If you’re currently designing or living in a tiny house, you’ve probably already considered the idea of installing a composting toilet tiny house style. If you’re off the grid or unable to access a septic system or sewer, a composting toilet might be an ideal means of discarding human waste at your tiny home.
Composting toilets are also known as dry toilets or a dry flush toilet. They’re different from a traditional flushing toilet, and there are a few different varieties, so it might seem complicated to understand what tiny toilets would work best for your tiny house.
By understanding the basics, you’ll be well on your way to figuring out the best composting toilet solution for your tiny home toilet.
The following is a guide for composting a toilet for a tiny house.
How does a compost toilet work in a tiny house?
Tiny house toilet options are limited by size and space. But once you find room for a toilet commode in your tiny house, you’ll likely realize that it’s a lack of access to plumbing infrastructure that limits your options. For example, to make a conventional toilet work, you need a septic tank or a sewer to flush away toilet waste.
So, if you don’t want to use a bucket, a compost toilet becomes an attractive toilet option.
Here’s how the concept works. Rather than flushing waste away, solid waste and toilet paper are separated from liquid waste. Then the remaining solids are broken down by aerobic bacteria, transforming them into garden-ready, soil-enriching compost, usually without requiring a flush.
Do composting toilets smell bad?
Composting toilets do not necessarily smell bad or lead to unpleasant odors in a tiny home. But, some conditions could create a damp or earthy odor. And if you went the cheap route, your composting toilet may be little more than a bucket.
On higher-end DIY or manufactured composting toilets, liquid waste is usually separated from solid waste. That keeps the bacteria from getting soaked, making it more effective at breaking down your solid waste.
You will often store the remaining solid waste in a chamber with a fan and a vent that allows the waste to remain moist but not saturated. There are often other additives like peat moss or wood shavings added to help the process as well.
If your fan stops working and you collect water, you run out of peat moss, or your vent clogs up, you could end up with a bit of a malodor. Additionally, keep in mind that most composting toilet systems are designed to be used routinely and consistently.
Failing to do so and not following the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning it when not used for extended periods can lead to smelling issues.
Where do you dump urine out of a composting toilet?
The answer depends on what kind of composting toilet you have. Many systems feature a urine diverter that separates your urine from solid waste. You often shunt the urine into a separate container that you will need to empty periodically. Then, you just slide the container out of its enclosure and transport it to a safe and legal place for disposal.
Many tiny home dwellers live off-grid, which usually means they also likely have a large vegetable garden. Urine can be very effective as part of a nitrogen-based plant feeding solution when diluted with water and other ingredients. So, you can add it to your compost pile, but you will probably need to mix it with a carbon-rich material like sawdust or wood shavings in a bucket before dumping it and working it into the compost.
If you have access to one, you can also dump urine into a public toilet. In addition, there are RV toilet dumping stations that you can use for dumping wastewater. If this all sounds like too much for you, some models use electric fans to evaporate the urine, negating the need to empty a holding tank.
Do you pee in a composting toilet?
The short answer is yes, you can, but the devil is in the details. Tiny homeowners might get tired of dealing with the work of emptying their tiny toilet’s brine tank. Some might prefer to use a bucket equipped with a toilet seat for liquid waste. Unfortunately, this sort of bucket toilet is pretty rustic, so it might not suit everyone.
Compost toilets have come a long way in terms of their technology. So tiny house toilet options aren’t as limited as they once were. You can find a composting toilet that suits your tiny house and doesn’t need to be flushed with water like a traditional toilet.
Do you have to empty a composting toilet?
Composting toilets all need to be emptied at some point. Very low-end toilets might need emptying after only one or two uses. Higher-end toilets often feature fans, limited flushing water, liquid waste diverters, and semi-automated composting.
But, at some point, you’re usually going to have to remove compost material from your composting toilet. So get your compost pile ready!
The frequency with which you’ll need to use wood shavings, peat moss, sawdust, and empty buckets varies by model and usage.
You can use the following information as a buying guide for a composting toilet.
What is the best toilet for a tiny house?
The best toilet for a tiny house is the one that suits your needs and infrastructure.
Suppose you have a septic system or a sewer; you might be best served by a traditional toilet that you can simply flush. But, if you are in a remote area without access to that sort of infrastructure, your toilet options will be more limited.
Portable toilets can come in an array of options such as an incinerating toilet, macerating toilets, or a chemical toilet. If you want to give back to the environment, though, a composting toilet is your best bet.
If you are only using your tiny house toilet sporadically, you may want a portable composting toilet that you can pack up and move with you. A composting portable toilet needs to be thoroughly cleaned if they go dormant for any length of time, so portability might be appealing.
If you already have a composting pile, are familiar with the composting process, and plan to use your tiny home toilet daily, there are still many options to choose from. We break down some of the options later on.
How much is a composting toilet for a tiny house?
A composting toilet doesn’t have to break the bank. In fact, a DIY composting toilet can be made for very little money if you have the know-how. A 5-gallon bucket, a homemade urine diverter, a simple wooden frame, and a toilet seat shouldn’t cost more than $40.
Of course, you’ll still probably need some other supplies like peat moss and sawdust, but we’re still not talking about a lot of money.
A ready-made composting toilet will cost more than a DIY model. But, there is a wide range of pricing. Some portable light-duty models are designed more for camping than residential living. These sort of temporary and portable composting toilets run for only about $100. But they are lacking in functionality and really only offer a bit more comfort than a bucket.
There are an array of models that start at about $600. But, at that price point, you are likely trading off some functionality and overall quality for a discounted cost.
The sweet spot for composting toilets is the range of models that cost anywhere from about $750 to $1200. These are all from top manufacturers of composting toilets. They tend to be well-built, convenient to use and operate, and they are available with a range of features to suit your particular needs.
What is the smallest composting toilet?
One of the smallest composting toilets on the market is the SUN-MAR GTG TOILET. It doesn’t doesn’t need any water supply, but separates liquids and solids efficiently. And with a width of less than 20 inches and a height of 19.8 inches, it is quite small but capable of handling waste for a family over short durations. This toilet would only be suitable for one person to use on a long-term basis.
Best Composting Toilet for Tiny House Reviews
Here are some reviews we found for the best composting toilets.
By definition, space is a prime limitation for how you equip any tiny house. When you’re working in tight quarters, the SUN-MAR GTG TOILET. is a solid choice. It features one of the smallest footprints on the market.
Whereas some models need 48 inches of width for an installation, this compact dry toilet needs less than 20 inches to fit.
But, the compact design of this toilet means that it also has a comparatively small composting bin. That means you will need to empty it more often than when working with a larger model.
For short-term or seasonal use, it is rated for three adults, but any sort of long-term or residential use is best for just one adult. And toilet paper will also take up space and fill this composting toilet up even more quickly. That’s pretty limited for a composting toilet that costs about two thousand dollars.
If you are a tiny homeowner looking for something a little bit better than a bucket with a toilet seat but don’t want to spend much money on a toilet system, the Stansport Portable Camp Toilet is worth considering. For less than one hundred dollars, you can bring the comfort of a commode to your tiny house.
It is also very compact and is probably best suited for temporary use. But it is sturdy and functional and effective at handling human waste. This unit doesn’t have a urine diverter, so you will need to empty it pretty regularly. No running water or electricity is needed.
It comes with a composting bag that is installed inside to line the bowl. It is a good idea to mix some peat moss in to help with composting and odor control. It’s cheap, effective, and portable; thus, it might be very appealing for some tiny homeowners.
If you have the room for it, the Sun-Mar Excel Non-Electric Self-Contained Composting Toilet is the best choice for an ultra-high capacity toilet system. It has a wealth of features and can handle medium to high-capacity use.
The Sun-Mar patented Bio-drum is incorporated into the design and is efficient and reliable at composting human waste. This composting toilet also includes a recessed handle that can help transfer human waste into fertile garden soil. The included venting kit helps dissolve odors while the flushless toilet offers a 100% non-polluting guarantee.
This toilet is appealing for a tiny home or weekend getaway because of its ability to suit 2-3 people in a residential setting or 5-7 people temporarily. It is definitely a premium model if you’re searching for a quality multi-person composting toilet.
The Separett Villa is your best bet for a portable composting toilet. But don’t let its portability fool you into thinking this is a bare-bones model. It automatically separates liquid waste from solid waste, and it has an elongated seat for user comfort.
The Separett Villa compostable toilet installs pretty easily, and it can be mounted with bolts if you don’t plan on moving it much. It operates with either AC power or DC (solar or battery power). Its vented design eliminates odors, and it is also very compact.
The best compost toilet for your tiny home toilet is the Nature’s Head Self Contained Composting Toilet. It is very reasonably priced at about one thousand dollars. If you have basic handyman skills, the Nature’s Head composting toilet is very easy to install. It is capable of composting human waste without any odors and no need for maintenance.
The manufacturer states that the Nature’s Head toilet has the capacity for two people to use it for more than a month without emptying the solid waste, which translates to about 70 uses. You can also dispose of toilet paper in this waterless toilet.
It accomplishes this through an integrated low-voltage fan and utilizes a unique spider handle design that is easy to use in tight spaces. Liquid waste is held separately, and you will need to dump it regularly.
Now that you understand a lot more about compost toilets, the composting process, and the available options, you can decide which compost toilet is best for you. Just remember that the limiting factors for your compost toilet choice need to be accounted for. Do you have access to water? Can you source plenty of peat moss and wood shavings? If not, looking into an incinerator toilet or chemical toilet might be helpful.
Even the best compost toilet in this review, Nature’s Head Toilet, needs some infrastructure to handle human waste effectively. So, if you don’t want to hug a tree and squat like a bear in the woods, you need to plan for your installation carefully and understand that composting is a little bit of work.