilet without offering any real performance advantage. On its own, it’s a decent product, but it’s less impressive by comparison.
Summing Up The Top 3 Composting Toilets
So, what we have is two models by Nature’s Head and one by Sun-Mar — both reputable makers.
The only difference practical difference between the two Nature’s Head models is the type of handle it uses. Otherwise, they’re both made of superior materials and designed intuitively to make life on the road easier.
The Sun-Mar is an innovative design with its evaporative heater and space-saving features, but it’s twice the price of Nature’s Head toilets and offers no discernible advantage that’s worth paying twice the price for.
For my money, I’ll take the Nature’s Head Nature’s Head Self-Contained Composting Toilet for it’s beefy build, low power consumption and reasonable price. Hands down, it’s the best overall value.
Best Composting Toilets for a Boat or RV Buyer’s Guide:
How does a composting toilet work?
Composting toilets turn excrement into compost by encouraging the activity of the microorganisms naturally found in it. No water is used. Only dry medium like peat moss is added to control odor and provide the carbon necessary to initiate decomposition. Urine and feces are diverted into separate holding tanks and are emptied separately.
When tanks are full, urine can emptied into a toilet, and the composted waste is safe to dispose in household trash without additional treatment. The compost can also be used as fertilizer; however, some areas prohibit the use of human compost, so check regulations first. Before buying, here are a few things you’ll want to consider.
1. Toilet Size & Usage
Toilets for heavy use or multiple users are usually made of sturdier materials and have a larger waste tank. Overloading small toilets could lead to unwanted odors and stress on the components that will decrease the life of your unit. There is no clear formula for determining what size toilet will serve a specific number of people since so much of a toilet’s efficiency is based on design versus actual size, so always verify details with the manufacturer.
2. Ease of installation
Composting toilets are self-contained and are typically easy to install across the board comparatively — so much so that installation advantages shouldn’t be a deciding factor when choosing a model, but certain features like vents and handles that mount on both sides are helpful and it’s nice to work with a company that has readily available tech support or instructional videos on their website.
3. How easy to clean
No composting toilet is truly difficult to clean, but quality components matter. With use, subpar toilets can bow or sag and that affects precision fit parts like the waste storage tank and can make it rough to open and prone to spilling. Look for models that can be cleaned with any household cleaner and give preference to models with parts that don’t require special proprietary equipment to clean.
Most models are heavy enough to stay stable without additional mounting or support, even during travel, but be sure to get a model that is weight-rated for the heaviest person who will using it. For tall toilets where it’s tough to sit on it and have your feet reach the floor, adding a small stool should do the trick.
Composting toilets aren’t cheap, but they’re a great investment for the long haul. You’ll save in black water dumping fees, you’ll never find yourself without toilet capacity and you’ll even be doing the environment a favor. It’s a win-win.