My partner and I are about 90% finished with our Tumbleweed Cypress and we saved the best for last - the bathroom! We've decided to go with a composting toilet, and my research began with the simple DIY bucket unit and has now moved onto the more "high-tech" options available. Below I've listed three manufactured compost toilets specifically for tiny homes. Each of these units are self-contained, waterless, and include some form of ventilation and aeration.
I hope this list is helpful but keep in mind that there are many options out there. Choose the commode that works best for your tiny home!
1). Nature's Head
PRICE: $925 / Made in USA
SIZE - 20" toilet seat height X 22" width needed for handle / vent use X 20 5/8" depth required / 28 lbs
COMPOST CAPACITY - approx. 90 uses
VENTILATION - Vent mounted at the side rear of the unit / 12V fan
AERATION - Crank aeration
URINE - Diverts urine into small built-in holding take
INSTALLATION - Video here. Bonus video - Art's Nature's Head
2). Separett - Villa 9210
PRICE - $1389 / Made in Sweden
SIZE - 17.3" toilet seat height X 19.95" width X 30" depth required / 48 lbs
COMPOST CAPACITY - Family of four will need to empty container every 3-6 weeks.
VENTILATION - Vent mounted at the top rear of the unit / 12V fan
AERATION - When pressure is added to the seat, the chamber is rotated
URINE - Diverts to a separate waste tank (not included in unit)
INSTALLATION - Video (1/2 way down page) here.
3). Sun-Mar Excel-Ne
PRICE: $1645 / Made in North America
SIZE - 26.5" toilet seat height X 22.5" width X 46" depth needed to empty / 50 - 95 lbs. *Sun-Mar also has a mobile version that is smaller, but requires more electricity.
COMPOST CAPACITY - Family of three will need to rotate chambers every three months. The unique aspect of this toilet is that it has three chambers, allowing compost to fully form in the third chamber.
VENTILATION - Vent mounted at the top rear of the unit / 12V fan optional
AERATION - Crank aeration
URINE- Liquids are evaporated within unit / no diverter. Requires a drain for excess liquid.
INSTALLATION - Video here. Bonus informational video here.
What do you do with the waste after emptying your toilet? You can, of course, compost your waste - that's the whole point! Although, the amount of time required before safely giving your waste back to mother nature depends on several factors, including your chosen unit. I would recommend reading The Humanure Handbook by Joseph Jenkins, which has a lot to say on the subject. In fact, I know exactly where you should store this book... right next to your current toilet.
My decision? Drum roll please........ I ended up choosing the Nature's Head compost toilet for our tiny house. The size is a perfect fit for our small bathroom, allowing us to build future storage space around the toilet.
Guillaume (my partner) & Salies (our dog) modeling our new compost toilet!
Jenna Spesard is currently building a Tumbleweed Cypress with her partner, Guillaume, who is a professional photographer and Tumbleweed Workshop Host. After the build is complete, they plan to travel around North America in their tiny house blogging and photographing their adventure. More on their tiny house and giant journey here.
As a newbie tiny house builder - currently building a Tumbleweed Cypress - I eventually found myself stuck at the crossroads, looking down two narrow paths and forced to make the “big decision”: compost or flush?
First I plugged into cyberspace and watched a variety of informational videos on human waste (yep, that's my life now). I learned that by choosing a composting toilet, I would be picking the greener alternative while decreasing my utility costs and eliminating my need for a black water tank. All good things! So the choice was made - compost - but I feared that this decision was perhaps my gutsiest thus far in the build.
I turned left at the crossroads, onto Humanure Boulevard. It was then that I realized my decision wasn't complete; there are countless composting toilet options including manufactured and build-it-yourself units.
Which head was to be my maiden throne? How do I take care of the waste? And, perhaps the most important question of all, will it stink? I needed an education in composting.
Compost 101: my first homework assignment was to research the “build-it-yourself” compost toilet option. I had heard good things at the Tumbleweed Workshop from the presenter, Ella Jenkins. She’s a young, hip chick that built her own tiny house. If she can do it, well maybe I could too...
Photo courtesy of Ella Jenkins
Bucket & Sawdust “Do-It-Yourself” Unit
- $25 - $50 to construct using a 5 gallon bucket from any hardware store.
- Usage requires placing a scoop of sawdust or peat moss in the bottom of the bucket and in between each use. Empty as needed.
PROS: I could toss out my plunger! It’s small, simple, inexpensive, self-contained, and very manageable. No sewage. No water usage.
CONS: Unlike many manufactured compost toilets, this simple bucket unit would not include luxurious perks such as: 1) a ventilating fan, 2) a concealing screen (to block the sight of any.. unmentionables), and 3) a urine diverter. I never thought that urine would play the role of “stench culprit” in this performance, but some believe that mixing the liquids and solids is the source of all-that-is-smelly in a compost toilet.
So, like any rational person without composting experience, I feared my tiny home would reek like a cattle pasture after a fresh rain... that is, until I found a few solutions to the dreaded liquid/solid conundrum. One is to have two toilets: one for liquids and one for solids. Another is to purchase a urine diverter from a manufacturer.
But what about the other perks you get with a manufactured compost toilet? Watch out for my follow up post, as my education continues and I make a final decision!
Compost toilet photo (open) by Wolfgang Berger
Jenna Spesard is a tiny house builder and writer by trade. She is currently building a Tumbleweed Cypress with her partner, Guillaume, who is a professional photographer and Tumbleweed Workshop Host. After the build is complete, they plan to travel around North America in their tiny house blogging and photographing their adventure. More on their tiny house and giant journey here.