The Ultimate Guide to Off Grid Toilets

What You Need to Know, Before You Go

Here’s Our Ultimate Guide To Understanding and Selecting An Off Grid Toilet Without The Mess

Off Grid Toilet Separett Villa 9210 5

An off grid toilet does not rely on any public services, so it has no link to a sewer system, a city water supply, or the electric grid. Some people may assume that it is a primitive and unpleasant way to deal with waste, but that is not always true with the advancement and multitude of off grid toilets available today.

Many people around the world, about 2.4 billion, lack safe sanitation facilities. To address this global issue, organizations and private companies have created advanced and eco-friendly alternatives. Off grid toilets have become smart systems that are user-friendly, easy to install, simple to maintain and suitable for any mobile or off grid lifestyle.

In addition, off grid toilets are ideal choices for boating and RVing, as well as off grid houses. Some of the best off grid toilet solutions have come from the sailing world. 

off grid sail boat toilet

Most off grid toilets have a normal appearance on top. They are self-sufficient and have a mechanical device that helps users to transfer the waste into the bin. The more elaborate systems also have an integrated septic or bio-septic tank where beneficial bacteria decompose organic waste.

Sun-Mar Centrex 3000 Central Electric Composting Toilet System

If you’re planning to live off the grid, one of the most important things to consider BEFORE you build is how you’ll manage your human waste. 

The Carefree Incinerating Toilet

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The Truth About Off Grid Toilets

Off grid toilets are of course a necessity to living for expended periods or full time off the grid, but they can also pose some problems you need to know about. You must consider several important factors before you decide on which off grid toilet is right for you. That’s why we wrote this post. To help folks navigate the world of off grid composting toilets easier than we had it when we first went off grid. We’ll help you work through all the important considerations. Some of those include your location, the complexity of the installation, are you installing the off grid toilet during your initial construction period or as an upgrade to an existing build, are you changing out one type of waste management for a new type, toilet capacity, maintenance, power requirements, and of course budget.

Some Interesting Facts To Know

There are some interesting facts to know about the waste we produce that might surprise you and help guide your decision on what particular off grid toilet to choose. 

  • Urine accounts for about 85% of the waste volume
  • Raw sewage ONLY occurs when liquids AND solids are mixed together. When they are kept separate the management of human waste becomes easier by factors of magnitude. An important consideration later on in the post
  • You can use any type of toilet paper you like with certain toilets
  • When dried solids are disposed of in the ground bacteria in the soil “consume” the fecal pathogens, thereby rendering the content harmless
  • In most municipalities, urine is considered gray water and can be drained into a gray water tank as opposed to a black water tank

How To Choose The Best Off Grid Toilet For Your Needs

There are several different types of off grid toilets. Each one has its pros and cons and specific requirements for installation.

This comparison chart comes from The Cabin Depot. They have an extensive selection of off grid toilets. Check them out!

We have a $20 discount coupon that you can use if you decided to shop with The Cabin Depot.  Just use the code: OFFGRIDCABIN when you check out!

Toilet Comparison Chart 1

Toilet Comparison Chart 2

IMPORTANT: There is much more flexibility if you are installing your off grid toilet during the initial build phase of your home. Retrofitting a toilet after the walls and floor are closed up is much more work so making the decision on a system that is right for your needs is best done during the planning stages and before you build. Here are some considerations BEFORE you build:

Location

If you’re planning to buy or build an off grid toilet system, it’s important to note that local rules and regulations may vary depending on your location. Additionally, you should consider the distance from the nearest house connected to the centralized sewer, energy costs, and average temperatures throughout the year.

It’s worth noting that not all off grid toilets are designed to function in all climates. Some are better suited for warm areas, while others are better for four-season solutions. Some systems do not output anything at all into the environment while others eject only the sterile liquid and not the solid waste. It’s only when you combine the liquid and the solids of human waste together that you create “sewage”. Separated they can be handled quite differently as you’ll learn. 

Capacity

When deciding which off grid toilet system to buy, it’s important to consider the size of the system based on your usage. A small off grid toilet is ideal for an RV or a small off grid cabin, cottage or home where you only spend a few weekends a year. However, if the off grid toilet serves a family of several adults plus children every day, you’ll want a system that’s big enough to keep up with everyone’s needs.

This element is vital, especially when you pick a solution that needs to be emptied regularly or when you live in a cold climate and need to exit a warm cabin in the middle of the night to run outside to an outhouse. Yes, folks still have and use those! 

Installation

Aside from choosing which system to buy, the installation process is the next most critical factor that can make or break even the best off grid toilet solution. Therefore, it’s essential to consider the complexity of the installation process when you consider the best off grid toilet for your homestead or cabin.

Anyone with average DIY skills can install an off grid toilet and chances are if you’re building an off grid home you can easily install one of these systems. However, if you’re not confident in your DIY skills and have any doubt about making messy mistakes, you might want to opt for a fully assembled product or find a company that can install the toilet for you.

Alternatively, you can always hire a third party to get the help you need. In this scenario, it’s crucial to ensure that the contractor has prior experience installing the type of toilet you’re purchasing. You can live with a shoddy bathroom paint job but an improperly plumbed urine drain line is nothing to laugh at. 

Maintenance

Off grid toilets are not created equal. Some systems are complex and self-sustainable, which means they require low maintenance. However, if you don’t want to invest too much in such a system, you can opt for an eco-toilet that requires you to carry a bucket of waste to a predetermined disposal point several times a week.

It’s important to know where and how you’ll dispose of the waste before picking the right system. Analyzing the implications of having a specific type of off grid toilet can help you make a better decision. Our system separates the liquids from the solids and after a period of “dehydration” the solids become odorless, dried up and can be discarded as regular household waste. 

Cost

When considering the cost of an off grid toilet, it’s important to keep in mind that the price can vary depending on the type of system you choose. For instance, a simple bucket toilet can cost as little as $20, while a high-end composting toilet can cost upwards of $2,000. Other factors that can affect the cost include the frequency of use, maintenance requirements, and installation complexity. It’s also worth noting that some off grid toilets require additional components such as ventilation systems or urine diverters, which can also add to the overall cost. It’s essential to assess your budget and requirements before making a purchase decision.

Top 5 Off grid Toilets To Consider

1. Composting Toilets

Composting toilets are toilets that use natural processes to decompose human waste into a nutrient-rich soil-like material. Some models are waterless and urine diverting, which means they separate the liquid and solid waste and reduce odor and volume. Some examples of composting toilets are the Boxio, and the Nature’s Head Composting Toilet.

Below is the Boxio Composting Toilet.

Boxio off grid toilet

Below is the Nature’s Head Composting Toilet. See it at The Cabin Depot by clicking here.

Natures Head Composting Off Grid Toilet

Pros

  • Environmentally friendly
  • No water or electricity required for some models
  • Produces compost that can be used as fertilizer

Cons

  • Requires regular maintenance
  • Can be expensive
  • May produce unpleasant odors

Requirements for Installing

  • Adequate space for installation
  • Proper ventilation
  • Access to a composting area

2. Incinerating Toilets

Incinerating toilets are toilets that burn human waste into ash using propane or electri