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.

Off Grid Toilet Comparison Chart 1

Off Grid 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:


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. 


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! 


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. 


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. 


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.

Natures Head Composting Off Grid Toilet


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


  • 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 electricity. They are waterless and do not produce any liquid waste. They are suitable for places where there is no access to water or sewage, or where composting is not feasible. Some examples of incinerating toilets are the TinyJohn, Cinderalla Freedom, and The Incinolet Toilet

Below is the Cinderella Freedom Incinerator Toilet.

Cinderella Freedom Incineration Toilet

Below is the TinyJohn Incinerator Toilet.

TinyJohn Incinerator Toilet

Below is the Incinolet Incinerator Toilet.

Incinolet Toilet


  • No water required
  • Minimal maintenance required
  • Produces ash that can be disposed of easily


  • Expensive
  • Requires electricity or propane
  • May produce unpleasant odors

Requirements for Installing

  • Access to electricity or propane
  • Adequate space for installation
  • Proper ventilation

3. Outhouses

Outhouses are toilets that consist of a simple wooden structure with a hole in the ground or a pit where human waste is deposited. They are the oldest and simplest form of off grid toilets. They do not require water or electricity, but they may need a vent pipe or a chimney to reduce odor and flies.

Off grid OutHouse


  • Simple to build
  • No plumbing or electricity required
  • Inexpensive


  • Requires regular maintenance and cleaning
  • May produce unpleasant odors
  • Not suitable for all climates

Requirements for Installing

  • Adequate space for installation
  • Proper ventilation
  • Access to a composting area (if desired)

4. Bucket Toilets (Honey Buckets)

Bucket toilets are toilets that use a bucket or a pail as a receptacle for human waste. They are also known as honey buckets or portable toilets. They are usually lined with a plastic bag or a biodegradable liner that can be sealed and disposed of after use. They may also have some absorbent material or sawdust to reduce moisture and odor. Some portable toilets include the Glenmal 5 Gallon Portable Camping Toilet, the Alpcour Portable Toilet, and of course the 5 gallon bucket with some good old ingenuity. 

Below is the Glenmal 5 Gallon Portable Camping Toilet

Glenmal 5 Gallon Bucket Portable Camping Toilet

Below is the Alpcour Portable Toilet

Alpcour Camping Toilet

Below are some simple 5 gallon bucket ideas

DIY Honey Bucket

DIY Honey Bucket Camping


  • Simple and inexpensive
  • No plumbing or electricity required
  • Easy to maintain


  • Requires regular emptying and cleaning
  • May produce unpleasant odors
  • Not suitable for all climates

Requirements for Installing

  • Adequate space for installation
  • Proper ventilation
  • Access to a composting area (if desired)

5. Separett Toilets

The separett toilet is a urine diverting toilet that is specially designed for small spaces, such as tiny homes, camper vans, caravans, boats, etc. It has a built-in fan that expels odors and condensation from the toilet and the bathroom. It can be powered by 12V or 110-240V electricity. The urine is drained to a container or a leaching bed, and the solids are collected in a compostable bag that can be disposed of or composted.

Separett Villa 9215 Off Grid Composting Toilet


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


  • Expensive (for some models)
  • Requires regular maintenance (for some models)
  • May produce unpleasant odors (for some models)

Requirements for Installing

The requirements for installing a Separett toilet will depend on the specific model you choose. However, in general, you’ll need:

  • Adequate space for installation
  • Proper ventilation
  • Access to a composting area (for some models)

The Off Grid Toilet We Chose

A lot of research and product comparisons went into deciding on the best off grid toilet for our needs but ultimately an easy one once we understood our daily requirements and environmental factors. We decided upon the separett villa 9210 waterless toilet, and have done zero maintenance in five years. We have been very happy with our decision.

Off Grid Toilet Separett Villa 9210 1

This was the perfect choice for us based on several factors:

  • Liquids and solids are separated in the bowl so that each can be disposed of individually
  • Solids are composted while urine is drained off to a small leaching bed through the floor
  • The built-in fan expels odors and condensation from the toilet and bathroom very quietly and effectively <30 dB(A)
  • The vent duct can be run behind the toilet straight through an outer wall or run up through the roof. Ours goes straight through the wall. 
  • The Villa 9210 includes both a 110-120V adaptor and a 12V power cable with alligator clips to connect directly to a 12V battery or directly off any 12V supply
  • Operating time for the fan just off a 100Ah 12V battery is 2-3 weeks
  • The Villa 9210 can also be used with a wind turbine vent for those totally off the grid with no power at all
  • The Separett Villa 9210 can be installed in both warm and unheated locations, and will work perfectly well irrespective of the room temperature

Installing The Separett Villa

Installation was very easy. The only prep work we did was dig a small pit, often call a soak away pit, beside the cabin.

separett-soak-away pit off grid toilet

TIP: In addition to the gravel we also placed an INVERTED five-gallon bucket in the pit with a hole drilled in the top to allow the urine tube to enter (only inserting the tube approximately four inches) so that in the unlikely event we ever did have extended exceptionally frigid cold for several weeks our urinary diversion tube would never freeze up on us. We then covered the top of the bucket with more gravel and then soil.

For more details regarding urine disposal and regulations see the WaterlessToilets article here.

In addition to digging our soak away pit the only other DIY work was to drill a hole for the urine drain tube which runs through the floor and into the top of the five gallon bucket. Lastly was drilling a hole for the exhaust port.

Below you can see the exhaust port for the separett villa toilet.

The Off Grid Cabin Plumbing off grid Separett toilet vent interior

Below shows the exhaust port

The Off Grid Cabin Plumbing off grid Separett toilet vent exterior

Below is a rough fit of the toilet

Off Grid Toilet Separett Villa 9210 2

Below the separett villa is installed for “temporary use” until the flooring is installed.

Off Grid Toilet Separett Villa 9210 4

Below we finally have the bathroom “mostly” finished.

Off Grid Toilet Separett Villa 9210 5

Here are some additional video of the separett 9215 unboxing as well as an overview of how the urine diversion system works:

Below unboxing the Separett Villa…

Below how the urine diversion system works for the Separett Villa… 

Some additional info about the separett villa off grid toilet for those interested:

  • Dimensions: 26.47 in deep x 17.95 in wide x 21.3 in high
  • Material: Recyclable high gloss polypropylene
  • Solids container: 23 l polypropylene
  • Voltage/power: 12 V/2.54 W
  • Energy consumption: 0.06 kWh/day
  • Connection: 1.55m cable. Adapter 110/230V-12V
  • Noise level: <30 dB(A)
  • Max user weight: 150 kg
  • Seat height: 17 in
  • Pipes: Ventilation out Ø 75 mm | Urine out Ø 32 mm


Off grid toilets have come a long way from the simple systems our ancestors used before modern times. Nowadays, you can rely on sophisticated, sustainable designs that manage waste and, in some cases, enable you to reuse that waste to produce energy.

They’re the ideal solution for homesteads located in areas where access to public utilities is limited or non-existent or for people looking to achieve a self-sustainable lifestyle.

As more eco-friendly toilets are developed, it’s important to assess a series of factors before picking the right solution for your needs. Among the most important things to consider are your location, budget, and the type of toilet that is more likely to fit with your lifestyle.

I hope this information helps you to learn more about the different types of toilets used for off grid living, including our separett toilet.

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