Welcome to Episode 4! Please feel free to go back to Episode 3… We wouldn’t want you to miss out!
For those of you reading this blog, I should explain that our research took almost a year before we came to a final decision. Now you may think this seems excessive, but due to the financial outlay we were going to make we needed to pick the right composting toilet the first time and as Nick told me, once we get it, it’s permanent!! That is, if we were going to all the expense of changing it and fitting it there was no going back and he meant it!
We had narrowed it down to three toilets that all came with an integrated stirrer, so we were getting there even if it was a slow process. The first model from Compost Toilets was quickly ruled out for the following reasons:
● Push-button motorised stirrer – yes, I know, sounds wonderful BUT this is something that could break down and it used more power, although admittedly only 30watts per 20-second stirring cycle. When you rely on solar and batteries you are much more conscious of what you are using.
● Urine container 5 litres – for us that would most likely be a daily empty with us both onboard as we both drink way above the minimum recommended!
● Solids container only 10 uses – for a minimum 2 uses a day that would not even be a week and likely to be less than 5 days. Not only did it not meet our ‘monthly emptying’ wish, but it also meant that the decomposition would be minimal on emptying.
● Size – height and width were comparable but the depth was 10cm more than our current Thetford! This is quite a lot when you are living in a small space and it would be far too big for the space in the Overlander – we would be back to hitting our head against the wall as we sat down! Even in the boat, it would be jutting out too far and we could not rotate it through 90 degrees due to the door – there would be no major bathroom redesigns just to install the toilet.
The only thing in its favour was the cost, at almost £150 cheaper, against our two other options but the cost had never been part of our criteria.
Time to look at the last two options in greater detail. There must be one out there that will suit our needs or maybe we are difficult to please!
The two toilets we had narrowed it down to were the Nature’s Head and the Air Head. First, we looked at Nature’s Head, another toilet that had been recommended by fellow boaters. This had been developed in the US by two sailors. They started to be sold in 2007 and since then there have been some design modifications as you would expect.
The Air Head was the invention of Geoff Trott when, way back in 1998, he was looking for a solution for his boat toilet due to lack of space. Marketing began in 2001 and again there have been changes to the original, with two models now available, one being classed as marine as it is smaller with a compact seat and can sit flush against the back wall.
Both toilets were comparatively priced at 999 Euros ( £868 approximately) for the Nature’s Head before shipping and potential customs charges and £999 for the Air Head plus delivery.
We quickly made a list of the advantages/disadvantages as we felt that would be the easiest way of comparing these toilets and it is always my ‘go to’ action when I am trying to make a decision. I have probably driven my kids and Nick mad over the years when I have told them to do pros and cons list if they are trying to decide something!
● 12v fan low power usage.
● 8.3 litre urine container.
● 60-80 uses for solids container – approximately monthly emptying if using 24/7
● No liner is required for the solids container.
● The stirrer can be fitted on either side of the toilet and is operated by an outside handle.
● Can be used in a wet room with some minor modifications – sealing of mounting brackets and drilling a hole in the holder for the urine bottle to allow drainage.
● Moulded toilet seat that a number of people had reported as uncomfortable.
● 7cm taller than our current Thetford.
● The whole seat needs to be tipped up for the removal of the urine container so you regularly get to view your decomposing poo!
● Minimum of 4cm gap between toilet and wall to allow for tipping which obviously increases the depth of space required.
● The transparent urine container has a cloth strap that will be difficult to keep clean if splashed with urine on emptying and no indicator for when full.
● Only available to order from Europe, no distributor in the UK, which will complicate matters due to Brexit! VAT would be paid in Germany and again in the UK.
● 12v fan low power usage.
● Round solids container with no awkward corners.
● 9 litre urine container.
● Full time 80 uses/2 people for 1 month for solids container.
● No liners are required for the solids container.
● The stirrer can be fitted on either side of the toilet and is operated from outside the toilet.
● A vent hose can be fitted on either side of the toilet.
● Can be fitted in a wet room due to the seals under the seat and lid.
● Capacity indicator window on urine container.
● Normal style toilet seat.
● Only 4cm taller than our current Thetford.
● The urine container can be removed for emptying without lifting the toilet seat.
● Available to order in the UK
● Harder to install than Nature’s Head as two pairs of installation brackets plus a fan requires fitting.
The Air Head appeared to have more advantages than disadvantages but the size was to be the determining factor, so Nick set to work making a mock-up of Nature’s Head toilet as we wanted to see if it would even fit in the Overlander. And the result……
Hmm, think that will be far too tight with our knees against the wall!
OK so finally the decision was made, we were going for an Air Head toilet! Just one slight problem, after a phone call to the suppliers there was a wait time of approximately a month before they hoped to receive their next delivery. It could be worse as wait times in the US are currently 10 weeks!
At least the wait time gives me a few weeks without having to think about and research toilets! So next time I will be covering the installation process which we will do first on the boat as there is more space to work with, hopefully making it less stressful! Must remember to get a bottle of wine for that day…… I think we might both need a glass afterward!