Composting toilets are environmentally-friendly, safe and sanitary toilets which convert human waste into usable soil without using much (if any) water to flush the waste. The best composting toilet breaks down, dehydrates and converts waste into compost which can be added to soil.
Initially, these toilets were reserved for holiday cabins, tiny homes (off-grid dwellers), houseboats, and RVs. However, nowadays it’s not startling to find the modern composting toilets in a regular contemporary home, especially in regions lacking constant water supply or proper drainage system.
Since these toilets need no connection to septic tanks or sewer systems, they’re the best fit for off-grid homes, rental homes, tourist resorts, and national parks.
In our composting toilet reviews, we feature the 6 best-selling models of 2020, as well as unearth the important aspects to consider when making the purchase decision.
Whether you need a complete composting toilet for your home or a cheap composting toilet for your next camping trip, we’ve got you covered.
In a rush? Worry not; the Nature’s Head Self Contained Composting Toilet (NH-SPH) is our recommended choice this year. It’s ruggedly designed, compact and extremely easy to use. You’ll learn more about this model in our Nature’s Head composting toilet reviews.
Now let’s dive right in.
1. Nature's Head Self Contained Composting Toilet
After putting in more than 100 hours analyzing the best composting toilets from different brands, our experts considered the Nature’s Head Self-Contained Composting Toilet as the best model of all time.
This toilet system highlights the latest design, rugged construction and uses the state-of-the-art composting technology to guarantee the maximum results. If you need the best dry and waterless composting toilet, look no further.
The Nature’s Head NH-SPH looks more like a regular toilet. It was engineered and designed by two sailors who needed an intuitive, durable and comfortable composting toilet.
Besides the comfortable molded design, the unit boasts all-steel construction that’s capable of withstanding tough outdoor conditions linked to the marine environment. The full-size elongated seat guarantees the utmost comfort.
At merely 28lbs, installing this toilet system and disassembling it is easy-peasy. Its product dimensions are 22 x 20.5 x 21.7 inches and installation can be done anywhere, more-so in areas with non-existent plumbing or electricity.
This is not only the best composting toilet for cabin vacations but also for workshops, yurts, trucks, RVs or campers, etc. The Nature’s Head has an easy-to-use Close Quarters Spider Cranking Handle built from a fine quality stainless steel.
This long-lasting crank handle stirs the waste thoroughly and efficiently. Thanks to fast and efficient composting, nasty odors are kept at bay. Plus, there’s a low-volume air circulation fan built into the head that recycles the air in your bathroom so the environment smells fresh.
Generally speaking, the Nature’s Head is a high-grade, intuitive and functional composting toilet that’s built to last while being simple to use.
This USA-made toilet comes with the fan and vent hose components which prevent the odor from leaking out. That means you always enjoy odor-free experience even in confined spaces.
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2. Nature's Head Dry Composting Toilet with Standard Crank Handle
Our runners up model is still a brainchild of Nature’s Head. We actually had a tough time ranking this one with our top pick, because they’re very identical.
Our top model features the spider handle, but this version comes with a standard crank handle. Also, this packaging entails a 5’ vent hose, 12v power plug, and a bottle cap – all organized in a manner that even a total beginner will find it easy to operate.
Like its sister model, this item features a molded and user-friendly design. So it offers a reliable solution for personal sanitation needs in any field, including workshops, boats, RVs, and cabins.
Its durability and space-saving design means it’s the best composting toilet for tiny house. The unit’s standard hand crank agitator at the base provides fast composting, with smooth operation from start to finish.
The seat has an elongated shape for extra comfort and leg support. Being a self-contained toilet, it comes with a separator whose role is to collect urine into a removable urine bottle, thus reducing the likelihood of odor buildup and leakage.
This dry composting toilet is boastful of a robust polyethylene construction and stainless steel hardware. It’s built to stand up to the harshest conditions including moisture and temperature variations. Actually, this unit is equipped to cope with life in transit.
The Nature’s Head is compact and lightweight for ease of installation. The product weighs 28 pounds and measures 17.75 x 20.75 x 21.5 inches. These dimensions allow for effortless installation in tight spaces.
We liked the fact that it provides the freedom to choose the composting material to use. You can use sawdust, coconut, fiber, dry leaves, or peat moss – most of which can be found within the neighborhood.
Overall, this dry composting toilet befits users who value innovative design and best value in a composting toilet. The Nature’s Head is among the best lightweight, compact and odorless models offering unmatched waterless operation.
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3. Villa 9215 AC/DC
Although it’s a relatively new player in the US market, the Villa 9215 Separett is quickly becoming popular among RV owners. It flaunts a Swedish design with the minimalist Scandinavian engineering, and is considered an advanced toilet for both off-grid and on-grid living.
This best composting toilet for off grid living comes in a one-piece design. Its construction is sturdier than other composting toilets, thus ideal for commercial purposes.
The Villa uses either AC (standard household or on-grid) or DC (from solar or battery) power. Both AC and DC have a single speed fan with adapters that support venting up to 20 feet.
This ventilation fan blows air directly over the waste container, thus removing odors and evaporating liquid waste. The toilet bowl features a unique urine redirecting design for separating urine from solid human waste.
Urine is directed from the drain to a holding tank for evaporation, then solid waste and toilet paper go into a compostable liner bag for secure storage.
For an average family, the Villa container can hold waste for about 3 weeks before you need to dispose of it. This one-piece toilet brags a white finish that mirrors a regular toilet. It’s versatile enough to be installed in almost any commercial setup.
The Villa 9215 is built out of strong plastic for better durability, and entails all parts needed for direct vent and drain applications.
And while no assembling is required, the Villa calls for plumbing, which might make installation tougher. Even so, the package includes all hardware and Allen wrenches. Therefore, installation will be fun for DIY enthusiasts.
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4. Sun-Mar Excel Self-Contained Composting Toilet
Sun-Mar Excel is an excellent choice for green users as it requires no water or electricity to operate. This best waterless compost toilet is 100% non-polluting and perfect for people living off the grid.
Being a completely water-free system, it saves both your planet and wallet, all while being completely odor-free. The Sun-Mar Excel was the first self-contained composting toilet to receive the certification from the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF).
Thanks to its composting ability, Sun-Mar Excel has been NSF-certified for residential use. It can handle quite heavy usage, such as 2-3 adults for residential use or 5-7 adults for vacation or weekend use.
For odor management, Sun-Mar Excel has a 2-inch vent in the rear which runs out of the house, ensuring a clean and odorless home. Further aiding in odor dissipation is the rear fan which channels a flow of air over the evaporating chamber, thus expelling odor through a vent stack.
One of the coolest features of the Sun-Mar Excel is the variable diameter bio-drum, which helps compost waste faster and more efficiently. Built for heavy-duty use, this premium waterless, non-electric model resembles a regular toilet in character and comfort level. It’s worth every penny you spend on it.
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5. Sun-Mar Excel Non-Electric Self-Contained Composting Toilet
Sun-Mar Excel-NE will be your right choice if off-grid living is your cup of tea. It’s the best model in the non-electric realm, letting you cut ties with the power supply while still acknowledging easy installation.
Besides, this unit brags a low-profile design so it complements any bathroom and won’t clutter things up. Sun-Mar Excel-NE is equipped with two separate bins for keeping solid and liquid.
If used by 2-3 people, the solid bin will need to be emptied after around a month. There’s a diverter that directs solids and liquids to their respective chambers thus keeping odors to a minimum.
Sun-Mar Excel-NE processes waste effectively using the variable bio-drum with reclined handle. This recessed handle is very easy to operate and gets the job done without breaking your arm.
For hassle-free installation, the unit includes superb supplies necessary for setting it up. Built for medium-high capacity, Sun-Mar Excel-NE holds up to constant use better than most compost toilets available today.
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6. Camco (41541) Portable Travel Toilet-Designed for Camping
Weighing in at just 11.5lbs empty, Camco’s 5.3-gallon Toilet is downright lightweight and portable enough to be used for RVing, boating, or camping.
It’s ideal for all recreational activities, and is also the best emergency option for long car rides. This portable toilet doubles up as the best cheap composting toilet, retailing at just under $70.
Owing to its lightweight stature, one might be tempted to think that it does break easily. Wrong! As a matter of fact, this compact model flaunts a sturdy polyethylene construction, which is poised to support up to 330lbs.
The Camco integrates the handles for added portability. It comes complete with a 2.5-gallon flush tank, lid, bowl and seat. This toilet is designed to separate the flush tank from the waste storage tank using a sealed gate valve that prevents contamination.
This sliding gate valve easily opens for waste and closes to create a water-tight seal for cushioning odor leakage. There’s a cap at the rear of the waste tank that can be detached to fill the flush tank with clean water.
The bellows-type pump on the other side is tasked with flushing the water into the tank for waste removal. Also, there are latches on the side which secure the tank to the toilet.
These latches prevent the toilet seat from slipping while in use. Although this isn’t a dry toilet, it only consumes a few ounces per flush, thus significantly saving you water bills.
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How Does a Composting Toilet Work?
The working principle of a composting toilet is simple and straightforward. It recycles and transforms human waste into compost using the natural evaporation and decomposition processes. The resulting product can be added to soil for better nourishment.
As we all know, human waste consists of about 90% water. As the waste enters the composting toilet, the water in it evaporates and goes into the air through the vent.
The evaporating water leaves behind solid waste materials (dehydrated) which are then turned into compost or fertilizer for the soil to take advantage of the nutrients contained in it.
This toilet system focuses largely on natural evaporation and decomposition processes. It befits people who care about saving the Mother Nature, because it leaves no harmful impact on the environment.
Worth noting, the composting toilet provides a complete waste decomposition and an odorless operation. It balances such elements as organic materials, heat, moisture and oxygen, thus providing a good environment for the aerobic bacteria to transform waste into a fertilizing soil.
The system decomposes human waste so thoroughly that the end product contains no viruses and pathogens as they’re destroyed by the bacterial breakdown.
You can add the resulting fertilizer to the soil or place it around the base of trees or plants to take in the nutrients. Not only does it conserve the local water quality but it also minimizes commercial fertilizer use.
There are several benefits of using the composting toilet. For instance, it drastically cuts down the use of commercial fertilizers, preserves the environment and local water supply, and minimizes electricity consumption.
How to Choose the Best Composting Toilets
Shopping for a composting toilet or an eco-friendly waste removal solution can be overwhelming due to the sheer amount of options available in the market. In this buying guide, we explore the key features to keep in mind when finding the best composing toilet for camping, recreational vehicle living, off-grid living or marine applications.
Let’s get into this discussion right away.
Dimensions and Configuration
Of course, space is going to be a concern if you intend to install a composting toilet in a tiny bathroom or house. But why, you ask?
Well, most of these toilet models have handles which extend from the side or front depending on the manufacturer. While these handles prove useful in mixing the compost, sometimes they might take up a huge space in your bathroom.
Before making any purchase decision, verify whether you’ve got enough space for the handle to be turned with ease. We recommend measuring the dimensions of your bathroom and determining the amount of space the unit requires for installation.
Also, make sure the available space is enough to accommodate the composting toilet’s ventilation system and containment chamber. The following are key aspects to account for in terms of space, configuration, and dimensions:
- Verify the length, width and height
- Check out the blueprints
- Check out the dimensions on the product description
- Accurately measure your current toilet using a tape measure
It’s advisable to check out the various composting toilet reviews to get accustomed to the average size range for most composting toilets. It’s better off opting for a compact unit if you plan on installing the toilet in a small space.
The capacity or size of a composting toilet refers to the amount of waste it can hold without overflowing.
There’re two things determining the toilet size you should choose: the number of people who’re gonna use it and the frequency of use at a given time frame.
On the one hand, a smaller toilet should be appropriate for those planning to utilize it for a hunting or camping cabin that’s not frequently visited. It should be enough to be used less frequently by a smaller number of people.
On the other hand, if you’re getting a toilet to be used by several people in an area of residence, then a larger capacity would suffice. A composting toilet whose capacity is bigger will be used more frequently with minimal emptying sessions.
It’s important to determine how you’re gonna use a composting toilet before you buy one. The portability of a composting toilet will play a significant role if you’ll be carrying it upstairs or downstairs.
We recommend going for lighter models weighing less than 28lbs if you wanna use the toilet anywhere, because it’ll be easier to carry it around without breaking a sweat.
Keep in mind that a large capacity toilet could weigh as high as 100lbs, making it less than ideal for use in an upstairs space as well as a small cabin or camp.
Plus, a hefty model might be difficult to install since lugging it up the steps is no mean feat. As a rule of thumb, aim for a relatively lightweight toilet that can be pretty easy to bring in a space upstairs or downstairs.
Self-contained vs. Central Units
Composting toilets come in two different designs: self-contained and central units. In simple terms, a self-contained unit is one that composts or processes the waste materials within a tank that’s connected to itself, while a central unit is one that connects to a bigger tank in a different location.
You can choose either a self-contained model or a central unit depending on your needs. A self-contained toilet is easier to use and ideal for smaller groups of people in smaller locations.
Self-contained units are also a better choice for people lacking an additional tank or those who dislike that kind of setup. These models are cheaper and easier to install as they require no additional tanks.
On the other hand, compositing toilets that have a central composting location are great for use by a larger group. Toilets that are connected to a central location have the capability to hold and process a larger amount of waste at a time – but they’re a tad expensive and intricate to install.
Some composting toilets are designed to flush out waste using water. Others are designed to warm the seat using electricity before starting the composting process. Either way, make sure the model you choose significantly lowers (or eliminates) your utility bills.
Those who fancy a dry toilet will have to buy compositing materials like sawdust or peat. If you buy a dry toilet, make sure that you can easily find the compost media in your neighborhood for convenience purposes.
Additionally, choosing an odor-control system that befits your lifestyle is crucial. A good example is men’s sit-toilets. Most of the composting toilets contain the smell or odor using a trap.
These trap-toilets force men to sit down in order to pee. Therefore, it’d be prudent to confirm whether the male members of your household would be happy to pee while seated down.
Similarly, it’s vital to gauge your resources before opting for a composting toilet that uses power. Some models run on batteries, others are solar-powered, while some other units must be connected to the main grid.
So, choose a model that goes well with your home electricity system. You should make sure it matches your power supply before you press that “buy” button.
Bowl Close & Toilet Trap Mechanism
Sanitation and odor must be seriously considered when choosing a compost toilet. More often than not, the best composting toilet features an excellent compost trap designed for the best sanitation and odor prevention.
Different toilets use different mechanisms to lock the waste line or composting receptacle from the bottom of the basin.
The unit whose trap closing mechanism is automatic might just be the perfect option for people who hate to operate the closure mechanism.
Some composting toilets come with a manual valve that calls for a manual operation. Whether you go with a manual or automated version, make sure the closing mechanism is durable, reliable and effective.
Ease of Installation
A composting toilet is one of the most challenging home appliances to install. This is because it demands proper sealing during the installation to prevent the likelihood of tones of annoying leaks on your hands.
A self-contained model is much easier to install than a central unit. To install a self-contained unit, simply anchor it in place, and make sure its ventilation pipe is correctly affixed.
Apparently, most people prefer these toilets because they’re super easy to get them up and running. As for the central units, perhaps hiring a professional expert might be the only way to guarantee the proper installation.
Care & Maintenance
Standard or regular toilets don’t demand a lot when it comes to care and maintenance. In essence, all you need to do is keep the toilet bowl clean at all times.
On the contrary, cleaning and maintaining a composting toilet can be a tough undertaking. First of all, you must remove the compost regularly in order for the toilet to work as expected.
If the compost is left to accumulate, it will overflow, thus causing a mess. So be sure to clear out the compost to keep such a mess at bay.
Also, if your toilet system runs on electricity, be sure to inspect the connections on a regular basis. Failure to check up the electrical connections regularly could cause the toilet to malfunction.
Composting toilets are a great sanitary solution for environmentally-mindful users as well as for unconventional living. While they’re poles apart in terms of shapes and sizes, they’re all geared toward performance over aesthetics.
In our opinion, the Nature’s Head Self Contained Composting Toilet (NH-SPH) is heads and shoulders above the other options.
Being a self-contained unit, it composts on-site, resulting in ready-to-use fertilizer. It also features an energy-efficient fan for optimal air circulation and odor dissipation.
On the downside, this model with the spider cranking handle commands stellar fees, and might be a turn off for people having a little amount to spare.
So if you can’t afford its price point, then the Camco 41541 Portable Travel Toilet deserves your attention. This is the best cheap composting toilet that offers real quality in the market today.
Hopefully, our composting toilet reviews will help you choose the best model for your specific needs. It’ll save you a great deal of time and hassle when choosing the best composting toilet.