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Old 05-13-2018, 09:57 PM   #1
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My compost toilet installation

Warning: I'll be discussing the nitty gritty details about composting toilets.

When we recently purchased our 5.0TA, we specified no toilet be installed, because we wanted to use composting toilet. We did get the black tank installed in case a future owner wanted to go back to a conventional setup.

In my mind, the benefits of a modern composting toilet are that you're not tied to your black tank, and you don't use your up your fresh water to flush, so you can stay out longer. By "modern," I mean a urine diverting composting toilet, in which the urine goes into a removable tank and the solids go into another. Separating the urine from the solids prevents odors and allows the composting process to occur. The solids gets mixed with the composting medium, which in our case is coconut coir, which is first mixed with a little water. After each use, the crank on the side is spun a few times. After a few days, the urine tank get emptied. The soilds tanks can accommodate about 3 weeks of use from 2 adults.

I installed an Airhead composting toilet at the first place we stopped. Airhead offers several models (https://airheadtoilet.com/the-air-he...ls-dimensions/). We got the marine seat with the flat back. Installation was easy, and only took about 30 minutes, using a drill, a countersink for the screws, and a screwdriver. Attached are pics of the brackets (with the needed countersink), and the finished installation. The screws get run through the fiberglass and into the wood framework underneath. Because the composting toilet sits up higher to accommodate the soilds tank, a stool is needed.

The toilet came with a small fan, like the ones used in a desktop computer, that fits into a housing and is connected to the toilet via a flexible hose. The purpose of this fan is to draw air through the toilet and route it to the outside, which removes any musty smell from the compost and aids in the composting. After watching a couple of videos of similar installations that didn't use it, I left it out because I couldn't quite bring myself to drill a 2" hole in our new trailer. After 3 weeks of continuous use, we didn't have any issues with odors, so for now I'm leaving it out. Were I to install it, I would drill the hole through the bathroom wall and mount the fan and housing to the wall and cover the outside opening with a marine stainless grill I got from West Marine. The hose connects from the housing to the toilet. I would have to run the 12 volt line through the other wall behind the toilet and connect to the 12V lug and ground wire that runs through the storage compartment where the landing gear switches are located.
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File Type: jpg toilet2.jpg (84.3 KB, 122 views)
File Type: jpg toilet1.jpg (107.5 KB, 120 views)
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Old 05-14-2018, 08:24 AM   #2
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Simple and clean install

I hope you get many years of trouble free service from it
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Old 05-14-2018, 08:51 AM   #3
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Nice job. Where do you dispose of the urine? How do you know when the compost is done? Does it reach the required 160 degrees F for 3 days to get proper pathogen destruction? If not how do you dispose of it safely? In my mind if there is no pathogen destruction a dumpster is NOT safe or proper. Have you thought about one of those solar powered vents often used on boats?

Don't get me wrong I think this is a great idea but as a Drinking Water and Wastewater Treatment Plant operator it is important to me to dispose of my waste properly. Urine is a great source of nitrogen (a great advantage used properly or a powerful pollutant if not) and feces not properly composted can be a real hazard. Composting is a great way to turn our waste into a resource but it can also lull people into thinking they are doing a good thing when if not done properly can really be a bigger problem than other disposal methods.
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Old 05-14-2018, 10:35 AM   #4
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Were I to install a solar powered fan, I'm assuming I would also have to cut a hole (presumably in the ceiling). If I really needed to ventilate the toilet, I could simply open the lid, pull open the lever to the solids tank, and operate the overhead fan in the bathroom. But I haven't needed to do that so far. Regarding the disposal issue, there are a number of references from composting toilet manufacturers that you can find on the Internet that cover this. I'm going to decline to start a long protracted debate on this forum concerning the subject.
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Old 05-14-2018, 12:19 PM   #5
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Were I to install a solar powered fan, I'm assuming I would also have to cut a hole (presumably in the ceiling). If I really needed to ventilate the toilet, I could simply open the lid, pull open the lever to the solids tank, and operate the overhead fan in the bathroom. But I haven't needed to do that so far. Regarding the disposal issue, there are a number of references from composting toilet manufacturers that you can find on the Internet that cover this. I'm going to decline to start a long protracted debate on this forum concerning the subject.
I am truly interested in the process for an RV. I have seen and understand the composting process on a larger scale and know that if well tended it can work very well but am a bit baffled by the smaller scale unit and how it inactivates pathogens. I have looked on a number of websites for these type of units and am not able to find good technical references to answer my questions. Can you help? I am not interested in a debate either I am just looking for good info to satisfy my technical background
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Old 05-14-2018, 05:04 PM   #6
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I am truly interested in the process for an RV. I have seen and understand the composting process on a larger scale and know that if well tended it can work very well but am a bit baffled by the smaller scale unit and how it inactivates pathogens. I have looked on a number of websites for these type of units and am not able to find good technical references to answer my questions. Can you help? I am not interested in a debate either I am just looking for good info to satisfy my technical background
The web site "Gone with the Wynns" covers the topic in several videos. They set up their motor home for living off the grid and shared their experiences, everything from Solar, Composting toilets, to boon docking tips. They have since moved on to sailing the world in a Catamaran (where they use composting toilets!) but their RV videos are still on their web site. Here is a link to one of them.

https://www.gonewiththewynns.com/com...-big-questions
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Old 05-14-2018, 06:13 PM   #7
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Another way to look at this is that a great amount of baby diapers, used cat box litter, dog refuse, etc. is legally disposed of in the trash every day. Of course, none of this is composted and no thought is given to the destruction of pathogens.
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Old 05-14-2018, 06:34 PM   #8
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Another way to look at this is that a great amount of baby diapers, used cat box litter, dog refuse, etc. is legally disposed of in the trash every day. Of course, none of this is composted and no thought is given to the destruction of pathogens.

There are bylaws prohibiting such disposal. Just because people are ignorant doesn't make it legal.
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Old 05-14-2018, 06:39 PM   #9
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where else would you put dog poop and cat litter and baby diapers? its usually double bagged but it has to go somewhere.
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Old 05-14-2018, 06:40 PM   #10
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where else would you put dog poop and cat litter and baby diapers? its usually double bagged but it has to go somewhere.

The contents go into the toilet to be treated.
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Old 05-14-2018, 06:46 PM   #11
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dog poop is almost always placed in the garbage. Its been a long time since i did a diaper we used cloth and dumped the contents in the toilet prob same with disposable i guess. I have no idea about cat litter.
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Old 05-14-2018, 06:47 PM   #12
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From District of North Vancouver web site:


Flush it

Dog waste (without the bag) can be flushed in the toilet, and treated at a wastewater treatment plant with other sewage. Don't put it in a storm sewer (on your street) as these carry rain to natural creeks.
*Note: Don't flush any bags. Even bags labelled "flusahble" or "biodegradable" cause problems for our wastewater system. They will clog your plumbing, or the city sewer.
Call a collection service

There are companies that collect dog waste from private and public spaces. This is also a good option in townhouses or apartments where numerous dog owners cost-share. Search the web under 'dog waste collection'.
Build a composter on your garden

Dog waste will decompose cleanly and without odour in a composter. City Farmer provides instructions. Allocate a bin to this purpose only. The resulting compost can be used on shrubs.
*Note: Don't put the resulting compost, or composter on or near your vegetable garden. If you live near a stream, place your composter away from the stream, as the runoff can contain a lot of nutrients (phosphorous and nitrogen) which not good for streams. Do not dig below groundwater.
Garbage

Pet waste is listed as prohibited from the region's garbage, but small amounts are accepted preferably double-bagged and put in the next pick-up.
We want to limit the amount of dog waste going to the landfill. It’s potentially hazardous to staff and it also produces methane, a powerful green house gas. On warm days it smells in bags, the garbage bin and work places. We encourage the alternatives listed above.
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Old 05-14-2018, 06:50 PM   #13
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makes sense but never seen this in our area.
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Old 05-14-2018, 07:24 PM   #14
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I was just out in the carport sorting recycling. Have to collect foam trays etc and take those to a recycling centre when we have enough to bother making the trip. Cans and plastics go in a blue box. Glass goes in a grey box. Pop bottles, cans, beer, wine and alcohol containers go to a recycling centre where you get your deposit back ( I have a guy who comes around and picks up mine ). All organics ( everything, even gravy ) goes in a large Schaefer bear proof container for composting. Garbage goes in a separate Schaefer Cart.
Tomorrow is garbage day and I'm not putting mine out because there is next to nothing in the carts.
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Old 07-14-2018, 10:33 AM   #15
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You got an airhead. Why that one? In my research I am pretty sure I would want a Natures Head toilet.
You installed in a 5 TA - I wish I had better specs on the sizes of bathrooms because a composting toilet needs also to be able to be opened to remove the solid waste container as well as the urine container. Those stock toilets are on a riser - I would prefer a flatter shower base..
And I plan to live f/t in my Escape, often boondocking. So a larger grey tank would be preferable to an unused black tank. A lot to think about.....
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Old 07-14-2018, 11:17 AM   #16
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You got an airhead. Why that one? In my research I am pretty sure I would want a Natures Head toilet.
You installed in a 5 TA - I wish I had better specs on the sizes of bathrooms because a composting toilet needs also to be able to be opened to remove the solid waste container as well as the urine container. Those stock toilets are on a riser - I would prefer a flatter shower base..
And I plan to live f/t in my Escape, often boondocking. So a larger grey tank would be preferable to an unused black tank. A lot to think about.....

We got the Airhead because it was a little smaller and so would fit into the 5.0TA's bathroom better. Removing the urine tank is easy - you just loosen the wingnuts on the side and pull it out. Emptying the solids tank is also easy - you similarly loosen its wingnuts and it lifts off of the floor and taken outside. We too would have preferred a flatter shower base, but there is enough room for it nevertheless. Because the Airhead is higher than a conventional toilet, we use a small folding stool. So far we've been out for several trips and the composting toilet has worked out very well. If you like, I think you could plumb the black and grey tanks together. However, because the only water that goes into our grey tank is from the shower and sink, we don't have to empty it at a dump station. So the whole setup provide for a much more flexible and hassle-free experience.
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Old 07-14-2018, 12:37 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by jkordzi View Post
We got the Airhead because it was a little smaller and so would fit into the 5.0TA's bathroom better. Removing the urine tank is easy - you just loosen the wingnuts on the side and pull it out. Emptying the solids tank is also easy - you similarly loosen its wingnuts and it lifts off of the floor and taken outside. We too would have preferred a flatter shower base, but there is enough room for it nevertheless. Because the Airhead is higher than a conventional toilet, we use a small folding stool. So far we've been out for several trips and the composting toilet has worked out very well. If you like, I think you could plumb the black and grey tanks together. However, because the only water that goes into our grey tank is from the shower and sink, we don't have to empty it at a dump station. So the whole setup provide for a much more flexible and hassle-free experience.
Where do you dump your grey tank?
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Old 07-14-2018, 12:45 PM   #18
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When we're hooked up, it's dumped in the usual place. When not, we follow the applicable rules and regulations.
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Old 07-14-2018, 01:26 PM   #19
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Good answer.
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Old 07-21-2018, 03:37 AM   #20
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We got the Airhead because it was a little smaller and so would fit into the 5.0TA's bathroom better. Removing the urine tank is easy - you just loosen the wingnuts on the side and pull it out. Emptying the solids tank is also easy - you similarly loosen its wingnuts and it lifts off of the floor and taken outside. We too would have preferred a flatter shower base, but there is enough room for it nevertheless. Because the Airhead is higher than a conventional toilet, we use a small folding stool. So far we've been out for several trips and the composting toilet has worked out very well. If you like, I think you could plumb the black and grey tanks together. However, because the only water that goes into our grey tank is from the shower and sink, we don't have to empty it at a dump station. So the whole setup provide for a much more flexible and hassle-free experience.
Just curious. Would escape install the toilet for a price, including drilling the hole for the ventilation? I will be using a composting toilet in my future 5.0 as well and it would be great if they would could do the drilling at least, or even the full install? I think I would ask them to 'convert' the black tank to freshwater, thereby doubling my freshwater capacity for extended boondocking!

Also is the hose provided by airhead long enough to reach the ceiling for ventilation? Would you have to shift the toilet forward if you did decide to attach the hose for ventilation?
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