The 3 Best Toilets For Tiny Houses

The 3 Best Toilets For Tiny Houses

composting toilet for tiny houses

A home without a toilet?

I’d be doomed. 

I can’t call a place “home” if it doesn’t have a spot for me to relieve myself. When I was living in a traditional home, I have never given that much concern about my toilet. It’s there when I need it, and it does its job with no fuss. 

But when I started to think about participating in the tiny house movement, the toilet has become a rather big deal. 

I started to ask myself A LOT of questions. I even find some of the questions a little ridiculous. Right there, right then, I realized I will make a lifestyle transition different from my status quo. 

Why are tiny house toilets such a big deal? Well, for one, if you want to live off-grid, then you need to utilize an alternative to the traditional flush toilet. 

Most tiny house owners are also concerned about the environment and are looking for energy and cost-efficient options. 

Below we have listed the three best toilets for tiny houses. 

Composting Toilets for the Environmentalists

Tiny homes are environmentally-friendly, and because of this, many have chosen to join the pro-petite home movement. 

If you share the same advocacy with them, then a composting toilet might just be the best toilet option for you. 

Composting toilets are cost-effective and help reduce your carbon footprint. This type of toilet breaks down the waste into a product similar to traditional fertilizer. 

What is a Composting Toilet?

A composting toilet takes the waste and breaks it down by composting it. It doesn’t require plumbing and doesn’t need running water. 

Composting toilets is being praised for its environmental impact as the compost can be used as a fertilizer. 

The Benefits of Using a Composting Toilet

The average American uses 280 liters of water per day, one-third of which is used to flush the toilet. Older toilets may use up to 27 liters of water per flush. 

Composting toilets can help save water. In fact, it can save around 25,000 liters of water per person per year. 

Different Types of Composting Toilet

There are two types of composting toilets, each has unique features. 

A. Central Composting Toilet

A central composting toilet is the most popular toilet system among tiny house owners. 

It has a simple and environmentally-friendly two-piece system. The collection tank of a central composting toilet does an excellent job of keeping your waste out of your sight and mind.

What’s really great about this toilet system is that the central composting unit can be placed anywhere, provided that it is directly connected to the main toilet. 

It is in the composting unit where the waste is being broken down. 

There is a kind of central composting toilet that allows you to use 1 pint of water per flush. This is the best option if you still prefer using minimal water to ensure your toilet is clean. 

B. Self-Contained Composting Toilet

Unlike a central composting toilet, a self-contained toilet is only a one-unit system. Composting will take place, not in a separate composting unit, but in the toilet unit itself. 

A self-contained composting toilet could be electric-powered. Some version uses heat and air pressure to move waste through the unit. 

This composting toilet doesn’t require plumbing or extra space for the composting unit. There is no still water in the toilet, which makes the pot easier to clean. 

Do Composting Toilets Make Your House Smell?

Of course, no one wants to live in a home that smells like poop. 

Fortunately, composting toilets have their ways of sealing the odor. Composting toilets work by using air pressure. The constant air pressure makes the poop move instantly to either a separate unit or a self-contained tank.

If you use a composting toilet and smell something strange (perhaps, poop), then there must be a problem within the system. 

The Pros and Cons of Composting Toilet

Composting toilets have their merits and demerits. 

PROS:

  • Cheaper than a traditional toilet system
  • Much faster to install
  • Minimal impact on the property
  • Space-saver
  • Requires minimal maintenance
  • Most brands offer lifetime warranties
  • Lower monthly water bills
  • Conserves water
  • Generates nutrient-rich fertilizer

CONS:

  • May be difficult to use
  • Most composting toilets are larger than their traditional counterparts
  • There is an upfront cost of buying ready-made toilet
  • You need to handle human waste material directly
  • Potential problems with insects, odor, and poor composting
  • You may need to acquire a special permit to install it

Dry Toilet for the Minimalists

The limited area in your tiny house makes it challenging to add utilities and furniture that won’t eat too much space. 

And when it comes to your toilet, finding a space-saving system is an important thing. 

Dry toilets are a non-flushing toilet system. What’s really great about them is that they are far smaller than traditional toilet systems and are easy to use and install.

What is a Dry Toilet

Also known as a bucket toilet, a dry toilet has a simple yet sleek design. The toilet doesn’t need a back tank. It also doesn’t require a large seat tank, which means you can attach it directly to the ground. 

The main highlight of a dry toilet is that it requires little space, something you’d really appreciate in a tiny house setting. 

Some dry toilets can double as composting toilets. These kinds let you enjoy the best of both worlds; save space and environment. 

Dry toilets can be hooked to a composting unit or to your black water tank.

A dry toilet works by pulling waste away using air pressure and gravity. Yes, no water needed. 

As the waste gets pushed through the bowl, it will be moved to either your black water system or a composting unit. 

The Benefits of Using a Dry Toilet

Like a composting toilet, dry toilets don’t require the use of water. 

And because there is no still-standing water, there is less chance of bacterial growth in your toilet. This also means no spillage when transporting your tiny house on wheels. 

Plus, there is no chance that the groundwater or the ground can be contaminated. 

Environmentalists believe that the use of dry toilets is the only acceptable substitute for getting sustainable sanitation.

The Pros and Cons of Dry Toilets

Dry toilets can be appealing and impressive, but they also have a fair share in user error. 

PROS:

  • Much more affordable than composting and traditional toilets
  • Doesn’t require too much space
  • Easy to install and straightforward to use
  • Reduces your water consumption to a substantial level
  • Perfect for off-grid living
  • Low operating costs
  • Can be built using locally available materials
  • Doesn’t require a constant source of water

CONS:

  • Unlike composting toilets, dry toilets don’t have a water seal, which results in the toilet to smell.
  • Vectors like flies are hard to control unless you use fly traps and appropriate covers
  • The excreta pile is visible

Note: squatting is the most acceptable position when using a dry toilet. 

Traditional Toilet Systems for the Conventional

conventional toilet for tiny houses
A conventional toilet offers comfort and simplicity

We understand that some tiny house dwellers still prefer to do a relaxing number 2 in a fancy regular flush toilet. 

Traditional toilet systems work very well in tiny houses built on a foundation. When placed permanently in one spot, you’ll have the freedom to hookup to freshwater and septic tank or sewer. 

Tiny houses on wheels can still have a regular toilet system (at least, it looks like it). A “normal” toilet in a tiny house needs to be connected to a septic tank. There are small-scale septic tanks that can be easily installed. 

Another thing to consider is connecting to a water source. Since your tiny house may not be hooked up to water every day, you will need to have a separate water tank solely for your toilet. 

Most tanks for tiny houses and RVs can only load up to 10 gallons of water. If you install a regular toilet that uses 1/8th of a gallon of water per flush, then you’ll be wasting a lot of water!

What is a Traditional Toilet System?

A traditional toilet system uses water to flush waste. They need to be constantly connected to a water source. It also has to be hooked up to a sewer or septic tank; this is where the waste will be flushed away. 

When purchasing a regular flush toilet, don’t forget to consider the size. Remember, you’re buying for your tiny home, not for a traditional house. 

Select an eco-friendly toilet that uses a minimal amount of water for flushing. 

The Benefits of Using a Traditional Toilet System

Let’s face it… not everyone is a fan of the idea of composting waste. 

Many still prefer relieving themselves and flushing away the waste in one push of a button. It’s like a flush and forget experience. 

Regular toilets have still water to seal the odor, keeping your home smelling good even after pooping last night’s burrito (gross?).

The Pros and Cons of Using a Traditional Toilet System

And you think a traditional toilet system is perfect, eh? No. 

PROS:

  • No composting is needed
  • Easy to use
  • It takes one simple push of a button to flush away everything
  • A lot of designs are available in the market to suit your place and your needs

CONS:

  • Requires your toilet to be connected to a sewer or septic tank
  • Needs to be hooked up to a constant water source
  • Plumbing is required, which can add $$$
  • Costs more than the other toilet options
  • Toilets in a permanently-affixed tiny house can be tied directly into a septic system. This means your tiny house won’t be transported
  • Regular flush toilets use a plentiful amount of water for flushing

Other Toilet Options For Your Tiny House

Fortunately, you’re not stuck with only three options. There are other toilet system choices that you can choose that may just meet your requirements. 

Incinerating Toilets

Incinerating toilets are perfect for off-grid tiny houses that have power but no access to a septic system or sewer. It’s also perfect for owners who aren’t ready (or willing) to start a humanure compost system. 

Incinerating toilets work by, as the name implies, burning the waste and turning it into ash, which you can get rid of quickly. 

A toilet like this requires no water, though it uses a lot of power to burn waste. This may not be a good option for tiny houses that rely on solar power. 

Pros and Cons of Incinerating Toilets

PROS:

  • No water needed
  • No composting needed; doesn’t require additional installation of composting unit
  • Ash is space-saving, generating as little as one tablespoon of ash per use. 
  • Simple to install and easy to use.
  • It can be installed in remote areas. 
  • Odorless compared to other storage-in-disinfectant portable toilets
  • Doesn’t need to be hooked up to a sewer or septic system

CONS:

  • Incinerating toilets are expensive. The price can go anywhere from $1,200 to $4,000. 
  • Incinerating toilets use bowl liners that cost $18 for 200 liners. Again, it’s costly. 
  • Incineration destroys the nutrients in the waste, making it a not-so-effective fertilizer. 
  • Requires energy, which could result in higher average energy cost. Solar power is not recommended. 
  • Produces air pollutants
  • Some models cannot be used while the incineration is in progress. 

Interested in learning more about the pros and cons of incinerating toilets? Read this handy PDF from the U.S Environmental Protection Agency. 

Macerating Toilets

Macerating toilets break up waste and toilet paper into a fine slurry. It is then stored in the black water tank and will be expelled into the septic tank or sewer. 

The flush mechanism is powered by electricity. The user experience is much like using a regular flush toilet. Poop. Flush. Water comes out from its chamber. And voila!

High-powered blades liquefy the waste before it goes through a pipe that’s directly hooked up to the main drain line. 

Macerators, however, are intended to be used as an added 2nd toilet only and is good enough for a minimal amount of traffic. A macerating toilet should last up to 15 years (depending on the use). If used as the main bathroom, it would last about 10 years only.

The average cost of macerating toilets goes anywhere from $800 to $2,000. The make and model, however, are factors that come into play when it comes to the cost. 

Pros and Cons of Macerating Toilets

PROS:

  • Installation is easy and can occur almost anywhere in the tiny house
  • Most macerating toilets are highly portable. Most brands require zero diggings. 
  • They can last as long as other toilet systems in the market. 
  • Macerating toilets use less energy compared to incinerating and standard toilets
  • Water-efficient; doesn’t use too much water compared to a conventional toilet
  • Doesn’t require excavation or underground drains

CONS:

  • Macerating toilets are noisier than a conventional toilet
  • They tend to get clogged more often
  • They can be costly
  • You cannot use the toilet if there’s no power
  • You may need to follow local building codes and get a special permit before installing a macerating toilet

DIY Composting Toilet

diy composting toilet
A self-made composting toilet

A pre-made composting toilet can cost up to a thousand dollars. So instead of shelling out a huge amount of cash, you can make your own, saving you money. 

The composting toilet can be made easily without spending top dollar. Place a toilet seat on top of a large bucket. Add sawdust to the waste after each use. 

Then, empty the waste into a compost pile where it will be broken down naturally. 

You can use a funnel when urinating. It’s best to keep your urine separate from the solid waste to cut down the odors within the unit. 

The process takes a little getting used to. You will need to maintain a good supply of sawdust to seal the odor as well as a suitable spot outside for the composite pile. 

This is an inexpensive option that doesn’t require plumbing or sewage hookups. It also allows you to recycle the waste once it turns into a composite material. 

Related Questions

Can you pee in a composting toilet?

Some choose to separate their urine from solid waste. For most people, though, neat urine is relatively sterile. They choose not to separate urine from the solid waste as the Nitrogen and moisture from the urine are essential for the composting process in the unit. 

Can you use an RV toilet in a house?

Tiny house and RV toilets are intended for campers. Toilets for mini houses usually use a minimal amount of water per flush. The wastes are generally being held in a tank within the unit. 

A dry toilet, for example, isn’t convenient to use in the city. 

What are the toilet brands I can use for my tiny home?

The market is practically bombarded with various toilet types and brands. 

For composting toilet, we recommend purchasing from Separett. Laveo is a great brand for dry toilets. Any brand for the conventional toilet will do.

Incinolet is a famous brand for incinerating toilets, while Saniflo is the leading brand when it comes to macerating toilets. 

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