Top 3 Manufactured Composting Toilets for Tiny Homes

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

Nature's Head Compost Toilet

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

Separett Compost Toilet

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 

Sun-Mar Compost Toilet

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 hereBonus informational video here

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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!

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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

Written by Jenna Spesard — July 16, 2014

Filed under: Compost   compost toilet   composting toilet   composting toilets   nature's head  

Tiny House For Three

Family posed on the porch of their "big house" (above) and their barn raiser (below).

Meg, Brandy, and their 2-year-old son nicknamed "R.A.D." are about to dramatically shrink their idea of home. Having just received a Tumbleweed barn raiser, the family of three will be shedding approximately 3,000 square feet!

“Somewhere between growing to despise our huge mortgage and realizing we would never be able to take my mother on the Alaskan cruise she dreamed of, something just snapped in my mind.” Meg explains why her family has decided to downsize from their 3,193 sq foot home and nearly $2,000 a month mortgage payment.

“Losing my mom made us realize the ‘American Dream’ of the big house with the white fence was really just a pair of shackles preventing us from doing the things we really wanted to do.” Sadly, Meg’s mother recently lost a 17-month battle with cancer. Before she was diagnosed they had planned on moving the whole family from Texas to Washington. “The more I thought about the plans I was making with my mom, the more resolute I was that I needed this change. I was sick to my stomach with the knowledge that I let the big house weigh us down." It was then that Meg and Brandy finally made the decision to drop the big house, and travel around the country with a tiny home before settling in Washington for R.A.D to start school. 

With Brandy attending college and Meg working two jobs, the couple quickly realized that finding time to build was going to be a challenge. That’s when they stumbled upon Tumbleweed’s barn raiser - a professionally built skeleton of a Tumbleweed tiny home secured on a Tumbleweed trailer. The family chose the Cypress 24’ Horizon model, which will allow a private bedroom for their son as well as a loft bedroom for themselves.  

“Having the professional builders do all the heavy lifting and, most importantly, the strapping and securing of the structure to the trailer was the decision maker in the build vs. buy debate for me.” Meg explains. “I’ve had nightmares of the house sliding off the trailer, so the peace of mind that comes with having professionals secure my house is worth it’s weight in gold!" 

Meg and Brandy ordered their barn raiser in mid-March and received a notification it was ready on April 22nd. The family set off to retrieve their new home - one that is equal in size of their current master bathroom! When they first stepped inside the tiny dwelling that would one day carry them off on an adventure, Meg remembers thinking it felt huge and tiny simultaneously. Check out their height charts: 

“Our son calls it his ‘Biiiiigg Hooose’, and it (the tiny home) will probably continue to feel big to him while he is little.” - Meg

How will this family cope with this dramatic downsize? Check back in for updates on Meg, Brandy, and R.A.D. as they finish their house and prepare to travel around the U.S.A. 

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All photos provided by Meg and Brandy. 

Follow this tiny house family on their blog here. Like them on facebook here.

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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

 

 

 

A Tricky Trailer Delivery

Jeff and Megan's New Tumbleweed Trailer Being Delivered!

Jeff and Megan attended a Tumbleweed workshop in Las Vegas earlier this year, where they were able to tour three different tiny homes. After that, they took the plunge - purchasing a brand new 20 foot Tumbleweed foundation on wheels. Let the build begin!

The first obstacle almost every tiny house builder faces is a big one - WHERE TO BUILD?  Jeff and Megan currently live in Las Vegas, and like so many tiny housers, they lack an ideal space for construction.  Many people in this situation rent a location such as a workshop, while others build in a friend's backyard, barn, or tall shed. Finding the perfect build site can take time and research, but it's well worth the effort.

The main considerations when choosing a build location are:

1) Adequate space for maneuvering the finished house through the entrance
2) Adequate space to move around the house while constructing
3) Access to electricity for power tool usage
4) A covered lockable area to protect materials and tools
5) Budget

*Also, depending on the geographical location, a covered build site might be preferable to prevent weather damage.  

While brainstorming possible build locations with a close friend, Megan and Jeff stumbled upon a solution. "We figured our friend Martin would have some good ideas because he's a Las Vegas native, but instead he offered his own backyard!" Megan said. "We are very lucky." Martin's yard is spacious, and he is also allowing them access to his garage and electricity. But, there is one challenge -  an angled driveway that could pose a problem for maneuvering. Is this build site too good to be true? 

The Challenge: Backing the trailer through the angled driveway

Tumbleweed Trailer

Oops! First attempt - part of the retaining wall collapsed!

"I knew backing the trailer in was going to be tricky." Jeff explained.  "The gate opening is 10′ wide, and the trailer itself is only 8’6″. We knew it would clear, as long as we worked around that angle." Eventually they lined the trailer up as best they could, unhooked, and pushed it in by hand. 

Slowly, Jeff and Megan navigated the trailer into the back yard...

Hooray!! They made It! It's so spacious back here!

Okay, but how are they going to pull the trailer out with a 13 foot house on top?! "We’re confident we’ll come up with a solution." Jeff chuckled. They are considering building up the area where the retaining wall fell over or engineering some sort of steel “deck” that could be installed to allow for a truck to pull the trailer out. Both Jeff and Megan agree, they'll have to figure it out before they begin to build.

Any ideas or tips for Jeff and Megan's exit strategy (literally)? Please share.

Make sure to check back for periodic updates on Jeff and Megan! They are preparing to build a Linden, modeled from Meg Stephens's house and hope to be finished by February. 

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All photos provided by Jeff & Megan.

Follow Jeff & Megan's blog here. And friend them on facebook here.

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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

 

 

 

Written by Jenna Spesard — June 27, 2014

Filed under: Build it yourself   builders   Downsizing   Trailer   Tumbleweed Trailer   Vegas  

Where in the World is Tiny House Giant Journey?

As some of you may know, Guillaume and I have been building a modified Cypress since last September. The build experience has been more of a marathon than a sprint, but I can finally say we are on our last lap! Here's the interior as it stands now - with an unfinished bathroom, kitchen, etc.

As we prepare to cross the finish line, we decided to move our tiny house from Los Angeles to my home town in central Illinois. It's going to be an exciting summer spent building and catching up with family and old friends!

Guillaume and I were nervous to tow the house, but also eager to become comfortable with taking it on long road trips. We drove slow, bumping down the interstate at 45 mph and traveling only 250-300 miles a day. We could have easily gone 65 mph, but at 45 mph we were getting just over 10 miles per gallon (at 55 mph we were getting 8.5 mpg, etc). Going slow saved us approximately $150 in gas over the course of the trip. Ultimately it took us about a week to cross the 2,000 miles, but we did it without incident!

Interstates are required to have at least 14 feet of vertical clearance, which is necessary for our 13’ 4” house. For our trek, we stayed mostly on I-40, traveling through California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and Oklahoma. Once we hit Oklahoma City, we turned north east onto I-44 toward St. Louis and onward to my small hometown in central Illinois.

Here are a few highlights of "Tiny House Giant Journey's" trip:

 THGJ @ Painted Desert

 THGJ @ Petrified Forest

 THGJ @ "Breaking Bad "House in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Moments after taking the above photo, that ominous sky began to alternate between hail and rain! It was the first substantial bath our tiny California abode ever received. We were worried how the reclaimed wood would hold up, but it dried out just fine. Although the back of the house (front of the trailer) tolerated the unintended power-wash from us driving down the road during the downpour, the vigorous shower did remove some of our beloved patina. Next time, we will pull over and wait out the storm.

New Mexico is also home to a quirky campground that we stumbled upon - Kiva RV Park, right on Route 66. Check out the tiny trailers built by the owner! 

 

THGJ next to "Betty Boop travel trailer" at Kiva RV Park 

Teardrop Trailer Designed and Built by Kiva RV Park Owner on Display

 THGJ @ Cadillac Ranch in Texas

The horse towing our precious wagon was our 2006 Ford F-250 Diesel 4x4. The last time we weighed our house it was creeping up on 8,000 pounds, and that was without our belongings! Luckily we built on a Tumbleweed trailer, so we knew we were within the weight limit and that our axels were specifically designed to handle towing. That being said, we still made sure to evenly pack and disperse our belongings inside the house for travel. We also bought a no sway weight distribution system from Andersen Hitches - which was extremely helpful. We highly recommend it!

 

Our Weight Distribution System

We had no trouble finding places to stay along the trip. Every campground was excited to welcome our curious cabin. Setting up was easy with pull-through campsites with electric and water hookups. The scissor jacks on the trailer supplied us with stability, and we leveled-out easily using a camper leveler, tuff pads, and rapid jack. By the end of the trip, we could setup or teardown in less than 15 minutes!

Guillaume & Our Dog Relaxing in THGJ's Almost Finished Loft

It was a lot of fun to see people react to our home. On the road, travelers would often give us a thumbs-up or snap photos. Many times we answered questions and gave impromptu tours. Only once were we pulled over by a police officer - for going 43 mph in a 45 minimum - did I mention we were being cautious? The officer gave us a verbal warning mixed with praise for the tiny house. Secretly, we think he just wanted a closer look!

When we finally pulled into our new build site, it was bitter-sweet. We loved our mini-adventure and can’t wait to continue traveling when our house is complete. I think we caught the tiny-traveling-fever!

Our New Build Spot in Central Illinois!
*Build updates from Tiny House Giant Journey here. Like them on facebook here.
*All photos taken by Guillaume Dutilh. Check out his photography here.

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Jenna Spesard is a 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

Written by Jenna Spesard — June 16, 2014

Filed under: Build it yourself   builders   Downsizing   Jenna Spesard   Rv Parks   See a Tiny House   small house   Tiny House Giant Journey   Travel   Tumbleweed   Weight Distribution  

Little House on the Ferry

Once upon a time, Arianne and Sean lived in two separate houses in Las Vegas. Between the two dwellings, the couple had over 4,000 square feet combined. So how did they end up spending “happily ever after” in an Alaskan abode surmounting to no more than 150 square feet? Well, it all started with a newspaper clipping… 

Arianne had always considered downsizing and living tiny, but it wasn’t until her mother sent her a crinkled photograph of a Tumbleweed featured in the Denver Post that she truly fell in love. “I used to dream about it.” Arianne admitted. “Sean and I wanted to live a greener lifestyle.” Her partner is an engineer in sustainable and renewable energy. Minimizing would help open other doors for the couple as well, including a big move to a certain beautiful and adventurous state. 

With an Alaskan tiny house on the menu, Arianne and Sean teamed up with Tumbleweed’s Meg Stephens to design their perfect abode - a modified Elm. The couple knew the main course of this particular tundra was best served cold, which meant a higher R-value insulation and electric heating in the floors. They also customized their house to have a galley kitchen, four skylights, and two lofts!

But once the house was complete, Arianne and Sean faced another challenge – getting their house from the Tumbleweed build site in Colorado to Anchorage. Their journey began with a cross-country road trip, including a stroll up the gorgeous Pacific Coast Highway.

Next the couple took to the sea, as they boarded the Alaskan Marine Highway Ferry.“Most people were boarding cars, but we pulled up towing a house!

The workers were surprised to say the least.” Arianne chuckled, remembering. “They said it was the first house they ever loaded onto the ferry, and it barely fit!” She recalls seeing numerous whales along the swaying careen up the west coast of Canada and Alaska. Finally, they docked in Anchorage, and set out to begin their new life.

Now, half a year later, Arianne works locally for the Air Force piloting C-17s – a plane that could fit six Tumbleweeds inside! She and Sean are enjoying their new house, new location, and new neighbors – most recently a curious moose greeted them one morning, resting his head on their front porch!

Who knows, maybe he is interested in a tiny house with a little extra antler-room?

*All photos provided by Arianne and Sean

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Jenna Spesard is a 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

Written by Jenna Spesard — June 11, 2014

Filed under: alaska   Elm   green building   green living   Jenna Spesard   See a Tiny House   small house   Tiny House   travel   Tumbleweed  
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